Stepping Out of Your Professional Comfort Zone

By: Abbey Pober

Image of ArrowsCom·fort zone / ˈkəmfərt zōn / noun: a place or situation where one feels safe or at ease and without stress.

Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview once, “The biggest risk is not taking any risk… in a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” I can think of no better example of a professional who has taken calculated risks in their career which have resulted in incredible professional learning and growth. Stepping outside your “comfort zone” is a risk that is known to lead to big rewards when done strategically. If your goal is growth in your career, professional development is key to your success.

Why do you want to push yourself to do something outside your professional normal? The reason that motivates you is personal, changes based on where you are in your career, and can range from wanting a promotion, to needing to build new skills. Some of the benefits to challenging yourself professionally include:

  • Building your confidence
  • Strengthening your resume
  • Opening doors to new opportunities
  • Gaining new perspectives that change the way you approach your work
  • Discovering something you love
  • Increasing your resiliency

So, how exactly do you step out of your comfort zone? Again, this looks different for everyone.  You should be looking for an opportunity that will push you to try something new, or that will strengthen a weakness you want to work on.  If your work has you sitting behind a computer all day without much human interaction, consider seeking out speaking engagements, or ask to run part of a meeting for your department/team. Or perhaps you are a person who can talk to a crowd all day but struggles to sit down and focus on tasks for a long time? You could ask to take on an important project that will require you to sit down, plan for, and complete tasks individually rather than in a group setting. Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas:

  • Join a professional organization
  • Submit a proposal to present about something you are skilled at/an expert on at a conference
  • Reach out to someone you’ve been meaning to connect with
  • Write a blog/create something to share your expertise
  • Take a class that will challenge you

The important piece to stepping out of your comfort zone is taking the first step and doing it. When choosing what you will do to grow professionally, remember to be reasonable about the time and resources you must commit to it. Want to push yourself this semester? Consider joining a club/organization here at Wentworth, or reach out to your Co-op + Career Advisor to discuss ideas on how you can get involved off campus professionally.

To meet with a Co-op + Career advisor, make an appointment or swing by fall drop-in hours every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 1:30 – 4:00 PM. Our office is located at 101 Wentworth Hall. Feel free to contact us via email at coopsandcareers@wit.edu, or call us at 617-989-4101.

What Makes Wentworth Unique

Wentworth Hall

By : Robbin Beauchamp

Sure, all of our undergraduate day students are required to complete two co-ops to graduate. That requirement certainly makes a Wentworth graduate unique. The question is: how do we get our students prepared so they are successful?

First Year Seminar

All first year Wentworth students are required to complete First Year Seminar. This first semester class is designed to help our students’ transition to Wentworth by learning about time management, academic expectations, academic integrity, and how to register for classes.

Co-op Institute

It is strongly suggested that all second year students complete Co-op Institute, a seven-week hybrid class taught by the student’s dedicated CO-OP + CAREER Advisor. During this seminar, students learn how to write a resume and cover letter, conduct an effective co-op search and interview, learn how to use social media for networking, create an “elevator commercial”, how to be successful at the co-op and how to register for the co-op. Attending Co-op Institute has shown that students are better prepared for the co-op search and have better results.

WITwear

Better results includes invitations to interview. All students should dress professionally for this meeting and some students don’t have access to a business suit. Let’s face it, it is an item of clothing that will only be worn for interviews. Once hired, students on co-op wear business casual attire, so why invest in this garment? Our current students are part of the “sharing economy”. This is a generation that has made Uber, Lyft, Airbnb and Spotify hugely successful so why not share business clothing, too. CO-OPS + CAREERS created WITwear during the fall 2016 semester so our students could have access to professional clothing when they need it. Donations were made by faculty and staff and all garments that were not new have been dry cleaned and are dry cleaned between each user. WITwear is located in Tudbury Hall and open Monday-Thursday between 5:00-8:00pm.

Wentworth On The Road

One way for our students to meet employers is to have them visit the employer at their location. In May 2016, CO-OPS + CAREERS launched “Wentworth on the Road”, a program that allows our students to meet employers at their office, have a tour, meet with hiring supervisors and learn about the opportunities they have for co-op and post-graduation jobs. In our first year, three employers participated and this year, 10 are confirmed. The employers are located in Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island and hire from all of our majors. We host this program during the first week of May so the visits are not during a time classes are in session. Students are not necessarily in the Boston area which is why the sites are throughout the region. Students are responsible for their own transportation and lodging if needed. Wentworth on the Road is a great way for our students to practice the networking skills they learn in Co-op Institute.

ASPIRE Partnership

For some students, networking is a challenge. Personal interactions can be difficult, as can situations that produce stress, such as interviewing. With co-op a requirement of graduation, CO-OPS + CAREERS has partnered with the Massachusetts General Hospital’s ASPIRE program to provide personal job coaches to students who need intensive assistance before and during the interviews and during co-op. ASPIRE meets with each student to help them assess the level of assistance they need and provide practice interviewing. The job coach can attend the interview with the student if the student would like. Once the student has begun their co-op, the student is required to attend a weekly seminar facilitated by their ASPIRE job coach and attended by other Wentworth students in the program. Students who are interested in this program need to discuss ASPIRE with their CO-OP + CAREER Advisor.

All of these programs are in place to ensure that Wentworth continues to graduate highly-sought-after students by employers. In the last two years, between 98-99% of our graduates were employed or going to graduate school within six months of graduation. Wentworth itself is unique as a college and our uniqueness has translated into exceptional career success for our students.

Class of 2017 Career Outcomes

By: Abbey Pober

Each year The Center for Cooperative Education and Career Development survey’s the graduating class to analyze and report on employment and graduate school status of students’ post-graduation. Responses are collected at the December, April, and August commencements, and again six months later from all graduates who reported they were still seeking employment at graduation. These efforts resulted in a 70% knowledge rate of day student career outcomes. Wentworth graduates obtain well-paying jobs in a wide range of fields and we are seeing a continuation of this trend from the class of 2017.

Of those that we do have data, 98% are in graduate school or are employed and their median salary is $60,000, slightly higher than the NACE reported national median and higher than the last few years of Wentworth’s graduates. More than half (56%) received offers of employment from one of their co-op employers and 36% accepted. We have a knowledge rate of 24% of CPCE graduates, down significantly from prior years. Of those that reported, 100% are employed or in school. The median salary of a CPCE graduate is $71,500. Of those that are employed, 96% of students report that their work is related to their academic major, up from last year’s 92%. This year, seven employers hired at least four members of the class of 2017.

Most our graduates continue to live in the Northeast with Massachusetts overwhelmingly having the most, followed by New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Outside of New England, many of our students are working in New York, California and Pennsylvania. Of those that we have data, 14% of our students are going on to graduate school. The majors that are sending the most to graduate school are: Architecture, Biomedical Engineering, and Civil Engineering. Most students are continuing their education at Wentworth. More than one is heading to Northeastern and Tufts University. Some of the unique schools to which an alumnus is attending are: Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, the Institute of Technology Eindhoven, and University of Southern California. Most our students are seeking an M. Arch followed by an M.S. Three are seeking an MBA, two are seeking a PhD, and one is seeking an MPS.

For the third year, the survey asked graduates from the College of Professional and Continuing Education about the impact their Wentworth education has had on their professional life. Of those that reported, 50% reported receiving a promotion and 43% reported receiving a salary increase. Seventy-seven percent reported that job opportunities are available to them now that were not prior to their degree, 72% reported that their job performance has improved, 77% reported that their technical knowledge and skills have improved and 73% report feeling more confident in the workplace. Using the learning outcomes of each of the day program’s majors, the survey asked questions to measure the effectiveness of the education at Wentworth. This data is reported on for each major and may be used for accreditation purposes.

The comprehensive report, including salary and employment data broken down by major can be found on our website.

Alumni Spotlight: Ben Kazan, Director of Information Systems and Staff, John Hancock Investments

Meet Ben Kazan, Wentworth Computer Science 11’ Alumnus and current Director of Information Systems and Staff at John Hancock Investments.

Tell us about your current role: I manage and lead an agile team which directly supports and delivers technology for John Hancock Investments.  We largely specialize in data warehousing solutions but also support a variety of business applications that are crucial to our business function.  The team I manage is comprised of analysts, developers, technical experts, and scrum masters – all to deliver a cohesive product to our end users.

Tell us a bit about your Co-op as a Wentworth student: I was a Support Analyst for Harvard University IT (HUIT). I supported the students and faculty in a variety of ways including, maintaining the helpdesk inbound call center, supporting walk up desktop issues at the computer clinic, and managing several computer labs.

What did you learn from during co-op that you still use today? The communication skills and ability to triage/prioritize issues are fundamental skills I learned during my co-op that I use each and every day.  Communication skills by phone, email, and in person were all areas I improved on while with HUIT and those soft skills have gone a long way in furthering my career.  The other skill I use every day is to triage and prioritize issues that may arise. This level of quick problem solving and understanding how systems and processes work together is a skill that is hard to learn, its one of those things you learn by trial and error and my co-op experience gave me many opportunities to build this skill and understand how to keep calm when there are multiple priorities competing for your attention.

How has your career progressed since you left Wentworth? I started at John Hancock with an entry level position as an operations analyst and over time I explored different career paths at John Hancock including: release management, data modeling, production support, project management, system management, and ultimately the director of both staff and systems.  I’ve learned that the finance industry is one that is constantly evolving. Through that change I’ve been fortunate to get different opportunities that have ultimately shaped my view of the John Hancock organization and allow me to understand the various touch points and key contacts across the organization that can help move things along.  At an organization the size of John Hancock, this is a critical skill and the only way to really get all these skills is to try out different roles. John Hancock offers rotational programs to new hire and recent college graduates, which allow you to explore different parts of the organization in 3, 1 year intervals – before settling into a full-time and long-term role.

What advice do you have for students looking for co-ops and soon to be graduates seeking full-time opportunities? Try new things, don’t be afraid to fail, understand what makes you stand out – and own what you do!  Ownership and follow through are skills that will always show your true value, taking on new challenges and owning those as you go is the best way to grow and succeed at any organization.  Aside from this, I recommend finding people within your organization and outside that you can connect with for guidance and mentor-ship. As your career unfolds having people who truly understand what your ‘differentiator’ is, and who will speak up for you and understand what you bring to the table that makes you unique is an extremely important part of career growth.

Want to learn more about what it’s like to work at John Hancock? Join members of their Software Development Program on June 13th for an Info Session from 5PM -7PM in Beatty 401. Register on WITWorks and bring your questions about working as a software developer, what it’s like to work for John Hancock, and how to apply for their Software Development Program. Info Session will include a brief presentation, Q&A time, networking, PLUS pizza and beverages.

Meet the Staff: Janel Juba, Co-op + Career Advisor

I began working at Wentworth’s CO-OPS + CAREERS’ office in August of 2014. Prior to joining the Career Service’s team, I worked at Roxbury Community College as a Career Placement Assistant. This role was a grant-funded position and when the contract ended I was VERY fortunate to have received an offer for my current role at Wentworth. Since I wanted to continue my career path in Higher Education, it was a blessing to be able to continue my journey at Wentworth.

As a Co-op + Career Advisor, I support, guide and teach my students effective job readiness skills. The students that I work with are very appreciative of the services our office provide as they frequently express gratitude. I am a helper by nature and because of this my role does not feel like work as it brings me such joy to be a resource for others.

Please feel free to stop by CO-OPS + CAREERS to discuss co-op opportunities with any Co-op + Career Advisor as we are here to assist you. You can make an appointment or swing by summer drop-in hours, held every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 2:00 – 4:00 PM. Stop by 101 Wentworth Hall, or contact us via email at coopsandcareers@wit.edu, or by calling 617-989-4101. We look forward to connecting with you soon!

Student Co-op Spotlight: An Unconventional Search

Video Transcript:

Meet James Coyne: Computer Science Class of 2020

I’m James, I’m a Sophomore, I just got a co-op at a company called Black Math.

How did you hear about BlackMath?

So, I actually found them through WITworks, and then I checked out their website.

What was your application process like?

I wrote a cover letter. I made it really nice and made all my information available. Linked my resume, my personal website, portfolio, all that stuff. Sent that in, didn’t hear anything back, for a week or so.  I also checked out their Instagram and I followed them. A few days later some dude follows me, I’m like alright cool this happens all the time, it’s just someone. But then I checked their profile and saw that they worked at BlackMath. So then, I’m like “Ahha” who could this be? So I messaged them and said “Hey I’m really trying to work there, it looks like a cool company – how do you like it?” The next day, I got a response back and the person said “I really like it here, it’s a really great space and a really great company. I’m a little biased though because I’m actually the co-founder.” I got on a phone call with him about two hours after the fact, I wasn’t planning any of this, and I wasn’t super prepared. He was a huge fan of all the work that I had done on my Instagram and the other stuff I’ve been doing. I basically got the job then and there.  After that, he checked with the other co-founder and decided they wanted to bring me into the space so that I could check everything out and meet everyone and the other co-founder could get familiar with me as well.

I went in there on a Tuesday, checked it out, saw their office, met some people, shook some hands. Everyone really liked me, the other co-founder thought I was really cool, got hired on the spot, that was really neat.

We’re excited for you, James! What are you most looking forward to?

A company like this has really been what I’ve been looking for since the very get go. As a sophomore, obviously I’m probably a little less desirable than a Junior or Senior who has more experience. I knew I needed to be more competitive and send in more applications, etc. just be better to prove myself. I’ve been applying since October to some places! I’m really exited to work for a company that does creative media like Black Math does. Has kind of the startup, low key, relaxed culture, like Black Math does. A lot of people that I feel are like mined individuals to me. They do a lot of really cool work and I’m really just doing the work I’ve dreamed about doing. I never thought I would be able to actually find a company that fits all my needs like this so well. Its incredible!

Thank you for sharing your co-op story with us, James! We can’t wait to hear all about your experience when you get back to campus in the fall.

Meet Hannah Schulze, 2nd runner up for this semester’s “Share Your Co-op Contest”

Hannah Schulze is a current Wentworth student majoring in Biomedical Engineering and minoring in Writing. Here’s what Hannah shared with us about her Science Writing internship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital:

Where was your co-op? What was it like to work there?

The Brigham and Women’s Hospital Office of Strategic Communication oversees internal communications and media relations for more than 18,000 employees and medical and research staff. I worked closely with the Senior Science Communication Specialist to bring cutting edge research forward, help principal investigators reach a variety of audiences and accurately communicate science to the public. The team covers a lot of ground, so I had the chance to jump in and help with a variety of projects across the department. The team made it easy for me to find my place in the BWH community.

While on co-op, what project(s) were you a part of or working on, that inspired you?

I had many opportunities to interview and photograph incredible investigators in the field of medicine and craft pieces to help amplify their research. This photo (featured below) represents one of many lab visits—a conversation between Jeff Karp, a leading researcher in bioengineering, and Janine Benyus, co-founder of the Biomimicry Institute. Now, I’m back in classes and starting as a Volunteer Content Creator for the non-profit associated with the Biomimicry Institute, AskNature. AskNature is a free online community focused on helping designers and entrepreneurs find inspiration from biology and nature. I learned so much from the team at BWH, and now I’m part of another meaningful project that I might not have otherwise known about. Co-op is about finding those opportunities.

Based on your co-op experience, what industry/position do you see yourself in the future?

Across my time at Wentworth, I’ve had three co-ops. My experience solidified the importance of an organization’s mission and culture over having a specific job function. I bring a wide range of experiences to the table, and I want to be somewhere that uses all of them—technical and creative alike.

What is a major takeaway from your co-op experience?

In terms of advice for others—use this as an opportunity to network and accumulate a bank of advice. The great thing about advice? You don’t have to take it if you don’t want to, so just ask for it. Being in the industry space, the people you encounter will have a better idea of what’s out there than you do. Use them as resources.

Make sure you’re listening and absorbing. Even if it’s not something you’re working on or that’s affecting you at that moment, you might be involved soon. This is a great exercise in adaptability. Be one step ahead.

Probably my biggest piece of advice: don’t be afraid to act like you’re on the team—feel free to speak up in meetings, ask questions, get to know the team and be part of the community. That’s the part of the co-op experience where you actually figure out what you’re looking for in the future.

What made you enter the contest and why did you choose the photo entered?

My co-op experiences have been a little bit outside the status quo, and I want my peers to know that they can make that happen for themselves. Go with what you’re interested in, and trust your gut. The photo I entered represents a time where I connected with some wonderful and very interesting people who inspired me. I was on a team that provided great opportunities to learn, and I grabbed them.

Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Hannah! Be on the lookout for our next “Share Your Co-op” Contest in the coming semesters.

What’s the difference between your Co-op + Career Advisor and your Academic Advisor?

By: Abbey Pober

Throughout your time as a Wentworth student, you are likely to have questions about the classes you are taking and how to position yourself best for your future career. Your Academic Advisor and Co-op + Career Advisor are here to assist in navigating the waters to a fulfilling and successful career. While your Co-op + Career Advisor is here to support you in executing a successful co-op and full-time job search, your Academic Advisor is the person on campus who will support you in creating and executing your path to graduation and career success. These key differences separating the two campus resources are why it’s important you plan to meet with both of your advisors to make the most of your time on campus. When planning to meet with each, consider the following.

Academic Advisors are here to:
• Help you recognize the connection between your Wentworth education and your career goals.
• Provide you with the tools you need to successfully navigate Wentworth.
• Recommend courses for registration and can help link courses with career plans.
• Assist you with identifying your priorities, talents, passion, potential, and interests.
• Provide guidance and assist with planning if you are “off track” in your academic plan.
• Determine when you are eligible to go out on co-op based on your academic standing.

Co-op + Career Advisors are here to:
• Meet with you before your first co-op search to review your resume and provide access to the campus job board, WITworks.
• Coach you through creating a resume and writing cover letters
• Teach Co-op Institute, a six-week course designed to prepare students to search for and secure a co-op.
• Provide guidance and support during your co-op and full-time job search.
• Assist you with preparation through in-person appointments and mock interviews.

Both your Academic Advisor and Co-op + Career Advisors are here to help you succeed and are eager to meet with you. It is strongly encouraged that you plan to meet with your Academic Advisor early in you Wentworth experience, and you can find more information about getting in touch with your academic advisor here. When you are ready to start your co-op search make an appointment with your Co-op + Career Advisor, our team can’t wait to meet you!

To schedule an appointment with your Co-op + Career Advisor stop by our office, 101 Wentworth Hall, or call 617 989 4101.

Meet the Staff: Kristen Eckman, Marketing Intern

I began my marketing internship with the CO-OPS + CAREERS Department at the start of the spring semester knowing one thing; I wanted to be a part of a team. Through my time spent with the department, I can now say that team dynamics and workplace culture will most certainly be deciding factors for me when applying for and ultimately accepting a full-time job offer after graduation.

I am currently an undergraduate senior at Emmanuel College majoring in business management with a concentration in marketing and minoring in economics. And if you couldn’t already gather from my fields of study, I was unsure of what type of position I would be pursuing post-graduation. Creative marketing, specifically social media marketing, however, has been an interest of mine since high-school. I was given the opportunity through my high school’s DECA chapter to create social media marketing plans and compete against students nationwide, which ultimately sparked my love of creative marketing. I was then able to branch out into event planning through my first marketing internship at ENERGYbits. There, I oversaw coordinating a new product launch party, booking and attending multiple sports and fitness expos, and planning and marketing sponsored work-outs with the ENERGYbits team.

If I were asked to give one piece of advice to those searching for an internship or co-op, I would tell you that experience in the field you are interested in should be among your top priorities. Second to relevant work experience, you should be inspired to do what you love. I was touched by one of my marketing research professors while at Emmanuel College. She brought into the curriculum her own marketing plans and projects that she had completed for agencies over her many years in the marketing field. Her experience was something I could connect with and envision for myself. While working on marketing research projects alongside my professor, I realized my attraction to higher education. It was always in the back of my mind that I would like to teach one day, to inspire and guide students in the way that I have been throughout my academic career. It was not until my internship with the CO-OPS + CAREERS Department that I could confirm, higher education is the environment where I feel I truly belong.

This decision, I will warn you, was not an easy one. There is no straight path to your dream job and choosing a career involves strenuous self-reflection. With that, I will say that internships and co-op opportunities are essential to shaping your career path and I would not be where I am today without the academic and professional guidance I received throughout my college career. The guidance I refer to includes not only your own experiences, but informational interviews with successful alumni in your major or intended professional industry, and informational meetings with your professors and Co-ops + Career Advisors. Through my internship I have learned that you have overflowing resources here at Wentworth to help you along your career path, do not be afraid to reach out! The CO-OPS + CAREERS Department, myself included, are here to help you make the most out of your co-op experience.

As always, feel free to stop by CO-OPS + CAREERS to discuss co-op opportunities or talk professional development with your Co-op + Career Advisor. To contact us stop by 101 Wentworth Hall, email coopsandcareers@wit.edu, or call 617-989-4101.

Meet Maria Rodriguez, runner up for this semester’s “Share your Co-op Contest”

Maria Rodriguez is a current Wentworth student majoring in Biomedical Engineering and minoring in Biology. Here’s what Maria shared with us about her co-op experience at CELLINK in Cambridge:

My co-op with CELLINK was incredible! As an applications engineer, I learned so much about 3D bioprinting and tissue engineering. I collaborated with top researchers in the field to make sure our technology met their needs, and I learned so much from their research. One of my favorite parts was introducing scientists to the world of bioprinting, for which I helped organize the event pictured. The CEO of the company featured this picture on his LinkedIn account!

Where was your co-op? What was it like to work there?

I was an application engineer at CELLINK. CELLINK is a startup with a very vibrant and fast-paced atmosphere. My co-op position was very challenging, but at the same time, very fun. It involved supporting customers and finding new applications for our innovative technology (about which I knew very little about until I started working there) while collaborating with the team to improve the technology, and networking with scientists to introduce them to our products.  I spent many days out of the office in research labs and conferences, where I got to listen to the end-users feedback and meet many important people in the bioprinting and tissue engineering fields.  My supervisors had a contagious positive vibe. Also, they were very open to my ideas and always treated me like a valuable employee.

While on co-op, what project(s) were you a part of or working on, that inspired you?

My co-op experience inspired me to choose my Senior Design project. I pitched an idea to CELLINK based on a need of their current customers, and now my project is being sponsored by them! I still cannot reveal what it will be, but it is very promising since one of the applications is to help prove pharmaceutical drugs safety more efficiently, so they can get to the market faster after they have been discovered.

Based on your co-op experience, what industry/position do you see yourself in the future?

Based on this co-op experience, which introduced me to the field of 3D bioprinting, I will probably continue my studies after I graduate in order to specialize more in this field. Then, I’d love to work for a company like CELLINK, which is heavily based on research but still a part of industry and not academia.

What is a major takeaway from your co-op experience?

A major takeaway is that motivation and persistence can be key when it comes to getting a job you really want. I did not have much experience related to the technology, but my interviewers saw my passion and were excited to have me on their team.

What made you enter the contest and why did you choose the photo entered?

I wanted to share my experience. I chose this photo because it was featured by the company’s CEO.

Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Maria! Be on the lookout for our next “Share Your Co-op Contest” in the coming semesters.