Place-Bound Job Search

By: Lauren Creamer

There are many reasons a person might not be able to travel to or relocate for a job opportunity, the most common among them being 1) not having the ability to drive or access to a car, and 2) living at home, away from Boston.

This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find a co-op– it just means you need to be strategic in your search and start as far in advance as possible.

If you know in advance that you will be confined to a relatively small geographic area, you should consider the state of the employment market for your discipline. Let’s consider the following example.

Student driving car

You are a biomedical engineering student who lives on-campus and doesn’t have a car. While the biotech industry is booming in Boston and Cambridge, there are many start-ups and small companies that don’t have the bandwidth or financials to support a co-op student.

What can you do in advance to identify hard-to-find opportunities in the city?

You can network at off-campus events. You can reach out to alumni through LinkedIn. You can apply to the Massachusetts Life Sciences Internship Challenge. You can go to the career fairs of other schools (yes, many will let you in even if you are not a student!). All of these avenues take time and effort to explore, so starting early is critical for your success.

The same is true for being place-bound to a suburban or rural area. You may have access to a car here, but what is the market like? Another example. You are an architecture student who needs to be home for your co-op semester due to a financial hardship. You live in suburban Connecticut and the firm options are few and far between. Again, you need to start early. Use resources like the Connecticut chapter of AIA to identify firms within reasonable driving distance. Talk with your advisor about less common options like working in construction or construction management.

Connection through phone

I have seen students land great co-ops that meet their geographic restrictions and I have seen students truly struggle. The difference is in how prepared they were for their search.

I recommend incorporating the following actions into your search to yield maximum return:

  • Apply to job postings early and often. Use the job search sites that make sense for you (location specific sites, generic sites that have location filtering options, professional organizations for your region, etc.).
  • Follow-up within one to two weeks – on the phone, if you can.
  • Make cold calls to inquire about potential opportunities, even if nothing is listed on a company’s site.
  • Use your network – and Wentworth’s network – to identify opportunities.
  • Connect with alumni on LinkedIn and build a relationship through informational interviews (do this early, so you can inquire about jobs at the right time).
  • Ask your Co-op + Career Advisor if they know anyone else who has gone through a similar search. They may be able to connect you to that person, so you can learn from their experience.

Most importantly, talk about your plans with your Co-op + Career Advisor. A place-bound job search is incredibly active – you may not be able to rely on WITworks in the same way as your peers. That is OKAY. Your advisor will have tips that are specific to your major and personal situation. We are here to support you – whatever your needs!

Advice from a Recruiter with Kyle Greenleaf from JLL

By: Ria Kalinowski

Assistant Director, Abbey Pober and I recently sat down with Kyle Greenleaf, a recruiter from JLL, to talk about their hiring processes. Kyle focuses on recruiting for industrial facilities management with a focus mainly on life science clients. JLL is a property consultancy company specializing in property services and investment management. In the past, they have posted both full and part-time positions on WITworks for students with degrees in Architecture, Business Management, and Construction Management.

Kyle looks at hundreds of resumes on a weekly basis. Customization of your resume is ESSENTIAL if you want to stand out.

What does he look for?

  • 50% prior relevant work experience
  • 50% what makes YOU unique

When recruiting for co-op or entry-level positions, Kyle understands that you probably won’t have much relevant work experience. He will definitely look at any prior co-ops and relevant academic projects, but soft skills are hugely important. He is looking for breadth of experience rather than depth of experience. Interpersonal, communication, and leadership skills are good to emphasize but it’s more important to know YOUR strengths and focus on those. Your experiences and your personality make you unique so don’t be afraid to highlight those aspects of yourself.

Huge positive flags for Kyle are volunteer experience and involvement in athletics. Unless your experience is additive or really exceptional, leave off musical instruments, drama involvement, and other outside interests.

 

What should students do to build their resume?

Kyle’s advice is to find ways to practice leadership skills: start a club, become a club president, volunteer for something new, etc. Every single day you should do one thing that terrifies you or pushes you out of your comfort zone.

Ways to do that at Wentworth include taking Leadership Institute, applying to become a student leader, attending Speakeasy (a public speaking practice forum that meets Mondays at noon in Accelerate), getting involved with Accelerate or EPIC, or joining or starting a club.

 

What if a student doesn’t have any experience?

For students with little or no experience Kyle advises them to “show up” to the CO-OP + CAREER Fair to get in front of hiring managers as a great starting point. Do research about the company to show your interest. Employers will inevitably ask, “what do you know about us?” or “what made you stop by our booth today?” and having a comprehensive answer will give you a great advantage. Start networking as soon as possible. Find someone in your major who is a senior and take them to lunch. Ask them what they regret not doing or are glad they took advantage of. Reach out to alumni to ask about their career choices and learn about possible career paths.

 

Kyle’s Quick Tips

  • Customize Your Application: Make sure your resume and cover letter show why you are a good fit for that particular position at that specific company.
  • You have 7 Seconds to make a good first impression: Smile, have a strong handshake, and practice your professional introduction.
  • Do Your Research: Whether you are writing a cover letter, heading to an interview, or attending a career fair, find out what the company does and determine why you are interested in them.
  • Write (Good!) Cover Letters: They are necessary to help sell your experience and how you fit the position. If 6 people apply and 5 people write a cover letter and you don’t, you aren’t getting the interview.
  • Reach out to Recruiters on LinkedIn: Send a connection request with this message, “I saw that JLL had an operations role posted and when I searched for recruiters at JLL, your name popped up. I’m not sure if you are specifically the right person to contact for this role, but I’d love to speak with you about it if you are. If you aren’t the right person, perhaps you could you point me in the right direction.”

 

Most Important Take Away

Kyle wants to remind all applicants to be passionate about the company and the position and show that passion! This is something I’ve heard from so many recruiters and hiring managers. The best employees understand the company’s mission and goals and have a strong passion for them. Recruiters don’t want to hire someone who wants A job, they want to hire someone who wants the SPECIFIC job they are hiring for. Contact your Co-op + Career Advisor for help with writing your cover letter and customizing answers to interview questions to show your passion.

 

To hear the entire conversation, check out the WITworks Radio Show here.

 

To make an appointment with your Co-op + Career Advisor call the front desk at 617 989 4101 or stop by during Spring 2019 Drop-In Hours: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday 1:30pm – 4:00pm while classes are in session.

How to Work the CO-OP + CAREER Fair

How to WORK the Career Fair – An approach for everyone, whether you are low-key or EXTRA!

Low Key Approach

EXTRA Approach
RESEARCH •   Find the list of employers attending on the “Jobs and Careers” App and research the ones of interest.

•   See if they have positions posted so you can research more about the companies ahead of the fair.

•      Create a spreadsheet, categorizing employers into A, B, and C lists.

•      Write down a few questions you might ask them at the fair. Refer to these questions before each conversation.

RESUME •   Write, review, and edit your resume.

•   Come to Drop-Ins to make sure it is ready for the Career Fair.

•   Print out 10-20 copies and tuck them in a folder to hand out to employers.

•      Make an appointment with your Co-op + Career Advisor to go over your Resume.

•      Print 10-20 copies and carry them in a professional padfolio.

•      Make your own business cards.

PLAN •   The plan is to go, shake hands, meet employers, ask good questions, and hand out resumes.  Go with it!

 

•      Locate the employer booths on the Fairs App ahead of time and map out your route.

•      Maybe talk to a couple employers on your C list to start before moving on to your first choices!

DRESS •   Gather your professional attire.

•   Visit WITwear to borrow any items you may need!

 

•      Iron, steam, fresh haircut!  Look your best.

•      Also…visit WITwear to borrow any items you need.

PITCH •   Build a 30 second pitch and practice it in the mirror so you come across relaxed and professional.

•   Practice a firm handshake.

 

•      Record yourself and critique yourself.  Be mindful of eye contact, fidgets, and filler (“um, like”).

•      Pitch with a friend and practice your handshakes.

THANK YOU •   Shake employers’ hand and thank them for their time answering your questions and speaking to you.

 

•   Collect business cards so you can write thank you notes the next day.

•   If they requested your application electronically – email them to let them know you applied.

 

Check out ALL our helpful guides on resumes, networking, pitches, and more on our website: https://wit.edu/coopsandcareers/cooperative-education/co-op-resources

Download the new WITworks App: Symplicity Jobs and Careers App:

Apple App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/symplicity-jobs-and-careers/id1239828027?mt=8

Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.symplicity.csmandroid&hl=en_US

Image of a smiling leopard.
TFW you nail the CO-OP + CAREER Fair

Special Co-ops and Careers Fair All Day Resume Drop-Ins:  Thurs 3/14 & Fri 3/15

Weekly Drop-In Schedule: M, T, W from 1:30-4:30pm

Make an appointment with your Co-op + Career Advisor: call the front desk at (617) 989 4101

WITwear Hours: M, T, W 4 – 8pm, Th 5-8pm & F 10am – Noon

Applicant Tracking Systems and Professional Summaries

By Ria Kalinowski

When applying to full-time positions outside of WITworks, seniors and alumni need to tailor their resumes to each position they apply for to get their application past the Applicant Tracking System and into the hands of a human. Using a professional summary is a quick and easy way to do that!

 

What is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

Almost every large company and many smaller companies use ATS software to scan, sort, and filter applicant resumes. Applicants are then ranked according to how they match the key words that employers are looking for. Customizing your resume is key in order to get your resume seen.

ATS Visula

 

Basic tips for beating an ATS

  • Keep formatting simple so the ATS can more easily scan your resume and match your skills with the correct dates.
  • Use standard headings such as “Education” and “Experience” so the ATS isn’t confused.
  • Avoid using tables, headers, and columns as these can cause errors within the ATS.
  • A PDF file is not compatible with all types of ATS software. Read the directions carefully when submitting your resume and unless “PDF” is listed among the file types accepted, stick to a Word document or plain-text file.
  • Use a Professional Summary as an additional way to include those key words employers are looking for and a quick way to tailor each resume you submit.

 

How to Write a Professional Summary

  • Where does it go:
    • Include your professional summary directly below your contact information so this is the first section employers see.
  • What does it look like:
    • Name your professional summary the title of the position you are applying for as long as it accurately represents your skills and experience or check out the summaries below for additional ideas.
    • Keep it brief! Limit your summary to 3-5 statements and avoid using “I” and other personal pronouns.
    • Use several statements in a paragraph form or a bulleted list.
  • What to include:
    • Optimize your keywords to be found! Include the job title you are applying for and the technical and transferable skills you possess that they ask for in the job description. Pay careful attention to words that are repeated often and try to include those in your summary and/or elsewhere on your resume.
    • Highlight your skills and experience that are directly related to the position that you are applying for.
    • Include major accomplishments and use numbers whenever possible.
    • Look at the positions you are applying for and use language directly from those job descriptions when appropriate.

ATS Visual

 

Additional ATS Resources:

How the Top 5 Applicant Tracking Systems Read Resumes Differently.

8 Things You Need to Know About Applicant Tracking Systems.

 

Sample Resume Summaries:

DevOps ENGINEER

Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Engineering with 6 months work experience in building and testing video platforms. Strong programming skills in C, Java, and Python. Comprehensive debugging and troubleshooting skills. Proven ability to engineer complex solutions for scaling environments.

 

ELECTRICAL ENGINEER

Electrical Engineering graduate with a year of industry experience. Strong interest in power systems with demonstrated knowledge of building science and energy efficiency. Strengths include use of SolidWorks and AutoCAD when reading and editing project drawings. Proven ability to collaborate with multidisciplinary teams.

 

PROJECT MANAGER

Business Management student with 9 months of print project management experience and knowledge of web production obtained from internships in educational publishing and consumer packaging. Creative problem solver who has consistently completed projects on time and within budget. Employed a customer-focused approach which increased repeat business by 15% over the prior cycle. Available September 2019.

 

MECHANICAL ENGINEER

Results oriented mechanical engineer focused on design, prototyping, analysis, testing, documentation, and manufacturing support. Experienced in the fabrication of mechanical components, complex systems and mechanical devices. Strengths include:

  • SolidWorks for mechanical design
  • AutoCAD for process design
  • Rapid prototyping
  • New product development and introduction
  • Lean manufacturing

 

IT SPECIALIST

Wentworth Institute of Technology student offering a strong foundation in IT combined with 6 months of internship experience. Proven track record of providing Tier 1 & 2 support both in-person and remotely using ServiceNow. Skilled in explaining technical issues to non-technical end users. Experience with migration projects for both Macs and Windows. Creative troubleshooter with a customer service mindset.

 

BIOMEDICAL ENGINEER

Class of 2019 with minors in Manufacturing and Biology. More than a year of experience in the medical device industry. Strong interest in manufacturing and working knowledge of new and upcoming medical devices such as orthopedics, implants, and prosthetics.

 

CONSTRUCTION PROJECT MANAGER

Results-driven construction and project manager with 8 months of management experience and 1+ years of experience in the construction industry. Skilled at comprehending and interpreting architectural and civil blueprint plans especially using Bluebeam. Experience with, or exposure to, various construction management situations including scheduling, contracts, problem reporting and resolution, management of subcontractors and site safety.

 

Spring CO-OP + CAREER Fair is Tuesday, March 19th! For events leading up to Career Fair, check out our Prep Week Schedule.

To make an appointment with your Co-op + Career Advisor call the front desk at 617 989 4101 or stop by during spring 2019 Drop-In Hours: Monday, Tuedsday, and Wednesday 1:30pm – 4:00pm while classes are in session.

Informational Interviewing Tips

By: Kristen Eckman

One of the best ways to find out what an industry, company, or position is really like is to talk with individuals in the career you are considering. It is also an excellent way to expand your network and prepare for future job searches.

What is an informational interview?

An informational interview is a highly focused information gathering session with a networking contact designed to help you choose or refine your career path by giving you the “insider” point of view.
Through the process, you will gain a better sense of the real life experiences, challenges and opportunities, specific and perhaps hidden demands, as well as the drawbacks and limitations of the career field.
An informational interview can be in-person, over the phone, or via Skype (or another video platform). You should dress professionally and be prepared with a list of questions.

Informational Interview

How to Informational Interview :

Identify someone to interview

  • Consider family, friends, professors, advisors, alumni, and contacts from LinkedIn already in your network.
  • Get correct spelling and pronunciation of the contact’s name. Know their job title and whether they prefer a salutation.
  • If you are on co-op, consider conducting an informational interview with your supervisor and/or ask them for potential leads.

Contact that person

  • Reach out to the contact via email (see end of page for email templates).
  • State the reason you are reaching out and how you learned about their work.
  • Request a short (20-30 minute) in-person, phone, or Skype interview.
    • If the meeting is in-person, you should go to them.

Schedule the interview

  • Prepare yourself to be flexible. Consider when it is convenient for them to meet with you.
  • Professionals prefer that you suggest a few dates and times to meet. It takes the work away from them and makes the decision easier.

Confirm your appointment

  • Be sure you agree on a date, time, and format for your meeting. A brief note of confirmation will serve as a helpful reminder to you both.

Research the individual and career field

  • Research and read about the career field, the company, and the individual before you meet. This experience should not be a starting point for your career research, but supplement what you have already learned.
  • Your interview should focus on the individual and their experience; it is not a time for you to talk about yourself. Should the interviewee ask, be prepared to share a bit about your experience.

Prepare a list of relevant questions (and your resume)

  • You are the interviewer, so be prepared.
    • Find example questions at end of page.
  •  Bring an up-to-date copy of your resume to share only if the interviewee asks for one.

Be on time for your meeting!

  • Arrive 10-15 early if you are meeting in-person OR be sure your landline/internet connection is properly working. Be ready-to-go 15 minutes before the interview.
  • Be sure you are professionally dressed, equal to or exceeding the level of dress required at the interviewee’s place of work.

Follow-up with a thank you

  •  Always follow-up with a short note thanking the interviewee for their time. They may be a critical part of your network in the future. NOTE: consider how you will continue to stay in contact in the future.

Business Card

Don’t Forget To…

  • Take control of follow-up. Don’t leave the response open to the individual you have contacted. Let them know when you will reach back out, if you haven’t heard from them by the designated time.
  • Mirror the behavior of the professional you are interviewing.
  • Don’t forget your professional introduction. They will inevitably ask you to tell them about yourself at some point, so be ready with that important information.
  • Keep records of your contacts. Consider keeping a journal or creating a spreadsheet to track the names, contact information, and notes from your interviews. It is also helpful to keep the dates of contact and follow-up.
  • Maintain contact with the individuals you interview, but realize that some contacts might not be a good fit for the relationships you are trying to cultivate right now (or perhaps, ever). Label as: forget, hold, keep.
  • Connect on LinkedIn. Remember to always send a personalized message with your invitation.

Sample Questions 

  • Who would you consider the leaders of this industry (companies or individuals)?
  • How do you see this industry changing in the next 5-10 years?
  • What is a typical day/week like for you?
  • What challenges do you face in your position?
  • What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
  • Why did you choose to work at your current company?
  • What was your preparation for work in this field?
  • How did you get into this field? What special skills did you have before entering it?
  • Are there any skills you wished you had before starting the job?
  • What educational preparation would you recommend for a new hire in this field?
  • What experiences/skills do you expect new hires to have for this position?
  • How would you describe the culture of your organization?
  • What values does your company highly regard?
  • How do you know you are successful in what you do?
  • How does your company develop leaders?
  • With your current perspective, what additional skills would you have developed while at school to prepare you for this role?
  • What do you like the most and the least about your job?
  • What are the greatest rewards of your work?
  • What are the greatest frustrations? How do you deal with them?
  • What professional associations are beneficial to this job?
  • Is there anyone else you suggest I contact?
  • May I remain in contact with you? 

Sample Email Language 

Utilize the sample emails below as a guide to contacting your first interviewees.

(No prior connection)

Subject:  WIT student seeking industry knowledge

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name,

I am a sophomore at Wentworth Institute of Technology studying Biomedical Engineering. I found your name through the LinkedIn WIT alumni page. As a sophomore seeking my first co-op, I am hoping to learn from current professionals in the field. In viewing your LinkedIn page, I feel like I could gain valuable insight from what you have to share about your experience.

I wondered if we might be able to set a time for a quick 20-30 minute meeting where I could ask you some questions that will help me prepare for the co-op search ahead of me. We could meet in person, or speak over the phone/SKYPE.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Your first and last name

 

(From referral)

Subject: WIT student referred by Professor Christiano

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name,

I am a sophomore studying Facilities Planning and Management at Wentworth Institute of Technology.  Professor Christiano encouraged me to contact you. I would like to learn more about the field of Facilities Planning and Management before I begin my co-op search. I am particularly interested to learn about your own experience at (insert name of company).

I hope to meet with you at your convenience. Please email me with times and dates that are compatible with your schedule. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Your first and last name

 

Spring 2019 WITwear Hours: Mon–Wed 4PM–8PM, Thurs 5PM–8 PM, Fri 10AM– 12:30PM

Make an appointment with your Co-op + Career Advisor by calling the front desk at 617 989 4101.

CO-OPS + CAREERS Neurodiversity in the Workplace Recap

By: Kristen Eckman

Neurodiversity in the Workplace

Workshop and Panel Discussion

January 22, 2019

10:00 – 12:00pm

On Tuesday, January 22nd, Wentworth Institute of Technology CO-OPS + CAREERS partnered with the Massachusetts General Hospital Aspire Program to host the inaugural Neurodiversity in the Workplace Summit.

Speaker

Most organizations have started to recognize the importance of diversity in the workplace. In 2018, neurodiversity gained the attention of employers who understand that neurodiverse candidates are a rich, untapped pool of highly qualified individuals who can be sourced for traditionally hard-to-fill roles.  People who are neurodiverse often have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  While many with ASD are highly competent, loyal, trustworthy, and demonstrate strong attention to detail, sometimes they struggle through interviews due to their challenges with social interactions and communication skills.

‘Neurodiversity’ means valuing the differences in how people think and work. A diagnosis of ADHD, autism/Asperger’s syndrome, or a learning disability may indicate a different set of strengths than someone considered ‘neurotypical.’ What makes these individuals different, may be the very characteristics that add value to a team. Since 10% of adults are either on the autism spectrum or have Asperger’s, ADHD, or a learning disability, most workforces are already neurodiverse. Companies like Microsoft, SAP, EY, HP and Dell EMC have recognized and highlighted the benefit of a neurodiverse workforce.

Panel discussion

Wentworth Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts General Hospital have created a partnership, ASPIRE@Wentworth to support Wentworth’s neurodiverse co-op students and their employers. The Summit allowed Wentworth to share our unique program and helped employers learn how to access and support neurodiverse talent in their workplace.  Our employer partners, Turner Construction Company and National Grid, spoke about their successes and challenges on-boarding neurodiverse candidates and two Wentworth neurodiverse students told their stories about succeeding in the workplace.

Student speakers

To learn more about autism in the workplace, please read: https://trainingindustry.com/articles/workforce-development/autism-at-work-hiring-and-training-employees-on-the-spectrum/

https://hbr.org/2017/05/neurodiversity-as-a-competitive-advantage

And to see how top organizations are embracing neurodiverse hiring, spend two minutes watching this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8SELIzv8Vc

To learn more about the co-op program and hiring Wentworth students please visit our website or email coopsandcareers@wit.edu.

Follow-up: Why and How

By: Becky Smith

So, you’ve submitted a bunch of job applications and you haven’t heard anything. You may feel helpless, but there is something you can do!

First: Gather feedback that can help you to better attract attention. Ask your Co-op + Career Advisor to review your application materials including resume, cover letter, and any correspondence. If you are submitting a portfolio, get that reviewed too.

Second: Follow up to inquire about the status of the position.

Email follow-up graphic

Context: Pushy or Helpful? Desperate or Communicative?

Many people are initially uncomfortable with the idea of follow-up. They don’t want to appear pushy or desperate. Good news is: You can follow up without making a bad impression!

Co-op + Career Advisor Sara Dell has a great context for follow-up: “You are actually helping the employer by following up.”

Your recruiter or hiring manager likely has a pile of applications that they need to sort through, but other competing priorities keep them from digging in. By contacting them and expressing your ongoing interest in the job, you make it easier for them to engage with you and get started on the vetting process!

Be extra helpful: Include your resume and cover letter in your follow-up so there is no need to search for your application.

 

What to Say:

Co-op + Career Advisor Jer Jurma says he advises students to provide some structure for interview scheduling: “The tone is active in a follow-up communication. Give your reader a clear way to respond. Name a specific time period that you will be available for interviews and if it is getting close to your co-op deadline, share the date of your deadline.”

Examples:

“I will be in the area during the week of December 17 and am currently scheduling interviews. I am still really interested in your company and can meet at your convenience.”

“Wednesdays and Fridays are the days that I have the most flexibility. I’m sure we can find a time that is mutually convenient.”

“My school requires me to report a co-op hire by May 11. I want to respect your hiring timeline, but I think we can find a mutually convenient time. I wonder if we can get something on the calendar for the last week of April or the first week of May.”

I often advise students to have something new to say when they follow up.  

“Since I applied on November 17, I have added more relevant projects to my resume. See attached.”

“I have been following your company on Twitter for the past month and am really impressed with your new product launch.”

“I have been interviewing this week and am eager meet with your company as well – working in Operations at ADL Systems is one of my top choices at this time.”

 

How to find a point of contact for follow-up

Don’t have a name?

Find a recruiter or a relevant manager by searching on the company website or LinkedIn.

There is usually a main number or general email available on the company website. In start-ups and small companies, sometimes these emails and calls are answered by the founder or owner!

Have a name, but no contact information?

Websites like hunter.io can provide you with guidance regarding the email naming conventions for most companies.

 

Find more resources below:

Anatomy of a follow-up email: https://coopsandcareers.wit.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/46/2018/06/Application-Follow-up-Email-Samples.pdf

More about LinkedIn: https://coopsandcareers.wit.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/46/2018/06/LinkedIn-Guide.pdf

Whether you are preparing for a co-op search or a job search, the Center for Cooperative Education and Career Development has the resources you need to be successful. If you haven’t met with a Co-op + Career Advisor yet, give us a call at 617-989-4101 to schedule an appointment and we’ll get you started on the right track.

First-Generation Students and the Job Search

By: Abbey Pober

Decorative Image

How does a co-op or job search differ for First-Generation students? Before I can get into those nuances, we must first define what it means to be a “First-Generation” or “First-Gen Student”. This definition varies slightly from institute to institute, but here at Wentworth we define First-Gen Students as “students who come from families where their parents did not complete a four-year college degree.” What this ultimately means for students who are the first in their families to attend college is that there is a “possibility that a student may lack the critical cultural capital necessary for college success because their parents did not attend college (Defining First Generation, 2017).” This does not mean that a First-Gen student will not be successful, it just means that they face hurdles and obstacles to navigating the college experience that their peers with parents who can guide them through the process, do not.

When it comes to a co-op or job search, First-Gen students often face additional challenges to understanding and conducting their search as well as with the transition from college to work.  From my own personal experience as a First-Gen student, I can remember not knowing where to start. Some of my questions included: What are my career path options? How do I network? What do I need to include on my resume? And why do I need to write a cover letter? The good news is, you don’t have to know the answers to these questions, you just need to know who to ask to get the support you need to be successful in your co-op and job searches.

This is where your Co-op + Careers Advisor comes in! The first day I walked into the Career Center at my University I was determined to get a summer internship between my Junior and Senior years but had no clue what career paths were available to my major, and the types of internships that would help to position myself for a future on that path. I was also very intimidated by networking because I knew my parents and extended family did not necessarily have connections in the field I was headed into and did not know where to begin building my own network. Through a series of follow up meetings, my career advisor helped me identify several paths that I could take (which included making my way to the job I am in now), supported my search through helping me tailor my resume/cover letter for each opportunity I was interested in, and educated me on the various on campus and off campus opportunities to network with and meet employers. The moral of this story? The first thing you should do is seek support and ask your questions! At Wentworth, you have a dedicated Co-op + Career Advisor based on your major who is here to help you prepare for conducting your co-op and job searches. They can help you navigate choosing opportunities that are a good fit for you, strategize ways to make connections through on and off campus opportunities, and cheer you on through your whole process. Your professors are excellent people to discuss your career goals with and identify industry events that can help you on your search.

So, what do you do if you or members of your family don’t have connections in your target industry or at employers you are interested in? First, don’t worry – your networking is a “living” resource, that grows with your career and can change as you gain experience and expertise. It is normal not to have a network if you don’t have work experience and haven’t been participating in industry events. Don’t let the lack of an established network prevent you from taking steps to build yours. You can start creating your network right here at Wentworth through events and opportunities to connect with employers and your peers, including: the Fall and Spring CO-OP + CAREER Fairs, Mock Interview Day, Wentworth on the Road, Employer In Residence drop-ins, Employer info-sessions, and major specific events. Want to take your efforts a step further? This article outlines 6 ways to get ahead when you don’t have connections.

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.

Resources:

Defining First Generation. (2017, Nov 20). Center for First-Generation Student Success Blog. Retrieved from https://firstgen.naspa.org/blog/defining-first-generation

Sanders, K. (2018, Sept 25). 6 ways to get ahead when you don’t have connections. Fast Company. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/90236706/6-ways-to-get-ahead-when-you-dont-have-connections

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.

A Guide to Personal Branding

By: Hadley Hopkins

Hi there! I’m Hadley Hopkins the marketing intern here at CO-OPS + CAREER. As an advertising student, I am very concerned with branding. Not only of the brands I work for but also my own personal brand. Below I am going to walk you through the steps of how to brand yourself by using my own professional life as a model, so you can learn a little about me and a lot about creating your own personal brand.

You may be thinking, ‘what is a personal brand and why do I need one?’ A personal brand is a combination of your skills and experiences that make you who you are. So technically, you already have one, but by shaping it into a clear message you will be more confident in your strengths and potential employers will easily be able to see who you are and what you stand for.

Find Your Strengths

The first step to creating your brand is to evaluate your strengths. I did this by making a list of my best qualities including character traits as well as industry related skills. I tried to think of traits that are unique to me and would make me stand out:

  • Teamwork
  • Flexible
  • Multi-tasking
  • Teachable
  • Strategic thinker
  • Logo design
  • Making GIFs
  • Branding

Once you have you have your list of attributes it is important to think of evidence to support these claims. Recall situations or experiences that prove these traits are a strength, for example:

Multi-tasking/flexible – At my past internship, I was working on a design project that was interrupted because my supervisor realized a flyer needed to go out to print by the end of the day to be done in time for the event. So, I began working on that project but then had to stop in the middle to go take pictures of an event that was taking place. Although I took on many projects at once I was able to prioritize to give each one the attention it needed to finish everything in a timely manner.

Logo design – I have created various logo designs for different companies, clubs and organizations

Share Your Story

Another aspect of your brand that you will want to focus on is your story. How did you get to where you are? What makes you passionate about your field?  This allows people to know you on an emotional level and not just as a list of your accomplishments and skills. For me, I like to tell the story of how I decided to study advertising:

Advertising and graphic design have been a passion of mine since I created, branded and marketed my own energy drink “Spazz” for my 7th grade technology class.  I found the balance of creativity and logistic to be the perfect mix for my analytical yet artsy mind.

Show Off Your Quirks

An additional way to make your brand seem more personal is by showing off your quirks. These habits make you who you are and can add some “spice” to your brand. For me, the fact that I am a southerner now living in Boston makes for interesting tidbits, as well as my passion for different cultures:

I may be from Georgia, but I have definitely adopted the New England lifestyle. You can catch me sporting my Red Sox hat, and ‘Bean Boots with a Dunkin’ in hand but I will never give up saying y’all. I love all things food, travel and art.

Find Your “Take-away”

Once you have figured out the main aspects of your brand you will be able to create a key take-away that embodies everything you want to express to potential employers:

“I am an analytical, yet creative thinker who is flexible and has a passion for creating meaningful work that helps enhance a brand.”

Although you will probably never be asked in an interview what your mission statement is, this key takeaway can give you direction for materials that future employers will see such as your resume, cover letter, portfolio and LinkedIn profile.  When creating these materials, it is important to ask yourself: ‘does this align with my brand and is my mission statement well represented?’

Another way to strengthen your brand is through the look of your materials. It’s important that your resume, cover letter, portfolio, and LinkedIn profile are cohesive. I suggest sticking with the same font across all materials and make sure you use the same header for both your resume and cover letter. This will help future employers recognize you better across all platforms.

Here is an example of my LinkedIn profile:

Example of LinkedIn Profile

And an example of my resume that I feel represent my brand:

Example Resume

Creating a personal brand takes time and effort but is totally worth it!  With these steps I hope you can create a brand that is uniquely your own and will help you stand out to employers.

As always, we encourage you to stop by CO-OPS + CAREERS to discuss your questions with a Co-op + Career Advisor. You can 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. We look forward to connecting with you soon!