How to Ace a Phone Interview

By: STEAM Boston Writing Team

This article was originally posted to STEAM Boston. Read the full story here: https://www.steamboston.com/how-to-ace-a-phone-interview/

A phone interview is how many companies start the interview process. The interviewer will typically discuss the position requirements and attempt to gauge your interest in the position. Though a phone interview seems like low stakes on the surface, it’s actually your first point of contact with the company– and first impressions are everything.

Phone interviews are typically scheduled in advance, but there are some cases when a recruiter might give you a surprise call. Always be ready to answer the phone in a professional tone and have a voicemail is professional as well. If you’re caught off guard by a call, set a later time to chat when you can get to a quieter place (whether it be 15 minutes or later that week).

Woman at table with tablet

Ask questions and do research

Prior to your phone interview, there are a handful of things you should be able to talk about with confidence. First, you should be able to articulate a clear understanding of the position. If you can’t, write down some questions to ask during your phone interview to clear things up. Second, check how your resume matches up with the position requirements. Make notes in areas that the interviewer might ask you about. And third, be ready to talk about yourself. The interviewer will likely ask what makes you interested in the position and how you’ve learned from your previous experiences. Be ready to talk about how your past experience and future goals make you a good candidate.

Keep your notes handy

The great news about a phone interview is that no one can see you, so you can refer to notes during the conversation. Keep your resume, cover letter, and the job description handy so you don’t have to recite them off the top of your head. You should also take notes during the interview to help you stay on track. Plus, they’ll be something to refer back to if you move on to an in-person interview.

Remember to articulate

However, being behind the phone is a double-edged sword. While your interviewer can’t see your notes, they also can’t see the hand gestures or facial expressions that help you communicate. It’s important to be articulate during your phone interview and maintain a friendly yet professional tone. Smiling while you speak can help you project a more positive image. And for some people, it helps to dress up and sit in a mirror during the call to mimic a face-to-face interview. You should also keep a glass of water nearby if your throat runs dry.

Plan, Practice, and Prepare

Phone interviews can be nerve-wracking, but they’re a great opportunity for you to get your foot in the door. The key is to prepare, listen closely, and be polite. A follow-up email thanking the interviewer for their time never hurts either. Be sure to mention a few details from the conversation. In the end, preparing for a phone interview isn’t that different from an in-person one. With a little confidence and a lot of preparation, you’ll be in the second round in no time.


If you are a student or professional in the “Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics” field and you want to tell us your story email stories@steamboston.com or tweet @steamboston and let’s talk.

STEAM Boston helps students in the Greater Boston area with career exploration and career advice, check them out at steamboston.com

How to Keep Your Resume to One Page

By: Sara Dell

Sometimes keeping a resume to one page seems like an impossible task, but there are ways to do it. The tips and tricks below will let you maximize the space on your resume and make it easy to skim quickly (without turning it into a WALL OF WORDS which the recruiter will find hard to read).

Given the volume of applications today, most recruiters are looking for a way to rule out candidate applications and a long resume is easy to spot. If a candidate cannot be succinct on a resume, what will their written communication at work be like? Simply put, if your resume is over one page and you don’t have 10-15 years of experience, then you risk ending up in the recruiter’s NO pile.

I will use Microsoft Word to demonstrate how to control the format and space your page.  Google Docs does not yet have this robust functionality but it may in the near future.

You can use all or some of these suggestions to get your resume down to one page:

  1. Check your Margins. Should be between 1 and .5 inches (right, left, top, and bottom). Go to Layout and chose narrow or custom margins.Margins in Word
  2. Check your Font size. The body font should be between 10 -12 pt. Try reducing the font size for everything but the header and maybe the section headers.
  3. Condense your Header. Most Headers can be 1-2 lines with all the relevant information: Name, email, phone, City, ST, LinkedIn URL, link to portfolio or GitHub. Avoid making your name too large (or too small) on the page. Example:Header example

 Note: Tips 4 and 5 that follow can be used to tighten or reduce space between lines, entries and sections.  You can use either method to insert some space between entries and sections so they are distinct from each other, to make them easy to skim.

  1. Check your spacing before and after lines. Reduce spacing before or after lines to 0 (not auto).  You can also use this function to put space between your entries or sections to make them distinct from each other and easy to recognize as a separate entry or section. Line spacing
  2. Reduce the size of blank lines between sections and/or entries. (Caveat: Blank lines between sections and/or entries should be equal and consistent throughout the resume. Examples of sections are: Education, Skills, Projects and entries are: individual jobs, co-ops, or projects)

That said, you can make these blank lines (or hard returns) between sections or entries much smaller by reducing the font size to 8 pt., 5 pt., or even 2 pt. if needed. The issue may be that you cannot easily see the hard returns between sections or entries.

Whenever you press the Return or Enter key while editing a document, the word processor inserts a hard return.  Hard returns are invisible in Word until you click on the paragraph button circled in yellow below.

Paragraphs in Word

  1. Reduce Experience Top Lines. These can almost always be just one line.  For example:

Experience headers

  1. Edit down the number of bullets for your less important entries (Additional Experience, Volunteer Experience or Extracurricular Activities) or entries that have too many bullets (5+).
  2. Delete older, less important information, such as experience from High School if you are a Junior (unless it is extraordinary) or older additional experience not directly related to your major, volunteer work or extracurricular activities.

Bonus: Control your date alignment by putting in a tab stop.

  1. Make sure your ruler is showing by going to the magnifying glass with “Tell me what you want to do” and typing in “show ruler”.
  2. Click through the tab options on the upper left-hand side of the window until you reach a right aligned tab stop which looks like a backwards L:Orientation
  3. Position your cursor on the line you want the tab stop to appear. Click the location on the ruler where you want the tab stop to be.  (Note: if you want it to end at the margin, you will have place the tab stop on the ruler and then using your cursor, drag it over the margin and drop it on top of the margin symbol.)Ruler in Word
  4. Highlight all tabs and extra spaces and hit Tab on your keyboard.

Tabs in word

The tab stop will stay wherever you put it regardless of what changes you make to your resume.  You can set up tabs stops on multiple lines by highlighting the entire area you want hard tabs and then insert a tab stop following the directions above.

Mark your calendars for CO-OP + CAREER Fair on Tuesday, March 17 from 3-6pm. As always, to make an appointment with your CO-OP + CAREER Advisor call the front desk at 617.989.4101 or stop by the CO-OPS + CAREERS Office.

7 Questions to Ask in a Software Engineering Interview to Figure Out If It’s the Right Fit

By: Joy Ebertz

This article was originally posted by The Muse. Read the full story here: https://www.themuse.com/advice/software-engineer-questions-to-ask-interview-find-the-right-fit

When you’re looking for a new job, it’s obvious that the company is interviewing you. It can be harder to remember that you’re also interviewing the company to see if the role, the team, and the organization as a whole are the right fit for you. After all, the last thing you want is to spend a couple of years stuck in a job you wish you’d never taken.

And you can and should be picky: As an engineer, you have skills that are in high demand. It seems like everyone in the tech industry is hiring—and software is expanding into many other industries, too. That’s all the more reason to make sure you’re screening and evaluating companies based on fit.

But how do you actually do that? If you’re a programmer embarking on a job search, what questions should you ask to figure out if a company and role are a good fit? As a senior staff software engineer who has also spent some time as a hiring manager and interviewed many times on both side of the fence, I’ve given some thought to it.

While the exact qualities you’re prioritizing and looking for will vary depending on what you value and on your working style, there are a few questions that can be especially revealing.

  1. What Does the Team Look Like?
  2. What Are Your Expectations for the Person in This Role?
  3. What’s Your Tech Stack and What Development Tools Do You Use?
  4. How Are Design Decisions Made? And If There Are Conflicts, How Are Those Conflicts Resolved?
  5. How Are Projects Prioritized and Planned?
  6. What Are the Biggest Challenges Facing Your Team?
  7. What Is Your Diversity and Inclusion Strategy?

1. What Does the Team Look Like?

Because you’ll be working most closely with your team, those people will have the biggest impact on your experience at the company. So you’ll probably want to have a sense of what the team looks like. How many people are there? What are their roles? How do they interact? Some people thrive on larger teams while others do best on much smaller teams; some people like the context that working closely with people on other teams brings while others find it more distracting than helpful.

Asking about the size and structure of your potential team and learning about its day-to-day functioning can tell you something about how cross-collaborative the team is, what the seniority of its members is, and how job responsibilities are distributed. Does the team work a lot with product management or NOC (the network operations center)? Are those functions considered to be part of the team? Is there a separate Ops team or is the team practicing devOps? Does the team have insight into customer concerns or input into product features? How is the manager involved with the team? Are there senior team members to learn from or junior people to mentor?

There’s a lot to unpack here, but the answers can reveal whether there are opportunities to learn the things you want to learn—such as how to keep a server running or how to run a usability test—and they can give you a sense of what the team dynamic will be.

You may have a very clear image of what you’re looking for in a team, but if you’re struggling to figure out exactly what’s important to you, think about past experiences and what you loved or found frustrating about them. The patterns you see will help you identify your priorities.

2. What Are Your Expectations for the Person in This Role?

While this can reveal interesting information at any level and for any kind of role, it’s especially important for higher-level engineers. Entry-level software positions typically look similar across companies and titles and bands are consistent. However, at higher levels, there tends to be a lot more variation.

For example, a senior staff software engineer job at two different companies can come with completely different sets of expectations. When I was recently interviewing for roles with this title, I found that some companies expected me to be on a small scrum team and spend all of my time coding while others expected me to spend a large percentage (in at least one case, more than half) of my time mentoring, speaking, or working cross-functionally. Some hoped to leverage particular knowledge I already had while others wanted to leverage more general design thinking or leadership experience. None of these are bad, but they might not be what you’re looking for.

It’s also important to find out if a company will offer growth opportunities in the areas you want to focus on. For example, if they want you to leverage your deep knowledge of Java but you want to learn a new programming language, you’re going to have problems. If, however, they want to leverage your knowledge of API design while still allowing you to learn a new language, that might be a good fit.

3. What’s Your Tech Stack and What Development Tools Do You Use?

Many engineers care a lot about the tech stack they work in and the tools they’ll be using. If you’re one of them, you should definitely ask this question and make sure the answers align with your preferences. I’ve personally never cared too much about the exact languages or development tools a company uses, but I still find them useful to ask about because these questions can also reveal the company’s approach to code and projects more broadly.

For example, when I was interviewing recently, I discovered that one of the companies I was talking to was using a cutting-edge programming language. Using brand-new technologies can be an opportunity to become an expert and help shape the direction that technology takes industry-wide. However, it can also mean surprise bugs that take weeks or months to unearth and a lack of community support.

What development tools a company is using can also be informative. Are they picking best of breed or cheaper alternatives? Are they trying to build everything in-house? Are they missing key elements? For example, do they seem to skimp on or lack monitoring tools? If they aren’t following industry best practices, that might be a red flag—or you could see it as an opportunity for you to introduce those practices. Influencing an engineering culture in a positive way is often a good way to get promoted, but it can also be a lot of work, or in some cases, an unwinnable battle.

Natalia Vinnik, Senior Engineering Manager at Google, likes to ask specifically about code review tools. She’s not tied to a specific tool, but rather she’s trying to see if there’s a culture around code and design reviews. First of all, is there a code review tool? And do they gate production changes?

“It tells a lot about eng culture,” she says. For example, it can tell you “if people are open to get feedback from each other or if it’s more about implementation and [code] doesn’t matter as long as it works.” Companies that have a strong culture of feedback on code are often more open to feedback in other areas.

4. How Are Design Decisions Made? And If There Are Conflicts, How Are Those Conflicts Resolved?

Some companies are very collaborative and others are very hierarchical; some have strict processes and others are more fluid. Asking about design decisions is a great way to learn which ways a company leans. Plus, design discussions are one of the places where conflict is most likely to arise, so understanding how those conflicts are resolved can help you get a sense of the overall working style at an organization.

Does the team plan designs in collaborative sessions or does one engineer go off and write a design document? Who is in charge of various designs? Is it always a single tech lead or is responsibility shared, with different team members playing the lead role for different projects? Is feedback discussed in group meetings, one-on-one sessions, emails, or not at all? (It can be a problem if there’s no chance to give feedback.) If there are disagreements, does the lead engineer make the decision or the manager or the group with a vote?

If you’re like me, one of the things you like most about software is having a say in design and other technical decisions, which may not be a possibility if you’re more junior and the company is very hierarchical. However, the other extreme can be a red flag too—I’ve seen companies where very little gets done because the culture is so collaborative that you need to get everyone to agree on each little detail before moving forward.

There’s no correct answer here, just one that appeals to your preferences. The exact balance that works best for you may depend on how much you enjoy being involved in design in the first place, how much structure and instruction you prefer, how willing you are to speak up and voice your opinion, and how adept you are at influencing others.

5. How Are Projects Prioritized and Planned?

Understanding how a company picks which projects to put its resources toward and how it goes about bringing those projects to fruition can tell you a lot about what’s important there—both in terms of products and in terms of engineering values. For example, is the company prioritizing tech debt or only focusing on new features? Are they able to focus on doing a few things well or do they try to do a little bit of everything? Are they building things to last or are they over-engineering?

But that’s not the only reason to ask this question. The answer can also indicate how much influence you, as an individual engineer, might have. If you have a great idea, what would it take to make it a reality? Is there a lot of red tape or would you have a good amount of freedom to test things out? If they mention holding hackathons and actually implementing features inspired by hacks, for example, it can indicate an openness to ideas coming from anywhere.

This question can also give good insight into how nimble and fast moving the company really is. Every software company I’ve ever talked to has claimed to practice Agile (almost all Scrum). However, some of them are actually mostly using the Waterfall methodology with a facade of Agile. Some people thrive better in a truly Agile environment where they are constantly making adjustments and pivoting, but others do better with more predictability and longer time horizons. Digging into what processes actually look like—rather than going solely by terminology that may not reflect reality—can ensure that you find the right fit for you.

6. What Are the Biggest Challenges Facing Your Team?

I like to leave this question open-ended since I think it’s interesting to see if people pick something technical, cultural, or process related. Regardless, the answer can tell you a lot about team culture and can give you insight into what you might be working on.

Are the challenges they bring up something you’re excited to try to fix or at least willing to work with? Samantha Paras, Engineering Tech Lead at DataFox, also likes to ask this to gauge if one of the challenges mentioned is an area that she feels like she can contribute to. Knowing that she can make an impact makes her much more excited about a company.

Are there challenges? If a team isn’t trying to improve anything, that can indicate apathy or little room for growth on the team. Does everyone on the team reference the same challenge? Consistency can mean good self-awareness across the team (or alternately, a serious problem). Do they seem optimistic about finding a solution?

When I was interviewing at one company, every single person I talked to referenced their design and decision making process being cumbersome and slow. While I obviously wouldn’t want to deal with that, the fact that everyone noticed the problem and wanted it fixed made it seem likely to be addressed quickly. Several of them also referenced discussions they were already having around changing that process.

A good follow-up question might be, “How easy is it to make changes?” or “How empowered do you feel to solve that challenge?” Too much change can be bad, but it’s also a bad sign if it’s impossible to course correct or confront challenges.

Vinnik likes to ask a slightly different question: “What keeps you up at night?” But she’s looking for the same sort of information. “I like to know what real technical and [organizational] challenges the company faces and how they think about [them]. I look for transparency and how they approach challenges,” she says. “If they only talk about working a lot and being paged a lot without thinking about fundamental changes that can help, it’s a red flag. If they say there are no challenges or something vague it’s a yellow flag.”

7. What Is Your Diversity and Inclusion Strategy?

The tech industry (and software engineering in particular) really struggles with diversity and inclusion—despite the fact that research has shown that diversity improves performance.

Paras always wants to make sure that a company isn’t just looking to hire a diverse group, which is often the easier and more obvious thing, but is also working to make their culture more inclusive. Inclusion efforts might mean supporting employee resource groups, educating leaders, and fostering company values around celebrating differences. Paras also points out that with diversity and inclusion, grassroots efforts alone aren’t enough, so it’s important to find out if and how leadership supports the efforts.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a software company with perfect diversity numbers, so you’re not necessarily looking for them to have everything figured out. Instead, you’re trying to gauge how they respond to a longstanding problem, if they’re even willing to admit they have one. I find it extremely telling to see if a company tries to put a positive spin on something negative or if they admit they have work to do. I also like to see how much thought and effort they’ve put toward doing better. Are they trying creative solutions? Are they using data to inform their efforts? Are they actually working to fix the issue or are they complacent and giving excuses? (Read more about how to tell if a company’s walking the walk on diversity and inclusion here.)

The answer might tell you more about the company than just its D&I strategy. How a company approaches this very challenging problem can be indicative of how they approach other complicated issues and how transparent they tend to be. Do they face obstacles head-on and strive for constant improvement even when it’s hard or do they just push things under the rug?

With most of these questions, there isn’t a general right or wrong answer. It’s all about finding the place that sounds perfect to you. Do you thrive with consistency or chaos? Do you work well under pressure or do you shut down? Do you get excited about working with brand-new technologies or do you get tired even contemplating it?

Almost every company you’ll talk to leaves at least five minutes at the end of each interview for you to ask any questions you have. Use that time wisely. Your job is a big part of your life, so it’s worth taking the time to ensure the one you’re accepting is the best possible fit for you.

CO-OP + CAREER Fair Event Recap

By: Abbey Pober

Our annual Fall CO-OP + CAREER Fair was held on Tuesday, October 2nd from 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm in Tansey Gymnasium. The event hosted 180 employers ranging from local design firms to international technology organizations and everything in between. It was our most well attended Fair to date, drawing 875 students from all majors, seeking both co-op and full-time opportunities. Students came prepared to spend the afternoon learning and making new connections.

Fall Career Fair

Students who attended the CO-OP + CAREER Fair, below are some tips for following up. If you had a LinkedIn photo taken, look for an email from coopsandcareers@wit.edu in about a month.

  • Send a thank you email to the employers with whom you spoke. Find our guide to thank you notes here. If you need a reminder of which companies with whom you spoke a list of employers is available on our website for reference. Use this opportunity to include a copy of your resume, even if you gave them one at the Fair.
  • If a recruiter gave you specific instructions, be sure to follow through on those items and then follow up with the recruiter.
  • Unable to send a thank-you note for lack of contact information? Stay connected through social media: find the company or even the person you spoke with on LinkedIn or Twitter. Follow their feeds to stay up to date on new openings and other news!
  • You are always welcome to check in with your Co-op + Career Advisor to see if they can provide you with any helpful information, too.

Fall Career Fair Booths

If you were unable to attend the Fair be on the lookout for future opportunities to connect with employers, including the announcement about the spring CO-OP + CAREER Fair. Our next event is Mock Interview Day, on October 22nd , and student registration is now open on WITworks. This is a great opportunity to practice your interview skills and get feedback directly from employers.

Employers, be on the lookout for future recruiting opportunities in the coming months, and for details about our spring CO-OP + CAREER Fair. Interested in participating in Mock Interview Day? Register for this free event through your WITworks account or by contacting Chris McIntyre, mintyrec@wit.edu.

Thank you to everyone who joined on October 2nd for the Fair. A special thank you to our sponsors: BOND BrothersCommodore BuildersDACONElectric Supply Center, NOVO Construction, Schneider Electric, and TG Gallagher. Your support makes all the difference.

 

We look forward to seeing everyone at our next event!

What Jobs Can I Get With a Major in Computer Information Systems?

By: STEAM Boston Team

Computer Information Systems (CIS) is a growing Information Technology (IT) discipline that is getting a lot of attention nowadays. There is plenty of entry-level jobs for Computer Information Systems graduates. It also has an excellent long-term outlook. For example, the demand for Computer and Information Systems Managers is supposed to grow 12 percent between 2016-2026. That’s a faster growth rate than the average for all occupations. So, a CIS degree can offer you a high-earning, satisfying long-term career.

CIS – Understanding the Business of Technology

Computer with glasses in front

Computer technology is a vast field with many disciplines and sub-disciplines. So students often struggle to understand what a Computer Information Systems degree means for them. Also, it’s easy to confuse Computer Science and Computer Information Systems degrees.

A Computer Science (CS) degree is intended for students who want to pursue hardcore computer programming. It teaches you how to build software. The emphasis is on math and problem-solving for software creation. However, in real-world environments, most companies don’t develop their software. They purchase ready-made applications from vendors and then customize them for their business requirements. The business of choosing the right software and customization requires less computer programming skills and more understanding of business needs. Computer Information Systems curriculums are designed to teach students how to use the right technology effectively for businesses.

In a Computer Information Systems major, you will learn about topics like system analysis, information architecture, information organization and management, and business consulting. You will be able to help businesses choose the right technology.

Types of Entry-Level Jobs You Can Get

A CIS major opens up many job options for you. Here are some entry-level jobs for Computer Information Systems (CIS) graduates:

Technical Support Specialist or Help Desk – Technical support specialists help users with software and hardware problems. You will assist customers with your technical know-how. You will use both your customer service skills and computer knowledge to solve everyday problems. The median income is around $49,595.

Business/Systems Analyst or Consultant – As a business/systems analyst, you’ll look at a company’s current operations and help them implement new systems or improve the current ones. The median income of a business/systems analyst is around $68,146.

Network/System Administrator – Network/system administrators are responsible for the implementation, management, and maintenance of the network infrastructure of a business. It requires both hardware and software knowledge. Network administrator median salary is around $57,747.

Database Administrator – Database administrators look after the design and maintenance of database systems. It requires an understanding of databases and how to protect data through backups and redundancies. The median salary for database administrators is around $71,833.

Web Developer or Programmer – Web developers help businesses with their websites. A web developer’s responsibilities include gathering business requirements, designing websites, implementing solutions and maintaining already running websites. Depending on your interest, you can work on the design side or the programming side of web development. The median salary for a web developer is around $58,483.

Educational Opportunities in the Greater Boston Area

The greater Boston area has lots of great colleges and universities that have CIS majors. Institutions like Wentworth Institute of TechnologyNortheastern UniversityBentley UniversityUniversity of Massachusetts – Boston and more provide excellent Computer Information Systems (CIS) degrees to start your career.

References:

Interested in joining the STEAM Boston Community, then visit this link: https://community.steamboston.com/

You will have the opportunity to expand your network and connect with students & professionals in the STEAM field in the Greater Boston area.

This story was originally posted on STEAM Boston’s blog site. Original story here: https://www.steamboston.com/what-jobs-can-i-get-with-a-major-in-computer-information-systems/

Dahnaya Joyner – My Journey of Becoming a Web Developer

By: Will Ma
Dahnaya Joyner in graduation attire
Photo Courtesy of Dahnaya Joyner (STEAM Boston)

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Dahnaya Joyner and right now I am a Web Developer. I graduated from Wentworth Institute of Technology with a degree in Computer Engineering Technology in 2017. I have always been interested in engineering and technology. Computer Engineering Technology is solely hardware-based engineering, but I switched over to the software side. I’m loving software now, so I’m glad I made the switch.

What got you interested in Computer Engineering Technology?

Growing up, I have always been fascinated by how things work. I have taken a lot of things apart and tried to put them back together. I have always been interested in technology and the Computer Engineering Technology degree was the right decision at the moment. I then transitioned to software and I don’t work on hardware as much now.

Tell us more about your transition to software.

I got my degree in Computer Engineering Technology, the summer of 2017. I got a full-time job right out of college and I eventually found out that the job was right for me. The job didn’t make me happy and I had to pivot to something that gave me career fulfillment. After six months, I ended up getting laid off and that moment was bad. Everything hits you at once and it was a bad time. Being a blessing in disguise, it allowed me to take time off and really try to find what I really wanted to do.

I knew I wanted to stay in tech and go into the software route. I did research online and I found out about coding boot camps. I ended going to General Assembly for web development and now I have a job in web development. I’m very happy with my decision to go to a coding boot camp and work in a job I really like.

General Assembly was a really hard coding boot camp and it was intense. There were a lot of times that I thought I wouldn’t graduate and make it through the program. There was a huge support system and everyone in the class are going through the same struggles. It was a great experience and once I graduated, I felt prepared and ready to enter the field.

What advice do you have for students looking to get into web development?

There are a lot of online resources for web development, so I’d definitely utilize that. You could go to college for web development, but there are definitely cheaper ways. There are coding boot camps now and you should do your research on which one that fits your needs.

Where do you see yourself in 1-2 years?

I definitely still want to do web development and I’m still learning. I’m working in a team where everyone is supportive and I can learn so much. In 1-2 years, I envision myself becoming a more experienced web developer and being the best version of myself.

Any wise words of wisdom to the STEAM Boston community?

Don’t give up. I got laid off my first job and I was in a really bad position. I took the time to find out what I really wanted to do and I’m happy to be a web developer now. Also, imposter syndrome is very real. I deal with it often. But no matter where you are in your journey just know that you’re not doing it for anything and it’ll all pay off.

I also want to shout out my parents. “I’m very thankful to my parents for their constant support. Making a career change is a very difficult decision but I am fortunate to have a great foundation that allowed me to do that. I love you guys!”


Interested in joining the STEAM Boston Community, then visit this link: https://community.steamboston.com/

You will have the opportunity to expand your network and connect with students & professionals in the STEAM field in the Greater Boston area.

This story was originally posted on STEAM Boston’s blog site. Original story here: https://www.steamboston.com/dahnaya-joyner-my-journey-of-becoming-a-web-developer/

 

How to Work Transferable Skills Into Your Resume

By: Kristen Eckman

During the beginning stages of hiring, many employers, especially in the STEM fields, are focused on hard skills (i.e. specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measured, such as the ability to use software programs). However, when determining the ultimate hirability of a candidate, soft or transferable skills are in the forefront of employers’ minds. If you feel your hard skills are lacking, or you want to differentiate yourself during the final stages, focus on the transferable skills you have to offer. 

What are Transferable Skills?

Transferable skills are the aptitude and knowledge that you acquire through any experience that can be transferred to future employment settings. According to Wikipedia, “A transferable skill is an ability or expertise which may be used in a variety of roles or occupations.” They are less tangible and harder to quantify than hard skills.

Examples include:

  • Interpersonal or customer service skills (such as diplomacy, negotiation, and collaboration)
  • Communication skills (such as writing, speaking, and presenting)
  • Leadership skills (such as delegation, scheduling, and training)
  • Self-Management (such as professionalism, organizational skills, and time-management skills)
  • Critical thinking (such as problem solving, decision making, and analysis)

Student writing

How Do I Identify or Gain Transferable Skills?

When identifying the transferable skills that you may already have, think about what past professors, teammates, or managers have said that you do well. Transferable skills can be gained from any experience including:

  • Education:
    • Completing academic projects and papers show research, analytical, and presentation skills
    • Group projects help you practice communication and collaboration skills
    • Managing a heavy class load or balancing school with work impart organizational skills and time management
  • Co-op:
    • Collaborating with multi-departmental teams instills communication and interpersonal skills
    • Taking the lead on a project teaches project management, problem solving, organizational skills, and the ability to prioritize and take initiative
    • Explaining complex technical points to laypeople uses communication skills
  • Unrelated Work Experience:
    • Supervising people demonstrates leadership, training, or delegation skills
    • Working on several stations or projects at once leads to skills in multi-tasking
    • Learning to be prompt, adhering to deadlines, and staying focused on work related duties are all aspects of professionalism
    • Interacting with customers, clients, or managers develops interpersonal and communication skills
  • Volunteering, Sports Team, Participating in an Organization, or a Personal Project/Hobby:
    • Depending on the experience, these can be opportunities to develop skills such as event planning, organization, team work, leadership, problem solving, negotiation, or teaching

How Do I Highlight Transferable Skills?

Examine job descriptions to see what employers in your industry value. Use the key words and action verbs mentioned in the job description on your resume and in your cover letter. Sometimes employers use applicant tracking systems or ATS to screen incoming resumes for keywords relevant to the particular job. Resumes that contain more of the keywords that employers are looking for will be ranked higher by the ATS. This is why it is a good idea to not only tailor each cover letter you send but each resume as well.

  • Resumes
    • Add a Leadership section to highlight supervisory experience, volunteer work, or group membership
    • Use strong actions verbs that convey your transferable skills to begin each bullet
    • See the Wentworth Action Verbs handout
  • Cover Letters
    • Tailor each cover letter to each job description by matching your transferable skills with the ones used in the job description.
    • Provide examples. Use scenarios and short stories to demonstrate the skills you have that are mentioned in the job description.
  • Interviews
    • Use your transferable skill examples when answering questions such as “Tell me about yourself”, “What are your strengths?”, and “Why should we hire you?”.
    • Share your examples that showcase how you used or developed the specific transferable skills that the employer is looking for. Organize your examples by using the PAR Method: Project + Action = Result.
    • At the end of the interview you may be asked, “Is there anything you would like to add that we didn’t get to discuss?”. This is a great opportunity to share your transferable skill examples that you didn’t get to mention.
    • Also at the end of the interview, you will be asked, “Do you have any questions for me?”. Ask, “What characteristics does a successful person have in this organization?”. Listen to the answer and then reply with your transferable skill example that matches the characteristics that they mentioned.
  • LinkedIn
    • List transferable skills in your skills section and get endorsements
    • Talk about skills you have gained from past experiences in your summary or experience section
    • Ask for recommendations from past managers that focus on your transferable skills
    • See the LinkedIn Cheat Sheet & the Wentworth LinkedIn Guide

As always, to make an appointment with your Co-op + Career Advisor call the front desk at 617.989.4101 or stop by the CO-OPS + CAREERS Office.

4 Ways Younger Job Seekers Can Step Up as Baby Boomers Retire

By: Val Matta

Baby boomers have always been defined by their sheer numbers. Even now, as they reach retirement age, 41 million baby boomers are still working according to a 2018 report from the Pew Research Center. This equals out to them still accounting for a quarter of the workforce.

As more and more retire, there will be opportunities for younger job seekers to step up and assume the baby boomers’ responsibilities. But first, you’re going to have to prove you’re ready to take the next step in your career.

By understanding what employers want, both at your current company or another one, you can present yourself in the best light. Here are some tips to landing a job previously held by a baby boomer and ensuring you can take ownership of a role without missing a step:

Advancing at Your Current Company

If your current organization is a great fit, you might want to make a move without leaving the team. For both you and the company this is a win-win situation. You get career advancement, and your company doesn’t lose a talented employee. Make the most of your situation by taking the following steps:

Find a mentor

Having a mentor is essential to young job seekers’ careers. Older employees who have been where you are will provide valuable advice to help you learn and make better decisions. Plus, as boomers retire, having one as a mentor will put you on their radar to recommend as a possible replacement.

But to get the right mentor you need to be proactive. It’s rare that an experienced employee will approach you with an opportunity. Start by making a list of people in your organization who you already have a relationship. To evaluate if they could be a good mentor, consider:

  • Their accomplishments and if they are something you aspire to
  • How their personality meshes with yours
  • If they will push you to grow and develop
  • How available they typically are
  • Their connections within the organization and outside of it

Once you have a list of potential mentors, invite your top choice for coffee and have a conversation about what you’re looking for. Explain what your career plan is and how you think they can help. The more specific you can be the better. It helps them understand exactly what they’d be providing you.

Ask what positions are opening soon

Employees don’t retire without notice. It takes planning and conversations with company managers and leaders, helping everyone prepare for the transition. However, while upcoming retirements aren’t secrets, you may not be told about coming opportunities.

Talk to your manager about your interest in moving up in the company. Don’t say ‘I want Janet’s job when she retires.’ Instead, explain you’re ready for a new challenge and ask for their feedback on what you can do to prepare and train.

If you’re not ready to take over the retiring baby boomer’s position, suggest ways you can take on some, but not all, of the responsibilities. This will help you expand your role without setting yourself up for failure.

Manager stock photo

Advancing at Another Company

Sometimes the right move for your career is changing companies and making a fresh start. You will still need to prove you have what it takes to fill a more advanced position, however, you’ll approach the situation differently than if you were already in-house.

Look for jobs the “old school” way

In recent years, companies have turned to social media to recruit younger talent. However, don’t forget companies still use traditional job boards to reach older job seekers — especially for non-entry level positions.

Don’t neglect the old school ways to find a new job opportunity. Consider adding the following to your job search:

  • In-person networking events
  • Niche job boards
  • Job fairs

Find out what skills the company is blindly missing

Hiring younger job seekers presents employers with a unique opportunity to fill a position while getting a new set of skills. However, when an employee has performed a job for a long time, the organization may not be aware of alternate skills and ways to grow the role. While baby boomers have experience, a trending concern for years has been that not all have the latest skills.

When you’re researching positions, identify the skills that might be useful yet are not in the job description. Look at as many job descriptions from the organization (even those not for your specific department), as well as comparable positions at other companies. Use that to identify any trends of skills the company could inadvertently not be looking for in their job description.

Then, when you’re writing cover letters, updating your resume, and in the interview process, showcase the experience you have as well as how these additional skills could improve the team and bring greater value to the company.

Team stock photo

Want to find out more ways to land a more advanced job? Check out this blog piece!

Blog originally posted to: https://careershift.com/blog/2019/04/4-ways-younger-job-seekers-can-step-up-as-baby-boomers-retire/

 

From Co-op to Commencement

By: Abbey Pober

When he first discovered his passion for software engineering Ethan Arrowood never thought he’d be turning down opportunities to interview with Google and Twitter to accept a co-op offer from Microsoft. Across his back-to-back co-ops, Ethan gained experience as a software engineer and worked with groundbreaking technologies to deliver innovative cloud-computing applications to leading Microsoft clients around the world. His key to success as a growing programmer? Getting involved with opensource and finding a developer community that supported him. On campus, Ethan’s active involvement with Accelerate is what led to his interview, co-op, and ultimately a full-time role with Microsoft.

Our Spring 2019 Intern, Lauren Rodolakis, spent the semester learning all about Ethan’s journey from co-op search to accepting his full-time offer at Microsoft. Read the full article on the Wentworth website, and check out our video interview here.

Arrowood at MicrosoftThank you for sharing your experience with us, Ethan! Be on the lookout for our next co-op feature. If you would like to share your co-op experience (positive or not-as-expected), or have any questions about the co-op process, please email us at coopsandcareers@wit.edu.

As always, to make an appointment with your Co-op + Career Advisor call the front desk at 617.989.4101 or stop by the CO-OPS + CAREERS Office.

Is the key to success an effective to-do list?

By: Abbey Pober

Monday mornings at the office can sometimes be daunting. You know you have the week ahead to tackle the projects and responsibilities on your plate – but how will you get it all done? This has been a question I’ve tackled at the start of every work week since graduating from undergrad.  The answer, I have found, lies in my tried and true “to-do” lists filled with small, manageable tasks that roll up into the big picture of my goals for that day, week, month, or a specific project. On these lists you’ll find everything from “respond to email from ‘x'” and “develop fall event campaign strategy” to “fix spelling of ‘y’ on website”. The key to an effective “to-do” list is identifying what small actions must be taken to achieve your goals in accordance with your priorities.

 

Making A To-Do List:

To get started, try establishing a running list of all your tasks so you can see all pending work in one consolidated place. The format with which you track this list is a personal choice, and could be a simple handwritten list, a word document on your computer, or on an app/digital planner – whichever method you choose, pick one and stick with it (Cavoulacos)!

Once this list is created you can begin breaking it down into priorities for the week and then tasks you can realistically accomplish in a single day. If you aren’t sure what you can get done in a day, consider something like the 1-3-5 Rule to help you decide what to put on your daily to-do list. Under this rule ” assume that you can only accomplish one big thing, three medium things, and five small things (Cavoulacos).” Keep in mind, if you have meetings on a certain day or are in a role where unexpected tasks can be assigned to you regularly, your capacity to complete work will be reduced and your daily task list should reflect that. I add meetings to my daily to-do list to be sure I account for the time I’ll be away from my desk when prioritizing work for the day. It’s important that you recognize you have a finite number of hours in your day and the goals you set for yourself should reflect that.

Organization

Digital Tools to Help You

Recently I transitioned my handwritten system to an all-digital tracking method which had two benefits: I’ve reduced the amount of paper waste I create, and the digital format has helped me to prioritize and manage my responsibilities more effectively because I am able to keep my running list, weekly and daily task plans, and project goals all in one place. An unexpected bonus – I can share my digital planner with my boss who can see all the work on my plate and help me prioritize when needed. Below are some apps and tools I have used and recommend for getting started:

  • Microsoft Planner (free for Wentworth students and staff with your network access credentials)
  • Trello
  • Asana (free for individuals)
  • Microsoft ToDo
  • Excel/Google sheets
  • Phone task/reminder app

 So, why have a to-do list?

The benefits of creating a running task list and planning your work out by week and day are significant. First, because you’ll have a firm grasp on your tasks and priorities you are able to have informed discussions with your supervisor if they come to you with a new project. You can talk to them about where the new work fits in the context of your current plan and re-prioritize accordingly (Cavoulacos).  Beyond this practical application, setting small achievable goals can keep you motivated in your work and on track to achieving your big picture goals (Wood, 2018). Your to-do list is a physical manifestation of your goals and a roadmap for how you plan to achieve success.

Post-its

As always, to make an appointment with your Co-op + Career Advisor call the front desk at 617.989.4101 or stop by the CO-OPS + CAREERS Office.

Summer 2019 Drop-In Hours: Wednesday and Thursday 2:00pm – 4:00pm while classes are in session.

 

References:

Cavoulacos, A. (n.d.). Why You Never Finish Your To-Do Lists at Work (And How to Change That). The Muse. Retrieved from https://www.themuse.com/advice/why-you-never-finish-your-todo-lists-at-work-and-how-to-change-that

Wood, D. (2018, October 17). How Setting Small Daily Goals Makes You Achieve Big Success. Lifehack. Retrieved from https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/how-the-act-of-daily-goal-setting-makes-you-successful.html