Co-op Stories: Prabhjyot Kaur

Prabhjyot Kaur is a Wentworth Junior studying Computer Information Systems. She recently completed her first co-op with The TJX Companies as an IT business Analyst in Marlborough, MA.  Prabhjyot sat down with CO-OPS + CAREERS to share her co-op story.

Student Smiling

Tell us about your co-op at TJX: 

I worked with the release management team for selling and payments, so I was involved in organizing deployments for the MarMaxx and HomeGoods/HomeSense POS (Point-of-Sale) systems. As an IT Business Analyst I was responsible for managing and communicating the schedule for deployments, sending beta statuses, creating business documentation and presentations, and reporting release defects.

What interested you in this company and the role?

Some of my friends did their co-op at TJX and talked very highly about the company including the people and work culture. They encouraged me to apply and I was very interested because TJX is a well-known company and I love the stores. I applied as an IT business analyst because that is one of the career paths I am looking into after graduation. I want to get some experience as a BA in an IT setting and see if I actually enjoy it.

TJX was my first offer and they gave me a week to accept or reject. Around that time I was waiting to hear back from a company I interviewed at but unfortunately I did not get the job. After that, I accepted the TJX offer instantly, I was hesitant only because it was located in Marlborough (45 mins from Boston).

Tell us about your search process and what steps you took to land your co-op at TJX.

I applied to the TJX website directly in August and then started my interview process around late September. The first interview was a digital interview where I had to answer questions under 3 minutes while recording myself. That was definitely one of the most awkward interviews I’ve had. After that, I was called into the headquarters for an interview. There were around 40 interviewees and some even flew in from schools around the country, it was very intimidating. There were three rounds of interviews and the questions were very behavioral and about related experiences.

To prep for the TJX interview, I made sure to research the company and what it stands for, values, etc. Interviewers find it very impressive when you can talk about the company, you’ll appear as someone who is prepared and puts in that extra effort. Also I read up on previous projects and class assignments that I could bring up in my interviews. I reviewed those projects and wrote down the process/steps, results, lessons learned, and how they can relate back to my role. For some job interviews I also read old PowerPoint lectures. Especially on networking, SQL, and JAVA so that I could be prepared for a technical question. I strongly encourage everyone to read up on lectures, projects, or even brush up certain technical skills before an interview because it helps a lot when you can speak about past experiences and concrete skills.

What was a typical day like at your co-op? Do you work alongside other co-op students?

My typical day consists of many meetings between 9am-5pm, sometimes 3-4 1hr/30min long meetings. I am usually the one taking meeting minutes so I will revise anything I have and send it out to all the teams. Then my manager will either give me my tasks for the day or I will continue working on any task or project. TJX hires around 70+ co-ops and they are disbursed throughout four buildings. I am the only co-op within my team and the selling and payments department, but I am part of a co-op project with two other students from Northeastern. I got to work with other co-op students for 2-3 months and met them a couple of times throughout the week to go over project details.

While on co-op, what project(s) have you been a part of, or something that you are working on, that has inspired you?

As a co-op I was a part of many customer facing deployments and projects. I cannot share much detail since they are still work in progress but it is amazing to see how projects we’ve worked on are customer facing, even I, as a customer, utilize those features. I’ve been involved in many of the project planning sessions and know about the upcoming releases. I find this so amazing and inspiring because even when I leave this company I can go to a TJMaxx and say “I was a part of this.”

I am also part of a project where we have to propose fixes to the current TJX buying system. Myself, along with two other co-ops, had been working on this for 2-3 months. It took a lot of research since this was a part of the company we weren’t familiar with. We spent a lot of time attending meetings with the business architects and shadowing merchandising leads and assistants. This experience allowed me to look into other interesting careers such as buying and merchandise planning. Also, this project gave me the opportunity to venture out and learn about something completely different than my field of work.

What was the biggest lesson you learned through your co-op?

The biggest lesson I learned through my co-op is that you have to be self-sufficient and take initiative. TJX is a huge corporation and for the first couple of months it was hard adjusting to the high risk, fast paced environment. At times I was given tasks that I didn’t know how to do, but I would either research about the topic or look up instructions online. There were days where I wasn’t given much to do, so I used the company training resources and educated myself on different methodologies and processes. It is important to be self-sufficient and productive even if you are not getting undivided attention or guidance.

Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Prabhjyot! 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.

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

Rocket.Build Community Hackathon: Event Recap

By: Kristen Eckman

This past weekend, Wentworth CO-OPS + CAREERS hosted the Rocket.Build Community Hackathon inviting students from the Boston area to participate in a 32-hour long hacking challenge. Participants completed challenges and designed specific hacks based on the following themes:

Best Housing Hack

Best Transportation and Mobility Hack

Best Environmental Hack

Best Rising Water Impact Hack

Best Job Portal for Highly Skilled Immigrants Hack

Best Connecting Community to Hackathons Hack

The Rocket.Build Community Hackathon was made possible through partnership between Wentworth and Rocket Software along with significant support from faculty and student organizers from the Computer Science Society, HackWITus, and Accelerate.

Participants began hacking Saturday morning after an opening ceremony facilitated by Anjali Arora, Rocket Software Chief Product Officer. Throughout the two-day event Rocketeers, alongside Wentworth faculty and staff, volunteered their time to lead breakout sessions on topics including “Technical Interviewing”, “HTTP Servers & Databases”, and “Predicting Boston Housing Prices Using AI”.

 

RS Hackathon

 

Nearly one hundred students from eight Boston area colleges and universities attended the event, while 64 went on to present their hacks in teams to a panel of Rocket judges Sunday afternoon. Prizes were awarded based on the following categories:

Judges Pick for Community Build: Hyperdome – An anonymous help line with no fear of stigma or consequences.

Created by: Skyelar Craver, Steven Pitts

Environmental Hack: Trash Tag Tracker – Used the #trashtag movement to inspire reporting locations to be cleaned up.

Created by: Bruce Craig, Vincent Jodice, Andrew Bissel, Griffen Campbell, and Corey Everett

Connecting Community Hack: C Squared – A Portal to match volunteers with non-profits.

Created by: Damian Barrows, Mason Osborn, Joe Schnachert, Keidon London, and Simon Wang

Rising Water Hack: Waterfront – Educate Boston residents on susceptibility to flooding.

Created by: Ethan Arrowood, Julia Connor, and Colin Hennessy

Housing Hack: Homefront – Site for user submitted information on homes for safety.

Created by: Gia Hill, Ryan Clonrety, and Yali Izzo

Special Award for Resilience: Green Posh –  They lost 2 of 5 members during the night! Empower reduced consumption.

Created by: Nate Bland, Teddy Gadie, and Camille Calabrese

Check out all hacks submitted here: https://rs-hackathon-2019.devpost.com/submissions

 

RS Hackathon

 

The event was a robust experience and recruiting opportunity as students applied their academic and creative problem-solving skills, interacted with Rocket Software staff (mentors, hiring managers, HR professionals) and persevered under a demanding deadline with little sleep. All students gained experience to build their skill set (and resumes) and five co-op opportunities were awarded to Wentworth students!

Technical skills strengthened by hacking:

  • Team formation, collaboration and management
  • Public presentation skills
  • Research, ideation and problem solving
  • Honed programming skills in coding languages
  • Used new software programming tools
  • Built servers, websites and apps
  • Designed complex databases
  • Applied high level math
  • Used AI/Machine Learning for predictive modelling

RS Hacking

 

Thank you to all who participated and volunteered this weekend to make The Rocket.Build Community Hackathon a success! Stay tuned for more events like this one. Keep up-to-date through our Events Page.

 

Check out what Rocket Software had to say about their experience at Wentworth:

ROCKET.BUILD COMMUNITY: A NEW GLOBAL TRADITION

MENTORING AT THE FIRST ROCKET.BUILD COMMUNITY HACKATHON

 

More photos from the event can be found here.

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.

Graduate School FAQs Pt. 1

A guest series by WIT Faculty: Aaron Carpenter

Aaron Carpenter Headshot

Meet Aaron Carpenter, he received a bachelor’s (2005), master’s (2006), and Ph.D. (2012) from the University of Rochester, all in the field of Electrical and Computer Engineering, focusing on computer architecture and VLSI design.  Prof. Carpenter then taught at 3.5 years at Binghamton University, teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses and supervising his own PhD and master’s research lab.  In 2015, he joined the ECE department at Wentworth Institute of Technology, focusing on computer engineering and engineering education.

Professor Carpenter will now introduce us to the first part of a three-part series on graduate school:

Graduate school is an important facet of STEM education.  While it is by no means required for your career, it is often a significant addition for long-term employment and promotion. But, here at Wentworth Institute of Technology, students have no academic contact with graduate students or graduate school, at least not yet.

Students often have curiosity regarding graduate school, and the goal of this article is to answer some frequently asked questions.  We will discuss some introductory information regarding graduate school, including various motivations for graduate studies, some details on various degrees, specifically in engineering and science.  The discussion will mostly be around the STEM fields, but could apply to other fields.

Before going into the questions and answers, let me describe some of my qualifications.  I have a bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degree from University of Rochester, all in Electrical and Computer Engineering.  I then taught at Binghamton University for 3.5 years, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses, advising master’s and PhD students doing research, and helping to review graduate applications at the request of the graduate director.  While I have some level of insight into graduate school and applications, please note you should consult your academic advisor, professors, and coop and career advisors for your specific graduate school goals.

General graduate school FAQs:

  • Why should people consider graduate school?
    • Undergraduate programs teach students an ability to analyze problems, think critically, learn skills pertaining to a particular field. The education is often broad, with your major classes provides some depth.
    • Master’s programs teach you a specialty within your field of study, developing a deeper knowledge and understanding, often aimed at more state-of-the-art areas.  Master’s will often push students toward the cutting edge, but not delve into deep research level more than a little bit, depending on the school and program.
    • PhD programs make you innovate in your field. You will learn about the cutting edge, and then add to it, becoming the expert in your field.  It builds on the skills learned in undergraduate and possibly Master’s work.  You will also learn about how to research on your own.
  • So why should someone get a Master’s or PhD?
    • There is a growing reliance on a Master’s degree in the industrial marketplace. Employers want employees that know the state-of-the-art and can think deeply and critically in their field.  They also want to see a dedication to your field.  So, to be more employable or upwardly mobile, or even to increase your salary, it is a good idea to pursue graduate studies.  That could be full-time, part-time, right after your undergraduate, years later, but you should look into it seriously at some point
  • What is the Master’s program like?
    • Full-time master’s work can range in length of time, averaging about 2 years. Different programs have different lengths, depending on if you are doing a thesis, or how many classes you take per year.  If you are pursuing part-time study, you would probably count on closer to 4-5 years, taking 1 course per semester, 2 semesters per year.
    • Programs range in number of classes, but most will be between 8-12, depending on the field. These courses will be of a higher level, beyond the basics learned in undergraduate programs.  Think of a technical or specialized elective in your junior or senior year, and that is roughly the starting point.  Depending on your program, some of the credits typically reserved for classes would be replaced by either a project or a thesis.  A project would be about 1 semester of dedicated time, often in support of some larger research goals of the professor.  Similarly, you could have a thesis, which is often 2 semesters of more dedicated research, again sometimes in support of larger research goals.  The thesis would require you to write a dissertation and defend it to a committee, although it would be must smaller than a PhD thesis, which we will discuss later.
  • Do students need to have research before they apply to graduate school then?
    • You don’t need undergraduate research going into grad school, but it does not hurt to have a little bit of experience. You can get that kind of experience by talking to professors about getting involved in research work as an undergrad.
  • Students often need to worry about cost of education. What should students expect for financing graduate school?
    • As a baseline, you should assume that you will likely have to pay tuition/fees/etc. while pursuing your Master’s degree. This is a big difference between the Master’s and a PhD. Master’s students can get scholarships, fellowships, or assistantships like teaching or research assistant. However, these funding opportunities are typically reserved for PhD students.  You can inquire at individual programs regarding these opportunities.  There are also external grants you can get, such as from NSF or DoD.  Some companies may partially or fully fund a Master’s degree, though typically in exchange for a mandatory employment period.
  • How should students try to find these programs and opportunities?
    • For funding, that would be based on the program or the school. But picking a program or school is a whole process. You want to choose a school or program based on the specialties you are interested in.  If you don’t know yet, that is ok also.  But if you are interested in a particular field, say artificial intelligence, make sure you find a department that has those classes and research available.  That means looking at department and faculty websites prior to application.
    • There are online programs out there. Be cautious of their quality. Do your background research and speak with faculty or the co-op and career center to check their quality.
  • Once a student has found a program, what is it like to be in graduate school? Is it similar to undergraduate programs?
    • Once you get to the program, you will be surrounded by like-minded people, pursuing graduate careers. This community of students will be similar to your undergraduate, but now it is a self-selecting group of scholars, all choosing to dive deeper in their field.   This can be a great advantage, as many of you are now in it together, creating a support structure
    • It can also work against you in something called “imposter syndrome”. This happens when you are surrounded by people who are smart and driven, and can often make you feel like an imposter. Students and faculty no matter how accomplished, are susceptible to it.  It is the feeling that if someone wanted to, they could prove you are not worthy of your opportunities, like you are an imposter in your field. It is important to remember that everyone feels that way once in a while.  It is less common in MS, but is more common in PhD.

For more questions regarding the PhD program, please check back next week for Part Two!

Fall 2018 WITwear Hours: Mon – Thurs 5 PM – 8 PM, Fri 10 AM – 3 PM

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

How to WORK the CO-OP + CAREER Fair

By: Caitlin Brison

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

An approach for everyone, whether you are low-key or EXTRA!

Low Key EXTRA
RESEARCH
  • Find the list of employers attending on the “Fairs App” and research the ones that interest you.
  • Look to see if they have positions posted so you can find out more.
  • 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 them 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.
  • 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 some hands, meet some employers, ask good questions, and hand out some 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 still 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 watch it back.  Be mindful of eye contact, fidgets, and filler (“um, like”).
  • Pitch with a friend and practice your handshakes!
THANK YOU
  • Shake their 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 – pass it along or let them know you applied!

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

Fall 2018 WITwear Hours: Mon – Thurs 5 PM – 8 PM, Fri 10 AM – 3 PM
Fall 2018 All Day Resume Drop-ins: Fri 9/28 & Mon 10/1 10 AM – 4 PM
CO-OPS + CAREERS Office + Douglas D Schumann Library & Learning Commons

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

Harassment in the Workplace

By: Lauren Creamer

“The change I want to see is a start-up environment where everyone, regardless of gender and background, feels welcome and safe; where sexual harassment or discrimination will not impede great talent from producing great impact.” – Christine Tsai (2017 Silicon Valley Business Journal article)

“Be an upstander, not a bystander. If you see harassment happening, speak up. Being harassed is terrible; having bystanders pretend they don’t notice is infinitely worse.” – Celeste Ng (2017 Teen Vogue article)

Decorative Image

What is harassment and why should you care?

Workplace harassment has existed for as long as the workplace – but it has recently garnered a swarm of media attention (rightfully so). I’m writing today to share some background about what constitutes harassment, how employees (co-op students included) are protected under the law, what support Wentworth can offer you should you experience or witness harassment in the workplace.

Harassment occurs when someone is treated differently, or some engages in offensive behavior based on their membership of a protected class. I.e. making a joke about race, or an inappropriate comment about how someone is dressed based on their gender. Harassment differs from discrimination in that discrimination involves making decisions (hiring, firing, promotion, assignments) based on one’s belonging to a protected class.

Harassment can happen anywhere – and you could be the target or the perpetrator. If don’t know what harassment looks like, how would you know? This post will hopefully illuminate the issues and give you the tools necessary to prevent and address harassment while on the job.

 

You keep using the term “protected class” … what does that mean?

Protected classes are the groups protected from the employment discrimination by law. These groups include men and women on the basis of sex; any group which shares a common race, religion, color, or national origin; people over 40; and people with physical or mental handicaps. Every U.S. citizen is a member of some protected class, and is entitled to the benefits of EEO law. However, the EEO laws were passed to correct a history of unfavorable treatment of women and minority group members.

Massachusetts has widened the scope of protected class to include employers are prohibited from discriminating against prospective employees based on ancestry, gender identity, criminal record, retaliation, sexual harassment, sexual orientation, active military personnel, and genetics.

 

What is non-retaliation and how are you protected?

Before we define the types of harassment, you need to know that you are protected from it in multiple ways.

You are protected from retaliation (a.k.a. “getting even”). It is illegal to punish or take action against a person who has brought forward a concern of harassment or discrimination. Examples of retaliation include taking away responsibilities, transferring to new location or shifts, not hiring/promoting.

You are also protected by Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs and activities, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, relationship violence/intimate partner violence, and other gender-based and sexual misconduct. Co-op is considered an educational experience, and so you are protected by Title IX.

And, as an employee (which you will be considered when you are on co-op) Title VII protects you from discrimination against any individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Finally, The Americans with Disabilities Act (more commonly known as the ADA) protects individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.

Basically – these laws protect you from discrimination and harassment in the workplace and at school on the basis of any of those protected classes listed at the beginning of this presentation.

 

Two Types of Harassment

“Quid Pro Quo” is the most commonly recognized form of sexual harassment, more simply stated as “this for that”. For example, your supervisor says to you “meet me for drinks later…..you are looking for a regular job here after graduation, aren’t you?” thus implying that you need to get a drink with them because that is the only way you could advance at that company. (You may see this in movies quite a bit… re: Legally Blonde).

The second type of recognized harassment is the “Hostile Work Environment” – unwelcome conduct based on protected characteristics (gender, race, national origin, gender identity, etc.) that interferes with an individual’s ability to perform their job. Persistent jokes or comments about women’s inability to be an engineer is an example of this type of harassment.

It is also important to note that harassment MUST BE PERVASIVE. If it happens once, it’s still a problem that needs to be addressed, but it is not defined as a pattern of harassment. Pervasive – repetitive, pattern, constant.

 

Where does harassment happen?

In the office (or at a work off-site), online (email, social media, texts), during social events or after work hours. Are you interacting with people from work? Yes? It’s still considered workplace harassment, no matter where you are. Even if the experience is unpaid (ex: a volunteer on-site or an unpaid intern) – you/they are still legally considered an employee (at least, this is what our HR department would argue).

ANYONE can perpetrate harassment. Supervisors, co-op workers, contractors, CEOs, visitors, other co-op students or interns.

 

What can you do if you experience or witness harassment?

  • When in doubt – call your CO-OP + CAREER Advisor! We can help you formulate a plan.
  • Speak directly to your manager/supervisor to share the concern.
  • What if it involves your supervisor?
    • Reach out to Human Resources, the division head of your organization, or your boss’s boss.
  • Center for Wellness is a confidential resource – you can receive support from one of the counselors on staff to help you work through the experience.
  • Speak directly to the person whose conduct was inappropriate/offensive. You have the power to address that person directly! (And again, your CO-OP + CAREER Advisor can help you craft that response).
  • Review your organization’s policies for complains/concerns. There may be a clearly defined process for addressing harassment documented on the company’s external or internal website.
  • Engage Wentworth’s Title IX Coordinator, Linda Shinomoto. She is the resident expert on Title XI and gender-based harassment.

When you work with us we will ask you how you want to address the issue, if at all. Your CO-OP + CAREER Advisor will help you reach your ideal resolution. There is no statute of limitations on harassment. Two weeks, two months, two years – you can still report it.

 

Harassment can happen anywhere.

Harassment is unfortunately not uncommon. It can happen to any gender, any ethnicity. You will likely experience, observe, and possibly even perpetrate it at some point during your career. But now you know how people who experience harassment are protected and supported, both on a legal level and at Wentworth. You have support and you are not alone.

 

You are not the cause.

If you do experience harassment, it is so important for you to know that you are not the case of someone else’s inappropriate behavior. Nothing you did caused it, and you don’t deserve to be treated this way by anyone.

 

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.

Socializing at Work

 

Decorative Image By: Jer Jurma

Humans are social (to a varying degree) by nature and thus social interactions are an important element of the work experience. There is a great opportunity to foster a socially rewarding experience at work while advancing the professional goals of any given industry.  Most professions value teamwork which relies on strong personal/professional relationships. The following are considerations for how to bring your best social self into the work place:

WHEN COLLABORATING:

  • Make a conscious effort to actively listen to your coworkers and make sure your contributions to conversation are productive.
  • Ask questions that illuminate a situation or idea while encouraging others’ creativity.
  • Know the difference between being rigorous, being skeptical, and being cynical.
  • Rigorous examination of an idea can be energizing and thought provoking.
  • Skepticism can lead to discovery and a deeper understanding of the topic at hand.
  • Cynicism can consume all the oxygen in the room and kill ideas and dialog.
  • Strive to do more than identify problems; strive to solve them.
  • Contribute time and effort to group projects, and don’t under estimate the productivity a positive attitude brings to a team.

WHEN SOCIALIZING IN THE OFFICE:

  • Be open to understanding what experience and strengths your co-workers bring to the table.
  • Assist others to be their best selves.
  • Be authentic about who you are while being respectful of your privacy and the privacy of those around you.

WHEN SOCIALIZING WITH CO-WORKERS OUTSIDE THE OFFICE:

  • Attend company sponsored social gatherings to make connections with your colleagues, as showing personal interest in knowing your team will help you engage with them professionally.
  • Keep your blood alcohol levels low and remember that everyone has a dangerous combination of the following:
    • a camera
    • a social media account
    • questionable judgement, especially when liquored up.

WHEN SOCIALIZING ONLINE:

  • Your digital persona is your professional persona, so don’t create a brand for yourself that is repugnant to your employer.
  • Privacy settings NEVER create true privacy.
  • Once something is public, it remains public.
  • Even on instant messaging, don’t forget the power of the “Screen Shot”.
  • Be smart about your interactions both on and off line…your job may depend upon it.

Top Ten Tips for Writing a Personal Statement

By: Lauren Creamer

The fall term is fast approaching and with it comes deadlines for graduate school applications. One piece of the application you want to leave plenty of time for is the personal statement. It requires a style of writing that most engineering and technology students aren’t used to using (because it isn’t a prerequisite of your academic programs). All the personal statements I have read required multiple drafts and tons of edits! Those things take time.

Consider the following tips when beginning the writing process:

  1. Read the prompt. Are you answering a specific set of questions? Are you simply explaining why you want to enroll in a specific program? You should include only what is relevant and required for the prompt.
  2. Tell a story/consider the narrative. Your statement should flow well, be authentic, and engage the reader. This style of writing is different than the direct nature of a cover letter, yet not too casual as to seem like you are writing a blog post. It generally begins with an anecdote about why/how you got into your chosen field, and moves into a summary of your experience to date, and then concludes with future goals. (This is generally speaking – again, follow the prompt!).
  3. Consider the weight of the statement – how does it rank against other admissions criteria? This one takes a bit of research (which I suggest you do). Is it weighed more or less heavily than your GPA or standardized test scores or an interview? Ask, because it may impact how much time you spend on this portion. See here for general advice from graduate admissions representatives.
  4. Write, revise. Write, revise. Write, revise. “The writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads,” Dr. Seuss. (Yes, I just quoted Dr. Seuss).
  5. Get a faculty member to review your statement. Your professors already went to graduate school. They have written and probably read plenty of these before. Ask them for their two cents.
  6. Bring it into CO-OPS + CAREERS to have your advisor review your statement. It is our literal job to review your written documents. We get paid to do it. (Plus, a lot of us genuinely enjoy editing… myself included).
  7. If you struggle with spelling, grammar, sentence structure – go to the Center for Academic Excellence. A writing tutor will work with you to identify specific areas in which you can improve your writing capabilities. And/or take gander at some of the recommended writing tutorials.
  8. Consider format. A cramped, single-page document with small font is difficult to read. Seriously! Space it out a bit, use size 12 font. Make it easier on the older eyes (generally, your application will be read by someone who is several decades older than you and possibly wearing readers. This is not a joke).
  9. Things to avoid? Clichés, a negative tone, damaging information. You want the reader leaving with positive feelings about you – not critiques on your writing style and negativity.
  10. Finish strong – why is this school/program/lab your top choice? The reader should finish knowing that you would be a strong choice for the program.

I know this is already in the tips above, but it bears repeating: bring your personal statement in to have it reviewed by your CO-OP + CAREER Advisor before you submit!

Additional Resources:

https://www.cmu.edu/gcc/handouts-and-resources/grad-app-sop

https://www.prepscholar.com/gre/blog/graduate-school-personal-statement-examples/

https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/642/02/

https://ctl.yale.edu/sites/default/files/basic-page-supplementary-materials-files/writing_personal_statements_for_graduate_school.pdf

Cycle of learning, doing, and reflecting

By: Caitlin Brison

Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.  – Chinese Proverb

Kolb’s (1984) Experiential Learning model proposes that we are naturally capable of learning, but experience plays a critical role in knowledge construction and acquisition. Experiential learning teaches students competencies for real-world success. Although we can simulate the real world in the classroom, lab, and studio – authentic experiential learning creates an invaluable opportunity to prepare students for a career.

Consider the cycle of experiential learning and how your co-op semesters encourage learning and comprehension…

CONCRETE EXPERIENCE: The learner encounters new experiences at co-op.

              Act: Taking on new projects, responsibilities, being an integral team member.

  • Learn new skills sets: software, hardware, tools, devices, methods, processes, etc.
  • Manage a project independently or collaborate with interdisciplinary engineers.

 REFLECTIVE OBSERVATION: The learner reflects on experience and identifies inconsistencies between experience and understanding.

                Reflect: Actively reflect on what is contributing to successes and failures.

  • Keep a daily “journal” during co-op that details your accomplishments and best practices.
  • Request meetings with your supervisor to reflect on your progress. After spending time researching and thinking, ask for assistance or clarification.
  • Complete Self Evaluation thoroughly. Reflect on learning goals and progress.

ABSTRACT CONCEPTUALIZATION: Through active reflection, the learner creates a new concept or modifies an existing one. Analyzes concepts to form conclusions.

Think: Organize new information with pre-existing knowledge. Consider what is being learned on co-op, and how does it fit with lecture, studio, labs, projects, etc.

  • Construct new meanings through hands on experiences or observation.
  • Find more opportunities to uncover the “how” or “why” something is the way it is.
  • Seek information and content on the new ideas: books, blogs, videos, etc.

ACTIVE EXPERIMENTATION: The learner tries out new knowledge; applies conclusions to new situations.  Engages in new concrete experiences!

                Apply:  Actively apply constructed knowledge to new situations to deepen understanding.

  • Take what you have learned on co-op and apply it into other co-op projects, coursework, lab, studio, capstone, and your next co-op or job.
  • This often leads to new concrete experiences and the cycle continues!

Experiential learning advances course based learning outcomes and increases employability skills.  It encourages collaboration, an exchange of ideas, and lifelong learning.  Co-op equips Wentworth students to evolve their understanding of complex topics and excel in their career.

Kolb, D.. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.