First-Generation Students and the Job Search

By: Abbey Pober

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

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

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

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

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

Resources:

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

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

Mock Interview Day Fall 2018 Recap

By: Abbey Pober

Our annual Mock Interview Day was held on Thursday, November 1st from 3:00pm –6:00pm in Watson Auditorium. The day consisted of five rounds of 35-minute interviews conducted by 41 employer volunteers from multiple companies across industries. In total, 108 students participated in 192 interviews, providing on average two practice interviews per student. Many of the employers will be inviting students back for formal interviews.

Students laughing

If you are a student who attended Mock Interview Day last week your next steps should be to follow up with employers by:

  • Sending a thank you email to the employers with whom you spoke. Find our guide to thank you notes here.
  • 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 with social media: find the company or even the person you spoke with on LinkedIn or Twitter. Follow their feeds to stay up to date with new openings and other news!

Students interviewing

If you were unable to attend Mock Interview Day, be on the lookout for future opportunities to engage with employers and don’t miss the spring CO-OP + CAREER Fair on March 19th, 2019. Check WITworks as we get closer to the Spring Fair for updates on employers attending.

Employers, invitations for the spring CO-OP + CAREER Fair on March 19th will be sent out in the new year.

Thank you to all students and employers who joined us on November 1st to conduct practice interviews. We look forward to seeing everyone in the spring!

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.

Creating an All-Star Profile on LinkedIn

By Ria Kalinowski

Bringing your LinkedIn profile to an All-Star (or complete) level is important because profiles that are complete show up higher in search results. If you want to be found by recruiters, fill out your entire profile. It’s important not only to complete your profile but to include key words that recruiters are searching for. Check out the key words employers are using in relevant job postings for some ideas.

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Grab Their Attention!

LinkedIn search results show your name, photo, and headline so it is important to include a professional photo (visit the LinkedIn photo booth at the next Wentworth Co-op + Career Fair!) and create a unique headline to grab peoples’ attention. When crafting your headline, think about where you hope to take your career as well the skills you have to offer. Headlines like, “Student at Wentworth” don’t give enough information or distinguish you from the 4,000 other Wentworth students. Adding your major or target industry helps but use the available 120 characters to take it a step further by sharing your skills or interests. Be careful to avoid spelling errors and stay away from these overused LinkedIn buzzwords!

Sample student LinkedIn headlines:

  • Former NASA Intern. Future Investment Technologist.
  • Electrical Engineering Student, Future Systems Engineer.
  • Computer Engineering Student | Former Systems Engineering Co-op at Vestmark | Laptop Repair Technician
  • Industrial Design Student at Wentworth ● Future Model Maker ● SolidWorks ● Shoe Design
  • Currently seeking full time position in logistics/supply chain or construction project management/estimating.

Tell Your Story

Use your summary to add personality to your profile and tell your story. Use all 2,000 characters to talk about what you are passionate about and how that aligns with your career interests. Recruiters use key word searches to find relevant candidates. Profiles that include the key words recruiters are searching for show up higher in search results, however, an overabundance of repeated words may get your profile filtered out as spam. When writing your summary, keep in mind that viewers only see the first two lines of your summary unless they select, “See more”. Check out summaries of co-op colleagues you admire or look up alumni profiles for ideas.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Why did you pick your major?
  • What is your dream job?
  • What are your key technical and non-technical skills?
  • What type of work environment do you thrive in?

Make (and Keep) It Relevant

Now that your dream recruiter has found you and their interest is piqued, show them you have the necessary skills to encourage them to reach out. Include any co-ops or jobs in your experience section highlighting technical and transferable skills relevant to your target industry. Add skills, coursework, and projects. If you have a portfolio or personal website include the link in your summary section. Upload your resume to your summary section as well. Request recommendations from past colleagues, classmates, or professors. Join groups and follow relevant companies. These show up in your interest section. Update your LinkedIn profile every semester just like you would your resume. Add new projects, experiences, and skills you have gained.

Customize your URL

Once your LinkedIn profile is complete, add your URL to the contact information on your resume. But FIRST, make sure to remove that long stream of numbers after your name. Go to your profile and click on “Edit public profile & URL” in the upper right-hand corner. Next, visit the “Edit URL” section in the upper right-hand corner and click on the blue pencil next to your URL. Remove the numbers and make your URL unique to you!

Once your profile is complete, make some connections! Connect with past and current colleagues, classmates, and professors. The number of relevant connections you have will help you show up higher in search results as well. According to LinkedIn, “The more connections you have, the more likely you will have a connection to the searcher” which helps you rank higher in their search. Personalize each connection request to remind people of how you know them or outline why you want to connect. LinkedIn is a fantastic tool so make sure you are taking advantage of it! Meet with your Co-op + Career Advisor to get help creating your profile or making connections.  They can also give you feedback once it is completed. See our LinkedIn Guide for more suggestions.

What Makes Wentworth Unique

Wentworth Hall

By : Robbin Beauchamp

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

First Year Seminar

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

Co-op Institute

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

WITwear

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

Wentworth On The Road

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

ASPIRE Partnership

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to WORK the CO-OP + CAREER Fair

By: Caitlin Brison

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://wit.edu/coopsandcareers/cooperative-education/co-op-resources

Drop-In Schedule: M, W, Th from 1:30-4:30pm
Make an appointment with your Co-op + Career Advisor by calling the front desk at 617 989 4101.

WITwear Hours: Mon – Thurs 10am – 8pm, Fri 10am – 5pm
All Day Resume Drop-Ins:  Wed 9/27 & Thur 9/28 12pm – 5pm

 

TFW you nail the Career Fair