Getting through Self-Isolation One Breath at a Time

By: Lauren Creamer

During and following self-isolation because of concerns related to Coronavirus, you may begin to experience some common stress responses. It is important to use self-care strategies, coping techniques and reach out for additional support when necessary. We are here to support you during self-isolation and beyond. This document includes strategies for coping and self-care as well as instructions for accessing services during your time off campus.

It is well-established that when we are stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced. The stress hormone can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system.

We might also experience an epidemic fear or “Coronavirus Panic.” Emergencies or critical incidents naturally brings upon a tremendous amount of stress, anxiety and fear for those directly and indirectly affected.

Our body is stressed on a minute by minute basis with constant and overwhelming social media reports of emergencies and current events. It is essential to keep your stress levels at a minimum because there is only so much you can do.

Common Stress Response

  • Disbelief and shock
  • Fear and anxiety about the future and death
  • Disorientation; difficulty making decisions or concentrating
  • Apathy and emotional numbing
  • Nightmares and reoccurring thoughts about the epidemic
    • Irritability and anger
    • Sadness and feeling powerless
    • Changes in eating patterns; loss of appetite or overeating
    • Crying for “no apparent reason”
    • Headaches, back pains and stomach problems
    • Difficulty sleeping or falling asleep

 

How to Cope

  • Take good care of yourself physically and emotionally. Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of water, eat healthy and balanced
  • If you smoke or drink coffee, try to limit your intake as nicotine and caffeine can also add to your stress.
  • Cultivate self-compassion and be kind to yourself for the challenges that you are going
  • Limit exposure to news or social media on the
  • Set a time limit (e.g., an hour per day) on watching or reading only trustworthy and reliable news or talking about Coronavirus. Watching or reading news about the event repeatedly will only increase your
  • Talk about it (in moderation)
  • By talking with others about the event, you can relieve stress and realize that others share your feelings.
  • While you are self-isolating, remember that you are not alone. We can get through this together as a community.

Media on computer screen

 

Self-Care Strategies

While you might be currently isolated, it is important to maintain connections to interests, friends and entertainment. Try these tasks for some self-care strategies.

  • Avoid drugs and excessive drinking or emotional eating. Drugs, alcohol and emotional eating may temporarily seem to remove stress, but in the long run they generally create additional problems that compound the stress you were already
  • Structure your day and find some indoor activities you enjoy. Balance mind/body, fun and learning activities to keep your brain and body
  • Read a book
  • Establish a daily meditation routine (with a minimum 10 minutes per day)
  • Try yoga
  • Watch a movie
  • Listen to or play music
  • Draw
  • Do a 30-minute At-Home online video fitness class
  • Play a video game
  • Video chat with a friend or family member to have conversations outside of social media and texting

Man on Facetime

How to Work Efficiently

  • Be mindful of your working space. Create an office space if possible, but no matter what, ensure that you are doing work away from your bed/ where you sleep
  • Try to eliminate as many distractions from your workspace as possible
  • Work for 40-50 minutes at a time with 10-minute pauses for breaks. During your breaks, move your body a bit with light stretching. Give your brain a break but don’t do something that will end up distracting you for hours
  • Use the resources and support services that are offered to you for help if needed (some are listed below). Don’t forget that you can also reach out to your professor if you are struggling to manage the new platforms/ learning experiences

 

Additional Coping Strategies

  • Explore something new – Learn something new that has always been in your bucket list, but you never had the time for it before. Now is the perfect time!
  • Structure your day, one thing at a time
  • Make a To-Do list by breaking down your day into morning, afternoon and evening activities just like when you are in
  • Once you accomplish that task, choose the next one. “Checking off” tasks will give you a sense of accomplishment, control and mastery. It makes things feel less
  • Do something positive and meaningful. Helping other people can give you a sense of purpose in a situation that feels “out of your ”
  • Do anything else you find enjoyable. These healthy activities can help you get your mind off the epidemic and keep the stress in
  • Stay hopeful and optimistic
  • Nothing is permanent. Everything will pass including the Coronavirus
  • Take one moment at a time

To do list

Services Available for You

  • Library support
    • You can request an online library instruction session here
    • You can contact your reference librarians with any questions at ref@wit.edu
    • Find more information about online resources in the Library & Online Learning Resources Guide here
  • Center for Academic Excellence
    • The CAE remains open virtually and is functioning remotely. For advising questions, contact advising@wit.edu and for tutoring questions, contact cae@wit.edu
    • You can find online tutorials and learning resources here
  • Tech Spot
    • Support hours have been extended to 7:30am-7:30pm M-F over email through techspot@wit.edu or by phone at 617-989-4500
  • Center for Wellness
    • Online and phone services are available for triage, case management, and general support
    • The Center will be open 9am-4pm for those experiencing a mental health crisis. Individuals are being asked to call the prior to coming in
    • After hours counseling phone service is still available. Students who would like to use this option should call 617-989-4390 and press #2 when prompted
    • Support groups are being offered online. Information regarding these groups can be found here
    • Students needing Accessibility Services can contact 617-989-4390 to set up phone or Skype sessions.
    • Here is a podcast by the Happiness Lab

*Adapted from Duke Kunshan University Counseling and Psychological Services and the University of Texas at San Antonio

Tips for Managing Remote Work

By: Kristen Eckman

In response to the COVID-19 coronavirus and subsequent need for social distancing, many employers are now enforcing remote work policies to decrease the likelihood for potential exposure. For your employer, remote work may be a new concept. Luckily, some industries have been encouraging remote work long before the current need and have generated best practices for the rest of us. Below you will find a collection of resources to help you stay productive, organized and healthy!

Maintain Productivity

Set your schedule and stick to it – let those around you know your “office hours” so that they can respect your work time.

  • Schedule your time in between meetings – this is a good way to let your colleagues know when you are available virtually, or busy with a task as well as remain on task between video and phone meetings.

Create a designated workspace – and have a separate space to unplug and relax outside of working hours.

Proactively reach out to colleagues, supervisors and clients – if you don’t have a cause for regular engagement with key individuals, schedule reminders to reach out with an email or call.

Update on progress more than usual – send updates to your supervisor and clients rather than waiting for them to ask you and ask what preferences they have around frequency, content and the form of updates.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/hvmacarthur/2020/03/12/the-art-of-working-remotely-how-to-ensure-productivity-vs-a-time-suck/#5a7099e633ee

Keep distractions around, but out of the way – it’s important to have distractions around. When you take a break, doing something just for fun can help you refresh.

Student working on laptop

 

Stay Organized

Keep your workspace tidy – don’t get too comfortable with clutter forming just because you colleagues are no longer around to see it. Set yourself up in a way that will allow you to perform at your best.

Write things down – without face-to-face communication, it’s easy to let things slip through the cracks. Take notes in a notebook or perhaps you prefer calendar notifications; find what works best for you!

  • Never be without a way to quickly capture an idea – keep a virtual notepad open on your desktop, utilize your free access to Microsoft OneNote or the good old-fashion pen and paper method.

Self-motivate – set realistic daily, weekly or even hourly goals to keep yourself motivated. A sense of accomplishment once completing these goals will contribute positively to your work-life balance.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/do-you-have-what-it-takes-to-work-from-home

 

Be Mindful of Your Personal Health and Wellness

Get out of the house – while recommendations are to stay away from public areas for the time being to respect social distancing precautions, remember to step outside!

Give yourself breaks – schedule breaks to get up and get some air, schedule time to go grab lunch, and most importantly, schedule a stop time. This means you clock out and trust that whatever is waiting for you in your inbox will wait.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/hvmacarthur/2020/03/12/the-art-of-working-remotely-how-to-ensure-productivity-vs-a-time-suck/#5a7099e633ee

Set-up your space intentionally – give yourself something aesthetically pleasing to look at like a plant, window or a soothing picture on the wall. Pay attention to the natural light that comes in throughout the day and how the colors of the room and furniture around you make you feel.

  • Don’t forget a comfortable chair that supports good posture!

Source: https://www.lifehack.org/articles/featured/10-hacks-to-improve-your-home-office-productivity.html

Female working on laptop with dog

 

Additional References

Headspace meditation for free: https://www.headspace.com/covid-19

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-actually-be-productive-when-youre-working-from-home

Source: https://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2020/03/13/coronavirus-social-distancing-work-from-home-julie-morgenstern?utm_source=WBUR+Editorial+Newsletters&utm_campaign=0d5c054ee5-WBURTODAY_COG_2020_03_15&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d0781a0a0c-0d5c054ee5-134699385

Guides for remote life: https://blog.trello.com/work-from-home-guides

Source: https://mailchi.mp/careersherpa/summary-sunday-making-adjustments?e=f74f1585dc

 

Takeaways

  • Keep work life separate from personal life and personal life separate from work life.
  • Working from home can get lonely, so make a concerted effort to stay connected socially.
  • Remember that working from home is a continuously developing situation for most companies and this is a time that requires patience and flexibility as an employee.

CO-OPS + CAREERS has gone virtual! Please continue to contact the office by email: coopsandcareers@wit.edu or by phone: 617-989-4101. To schedule a virtual appointment with your CO-OP + CAREER Advisor, login to WITworks or call the main line listed above.

Co-op Stories: Jasmine Andrade

By: Jasmine Andrade

Jasmine is a Wentworth Junior studying Interdisciplinary Engineering concentrating in Manufacturing Engineering and minoring in Industrial Design & Business Management, with a concentration in Project Management. She recently completed her second co-op at Amazon Robotics (AR) as the Technical Operations Co-op, Process Engineer. Jasmine generously shared her story with us:

Jasmine at Amazon Robotics

Her career goal is to become a Product Design Engineer or Innovation and Design Engineer, so she chose this combination of concentrations and minors to make her a well-rounded engineer and to meet her career goal.

“In a Product Design Engineer role, it is important to have skills in Design/Innovation (Industrial Design Minor), Research & Development (Interdisciplinary Engineering) and Manufacturing/Process/Industrial Engineering (Manufacturing Engineering Concentration). You must also have the ability for negotiating and communicating with internal and external business partners, contractors and vendors (Business Management minor). The variety of knowledge and perspectives that my concentration and minor provides allows me to continuously look at a problem through a multidisciplinary lens.”

  • Tell us about your second co-op at Amazon Robotics: 

The Technical Operations Co-op is responsible for delivering and supporting operations and production projects by collaborating with Amazon Robotics Tech Ops Engineering process owners and other cross-functional team members.

  • What interested you in this company/the role?

The culture of Amazon, the peculiar and eccentric ways of sustaining their mission to being “earth’s most customer-centric company for four primary customer sets: consumers, sellers, enterprises, and content creators” is what stood out. Amazon gives you the freedom to think a little differently and to embrace differences. Amazon works to avoid being bland, “big homogeneous, corporate Borg” and aims to stay transparent in what the company needs to continuously work on and improve.

The role stood out because it was different from the my previous role as a Surface Mount Technology (SMT) Manufacturing Engineer at Raytheon IDS, the Process Engineering positions would provide me with a new skillset and also build on what I learned as an SMT Engineer. The position description also starts with “Are you inspired by invention? Is problem solving through teamwork in your DNA? Do you like the idea of seeing how your work impacts the bigger picture? Answer yes to any of these and you’ll fit right in here at Amazon Robotics (AR). We are a smart team of doers that work passionately to apply cutting edge advances in robotics and software to solve real-world challenges that will transform our customers’ experiences in ways we can’t even image yet. We invent new improvements every day. We are Amazon Robotics and we will give you the tools and support you need to invent with us in ways that are rewarding, fulfilling and fun.” The statement provided before you even look at the position description draws you into the possibilities and potential with AR.

  • What was your search process like? And how did you prepare for your interviews?

My search process included applying to 30+ co-op positions that fit my interest and skill set. I also reached out to my LinkedIn network for positions that I was interested in. I utilized the CO-OPS + CAREERS interviews questions list and wrote out all my questions for my on the phone interview for reference. For the in person interview, Amazon provided an outline for potential questions and the format for how they “grade” or determine if you fit culture and position. I wrote out all those questions and practiced answering them out-loud by myself and did a practice interview with friends.

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

One of the project I had the pleasure to work on was for “a new, fully-electric delivery system – Amazon Scout – designed to safely get packages to customers using autonomous delivery devices” (https://blog.aboutamazon.com/transportation/meet-scout). I worked on preparing work instructions and set up for the alpha build. Through this process I was able to see how important the Process Engineering and Technical Operation is to Amazon and how we function cross- functionally with other divisions in Amazon to sustain the mission of being a customer-centric company. This project encouraged me to “Think Big”, “Insist on the Highest Standards” and to “Deliver Results”. These principles are something that stood out within this project and motivated me to continue to develop these skills in the projects that followed.

  • Knowing what you know now, how will you approach your Fall co-op/co-op search differently?

My approach to applying for fall co-op is to find/apply for positions that I see myself transitioning into a full time role. In addition, look at the company culture, history and mission. I am differently more picky in selecting co-ops this semester because I want to make sure I am applying to a companies that I see myself at, long-term and will provide me what the skills I need to acquire to meet my career goal of being a Product Design Engineer.

  • What advice do you have for students who are interested in working for a company like Amazon Robotics?

Go for it! Don’t be afraid to be yourself in your interview, embrace your experiences and peculiar ways to engineering and design thinking. Learn and be curious about everything, commit to being a life-long learner and dive deep into understanding the problem before seeking a solution. Also, remember who your customer is and how your idea or solution will benefit them.

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

Wentworth Hackathons – What they are and why you should participate

By: Faith Bade

The word “hackathon” comes from a combination of “hack” and “marathon”. Hackathons can last 24 hours or longer, with an informal culture (bring your sleeping bag) and food and drinks provided. Teams come to a hackathon fully organized or are formed on the first day. At the end of a hackathon, teams typically present their results. Often, there are contests and prizes. Most hackathons have a specific technology focus (a new app, website, coding, hardware) or a goal of using technology to solve a problem or for the greater good. Hackathons offer a great way to meet new people, learn new things, win prizes, and take home some swag. Plus, you can advance your professional experience and career success. And, btw, hackathons are free!

At Wentworth, we have a student organization called HackWITus. Founded in Fall 2016, HackWITus is one of Boston’s largest student-run hackathon organizations. In the last year, HackWITus has brought together 150+ students from across the country. Students worked on dozens of projects, attended workshops hosted by our exceptional faculty, and developed new skills, broadened their networks, and expanded their career opportunities.

According to Shawn Toubeau, a student organizer with HackWITus, hackathon participants can “connect with others in their profession, learn new tools, and get a sense of what is in demand.” Here in CO-OPS + CAREERS we agree, and we highly recommend that Wentworth students participate in a HackWITus hackathon. Why?Professional Persona

Add your hackathon experience to your resume, LinkedIn profile, and your portfolio. In interviews, talk about your teamwork experience, your efficiency, and the collaborative projects you worked on.  Impress employers with your cutting-edge skills and your commitment to staying ahead of the curve. Employers love that students attend hackathons and are learning outside of the classroom. BTW, all majors should try a hackathon. Just like organizations, bringing a diversity of thought, approaches, and skills to solve a problem often results in a better solution. According to Nova Trauben, a student organizer with HackWITus, “everyone brings something to the table.”

Recruiting

Hackathon participants can gain co-ops and full-time jobs. Employers sponsor hackathons and hire students. Showcase your skills, and your ability to collaborate and meet deadlines. Employers will want you to be on their team. At the end of Wentworth’s Spring 2019 Community Build Hackathon, sponsored by Rocket Software, 5 students received co-op offers. HackWITus also offers some higher level sponsors the option to receive a resume book of participants. Hackathons offer you a way to differentiate yourself.

Skills

 

Learn a new software. Expand your coding capabilities. Attend an interesting workshop. Technology is always changing – hackathons help you stay current on technologies and to learn from your fellow hackers. Plus, you can hone your presentation skills. You too can pull off a persuasive and articulate demonstration after 24 hours with little or no sleep!

 

Networking

You never know who you will meet at a hackathon. Sponsoring employers often coach, offer workshops, and judge the outcomes, and Wentworth faculty coach and present workshops. Get to know them all and stay connected. Plus, your teammates will be students from Wentworth and other universities and these connections can last forever.

Hacking Workspace sign

Self-knowledge

After participating in last year’s HackWITus, Nova said “It really felt like it jump-started my career.” Come to a hackathon and figure out what you like and dislike. Did you like coding? Did you like developing the product interface or identifying the product’s application? Or presenting? Or managing the team? Hackathon experiences will help you learn more about yourself and where to focus for your next co-op or full-time career.

Prizes

Who doesn’t want Bose headphones, or Airpods, or an Echo, or gift cards? Or an offer to co-op?

Fun

Stay up all night. Meet new people. The culture of hackathons is both intense and very chill. Wear comfortable clothes and bring a sleeping bag. Maybe bring your own Keurig. FYI – bring a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a change of clothes. (You – and your team members – will thank me for that tip.)

Any other takeaways?

Yes! As Shawn eloquently stated “One of the things that stuck with me after a hackathon ended was perseverance. It’s always hard to stick with something, especially if it’s new to you  . . .  but I think hackathons teach you to never give up easily and to keep on working at it until you finally get it.” Take a deep dive into something you are passionate about. Find out how fun it is to challenge yourself and work hard and create something (even if you don’t win a prize).

HackWITus is planning their next hackathon on November 9-10, 2019 in CEIS. Sign up now! Shawn, and all of us in CO-OPS + CAREERS, suggest that you “Come with an open mind and an eagerness to learn.” We hope to see you there!

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.

Mindfulness and Your Career

By: Kristen Eckman

This week on WIRE Radio, the CO-OPS + CAREERS team sat down with Bridget McNamee, Associate Director of the Center for Wellness and Disability Services to talk about mindfulness as it relates to your career. Listen to the WITworks radio episode on demand, anytime here.

Cartoon about mindulfness

To better understand the topic of mindfulness, we asked Bridget the following questions:

What is the difference between mindfulness and meditation?

Mindfulness is defined as “the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally,” (Kabat Zinn)

Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens. (https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness/definition).  You can practice mindfulness anywhere at any time with anyone by simply being present and engaged in the here and now.

Meditation is an intentional and inward practice of mindfulness. Kabat Zinn says meditation is a systematic form of paying attention.

Ways to practice mindfulness include:

  1. Integrated mindfulness. Try bringing more awareness to your day-to-day.

By brushing your teeth:

Pay attention to the taste and texture of the toothpaste; mindful of the sensation of your feet on the bathroom floor; mindful of the way that your arm moves to direct the brush across your teeth; mindful of each and every tooth.

Or standing in line:

You set off mindful and quietly prepared for what you’ll need; mindful of how your mood changes when you first catch a glimpse of the line at the dining hall; mindful of how you stand, your breath and where any tensions are as you scan through your body; mindful of the tendency to distract yourself from the present moment; and mindful of how you interact with the people around you.

2. Dedicated-set aside time each day to practice meditation.

Think of your brain like a wild horse. Let your thoughts run and then rein them in a little, let them run and then rein them in a little more, and keep continue this process until you are focused.

Start with trying this for 2 minutes every day and slowly build up.  Your mind WILL wander and all you need to do is notice that your mind has wondered. Do not judge yourself for it, just notice and bring it back, notice and bring it back.

Counting breaths can help (in for 3 seconds out for 3 seconds up to 10 breaths and then start over). You can also use visualization strategies. Imagine each breath brings in the warmth of the sun starting at the tips of your toes and work your way up to the top of your head through breath.

Brain strength workout

There’s a lot of reference to the present when talking about mindfulness/meditation.  Why is being present so important?

A Harvard study found that people spend 46.9% of their time thinking about things other than what they are doing. They’re thinking about what happened in the past, what will happen in the future, and what might never happen. This has a detrimental effect. The study found a direct correlation to the amount of time not focused on the present and the level of unhappiness or dissatisfaction.  The brain is wired to scan for threats and anticipate danger, a trait leftover from early evolution.  This default to the negative combined with too much dwelling on the past or anticipating the future is a recipe for unhappiness.

A regular mindfulness/meditation practice can rewire the brain.  A Harvard study showed an increase in gray matter in different parts of the brain that control learning and memory, emotional regulation, focus and concentration, perspective taking and empathy, and stress response. This was found among study participants who practiced mindfulness an average of 27 minutes/day over 8 weeks. Long story short, treat mindfulness like you treat exercise; a little bit most days of the week can make you stronger and healthier and better equipped to handle.

The key to this is regular practice-the same results have not been shown for people who practice mindfulness sporadically. While 27 minutes seems like a lot (and it is!), there is some evidence that even 10 minutes/day can produce results. More research is needed to confirm brain changes but study participants report positive results after daily 10 minute sessions.

Are the benefits of mindfulness physical, emotional, social, or all of the above?

All of the above!  We already talked about how it can change the brain, but it can also change the body.  A regular mindfulness practice boosts serotonin (the happiness chemical), melatonin (the sleep chemical), and endorphins (the feel good chemical) and reduces cortisol (the stress chemical).

Low serotonin has an impact on our mood and can be a symptom of depression; regular mindfulness practice increases serotonin and therefore creates a better environment for brain cells to do their job.

Melatonin is essential for recharging the body and enough melatonin is essential for sleep health, immunity, and healthy aging; regular meditation has been shown to increase melatonin levels by 98%!  We have to work extra hard for our melatonin these days because a primary enemy of melatonin production is light/screens and we all know how much we stare at screens now.

Endorphins cause that happy, Zen-like state of alertness and overall feel goodness; sometimes referred to as “runners high”. Meditation has been shown to have the same effect on endorphin levels as going for a long run.

Too much cortisol can cause inflammation, high blood pressure, brain fog, anxiety, etc. Regular mindfulness practice has shown to reduce cortisol levels by 50%!

What are some mindfulness tools I can bring to work?

“The Upside of Stress” by Kelly McGonigal discuses when you change your mind about stress, you change your bodies response to stress.

How do you change your mind about stress? Be present in your stress. Tune in and notice your bodies response to stress (racing heart, sweating, rapid breathing, etc.); notice your beating heart and think about how it is getting more oxygen to your brain to help you with this challenge, think about sweating as your bodies way to detox so you can more clearly tackle this issue, notice your rapid breathing and think about how it is reminding you to take in more air and silently start to count your breaths trying to make each breath a little longer than the last.

Think about all the other benefits we already talked about; better learning/memory, better emotional regulation, better ability to focus/concentrate, better perspective taking/empathy, and a better response to stress all come in handy in the workplace. If you can learn and retain, not scream at your coworkers, stay focused in meetings or while working on projects or with clients, and have a better sense of connection with people you are an asset to any work environment. And you’ll feel better!

For more information on mindfulness, check out the following resources:

Mindfulness Courses on Lynda.com (free with Wentworth network login)

https://www.lynda.com/Business-Skills-tutorials/Mindfulness/418268-2.html?org=wit.edu

https://www.lynda.com/Business-tutorials/Practicing-mindfulness-Its-all-about-meditation/751311/787321-4.html?org=wit.edu

Apps:

Calm
Headspace
10% Happier

Books:

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
The How of Happiness by Sonia Lyubomirsky
10% Happier by Dan Harris
Mindfulness for the Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris

People to Google:
Sharon Salzberg
John Kabat Zinn
Jack Kornfield

If you have questions about mindfulness and meditation, I encourage you to stop by The Center for Wellness and Disability Services, lower level Watson Hall.

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

To make an appointment with your Co-op + Career Advisor call the front desk at 617 989 4101 or stop by during spring 2019 Drop-In Hours: Monday, Tuedsday, and Wednesday 1:30pm – 4:0pm while classes are in session.

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.

CO-OPS + CAREERS Annual Appreciation Breakfast Recap

By: Abbey Pober

Our annual Appreciation Breakfast was held on Tuesday, January 22nd from 7:30am – 9:30am in Watson Auditorium, recognizing partners of Wentworth’s co-op program. Each year, approximately 1800 students complete a mandatory co-op as part of their graduation requirements. Without the support of employers and internal partners this program would not be possible.

appreciation breakfast photo

Throughout the morning employers and campus partners were recognized for engaging with Wentworth students beyond posting a job on our campus job board, WITworks. We celebrated organizations who:

  • Hired our students for co-ops
  • Hired members of the Class of 2017 for post-graduation professional employment
  • Hosted on-campus interviews
  • Were an Employer-in-Residence
  • Were interviewed on WITworks Radio
  • Attended one or both CO-OP + CAREER Fairs
  • Attended Mock Interview Day
  • Sponsored CO-OP + CAREER Fair
  • Hosted Wentworth-on-the-Road

This year, over 60 employers were nominated by Wentworth students as Co-op Employer of the Year. The staff reviewed each nomination and determined which employers would be recognized with a trophy based upon the nomination and the organization’s level of engagement with Wentworth for employment.  We looked at the number of events the employer attended, the number of jobs and co-ops posted, and the number of students hired for co-op and the number of members from the class of 2017 hired as full-time professionals.

award winners

 

The following organizations were awarded for their dedication to hiring Wentworth students.

Best CO-OP + CAREER Employer
Commodore Builders

Gilbane Building Co.

Harvard University

Integration Partners

McDonald Electrical Corp.

MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Abbott

Bond Brothers

Eversource

GE Aviation

J.C. Cannistraro

Lee Kennedy Co.

Lytron

Best Internal Partner
Santiago Umaschi, Wentworth Institute of Technology

Best External Partner
Fred Raymond, National Grid

Supervisor of the Year
Eric Thompson, Harvard University

Jeff Stoltz, Raytheon

Joshua Larson, Wentworth Institute of Technology

Michelle Brockney, Integration Partners

Syed Ali, Vapotherm

Best New Employer
Bright Horizons

Best New Supervisor
Chris Carr, MIT

James Therien, Bright Horizons

We thank you and appreciate all the organizations who support Wentworth Institute of Technology, the co-op program, and our students. We look forward to another year of successful hiring!

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. 2

A guest series by WIT Faculty: Aaron Carpenter

In a previous post, we discussed the basics of graduate school, focusing mostly on Master’s degrees.  If you have not seen that post, you can find it here.  In this post, we will instead focus on PhD programs, with some touches of other degrees.

phd comic

General PhD FAQs:

  • What is the structure of a PhD program? What are the basics?
    • A PhD is definitely a large undertaking than a master’s and needs to be considered carefully. A PhD can take 4-7 years full-time beyond the Master’s, possibly more depending on the topic and the advisor, or if you choose part-time.  Because of the difficulty and the time commitment, you need a good reason to go into a PhD program.  The main reasons to pursue a PhD are because you want to go into academia, say as a college professor, or if you want to get into really cutting-edge research either at a university or at a large research lab.  Both of these positions typically require a PhD.  If the reasons you are thinking of a PhD are more like, “I want to be called Dr.” or “I don’t have a job, so I am thinking of grad school,” or “My family wants me to,” those are reasons that often result in burn-out.  PhD is a long, difficult road, so it is important to have that pure motivation to help you through the harder days. Having that light at the end of the tunnel is key.
    • You will build a network of fellow graduate students, typically your lab, that will become friends and “academic family” for life. The head of this family will be your advisor – the relationship you have with this individual, unlike an “academic advisor” in undergrad, will greatly determine your level of personal happiness, time to completing the degree, and job prospects upon graduation.
  • What role does a PhD advisor have?
    • Your advisor will help determine your specialty, your projects, and your day to day activities. You will choose your advisor, and he or she will also choose you, often helping to pay you something through stipend.  When you apply to PhD programs, you want to research potential advisors. Everyone has different experiences with their advisors, but the key is to have a strong working relationship.  You will spend a lot of time with them and they will determine your project and your classes, so you need to be able to work with them.
    • The advisor is also the source of funding. If accepted to a PhD program, you will want to be fully funded. This means tuition and fees fully paid for, as well as insurance and a small living stipend. By small, we mean enough to share an apartment, feed yourself, and very little else.
  • Would I be taking classes within the PhD?
    • You will take some classes, but mainly in support of your PhD research, which is chosen by you and your advisor. You may audit, or just sit in some classes, or actually take them for full credit.  But, after any mandatory coursework, expect that you will spend 60-80 hours a week doing research in a lab of some sort.  Most of your research time, you are learning how to do literature searches, conceptual and practical research, how to think critically and deeply about data, question assumptions, and basically learn how to be an independent researcher.  You will also do presentations, write papers for journals and conferences, disseminate your research to the community. All of these will hopefully lead to your dissertation and defense.
  • What is the dissertation like?
    • The main component of PhD activities revolves around doing original research and publishing it. The dissertation is a basically a medium sized text-book on your field and your specific topic. I have seen theses at 200 pages or some over 400.  You will then defend your thesis in public, but mainly to a committee of faculty of 3-6 people.  Your advisor should help to prepare you the whole time, so when you get into the defense, you are prepared.  In that defense, you are proving that you are the foremost expert on that topic, regardless of how esoteric the topic might be.
    • In many programs, the PhD is a superset of the requirements for a Masters in that program. This means that after completing mandatory coursework, and possibly modest additional requirements, you will receive a Master’s degree on the road to a PhD (typically after the first 2 years). If during your (long and hard) pursuit of your PhD you realize that you don’t want to pursue research in your career, this path allows for a reasonable departure. Consider this when choosing the type of program to which to apply: you’ll probably pay for a Master’s, but not for a PhD. However, do NOT apply to PhD programs if you have no intention of continuing past the Master’s – this is an ethical gray area, and can easily lead to burned bridges (such as lose you a recommendation letter for employment after receiving your graduate degree!)
    • In the end, getting a PhD means having a passion for a particular topic, a reason to gut through the hardships and time, and the grit to continue. My PhD was trying, but I don’t regret it as it has led me to where I am now.  You need to love the research or aim at a job that needs the PhD, otherwise it is tough to make it through.
  • Other than Master’s or PhD, what other degree options after a Bachelor’s are there?
    • Other degrees are out there: MBA, law, medical. I can’t necessarily speak to all of these here, but other podcasts/seminars will discuss how to go into these different fields.  There are also plenty of resources on campus, including the co-op and career center and instructors/professors.
    • It is easier to transition than you might think to pursue graduate education in a field different than your undergrad. Essentially, you might need to take some bridge courses to give you a new foundation, but that should only add 1-2 semesters, and depending on your background, should be fairly straightforward.

For more questions regarding the application process, please check back later in the semester for Part Three!

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.

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.

Site Visit Spotlight: Delson Faria Dasilva

Decorative ImageBy : Kristen Eckman

Delson Faria Dasilva ’19, is a Mechanical Engineering student currently finishing up his summer co-op with MIT: Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Delson shared with us how he is making design changes to build a sample inlet for the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Genomes (SETG). He is also working with microcontrollers to actuate and operate the instrument.

We had a few questions for Delson about his experience:

How has this co-op impacted your future career? 

This co-op allowed me to look behind the curtain of cutting edge research. I gained the experience of working with MGH scientists and NASA-funded engineers from various backgrounds and fields. This co-op really highlighted the importance of communicating problems and ideas for solutions within the context of ones respective field. The laboratory environment allowed me to practice developing a hypothesis, engineering the tools to test said hypothesis, validating the data, and iterating my engineered solutions to improve the performance of those tools. This co-op has provided experiential context in problem solving, that I will be able to refer to for the rest of my engineering career.

Decorative Image

What have you discovered about your professional self? 

Not so much discovered but heavily reinforced is the reality that classroom room knowledge is the bare minimum a professional has to have. What really shines through more than anything is experience. I don’t necessarily mean work experience but hands on experience. This may just be personally but my projects, the things I have built and worked hands on, have always given me the most context to think critically about any engineering problem I have ever faced.

How did Wentworth prepare you for a field experience? 

Wentworth gave me the opportunity to work with tools, lead projects, collaborate with students and professors to establish that hands on foundation to build my professional career on top of.

Check out more of Delson’s work here!