Co-op Stories: Sophia Seltenreich

Sophia Seltenreich is a Wentworth Junior studying Business Management with a minor in International Business. Sophia recently completed her first mandatory co-op with Yesware in Downtown Boston where she worked as a Content Strategy Co-op, which was a hybrid position of content marketing and market analysis. In this role, her tasks included developing cadence and curating content on social channels, establishing perspectives/thought leadership & analyzing data in the area of sales to write about on Yesware’s blog, tracking KPIs for Yesware and competitors to measure growth and success, designing graphics for website and social platforms, and customer outreach for data insights and review generation. Here’s what she shared with us about her experience:

What was it like to work at a start-up like Yesware?

It’s incredible! Every day is so lively and so different. You have a lot of flexibility and independence, but also a lot of responsibility. Given the ever-changing start-up environment, you have to be adaptable and ready to pivot at any time. Personally, I love that aspect of the start-up environment. I also love the work I’m doing because even though I’m a co-op, everyone in the company is so interconnected and reliant on each other that even small things like writing a blog post make a difference!

Sophia Seltenreich Headshot(Photo courtesy of Yesware)

Speaking more to the company culture, Yesware was voted Boston’s Top Place to Work two years in a row (2017/2018). Everyone at the company is treated exceptionally well, and as a co-op, I was treated no different than a full-time employee. Some office perks include: free catered lunch every day, pet-friendly office space – which means people often bring in their dogs, weekly yoga sessions, monthly massages, board game nights, a nap room, a fully stocked kitchen (including vegan ice-cream & oatmilk), and great people! I cannot speak enough to the character and integrity that each person at Yesware embodies. For example, every two months, all the execs participate in an AMA (Ask Me Anything), exhibiting complete transparency and authenticity, taking the time to answer everyone’s questions. Another example, when an employee makes a successful hiring referral, instead of getting a cash bonus, they make a $5,000 donation to a charity of their choosing. Our People Team also plans and hosts several community events throughout the year, like a Galentine’s Day celebration with She+ Geeks Out & the Big Sister Association of Boston. Getting to work with these kinds of genuine people is the best environment to learn and grow in, and it shows me how passionate people are about the work they do and the communities they’re a part of.

Galentines Event(Photo courtesy of Yesware)

How did you choose to work at a start-up?

I received a competing co-op offer for social management at Liberty Mutual, the antithesis of a start-up company. While working at a fortune 100 company can provide stability and safety, I wasn’t looking to sit at a cubicle and do the same set tasks every day (even if it meant getting a lower wage).

What was a typical day like for you on co-op?

As I said before, every day can be different! A fairly typical day starts off with me scheduling Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn posts (after I’ve made myself some breakfast & tea) and going through new emails. After that, I work on sprint goals such as drafting new blog pieces, creating review campaigns, conducting customer outreach for feedback, sorting through data in Pardot, designing graphics in canva  etc. Then (free) lunch comes along! After lunch, marketing has a daily stand-up at 1:30pm where we usually discuss the tasks we’re working on (and everyone’s progress as we re-watch Game of Thrones). The latter half of the day consists of me listening to podcasts and finishing whatever goal I set for myself in the morning.

Yesware Office(Photo courtesy of Yesware)

What advice do you have for students who are interested in working for a start-up?

Advice for those seeking start-up jobs: be flexible, and highly adaptable! Take pride in your work, but don’t get too attached to it- changes can be made, projects can be dropped, and work can be scrapped. Be a self-starter, take the initiative on connections and projects you think would help your team or their processes.

What did you learn from your first co-op that you will take with you to your second? 

I learned that I had to apply to 40+ positions before I found one I truly resonated with. Don’t be afraid to turn companies down just because they’re the first to offer you a job.

Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Sophia! Be on the lookout for our next co-op feature. If you would like to share your search process, 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 during Summer 2019 Drop-In Hours: Wednesday and Thursday 2:00pm – 4:00pm while classes are in session.

Co-op Stories: Sarah Higgins, Computer Science

Sarah Higgins is a current Wentworth student majoring in Computer Science. Here’s what Sarah shared with us about her co-op experience:

 

Where was your co-op? What was your job title? & What interested you in this company/the role?

My first co-op was with Jibo as a Build Tools Software Engineer.  I only knew that I liked writing code and problem solving, and I knew there were teams at the company that would provide me with opportunities to get better at both.  I lucked out with Jibo because I was not only reassured of my choice to go back to school for Computer Science, but my mentor and the people I got to work with were incredible.

My second co-op was with Validity.  Although very different from Jibo, I knew that they were looking for a software engineer to complete tasks similar to what I had worked on at Jibo, so I applied and luckily got the job.  I also intentionally wanted to take on a role in a different type of work culture environment to see if it would help me figure out what I like more in a company environment for when I graduate.

 

What got you interested in Software Engineering?

I took a Computer Science course while I was majoring in Mechanical Engineering and loved it!!  The puzzles and problems we got to solve, learning about logic gates, and basic programs written in Java came easy to me.

I have been a hairstylist for the past 10 years and I knew that I always wanted to go back to school, but it’d have to be worth the investment.  A few of my friends are mechanical engineers and after talking with them about what their jobs are like, I thought I’d like it and wanted to give it a try.  After learning that it takes almost a semester’s worth of time to see what feels like an ounce of progress, I realized I hated it.  Coming from an industry where the longest I’m with a client is about 3 hours, that wasn’t going to cut it.  Solving problems in as little as 30 seconds with writing programs and logic was far more fun, so I switched my major and dove in to a new found passion.

 

What did you need to focus on inside or outside of the classroom to be successful as a candidate?

Time management. While I was at school Monday – Friday seeking co-ops, I’d allot an hour each day to specifically apply for co-ops, which meant also writing a lot of cover letters.  For my first co-op, I think I sent out almost 45 applications.  I heard back from 5 companies for interviews, and I received 2 offers.  One was in Providence, and the other was Jibo here in Downtown Boston. Because Jibo was a shorter commute and the company product seemed way cooler, I accepted that one.

For my second co-op, I only had to apply to about 10 companies before I heard from Validity.  The second time around is much easier, as everyone told me.  Once you’ve gained professional experience, it’s not as stressful applying.

 

What was a typical day like at your co-op?

My typical day at both Validity and Jibo were very similar. I’d arrive at 9am every day and we’d have a daily stand-up.  Stand-up is a brief 5-10 minute meeting in which everyone on your specific software engineering team will say what they have accomplished since the last stand-up, currently working on, when they anticipate to have that completed by, and anything blocking progress from happening.

I’d then continue working on whatever project my mentor had assigned to me. It never took me more than a week or two to complete a project he would give me.  My mentor would check in with me frequently via Slack or by coming to my desk to see if I was stuck on anything, and always gave me feedback on whatever I was working on.

I’d be a part of meetings throughout the day, too.  Even though I was a co-op, I was treated like every other full-time working member of the team.  If the project that I was a part of required me to get more information from other members on the team or the manager, I’d be a part of the meeting to make sure I had everything to go forward.

Every two weeks, we’d have Sprint meetings.  Sprint meetings in software engineering allow for more long-term planning, typically two weeks away from where you’re at.  We assign projects and tickets to each member of the team and hopefully by the next sprint, all tasks are completed. They almost never were though because Jibo was a start-up, and start-ups demand that everyone take on more than what falls into their realm of responsibility sometimes.  That’s okay though, because it was always fun and felt great to know that I could be responsible for more work than the team expected from me!

Student on-site

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

At Jibo, I was a part of the Build Tools team.  Build tools I’ve learned are an important and valued discipline in Software Engineering because it gets the products built, deployed, shipped, and its version number is incremented and ready for the next build.  A lot of software exists to help make that process easier, and only require a script from the programmer to tell the build what to do.  At Validity, I wrote the company’s first automated build script on my own, because I did a lot of work similar to it at Jibo.

At Jibo however, we needed to automate the entire process, which was incredibly complicating.  Because Jibo was a robot built with custom hardware that was being turned into its own platform, my mentor and I were responsible for creating the entire build process to communicate with the robot.  A software service would not be able to do that.  Learning all about what went into a “starting-from-scratch” automation process to deploy software was a life changing experience that made me appreciate the industry side of software building because while writing code, you need to make sure that all of the libraries you choose will work together smoothly.

That project specifically took almost a month for us to complete. I realized how special that was while I was writing my build script at Validity, because it took less than a week’s time.  It felt pretty incredible to know that I not only knew all of the behind the scenes build process, but I was able to get it done on my own and thoroughly explain it to someone else properly.  I eventually became someone who was a go-to for questions about build software like Jenkins and CircleCI at Validity because of that, which felt amazing!

 

What was the biggest lesson you learned on co-op?

The biggest and most valuable lesson that I learned is that I can do it, and that I am capable. That might seem like a ridiculous answer, but it’s true. I was terrified going to my first co-op at Jibo, especially since the only “professional” experience I had ever had was in a completely different industry. I had to start over and be a beginner all over again in an industry I knew almost nothing about. I was lucky enough to have an incredible mentor who was also a phenomenal teacher and incredibly patient with me when I needed things explained more than once, but he always gave me all of the credit for whatever I’d figured out. By the end of my co-op, I was given tasks with hardly any instructions and at Validity, it was a lot of the same. It felt amazing being relied on and becoming someone who people could eventually ask questions to about their own work.

 

What advice do you have for students interested in software engineering?

Dive in and go for it! I was a hairstylist who was frustrated to be stuck in one place because my clientelle was built and established and you can’t bring them with you if you want to pick up and move to a different town, never mind a different state. Software engineering provides open doors almost everywhere, especially in bustling, big cities where there are a lot of companies working on really cool things!

Jibo was a social robot who would talk to us and say things like “Hi, I’m glad you’re here.  If you weren’t, I would be talking to myself right now”, and he was able to do that because of the software that my mentor and I had pushed up to him ourselves.  Everything that he’d say or do was because of the work we put into it. At Validity, I alongside another software engineering co-op, collaborated on creating and building a brand new website for their customers to keep track of their email accounts, in addition to many other projects like my build script.

Even though the two companies were vastly different, I got to work on projects with similar libraries and languages to allow me to further develop my own skills to carry with me wherever I’d end up next.  Right now, I am taking advantage of all of the Python skills I learned at both co-ops in two of my classes.  Prior to my co-ops, I had never worked with Python before.

My point is, do it. Just do it. There’s no better feeling in the world than solving a problem on your own, you feel like a wizard sitting at the computer. Seriously. If you want to learn how to write code, go for it.  It will be hard, but it’s so worth it. I love who I see when I look at myself in the mirror now, knowing that I am about to graduate with a new found career path and passion, and I did it all for myself.  Everybody deserves to know what that feels like.  Do it!

 

Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Sarah! Be on the lookout for our next co-op feature. If you would like to share your search process, 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 during Spring 2019 Drop-In Hours: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday 1:30pm – 4:00pm while classes are in session.

Informational Interviewing Tips

By: Kristen Eckman

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

What is an informational interview?

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

Informational Interview

How to Informational Interview :

Identify someone to interview

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

Contact that person

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

Schedule the interview

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

Confirm your appointment

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

Research the individual and career field

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

Prepare a list of relevant questions (and your resume)

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

Be on time for your meeting!

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

Follow-up with a thank you

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

Business Card

Don’t Forget To…

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

Sample Questions 

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

Sample Email Language 

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

(No prior connection)

Subject:  WIT student seeking industry knowledge

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name,

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

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

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Your first and last name

 

(From referral)

Subject: WIT student referred by Professor Christiano

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name,

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

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

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Your first and last name

 

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

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

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.

 

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.

Meet Hannah Schulze, 2nd runner up for this semester’s “Share Your Co-op Contest”

Hannah Schulze is a current Wentworth student majoring in Biomedical Engineering and minoring in Writing. Here’s what Hannah shared with us about her Science Writing internship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital:

Where was your co-op? What was it like to work there?

The Brigham and Women’s Hospital Office of Strategic Communication oversees internal communications and media relations for more than 18,000 employees and medical and research staff. I worked closely with the Senior Science Communication Specialist to bring cutting edge research forward, help principal investigators reach a variety of audiences and accurately communicate science to the public. The team covers a lot of ground, so I had the chance to jump in and help with a variety of projects across the department. The team made it easy for me to find my place in the BWH community.

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

I had many opportunities to interview and photograph incredible investigators in the field of medicine and craft pieces to help amplify their research. This photo (featured below) represents one of many lab visits—a conversation between Jeff Karp, a leading researcher in bioengineering, and Janine Benyus, co-founder of the Biomimicry Institute. Now, I’m back in classes and starting as a Volunteer Content Creator for the non-profit associated with the Biomimicry Institute, AskNature. AskNature is a free online community focused on helping designers and entrepreneurs find inspiration from biology and nature. I learned so much from the team at BWH, and now I’m part of another meaningful project that I might not have otherwise known about. Co-op is about finding those opportunities.

Based on your co-op experience, what industry/position do you see yourself in the future?

Across my time at Wentworth, I’ve had three co-ops. My experience solidified the importance of an organization’s mission and culture over having a specific job function. I bring a wide range of experiences to the table, and I want to be somewhere that uses all of them—technical and creative alike.

What is a major takeaway from your co-op experience?

In terms of advice for others—use this as an opportunity to network and accumulate a bank of advice. The great thing about advice? You don’t have to take it if you don’t want to, so just ask for it. Being in the industry space, the people you encounter will have a better idea of what’s out there than you do. Use them as resources.

Make sure you’re listening and absorbing. Even if it’s not something you’re working on or that’s affecting you at that moment, you might be involved soon. This is a great exercise in adaptability. Be one step ahead.

Probably my biggest piece of advice: don’t be afraid to act like you’re on the team—feel free to speak up in meetings, ask questions, get to know the team and be part of the community. That’s the part of the co-op experience where you actually figure out what you’re looking for in the future.

What made you enter the contest and why did you choose the photo entered?

My co-op experiences have been a little bit outside the status quo, and I want my peers to know that they can make that happen for themselves. Go with what you’re interested in, and trust your gut. The photo I entered represents a time where I connected with some wonderful and very interesting people who inspired me. I was on a team that provided great opportunities to learn, and I grabbed them.

Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Hannah! Be on the lookout for our next “Share Your Co-op” Contest in the coming semesters.

Meet Maria Rodriguez, runner up for this semester’s “Share your Co-op Contest”

Maria Rodriguez is a current Wentworth student majoring in Biomedical Engineering and minoring in Biology. Here’s what Maria shared with us about her co-op experience at CELLINK in Cambridge:

My co-op with CELLINK was incredible! As an applications engineer, I learned so much about 3D bioprinting and tissue engineering. I collaborated with top researchers in the field to make sure our technology met their needs, and I learned so much from their research. One of my favorite parts was introducing scientists to the world of bioprinting, for which I helped organize the event pictured. The CEO of the company featured this picture on his LinkedIn account!

Where was your co-op? What was it like to work there?

I was an application engineer at CELLINK. CELLINK is a startup with a very vibrant and fast-paced atmosphere. My co-op position was very challenging, but at the same time, very fun. It involved supporting customers and finding new applications for our innovative technology (about which I knew very little about until I started working there) while collaborating with the team to improve the technology, and networking with scientists to introduce them to our products.  I spent many days out of the office in research labs and conferences, where I got to listen to the end-users feedback and meet many important people in the bioprinting and tissue engineering fields.  My supervisors had a contagious positive vibe. Also, they were very open to my ideas and always treated me like a valuable employee.

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

My co-op experience inspired me to choose my Senior Design project. I pitched an idea to CELLINK based on a need of their current customers, and now my project is being sponsored by them! I still cannot reveal what it will be, but it is very promising since one of the applications is to help prove pharmaceutical drugs safety more efficiently, so they can get to the market faster after they have been discovered.

Based on your co-op experience, what industry/position do you see yourself in the future?

Based on this co-op experience, which introduced me to the field of 3D bioprinting, I will probably continue my studies after I graduate in order to specialize more in this field. Then, I’d love to work for a company like CELLINK, which is heavily based on research but still a part of industry and not academia.

What is a major takeaway from your co-op experience?

A major takeaway is that motivation and persistence can be key when it comes to getting a job you really want. I did not have much experience related to the technology, but my interviewers saw my passion and were excited to have me on their team.

What made you enter the contest and why did you choose the photo entered?

I wanted to share my experience. I chose this photo because it was featured by the company’s CEO.

Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Maria! Be on the lookout for our next “Share Your Co-op Contest” in the coming semesters.

“This American Workplace: Slang for International Students”

By: Ria Kalinowski

Let’s “Get the Ball Rolling” (i.e., Start Something)

Americans use a lot of slang. Slang is the use of phrases or terms, typically in an informal setting, that have come to stand for something else. It is most common to hear slang used in informal conversations as opposed to during more formal language such as presentations or interviews. You will almost never see slang in formal writing. If someone uses a slang phrase or term in conversation which you do not understand, you can often use the context to figure it out. In some cases, the slang phrase that is used may be loosely related to the slang meaning. The phrase, “don’t bite off more than you can chew”, means not to take on a task that is too large.

“Keep Your Eye on the Ball” (i.e., Remain Alert)

There are many American slang phrases and terms that are related to sports. If someone says to you, “don’t drop the ball”, they mean they don’t want you to make an error or miss an opportunity. This saying is derived from sports like baseball or American football where a player may be penalized for dropping the ball during the game. For example, if someone assigns you a project at work, they may say, “don’t drop the ball” and mean that they don’t want you to mess up the project.

Another sports-related slang phrase is, “behind the eight-ball”. This saying is from the game of pool and refers to someone being in a bad or difficult position. If a colleague gives a presentation at work and it doesn’t go well because they weren’t prepared or if someone misses a project deadline because they started working on the project too late, someone might say that they were, “behind the eight-ball”.

Here is a list of additional sports slang: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sports_idioms.

It’s Not Always “A Piece of Cake” (i.e., Easy)

Not all American slang phrases or terms are related to sports. If someone tells you to “hold your horses”, it means they want you to wait or calm down. This phrase comes from a time when horses were a major form of transportation and it literally meant to pull up on a horse you were riding or driving from a wagon to make the horse stop.

A “couch potato” is someone who sits on the couch all day watching television. It can be used to refer to people who are lazy.

Here is a list of additional slang: http://www.fluentu.com/english/blog/essential-english-idioms/?lang=en

Let’s “Cut to the Chase” (i.e., Get to the Point)

So, if you are in a situation where people around you are using slang, “don’t have a cow” (i.e., be worried). Use the situational or conversational context to figure out what they are saying. Or, you could ask! Most Americans will be happy to explain what they mean.

LGBTQ+ Friendly Employers and How to Find Them

There are some helpful lists out there of LGBTQ+ Friendly Employers. But what do you do if you are interested in working at a relatively new or small company that may not show up on those lists? Luckily there are actions you can take to assess just how friendly this company is to LGBTQ+ employees and they are all part of the regular job search: Do your research and ask questions.

When researching your targeted companies, be sure to look at how a company portrays themselves. Is there evidence that they value diversity and inclusion in the following?

  • Mission statement/overall profile
  • Top management: any minorities and women? Check out Hoovers the Resources for Co-ops section of our website.
  • Charities they support
  • Website and social media (for proof that the company values diversity in its employees, their customers and vendor partners)

Once you’ve researched the what the company says about itself, check outside sources. What is their recent history (are they walking the walk?) and how have they been rated?

The Company’s Employee Policies and Training can tell you a lot. Check for clues in their:

  •  Job postings, website or promotional materials – do they include statements about being an Equal Opportunity Employer?
  • Zero tolerance policies for discrimination, harassment and retaliation in the employee handbook?
  • Ask about training opportunities for employees and managers on diversity issues.

Do they have any LGBTQ+ Friendly Benefits?

  • Healthcare coverage for same sex spouses and domestic partners
  • Paid family leave (maternity, paternity, adoption) allowed for domestic partners as well as children of a domestic partners, regardless of biological or adoptive status
  • COBRA-equivalent benefits for domestic partners
  • Bereavement leave for death of a partner or their immediate family.

How about Employee Resource Groups?

Some companies have affinity or resources groups for LGBTQ+ employees. These groups provide opportunities to network and discuss challenges at work and strategies to overcome them. For the company, these groups help lower turnover and increase retention. Organizations may also have a diversity and inclusion office, diversity council or working group focused on employee diversity that includes LGBTQ diversity as part of its mission.

During the recruiting process however, emphasize qualifications

Focus on what makes you a well-qualified candidate for the position: skills, experience, education and abilities. An individual should never have to divulge their gender identity or sexual orientation. If a person decides to come out it should be on their own terms. Unfortunately, protections are not universal, and disclosure can open one up to discrimination. The best approach is to ask general questions re: benefits and diversity initiatives and compare that with your research.

Lastly, if you do get an offer from a company, but find that you are not comfortable working for them after all, it is okay to politely turn down an offer. And all that research was not for nothing, you know more about who you want to work for and who you don’t.

For more information, check our LGBTQ+ resources page for students: https://wit.edu/sites/default/files/coopscareers/LGBTQ%20Student%20Resources.pdf

Research strategies and questions provided by Fast Company: Six Steps for Finding LGBT-Friendly Companies

The benefits of volunteering and extracurricular activities

By: Chawney Weis

“It’s not about what you know, it’s about WHO you know.” But how do you get to know the right people? And how do you convince them that you’re the right person for the job?

You could possibly meet a connection in your Uber-pool, a coffee shop on the T or at a family/friend gathering; but volunteer work is one of the quickest ways to meet people and prove your knowledge and work ethic. Whether you choose to volunteer through an unpaid summer internship (in high school or college) or you opt to volunteer your time a couple nights or evenings each month, you will have the opportunity to build relationships with people who can potentially help you out, or at least provide you a good reference, during your co-op and/or job search. Similarly, extracurricular activities including sports, clubs, networking groups, volunteer activities, travel, etc., allow you to network and meet people while demonstrating your strengths, skill set, and how you work with others on a team and in different environments.

While both volunteer work and extracurricular activities allow you to make connections and prove your abilities, you are also building your resume in doing so. Choosing to spend your free-time doing something purposeful implies that you have interests in something beyond your school work; you like to seek challenges and learn about a variety of fields and lines of work. Employers appreciate seeing that an applicant is involved in their community and well-rounded in the activities they choose to participate in. Employers regularly request to speak specifically with students in different clubs and organizations. They want to see leadership positions and skills on your resumes as well as campus and community involvement. The projects you work on and the interactions you have will help you develop transferable skills that you will use in the classroom and in any job/work setting.

So, when you attend the Involvement Fair on the front lawn on September 7, 2017, consider what you can learn and how being involved (both on and off campus) can help you land your next co-op or job after graduation. If you are spending your summer off at home, consider volunteering part-time or finding other activities you can be involved in. Remember that your CO-OP + CAREER Advisor can assist in pulling transferable skills from any of these experiences to boost your resume and present your qualifications in your cover letters.