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.

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.

Grad School FAQs Pt. 3: The Application

A guest series by WIT Faculty: Aaron Carpenter

In a previous post, we discussed the basics of graduate school, focusing on the differences between degree programs.  If you have not seen that post, check it out here.

application image

In this post, I will share some hints on how to apply to graduate school. I have personally reviewed graduate applications at other institutions, so some of these hints are coming from my own experience.  Other hints have come from a variety of other sources, including other professors, on whom you should rely to help. Through this process, make sure to talk to your career advisor and your academic advisors, as well as any professors willing to help.

Let’s get to the questions:

Before a student applies, how do they even know where to apply? Is it similar to applying to undergraduate programs?

  • First choose an area in which you want to study. Ideally this is more specific than your undergrad major, but might not be. For this, think about the most interesting experiences you’ve had in courses, projects, jobs, or just general curiosity.Given this information, talk to your advisor, peers who have graduated, and professors in the field to get a sense of quality schools/programs.You can use national published rankings as an initial feature, but be more focused in your search.
    • For example, department size in terms of students and faculty, location of the school, strength in specific areas, support structures and resources, and amount of research funding via grants).
  • Now start checking websites for school Unlike in undergrad, you won’t be applying to the University as a whole, but instead a particular program. Thus, quickly delve into parts of the site focusing on the department, the research areas/labs therein, faculty, and course offerings. Some of the important details to note for specific labs are where graduates work, size of the labs, publishing activity, time to graduations, student jobs after graduation, and funding sources.
  • As you narrow your programs to which to apply, choose those that have a specialty you are interested in, not just based on overall reputation.Be sure to have “safety” schools and “reach” schools: don’t reach with all your picks, but also don’t aim too low.

Now assuming students have a list of schools, should students send a resume? Similar to a job?

  • Most schools will want a résumé or CV (curriculum vitae), to get an overall sense of credentials and course/work/project experience.For industry jobs you likely received the advice of keeping it down to a page –for graduate applications,it can be quite a bit longer (2-5 pages). The CV should contain: education history, job history, all relevant projects from courses or extra-curricular, memberships (IEEE, ACM, SWE, NSBE), all skills/qualifications, research interests, relevant courses taken, and any other academic/professional elements that will strengthen your candidacy (probably exclude “hobbies” unless they are relevant).While the base content will probably be the same across applications, you should reformat based on individual schools/labs as appropriate; you may want to reorder projects or skills to be tailored to a specific school/lab.There are numerous templates and examples online, but you should talk to available resources on your campus (CO-OP +CAREER Center and advisors).

What else do people need when they apply?

  • There is usually a personal statement or a statement of purpose.  This is somewhat like a graduate school version of a cover letter.  It is your opportunity to explain why you want a graduate degree from that school in that topic, and why YOU are suited to it.  Use this document to provide details on resume items (like, what a project taught you, how it prepared you, how it applies to that program/lab). Try to stand out a bit; these get boring when faculty read a bunch of them at once. Grammatical errors are a non-starter; readers will just put it down and move on, so PROOFREAD.
  • Again, the base can be quite similar across applications, but you will likely specialize at LEAST the school/lab name (be sure not to forget!), but ideally also call out individual faculty that might offer a course (Master’s) or advise research related to your interests (PhD). This specificity will help the graduate committee steer your application to the right people for evaluation.

Will students need references?

  • Yes, and the writers are usually 3-4 academic people (professors, instructors, department chairs, research advisor, academic advisor). You can get a boss or supervisor, if they can speak strongly to your project/research experience, but focus on academics.  A good letter gets into specifics at length – so choose individuals that know you and your work/abilities beyond attendance or a grade in a class.
  • Give time for this; don’t wait until the last second. Ideally meet with each writer a couple months out, provide them with the list of programs and associated deadlines, as well as best drafts of your supporting materials. You may offer points for them to focus on. As the deadlines approach, be sure to monitor progress and respectfully provide infrequent reminders (faculty get busy and can forget!).

Most programs will require GRE scores (also TOEFL for international students). How should students prepare for these?

  • Think of this as the SATs for grad school. Take it as early as you can, and you can take it more than once (though you will need to pay for each time). As with SATs, you will have the scores sent to the schools directly, but you may also list the scores on the resume/application as well.
  • These are taken on a computer, so you will know some scores by completion of the exam. The test is also adaptive based upon your responses – be sure to read up on the test and practice ahead of time.For technical fields, the Math component matters more (and will likely have higher requirements), but verbal/writing ability is also important (especially for PhD).  The verbal scores could impact your placement in terms of teaching assistantships.
  • You will also need your school to send official transcripts to each program.

When should students be applying? When should you start?

  • If you are potentially interested in research, try to find an opportunity as early as possible in undergrad to gain some experience. Talk with professors in your classes as a starting point.
  • In your junior/early senior year you should focus on finding schools of interest and taking GREs.
  • In the fall of your senior year you need to arrange for recommendation letters early, and expect to submit all the materials by November/December.

In the spring of your senior year you will begin receiving acceptance/rejection notices (typically January-March). Many PhD programs will offer visits to try to convince you to join their program, although sometimes there may be intermediate interview stages. Official decisions typically occur in early-mid April.

If all works out, you’ll be attending a graduate program in the coming Fall!

What do you do after you have submitted?

  • Sort of like getting a job, you should follow up. Keep your eyes open for emails or phone calls; reach out to faculty and departments.
  • In the end, choose based on school reputation, job opportunities, research opportunities, funding/cost, and overall feel – trust your gut 🙂

For more questions regarding the application process, make an appointment with your Co-op + Career Advisor by calling the front desk at 617 989 4101.

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

Follow-up: Why and How

By: Becky Smith

So, you’ve submitted a bunch of job applications and you haven’t heard anything. You may feel helpless, but there is something you can do!

First: Gather feedback that can help you to better attract attention. Ask your Co-op + Career Advisor to review your application materials including resume, cover letter, and any correspondence. If you are submitting a portfolio, get that reviewed too.

Second: Follow up to inquire about the status of the position.

Email follow-up graphic

Context: Pushy or Helpful? Desperate or Communicative?

Many people are initially uncomfortable with the idea of follow-up. They don’t want to appear pushy or desperate. Good news is: You can follow up without making a bad impression!

Co-op + Career Advisor Sara Dell has a great context for follow-up: “You are actually helping the employer by following up.”

Your recruiter or hiring manager likely has a pile of applications that they need to sort through, but other competing priorities keep them from digging in. By contacting them and expressing your ongoing interest in the job, you make it easier for them to engage with you and get started on the vetting process!

Be extra helpful: Include your resume and cover letter in your follow-up so there is no need to search for your application.

 

What to Say:

Co-op + Career Advisor Jer Jurma says he advises students to provide some structure for interview scheduling: “The tone is active in a follow-up communication. Give your reader a clear way to respond. Name a specific time period that you will be available for interviews and if it is getting close to your co-op deadline, share the date of your deadline.”

Examples:

“I will be in the area during the week of December 17 and am currently scheduling interviews. I am still really interested in your company and can meet at your convenience.”

“Wednesdays and Fridays are the days that I have the most flexibility. I’m sure we can find a time that is mutually convenient.”

“My school requires me to report a co-op hire by May 11. I want to respect your hiring timeline, but I think we can find a mutually convenient time. I wonder if we can get something on the calendar for the last week of April or the first week of May.”

I often advise students to have something new to say when they follow up.  

“Since I applied on November 17, I have added more relevant projects to my resume. See attached.”

“I have been following your company on Twitter for the past month and am really impressed with your new product launch.”

“I have been interviewing this week and am eager meet with your company as well – working in Operations at ADL Systems is one of my top choices at this time.”

 

How to find a point of contact for follow-up

Don’t have a name?

Find a recruiter or a relevant manager by searching on the company website or LinkedIn.

There is usually a main number or general email available on the company website. In start-ups and small companies, sometimes these emails and calls are answered by the founder or owner!

Have a name, but no contact information?

Websites like hunter.io can provide you with guidance regarding the email naming conventions for most companies.

 

Find more resources below:

Anatomy of a follow-up email: https://coopsandcareers.wit.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/46/2018/06/Application-Follow-up-Email-Samples.pdf

More about LinkedIn: https://coopsandcareers.wit.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/46/2018/06/LinkedIn-Guide.pdf

Whether you are preparing for a co-op search or a job search, the Center for Cooperative Education and Career Development has the resources you need to be successful. If you haven’t met with a Co-op + Career Advisor yet, give us a call at 617-989-4101 to schedule an appointment and we’ll get you started on the right track.

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.

First-Generation Students and the Job Search

By: Abbey Pober

Decorative Image

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

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

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

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

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

Resources:

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

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

Mock Interview Day Fall 2018 Recap

By: Abbey Pober

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

Students laughing

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

  • Sending a thank you email to the employers with whom you spoke. Find our guide to thank you notes here.
  • If a recruiter gave you specific instructions, be sure to follow through on those items and then follow up with the recruiter.
  • Unable to send a thank-you note for lack of contact information? Stay connected with social media: find the company or even the person you spoke with on LinkedIn or Twitter. Follow their feeds to stay up to date with new openings and other news!

Students interviewing

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

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

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

Graduate School FAQs Pt. 1

A guest series by WIT Faculty: Aaron Carpenter

Aaron Carpenter Headshot

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

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

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

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

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

General graduate school FAQs:

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

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

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

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

How to WORK the CO-OP + CAREER Fair

By: Caitlin Brison

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

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

Low Key EXTRA
RESEARCH
  • Find the list of employers attending on the “Fairs App” and research the ones that interest you.
  • Look to see if they have positions posted so you can find out more.
  • Create a spreadsheet, categorizing employers into A, B, and C lists.
  • Write down a few questions you might ask them at the fair. Refer to them before each conversation.
RESUME
  • Write, review, and edit your resume.
  • Come to Drop-Ins to make sure it is ready for the Career Fair.•  Print out 10-20 copies and tuck them in a folder to hand out.
  • Make an appointment with your CO-OP + CAREER Advisor to go over your Resume.
  • Print 10-20 copies and carry them in a professional padfolio.• Make your own business cards.
PLAN
  • The plan is to go, shake some hands, meet some employers, ask good questions, and hand out some resumes.  Go with it!
  • Locate the employer booths on the Fairs App ahead of time and map out your route.
  • Maybe talk to a couple employers on your C list to start before moving on to your first choices!
DRESS
  • Gather your professional attire.
  • Visit WITwear to borrow any items you may still need!
  • Iron, steam, fresh haircut!  Look your best.
  • Also…visit WITwear to borrow any items you need!
PITCH
  • Build a 30-second pitch and practice it in the mirror so you come across relaxed and professional.
  • Practice a firm handshake.
  • Record yourself and watch it back.  Be mindful of eye contact, fidgets, and filler (“um, like”).
  • Pitch with a friend and practice your handshakes!
THANK YOU
  • Shake their hand and thank them for their time answering your questions and speaking to you.
  • Collect business cards so you can write thank you notes the next day.
  • If they requested your application electronically – pass it along or let them know you applied!

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

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

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