Adjusting to the Workplace Part 1: Advice from an Advisor

By Ria Kalinowski

There are many differences between attending school and starting work at a co-op or job. It can be a bit of a culture shock to make the transition. The schedule is different and expectations are new, so it will take time to make the adjustment. To prepare further, click here to listen to Wentworth Alumni talk about their experience and what advice they have for adjusting to the workplace.

  1. Communication

During your first week, check in with your supervisor about how they like to be communicated with. Maybe they like you to keep a running list of questions and go over them in a weekly meeting. Maybe they would prefer you to pop by their desk whenever something comes up. Maybe they use Slack or Skype for Business. If you have questions or need to call out sick, learn how to ask and when to do it.

Speaking of asking questions, don’t be afraid to do just that! If something comes up that you don’t know or need clarification on, do some research first, and then ask. A good practice is to show that you’ve done the research and are looking for information that can’t be found elsewhere.

Something critical to ask about is expectations. One major aspect of work that is different from school is that at work, you do not receive feedback in the same way. At school, grades are given frequently and without solicitation. You can compare your progress with how you did in past semesters and with how you are doing compared with others. At work, feedback can range from daily check-ins, to weekly meetings, or yearly evaluations. It may be vague or infrequent. When you first start interacting with your supervisor, work with them to set goals that are concrete and measurable, so you know what is expected.

Workplace collaboration

If you aren’t receiving regular feedback from your supervisor, check in with them after the first few weeks to ask how they think you are doing. Ask for suggestions for improvements. It’s better to ask for redirection rather than continue down the wrong path.

2. Relationships

Another big difference between work and school are the people you interact with. In school, you are surrounded by your peers and often, you can pick the professors you learn from. At work, there may be several different generations you are asked to collaborate with and present to. You will have to manage relationships with people you may not get along with or agree with and sometimes, those people may be in a position of power. It’s important to behave as civilly and professionally as possible, as these are people you will see every day. You may also need references from them in the future!

One of the main relationships that you will engage in is the one with your supervisor. During your interactions with them, you may receive negative feedback or constructive criticism. It’s important to take this feedback professionally. Keep in mind that not all supervisors receive extensive management training. While this is a time to be developing your interpersonal skills, your supervisor may be working on their own skills as well. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses while gaining an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your supervisor and what motivates them will help you navigate that relationship.

There may be people you adore spending time with at work, as well! It’s awesome to find people at work to be friends. Try not to complain about other work people to them as you never know what can get back to others.

Workplace culture

This is a good time to start building a network of professionals to mentor you and help you learn about the industry and professionalism. Mentors can help you navigate company norms, understand hierarchy, and coach you to move up in your career.

3. Accountability

Much of your time at school is spent working independently. At work, often you are part of a team working towards a shared end goal. It’s important that you pull your weight, meet deadlines, and communicate with your teammates. Along with being accountable to a team, you are accountable for showing up every day. One of the biggest issues that leads to co-op termination is students not showing up or consistently showing up late.

Take notes in meetings (not on your phone as this can be misconstrued) and ask for more work when you finish a project. It might even be a good idea to have a list of smaller projects that are not time sensitive to dive into if you finish other work early.

While it’s important to work hard and not sit idle, it’s also important, in a full-time job, to take time off to recharge. Vacations aren’t scheduled for you like they are during school so make sure you take care of your mental health.

4. Success!

The key to being successful so that your job is secure, and might even lead to a promotion, is to make yourself indispensable. Be positive, professional, and proactive!

As always, to make an appointment with your Co-op + Career Advisor call the front desk at 617.989.4101 or stop by the CO-OPS + CAREERS Office.

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

Advice from a Recruiter with Kyle Greenleaf from JLL

By: Ria Kalinowski

Assistant Director, Abbey Pober and I recently sat down with Kyle Greenleaf, a recruiter from JLL, to talk about their hiring processes. Kyle focuses on recruiting for industrial facilities management with a focus mainly on life science clients. JLL is a property consultancy company specializing in property services and investment management. In the past, they have posted both full and part-time positions on WITworks for students with degrees in Architecture, Business Management, and Construction Management.

Kyle looks at hundreds of resumes on a weekly basis. Customization of your resume is ESSENTIAL if you want to stand out.

What does he look for?

  • 50% prior relevant work experience
  • 50% what makes YOU unique

When recruiting for co-op or entry-level positions, Kyle understands that you probably won’t have much relevant work experience. He will definitely look at any prior co-ops and relevant academic projects, but soft skills are hugely important. He is looking for breadth of experience rather than depth of experience. Interpersonal, communication, and leadership skills are good to emphasize but it’s more important to know YOUR strengths and focus on those. Your experiences and your personality make you unique so don’t be afraid to highlight those aspects of yourself.

Huge positive flags for Kyle are volunteer experience and involvement in athletics. Unless your experience is additive or really exceptional, leave off musical instruments, drama involvement, and other outside interests.

 

What should students do to build their resume?

Kyle’s advice is to find ways to practice leadership skills: start a club, become a club president, volunteer for something new, etc. Every single day you should do one thing that terrifies you or pushes you out of your comfort zone.

Ways to do that at Wentworth include taking Leadership Institute, applying to become a student leader, attending Speakeasy (a public speaking practice forum that meets Mondays at noon in Accelerate), getting involved with Accelerate or EPIC, or joining or starting a club.

 

What if a student doesn’t have any experience?

For students with little or no experience Kyle advises them to “show up” to the CO-OP + CAREER Fair to get in front of hiring managers as a great starting point. Do research about the company to show your interest. Employers will inevitably ask, “what do you know about us?” or “what made you stop by our booth today?” and having a comprehensive answer will give you a great advantage. Start networking as soon as possible. Find someone in your major who is a senior and take them to lunch. Ask them what they regret not doing or are glad they took advantage of. Reach out to alumni to ask about their career choices and learn about possible career paths.

 

Kyle’s Quick Tips

  • Customize Your Application: Make sure your resume and cover letter show why you are a good fit for that particular position at that specific company.
  • You have 7 Seconds to make a good first impression: Smile, have a strong handshake, and practice your professional introduction.
  • Do Your Research: Whether you are writing a cover letter, heading to an interview, or attending a career fair, find out what the company does and determine why you are interested in them.
  • Write (Good!) Cover Letters: They are necessary to help sell your experience and how you fit the position. If 6 people apply and 5 people write a cover letter and you don’t, you aren’t getting the interview.
  • Reach out to Recruiters on LinkedIn: Send a connection request with this message, “I saw that JLL had an operations role posted and when I searched for recruiters at JLL, your name popped up. I’m not sure if you are specifically the right person to contact for this role, but I’d love to speak with you about it if you are. If you aren’t the right person, perhaps you could you point me in the right direction.”

 

Most Important Take Away

Kyle wants to remind all applicants to be passionate about the company and the position and show that passion! This is something I’ve heard from so many recruiters and hiring managers. The best employees understand the company’s mission and goals and have a strong passion for them. Recruiters don’t want to hire someone who wants A job, they want to hire someone who wants the SPECIFIC job they are hiring for. Contact your Co-op + Career Advisor for help with writing your cover letter and customizing answers to interview questions to show your passion.

 

To hear the entire conversation, check out the WITworks Radio Show here.

 

To make an appointment with your Co-op + Career Advisor call the front desk at 617 989 4101 or stop by during Spring 2019 Drop-In Hours: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday 1:30pm – 4:00pm while classes are in session.

Event Recap: Spring 2019 CO-OP + CAREER Fair

By: Abbey Pober

Our annual Spring CO-OP + CAREER Fair was held on Tuesday, March 19th from 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm in Tansey Gymnasium. The event drew 175 employers ranging from innovative biomedical engineering firms to international high-tech organizations and everything in between. Over 700 students from all majors, seeking both co-op and full-time opportunities, spent the afternoon networking at the Fair. Students came prepared to learn and make new connections, like Cilviano who attended with an intention to step out of his comfort zone “This year I’m going to companies that intimidate me. Just be fearless.”

Student at CCF

Students who attended the CO-OP + CAREER Fair, below are some tips for following up. If you had a LinkedIn photo taken, look for an email from coopsandcareers@wit.edu in about a month.

  • Send a thank you email to the employers with whom you spoke. Find our guide to thank you notes here. If you need a reminder of which companies with whom you spoke a list of employers is available on our website for reference.
  • If a recruiter gave you specific instructions, be sure to follow through on those items and then follow up with the recruiter.
  • Use this opportunity to include a copy of your resume, even if you gave them one at the Fair.
  • Unable to send a thank-you note for lack of contact information? Stay connected through social media: find the company or even the person you spoke with on LinkedIn or Twitter. Follow their feeds to stay up to date on new openings and other news!
  • You are always welcome to check in with your Co-op + Career Advisor to see if they can provide you with any helpful information, too.

If you were unable to attend the Fair this spring be on the lookout for future opportunities to connect with employers, including the announcement about the fall CO-OP + CAREER Fair. Check WITworks as we get closer to the fall Fair for updates on employers attending. Employers be on the lookout for future recruiting opportunities in the coming months, and for details about our fall semester events including the CO-OP + CAREER Fair and Mock Interview Day.

Thank you to all students and employers who joined on March 19th for the Fair. A special thank you to our sponsors: BOND Brothers, Commodore Builders, DACON, Electric Supply Center, JLL, NOVO Construction, Schneider Electric, and TG Gallagher. Your support makes all the difference.

We look forward to seeing everyone at our next event!

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.