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.

Co-op Action Guide

By: Kristen Eckman

Wentworth offers one of the most comprehensive cooperative education (co-op) programs of its kind in the nation. A co-op is full-time, temporary employment in your field of study that enables you to apply classroom learning to professional work experience. Unlike most schools, co-op at Wentworth is a requirement: all undergraduate day students must successfully complete two co-op semesters in order to graduate.

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To prepare for your co-op semester, we suggest that you follow the Co-op Action Guide detailed below:

4-5 Months Before Co-op

  • Familiarize yourself with the Co-ops + Careers resources
  • Prepare a draft of your resume
  • Submit Co-op Terms & Conditions on WITworks
  • Meet with your Co-op + Career Advisor for WITworks access
  • International Students: talk with International Student Services about CPT requirements
  • Attend Co-op Institute to learn how to:
    • Create and edit your resume & cover letters
    • Develop an elevator pitch
    • Create/update your LinkedIn profile
    • Conduct informational interviews
  • Begin to create a Portfolio of completed work/projects
  • Join professional and student organizations
  • Identify companies with early application deadlines

3-4 Months Before

  • Meet with your Co-op + Career Advisor to finalize your application materials
  • Upload your resume to WITworks
  • Set up email alerts on WITworks and other job boards for positions of interest
  • Begin applying for co-ops, customizing your application to each opportunity
  • Schedule a mock interview with your Co-op + Career Advisor
  • Create list of references
  • Register for your co-op semester on Leopardweb
  • Make sure your interview attire fits, and is clean and pressed or visit WITwear to borrow items as needed

1-2 Months Before

  • Continue applying and interviewing
  • Meet with your Co-op + Career Advisor if you are not getting interviews
  • Send thank you notes to each employer 24 hours after an interview
  • Review co-op offers
  • Accept a co-op offer and notify any other employers you’ve interviewed with to withdraw your candidacy
  • Once you accept a co-op offer you MUST stop applying and interviewing
  • Report your hire on WITworks
  • International Students: Complete all CPT paperwork, get it signed by your Co-op + Career Advisor, and submit it to ISS
  • Thank your references and let them know you accepted a co-op

During your Co-op

  • Create work plan with your supervisor that outlines your responsibilities and addresses your learning goals
  • Meet regularly with your supervisor about your progress
  • Network with people across the organization and conduct informational interviews
  • Create a portfolio of accomplishments, including deliverables, skills acquired or honed, and any recognition you received making sure to receive permission from your employer to share any company information
  • At the end of your co-op, ask for a LinkedIn recommendation
  • Complete your self-evaluation to receive a passing grade
  • Ensure your employer evaluation is completed to receive a passing grade

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.

Site Visit Spotlight: Delson Faria Dasilva

Decorative ImageBy : Kristen Eckman

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

We had a few questions for Delson about his experience:

How has this co-op impacted your future career? 

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

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What have you discovered about your professional self? 

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

How did Wentworth prepare you for a field experience? 

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

Check out more of Delson’s work here!

Cycle of learning, doing, and reflecting

By: Caitlin Brison

Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.  – Chinese Proverb

Kolb’s (1984) Experiential Learning model proposes that we are naturally capable of learning, but experience plays a critical role in knowledge construction and acquisition. Experiential learning teaches students competencies for real-world success. Although we can simulate the real world in the classroom, lab, and studio – authentic experiential learning creates an invaluable opportunity to prepare students for a career.

Consider the cycle of experiential learning and how your co-op semesters encourage learning and comprehension…

CONCRETE EXPERIENCE: The learner encounters new experiences at co-op.

              Act: Taking on new projects, responsibilities, being an integral team member.

  • Learn new skills sets: software, hardware, tools, devices, methods, processes, etc.
  • Manage a project independently or collaborate with interdisciplinary engineers.

 REFLECTIVE OBSERVATION: The learner reflects on experience and identifies inconsistencies between experience and understanding.

                Reflect: Actively reflect on what is contributing to successes and failures.

  • Keep a daily “journal” during co-op that details your accomplishments and best practices.
  • Request meetings with your supervisor to reflect on your progress. After spending time researching and thinking, ask for assistance or clarification.
  • Complete Self Evaluation thoroughly. Reflect on learning goals and progress.

ABSTRACT CONCEPTUALIZATION: Through active reflection, the learner creates a new concept or modifies an existing one. Analyzes concepts to form conclusions.

Think: Organize new information with pre-existing knowledge. Consider what is being learned on co-op, and how does it fit with lecture, studio, labs, projects, etc.

  • Construct new meanings through hands on experiences or observation.
  • Find more opportunities to uncover the “how” or “why” something is the way it is.
  • Seek information and content on the new ideas: books, blogs, videos, etc.

ACTIVE EXPERIMENTATION: The learner tries out new knowledge; applies conclusions to new situations.  Engages in new concrete experiences!

                Apply:  Actively apply constructed knowledge to new situations to deepen understanding.

  • Take what you have learned on co-op and apply it into other co-op projects, coursework, lab, studio, capstone, and your next co-op or job.
  • This often leads to new concrete experiences and the cycle continues!

Experiential learning advances course based learning outcomes and increases employability skills.  It encourages collaboration, an exchange of ideas, and lifelong learning.  Co-op equips Wentworth students to evolve their understanding of complex topics and excel in their career.

Kolb, D.. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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.

Meet Zeily Perez, winner of this semester’s “Share Your Co-op” contest!

Conest image submited of Zeily Perez holding olympic torch in front of "EF Education First" banner. Twitter camption included reads "Hi I'm Zeily! I work as a computer analyst at EF. EFs goal is to provide life changing education for global citizens. Working at EF I've learned how to provide the best the computer support to people all over the world."
“EF Education First” sponsored the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, giving Zeily “Z” Perez a chance to hold the Olympic Torch while on co-op.

Tell us about yourself: My name is Zeily, but everyone knows me as Z. I am a 4th-year computer networking major en route to graduate in August 2018.

Where was your co-op? And what did you do you there? My co-op was at EF Education First in Cambridge MA, and I am currently working there part-time. I started my co-op in September 2017 as a member of the Technical Support Team. But as the months went by my manager decided to have my role changed to an Associate Desk Analyst.

What does EF do, and what is it like to work there? EF is an international travel agency, and our mission is to open the world through education. Working at EF has been fun and such an enjoyable learning experience. I get to interact with users from all over the world and help them with their computer/software needs. Since this is a travel agency that aims to transform dreams into international opportunities, there are many young souls that work here.EF is all about their open space and no cubical environment; this is what makes going to work fun! From the ping pong tables to many open areas, to North Point Park is our backyard to the restaurant/bar on the first floor there is always something to do if tired sitting in your pod.

While on co-op, what project(s) were you a part of or working on, that has inspired you? There was a cool project where I worked with the San Jose, Panama office. They requested assistance for their computers that needed to be reimaged to our configurations and applications. As the time went on, my manager and I noticed that it was a bigger project than expected. Their office hasn’t been properly equipped with the new technology systems and their office was outdated with the latest configurations. This project helped me better my communication skills (emailing, phone calls, Skype calls, video conferences) and ability to be comfortable in failing and asking for help from higher-ups (most of them based in London) to reach my goal.

Based on your co-op experience, what industry/position do you see yourself in the future? I haven’t figured that out yet. All I know is that I want to help people, travel and I need to work in a fun environment. I can no longer see myself working in cubical and sit at my desk for a whole day shift. The past two years I found myself traveling more and more and I want to be able to work outside the US. Maybe Spain?

What is a major takeaway from your co-op experience?  My major takeaway is that communication is key. I mean I learned that through RA training and leadership institute, but in the real-world it’s different. Being the middle-man between the user and our system admins’ has made me realized the communication is important for every situation. Having a close connection with our staff from around the world has made me more patient considering that we are in different time zones with other offices.

What made you enter the contest and why did you choose the photo entered? To test my luck hahah! I entered the contest because I am proud to work at EF and for those who know me I’m always traveling, and EF is all about that. EF was awarded the #1 Work Place to Work in Boston.

I choose the photo because EF has been sponsoring the Olympics for over 30 years, dating back to 1988 Summer Olympics. This year EF has been named Official Education Services Sponsor to the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games. This means that as the education services sponsor, EF created online video, classroom content for Korean teachers, students, and citizens. This year we had someone from the Boston Office to hold the Olympic Torch and represent EF. Holding that torch even just for the picture, was a symbol of all the hard work I have done both in and out of the classroom and help others reach their goals and always to believe that no dream is too big.

Anything you’d like to add? Yes! Shout out to Matt Gianelli and Lauren Tyger for always pushing me to become my better self and supporting me through my academic, personal and co-op life.

 

Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Z! Be on the lookout for our next “Share Your Co-op Photo” 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.