Student Co-op Spotlight: An Unconventional Search

Video Transcript:

Meet James Coyne: Computer Science Class of 2020

I’m James, I’m a Sophomore, I just got a co-op at a company called Black Math.

How did you hear about BlackMath?

So, I actually found them through WITworks, and then I checked out their website.

What was your application process like?

I wrote a cover letter. I made it really nice and made all my information available. Linked my resume, my personal website, portfolio, all that stuff. Sent that in, didn’t hear anything back, for a week or so.  I also checked out their Instagram and I followed them. A few days later some dude follows me, I’m like alright cool this happens all the time, it’s just someone. But then I checked their profile and saw that they worked at BlackMath. So then, I’m like “Ahha” who could this be? So I messaged them and said “Hey I’m really trying to work there, it looks like a cool company – how do you like it?” The next day, I got a response back and the person said “I really like it here, it’s a really great space and a really great company. I’m a little biased though because I’m actually the co-founder.” I got on a phone call with him about two hours after the fact, I wasn’t planning any of this, and I wasn’t super prepared. He was a huge fan of all the work that I had done on my Instagram and the other stuff I’ve been doing. I basically got the job then and there.  After that, he checked with the other co-founder and decided they wanted to bring me into the space so that I could check everything out and meet everyone and the other co-founder could get familiar with me as well.

I went in there on a Tuesday, checked it out, saw their office, met some people, shook some hands. Everyone really liked me, the other co-founder thought I was really cool, got hired on the spot, that was really neat.

We’re excited for you, James! What are you most looking forward to?

A company like this has really been what I’ve been looking for since the very get go. As a sophomore, obviously I’m probably a little less desirable than a Junior or Senior who has more experience. I knew I needed to be more competitive and send in more applications, etc. just be better to prove myself. I’ve been applying since October to some places! I’m really exited to work for a company that does creative media like Black Math does. Has kind of the startup, low key, relaxed culture, like Black Math does. A lot of people that I feel are like mined individuals to me. They do a lot of really cool work and I’m really just doing the work I’ve dreamed about doing. I never thought I would be able to actually find a company that fits all my needs like this so well. Its incredible!

Thank you for sharing your co-op story with us, James! We can’t wait to hear all about your experience when you get back to campus in the fall.

Informational Interviewing

By: Ria Kalinowski

Networking is a crucial, and often underutilized, method for finding your next job or co-op. Informational interviewing is a form of networking that helps you gain valuable connections and insight into your target industry. Learn about company culture, what tools, skills, and/or certifications are essential to the industry, and how influential people got where they are.

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Where do I start?

Create a list of target companies where you would like to work. Use the “People also viewed” feature on LinkedIn company pages or the “Similar Companies Nearby” feature on Buzzfile to create a list of companies that you are interested in learning more about. Find professionals at those companies or similar companies that hold positions of interest on company websites or LinkedIn. Use the “See alumni” tool on Wentworth’s LinkedIn page to find contacts with whom you already have something in common. You can also conduct informational interviews with professors, friends, family members, or colleagues or ask them for recommendations of people to speak with. 

How do I reach out?

Connect with people you want to speak with through email, LinkedIn, or over the phone. Use emails4corporations to find people’s email addresses. You can ask to connect with people on LinkedIn with a tailored message or message them directly if you are members of the same group. Use the Informational Interviewing handout and the Informational Interview Email Samples handout for guidance on what to say. 

How do I prepare?

As an informational interview is a chance for you to get advice, you will be asking the majority of the questions. Thoroughly research the company and person you will be meeting with to ask intelligent questions. Explore their website, their social media channels, and any current news stories about them. Don’t ask questions that you can answer with a quick Google search. Ask open-ended questions and follow the TIARA Framework (Trends, Insights, Advice, Resources, Assignments) to allow your connection to talk about themselves. Asking questions in this order “maximizes the chance that that stranger becomes an advocate by the end of the conversation”[1].

What does an informational interview look like?

An informational interview usually lasts 20-30 minutes. Don’t take up too much of your connection’s time and make the location convenient to them as they are doing you a favor. Although it is best to meet with them in-person, informational interviews can also happen over Skype or the phone. In-person meetings help you to make a more lasting impression so remember to dress and behave professionally. Oftentimes, you will meet at your connection’s place of business which gives you more opportunity to view the company culture first hand. Have your most recent resume with you but don’t give it to them unless they ask. Remember: you are not there to ask for a job, just to ask for advice! Ask them your questions, take good notes, and don’t go over the time limit that was set. Thank them at the end, ask to stay connected with them over LinkedIn, and see if they are willing to recommend anyone else that you can contact for additional advice.

What next?

Using the notes that you took, send a thank you note within 24 hours. Reference something you spoke about or a resource they wanted you to check out. Attach your resume to the email, if you hadn’t already had a chance to provide it, asking for their feedback. Make sure to follow-up with the resources, assignments, or contacts that they provided to you. Set a recurring monthly calendar alert to reconnect with the individual and mention how their advice has helped you.

Over time, you will develop a network of people who you can reach out to when it is time to conduct your next co-op or job search. You will also gain valuable information about what direction to take your career and what it takes to get there.

[1] Informational Interviewing with Steve Dalton: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FsUm5noXEM

Picture Source: wikiHow

 

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.

Event Recap: Spring 2018 CO-OP + CAREER Fair

By: Abbey Pober

Our annual Spring CO-OP + CAREER Fair was held on Tuesday, March 20th from 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm in both Watson Auditorium and Tansey Gymnasium. The event drew over 200 employers ranging from small design firms to international high-tech organizations and everything in between. Over 500 students from all majors, seeking both co-op and full-time opportunities, spent the afternoon networking at the Fair. It was a truly interactive day with students showcasing their latest ideas and projects while experiencing the employers’ work first hand through VR demonstrations, prototypes, and scale models.

If you are a student who attended the CO-OP + CAREER Fair 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 you need a reminder of which companies with whom you spoke The Fairs App is still available 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 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 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 info, 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 The Fairs App 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 20th for the Fair. A special thank you to our sponsors: BOND Brothers, Bowdoin Construction, Commodore BuildersDACONElectric Supply CenterJLL, LAB Medical ManufacturingNOVO Construction, and TG Gallagher. Your support makes all the difference.

We look forward to seeing everyone at our next event.

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://wit.edu/coopsandcareers/cooperative-education/co-op-resources

Spring 2018 WITwear Hours: Mon – Thurs 10 AM – 8 PM, Fri 10 AM – 4 PM
Spring 2018 All Day Resume Drop-ins: Thurs 3/15 & Fri 3/16 10 AM – 4 PM
CO-OPS + CAREERS Office + Douglas D Schumann Library & Learning Commons
“What to Wear and How to Prepare” Exhibit: Library Red Gallery, March 12th – March 20th.

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

Event Recap: How to Work a Room

By: Abbey Pober & Kristen Eckman

Last night we hosted 38 students and 10 employer and alumni representatives from 6 companies at our first How to Work a Room event. Jean Papalia, Principle of A+ Etiquette and Director of Tufts Career Center, began the night with an interactive presentation on professionalism and networking “do’s and don’ts”.  Students, alumni, employers, and staff were prompted during the engaging presentation to implement the new strategies together before networking began.

In the second hour, attendees practiced their new skills while learning from each other in a realistic setting. The goal of the night was to increase competencies and confidence in networking situations including how to work a room, how to enter conversations, and how to gracefully exit conversations.

Students, if you made a meaningful connection with any of the employers who attended, here are some tips for what to do next:

  • Sending a thank you email to the employers with whom you spoke. Find our guide to thank you notes here. Find all of our resources here.
  • 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 on new openings and other news!

Thank you to the Massachusetts Building Congress 20|30 Club and Alumni Relations for partnering with us to make this event a success. We look forward to future events connecting Wentworth students with alumni and employers.

The spring CO-OP + CAREER Fair is our upcoming event, being held on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 from 3:00pm – 6:00pm. A list of employers attending can be found on The Fairs App, check back often for updates to employer information and new employer registrations.

20 Tips for Networking and Navigating a Conference

By: Lauren Creamer

Conferences can be intimidating – whether you’ve been to them in the past or not. Here are some fool proof tips for conference newbies and veterans alike.

Know your audience. What type of conference is it? Who will be there? Professionals? Peers? Students?

Make a hit list. Who do you want to connect with? Note any presenters or attendees that you really want to connect with and make them a priority.

Bring business cards (and have a resume waiting in the wings). It is not always appropriate to go doling out your resume to everyone you meet – but business cards are universally welcome in a conference setting. Don’t have any? Try Vista Print – you can order 250 for the price of shipping. Pick a clean, minimalist design and get printing. BUT, if someone asks for your resume, be prepared to share a hard copy or send it via email.

Don’t carry anything in your hands (if you need to have anything with you, it should be in a bag). If you’re loaded with stuff it might be awkward to shake hands or converse with people. It may also make you seem closed off or busy.

Focus on the other person. This isn’t about you. It’s about them. So make the other person feel as if you’re genuinely interested (and you should be!). Ask them questions, let the conversation flow.

Be yourself! You’re trying to build relationships with people at organizations that make sense for you. It’s important to be authentic – you want to make in roads at places that are a good fit.

Follow-up. Follow-up. Follow-up. Connect with presenters and attendees alike on LinkedIn. Follow them on Twitter. Send a “thank you for chatting” email post-conference.

At a break point or have some down time? Don’t take out your phone and surf the web! Interact. If everyone was sitting on their phones the whole time, no one would make connections.

See someone hanging out alone? Go over and say hi. If you’re in a group and you see someone alone, ask them to join. Either way, you’re making someone feel included and welcome.

Go to the pre-prescribed social activities: fun run, city outing, etc. This is a no-brainer! Structured fun = easy networking opportunity.

Making eye contact and smiling is always a good move. It makes you seem approachable and welcoming. Who doesn’t want to know someone who is approachable and welcoming?

Does the conference have an app? Can you talk to other attendees on it? Use it. You may be able to make connections through the app and then meet-up in-person, removing some of the anxiety. Same goes for a Twitter hashtag – chat with people through this, follow them, and then meet in-person.

Dress for the occasion. Ask around to see what the conference vibe is – sometimes it’s OK to wear shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. Most of the time it’s not. Do your homework and dress the part.

Practice your handshake. No dead-fish hands! No vice grips! Nice and firm does the trick.

Went alone? Find a conference buddy and tag team. You can play off each other when networking and it may ease your anxiety.

If you have the time to prepare, submit a presentation/talk/poster – people will come to you!

Take breaks to rest and re-energize. You know yourself best. Need a 2 PM nap? Take it. Need to have some alone time before a night on the town? Do it.

PACK SNACKS. I cannot stress this enough. Being hangry at a conference is the absolute worst.

Wear comfortable shoes (but still dressy). You end up standing and walking more than you think you will, so wearing the right shoes is critical.

Relax. Take a deep breath. And go for it. What do you have to lose? If you don’t make any connections, you’re right back where you started. But I guarantee you, if you utilize these tips, you will do some awesome networking.

Networking: Keeping a cool head when you think you might just sweat through your shirt.

By: Jer Jurma

Even the idea of networking can be intimidating to students as they begin their co-op or job searches. In fact, speaking the word networking can bring on a cold sweat to the introvert in us all, but it is important to realize that as human beings, we network every day through sharing information about ourselves and asking questions about others.

Extroverted or introverted, networking is vital in finding a Co-op or job, and realistically, it is a vital part of life as a professional. The next five points are important to keep in mind when approaching the act of networking. You can adjust them to fit your own personality as you see fit:

1. Keep it real. Engage people with genuine interest, ask questions, and listen intently.

2. Find commonalities and actively think about how your goals and the values of the individual and his or her company/firm align.

3. If you are nervous about networking, think of it as a professional exercise assigned to you as a student. Be confident in the fact that you are a representative of Wentworth, and by promoting your school and academic program, you in turn will be promoting yourself in a way that is team oriented.

4. Show enthusiasm and the desire to engage. A willingness to contribute to the causes and advancement of an organization can be established before a formal interview. The following statement (or one like it) is a good example of how to engage in networking:

“The work you do interests me, and is something I would like to pursue. I would really like to know about your career path, and how you got to where you are.”

5. Share your contact information and ask how best to reach out to continue your conversation in the future.

Get out there and see how it goes. Remember, networking takes practice…a lot of practice. You will learn from the interactions you have with people how best to adjust your approach.