Sunday, June 20, 2010

Checking In

Hello future, current, and past job seekers of the world. It's been quite a while since I've added a blog entry and figured now would be a good time to reflect on the last few months and prove that Eva McSpartan is surviving school and beyond.

As a bit of background, I officially graduated in December of 2009 and am now employed by a major company which I will not disclose the name of. Before beginning work, I had the opportunity to travel to 8 different countries throughout Western Europe in all of 11 days on a whirlwind tour of London, Amsterdam, Munich, Venice, Lucerne, and Paris. All I have to say about the trip! It's always fantastic to get another view of the world and get a taste of what the rest of the world does while all of us are going along with our "normal" lives. Plus there's nothing like forgetting which language you should be speaking (of course, very broken phrases in that language) on a given day because one day you're saying "Danke" and the other you are saying "Merci" depending on which country the tour bus dropped you off at. I've said it before and I'll say it again, for anyone who is thinking about burning some time traveling before starting their full-time job or going to graduate school...go for it! You really have nothing to lose except for a finite sum of money and it's worth all the life experiences you gain. You may not think about it now, but only having 2 weeks of vacation time doesn't leave you with a whole lot of extra time on your hands. It becomes more and more difficult to find 2-4 weeks to travel when you're trying to save up vacation time for holidays, family gatherings, etc.

Now that I am officially a big, bad working girl, I've truly learned the value of many of the things I talked about previously in this blog and have also gained a wealth of knowledge when it comes to dealing with people on a day-to-day basis in a manufacturing shop. I can never emphasize enough how valuable it is to work on your "soft" skills - written and verbal communication, interpersonal skills, problem solving, etc. Considering that I deal with upwards of 50 people a night to keep my shift and sometimes other shifts running says a lot about what may happen in an evening. Laying down a network as soon as you get in the doors of your new job can put you way ahead of the competition in any new job. Being the friendly, open, and focused new person is way better than being the timid or condescending newcomer to the shop with not enough knowledge or patience to earn anyone's respect. Like I've said before, respect leads to respect and making each opportunity your own will guarantee some form of success. Keep in mind that even your big time failures can lead to success because you learned a boundary or something you didn't know before.

On top of all these recommendations, I'd like to emphasize something for anyone who is starting their full-time career: your life is going to be a fluid progression of experiences and opportunities. Just because you finished school does not mean that your degree is complete. In the real world, you need to focus on constantly learning to make yourself a better person and employee. Strive to find things that interest you and learn about them. Continue to set short and long term goals for yourself for the future. I've mentioned before that post-college life may seem like a cliff because after the diplomas have been distributed, everything seems to be unknown. I challenge everyone to welcome opportunities and change, but also realize that you need to have control of the undercurrent of your life. If you finish your degree and realize that the working world is just not for you after a few years, there's always time to consider an alternate career or look at advanced degrees. Figuring out "what you want to be when you grow up" is not something that ends as soon as you get that first job. For most of us, what we wanted to be when we were little changed from day-to-day and even though now it seems to change less frequently, but it's important to stay aware of those changes. If you work for a year in operations and figure out that working with people makes you physically ill from stress and due to lack of interpersonal skills, it may be time to look for a change. On the flip side, if you work in operations for a year and realize that your true calling is being a floor supervisor, feel free to adjust your goals and go for what you enjoy.

Life's too short to suffer through a job you hate!

That's about all. The moral to my rant for now is that:

A) Eva McSpartan is currently surviving the real world and loving it by keeping an open mind, learning as much as possible, and realizing that a career is built up of a fluid progression of experiences and opportunities. There's always going to be rocks, dams and rapids to impede your way, but when it comes down it it, water erodes rock so make it your goal to carve out a place for yourself in unknown terrain!

B) "What you want to be when you grow up" doesn't stop once you've graduated. It is a continuous learning experience that requires determination and effort to help you go where you need to.

C) Every experience is a success because even failure can help guide you in the right direction.

As always, thank you for your time and attention.

Eva McSpartan

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Moral of the Story...or Stories

Well everyone, the end is here or at least an end of sorts. It is time for me to move on to new adventures and time for all of you to do the same. The last eight months of blogging have been a great learning experience for me and hopefully a good learning experience for all of you as well. For anyone who is new to this blog, please feel free to look around! To make things easy, I've organized my past entries into different categories:

Career Search

Resume Development



Corporate Culture

Advanced Education

Additional Topics


Like always,

Good Luck Job Seekers!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

For Anyone Who Has Been Referred to as "That Person with the iPhone"

Today I'd like to cover a topic that is currently affecting and may significantly influence our generation's workforce. With the introduction of products like the iPhone and Blackberry along with other smart phones, a new race of people has started to crop up. I've seen them all over campus and in the workplace. These beings have a left or right hand constantly occupied by a cell phone or may have an ear that lights up blue as they mysteriously talk at people without making any eye contact or carrying on a logical conversation. While technology is super cool to play with, and I can't criticize too much because I'm an avid text-aholic, there's a point where we need to put down our cell phones, start connecting with people personally, and well...get a life!

Step Away from the Impersonal Communication Methods

While some companies encourage their employees to use a Blackberry or commit 8+ hours of their day to sitting at a desk within hands reach of their phone and e-mail, doing so isn't necessarily the best method for encouraging positive relationships inside and outside of company doors. While working with several companies, I've noticed that company culture has a strong influence on communication methods. Last summer while working at an oil refinery in the South, the best form of communication in many cases was to make sure to meet someone in person before ever commencing communications with them because your e-mails or phone calls would probably be ignored otherwise. In contrast, at another company I worked with where it was necessary to communicate with multiple locations around the world, calling someone and speaking with them before commencing any e-mail communications was the best way to be productive.

Given that many recent college graduates have grown up in the age of e-mail, cell phones, and Facebook, it may come to a surprise to them when their e-mails go unanswered or calls go unreturned for days or weeks at a time. What these graduates do not realize is that they way they have been communicating with their friends while growing up is not necessarily appropriate for their work environment. is your hint! It is time to ditch the impersonal communication methods and get your networking skills shaped up. Especially when starting a new job at a company, it is important to actually meet people in person whenever possible or call them personally to introduce yourself. Believe it or not, this will significantly increase your ability to effectively communicate with individuals with various backgrounds and experience levels. If a person is able to associate your name with a face or voice, they are far more likely to help you out.

I know the thought of having to introduce yourself to new people can be a little scary, but I can assure you that it's not so bad once you try it out a few times. The shyness will pass as you see the benefits of your work. For example, last summer I had to compile a large amount of information to validate the existence of a certain kind of machinery throughout a plant. Since there was no way I could possibly identify each piece of equipment in three months, I had to network with individuals to help me figure out what was in service, rotting on a block, or had been torn out years before. At first I was very hesitant to introduce myself to anyone since I was the new kid on the block. Luckily, my mentor identified this, told me get over it, and made a point to introduce me to anyone and everyone he could to get me going. After a few weeks, I had this whole introduction thing down and was able to gather all the information I needed to get my project done within the time frame proposed. A few individuals even made a point of going out of their way to help me and back me up in any difficult situations that arose!

When it comes down to it, making a point to go out of your way to listen to someone or introduce yourself to them is a great way to network. I've always thought of it as your door into a special communication club. Once you have given the password (an introduction and initial point of contact), you are officially in the club! You may not have free reign of the club, but you have the opportunity to build a positive relationship with a co-worker and promote productive communication.

The moral of the story is that it is important for you to get away from your e-mail sometimes and go talk to people in person. Just because you sent ten e-mails to someone doesn't mean they are going to listen to what you have to say. Plus, you might be surprised by what you may have in common with your co-workers or it might turn you that you are both struggling with different aspects of a problem and may hold each other's answers.

That's all for now. Your work assignment for today is to put down your iPhone/Blackberry/Smart Phone for a few minutes and go talk to someone instead of e-mailing or texting them!

If you have any additional questions on this week's topic or any career-related topic, feel free to e-mail me at or comment on this or any entry.

Like always,

Good Luck Job Seekers!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How to be a Top Dog...Without Drooling on Everyone

When it comes to working in industry, you will learn over time that there is a delicate line between being at the top of your game and being at the top of your game while keeping the peace with co-workers. While it is advisable for you to apply yourself at work and take care of your responsibilities, it is important to keep several details in mind. When you first start at a job, it is important for you to jump into the learning curve with both feet. Ask questions, seek answers, and find out who has the information you need. Always say "thank you" and try not to inconvenience people to the point of annoyance. The first few weeks on a new job are some of the most important. This can also be the time that you ask the questions that no one has thought of before or that defy the "rules" set by co-workers who have been staring at a problem so long that simple solutions may have been ruled out years ago for no good reason. A fresh perspective can be a HUGE asset!

Another detail that needs to be considered when you're a high achiever at work (I'm avoiding the term over-achiever) is to consider how your big successes affect other people. While coming up with the greatest new project is fantastic, you need to consider how it plays into the lives of everyone else. If you were given assistance on your project by anyone, it is important to acknowledge their involvement. Contrary to some thoughts, going it alone is not always best. If you have asked the appropriate sources for extra information and assistance and acknowledge that, it shows that you are not trying to hog the spot light and that you have done your research. Also, when you propose a project you need to consider the project scope from multiple roles. You should look at the project from an operations stand point, financial perspective, and give it a thorough technical review. Is your project going to benefit the company long term? Will this be a source of financial gain for the company? Is this project going to put your manufacturing floor at risk? What do you need to do to prevent health, environmental and safety accidents from happening? As many of my co-workers at a certain oil refinery said, if something is dangerous, you need to engineer the safety into it. This means reinforcing structures to add more support, adding in secure rails to tie off a harness to and clearly marking all safety and health risks.

The last detail to cover is something I've mentioned several times in the past. In many and almost all cases, respect leads to respect. If you respect someone's opinions, etc. (this doesn't mean you have to agree with them), there is a solid chance they will respect you in return or at least feel obliged to act respectfully towards you. Keep this in mind while working on projects that put you at risk of stepping all over people's toes. If you are informative and take responsibility for your successes and failures, you will hopefully succeed in winning over their approval. While there are always going to be people who don't want to have anything to do with you or your new project, in many cases, utilizing these tips will help you succeed.

That's about all for now. I'll be back next week for more fun with Eva McSpartan. If you have any questions please send them to or comment on an entry.

Like always,

Good Luck Job Seekers!
...and GOBBLE GOBBLE! Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Exams Exams Everywhere & All I Want To Do is Nap!

Even though there's still a month left until Final Exams, I'd like to take a bit of time to cover a few other exams you should consider taking. I've divided the exams up by what kind of employment track you would be looking into.

Technical Track

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) (Link to GRE Site)

GRE® General Test Overview (from ETS Site)

What Is It?
The GRE® General Test measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing skills that are not related to any specific field of study.

Verbal Reasoning — The skills measured include the test taker's ability to:

  • analyze and evaluate written material and synthesize information obtained from it
  • analyze relationships among component parts of sentences
  • recognize relationships between words and concepts

Quantitative Reasoning — The skills measured include the test taker's ability to:

  • understand basic concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis
  • reason quantitatively
  • solve problems in a quantitative setting

Analytical Writing — The skills measured include the test taker's ability to:

  • articulate complex ideas clearly and effectively
  • examine claims and accompanying evidence
  • support ideas with relevant reasons and examples
  • sustain a well-focused, coherent discussion
  • control the elements of standard written English

Who Takes It and Why?

Prospective graduate applicants take the General Test. GRE test scores are used by admissions or fellowship panels to supplement undergraduate records and other qualifications for graduate study. The scores provide common measures for comparing the qualifications of applicants and aid in evaluating grades and recommendations.

Where Do People Take It?

The General Test is offered year-round at computer-based test centers in the United States, Canada and many other countries. It is offered at paper-based test centers in areas of the world where computer-based testing is not available. See which format is available in your area.

Who Accepts It?

Any graduate or professional school, any department or division within a school, or any fellowship granting organization may require or recommend that its applicants take the General Test, a Subject Test, or both.

Fundamentals of Engineering/Professional Engineer (FE/EIT/PE): (Link to NCEES Site)
(Description from NCEES Site)

Why take a Fundamentals (FE/FS) exam?
To pursue a professional license, you must pass one of the Fundamentals (FE/FS) examinations:
  • Engineering licensure candidates: take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam.
  • Surveying licensure candidates: take the Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) exam.

Exam waiver: The Fundamentals exam may be waived for an engineer or surveyor who has earned an advanced academic degree and/or acquired many years of work experience. Guidelines vary greatly for each jurisdiction.

Who is eligible to take a Fundamentals exam?
Rules vary greatly for each jurisdiction, go to for details.

What material is covered in the exams?
  • The FE exam covers subject matter taught in a typical EAC/ABET-accredited baccalaureate engineering program. It appropriately covers a comprehensive range of subjects in engineering.
  • The FS exam covers subject matter taught in a typical ASAC/ABET-accredited baccalaureate surveying program. It appropriately covers a comprehensive range of subjects in surveying.Go to Study Materials for reference books and sample exam questions.

What is the format of the Fundamentals exams?

  • Each exam is 8 hours long, with one 4-hour session in the morning and another in the afternoon. Examinees must participate in both sessions on the same day. Both exams are closed book, and reference material is supplied. All questions are multiple choice.
  • The FE exam consists of 180 multiple-choice questions. During the morning session, all examinees take a general exam common to all disciplines. During the afternoon session, examinees can opt to take a general exam or a discipline-specific (chemical, civil, electrical, environmental, industrial, or mechanical) exam.
  • The FS exam consists of 170 multiple-choice questions. Examinees take a general exam in both the morning and afternoon sessions.
  • FE examinees will be furnished a copy of the FE Supplied-Reference Handbook at the exam site. This is the only reference material you will use during the exam.
  • FS examinees will be furnished a copy of the FS reference formulas at the exam site. This is the only reference material you will use during the exam.

After I pass a Fundamentals exam, what's next?

Passing a Fundamentals exam is the first step toward licensure. To continue the licensure process, complete the following:

How do the Fundamentals exams differ from the Principles and Practice exams?

  • The Fundamentals (FE/FS) exams cover subject matter in a typical EAC/ABET-accredited baccalaureate engineering curriculum or ASAC/ABET-accredited baccalaureate surveying curriculum.
  • The Principles and Practice (PE/PS) exams go beyond testing academic knowledge and require knowledge gained in engineering or surveying practice.
  • Both exams are required for professional licensure.

Business Track

Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT):
(Description from More Info at and

The GMAT exam is a standardized assessment, delivered in English, that helps business schools assess the qualifications of applicants for advanced study in business and management. By taking the GMAT exam, you have a better chance of being targeted by business schools that are a good match for you—and learning more about their programs and admissions processes. You can help them find you by creating an profile and opting in to being contacted by schools. Schools use the test as one predictor of academic performance in an MBA program or in other graduate management programs.

How much does it cost to take the GMAT® exam?
The cost to take the GMAT exam is US$250 globally.

Where can I take the GMAT® exam?
The GMAT exam is delivered in testing centers around the world.

What schools use GMAT® scores?
Over 1900 graduate business schools around the world use GMAT scores as a part of their admissions process.

How can I prepare to take the GMAT® exam?
The Graduate Management Admission Council® provides
free test preparation software and preparation materials to purchase as well as suggestions about how to prepare for the exam.

What does the GMAT® exam measure?
The GMAT exam measures basic verbal, mathematical, and analytical writing skills that you have developed in your education and work.

How long are GMAT® scores valid?
Your GMAT score is valid for five years, so you have the flexibility of “banking it”—choosing to start your graduate studies right after university or later on. Remember, if at first you don’t succeed, you can take the GMAT exam again. Remember, though, that all of your GMAT scores from the past 5 years will appear on your Official Score Report.

Professional Track

Law School Admission Test (LSAT):
(Description and More Info at

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a half-day, standardized test administered four times each year at designated testing centers throughout the world. All American Bar Association-approved law schools, most Canadian law schools, and many other law schools require applicants to take the LSAT as part of their admission process.

In the US, Canada, the Caribbean, and some other countries, the LSAT is administered on a Saturday, except in June, when it is generally administered on a Monday. For Saturday Sabbath observers, the test is also administered on a weekday following Saturday administrations.

Many law schools require that the LSAT be taken by December for admission the following fall. However, taking the test earlier—in June or September—is often advised. Some schools place greater weight than others on the LSAT; most law schools do evaluate your full range of credentials.

Test Format
The test consists of five 35-minute sections of multiple-choice questions. Four of the five sections contribute to the test taker’s score. The unscored section, commonly referred to as the variable section, typically is used to pretest new test questions or to preequate new test forms. The placement of this section will vary. A 35-minute writing sample is administered at the end of the test. LSAC does not score the writing sample, but copies of the writing sample are sent to all law schools to which you apply.

What the Test Measures
The LSAT is designed to measure skills that are considered essential for success in law school: the reading and comprehension of complex texts with accuracy and insight; the organization and management of information and the ability to draw reasonable inferences from it; the ability to think critically; and the analysis and evaluation of the reasoning and arguments of others.

The three multiple-choice question types in the LSAT are:

Reading Comprehension Questions
These questions measure your ability to read, with understanding and insight, examples of lengthy and complex materials similar to those commonly encountered in law school work. The reading comprehension section contains four sets of reading questions, each consisting of a selection of reading material, followed by five to eight questions that test reading and reasoning abilities.

Analytical Reasoning Questions
These questions are designed to measure your ability to understand a structure of relationships and to draw logical conclusions about that structure. You are asked to make deductions from a set of statements, rules, or conditions that describe relationships among entities such as persons, places, things, or events. They simulate the kinds of detailed analyses of relationships that a law student must perform in solving legal problems.

Logical Reasoning Questions
These questions are designed to evaluate your ability to understand, analyze, criticize, and complete a variety of arguments. Each logical reasoning question requires you to read and comprehend a short passage, then answer a question about it. The questions test a variety of abilities involved in reasoning logically and thinking critically.

The registration fee for the LSAT is $123. If you meet certain criteria, you may qualify for an LSAC fee waiver. Late registrants must pay an additional $62.

Medical College Admission Test (MCAT):
(Description and More Info at

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized, multiple-choice examination designed to assess the examinee's problem solving, critical thinking, writing skills, and knowledge of science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine. Scores are reported in Verbal Reasoning, Physical Sciences, Writing Sample, and Biological Sciences. Medical colleges consider MCAT exam scores as part of their admission process.
Almost all U.S. medical schools require applicants to submit MCAT exam scores. Many schools do not accept MCAT exam scores that are more than three years old.

Preparing for the Exam
Order practice tests, review content descriptions for each section of the exam, see a sample study plan.

Reserving a Seat

Locate an available test center, reserve a seat, apply for accommodations, and check the registration deadlines.

Taking the Exam

Understand admission requirements and other test day policies and procedures, and submit a test center concern.

Releasing Your Scores
Check the score release schedule, view your scores, and send your scores to schools.

Okay, so hopefully that gives you a good idea of what exams may need to be in your future depending on what kind of track you are looking at. Since a lot of this information is directly cited from exam websites if you'd like additional information the best thing to do is check out some of the sites provided.

If you have any questions about other career-related topics, please feel free to e-mail me at

Like always,

Good Luck Job Seekers!