Sunday, May 31, 2009

Helpful Advice for Job Seekers (Part 1 of 2)

This week's blog entry brings us to two pieces of advice I would like to pass on to all the job seekers out there. These two pieces of advice are ideas I have settled on over the last few years during internships, school, and studying abroad. Let's begin.

"Make it your own."

Sometimes when things get hectic, you may feel like life is out of your control. We have all been here. Occasionally the combination of several stressors in our lives can set off what feels like a nuclear explosion of stress and the feeling that the light at the end of the tunnel will never arrive. Explosions like this seem to happen even more frequently for college students in engineering who are trying to balance one of the hardest majors on campus with trying to maintain a social life and get enough sleep to survive. Yes, it's hard, but let's think about this in terms of making it your own.

Making it your own means choosing paths for yourself that match what you truly want. This includes being introspective to figure out what things you would like to pursue, a determination to find out more about these things, and a drive to accomplish what you have set out for yourself. An example of this is how I settled on doing study abroad. I've known for a long time that I want to integrate travel into my life, but it wasn't until I arrived home after my first year at MSU that I really started wanting to pursue a study abroad program. After a few weeks back at my parents house, I realized I didn't want to have to live at home over the summer again if I could help it (sorry Mom and Dad). Knowing this, I started brainstorming ideas of how to get away. The two paths I ended up settling on were study abroad and a co-op program.

My first step towards spending my next summer somewhere else was to research each path (co-op and study abroad) in order to figure out the plausibility for each and make a plan to incorporate these into my life. For study abroad, I got onto the Office of Study Abroad website and searched programs that met my criteria. I wanted something outside of engineering, in the summer, and preferably in Europe. The program I chose was literally the first one I looked at. I kept on coming back to its profile because it seemed to be exactly what I wanted.

The next step was to make a plan. Within a week, I contacted the program coordinators, researched scholarships, and started to figure out the logistics of making a commitment to this program. The rest is history.

Now how could you apply this to your life? If you know that you'd like to do an internship program, start using your resources to figure out how to do this. Sitting around talking about how you want to do this or that is never going to get you there. Start acting on your ideas and see where it leads you.

Another aspect of making it your own has to do with when you're committed to something and realize you are totally overwhelmed. This is the point where you need to step back and figure out how to setup the situation so that you are able to be happy. An example of this is when you move somewhere new for an internship. How can you make it your own?

One way to make it your own is to figure out one of your passions and integrate it into your new position. Love trying new things? Sign up for a class or event in your new location. You'll get to learn something new and also meet new people in the process. This can pretty much be applied to anything.

Hopefully this piece of advice helps! It has definitely been an important part of my mind-set over the last few years. Next week I'd like to continue with Part 2 of the advice for job seekers with how respect leads to respect.

As usual,

Good Luck Job Seekers!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tips For Your 1st Week on a New Job

It's that time of year again! The time where you may find yourself moving to completely foreign locations, meeting entirely new people, and getting that "I just arrived at camp...what do I do now?!" feeling. No worries, though! Before you know it, you'll be happily settling into your new position and feeling right at home. 

From past experience, I can tell you that it usually takes 2-3 weeks in a new environment to start getting truly acclamated. Do not stress if you do not feel at home right away. The disorientation will pass! 

Here are a few tips to make sure that you can get acclamated to your new quickly and also take care of some important steps in your employment...

Stage One: Welcome to our Company...Overwhelmed Yet?
  • Before starting work, make sure that you have all of the necessary information for your starting day. Where should you report to? Who is meeting you? Do you have their contact information? Making sure you're prepared for the little details will ensure a good first impression. Being late or lost on your first day are no fun. Get the facts before you set foot on company property. 
  • Be prepared for a slew of paperwork. The first thing you will have to do at the majority of companies is complete all the necessary paperwork for HR. This includes I-9's, Direct Deposit applications, company codes of conducts, etc. It's generally a good idea to check what forms of ID you will need to bring with you on your first day. Also, if your company does Direct Deposit, there is a solid chance you will need to bring a voided check so that they can record your account and routing numbers. 
  • DO NOT BE SHY! In many cases, companies will do on-boarding for multiple people at a time to prevent having to make the same speeches hundreds of times when they could just do it all at once. In these settings, it is always a good idea to avoid any shy tendencies. Introduce yourself to other new hires. Besides meeting people right away in your company, you'll also give the impression of being amiable. Plus, getting conversations started will ease your nerves along with the nerves of the people you are talking to. 

Stage Two: The "What is your name again?" Scramble

The next part of your on-boarding at a new job will generally include a marathon of casual or formal introductions. At this point in most new employees' days, this is where your brain truly starts to fry. Stay calm. You will not be tested on the names of everyone in your office at the end of the day. Here's a few more ways to make this part of your on-boarding easier. 
  • Remember that you can always ask someone's name later or look for clues to figure it out. Name plates on cubes or office doors, printed on badges, or listening in for greetings between two people are great ways to figure out someone's name. If all else fails, asking again is not that bad. Just make an effort to remember their name for next time. 
  • Similarly to during your on-boarding, make sure to avoid being shy because you feel out of place or nervous. Smile, greet everyone kindly, and go out of your way to be pleasant. Shyness can also come across as arrogance or seen intimidating. Silly, right? But it is true! 

Step Three: The Overload

This is where you have to make like a sponge and absorb every bit of information possible. Reaslistically, this process should continue into every single day of your working life. At this point, it is your job to ask questions, observe, and figure things out. Expect to be overwhelmed and do not be afraid to ask what may seen like silly questions. To be honest, you will seen much sillier if you ask them a month down the road. 

While there's no way that I could possibly generalize everyone's initial experiences at a new company, hopefully this gives you a small taste of what it is like to go into a new job. Keeping a smile on your face and your curiousity bubblin' will allow you to start to wrap your head around your new surroundings. Every day you are able to do this is one day closer to starting to feel accustomed to your new environment and feeling like you fit into your new position. 

As always, 

Good Luck Job Seekers! 

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Litte More Q & A With Eva McSpartan

Since I will be moving down south next week for my summer internship, next week's entry is coming a little early. I have a few more questions I'd like to throw out into the job-seeking world.

What has been the most important thing that you have learned during your experiences?

More than anything, I have learned that if I abide by two rules during my experiences, they will usually end up positive. The first rule is to make each experience your own. Doing this will always lead you on a path towards enjoying your experiences near and far. This rule can also make dramatic changes in lifestyle or environment a little more manageable. For example, I know that going to the gym helps me relieve stress and centers me. As a result, the first thing I look for in a new place is a good gym that may have new and exciting group fitness classes. Even though I may be hundreds or thousands of miles from home, I still am able to maintain a sense of being grounded because there is a part of my life that is consistent. My second rule is that respect leads to respect. By respecting your peers in a new work environment, or even an old one, you are way more likely to work smoothly with these people and earn their respect in return.

Have you considered graduate school? If yes, what would you like to do?

My answer to this question is definitely "yes." After four years of my degree program, I feel like I'm only scratching the surface of the knowledge I hope to gain in life. I have realized in the last few years that the next step in my education is most likely going to include an MBA program or something related to management. While I enjoy researching new and exciting technologies, I know that I like working with people in fast-paced operations and management roles much more. For anyone who is confused about what their next step after their undergraduate degree should be, it's a great idea to speak with people who have taken different paths post-undergrad. Engineering degrees are a great entrance to medical school, law school, engineering graduate school, and beyond. Some engineering grads even choose to go into an advanced field of study that is dramatically different than their initial degree. Knowing that you have a solid base for your resume and curriculum vitae with a B.S. in your chosen engineering major, explore your options beyond your undergraduate degree!

What has been your favorite part of working with the companies you've interned with?

By far, my favorite part of working with the companies that I've interned with has been the people I get to work with every day. No matter where I've gone, I've always managed to make friends. One rule of thumb for interns is that you may actually make more friends when you move far out of your geographical comfort zone because being away from everyone you know forces you to get out and meet new people.

From speaking with a lot of students, and even professionals in any field, the people you work with every day can seriously influence your satisfaction with you own career. It's one thing to spend forty hours a week with people you can stand, but being able to spend forty hours a week with people you enjoy working with and can even have a few laughs with is extremely important.

On a side note, always make sure to watch your boundaries at work. Company cultures all vary and figuring out your boundaries is a large part of your initial experience working with a new corporation. Use the power of observation to figure out what is appropriate and what definitely is not. I know that kind of bursts the whole "I love my co-workers" bubble, but it is a very important lesson that should be learned as soon as possible.

As always, if anyone has any questions, suggestions, or comments, please send them to me at

Good Luck Job Seekers!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Q & A With Eva McSpartan

Happy End of Finals Everyone! For anyone who is venturing off to internships, co-ops or full-time jobs, good luck with your move! For anyone else who will be taking classes for the summer or will be making the most of staying at home, good luck as well!

Instead of the usual format, this week I'd like to change things up and do a little Q & A. For anyone who is enrolled in EGR 393, answering similar questions would be great for your blog entries, publication or YouTube/BubbleTweets. So here it goes...

Why did you choose your major?

I first realized I wanted to be an engineer around my freshman year of high school because of my interest in math and science. The tall tale relating to that realization has something to do with going woodchuck hunting on a local dairy farm with my father in middle school. Originally, I had dreamed of being a vet. On that particular day, let's just say that I realized I had no desire to be a vet, and would much prefer something involving less blood. My choice of being an engineer of the mechanical persuasion was made after participating in a high school engineering workshop at Michigan Tech. I realized that of all the engineering majors, mechanical was the closest to my interests.

How have you made connections for your internship/co-op positions?

I've made connections several ways. For two of my internships, I have applied to companies directly online and received interviews from those applications. The key to those applications was my strategic use of cover letters. By stating my interest and qualifications in my cover letter, I was able to give recruiters/hiring managers a better idea of what I could do for their company and why I would be a good fit. Another way I made connections for a co-op was at a Society of Women Engineers Career Fair at the SWE National Conference. Attending career fairs like the Career Gallery or career fairs at professional society conferences is a great way to network with companies and maybe even interview with them. The last way that I have made connections for internships is by networking. Through an introduction, I was able to meet and speak with a hiring manager. As a result, I was able to submit my resume and inquire about interviewing. Within 24 hours of meeting this particular recruiter, I was offered a position with the company. This goes to show that you should always be prepared to network!

What has attracted you to the companies you have worked for?

There are various qualities I look for when looking at a company. These include:
  • Company Culture
  • Education, Development and Leadership Opportunities
  • Company Structure (Formation of Divisions, Degrees of Separation Between the Top Dog and Everyone Else, etc.)
  • Recent Innovations/Diversity of Product Portfolio
  • Locations
  • Company Mission
  • Etc...

More Q & A to come in the future. If anyone has specific questions you would like me to answer feel free to comment on this entry or e-mail them to

As usual,


And congratulations on another successful semester!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Job Seeker Event: Secure Your Job Search

Career Services Network Presents...


Wednesday, May 13th, 9:30 am - 12:30 pm
Residential College at Snyder-Phillips in the Theater*

Including presentations on resume skills, interviewing, networking and LinkedIn

Have your resume critiqued by Career Services professionals!

*Snyder-Phillips Theater is in the Basement, on Bogue & Shaw Lane, CB20 Terrace Level*

Free Parking available in Lot #9 between Bogue & Physics Rd.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Finding a Job...NOW: Graduating Senior Edition

This entry is dedicated to my classmates who, despite their determination, may be unemployed upon graduation. Stay hopeful friends! Let's find you a job! (Keep on reading for details...)

It has become painfully obvious that our economy is well...not good. As a result, graduates who a few years ago would be be shooing away job offers like flies for being in the wrong location or not with a high enough salary, may be looking at moving into their parents' basement or flipping burgers for the summer while searching for jobs. I know it stinks.

I have broken this tutorial into several parts:

The Basics

The first step to seriously looking for a job is handling all your basic areas that need to be taken care of before you can ever truly be considered for a position. This includes preparing all your professional documents and making search strategies for yourself.

Professional Documents in this case include your resume, unofficial transcript (go to to find yours), and cover letter. If you have not created or updated any of these three documents in the last few months, you have not been setting yourself up for success! Go! Now! Update! I'm not going to focus much on advanced resume critique or cover letter writing in this entry so it's your job to do a little research! You can reference my resume breakdown entry from last week for more info on resume writing and important topics to cover.

Making a search strategy for yourself is also an incredibly important part of your search. Here are things you need to put on your strategy:
  • Industries you are interested in.
  • Locations you would be open to moving to.
  • Any higher education (graduate or professional school) that you would like to consider and what would be required to apply (GRE, GMAT, MCAT, etc.).
From the first two bullet points you can get a better idea for what companies you may want to work for.

Other basic steps for your job search include registering yourself on MySpartanCareer (, creating a LinkedIn account, and going to Career Services to speak with a career adviser. All of these basic steps as a whole are incredibly important for your search! If you know you'd like to go to technical graduate school, but haven't even taken your GRE yet, you need to get on that ASAP!

Be Organized...or Flip Burgers

Here's the deal. I know we're not all organized all the time. To be honest, as obsessive compulsive as I can be, when things really start hit the fan even I will become incredibly messy. It happens. Do not let it happen to your job search. Let's face it...companies don't like it when you can't get your act together and keep things straight.

The next important portion of your job search is going to involve attacking job openings from all sides. This includes applying for jobs on company websites, networking, looking at postings on MySpartanCareer, looking at, looking at Chambers of Commerces websites, etc. Since most job searches have gone online, it's your job to seek out the positions.

Networking is also a huge part of your job search. Wherever you go, whatever you do, know that there may be an opportunity for you to network with someone that will be important in your job search. For example, I got my internship for this summer because I walked into my work at the right time. It just so happened that my bosses were meeting with a recruiter who ultimately interviewed and hired me within 24 hours of meeting him. If I had come into work that day talking smack about one of my classmates or wearing a pair of smelly old sweatpants I may not be employed right now.

The part of this section that involves being organized is keeping track of who all you've applied to and what has happened with them. Make a list of everyone you have applied to, the positions you've applied to, if you sent "Thank You" notes to the recruiter, etc. Persistence is frequently the reason that a candidate will be selected. I'm not telling you to stalk your recruiter, but check in with them. If a recruiter gets an e-mail or call from your every month or two letting them know that you're still interested in the company or that you've recently won an award for this big senior capstone project, that may mean that when that new opening comes up your name pops into their head. Don't just give up if they don't want you the first time! Giving up = flipping burgers. Giving up is bad...and so are grease burns.

Searching for jobs late in the game can be frustrating, but if you play your cards right, it can still be effective. This is the point in time where you need to focus on making yourself as alluring to recruiters as possible. Having an effective resume, using a cover letter to state your intent and being persistent will all give you an advantage over other job seekers who may not have as much work experience as your or who refuse to use cover letters. When push comes to shove, make it difficult for recruiters not to want you.

I sincerely hope that these tips will be of some assistance to anyone who is still looking for full-time employment after graduation. If you have any specific questions about the topics I've covered please shoot me an e-mail at

Congratulations Seniors and Good Luck!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Some Insights from a Career Search Pro!

If you get a few minutes, please consider checking out this sound file! This is an interview that was conducted for 88.9 THE IMPACT at MSU with Kelly Bishop. Kelly gives some fantastic insight into general career searches in today's economy and how to take advantage of the resources that MSU Career Services has to offer students and alumni!

As usual, GOOD LUCK JOB SEEKERS! Kick some butt on your Final Exams next week!