Welcome to the 2012-2013 Academic Year!

Welcome new and returning students to the 2012-2013 academic year here in Daytona Beach!  The Career Services Office is excited to see what you will accomplish this year…where you will go on your internship, what job you will get after graduation, what new career insights you will learn and what new connections you will gain.

While we know that you will accomplish plenty, here are a few reminders to help you through the next few semesters.

  • Ask:  you will, and everyone does, have questions and need some support during school; ask your questions and ask for help whenever you need it; don’t forget that many questions are just a Google search away
  • Connect with others: it is important to find and build connections with people once on campus; find peers and on-campus support systems to help you through the college experience
  • De-stress: everyone needs to have ways in which you can soothe the stress away in your life; exercise, flying, hobbies, laughter, sports and writing (and many, many more) are all great stress relievers
  • Get involved: college is a great time to participate in things for which you have great passion and that stretch your comfortable boundaries; join clubs and organizations, participate in both academic and fun events and (shameless plug) attend career-related company information sessions and presentations.
  • Manage your time: keep track of deadlines, due dates, important events and more using a time management system that works for you; a calendar can serve that purpose, whether it is your phone/tablet calendar or a good old fashioned paper version (by the way, pencil in the Industry/Career Expo on Wednesday, October 10 from 9 am to 4 pm in the ICI Center)
  • Stay organized: from assignments to bills to your living space, you need to find a system that can help you relax knowing you can find anything you may need
  • Take breaks: whether it is a quick coffee break or a day to relax, give yourself time to decompress and have fun

Cover Letters Uncovered

by Valerie Kielmovitch

Bad Cover LetterYes!  You finally find the job posting for you and are ready to apply, but then you see it…submit a cover letter with your resume.  Your resume is top notch as you have been working on it for months, but you have never written a cover letter before and are uncertain of how to begin.  Let us uncover several top tips for generating a great cover letter.

One popular myth to uncover is that you can write one generic cover letter for all positions to which you are applying.  This is not the case, however, as it is important to tailor your cover letter to each specific position.  Find key words in the job description to include in your document, match them to your particular experiences and attributes, and integrate them into your cover letter.

Cover letters should go beyond the information that is included in your resume and really speak about your soft skills (i.e. communication, presentation abilities, etc.) that you have not included in your resume.  To expand on your related soft skills and accomplishments, you should include examples of accomplishments and achievements that will establish you as the ideal candidate for the position.

Another cover letter tip is that the format of a cover letter is important.  This document is considered a business letter, and everything is left justified on the page without any indentation.  You should also set up your cover letter in a 3-4 paragraph structure, which is described below.

You will begin your cover letter with your address, followed by the date and then the company contact information to include the contact’s title and address.  If you do not know a contact at the company, do some research on LinkedIn or Google to find a contact; if that is not possible, then address the letter to ‘Dear Human Resources Manager’ or ‘Dear Hiring Manager’ as it is more personable than the generic ‘To Whom it May Concern.’

The first paragraph should explain the position you are interested in and how you heard about it.  In addition, you can include information you know about the company or why you are interested in their organization.

The next paragraph(s) is/are where you discuss your skills, abilities, experiences, and education, all supported by concrete examples.  In this section you should concentrate on 2-3 traits and how you acquired and applied those.  Focus on how you can positively impact the company and what you can contribute.

The final paragraph is where you invite the employer to read over your resume to learn more information about your qualifications.  At this point you will want to make a call to action. This could include requesting a meeting/personal interview or stating that you will follow up with the employer in a certain amount of time. Make sure you thank the employer for their time and consideration of your application and include your contact information (both phone number and email address).

End the letter with a professional closing (i.e. Sincerely, Cordially) followed by four lines then your typed name.  If you print the letter, make sure you sign your name in black ink.  Including the word Enclosure will also signify that your resume is included as well.

Formatting aside, here’s another tip to uncover.  Writing an effective cover letter takes time and patience so make sure you begin early and give yourself plenty of time.

A final tip is to ask others to proofread the cover letter as you do not want any grammatical or spelling errors in the document.  Also ask the person to review the cover letter for clarity and use of strong, positive language.

Cover letters can communicate so much more than just what is written on the resume, so it is imperative that you uncover the best cover letter tips and use them to your advantage.  To find samples and more resources, please visit the Career Services website.

Valerie Kielmovitch has been working as a Program Manager in the Career Services Office at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for nearly two years.  She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Central Florida and Master of Education specializing in Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of South Carolina.  Valerie has a diverse background in the field of higher education from residence life to career services.


Alumni Career Spotlight: Algeria “Queenie” Morse

Algeria Queen Morse

Queenie Morse, DB 2004/2012

Queenie Morse is a 2004 graduate of Embry-Riddle’s BS in Aerospace Engineering program and a 2012 graduate of the MS in Mechanical Engineering program. As a student, Queenie completed an internship as a Space Station Systems Engineer Intern with The Boeing Company at NASA Johnson Space Center. During her time as a student, she also worked for Siemens Westinghouse Power Corporation and FlightSafety International. Additionally,  Queenie attained experience before attending ERAU as a member of the United States Navy.  Upon graduation, Queenie graduated and accepted a position with Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, where she worked for several years. Today, she is a Launch Vehicle Engineer with United Launch Alliance and has hopes of one day becoming an astronaut.

How did your internship with Boeing at NASA help you to identify your career focus and/or goals?

Queenie Morse and Eileen CollinsI would say that my most memorable experience at NASA was getting to work alongside astronauts.  It was a goal of mine to one day submit my own astronaut application.  I worked on a project with Eileen Collins (the first female shuttle commander) and had a chance to speak with her on a personal level.  We spoke about what the application process entailed, and she encouraged me to apply multiple times and that most astronauts apply several times before making the cut.  We even spoke about what it was like for her to juggle being an astronaut with being a wife and a mom.

In addition to Ms. Collins, astronaut Steve Robinson also gave me memorable advice.  He told me to structure a fulfilling career and a personal life for myself and let becoming an astronaut be a bonus and not a necessity.  He said that in addition to skills, the selection board looks for well-rounded and fun individuals.  In so many words, he was telling me to work hard but still have some fun and enjoy life.  After all, according to him, the astronaut candidate interview consists of only one question, “So…tell us about yourself.”  I have recalled his advice many times in the last 10 years when making career decisions.

How have the contacts and networking you did on your internship and subsequent jobs  been a benefit to you in your career as an Aerospace Engineer?

In addition to working alongside astronauts during my internship, I gainedAlgeria Queenie Morse with astronauts Steve Robinson and Soichi Noguchi valuable contacts while at NASA.  One notable contact was the mission director for 30 years (now retired) at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory.  We have kept in contact for many years since my internship ended in 2003.  He has been a great mentor and a great reference whenever I needed it.  I recently submitted my first astronaut candidate package, and he eagerly agreed to serve as a reference for me.  This will be a very valuable reference because he knows most of the people in the astronaut selection office.  I am very honored that I gained this connection during my internship at NASA.

How do you feel about students continuing their education directly after completing an undergraduate degree versus gaining experience in the field before entering into a graduate program?

I found working as a full-time engineer and simultaneously pursuing masters courses to be a challenge.  It took a lot longer for me to graduate since I traveled for work and I could only take one class at a time and sometimes no classes at all. Working in the aerospace industry and supporting launches can be very demanding (but rewarding) at times.  There are instances of heavy overtime and travel which is based on launch schedules and/or unpredictable launch delays.

If I could do it again, I would eagerly choose the 5-year bachelor/masters track and get it done all at once.  Because of work demands, it took nearly four years to complete my masters degree.  However, it was nice that my company paid for my masters education!

What are your plans for the future? 

I have now been working in the aerospace community for nearly 10 years.  As a long-time employee with Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, I had the pleasure of working in Los Angeles, Florida and Europe.  I have been lucky enough to land jobs building and launching payloads and now rockets.  I recently started a new position with United Launch Alliance (ULA).  ULA builds and launches rockets.  It feels like all my hard work and studies definitely paid off.  What better jobs for an aerospace engineer than to build and launch payloads and rockets! Well, I guess that depends on if I am selected by the astronaut selection office.  I recently submitted my first astronaut application, and I am eagerly awaiting the results!

RELO 101

by Sally Richards

MovingSo you are thinking about moving to the other side of the country to take a new position with a more lucrative job offer.  And now you have to consider relocating.  Don’t let the higher salary be the primary driver of your decision.  Just accepting a position based on the salary may land you in a place where your expectations may not be met.  How should you approach this decision?

When you receive a job offer, it’s important to carefully evaluate the details so you are making an educated decision to accept or reject the position.  You don’t want to make a quick decision that you may regret.

But what are some of the factors and deal breakers to consider before accepting the offer? Consider the position, work environment and living environment. Whether you are moving across the state, across the continent, or across the globe, do your research about the new locale before you sign the job offer acceptance.  A move will impact your daily life.  If you are single, relocating will be less complicated than if you have to consider needs of a significant other or family.

After doing the research and investigation, review the comparisons as you will have a much more realistic idea of what your future lifestyle could be.  You’ll be wiser about a potential move and can look at facts to see whether relocating actually makes sense (not just more cents).

Just as individuals have different preferences, the following factors (according to a list by www.bestplaces.net/city) to consider should be prioritized for your specific requirements.

  1. People
    You can compare the population in different cities in a variety of ways, including median age, household size, male/female/married/single population, race and age.  Whether you are single or not, you may be interested in knowing some of these statistics when moving to a new city. Are you looking for a commonality with a more family-oriented community, or will you want to be surrounded by single professionals with a singles lifestyle?  Census information compiles these demographics and is a great reference for your decisions.
  2. Cost of Living
    Look at the overall cost of living comparison  between one city and another by viewing what you’d have to make in one city to have the same standard of living in another.  Many things must be factored into the overall cost of living. Take into consideration items such as grocery, healthcare, housing costs, utilities, transportation (even the cost to register and insure your vehicles) and a big one… taxes (sales/city/state).  Did you know that 9 states in the U.S. do NOT have an income tax?  If the cost of living and purchase of goods is more expensive in one state where salaries are higher, then you may find that in another state a position with a lower cost of goods and a lower salary can still keep you ahead of the curve especially if you live in one of the 9 states where you don’t have a state income tax.  An excellent source of information regarding cost of living calculations is Salary Wizard. You can input the metro areas that you are deciding between, and it will give you a breakdown of all living expenses and calculate whether your move would give you a positive or negative change in income.
  3. Housing
    What is the housing availability in the new city? What is the real estate market like?  Currently it is a buyer’s market in most towns. Home prices and interest rates have dropped substantially.  Typically markets stay a little higher in more populated areas and especially those that have thriving big business/industry nearby. Will the company offer any housing stipend or realtor assistance locating a good property?  Can you afford buying a house in the current market?  How long would it be before you could afford to upgrade housing in your community?  Rental properties vary by location as well.  Are there large rental apartment complexes with amenities, or are there townhouse communities that would fit your lifestyle?
  4. Economy
    What is the unemployment rate in the new locale or region?  Is there any recent job growth, or have new businesses moved to the area?  What is the median income for technical/professional hires?  Are there other opportunities for professionals in your field if you might eventually want to change jobs, be promoted, or jump companies? If it’s a large company, there likely could be advancement opportunities.   If there’s only one company in town, switching companies may mean another move.
  5. Climate
    Will the climate be a deal breaker?  Many of us are solar powered so living in a locale where it rains 70% of the year could be bleak.  Living anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon line where the winter season means snow could be a deal breaker for some people.  Also consider the impact that the climate and environment will have on your health in a new location.  Does smog, humidity, dry air or other air quality issues affect you?  Statistics will reveal what the average temperature is annually.  Will you be able to wear your flip flops or have to change to fur-lined UGGS?
  6. Crime
    Review the crime statistics in a particular city.  Is there a high crime rate?  Learn about the difference between violent crime and property crimes? Do you see a trend and are the crimes increasing?
  7. Education
    Evaluate the universities in the area if you plan on taking graduate classes or even working on a Ph.D.  Many companies offer professional development as part of a benefit package.  Check out school systems.  If you have school age children, finding out school rankings in a community would be a definite necessity.  Moving to a “good” school district would have potential positive impact on a child’s educational development.
  8. Transportation
    Can you drive or carpool to work?  Do you have to own a vehicle, or is mass transit an option?  Is the commute time reasonable?  How many hours a week are you willing to spend in the car, on a bus or train and lose hours of free time to get to and from work?
  9. Religion
    If you have a religious affiliation, search for places of worship or affiliated community centers available in the town.
  10. Geographical Area/Community Feel
    Evaluate the area and see if it is the kind of community you want to live in. We all have different expectations of what we need or want in a locale. Do you like living in a small or large community?  Do you like the atmosphere in an urban area or the suburbs?  Would the geographical area be a priority? That would be a factor if your lifestyle included beach time at the shore and surfing in the ocean but were considering relocation to the middle of the country!  Or you favor the outdoors, mountains and woods for hiking and you are looking at an opportunity in the urban jungle.
  11. Interests
    Consider your interests and see whether the new community will offer a variety of activities for you to join.  Do you work out at a gym, do yoga, play team sports, bike, go dancing or kayak?  Are there facilities or businesses where you can attend extracurricular classes? Does the community have organized league sports?  Is there a city golf course, or will you have to join a golf club?  Is there a YMCA with a pool outdoors for warm weather or a pool indoors for cold weather in case you’re trying to get in daily practice for your Olympic aspirations?  Are the members of the new community involved in a political view that you share?

The more information you review, the better chance that you won’t be in for many surprises when you make the relocation move.  Make your list of pros and cons.  Some of your requirements may be deal breakers, but you may be willing to negotiate with yourself on others.  Relocating can be an adventure, an exploration of a whole set of fresh experiences in a new location. Any move to a different residential address for a new position can be relatively stress free if you spend time doing your RELO101 homework.  Research, review, and rate the findings in order to make a wise decision.

You can find websites that have already compared many topics.

  1. Cost of Living calculators:  Homefair.com
  2. Compare cities: www.bestplaces.net/city
  3. Findyourspot.com:  an online quiz to find the best places to live and work rated to match YOUR unique interests
  4. Find the best places to live in the U.S.: CityRating.com

Sally Richards has 30 years of experience in higher education with a proven track record in Career Services. Sally started her career with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Aeronautical Engineering Department.  Currently as the Career Services Cooperative Education/Internship Program Manager, she manages and facilitates operations of the Co-op/Intern Program for the team of Program Managers and ensures adherence of Co-op policies and procedures while overseeing conflict resolution for co-op situations. Her credentials include aviation/airline industry experience in flight recruiting, maintenance planning and passenger service with two major airlines and one regional carrier, as well as studies at Kent State University in Ohio.

Co-op/Intern Spotlight: Christoffer Laulund

Christoffer Laulund, ERAU

Christoffer Laulund, Senior, AE

Christoffer Laulund is a senior in the Aerospace Engineering program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona Beach campus. As an international student, Christoffer had additional hurdles to cross in order to obtain an internship. However, through a stellar academic record,  perseverance and networking, he landed an internship this summer as an Engineering Intern with Gulfstream Aerospace in Savannah, GA.

As an International student, you know there are many challenges in finding internship opportunities in the U.S. What steps did you take to overcome these hurdles?

As an international student, the odds are even more heavily stacked against you in the quest for an internship than if a student has the “US person” status. This is the case, not necessarily because international students are less sought after, but simply because many companies, often due to federal regulations, are restricted to employ US person status employees. Nevertheless, it is not at all impossible to land an internship, even the internship you always wanted.

I have always admired Gulfstream and their airplanes, and if I had to choose one company to work for that I knew accepted international students, Gulfstream would be the one. To overcome the seemingly impossibly large obstacle of getting hired, I used the resources available to me: my knowledge, my contacts, EagleHire, and company hiring websites.

How did you land the internship, and how did you navigate the process?

Through the use of the already mentioned resources, I finally got a call from Gulfstream. They had actually declined my online applications, but that does (apparently) not mean there is no way of getting the job. I had provided one of my contacts, whom I knew was in contact with Gulfstream on a regular basis, with my resume, and she forwarded it to the recruitment team at Gulfstream. There were no guarantees of course, but ultimately that resume, printed on paper and handed from person to person the old fashioned way, got me the internship I am currently doing. The recruitment team at Gulfstream had forwarded my resume to one of the hiring managers who in turn liked it and asked that they call me and offer me the job…just like that. Of course, hard work has to be put in regardless of which path one aims to take to get an internship or a job. My contact thought highly of me and had no qualms recommending me. My resume was strong thanks to good grades and other experiences. And last but not least, I kept pursuing what I wanted.

What advice do you have for students seeking an internship?

Oftentimes it can seem like an insurmountable feat to be given the opportunity to show off your skills to an employer and gain the experience that is so valuable and useful further down the line. However, when you are just about to snap the laptop shut in frustration over filling out one more form and uploading one more cover letter, remember that there are other ways of approaching the problem. I am not saying that you should not fill out that one additional form; on the contrary, I am merely saying that going about it in another way and using the people and recourses around you can get you very far. It can even get you all the way. In addition, it can motivate you to push through with just one more application. In the end, there is only one that really matters.

What do you expect to learn from your upcoming experience?

While at Gulfstream, I expect to learn about how the company conducts their engineering operations and how engineering outside the classroom and away from the books is done. I expect to develop my critical thinking skills and to become better at asking pertinent questions. Additionally I expect to learn one or two engineering software packages in more depth. The experience is also likely to expose me to a variety of different teams and ways of working, which will teach me about approaching problems in several ways and how to modify the approach as one works through the problem. Oh, and I expect to have fun!

What motivated you to apply to Gulfstream Corporation?

Gulfstream has been on the top of my list of employers ever since I learned that they accept international students. They make the most beautiful, most advanced airplanes in the world and cater to a niche market full of exciting individuals. With such a product line and high prestige, I relished the opportunity of becoming a part of the team that delivered these products. Making even the smallest impact on any of these aircraft would be thrilling. I had also heard nothing but good or great things about working for them from other interns or co-ops that I know from school. Every single one said that the company treated them very well and that they thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

What is one piece of career advice you would like to share?

My experience over that past two years tells me that hard work will be rewarded. Sooner or later an opportunity for you to grab will present itself; it is your responsibility to put yourself in the position to reach out and get it. Although the hard work is important to get to the right position, networking can be equally or more important. Get to know people. Additionally, be approachable and likeable. No one wants to work with people they cannot communicate with or cannot stand the sight of.

Therefore, work hard, talk, network, and connect.

Finally, I would like to give another somewhat intangible advice.  I believe the most important thing in one’s career is to find a line of work that excites you. Enjoy going to work every day, be challenged and relish the challenges that are presented. One can do good work regardless of what state of mind one is in, but great work can only be done if a person is excited about what he or she is doing.  In line with the above, my career advice is: don’t work, play. Find something you are passionate about or really love doing and pursue it. Life will become a playground, and you will be the king/queen.

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