The Right Stuff: The Truth About Internships

by Sally Richards

intern8There are often rumors about what is true or not true in the pursuit of internship positions.  I want to expose the myths about internships and encourage you to consider this great opportunity.   

Myth: I can’t do an internship. I need to graduate in four years so I can get out of school and get a job.
Truth:  I’ve heard this many times that students do not want to extend their graduation dates “just to do an internship.” First of all, internships are offered each of the 3 semesters during the school year. You can arrange your schedule to open up one of the terms for a work experience WITHOUT extending your graduation date. It just takes a little preplanning when you are considering your four year scheduling. Think of it this way…by doing an internship you can devote one semester to building your skill set, enhancing your resume and making yourself more attractive and marketable to employers.  Why would you be so set on graduating in four years and yet have no experience to help you stand out in the pile of resumes sitting on an employer’s desk?

Myth: I won’t be considered a full-time student if I do a co-op/internship.
Truth: As long as you participate in a full-time work experience for the full semester and are registered for credit, you will be enrolled as a full-time student by the University and for most scholarships and insurance.  If applicable, Records and Registration will be able to furnish a Verification of Enrollment to show your full-time status.

Myth: I can’t earn academic credit for the semester if I am doing a co-op/internship.
Truth: You may earn college credit for your internship. To receive credit for an internship, a student will have to meet the eligibility requirements set forth by University policy in order to participate in the Co-op/Intern Program.  Documentation from the employer and University registration are required in order to earn credit for an internship.  ERAU requires a student to complete specific requirements designated by his or her department’s criteria, including a satisfactory paper, satisfactory supervisor performance evaluation and completing the full semester.  A student earns a Pass or Fail grade for the work term. 

Myth: My GPA is only a 2.8; I won’t get hired for a co-op/internship.
Truth:  Some companies do require a 3.0 or higher GPA, but many use the GPA as one of many factors to determine who they will select for internships.  Demonstrating a good attitude; displaying confidence; having good interpersonal, oral and verbal communication; showing organizational skills; being knowledgeable in basic office skills; exhibiting leadership skills; and working in teams allows the recruiters to evaluate the character and abilities of a well-rounded individual.  What you lack in one area may be overshadowed by a strength in another.

Myth: I have a traffic violation on my driving record. I don’t think I will get hired.
Truth:  The key to dealing with blemishes on your record is honesty. Be sure that you are truthful on all applications and in all your answers to employers. There are several factors that will be considered by an employer.  What age were you when you had the violation?  Have you had a clean record since? Did you learn from the mistake? Or do you have repeated violations indicating you didn’t learn a lesson?  Either way, be truthful.  Take responsibility for your bad judgment or teenage infallibility. Don’t blame the cause on someone or something besides yourself. Explain what you learned from this mistake. Remember, most companies do background checks, and an investigation in this technological world will reveal any secrets you think you can hide.  An employer does not want to be surprised by actions you should have revealed in your application or during the interview process; they may end up having to dismiss you for lying after you are hired.

Myth: I can only do an internship during the summer.
Truth:  Students can apply to co-ops/internships for any semester: spring, summer, or fall.  Opportunities are more abundant during the summer semester, but you may find less competition for openings during the other terms.  For any semester, you should apply for opportunities as soon as possible, but at least by the semester BEFORE you anticipate doing the work experience, as the process of researching, locating, and applying for an internship can take some time. Some companies have deadlines that are six or more months ahead of the actual experience, and government agencies and defense contractors do extensive background checks that take many months to complete.  It is best if you are flexible with the internship timing and stay on top of the deadlines for opportunities you want to pursue.

Myth: I should only apply to positions that are paid.
Truth:  Identify your goals first.  Unless you are in a tight financial situation, money should not be the deciding factor in which internship you accept.  If money is not the motivator, what will motivate you?

Do you want to work for a particular company or in a specific geographical area? Do you like the work itself? Are there opportunities for achievement and recognition? Will there be opportunities for career development?

Myth: I’ll lose my financial aid if I do an internship.  I’ll have to pay back student loans if I’m not at school.
Truth: As long as you are enrolled in the official Co-op/Internship Program and are working at the internship full-time for the required number of weeks in the semester, you are considered a student and may be eligible to receive financial aid.  Therefore, you will not have to start paying back student loans as long as you are a current student in good standing with the University and working full-time. 

Myth: It will be difficult to find housing at the internship location.
Truth: While housing can be a concern, there are various options that you can explore.  Some companies do offer housing or a housing stipend, or they may assist students with housing arrangements during their internship semester.  Typically bigger corporations, companies with a long standing co-op/intern program, or companies that hire a number of co-ops/interns each semester will offer this benefit.  Additional assistance can come from the HR Department or Manger of your company, online classifieds like Craig’s List, current or former interns, alumni, low tech bulletin boards that advertise availability of crash pads/shared housing or family and friends who might be willing to share space with you (and even a home cooked meal). 

Myth: I can only apply to Internships through the EagleHire Network.
Truth: EagleHire Network is Embry-Riddle’s career management system.  As long as you meet University and your campus’ requirements, you may have access to apply to co-op/internship positions posted on EagleHire.  To find opportunities outside of EagleHire, consider speaking with faculty, alums and professionals at conferences.  Build your network to help you find opportunities.  You can also review career resources in order to locate the internship that fits you. 

Myth: I should look for a position with a big name well-established company.
Truth: There are advantages of seeking an internship with a well-established company, but many organizations, both big and small, provide high quality internships that may provide a broad range of responsibilities. 

Myth: If I’m International, I won’t be able to do an internship.
Truth:   Before graduation, International students are eligible to participate in co-ops/internships as long as they meet the eligibility requirements of the Co-op/Intern Program and the employer’s qualifications. International students obtain official documents from the SEVIS Coordinator so they can use their Curricular Practical Training (CPT) work authorization to maintain their legal immigration status.  Companies recruit and hire International students for internship experiences; government, defense contractors, and space agencies would be the exception.   Use the Career Services resources and links to external websites.

Myth: I will be doing menial tasks, schlepping coffee and filing documents for the employees.
Truth: Embry-Riddle’s Co-op/Intern Program requires that a co-op or internship work experience be relevant to your degree.  A position is approved by your department after the advisor determines that the work experience will be worthwhile.  You will be challenged, applying what you’ve learned in class, learning new skills and developing a professional work ethic.  In most cases, you’ll be treated as a valuable staff member, working on real projects and being given responsibilities just like a new hire.  With all professional experiences, there are always administrative tasks in every job category in order to accomplish the mission and goals of an organizational structure.

Myth: You’re guaranteed a full-time job if you do an internship.
Truth:  Companies most often use internships to recruit the best and the brightest students for full-time positions; therefore, internships are more likely to open doors to entry-level positions.  Sometimes interns are hired by employers directly, but this action would depend on the intern having the right skills, attitude and experience. In addition, the economy, financial standing of a company and potential new contracts should also be factored into an offer of full-time employment. In reality, an internship is a 15 week interview with you in the spotlight…what a perfect setting for a company to evaluate the capabilities, performance, attitude, and initiative of prospective employees. Students may not get a full-time position offer from the company they interned for, but the experience they gained during their term will make them more marketable to other companies when going through the recruiting process.

For every rumor you hear about internships or the Embry-Riddle Co-op/Internship Program, it is important to find the correct answers.  Discuss your questions with your campus co-op/internship contact and consider participating in this valuable work experience.

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.

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Jim Ramsay, Homeland Security

ERAU Homeland Security program faculty

Dr. Jim Ramsay

Dr. Jim Ramsay developed the Homeland Security major at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona Beach campus in 2006.  He has a background in biology, chemistry, and health administration, with a PhD in population health.  He serves as program coordinator and teaches a variety of Homeland Security classes. Additionally, Dr. Ramsay serves as the faculty co-op/internship advisor.  Career Services selected Dr. Ramsay as our very first faculty spotlight due to the rapid growth of the Homeland Security program and the popularity of the degree.  He gives readers great insight into the future of the major and potential career growth.

Can you tell us about your background and what motivated you to come to Embry-Riddle?

My background is varied. I have a BS in biology and chemistry, an MBA in health administration and my PhD is in population health (a joint program at the time in preventive medicine and industrial engineering). I’m a certified safety professional and actively serve on several national boards, including the Board of Scientific Counselors in the CDC (appointed by the US Secretary of HHS), the ABET Board of Directors and as the Chair of the Education Standards Committee in ASSE (which sets the academic credentials and accreditation standards for health, safety and environmental academic programs). I arrived at Riddle in June 2006 to begin the Homeland Security academic program on the Daytona Beach campus. Coming to ERAU in 2006 represented an opportunity for me to build something special from scratch with no professional guidance, given that there were just a handful of Homeland Security programs nationwide then. This was a compelling challenge for sure.

As Program Coordinator, can you tell us some of the highlights of the Homeland Security program?

Well the first thing that comes to mind is our phenomenal growth. I was alone in 2006 with no students. The Bachelor of Science in Homeland Security program at Embry-Riddle now offers over 30 sections of courses to over 600 students/semester with 7 faculty. We have the BS in Homeland Security, a minor in Homeland Security, a minor in Terrorism Studies, a minor in Forensic Accounting and a minor in Cybersecurity. Next summer, Homeland Security will move to the College of Arts & Sciences and become a department called “Security Studies and International Affairs” with me as chair. We will most likely add several programs as well, including at least one new graduate program in cybersecurity and diplomacy, a new undergrad program in risk management, resilience and critical infrastructure protection, and a language program, etc. This and the fact that we are considered a leading and venerable program in Homeland Security across the nation where several other schools have emulated our program. I’ve also published how I built the curriculum in a peer reviewed journal (Homeland Security Affairs Journal).

With your background in both industry and academia, what advice can you give to students wanting to pursue a career in homeland security?

Stay flexible and eager and assertive! The field is always in flux. Indeed, just last week the Government Accountability Office issued a report indicating that the name “Homeland Security” is not uniformly defined in the federal government, even after over a decade in existence! Hence students who are successful are always improving their resume, gathering credentials and higher degrees, and keeping their skill sets growing. There are tons of jobs out there in this discipline, and students who are flexible and assertive will find their way to opportunities.

What qualities would an employer look for in an ideal homeland security candidate?

Good question. It rather depends on the sector, but there are the usual suspects of good writing, speaking skills, professionalism, integrity and evidence of involvement. In addition, I’d say employers are generally looking for strategic planning, economic analysis and evidence of critical thinking skills/experiences.

What do you see as the future of homeland security careers?

Another good question! I’d say that Homeland Security is morphing, even now. Environmental security, resilience and sustainability and human security will become more important in the next few years. Homeland Security at one level is a horrible name since most of what happens under the pretense of “Homeland Security” is not security and not domestic…careers in critical infrastructure protection, emergency management, risk management and cybersecurity (as well as information assurance) will be plentiful in both the public and private sectors.

Preparing Your Resume and Cover Letter for the Virtual Hiring Event

by Kristy Amburgey

VirtualHiring-final-trans400pxThe Career Services Office is hosting the Virtual Hiring Event (VHE) for ERAU candidates seeking full-time employment. The VHE will be Monday, February 11 – Thursday, February 21 in the EagleHire Network with preview days on Saturday, February 9 and Sunday, February 10. Job seekers will have the ability to view and apply to full-time job postings from companies who are seeking candidates.

In order to best prepare for the Virtual Hiring Event, you need to have an up-to-date resume and cover letter ready to use.  Some companies will have you submit your resume via EagleHire Network, so you need to have a “ready” resume in the system.  Other companies will direct you to their websites for application.  Either way, you need to ensure that your resume and job search documentation is suitable for the application process.

To prepare both your resume and cover letter, here are several key tips to understand and use.

  • Customize your documents for each and every position you pursue; using the job description and your company research, integrate key information into your resume and cover letter to prove that you have what it takes to do the job for that specific company
  • Focus the documents on what you can offer the employers and not necessarily on you
  • Relate your experiences and accomplishments to the employer’s needs; ensure that an employer can answer this question using the information you provide – “can this person positively impact my department and my company?”
  • Showcase your achievements; provide outcomes and results of your experiences instead of just listing general skills that most anyone could have
  • Avoid submitting generic documents that are addressed and customized to no one or nothing in particular; take the time to submit a resume and cover letter that was meant specifically for that job and that company
  • Ensure that a reader can understand what you want by reviewing your documents; an employer does not want to guess what job you want or why you are applying even after reading both documents
  • Prioritize and organize your documents; ensure that the important and relevant information is towards the top of the resume and is read from left to right; organize your cover letter so that you have three to four paragraphs
  • Know that an employer spends no more than 30 seconds reviewing each document if at all; most readers only glance at a resume to obtain a first impression; keep both documents easy to read and make it easy for them to find relevant information quickly
  • Rely on several people to review your resume for grammar, clarify and formatting; use spellcheck as well but follow it up with a review by someone who knows resumes
  • Review all information to ensure it is 100% accurate and verifiable

For resumes, here are some additional points.

  • Follow all general resume rules such as having some white space on the page, being consistent with all formatting, using font size no smaller than 10, spelling out abbreviations, avoiding using the personal pronoun “I”, etc.
  • Remove resume errors to prevent your resume from being dumped into the trash; remember that every recruiter will have their own set of standards and pet peeves, so do your best to understand the company you are pursuing and revise your resume to their standards
  • Understand Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS); many employers use this type of application system to preview and then select resumes for further review; once your resume is submitted, the ATS program will evaluate your resume based on programmed algorithms that match your document to predetermined words/order of words, including qualifications, skills, key words from the description and more; understanding the mechanics of ATS will help you know why customizing your resume is so imperative; also avoid using tables, graphs, images, etc. in your resume as most of these inserts won’t translate into an ATS program
  • Treat the resume as a marketing document that appeals to your target audience and not as a historical summary of everything you have ever done

For cover letters, here are some additional points.

  • Use a traditional one-page, business letter format
  • Address your cover letter to a specific person; do an internet search (LinkedIn, for example) to find the correct name if it is not listed in the EagleHire Network
  • Keep the cover letter concise but detailed; for example, when relating your background to the employer’s needs, give three to four accomplishments composed using a few sentences for each

As you select jobs to apply to via the Virtual Hiring Event, take the time to customize your resume and cover letter, if needed, for each position.  Leave the employers wanting to talk to you further; create documents that show employers how you are going to help them and why you are the best candidate for the position.

Kristy Amburgey is the Associate Director of Career Services – Daytona Beach campus and currently manages marketing and employer relations for the department.  She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for approximately 10 years and with Career Services for nine years.

Co-op/Internship Spotlight: Steven Bohlemann

photoSteven Bohlemann is a senior in the Aerospace Engineering program, concentrating on Propulsion with a minor in Aircraft Maintenance Science at the Daytona Beach campus. Through his minor, Steven is working on his A&P license. Steven has completed two internships to date and just started his third. His first internship was completed with GE Global Research in Munich during his junior year after a semester of Study Abroad in Germany; his second was with Lufthansa Technik Aircraft Component Services in the United States. Steven will be spending this semester working as a Service Engineering Intern with United Airlines in Houston, TX.

How did you land your internships, and how did you navigate the process?

I obtained the internship with United Airlines in their Service Engineering Department in Houston, TX as a result of the Industry/Career Expo. Make sure to go prepared to the interview; you don’t need to be an expert about the company but know simple facts. Also, the most important advice, I unfortunately realized a little late, is to BE YOURSELF in the interview. I used to think I would have to be exactly who I thought they were looking for, and this always made me really nervous. In my experiences, I have accepted three internships and been offered more; I found I had the best results when I prepared for the interview. While I change my daily attire and behavior to fit the formal occasion, I do not hide who I am. I clearly tell them what I love to do and why I am passionate about it, and if they ask, I tell them my deficiencies as well as dislikes. Remember if you play it safe, like I used to do, you will never be put at the bottom of the pile, but you will remain safely and jobless in the middle of the pile of applicants. You have to stand out. All of us, even us engineers, have unique personalities and sets of skills; let those shine through in an interview.

What have you done, and what will you be doing on your next internship?

I completed my first internship my junior year while I was having the time of my life studying abroad in Germany. I studied there for a semester, and the following semester, I was lucky enough to get an internship with GE in their Research Center in Munich, which at the time was one of their four Global Research Centers in the world. These research centers were where the next leap of technology were created, and it was incredibly awesome to work with those people. I worked in the energy production system department. I learned so much from this internship and really loved it. I became hooked on the internship experience.

My second internship was with Lufthansa Technik Aircraft Component Services in the United States. This one was far less technical when compared to my GE experience, but it was great to get another perspective on how the business and technical world coexist. I did a lot of reliability and performance studies of various components which was then presented to customers where financial consequences were discussed.

My third internship will be with United Airlines with their Service Engineering Department in Houston, TX. I am really excited to be able to call a hangar filled with airplanes, including the new 787, the office where I work.

What advice do you have for students seeking an internship?

Do not wait; I regret not going to Career Services my freshman and sophomore years and not attending the career fairs. While you most likely will not get an internship your freshmen year, get out there and practice. I used to be a very shy person and was super awkward in these type of situations. The only way you are going to get over those feelings of fear and intimidation is to PRACTICE. Put yourself in uncomfortable and foreign situations; you will inevitably learn and grow from the experience.

Did your international status cause you any challenges in attaining an internship in Germany?

It was hard to get an internship in Germany as my conversational German was pretty fluent, but I severely lacked technical German language skill, which made it harder, but not impossible, to get a position. Where there is a will there is a way, and I got an internship and overcame the language barrier. My co-workers were patient and very helpful. I was even able at the end of the internship to give a 15 minute technical presentation in German, all thanks to their help and patience with me during my internship. Here in the US, I had no problem as I am an American citizen.

What are your career aspirations and have they changed since you started your internships?

Other than being able to accumulate technical knowledge and skills from internships, these experiences have also helped me decide what I want and what I do not want to do. For example, I never thought I would’ve liked to work in Research and Development, as I mistakenly used to think it would be boring and not hands-on enough for me. I was hesitant to accept my internship at GE’s research center, but ultimately I said, I am here in Germany to expose myself to new adventures, so I decided to accept the offer. There is almost no other event in my life that has influenced me more professionally and personally than my internship at GE. I desire to ultimately work in field service/support engineering or R&D. I like that both career paths are exciting in their own respects. I would either like to be part of a team in R&D which may develop the next technological breakthrough or in field service engineering where you never know what you will be doing that day, as you cannot predict the problem that lands on your desk. From my own experiences, I have realized I love creating and building devices which are solutions to difficult, out of the norm problems, and I enjoy thinking outside of the box.

What advice would you give students who are contemplating doing an internship experience?

Umm…why in the world is someone contemplating if they should or should not do an internship? As respectfully as possible, I would say it would be ridiculous and, frankly, not smart to pass up the opportunity to do an internship. The whole purpose of going to school is to become educated to ultimately land a job in the real world. While school gives you a great foundation, it amounts to very little if it is not coupled with real world, practical experience which can be achieved through an internship. Through an internship you convert the raw knowledge learned in school into practical useful knowledge and a set of skills for your career. Doing an internship does not remotely guarantee a job; it does provide you the opportunity to set yourself apart from the next candidate, and hopefully with some luck, it is enough to get your dream job.

Please tell us about your learning experiences, both professionally and personally. What are the benefits you will take away from these experiences?

I have been at ERAU now for 5 years; I am pursuing my Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering with AOC in propulsion and a minor in Aviation Maintenance Science (obtaining my A&P License). When I look back on my college experience, I think of all the fun I had being part of the university soccer team, going to study abroad, great memories from various clubs, fun times with friends, and my internship experiences. These are the best times of our lives, so I cannot say enough, we should get out there and experience all that we can. Now is the time to try and pursue your different interests and truly see where your passion lies.

I can say my life changed when I went to study abroad, an experience which is by far the best decision I have made in my life. Not only did I have the most fun of my life, I grew as a person academically, professionally, and personally. My internship at GE Global Research Center in Munich was a great learning experience, as I was working for an American company in Germany, and my colleagues were from all over the world, to just name a few: Spain, Ireland, England,  Germany, America, Kenya, China, Mexico, Italy, Singapore and many more. This proved challenging in the beginning, as each culture was different, but what I took away was there were many different ways to get to the right answer, and you didn’t always have the right one. I learned how to work with a group of multicultural people and concluded that a diverse team may have initial short term obstacles, but I believe they are more effective and stronger in the long term than a culturally homogenous team. When employers ask me about a hard experience I went through or why I think I am a strong team player, I have a myriad of stories to provide them of evidence through the EXPERIENCE I had of living, studying and working abroad.

At GE, I was lucky to work as part of a team of scientists who took me under their wings, and they strongly impacted the person I am today and the professional I hope to be one day. I can say, I got my second internship as a result of my study abroad experience; they really liked that.  I took the lessons from GE to Lufthansa Technik, where I was mentored as well and was able to continue to develop my professional skills. These skills are invaluable to my career, and you do not learn these in school. You have to go out and experience these lessons, and hopefully, you do this before you begin your full time career.

Also, from my internship experience  and help from my advisor, I realized it would be a good choice for me to get my Airframe and Powerplant license to complement my engineering degree. I would have never done this had it not been for my time at GE, where I saw the value of not just designing some theoretical device, but also the ability to build it and comprehend the difficulties that come with constructing and maintaining components. I have definitely seen the benefit of pursuing my A&P license along with my engineering degree from employers this past career fair, as this was often the topic of conversation when I conversed with them.

I hope more students embark on adventures while in college, if that be through studying abroad, getting an internship, or putting themselves in some type of new foreign environment/experience, because not only will this make them a better professional  but also a more well-rounded person. One of my favorite quotes is from Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” I believe we should live life to the fullest and experience all we can while in college, and that includes doing an INTERNSHIP!

The Virtual Hiring Event is Coming Soon!

2013 VHE Flyer for Students

Getting the Most Out of Career Services Resources

by Adriana Hall

I recently read a quote from Tony Robbins: Success is not about your resources.  It’s about how resourceful you are with what you have.”  The Career Services team is constantly reviewing, monitoring, evaluating and shaping our resources to reflect the breadth and needs of our constituents and industries. We want you to take full advantage of the resources available to explore opportunities, discover your career goals and attributes, navigate the job search process and showcase your skills. Our office wants you to get the most out of your education by using what is available to you. Here are some tips on how to be more proactive with the resources available:

Start Early: Don’t wait until graduation to utilize the resources and services available to you. Starting early is an advantage as it allows you to fully use your time in school to develop your career plan, learn about companies and opportunities and prepare for your job search, integrating the various resources available into this process. For example, some internship programs target sophomore and junior students, so you need to be aware of the timing of the programs available by accessing the EagleHire Network to find out this information. In addition, start building your network as early as possible through resources such as career events, the Career Services LinkedIn group,  conferences, professional organizations and more.  Spread out the career development and job search process timeline by starting early using the resources you have at your full disposal.

Do your Homework:  Preparation is important, so do your homework using the resources available to take charge of your career and job search. Check out samples to enhance your resume and cover letter, research opportunities on the EagleHire Network and outside of the system, practice interviewing via Perfect Interview, participate in presentations and company information sessions and research, research, research. Not only do you want to know what resources are available to you, but you want to understand how you can take advantage of the resources to accomplish your job search homework.

Be an Active Participant: Job seekers often look at various career resources, such as job boards, every day, but many of these people are passively waiting for employers to contact them or for a hiring manager to “notice” them.  As you use the resources available to you, understand that you must put yourself out there in the job search world to achieve results. After you apply for a position, don’t just wait for a response from the company; find a contact within the company to help you find better ways to connect with the hiring personnel or follow up with the hiring manager directly to make your case for employment.  Instead of expecting your network to come to you, find ways to meaningfully help your network (sharing resources or knowledge.  Be an active participant in your own search.

Bonus Tip – Be Professional: Although not necessarily a resource, professionalism is imperative to job search success.  Without professionalism, all the smart use of resources won’t put you any closer to career growth. With this in mind, you should practice professionalism in your interactions with any campus department, with your fellow students and alumni and with all employers. This expectation includes appearance, communication, punctuality and preparedness.

Career Services provides many resources for you, and you will find many more just an internet search away. Find ways to make these resources work for you and your situation. Be resourceful and explore all your career options to put yourself in the best place possible for professional success.

Adriana Hall has a Bachelor of Arts in Languages (Spanish-English) from Colombia-South America and a Master of Science in Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  She has been with ERAU for 9 years. Adriana worked for the Department of State in Colombia at the United States Embassy before moving to the U.S.

Conference Spotlight: National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Annual Convention

by Kristy Amburgey

DSC_3557Attending conferences and events is an excellent way to professionally network, learn new information as related to your career and identify employment opportunities.  The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) 39th Annual Convention, to be held March 27 – 31, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana, is a great example of an event where you can both personally and professionally grow.  In fact, the annual NSBE conference, and the many events they host throughout the year, has resulted in great success stories for Embry-Riddle students and alumni.  Two such success stories come from Marie-Jeanne Steady Ndiaye (or MJ) and Vincent Bell.  We asked both of these alumni to share their experiences with the NSBE Convention.

Why did you decide to attend NSBE in 2012?

MJ: It was a very simple and pragmatic decision to come to. As an undergraduate student, I tried to attend as many professional conferences /conventions as I could; it is the best way to meet industry leaders and others who share your enthusiasm about your field.  The other reason why I attended the convention is that I quite frankly liked not being the “odd one out”. There typically aren’t many minority attendants; there’s this belief that we are not interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), so it’s nice to be reminded it is just a “myth”.

Vincent: I decided to attend the NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) Convention in 2012 after talking to Mr. Mark Lyden about working for The Boeing Company at the end of February or early March 2012.  He told me that Boeing and various companies go to the convention to hire knowledgeable minorities.  So my main reason for going was to obtain a job after graduating from ERAU.  However, I also saw an opportunity to present what I was working on at that time at the conference when I saw there were so many cancellations in the conference presentation schedule.

What was the conference like for you?

MJ: It was a bit overwhelming at first because there were thousands of attendees rushing and buzzing around. There was a multitude of sessions, workshops, and discussions panels. I just didn’t know how I was going to make the most of the convention and what events to attend. All I knew was that I wanted to take it ALL in!

Vincent: The conference was great, and I had an unbelievable experience.  The first day that I got there I met up with couple of other ERAU students.  And Mr. Lyden, who I had been in contact with prior to the convention, wanted to meet with all the ERAU students that attended the conference, and he invited us to an exclusive Boeing talk, to where we were able to talk to Boeing managers and Boeing engineers that came for the conference.  The second day I ended up presenting on what I was conducting research on with Dr. Bereket Berhane.

Everyone that has been to an ERAU career fair would enjoy the NSBE Convention.  The convention is one huge career fair with so many engineering companies/firms and graduate schools trying to get qualified students to come to their program and study. Plus this gives the companies opportunity to see what you know by means of presentation.  For example, after my first interview, which was with Boeing, I invited my two interviewers to my presentation, and one actually came.  So it was great experience for your potential employer to see what you know and how well you can present information to others that may or may not be as knowledgeable on the subject at hand.

Overall, it was great, and the feedback I received was amazing.

Where there any outcomes from NSBE Conference?

MJ: Definitely! I really enjoyed the Educational Sessions, including:

  • Professional Development sessions –  provided me with soft skills to my academic and professional career ahead
  • Mentoring sessions – provided a framework that I used for my grad school selection/application process. That session also helped me outline for myself how I wanted to maximize my grad school experience
  • Outreach sessions – we had an opportunity to interact with local high schoolers, conducting experiments and answering questions about different STEM fields. This sparked my interest for Science Outreach and more specifically promoting Space Ethos. So much so, that when I started working at the Kennedy Space Center, I joined the Speakers Bureau, which is a group of volunteers who represent the center at civic, professional, educational, and other public events. Bureau members are exceptionally qualified to discuss general and specific aspects of the activities and technologies associated with the space flight program

Vincent: Of course the big aerospace companies were there (Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, and others).  So I earned 5 interviews in those three days: Boeing, Raytheon, Goldman Sachs, Northrop Grumman, and Texas Instruments.

The interview with Northrop Grumman was for thermal analysis engineering, and I never heard anything back from them.  The Texas Instruments interview was for mechanical engineering.  Texas Instruments never contacted me back again.  The interview with Goldman Sachs was for financial analyst, where, if I received an offer, I would be inspecting engineering project funding.  I had a follow up phone interview but ultimately did not receive an offer.  The interview with Raytheon was for Navigation, Guidance, Control (GNC) engineering and with the Raytheon Missile Systems.  Raytheon Missile Systems actually flew me to Tucson, AZ for a hiring event with about 100 other applicants for various job openings.  I ultimately received a job offer with them.  My interview with Boeing was for a fuel system engineer.  The day after this interview, I was told that I would receive an offer within the month for a job with Boeing.   I took the job with Boeing over Raytheon.

Why should students/alumni attend this conference?

MJ: Three words: networking, development, and exposure! I think that is pretty self-explanatory. If you are a black engineer, you NEED to attend the national convention.

Because the National Convention focuses mainly on the big 4 (Electrical, Mechanical, Software, and Civil Engineering), I would strongly urge ERAU students with interest in space to join the NSBE Space Special Interest Group (commonly referred to as Space SIG). It is one of NSBE’s star programs and is opened to college students as well as alumni.

They are actually hosting a conference in January, Space Technology Session 2013 (next one won’t be until 2015!) that is unlike other conferences in that it is actually a hands-on engineering session.  Participants are divided into groups with each group being assigned to work on a pre-defined set of deliverables for one of NSBE’s space-related technical projects.   It offers students an opportunity to work in an apprentice-like setting with industry engineers, managers, and scientists. This is how I developed and honed my technical proficiency!

Vincent: Students and alumni should attend this conference because companies come to this convention to hire participants.   Knowing that you have a huge chance of getting hired is a main reason why the ERAU family should attend.  Even if you are a freshman, you can standout for the upcoming years and help your chances either with a job or internship, when you are ready.  When you are looking for a job and applying via the internet, companies do not know you nor see your passion.  They only see what you put on your resume at the time.  And that is if you did your resume right and tailored your resume to that job announcement to which you just applied.  But at this conference you are talking to people who are eager to talk to you to see what you know, and you can pick apart their brains at any time.  They want you to ask a lot of questions as much as possible.  Companies are really looking for the best applicant possible that they can hire.  So I think for ERAU students and alumni, we are those types of people that they can hire and train very easily.

Vincent also has some additional advice for students who will be graduating soon.

The advice I would give students who are graduating soon is to go out there and apply and apply to all jobs for which you are qualified.  Before I went the NSBE Convention, I applied to about 350 jobs in 2 and half months.  From these that I applied to, I only heard back from 10 or 15 of the companies.  None of them offered me a job at all.  After the NSBE Convention, I had two offers after talking to 5 companies.

Another piece of advice I will give is when you get a chance to have an interview (either over the phone or in person), ask as many questions that pertain to the job or the betterment of you ultimately receiving an offer.  For example, in every interview that I have had over the past 2 years, I have asked the employers what about my resume stood out to them.  If something stood out to them, it possibly may stand out to others as well.  Another question I have asked is what is something that I can change (either on the resume or the interview itself) that will help with next interview you may have.  This question will show employers you are eager to learn something new about yourself and work on weaknesses that may be apparent to them.  Also, you should ask questions on relevant projects that company has worked on and/or on which they are currently working.  This will show your interest in the company with which you are hoping to get a job.

At the end of your interview, make sure you have business cards of all those people that interviewed you.  Wait about a week or two and then email them.  In your email, you just want to tell them thank you for the opportunity to talk to them.  You are not asking where you stand in the interview process.  This step will allow you to pop back up in their head because they received an email from you, and it is another way to stand out above the rest of the people that they may have interviewed.

I hope these tips help all ERAU students and alumni get jobs upon graduating.

Based on our alumni feedback, you can see that the NSBE Convention is a great opportunity for candidates seeking opportunities, both right now and in the future.  Besides professional development and networking opportunities, you will have access to many premier companies who are hiring like Battelle, Boeing, CIA, General Dynamics, Johnson Controls, Lockheed Martin, Toyota, United Technologies Corporation and many more.

Kristy Amburgey is the Associate Director of Career Services – Daytona Beach campus and currently manages marketing and employer relations for the department.  She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for approximately 10 years and with Career Services for nine years.

New Year, New Goal

by Kristy Amburgey

start2013Happy 2013!  A new year is always a great time to evaluate your professional and personal development and goals.  As 2013 begins, challenge yourself to evaluate where you are in your development and where you would like to be.  As a job seeker, are you implementing the most recent job search developments and using them effectively?  As a professional, are you on track for promotions and growth?  In general, are you satisfied with your current professional situation, or do you want to make changes?

To help evaluate your progression, you should ask yourself questions that may be difficult to answer, but you need to take on this challenge to ensure you are working towards the achievement of your goals.  Use these questions to initiate your evaluation process (please note that there are many other questions and topics to consider).

Do you know what you want?  One of the hardest things to do is to work towards a goal that is not clearly defined.  Do you know what job you want, what career step you want to take or what change you are seeking?  It is important to have a clear picture of exactly what you want for each goal you plan to tackle this year.

Do you have a realistic picture of what you want?  If you want a new job, do you understand the qualifications, company expectations, competition, salary and locations available?  If you are looking to take that next step, do you know how your company promotes people, or have you asked for a general career progression plan for your role?  If you are seeking change, do you know what to expect?  The goals you set should be realistic, and you should have a true understanding of how that goal and its achievement will impact you and, if applicable, your family.

Are you using the best tools to reach your goals?  As a job seeker, are you using the most recent and effective job search methods to find a job?  As a working professional, do you have access to appropriate tools or trainings, or should you ask for them?  What resources would make your transition easier?  Before jumping into any goal completion or change, make sure you that you have the best tools, resources and information available.

Do you know how you are going to achieve your goals?  As you define, refine and narrow your goals, do you know how you are going to get from point A to point B?  Consider putting a plan in place that will give you step by step, short-term tasks to accomplish your long-term goal.

Do you have a support system in place?  Encouragement, brainstorming, advice…these concepts are all ways that your family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances and neighbors can support you, but really your support system can be anyone who is willing to help you in any capacity to achieve your goals.  If you find that your system is mainly composed of family and personal friends, consider developing genuine professional relationships; your professional network can greatly impact your goals.

Do you know how you are going to reward yourself?  Part of this process is celebrating your accomplishments.  When you reach the next step in your plan, find a way to reward yourself…take a 15 minute nap, spend an hour on your hobby, host a fun event or drink the largest cup of coffee you can find.

Start your new year with a challenge.  Figure out where you are in your professional development, either in a job search or looking towards that next big thing, and how you are going to achieve what you want.  To help you with these goals, review resources available to you such as the Career Services website, the Going Places blog, external sites and more.  In addition, use your network, mentors and personal advisors to help you evaluate and plan for your future.  Even after asking these questions, continue to evaluate your plans and goals to ensure you stay on track, and don’t be afraid to revise your plans and goals along the way.  Use 2013 to your advantage…it is a New Year after all and time for new goals.

Kristy Amburgey is the Associate Director of Career Services – Daytona Beach campus and currently manages marketing and employer relations for the department.  She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for approximately 10 years and with Career Services for nine years.

Happy Spring Semester!

Welcome-Back-sign-750x380Welcome back to campus!  For returning and new students, get ready for your job and internship search and/or preparation.  Here are a few tips to help you take advantage of the resources provided throughout the spring semester.

  • Check out the EagleHire Network calendar for events, including presentations and company information sessions, being hosted on the residential campuses
  • Periodically check the EagleHire Network for full-time and co-op/internship opportunities, paying close attention to the closing dates of the postings; the earlier you review and apply to the positions, the better off you will be
  • During the spring semester, most companies recruit their summer internship positions; ensure you are eligible to participate in the Co-op/Internship Program and search for co-op/internship opportunities via the EagleHire Network by following the instructions for your campus
  • Get ready for the Virtual Hiring Event coming up Monday, February 11 through Thursday, February, 21; please read the Virtual Hiring Event FAQs
  • Within the EagleHire Network, you have access to CareerShift; CareerShift allows job seekers to search for companies within their geographical preferences, identify positions of interest from various job boards and company websites, find contact information for employers and organize your job search
  • The Going Places blog will continue to showcase Embry-Riddle’s wonderful students and alumni and their advice, and we will bring you even more articles to help in your career development

Happy New Year from Embry-Riddle Career Services!

2013-new-year

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