Taking your First Steps On-Campus: A Discussion with the Career Counseling Department

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Meet Lisa Novack,

Novack is a gopher alumna. She has a BBA in Marketing & Entrepreneurial Management at Carlson School of Management and a MA in Educational Psychology. Her passion for helping students led her to a career in academic & career advising at Carlson, where she serves as the Associate Director of Student Services at the Undergraduate Business Career Center. While 20 % of her day is booked with career counseling appointments, Novack also teaches minor courses in leadership; she spends a fair amount of her day prepping, grading, communicating with her TA. Furthermore, she’s responsible for employer relations; Novack consults with employers to structure new internship opportunities for Carlson undergraduates. Novack explains that the career center provides services from career exploration to mock interviews. Specifically, at Carlson, there are one-credit courses such as BA 3000 and 3999, which teaches students to develop career skills or integrate credit-based internships into the academic curriculum.

There are mainly two major recruitment fairs held in the spring and the fall for Carlson students. Novack says fall fairs usually recruit more gophers. While majority of Carlson students start working full-time or part-time, 90 days after graduation, there are students who advance their degrees to Master’s. For Accounting students, getting a Master’s degree in Public Accounting to take the CPA exam is typical. Otherwise, there’s the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program. MBA curriculums tend to be more academic case-based, and discussions on case studies are woven into the curriculum. Most MBA students have a working background; in fact, part-time MBA students come from a major company, where employers pay or sponsor their tuition for 2 years.

In the interview, Novack highlighted the importance of “relationship building over time.” Whether it’d be through the casual social event such as “snack stops,” where alumni recruiters visit the campus to get to know current students. Following up with the LinkedIn alumni network group was also suggested. Thus, there are opportunities to connect and expand your network both physically and digitally. Other things that may be helpful are following a company on social media, keeping up with the business news, joining relevant clubs such as the American Marketing Association for Marketing students.

 

Meet Victoria Schroeder,

Schroeder, with a BBA and Management background interested in working for Human Resources, began her career as a recruiter at a staffing firm, where she worked with mid and senior-level software developers. She particularly enjoyed helping people connect with a job. However, Schroeder was unsatisfied with other aspects of the firm. Later on, she was introduced to a field in career counseling. Without having any affiliation with Northeastern University, she was able to secure an internship by referencing how she followed up with NEU in previous years At NEU, she served as an academic advisor for the honors program, and she has actively worked in employer relations, which led her to her current role as the Director of Undergraduate Career Management of the Questrom School of Business at Boston University.

Schroeder balances her role as the director and an advisor. She works closely with undergraduate students one-on-one to educate them on career exploration, résumé writing, salary negotiation, etc.

Within BU, Questrom is unique in that it has career courses built into the curriculum. There are one-credit courses available, starting freshmen year. Typically, in the first year seminar, students concentrate on career exploration, setting up a Questrom résumé, and re-formatting and editing their LinkedIn profiles. As an upperclassmen, students have the opportunity to take courses that focuses on job strategizing and regularly updating documents.

Workshops tailored to the Questrom program are available; they include seminars on, “How to make the most out of your OPT (Optional Practical Training) for international students,” “Round table: How to connect with recruiters and alumni,” “MBA degree: What do business schools look for in a candidate?” 

In the interview, Schroeder highlighted the importance of relationships and GPA. Having the internal referrals and showing professionalism and capability through a strong academic record are important factors, because they are used as “filtering tools” for many recruiters and employers.

 

Samantha Tiemens-Anderson

 

Meet Samantha Tiemens-Anderson,

Tiemens-Anderson is another gopher alumna. She has a BA in Psychology (UMN) and a MA in Educational & Counseling Psychology at University of Missouri-Columbia, where she received a graduate assistantship. Upon graduating from Mizzou, she worked as a career advisor at the University of Chicago. She says U Chicago career centers are divided into different industries, and she worked closely with students majoring in Physics and Chemistry, wanting a career in a health profession. Having enjoyed working closely with science students, Tiemens-Anderson came back to Minnesota and has worked for the career center at the College of Sciences & Engineering (CSE) ever since. A field that’s growing rapidly with a lot of new opportunities given to STEM graduates, she thought that an advising career at CSE would be a good match, and she says she loves working for the CSE career center. Her current role at the CSE career center is Employer Relations Specialist & Career Counselor.

Not only does Tiemens-Anderson work closely with students on résumé writing, mock interviews, job search strategies; she works with recruiters and employers from companies, primarily in-state, to plan on-campus events and site visits. In the past, regional site visits were held in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but CSE career center plans to travel down to San Francisco for students who want to go into the tech industry and Texas for the oil industry in the future.

While most Science & Engineering graduates land on a job upon graduating from UMN, there are some students who choose to pursue a higher degree in Ph.D. or Master’s. There are variety of reasons why a student may want to attend a graduate school. The most common reason is if a student wants to stay in academia to do more research, or a student wants to become a professor later on.

For Biomedical Engineering students, who want to come up with design plans may want to get more expertise through graduate school. Computer Science students who want to specialize in artificial intelligence, for instance, may pursue a higher degree, since a bachelor’s degree covers a range of topics broadly. In addition, students who graduated with a degree in natural sciences typically get a master’s. Tiemens-Anderson says without a higher degree, a BS degree in Physics won’t let you advance and become a physicist, so students who studied Physics, Chemistry, and Biology often get their master’s to find jobs more easily.

Having technical skills is the most essential asset a Science & Engineering student can have. Therefore, recruiters from companies like Google come in each year to give workshops, and they would provide assessments in Computer Science to test a student’s qualification and coding literacy. Tiemens-Anderson says consulting companies conduct “case interviews,” which asks candidates to solve a real-life scenario, applying their technical skills. To prepare for these types of interviews, Tiemens-Anderson tries to pair up her students with someone in the industry to talk about the interviews.

In the interview, Tiemens-Anderson commented that the course load for Science & Engineering students is a big jump from what they may be used to, so taking the time to get used to the rigor in the first year is key. As soon as a student gains more confidence with the coursework, it’s best to do research before the third year, which is a time when students typically begin applying for internships. Without any research experience, Tiemens-Anderson says it may be difficult to acquire other work experiences.

For International students: 

As an international student, applying for jobs can be a daunting experience. To break down the confusion, I asked the career counselors on how the process looks different for international students studying in an American college or university.

Most jobs, including on-campus part-time jobs, require a work authorization issued by the school a student is attending. As for internships that are paid off-campus, a student needs to register for the CPT (Curricular Practical Training), which allows students to gain work experience related to their major field of study. A student may work part-time (20 hours/week or less) or full-time (20 hours/week or more). However, if a student accumulates 12 months of full-time CPT authorization, she/he may lost eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT).

OPT is a period during which undergraduate and graduate students with F-1 status who have completed or have been pursuing their degrees for more than nine months are permitted by the US citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to work for one year on a student visa towards getting practical training to complement their education. Just one year ago, OPT for STEM students has been extended. They are eligible to work under their OPT up to 36 months after graduation. Management Information Systems, which is considered a business degree, also qualifies for the STEM extension.

Once the OPT ends, a student must find a company that can sponsor a visa. The problem is, though, that not a lot of companies are willing to sponsor. “Most employers think there’s risk to hiring an international student,” says Schroeder. She continued, “They may not want to put the money and training to hire an international.” Many international students get upset with the situation; therefore, Schroeder believes they should be informed as to the “why” so that they can network at the right places and be better prepared for the market.

Despite some complications, Schroeder says there are still many ways to talk about working for companies in the U.S. You can always go back and work as an intern; there are 6-month contracts; you can work on a specific project for a company. Otherwise, looking for job opportunities in home countries is another alternative. Schroeder works closely with staffing firms in the Boston and New York area to connect students with companies in Hong Kong, China, Japan, etc.

The clash between a student’s expectation and his/her parents’ expectation also adds another layer of complexity, according to Schroeder. Parents are uncertain if a student is willing to come back to his/her home country, or they want to know if a student will be working full-time in the U.S. upon graudation. Schroeder currently advises an Accounting student who wants to work in the fashion industry; however, her parents are against her career goals, which is a challenge for both Schroeder and her student.

Tiemens-Anderson says there are certain areas that are on high demand. “Almost all companies look into Computer Science students,” says Tiemens-Anderson, because there isn’t enough graduates to fill in those positions.

To provide strategic guidance for international students, some colleges/universities have created an employer’s list that hires international students. Schroeder says if a student challenges himself/herself to be thoughtful and creative with a list of companies to apply, she is certain that the student will land on a job.

 

 

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