Insider’s Perspective—Graduating Seniors Working in CS/CE Office Offer Advice

With graduation rapidly approaching, many Suffolk seniors are looking into employment opportunities and graduate studies. Seniors Megan Cullen and Matthew Caldeira have both been working in the Office of Career and Cooperative Education for several years. The time spent in the office has given Megan, an Environmental Engineering major, and Matthew, a Management major, an insider’s look on how the job search process works.

1) What are you doing after you graduate?

(Matt) My plans are to look for full time work with a reputable company that offers tuition reimbursement. I plan on getting my MBA at some point in the next 3-5 years and would love to work and grow with a company while I take classes at night in an MBA program, and get reimbursed for my efforts; I don’t want to have to take out more loans.

(Megan) My plan is to continue to work for the US Army Corps of Engineers. My work with them began when I took a co-op position the summer before my junior year, and worked for them again the following summer. I have been offered a job in their two-year rotating internship, and I am planning on taking it.

2) Has career services helped you to reach your career goals?

(Matt) I haven’t fully utilized CS to help me reach my career goals. I had full intentions of extracting as much info and support from CS this semester, however, I injured my knee, missed 3 weeks of classes, and am focusing on catching up and finishing up in order to graduate in May. I have used CS’s resources (counselors) in the past to improve my resume, learn how to compose a cover letter, how to navigate and utilize the E-Recruiting website, and other resources such as the Job Search Strategies Handbook, job fairs, networking events and speaker series. I hope to utilize other resources such as mock interviews in the future.

(Megan) Yes, Career Services has helped me reach my goal by notifying me with potential co-ops of interest. Upon locating co-ops of interest, the CS office assisted in me in preparing resumes and cover letters to help me land an interview.

3) What have you learned, observing the career search process over the last several years, that you would like to pass on to other members of your graduating class?

(Matt)The most important thing I have learned is that, you get out what you put in. The job search is mine and not anyone else’s. I have listened to students complain because “no one is finding them a job”. If you want something you have to search it out and go after it. So the most important concepts I have learned that pertains to the job search are: research/due diligence, resume shaping, cover letter direction, establishing contacts and follow up, persistence, preparedness and positive attitude.

(Megan) I would recommend doing a co-op. Co-ops provide you with experience and insight to your potential career. Doing a co-op allowed me to gain insights into my career field, and confirm my interest.

4) What would you tell other seniors to avoid?

(Matt) The most important this to avoid is wasting TIME – not just theirs, but everyone else’s who is affected by or involved in their job search. I would also tell seniors to avoid thinking that someone is going to do the work for them – i.e. finding them a job or internship. In addition, I would tell them to avoid being unorganized, and to take action in being prepared and organized i.e. if they are coming to a meeting at Career Services, they should have done some homework by looking at the CS link and formulate some questions they can ask counselors in order to advantage of the meeting and avoid wasting time. Avoid thinking that you can put in 50% due diligence and expect to yield a 100% return. Lastly, I would tell them to avoid NOT listening to constructive feedback.

(Megan) I would tell other seniors to avoid waiting until the last minute to start looking for jobs. Apply to as many jobs as possible and start as soon as you can.

5) Do you have any career search or interview tips for your fellow seniors?

(Matt) Seek out as many resources as possible. Network and establish as many contacts as possible – professors, counselors, employers, speakers at special events etc... Have a 60 second elevator speech down and ready to pitch at any time. Learn proper etiquette and manners for presenting themselves during interviews – i.e. be polite and friendly – try not to be nervous, don’t talk over the interviewer or interrupt, don’t talk too fast or too much, answer questions with a direct answer – don’t get off on tangents, stay focused, be persistent but not obnoxious with following up…And most importantly, smile and keep a positive attitude.

(Megan) I would recommend that seniors ask their academic mentors about possible career opportunities. Professors are often well connected within industry, and may know of companies that are hiring as well as individuals who may be able to assist students.