Career center benefits job seekers

by Tess Langfus

When Mike Siegler went to an Institute of Technology career fair in the fall of 1998, he nervously rubbed shoulders with about 400 other IT students all vying for jobs with the 100 or so technology companies.
But Siegler had several advantages over some other students. His resume not only touted a 3.4 grade point average, but it also listed a computer science internship and part-time job.
Besides, his personality fit the image companies often seek when interviewing prospective employees.
“The one thing that really sticks out was (Siegler’s) enthusiasm and a positive attitude, and a good sense of humor. Those were the things that right away jump up.” said Al Van Der Schans, principle engineer and one of Siegler’s interviewers from Seagate.
So, several months before Mike Siegler graduated from the University in June 1998 with a computer science degree, he already had a job waiting for him at Seagate in Bloomington.
Between 1998 and 1999, more than 9,000 students graduated from the University, with more than 5,000 of those graduating with bachelor’s degrees. With each new season, that means more new graduates from each college hunting down jobs.
While students in the IT school do have an advantage over many other colleges at the University because of the high demand for technical training and education, there is still competition among peers racing for the same positions in premium companies.
Deciding factors
When contemplating new hires, Van Der Schans said internships, even more than grade point average, are highly regarded.
“The fact that the students do an internship, it tells you already that they are motivated,” said Van Der Schans.
Internships are like lengthy job interviews, he added. “In most cases I’ve seen here, it almost always secures you a job after you graduate.”
Even with a 3.4 GPA, Siegler said he learned “a tremendous amount” while working as an intern at Seagate prior to landing a full-time job there.
“I went from pretty much all theoretical, basic academic foundations to actually hands-on, using instruments, looking at the things that we talked about in the classroom,” Siegler said. “So once that internship came to a close, I was very intrigued about the industry and about my field of study.”
Siegler, who started out as a design engineer in 1998 was promoted this July to an advisory engineer in an advanced research and development group.
He still remembers his interviews with Seagate’s management in the fall of 1998 as stressful, and advises students looking for jobs to go to the interview well-groomed, wearing a suit and tie and acting as personable as possible.
Dress for success and comfort
Anne Warfield, owner of Impression Management Professionals and author of the book “Outcome Thinking: Getting Results Without The Boxing Gloves,” suggests that students trying to land a job should think of ten words to describe how they want to be perceived when interviewing. If those words do not fit their image, then either their image needs to change, or their goals need to be reassessed.
“You need to create and dress for that image,” Warfield said. “Which means you to need to watch trends because a lot of the trends that are very popular as teens and young adults do not transition well into the work world. And the way they are viewed in the work world is inexperience.”
When Warfield consults with a client, she takes his or her entire personality into consideration when determining how a person should act or what to wear during an interview or at the job.
“I do not believe that there is any cookie-cutter approach. I think that some people, depending on their style and their personality, can carry off things that other people never could,” Warfield said.
Yet, there are general rules that must be considered. For instance, a person seeking a job in advertising has the advantage of wearing less traditional and more creative clothing than someone in the financial arena who is better off wearing a suit and tie.
Likewise, people in the technical field should project an easygoing, comfortable mannerism. While they can take advantage of the increasing acceptance of casual dress codes, they are still better off sticking to a more traditional style for the interview.
“Do not dress for the job that you’re interviewing for, dress for the position that you actually want to have in that company,” Warfield suggested.
However, with the cost of Warfield’s services at $2,500 for five two-hour sessions, she said students rarely use her service and can get much of what they need at the University’s career services departments.
Help on campus
Each of the individual colleges at the University has its own career services office that supplies students with much of the same assistance that a professional program offers.
Before Siegler started his job-search ventures, he wandered into the IT Career Services department to get some guidance on resume writing, check job postings, research various companies and learn how to conduct himself during an interview.
Sharon Kurtt, director of the Institute of Technology Career Services, takes pride in helping IT students find their niche.
“We’re teaching people skills that they are going to use for the rest of their lives,” Kurtt said.
Like other career services departments on campus, the IT college hosts on-campus career fairs. Kurtt highly recommends students take advantage of the opportunities to learn about recruiting companies. Later, the students can sign up for individual interviews in the career services department.
Kurtt said she expects close to 140 companies will attend the IT career fair in September. Two more fairs will be held in January and April. But, she added, the fall is the ideal time for students to start looking for the best company to match their goals, skills and interests.
With such a tight job market, especially for technology companies where students with technical training and education are in such high demand, companies need to recruit early.
“The unemployment rate and just the lack of talent within the field is largely shaping our recruitment efforts in just being competitive,” said Jason Sullivan, University relations representative at Seagate. “It’s really shaping how we need to recruit.”
The reluctant graduate
Any student who is currently enrolled in at least six credits is eligible to seek free career counseling at the Career Development Center, according to Jennifer Engler, acting program director.
Many students seek assistance in deciding what career they want to pursue, or once there, what area of interest to focus on within their chosen field.
Engler said the department can assist students in making their decisions by giving them tests such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator or the Strong Interest Inventory. Fees for the tests are paid by the student.
But the department also helps students with personal issues as well, such as dealing with the anxiety of leaving the University and making it on their own in the real world.
They may have an overall lack of confidence or uncertainty about their chosen major or are anxious about leaving their support group of friends behind.
“We work with students in an individual or group format so that they can begin to prepare themselves to anticipate that transition,” Engler said. “We try to help them assess what are the aspects that make them hesitant or reluctant to begin their professional lives or careers.”
In collaboration with all the career services departments on the campus, there will be a workshop on October 19 for interested students.
“Etiquette and Image 2000” will be similar to last year’s program which stressed how to conduct oneself during a dinner interview.

Tess Langfus welcomes comments at [email protected].