Dear Judy: I was wondering what your background in this field is. I am a freshman Communications Major at Boston University, and the only career advice people always give me is, "intern, intern, intern." Do you have anything else to add?
When I joined the Society of Women Engineers in 1960, I joined a group of other women who worked with junior high school, high school and college girls who were interested in Engineering. Later I was advisor to the student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers at USC in Los Angeles California. I was also on college recruiting teams for TRW for several decades where I worked as a project and line manager for a number of decades.
However, my career advice background does really focus on engineering and technology careers. Today however, communications and engineering share a need for knowledge of technology.
People talk about interning because it encompasses the three necessities: what you know, and who you know and how do you do it.
1. What you know... Today, you need to know technology: computers, web sites, etc. When I was young, I chose to work before I completed my degree and go to school nights. This helped me to focus what I studied with the knowledge of what was being done in industry. I studied computers and control systems in 1959, before most people had ever heard of them. If you could work for a company active in your field of interest for a summer, you would learn what subjects you need to concentrate on in your next year.
2. Who you know... When you graduate and fill out applications, it really helps to know some names of people to send it to. Contacts are very valuable. Are there student chapters of professional organizations that you can join? Student organizations often have speakers from industry where you can meet people and ask them questions.
3. How do you really do this work?... In school, unfortunately, you are often taught by teachers who specialize in academia, not business. I remember taking a project management class from a professor in my Engineering Executive Program years after I had to learn to do project management by doing it. We had a lot of disagreements, and I was very glad I had the real world experience to compare his words with. Interning gives you that touch of the real world. Also some experience at doing whatever you want to specialize in can probably be found in the school context. Universities have newspapers and radio stations and other types of communications media that can give invaluable experience to a student.
Dear Judy: What's the best way of getting a job when I graduate?
The best way to get a job is to get to know the companies that are in the field that you are interested in. What does each company do? What products do they make? Who are their customers? For instance, if you are in California and you are interested in electronic design of chips, get to know what Intel makes and sells and to whom. Sometimes they use college students as summer interns at the local companies. And sometimes, people who work at the companies you might be interested in teach classes at your university. I studied control systems with the engineers from Autonetics and Ramo-Woolridge (now Rockwell and TRW) when I was going to graduate school. When you go to an on-campus interview you'll have a lot of information that will help you sound knowledgeable.
Dear Judy: I have been a secretary for six years. I will be graduating college, with honors, in two weeks, with a bachelors degree in business administration. Unfortunately, there are no specific goals and I really don't know what I have to offer or what is out there to pursue. The college does not offer career counseling. What would you suggest my next step should be?
Dear new graduate,
Two things to consider first:
1. Are you working at a company as a secretary?
If so there are resources there, personnel managers, co-workers, etc. who can help you figure out what might be available to you now.
2. Does your city have a newspaper with classified ads?
If so, a few hours in the classifieds can give you a good idea of what is available and what qualifications are required.
At some point you need to take stock of what you know how to do and what you like to do. Do you like numbers, computing, bookkeeping? Do you like to write? Are you good at problem solving? And then write a short resume with only one page summarizing what you can do: "Capabilities" and what you have done: "Accomplishments"
Next, you need to network. Write down the names of ten people you know: your mother, your cousin, your neighbor... and call each one and ask if they know of any job leads for you. You'll be surprised at how helpful this can be.If you have any questions or comments please e-mail me at:
or write to me at:
Cascade Pass - 4223 Glencoe Ave., Suite C-105, Marina del Rey, CA 90292