With Spring graduation rapidly approaching, the College of Engineering’s Career Services Office is an extremely popular destination, but, in reality, it is a hub of activity year round. The Career Services offered by the College are unique, multi-dimensional, and begin Day One for incoming students. The only dedicated career service office among all the University’s undergraduate colleges and schools, The CoE Career Services provide a range of research and career advising and support which few professional offices can match. According to Ann Helmers, Director of Career Services and Alumni Relations, “We provide career services to our engineering students from their very first orientation meeting with us and we never stop helping them until their resumes are full of career-enhancing credentials.” The importance of acquiring research and corporate experiences reiterates the College’s focus on integrating education and research on every level possible.
As early as their freshman year, students are afforded the prospect of applying to competitive and prestigious funded research opportunities both locally and nationally, allowing them to apply academic learning in a real world setting for 8- 10 weeks. These Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) programs not only build the student’s work-related experiences, but also reinforces their academic course work. Such experiential learning is complemented by the UM Office of Undergraduate Research, which provides counseling and a registry of pre-baccalaureate opportunities as well
Such interdisciplinary programming is a hallmark of the College. Ms. Helmers points out that “we work very closely with other STEM focused areas within the University as well as the Toppel Center (UM’s central placment facility) and coordinate our events and sessions with theirs to complement each other’s offerings for all of our students.”
Alumni are another key component of the strategic resources utilized in career and internship placement. Alumni provide not only a continual flow of job and internship postings but the Engineering alumni group hosts various career-related activities, including a mentorship exchange, pre-Career fair resume and interview workshops, and professional forums. Those who have graduated are engaged and dedicated to giving back to those who follow. Tomorrow’s generation of ‘Cane engineers truly benefit from those who have come before them. Ms. Helmers notes that the students are evolving and so are we: “ We are constantly expanding internship options and revisiting corporate expectations and goals for applicants. Today, most students are much more experienced and professionally focused than in the past. They arrive with advanced training and skills which we strive to match to industry partners.” Typically, students combine designated research projects within the College with selected industry internships to develop their career paths. The variety of projects and interests leads students to varying career tracks. Vanessa Sabatier (BSIE ’13), who is completing a minor in Film with her engineering degree, interned last summer with NBCUniversal. She will be returning to New York this spring as a professional in NBC’s technical services division. Mariah Szpunar (BSMAE’13) participated in several REU programs, was an undergraduate researcher in the UM Industrial Assessment Center project (which was notably highlighted during President Obama’s visit to the College), completed an internship at Florida Turbine Technologies and will become a Systems Engineer with Lockheed Martin this May. This continual focus on combining research with academics underscores the College’s central mission to “Educate Tomorrow’s Technology Leaders for Career Success.”
And students are being sought by the nation’s leading technology and business firms. Preferred recruiting partnerships, in which companies identify targeted universities to seek out the best and brightest, are increasingly a major component of the placement formula at the College. Microsoft, GE, NextEra Energy, Apple, Johnson& Johnson, the US Air Force, Lockheed Martin, Cisco, Nielsen, NBC Universal, Odebrecht and many other firms are recruiting partners in recognition of the quality of our students. As a Microsoft recruiter commented recently “Our only complaint is we wish you had more students!”