How I Chose My Major, and a Minor I Wish Was Another Major

By: Tony

I’ve always been good at social studies. Growing up, it was always my favorite part of the school day, and my academics reflected that. I earned A’s in social studies and English, but that trend didn’t always extend to math. As my mom likes to put it, I’m good at words, not numbers. In high school, this pattern continued, and I began to really think about it. I knew that I wanted to attend college, but I wasn’t sure what I would study. This was a few years into the huge STEM surge that we are still going through, and those studies were being pushed heavily at my school. I knew that numbers aren’t really my thing, and I began to worry that I had no idea what I wanted to study. At the same time, I was excelling in my history, economics, and civics classes, and I was also really into reading dystopian novels like 1984 and Brave New World. I was wary of wanting to pursue these studies in college because I was well aware of the jokes surrounding the liberal arts, and all my friends were planning on studying STEM fields like computer science and engineering. Luckily, this hesitation ceased in the fall of my senior year of high school.

The class that changed everything was my 4th period political science class. I’ve heard of poli sci prior to this class, but I didn’t really know what it was. In case you’re not sure of what it is either, political science is the study of power, specifically what power is, how it’s distributed, and how it should be distributed. In essence, it looks at how society is run and maintained, and possibilities of how those operations can be done better. I absolutely loved that class, we talked about theory, current events, our own opinions, justice, and a whole lot more. After I took that class, I had my mind made up, I was going to study political science in college. During my senior year, I also took a sociology course, which I also loved, but I had my mind set on political science.

The minute you choose to do what you really want to do, it's a different kind of life. - R. Buckminster Fuller

Fast-forward to junior year at UMD. I was a happy poli sci major with a sociology minor. I didn’t really pay too much attention to my progress in sociology beyond making sure that I was on track to complete the minor. While applying for Spring semester classes I decided to look at what it would take to complete a sociology major as well. As it turned out, I was much closer to that reality than I thought, but there were still a few obstacles in the way. I would need to complete a branch of required courses related to completing an internship, and it didn’t seem that I would be able to complete everything and graduate on time. The first course in the branch seemed to be similar to one that I completed for my political science major, and so I reached out to my academic advisor to see if I could get that course waived. I got the paperwork for the request, but life got in the way and I forgot to submit it. I still regret not at least submitting it and seeing what happened. Maybe I would be a double major now.

I care a lot about sociology, just as much as, if not more than, political science. If you’re wondering, sociology is essentially the scientific version of people-watching at the mall. The goal of sociology is to better understand how society functions and how people interact with each other. It allows me to better comprehend the world around me and the potentials for improvement. In fact, I am applying to attend grad school for sociology because I want to continue learning and figure out how I can connect those lessons to a career.

So that is the story of how I chose my major, and a minor that I wish I had picked up as a major. Even though I came into UMD with an idea of what to study, I still regret my hesitation in figuring out what additional opportunities I had. Hopefully, my experience will encourage you to take those extra steps if you are in the same spot that I was.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Tony’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Steve Halama

Why Major in Communication at UMD

By: David

As a double major, one day you will eventually have to prioritize your majors one over the other. In talking with students with a double major, this is typically the case (though not always) with students having the second major supporting their primary major. For me personally, I would say this is especially true with degrees in Communication and Psychology. My main area of focus being Communication and my supporting major being Psychology. In today’s post, I want to highlight the wonders of the Department of Communication here at UMD and why it truly is a “diamond in the rough.” After having conversations with Department Head, Dr. David Gore, Associate Professor Dr. Ryan Goei, and Director of Internships for Communication, Alastair Knowles, I was able to gather an abundance of information from all three in highlighting the Communication department. With that being said, let’s begin!

Overview of the Communication Discipline  

In order to understand the Communication department here at UMD, I find it important to understand the Communication discipline altogether. Generally, Communication programs will have a mixture or divide of the social sciences and humanities (also known as rhetoric in the Communication discipline). You can think of the two as different processes or approaches to communication. On one end, social scientists seek to observe the present, they prefer data, numbers, and statistics where findings can be generalize to the broader population and are concerned with what can be observed in reality. On the opposite end, rhetoricians seek to understand human nature versus predicting it, they prefer concepts related to philosophy, history, and context, and require one core element – the human experience.

In expanding on this topic of social science and rhetoric, let’s explore the concept of fear appeals as an example. A social scientist might look into fear appeals and analyze the effectiveness of fear appeals on people and its ability to persuade. On the other hand, a rhetorician may look at fear appeals, and instead of analyzing the effectiveness, will analyze the ethics of using fear appeals overall. To end, I like to think of social science and rhetoric as an objective and subjective approach to understanding communication. Social science being the objective, while rhetoric being the subjective. Now that we have a basic understanding of the communication discipline as a whole, let’s explore the elements of UMD’s Communication program.

Why Comm

What makes UMD’s Program So Unique and Special?

(1) Healthy Balance of Social Science & Rhetoric
After explaining the two approaches to Communication, one can easily see how a divide or rift may quickly emerge within Communication programs. Fortunately, the professional environment here in the Communication department is one that is quite healthy and friendly where faculty members are open and respectful to one another’s approach to communication. The faculty here see the value in BOTH perspectives and therefore the program creates a flexibility of the mind. Additionally, as a generalist program that offers and requires courses in both approaches students in the program can pick whichever route they prefer. This is possible due to the program being an open-minded program and thus offering a variety of elective courses.  

(2) Top Tier Faculty Members
For starters, UMD attracts some of the best Communication scholars across the nation (and I’m not just saying that out of my own bias, it’s true!). With current scholars contributing major research to their fields to individuals previously winning “Dissertation of the Year” awards to professors writing top papers on a national AND international scale, they are here at the UMD Communication Department. Here’s a list of the faculty recognition in the past decade.

(3) Research & Faculty Mentorship
Despite being a campus of the University of Minnesota, UMD is an extremely unique institution as a whole due to its high level of research productivity and its student population consisting mainly of undergraduate students. Commonly, a high performing research institution would consist of numerous graduate programs and a high percentage of graduate students conducting outstanding research. Here at UMD, we have 90% of our students who are at the undergraduate level, yet still conducting research just as valuable as other top-tier research institutions.

With this unique dynamic of undergraduate students and high caliber faculty, students in the Communication department have direct access to these professors who conduct top-notch quality research. In comparison to other schools, typically this is not the case as top-tier research institutions would require graduate students (MA, Ph.D candidates) to teach these courses with zero to limited access to the professors. To conclude, UMD is best known for its engineering and business programs, and typically not acknowledged for its programs in the social sciences and humanities. As a student in the humanities & social sciences, I will confirm and say that it definitely requires a lot of digging in terms of finding the hidden specialty and uniqueness surrounding these programs like the Communication program here at UMD. That is why it truly is a “diamond in the rough.”

(4) Internships
So what happens if you’re not into academia, scholarship, or research? Well, lucky for you there are opportunities to find hands-on experience through the Communication Internship Program. Ultimately, the program has two objectives, (1) provide students with opportunities to apply what they’re learning in the classroom into the real world, and (2) provide students with opportunities to acquire internships related to a career occupation that they find interesting. In addition to the two, starting the Fall semester of this year, the Communication Internship Program will be implementing a new course in which it will better prepare students for the internship process. Before ending, if you would like to learn more or are having trouble finding a good place to start in terms of internships, you can always refer to the Communication Internship Program comprehensive web page, or better yet, set up an appointment to meet with Alastair Knowles.

David Quote

Final Thoughts & Reflection

In closing, I would like to sum up by talking about my personal experiences and self-reflection. Coming into college as Undecided, I was the type of student who wanted to do everything and had a very hard time deciding a major. Eventually, I would stick to Communication after my first semester taking “Intercultural Communication” and since then have never regretted that decision. As I slowly progressed through the program, I was fortunate to take courses with different instructors and professors who I found to be extremely inspiring and brilliant. Their teaching philosophies, passion for research, and devotion for students motivated me to acquire a hunger to learn more about being an effective and efficient communicator in addition to being a charismatic leader.

Throughout my time here at UMD I would say that many of my favorite professors are mostly, if not all, from the Communication department. As I mentioned in my recent blog posts, my experience as a first-generation student has been a significant factor to my college experience altogether. As a first-gen student, there were many moments of insecurity in terms of my academics and intellectual capabilities, but that changed every time I came around the COMM department. Essentially, the COMM department became my safe haven to learn and discuss freely about ideas, history, theories, and communication in practice. The conversations, guidance, and criticism from my professors were all key components to my intellectual and personal growth.

In ending, I know I’m biased when I say that the Communication department here at UMD is perhaps the best program at UMD. But my main point for you, my readers and peers, is to find a program you can be excited about when entering your classes and be hungry to learn in whichever topic or topics interest you most. More than often do I see my peers or other students who come into college and zoom right through to get their degrees and start working right away, but if we just take the time to slow down, relax, and enjoy the time that we’re here the end result will be much more meaningful. Talk to your professors, explore related theories, criticize past research, or even conduct your own research. You never know what you’re truly capable of until you try, and it always helps to have a mentor guide you to your true potential.  

Of Possible Interest:
Choosing a Major – all our blog posts on the topic
Turn Your Major Into a Career – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources
Communication at UMD
What are recent UMD Communication grads doing?

Read David’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | Aaron Burden

Updated: June 2020

How I Chose MIS

By: Kimberly

On my student orientation day, I came in strongly believing that Computer Science was the major for me. My first semester consisted of some liberal education courses and one computer science course. I knew that this computer science course would either further solidify my decision or reject it. Soon enough, as I quickly stumbled upon the halfway mark of the semester I started to question myself and this major. My grade in the computer science course was slowly dropping, I wasn’t happy in the course, and I couldn’t help but doubt my abilities.

After a week of contemplation, I knew that the only way I could resolve this situation was… setting up an appointment to meet with someone who had the experiences and knowledge behind this dilemma – my advisor. It was through her I found out about Career & Internship Services and how helpful they would be. She recommended I take a few assessments through their department and in addition, schedule a follow-up appointment with a career counselor to dive more in depth into the assessments. Without hesitation, I made my way to their office and got all three assessments and all appointments scheduled.

MIS Major

My appointments with the career counselors were absolutely phenomenal. I came in stressed, frustrated, and full of negativity about the possibility of finding a new major that would fit me. Immediately, after I expressed to them about why I decided to take the assessments they responded with such positivity and reassurance that it was not the end of the world. As they went on explaining the results as well as shining some lights on some of my interests, we were able to narrow down a few possible majors that could potentially be options for me.

I took it into my own initiative to further my research behind the different majors that were most appealing to me. Thankfully, I knew some peers around me who were currently majoring in these majors, I could reach out to. Each one of them was extremely generous by taking their time to respond with helpful information and even sharing their own experiences. After much research and consideration, I decided to take courses related to the MIS (Management Information Systems) major.

In my MIS courses, I noticed a huge difference in my performance and interest within the major. For example, I didn’t score poorly on my exams and I enjoyed the material  I learned within each course. I was also able to slightly get a grasp of what I could potentially do with this major which made me more certain with this major. After halfway into Fall semester I decided to change my major officially and declare my major as Management Information Systems.

Currently, I am a Junior with an MIS major and I absolutely love it. I enjoy the things I am learning in my upper division courses and my performance also reassures me that I understand the material as well. Overall, if you feel like you are completely lost and don’t know which direction to go when deciding on your major(s), I highly recommend that you seek out the resources available to you. It’s also a great idea to explore on your own skills, interests, and truly get to know yourself better. Lastly, remember that if something doesn’t work out, it could just mean there is something else out there, that you are much better at.

Of Possible Interest:
MIS at UMD
What UMD grads in MIS are doing
Career planning for Business majors
Choosing a Major – all our blog posts on the topic
Turn Your Major Into a Career – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Kimberly’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Luca Bravo

Updated: July 2020

Navigating Human Resources: Part 2

By: Tori (an HR major!)

“Human Resources isn’t a thing we do. It’s the thing that runs our business.”

If you read my previous blog post, you are well aware that human resources is what brings business and people together. But how do you know if this is a good career for you?

Back in the day (just a mere two years ago), I came into the Career & Internship Services office to take the Strong Interest Inventory assessment, which helps determine what occupations may be best for you based off of your interests. Human Resource Management (HRM) was in my top ten and it was during this time I began taking the possibility of majoring in Human Resource Management seriously. Fast forward to a few months ago, when I took the CliftonStrengths for Students assessment to figure out what qualities I naturally excel in and can use to market myself. This is when I began seeing HRM in who I was and who I wanted to be.

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Below are my top 5 strengths and how they relate to Human Resources:

My top strength is woo. This comes from my love of meeting new people and winning them over. I enjoy breaking the ice and making a connection with other people. While this has always been something that came naturally to me, I didn’t realize how much woo plays into the role of recruiter. One of my career goals after graduation is to become a company recruiter through which I can connect with college students, win them over for my company, and help them reach their goals.

My second strength is positivity. Those with positivity tend to have an enthusiasm that is contagious; they are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do. My other area of interest in HR is training and development. If I want to get people on board with spending days, weeks, or months learning new skills and making new goals, I need to have a positive attitude and make it a fun experience for everyone.

My third strength is empathy, meaning I can sense the feelings of other people by imagining myself in their situation. Empathy is an important strength to have if you are going to be working with a diverse group of people. Through empathy, I can connect, relate, and understand others’ situations as their manager. Being able to put myself in the starting place of another person and work with them toward the next step is a valuable tool to have.

My fourth strength is includer. Someone who is an includer shows awareness of those who may feel left out and makes an effort to include them and accept them. Part of human resources is solidifying culture within a company. What do employees want? What makes them feel valued? How can we accomplish our goals and still provide a friendly, encouraging work environment? My strength of includer helps me value and view company culture on a different level than most and provides opportunities for me as a human resource manager.

My fifth strength is developer. As a developer, I recognize and cultivate the potential in others, and as a manager, I lead and navigate a group of people. Putting others in positions that empower them and make the business run smoothly is part of not only a manager’s job but also human resources. This strength helps me lead others into roles and opportunities they desire.

Come into the office and learn your strengths! Like me, they may help you visualize your future career and find what areas you can excel in!

Of Possible Interest:
Human Resources Management at UMD
What UMD grads in HRM are doing
Career Planning for Business Majors
Choosing a Major; CliftonStrengths for Students – all our blog posts on these topics
Turn Your Major Into a Career – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Tori’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | Adam Przewoski

Updated: July 2020

STEM – Majors for Everyone

By: Kirsi (STEM student majoring in Computer Science & Electrical Engineering)

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Photo source: Unsplash | Johan Mouchet

Do you….
a) enjoy teleworking in your pajamas?
b) like to work after hours, letting a project eat your life?
c) strive for a work-life balance lifestyle?
d) just want a vanilla 40-hour work week?

If you answered any yes to any of the above, the world of Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) careers are for you! STEM is uniquely comprised of careers for every person with every desired lifestyle. If you are still pondering degree options or have been destined to go STEM since your toddler days of LEGO construction I will expand on the often overlooked advantages of getting a STEM major. Working environments, networking communities, and possible projects of STEM majors will be explored.

google_garage_via_business_insider

Google Garage workspace, picture by Business Insider

Working Environments
Stereotypes of interns coding in bean bag chair, taking breaks in sleep pods, and grabbing a complementary snack at a company cafe are real incentives that industry offers STEM interns and professionals. Mainstreamed by “The Internship” movie, Google has a famously appealing workplace. One of the Google locations has a “Google Garage” where all the equipment is on wheels making collaboration, hacking, and brainstorming easier.  “I’ve always described Google as a kind of mix between kindergarten and a classy law firm,” describes Alex Cuthbert of Google while reflecting on workspace design. Another company with a surprisingly innovate workspace is Capital OneIntern alum from Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur shared, “The work culture in Bangalore office is very open. People decide their own work hours in accordance with their teams. There is also the option of working ­from­ home.” If an open floor plan hinders productivity and frightens your inner introvert, traditional cubical workspaces do exist and often exist as alternatives in the Googles of the world. NASA has adopted start up like collaboration spaces with walls of whiteboards, media stations to share presentations and various comfy chairs. When you choose a career in STEM there are working environments for those who like to work in a team, solo, in a start-up studio setting or telework in a hermit’s shed in the forest. You can discover your ideal work environment by taking our career assessments.

ieee_penn_state_outreach

IEEE students from Penn State teach students about robotic function,
picture by Penn State University

STEM Communities
The hashtags are everywhere: #CSforAll, #WomenIn(insert STEM discipline here), #(insert ethnicity/identity here)InSTEM, #ProfessionalEngineers, #IEEE, and #ILookLikeAnEngineer. The growing diversity in STEM has created support groups for everyone to network. Often these communities are online groups or host weekly/ monthly in-person meetings featuring presentations from group members about their work in STEM, talks from tenured professionals in industry, tours of various parts of the workplace or other STEM companies. A Professional Engineers group at NASA Johnson hosted a suite of presentations by employees about their favorite project. A fellow NASA Co-Op talked about her work with Curiosity Rover’s martian surface sampling drill arm. Having a community, a network, or mentor can assist in navigating the workplace, be a source of new ideas and connect with those necessary to complete multidisciplinary projects. There are a number of STEM communities at UMD too such as; Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), Biology Club, Institute for Electric and Electrical Engineers (IEEE), Tau Beta Pi (an engineering honor society), Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and dozens more found on UMD’s Bulldog Link. Some of these communities continue past college as company, city, state-wide and national chapters!

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Interns build Mars terrain navigating robots, picture by NASA Ames

Meaningful Projects
What you work on in STEM has impact on society and often humanity’s advancement, leaving a sense of fulfillment every day after work. In private industry, you compete against other companies to create what society wants or needs most efficiently. Similarly, in government and non-profit sectors, you do you best to research and innovate for all humankind with the future of humanity in mind. Even as an early career STEM professional, including intern or co-op, you will likely be contributing to meaningful work. Microsoft Intern Arush Shankar described his contribution, “Work quickly became challenging yet rewarding. I was making a lot of design decisions on my own as my team began to trust me with more work… I was treated more as just another full-time employee on the team. Squashing bugs, checking in new code, and iterating.” Maria Carrasquilla, NASA Johnson Space Center Intern and engineering undergraduate was tasked with modeling effects of Micrometeoroids on space habitats and crafts. Her mentor, Dr. Eric Christiansen, expanded on the importance of the task, “We really appreciate how Maria quickly learned to run hydro-code simulations and provide meaningful results on the effects of non-spherical hyper-velocity impacts on spacecraft shields.” Dr. Eric Christiansen is the NASA lead of the Hyper-velocity Impact Technology group. The higher demand for STEM professionals, the higher the likelihood an early career professional will be trusted with game-changing tasks.

Maybe you are filled with doubt which is keeping you from pursuing a STEM career; “I’m not a math person,” “I don’t want to burn out” and “Those guys aren’t going to hire me.” Again, STEM is uniquely comprised of careers for every person with every desired lifestyle. There are flexible working environments, caring STEM communities and a future of meaningful projects that will propel you through the challenges. Give STEM a chance, regret often comes from a chance you didn’t take.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Kirsi’s other posts

Updated: July 2020

What Can I Do With My Minor?

By: Logan

Being a psychology major and sociology minor I hear the same question quite often. What are you going to do with that degree? This question always makes me think and I don’t always have a specific answer to give people. I know psychology has many applicable uses within business and recruiting, but where does sociology come in? I believe sociology gives me a better idea of how societies operate and function and I find this very interesting and helpful.

So how can knowledge of sociology help a person in the working world? I think the experience I have gained can be applicable in many areas. Many sociology courses have a focus on how certain groups are disadvantaged or stratified and this is a very important issue in our day and age. I have used this knowledge to help me in certain activities and organizations I am involved in. Here at UMD, I am a student representative for the Student Life Change Team. SLCT focuses on creating an inviting and comfortable environment for students of all demographics and backgrounds. I am on a committee within SLCT which focuses on recruiting efforts and discrimination. Specifically, we look at how different departments within Student Life recruit student employees, create a comfortable and inviting environment, and how applications or interview questions could be discriminatory. My background in sociology helps me better understand how certain groups are disadvantaged in the job application process and we aim to make this process and environment comfortable and inviting to everyone.

This is one way sociology can help me in the future but there are definitely many other options. There are dozens of websites that give examples of careers for people who have a background in sociology. These websites can give you an idea of what types of jobs they are going into, the experience level needed, and more. One resource I find very helpful is What Can I do with This Major? A very direct title and it has a lot of great information for almost every major someone could have. This website lets you choose from a large list of majors, and from here you are given a detailed list of different careers people have gone into using this major. It also gives information on how much education or experience is needed for different positions. One thing to keep in mind is that even though this resource highlights “majors,” the information applies to minors as well.

Another great resource Career and Internship Services offers is the annual Graduate Follow-up Report. This is a perfect resource for anyone curious about what people have done with the different majors, after UMD. The report includes information such as percentages on how many graduates in each major are employed or continuing education, if they think their jobs are relevant to their majors, and average annual salaries. This resource is great because rather than just listing off a bunch of potential careers, you can actually see exactly where graduates from UMD are working and what they are doing. The report even has a list of the names of the companies the graduates are working for and position titles. This resource is helpful for all students who are curious about what people from UMD have done with certain majors. Again, even though this information is about different “majors,” it applies to minors too.

Overall, in a field such as sociology, there are a lot of options. I have provided a few resources in this post to help you get a good idea of what can do with a major or minor.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Logan’s other posts

Navigating Human Resources: Part 1

By: Tori

I came to college undecided. Not just on what I wanted to study, but on if this was the best school for me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Duluth. It was by far my favorite school, but I felt so much pressure to get everything right the first time; to meet all of my expectations. Soon I learned that when it comes to expectations, they sometimes are set too high. And when something doesn’t go how you expected it to, you get thrown for a loop.

I didn’t expect to be a Human Resource Management major. Honestly, it was not appealing to me at all. I was drawn to business, interpersonal relationships, and helping others, but I couldn’t figure out where all of this fit together. And then BAM! one day someone (actually it was my Strong Interest Inventory assessment) said, “What about Human Resources?” and I said, “What about it?”. So I learned more.

Human Resources is the “umbrella” of all businesses. It is where the development and managing of an organization and its people happens. Some would say that without Human Resources there would be no business. There are 5 overarching sectors to this “umbrella” that stretch across all aspects of an organization.

Image: looking down into a lobby area where people are sitting at tables or walking
Text: navigating human resources: recruiting & staffing, compensation & benefits, employee & labor relations, safety & health, training & development

Recruiting and Staffing
People are a necessity to an organization’s success; without them, organizations wouldn’t exist. But how do you figure out who you want to work in your organization? This is where Recruiting and Staffing come into play. Recruiters look for and “recruit” qualified employees to work for their company and staffing makes sure we have employees whose skills match with open positions. Interviews, phone calls, brochures, questions, job descriptions, and first impressions all happen in this sector of HR.

Compensation and Benefits
No one works for free; aka there is no such thing as a free lunch. If we want people to perform services and do their job, we need to reward them. Compensation and Benefits is the sector of HR that motivates employees. Compensation looks at pay structures, which determine how much money you want to pay your employees for their employment and tasks accomplished. Benefits are the alternative, non-financial parts of a business offered to employees, this includes stock, insurance, paid vacation, etc.

Employee and Labor Relations
Recognizing state and federal laws and abiding by them is the purpose of Employee and Labor Relations. Understanding the government, how it works, and how to maintain positive relationships with your employees are all important tasks for this position. Remaining discreet and ethical is vital in this area of HR.

Safety and Health
Safety and Health HR employees strive to minimize any legal action that might be taken against the company by implementing safety procedures and health guidelines. Their main goals are to provide for physical and mental well-being and prevent work-related accidents.

Training and Development
Training and Development is the first step to helping employees feel at home. So much so, training and development is usually part of the on-boarding process. This includes making connections, navigating new positions, and learning the company culture. Diversity inclusion, performance management, and team building all happen in this sector of HR. Keeping employees up-to-date will allow them to continue to be an innovative part of the company.

If after reading this post you are interested in learning more, check out the Human Resources Management major at UMD and talk to your advisor or the department head. Or come into our office and meet with a career counselor. They are more than happy to help you navigate Human Resources and all the nitty gritty details.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Tori’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Daria Shevtsova

Updated: July 2020

What Can You do with an Electrical Engineering Major?

By: Kirsi (who double majors in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science)

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I regret waiting to take Introduction to Electrical Engineering (EE), a freshman seminar class, until my fourth year of college. After participation in a high school robotics team and EE related internships, I figured I knew all the trajectories an EE major could take post college… WRONG. During this semester I have heard from local power systems engineers, microchip-memory gurus, and professors at our own University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) conducting cutting edge research. This year US News and World Report listed Electrical Engineering as the 8th most needed degree in industry in their “Top College Majors for Finding Full-Time Work” article and 6th highest mid-career salaries in their “Top 10 College Majors That Earn the Highest Salaries.” Of course, success in an EE major requires more than the desire to get hired and paid well, it requires a passion for designing and problem-solving. I will share what UMD alum are doing with their EE degrees, what EE majors across the US are doing with their degrees, and future applications of electrical engineering.

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Careers of UMD EE Alumni
Electrical & Computer Engineering was offered as a joint major at UMD until 2012 when the degree became solely Electrical Engineering. UMD’s Career and Internship Services conducts a comprehensive Graduate Follow-up Report collecting data on the career choices of UMD Alumni. Most recently they have published a 2017-2018 EE report on the employment and continuing education of EE alumni, six months to one year after graduation. 97% of EE graduates from 2014-15 are employed (this is with a 90% response rate for our survey). Of those employed, 100% have indicated they are in a position related or somewhat related to their major. Some occupations held by these graduates include Project Engineer, Automation Engineer, Power Systems Engineer, Control Engineer, and Electrical Engineer.

Looking closer into UMD Alumni statistics, LinkedIn offers of a view of where EE graduates work in industry since the beginning of the EE program (even when it was offered as a joint major). If you log into your LinkedIn account you can see the analysis for yourself. Top five employers for UMD EE Alumni in order include UMD, Open Systems International, Honeywell, Medtronic, and Minnesota Power. These professionals perform engineering, operations, information technology, sales, and education related work.

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On the shores of Lake Superior, UMD is involved in a number of cutting edge EE research opportunities and projects. Colonoscopies are becoming more effective thanks to the work of Professor Jing Bai and her nanotechnology development. Bai is working on the design and fabrication of a new type of tabular-shaped sensor array for contact pressure measurement for colonoscopies. This sensor looks like a nimble rubber snake intricately covered in pressure sensors. This technology has the potential to effectively detect ulcers and other abrasions in the colon a camera might miss. Rural America is harnessing nature to provide electric power in remote locations thanks to Professor Taek Kwon and Research Associate Ryan Weidemann. They have researched the use of hybrid solar and wind renewable power generators for rural Minnesota transportation applications. Results show that combining solar and wind resources are a reliable way provide power in a variety of weather and seasons.While driving down a country highway in Southern Minnesota you may find a dynamic traffic message board powered by a wind turbine cross solar panel power generator (see photo above). Professors who conduct this research hire UROP undergrad and graduate students to assist and if you are lucky they may teach one or two of your courses!

EE Careers of EE Majors Across the US
Looking back at LinkedIn’s search tools you can search for all positions open with the keyword “Electrical Engineer.” There are currently over 14,000 electrical engineering positions posted on LinkedIn open in the US. Innovations in electrical engineering that are making the most noise highlighted in MIT Technology Review include renewable energy, electric cars, virtual reality, and driver-less vehicles.

mbsu_edited_nasa

Power distribution at NASA Glenn Research Center Internship

Future of EE Careers
When I think of electrical engineering I think of big power and little power. Electrical Engineers have the power (haha get it) to distribute 410,885,000 megawatt-hours to the US (based US Energy Information Administration) in a month or to design a nano-scale device that squeezes mere electrons through at a time. In both extremes of the electrical engineering spectrum, innovation is happening. The summer before my first year of college I had the awesome opportunity to work with NASA Glenn Research Center engineers on a power system for a deep space habitat. The electrical design ensured solar panels and batteries took turns providing power to the habitat depending on exposure to the sun. Swap-able modules distribute the power and provide an easy way for astronauts to monitor and, if needed, troubleshoot the system. It turns out this technology being developed at NASA has the potential for renewable energy and commercial applications. In electrical engineering, discoveries are often applied in surprising ways. Give electrical engineering a try, you may effect the future with what you design as an electrical engineer!

Of Possible Interest:
Career Planning in Science
Electrical Engineering at UMD
What UMD grads in Electrical Engineering are doing
Choosing a Major – all our blog posts on the topic
Turn Your Major Into a Career – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Kirsi’s other posts

Photo Sources
1: Anna Jimenez Calaf via Unsplash
2: Taek Kwon and Ryan Weidemann
3: Kirsi

Updated: July 2020

Why Health Care Management was Right for Me

By: Cassie

I recently wrote a post explaining the careers that fall into health care management. There are so many different sectors and areas you can go into. I realized after I wrote the blog post that I didn’t explain why health care management was the right fit for me. Maybe it will inspire you to consider it as a path for yourself.

I originally was dead set on being a nursing major. I wanted to work in a clinical setting and I wanted to be able to help people. Then I took high school physics and realized if that was that hard, there was no way I was going to make it through the nursing classes. At this point I hadn’t picked a school and I was searching through programs when I found health care management. I did some research into what it was and decided, “well I can always change my mind!” Truthfully, I didn’t have any knowledge of what the major entailed until I got into my sophomore year at UMD and made a friend who was an upperclassmen in the health care management major. She told me about all the classes and what they were learning and I thought hey maybe this really will work out! I am now a junior, I absolutely love all my health care management classes and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. There are a large number of reasons this major is right for me.

Image: person's hands typing on laptop keyboard with stethoscope laying on wood desk
Text: reasons to pursue a health care management major

There’s Variety
Depending on what job you get, you may not do the same thing every day which is a huge bonus for me. The fact that there are also so many different directions within health care management is a huge contributing factor for me. I’m someone who likes options and who doesn’t like doing the same thing all the time. Health care management is great for that type of work environment.

You’re Constantly with People
This is a very people oriented field. Not only will you have coworkers, but you also have to work across different departments, with other managers, patients, and more. I am someone who is extremely extroverted, so this part of the job is very appealing to me.

It is a Part of Health Care
These jobs are very essential to the health care field. You get to help patients without having to deal with the “blood and guts” aspect of health care. You are always working towards people’s lives better, even if it is behind the scenes.

These are just a few of the reasons I chose health care management. I hope if you have even let the thought of a career in health care management cross your mind you consider these reasons for pursuing the major and career path.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Cassie’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | National Cancer Institute

Updated: July 2020

So You’re Thinking About Health Care Management

By: Cassie (an actual Health Care Management major!)

There is a common misconception that working in a hospital means that you have to be a doctor or a nurse. Well, I am here to tell you that that is WRONG. There are so many more opportunities in the hospital setting than what you see on the surface.

Health Care Management is the section of the hospital that works behind the scenes. They are the people who run the ship, so to speak, and they make sure everything is running smoothly and swiftly. The jobs they do include things such as scheduling, clinic management, financing, data analysis, quality management, and so much more. If you don’t know what some of those jobs entail, don’t worry, I’ll give you some examples.

Image: stethoscope laying on wood desk
Text: health care management careers

Clinic Managers
These are the people who organize specific clinics in the hospital. By this I mean the sections of the hospital like pediatrics or orthopedics. As a clinic manager you wear a lot of hats. You are there to keep everyone happy. You work with nurses, physicians, and patients to make sure schedules are working and to make sure everyone is having the best possible experience. Clinic managers also have to attend meetings to make sure they are meeting hospital standards. A large chunk of this job involves adapting, being able to think on your feet and be flexible, so if you are looking for a job that isn’t the same every day this is something you should really look into.

Financing
Health care is expensive, insurance is very confusing, and it can be very hard for patients to figure out what they need to pay and why. Working in this area of the hospital means that you help patients work through how they are going to pay their fees and you work through how insurance can benefit them. If you are interested in math or money this job would be good for you. In this role you get to work with people and you get to help them and if those are areas that interest you, this is something worth looking into.

EHR’s and Coding
EHR stands for Electronic Health Records which in short terms are the health records that are attached to each person’s health history. By working in EHR’s you are focused on things like technology advancement, data collection, and troubleshooting. You can also go into coding which is the computer language EHR’s are written in. This is less people focused and more focused on progressing health care management into the future.

Community Outreach
Being a health care management major means you can also go into areas of public health. You are focused on the overall wellness of communities and focus on getting healthy habits out into the community. This would be things like focusing on nutrition, physical activity, water quality, and laws & acts to enhance the influence of health care. This area of health care really focuses on working in a team to decide how to benefit the lives of the community that you serve.

I know I’ve thrown a lot of information at you, and I want to emphasize just a few of the jobs and job areas that a health care management major can offer. The nice thing about a health care management degree is that you have SO many options of things to do. I hope you really consider this major because it is a field that is always growing and a field that allows you to help people and help the health care field.

Of Possible Interest:
What are UMD Health Care Management grads doing?
Health Care Management at UMD
• Explore Health Careers: Health Administration/Management
Career Planning for Business Majors
Choosing a Major – all of our blog posts about the topic
Turn Your Major Into a Career – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Cassie’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Bill Oxford

Updated: July 2020