Career Advice from Tabletop Gaming

By: Kirsi

Honestly, each one of these tabletop games warrants their own “career advice from” post. Here are some career advice highlights from the tabletop genre. Caution, possible whiplash causing transitions ahead …

Stranger Things - Dungeons & Dragons

Dungeons & Dragons on Stranger Things

Dungeons and Dragons (D&D): Sometimes life is a dice roll.

Don’t get too attached to your D&D character, they may be annihilated within hours into the game depending on your dungeon master. I spent hours on my first character sheet coming up with a great back story and carefully assigning ability values. Despite time and effort, my character was mortally wounded and I had to quickly roll a new character for the remainder of the quest. Likewise in the real world, ample time and effort may be invested into planning a particular career path which ultimately might become unfeasible. Factors out of your control like the job market, loss of interest, or simply life can set you back semesters or even years of career development. Re-roll your career path and stay flexible. Use that same in-game imagination to find a career that best fits your abilities. You might even find a chat with a Career Counselor more fruitful than probing an NPC for information with failed persuasion rolls.

Big Bang Theory - Settlers of Catan

Settlers of Catan on Big Bang Theory

Settlers of Catan: Take advantage of your resources.

In my opinion, Catan is a close second to Mario Kart for games that wound friendships: “Oh you want this wheat?…TOO BAD”. If you are familiar with your opponents you know what their 10 point win case strategy is; building roads, constructing houses or collecting development cards. This also means you know which resources you can starve your opponents from. In an ideal and moral world, your career building resources are not being stolen from you. However, you might as well discard your cash if you do not take advantage of UMD’s on-campus resources! Part of your tuition funds resources like those provided at Career Internship ServicesChoose a major, hunt for an internship, prep for a career fair, explore graduate schools and look for a full-time job. Our career resources may not be not as straight forward as wheat, lumber, brick, ore, and sheep.

Pro Poker Player Annie Duke

Pro Poker Player Annie Duke

Poker: “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, Know when to fold ’em”

Personally, I do not play poker but after taking Introduction to Probability and Statistics I respect the mathematical and emotional intelligence required to become a pro-player. My favorite poker anecdote is when professional poker player Annie Duke won the 2004 World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions. Duke struggled during the World Series playing behind all day and in one case taking far too much time to make a decision on live television. I equate applying for internships, receiving offers and declining offers to playing poker with a little more control. Throughout college, I have navigated a spectrum of internship challenges. Sometimes there is a lack of internship offers. Sometimes there are too many offers – which enables the ability to negotiate an hourly pay and benefits increase. Sometimes there is a need to respectfully decline offers. Throughout this journey I have asked for the guidance of career counselors, They can read drafts of emails, brainstorm respectful rejection letters, and help keep doors open for future opportunities.

Magic the Gathering

Magic The Gathering

Magic The Gathering: Timing is everything.

A novice painter can not churn out a Van Gogh even with the most expensive paints. Similarly, a novice Magic player can not win against an experienced player with the same deck that won Magic Pro Tour. Activating triggered abilities, understanding the stack, and playing cards at the perfect game phase sets apart an intermediate and an expert player. Think about navigating a job fair or networking the same way you judge using an instant spell. Use your mana wisely…

  • Avoid engaging in conversation with the CEO of your favorite company when your mouth is full of hors d’oeuvres.
  • Do not visit your top pick company at the job fair first, settle into the environment and gain confidence.
  • Wait until the recruiter’s table is less crowded to chat and present your resume.

Career and Internship Services hosts workshops during the school year about how to be successful at a job fair. Job fairs begin as early as September!

Warhammer 40k

Warhammer 40k

Warhammer 40k: Change with the rule changes.

40k got a huge overhaul with new 8th edition rules replacing the 2014 7th edition. Unlike previous rule updates, the game was redesigned to make it easier for new players (myself included) while letting current players use miniatures from the 90s. Most 40k community members are keeping fluid during rule changes in hopes the playerbase will grow. Flexibility is a highly valuable trait of any employee, leader or entrepreneur. Staying flexible can also mean you keep career opportunities open when attending UMD. Consider applying for a work study positionland an internship, or conduct an informational interview with a professional in an industry you are interested in. Sometimes a one track mind on what your future should look like can eliminate perfectly good career options with equal or greater success. Keep your options and dice on the table.

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Photos by (in order of appearance)…
Stranger Things, Netflix; The Big Bang TheoryCBS; Annie Duke, from her official Facebook page; boogie2988, YouTuber; Kirsi, Warhammer at a local shop

Game of Thrones Characters Choose Careers

By: Kirsi (a major Game of Thrones fan)

If a Game of Thrones character walked into Career and Internship Services… What kinds of questions would they ask? Would they come in with a plan of action? Or be completely bamboozled?

Tyrion Lannister Game of Thrones

Tyrion Lannister
Despite confidence he could land an internship by sweet talking recruiters without even practicing an elevator speech, Tyrion decided to make use of all available resources and seek professional career advice. Tyrion strutted into SCC 22 with a battle plan – draft of a resume, draft of a cover letter and a couple of positions he wanted to apply for. Among the desired positions included a Pathways Internship with the Department of Defense, a summer internship with the NSA (National Security Agency) and a semester long opportunity at the White House. Tyrion picked a Peer Educator’s brain, finding ways to reword his accomplishments and best communicate his qualifications.

Daenerys Targaryen Game of Thrones

Daenerys Targaryen
Slamming her hands on our welcome desk Daenerys demanded an internship. Surprised that the … enthusiasm… was coming from a student and not a parent, a Peer Educator explained that students have to pick out desired opportunities and the office helps with the application process. Daenerys understood that landing an internship would set her on the path to victory to rule the Seven Kingdoms, whatever that means, but did not know what industry she would fit best in. A Peer Educator set her up with career assessments; StrengthsQuest, Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), and the Strong Interest Inventory. After discussing results with a Career Counselor, Daenerys found her top strength is “Activator”, she identifies as an INFP (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Perceiving) through the MBTI, and she would be good at circuit speaking and political campaign interning.

John Snow Game of Thrones

John Snow
John is the comeback kid of our office. He has been rejected from career opportunities after online applications, interviews, and cold calling but does not lose hope. John Snow first came into the SCC 22 knowing nothing except that he wanted to work in cooler climates, like Antarctica or Alaska. After scheduling an appointment and meeting with a career counselor, John found a great research opportunity studying ice cores with the United States Antarctica Program, job openings for students in Alaska, and plans to talk to UMD’s Study Abroad Office about a semester in Europe.

Cersei Lannister Game of Thrones

Cersei Lannister
Sitting on a throne of academic awards, A+ essays and a senior design project Cersei asks “Now what?”. She, unfortunately, waited until her senior year to visit Career and Internship Services. Although it is ideal to stop in SCC 22 as early as freshman year it is not too late for Cersei to take complete control of her future! Fortunately during her years at UMD Cersei was involved in student organizations such as Greek life, and Industrial/Organizational Psychology Club, Political Science Association, Socratic Society and rugby to enhance her resume. A Peer Educator showed Cersei how to use GoldPASS, a portal of job postings especially catered for University of Minnesota schools students. After her resume was approved Cersei found dozens of jobs she was qualified for.

Samwell Tarly Game of Thrones

Samwell Tarly
Shy yet armed with tons of knowledge Sam sought interviewing help in preparation for the Fall E-Fest Job and Internship Fair. Sam wants to intern at an engineering firm next summer, familiarize himself with popular interview questions and curb his social awkwardness. A Peer Educator shared helpful interview tips with Sam and showed him how to use InterviewStream, an online interview practice tool. Sam quickly became conscious about the number of “um”s he uses.

Photos by HBO, Paul Schiraldi and Sloan Helen from “Game of Thrones”

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Multiple Internship Advantage

By: Kirsi

Astronaut_User_Test

Astronaut user testing in ISS Mock-Ups, by Kirsi.

Besides the obvious increased likelihood full-time employment and extra spending money, there are several advantages for interning more than once.

Where Do I Like To Work?
If you have determined you like the organization you have interned with before, you can participate in additional internships there and hone in on what division you enjoy working with the most. There could be many departments your education qualifies you to work with. For example, at my Rockwell Automation internship, my technical education qualified me to work with the robotic, firmware testing, or software development. You may find you enjoy the work you do at each of those departments equally but find the department’s work values, team synergy, and personal development opportunities are very different. It was a lesson learned about who you work with in your first internship at a department may be different people by the time of your second internship at the same department. Team dynamics can change. (I still had a good experience, fortunately.) It is important to base your opinion about an experience on short and long-term characteristics of the workplace. At my four (going on five) NASA internshipCo-Op experiences, the departments I have worked with have been so different and would lead to different career trajectories. For example, I have worked in groups that work with human factors engineering, propulsion engineering, International Space Station (ISS) network support, and ISS stowage operations. Jumping around different departments gives you the opportunity to identify the trajectories full-time employees took to get where they are, especially if you find a higher level position you admire. Even if you don’t end up working at this organization full-time there are likely a similar hierarchy of departments at other organizations within your discipline.

Aurora_ Stars_From_Space_Station_Window

View of aurora and stars from ISS, by NASA.

How Much Can I Contribute?
If you intern more than once you can skip the mechanics of new intern orientation, getting used to the workplace and dive right into your project. As a returning intern, your mentors may trust you with a more complex project or let you continue on a project you already started. In Fall 2015, I developed astronaut training for a device that was sent to the ISS. Astronauts used this training and learned how to use the device during their mission. This semester, Spring 2017, I am working with a sister department developing a new app for the device which could make stowage operations easier for the astronauts. My previous knowledge working with the device and familiarity working with the team gives me an advantage to complete meaningful work. Even if you return to the same organization, but work with a different department, you are already familiar with the organization’s goals and mission statement.

Multiple Internship

Source: Unsplash | Tim Gouw

What is this Organization’s Culture?
Likely you were preoccupied with your getting your project done at your first internship opportunity to absorb the organization’s work culture. Larger organizations often have pockets of personal development groups. Repeating internships at an organization can give you a feel of annual events the organization hosts to boost moral, re-familiarize employees with the organization’s mission, or just have fun. At NASA Johnson there is an imperative Health and Safety Day that employees prep months for, contribute to by volunteering and enjoy. The Health and Safety day provides free flu shots, hosts a blood pressure station, shares changes in space center safety improvements, and encourages personal health improvement. Additionally, NASA hosts pre-screenings of space movies, organizes STEM volunteer opportunities and award ceremonies following successfully competed ISS missions. If you participate in multiple internships at varying organizations you can get a flavor for each company’s culture.

Consider starting your internship/ Co-Op hunt before your junior and senior year of college so you can participate in more than one!

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STEM – Majors for Everyone

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

stem-majors-for-everyone

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!

nasa_ames_stem_synthesis_c_c_intern

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 mankind 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: 

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What Can You do with an Electrical Engineering Major?

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

ee_careers 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 that 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 University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) alumni are doing with their EE degrees, what EE majors across the US are doing with their degrees and future applications of electrical engineering.

what-to-do-with-ee

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 2014-2015 EE report on the employment and continuing education of EE alumni, six months to one year after graduation. 96% of EE graduates from 2014-15 are employed (this is with a 95% response rate for our graduate follow-up survey). Of the 96% employed, 95% have indicated they are in a position related or somewhat related to their major. Some occupations held by these graduates include Project Engineer, mobile Applications Developer, Firmware Engineer, Design Automation Engineer, and Electronic Design 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 Minnesota Power, Open Systems International, Intel Corporation, LHB, and Seagate Technology. These professionals perform engineering, operations, information technology, sales, and education related work.

hybrid_sign_install

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 17,000 electrical engineering positions posted on LinkedIn open in the US. The highest number of positions open are at Amazon (410) and Northrop Grumman Corporation (385). The most popular locations for these positions include San Francisco Bay Area, Greater Detroit, Washington DC and New York. Top positions being offered include Software Systems Engineer, Embedded Systems Engineer, Hardware Engineer, and Quality Assurance Engineer. 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. 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!

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

Control Your Interview

By: Kirsi

Nauseation of when your home team squanders a playoff game is equivalent to the sick to your stomach feeling of bombing an interview. As a freshman electrical engineer, I failed a technical interview for a computer aided design company. They challenged me to write a recursive programming method, describe how the inside of a motor works, and explain the forces and stress points on a stop light pole in ten minutes. Unsalvageable as your interview may seem, there is hope to take control of your interview! An interview gone wrong can be saved by expanding on questions you are asked, transforming negative responses into positive ones, and amending a closing statement.

control-interview

Expand on Questions
Although human resources has the almighty power to hire and fire, they can not read your mind. When you answer interview questions keep in mind that your interviewers did not share your experience with you. Illustrate your experience with goals, problem solving, results and quantities. Instead of saying “I practiced leadership when I was a manager at Taco Bell” say; “My leadership skills were put to use when I was a manager at Taco Bell leading a team of 10 individuals per shift. I vetted five perspective workers per month, learned each position, and ensured each employee completed their training.” Do not be afraid to expand on your experience. You are not bragging! You are clarifying and explaining your experiences. Sometimes interviewers are specifically instructed NOT to ask the interviewee to elaborate. The interviewer wants to see how you communicate your qualifications.

Thinking on Your Feet
Interviewers will purposefully throw curve-ball questions that catch you off guard. Not just to watch you squirm –  to see how handle the unexpected. When asked “What is your greatest weakness?” Do not leave your answer at “I have problems waking up in the morning.” Explain your improvements and focus on the positives. “I am working on getting to my 8:00am class by setting earlier alarms, keeping a regular sleeping schedule and cooking a great breakfast. I have been improving and getting to school early to get a good seat.” Typical curve-ball questions include…

  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • What is the hardest decision you have ever made?
  • What was your greatest failure?
  • Why should I hire you?

unsplash_tim_gouw

Powerful Closing Statement
At the end of your interview, especially if you feel the interview did not go well, end with a closing statement summarizing qualifications. Typically an interview will conclude with “Do you have any questions?” You can then appropriately add, “I don’t have any questions at this moment. However, I would like to end with why I am the most qualified candidate for this position…(key narratives that make you most qualified).” I have actually used this strategy in interviews gone wrong and have gotten job offers as a result. Again, interviewers may be specifically instructed NOT to ask more questions than the handful supplied so each candidate gets the same chance. Interviewers may not ask questions that naturally invoke the best answer from you. You can still take control of the interview by amending a powerful closing statement that best shares your strengths.

Other Preparation Tools
Some interviews will focus solely on “soft skills” –  how you interact with coworkers. Interview Stream is a good resource for interviewing practice. You can listen to your answers, count your “umms,” and check for idiosyncrasies. Depending on how technical your major is you may be asked to perform a technical interview as I described in the introduction. Ask recruiters, professors, acquaintances who work for that organization, tech club members, LinkedIn/ online communities, and friends about what you could expect from that organization’s technical interview. There are plethora of free technical interview practice sites.

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo Source: Unsplash

What’s a Co-Op & How Do I Get One?

By: Kirsi

Co-Op: Short for Cooperative Opportunity. An internship is a one semester arrangement to work with an organization. A Co-Op is a multi-semester arrangement to work at an organization often leading to full-time employment upon successful completion. Both opportunities allow students to complete meaningful work, learn more skills related to their major and help push the organization forward.

Venn Diagram of internship and co-op

Diagram of the similarities and differences of an internship and Co-Op.

What Is A Co-Op?

No matter if you get an internship or a Co-Op you will know that you are doing meaningful work that pushes the organization’s efforts forward while expanding your knowledge in your major. The biggest way a Co-Op, differs from an internship is the agreement you make with the organization to work several semesters and the huge commitment the organization is making for you. Co-Ops are available for a number of majors.

I Co-Op with NASA’s Johnson Space Center so I am a little biased when it comes to this Co-Op topic. At NASA Johnson, they expect students to complete three work tours which, at the minimum, include one long semester and two summers before your last year of college. You can stack on as many work tours as you and your organization are comfortable with – causing your four-year graduation plan to be extended. A Co-Op is typically an organization’s pipeline for hiring early career candidates. Your Co-Op experience is like a multi-semester interview where the organization gets to know you and you get to know the organization. Since you are expected to have more than one work tour your projects may be related, leading to a long-term project. Often, Co-Ops are treated like full-timers with health, life, travel, sick leave, annual leave and retirement benefits… well, your hourly pay will be lower than full-timers because you haven’t graduated yet.

screenshot of how a co-op looks on a transcript

Screen shot of a Co-Op experience on a UMD transcript.

I’m going to expand more on the “extending graduation” aspect because that sounds kinda spooky to us folks who are avoiding debt and eager to get out of school. Your engineering department (or whatever department) likely offers a credit for Co-Ops if you work during a fall or spring semester. This holds your place here at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), you can maintain full-time student status (12 credits) thus maintaining financial aid and letting you check that box on the FAFSA. It shows up on your transcript as one credit, like the image above, but shows up at 12 credits for all the Financial Aid Staff. Other colleges may handle your absence due to the Co-Op differently than UMD. Personally, I make money at NASA and spend it on UMD the next semester which prevents me from gaining debt. I flip flop between semesters at UMD and NASA. For example, I was in Texas Fall 2015, at UMD in Spring 2016, in Texas this Summer 2016, and now at UMD.

Kirsi at her co-op at NASA Johnson Space Center

Working on a fluid system for a Co-Op project at NASA Johnson.

How Do I Get One?

So a Co-Op gig sounds pretty sweet huh? Well, excellent ways to score a Co-Op include attending UMD-hosted job and internship fairs and other career fairs hosted by the University of Minnesota. Before the fair do your research on GoldPASS so you know who is going to be there and who to ask about Co-Op opportunities. Some companies only hire upperclassmen Co-Ops but I have seen exceptions in the past for folks with outstanding experience in high school or early college, so I think it is still worth asking and sharing your resume. When you talk with an employer offering Co-Ops at a job fair it would be wise to ask:

  • How does your Co-Op program differ from your internship program?
  • What is the typical journey of a Co-Op?
  • What projects to Co-Ops work on?
  • How can I apply for your Co-Op program, any tips?”

If you want to pursue a company not attending a U of MN system fair do research on LinkedIn, GoldPASS or that perspective company’s website. On the LinkedIn networking site if you simply search “Co-Op,” up will pop pages and pages of Co-Ops! Government Co-Ops have a very specific method of applying on USA Jobs and if you need help with that I have written previous blog posts specifically on that topic. If you want to pursue a company not attending a U of MN system fair and you want to connect with them in person tech conferences and hackathons. Your department may even fund you if you ask nicely.

Get out and get yourself a Co-Op!

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo & graphic by Kirsi.