ENGINEERINGCAREERLAUNCHER.comENGINEERINGCAREERLAUNCHER.com http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com STRAIGHT TALK, SOFT SKILLS AND SUPPORT FOR ASPIRING ENGINEERS Wed, 05 Jul 2017 01:51:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Huge ROI of Capturing Today’s Learning & Experiences For Future Use http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/roi-of-capturing-todays-learning/ http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/roi-of-capturing-todays-learning/#respond Wed, 16 Mar 2016 12:00:20 +0000 dcg0513 http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/?p=4418 Given my passion for engineering and other STEM careers, and for helping STEM students, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that last weekend was the first time I’ve ever been to a FIRST Robotics Competition. But hey, as the saying goes, “Better late than never”.

ROI of FIRST Robotics

I must tell you that I was blown away by what I saw and what I learned in terms of the opportunities for learning and growth that the different FIRST programs provide to kids.

Perhaps most exciting to me are the ways that the FIRST programs help young participants build a wide variety of soft skills and people skills. They aren’t allowed to just “nerd out” by building and playing with robots.

FIRST Programs Are Amazing

FIRST student teams get involved with community STEM outreach and with community service projects.

Internally within FIRST, as they go about their technical projects, the kids are expected to exhibit Gracious Professionalism® (“Respect for others, being a good sport, and sharing what you learn”) and Coopertition® (“Competing hard, but also helping the other teams”).

FIRST offers much, much more than these few benefits, but hopefully this gives you a good sense of how, and why, kids can experience phenomenal personal growth by participating.

The Idea That Offers Huge ROI

With FIRST and its benefits as the backdrop, what I want to share with you in the rest of this post is an idea that occurred to me while attending a meeting at the competition. It was for parents who wanted to know more about STEM opportunities in the Kansas City area.

Towards the close of the meeting, the presenter suggested that parents should be sure to look for colleges that would offer their kids “hands-on” opportunities, much like what FIRST gives to kids in all four of their programs.

Right then was when the idea popped into my head.

The idea is that as kids (especially teens in middle and high school) are moving through their lives, it would be incredibly helpful if their most significant learning experiences and personal successes were captured (and stored) for later reference.

Why Is This Idea Important?

If you’re wondering why this is important, it’s because students’ “stories” of learning, of failure, of success, and much more, will be needed when they are interviewing for internships and full-time jobs, especially while in college.

Their stories will be needed because most companies today use behavioral style interviewing, which means that to be a successful interviewee you MUST be able to provide real-life examples as a part of your answers.

STEM Student Career Archive Examples

Given this idea of building and maintaining what I’m calling a  “STEM Student Career Archive”, here are a few examples of what some archive items might look like for a high school student who’s in the FIRST Robotics Competition:

  • Team Photo – Group photo, along with a short description of what it was like to work on the team. Most fun? Biggest  challenge? Least fun? Best moment? Most important thing learned? Key skills learned?
  • Team Business Cards & “Who We Are” Flyers – It might be appropriate to show and talk about these marketing materials during a future interview.
  • Photos of Robot – These could be shared during an interview and used as a catalyst for a specific conversation about the student’s role in designing, building and operating the robot.
  • Community Outreach – Photos, descriptions and data related to the team’s community outreach activities to promote interest in STEM careers amongst young kids.
  • Community Service – Similar to the Outreach example above, but this bullet is focused on the service projects the team designed and delivered in their community.

Being Intentional Is Critical

I have no doubt that most parents and students are already filing away things like I’ve suggested here (both digital and/or physical versions), but I would bet that they’re aren’t doing it with the goal of supporting future interviews and career moves.

Being very intentional about building a STEM Student Career Archive that’s dedicated to career success is what makes the difference between “just collecting stuff” to bring back fun memories versus capturing and documenting valuable experiences that could serve as useful interview stories.

Don’t Be This GuyBearded man with bulging eyes

As a former engineering recruiter for John Deere, I must tell you that I always felt a bit sad for the students who failed to prepare properly for their interviews.

Often they would be left speechless because they couldn’t come up with a good story or example in the heat of the moment.

Fortunately, this can be easily avoided if a student has a Career Archive to draw from as they prepare for their interviews.

As this post’s title alludes, your Return On Investment (ROI) of building a robust Personal Career Archive can be HUGE!

Question: What does your Career Archive currently contain?  You can leave a comment below.  

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Conducting Informational Interviews – Chap.#5: Extending An Invitation http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/conducting-informational-interviews-extending-an-invitation/ http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/conducting-informational-interviews-extending-an-invitation/#respond Tue, 15 Mar 2016 12:00:37 +0000 dcg0513 http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/?p=4399 Dear Readers: In lieu of reading this post, you can view the embedded video (bottom of post).

Welcome to Chapter 5. Here we’re going to cover the second part of the REACH OUT step, Extending An Invitation.

InfoInterviews5

This is the point in the process where it’s time to reach out and invite one or more professionals to meet with you personally, or on the phone, for an interview-style conversation.

Inviting An Engineer for An Interview

For the sake of simplicity, I’ve chosen to explain the rest of the entire informational interviewing process as though you’re pursuing and interviewing just one engineer (a male).

I’m doing this for one reason, and one reason only. It will make the writing less clunky if I use pronouns for a single gender instead of trying to flip back and forth.

A Few Personal Opinions

Since I brought up gender, I want to share a few personal opinions on this topic.

First, the world of engineering needs more young people, both men and women, building careers in engineering (and in other STEM disciplines).

I’m adamant about the importance of attracting both genders, and supporting this need is one of my goals behind ENGINEERINGCAREERLAUNCHER.com.

Second, no matter what your gender is, I strongly recommend that you pursue interviews with both men and women. By doing this, you’ll open yourself up to hearing, and learning from, a more diverse set of perspectives.

I have no doubt that interacting with both genders will help you to build a stronger set of conversational skills. Plus, it’s more representative of how things are in a typical company, and out in the world in general.

Here’s my bottom line

I believe you’ll be doing yourself a significant disservice if you don’t make an effort to conduct informational interviews with both men and women.


 

Invitation via Email or the Phone?

Once you have his name (and correct spelling) and his contact information, it’s time to create and extend an invitation.

Personally, due to the busyness of today’s world, I prefer to use email to reach out in my first attempt to invite someone to meet with me.

An email let’s him consider and manage my request on his terms, instead of being caught off guard by an unscheduled phone call from a stranger. Of course, to do this you must have his email address.

Writing the Email

Your email invitation should be clear, concise and professional.

Keep in mind that your email invitation is essentially a sales letter, since you’re hoping to sell the engineer on the idea of meeting with you.

This means you must include a clear request, enough background information to prompt him to want to help you, and a call to action.

Sample Email Invitation

Here’s a sample script to use as a starting point for your own email invitation. Note: I’m using my own name to represent the engineer you are writing to.

To: dongallagher@email.com

Subject: High school student seeking information/input about engineering careers

Dear Mr. Gallagher,

My name is John Doe and I’m a senior at Olathe East High School where I’m enrolled in the pre-engineering and STEM curriculum.

To help me better understand career options in engineering, I’m currently reaching out to talk briefly with some experienced engineers.

Max Parks, a mutual friend, thought you would be a good person for me to visit with about engineering, and the technical work you do.

Would you be able to meet/talk with me for 30 minutes or so sometime during the next two to four weeks? Currently, I have good flexibility to meet during weekdays and early evenings.

Thank you for considering my request. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely, John Doe

Following my signature, I would also include my phone number and personal email address.

Key Points: Your Request, CTA, and Background Info

As you read through this the email, did you notice the request, my call to action (CTA), and the important background information I included?

Here are a few important points to keep in mind when writing and sending your invitations:

  • First, do some high level cursory research on the engineer and his employer after you have his name, employer’s name, job title, and contact info. Always make sure to capture the correct spelling of his name during your research.
  • As you craft the email, realize that the subject line is what will prompt him to open the email. Therefore, it needs to arouse some curiosity, and a desire, on his part to open and read it.
    • Keep in mind that your email is competing with tens, if not hundreds, of others in his Inbox. Getting him to open and read your email is the first hurdle on your road to getting an interview.
  • Brevity is important. Minimize the amount of text as best you can, while still including your important points.
  • Using plenty of white space will make the email more readable and will tend to draw the reader into your content.
  • Always demonstrate your willingness to be flexible regarding when to meet.
    • The professionals you’ll be contacting will surely be leading busy lives at work and at home. The more flexible you are, the more likely you’ll get a “yes” from them.

You may have noticed a few other specific things I did in the email to help ensure I would get a reply and an interview:

  • I identified myself in the Subject line as a high school student. This told him immediately that I’m not looking for a job.
    • This lowers the pressure on him and increases the likelihood he’ll agree to meet. He knows that all I want is information, and maybe some advice.
    • My request is an easy and comfortable one for him to fulfill if his schedule will allow it.
  • My request for help, which I put in the Subject line so it would be visible immediately, is an appeal to a typical human behavior, to help others in need, especially young people.
  • I dropped the name of Max Parks, who we both know. A referral is a great connecting device and should increase the chances that I’ll get the interview.
  • I greeted him professionally as Mr. Gallagher, and I closed with a courteous thank you and signature.
  • I mentioned I’m in pre-engineering, and I used the acronym STEM. This suggests to him that I’m serious about engineering and that our conversation will probably have some depth to it.
    • In my experience, I’ve found that making this connection for the reader is appealing and important to technically-oriented professionals such as engineers.
  • Finally, I ended with a call to action by including the sentence, “I look forward to hearing from you soon”.
    • Also, I included my phone number and email address to make it as easy as possible for him to contact me with his reply.

The idea of making the entire process as easy as possible for him can’t be emphasized enough. Everything you do should have this goal built into it.

Easy, Fun and Great Experience

I hope all of these bullet points and tips don’t scare you away. They shouldn’t. It isn’t as complicated as this might make it seem.

All you need to do is to write a short, succinct, and professional email, and you’ll be in good shape.

I should also add that this email invitation process is excellent practice for the real world of work that full-time engineers, and all STEM professionals, experience everyday. Why? Because email is a huge part of today’s organizations.

Important Final Note for College Students and Full-timers

If you’re a college student or full-time employee, instead of a high school student like in my example, an important addition to these guidelines would be to add a sentence that lets the recipient clearly understand that you aren’t looking for a job, you’re only seeking information. This will make it much more likely that he will agree to an interview.

Next Up: Scheduling The Interview

Now that you’ve extended one or more invitations, it’s time to move to the next interview step, which I call CONNECT & LEARN. In the next chapter, we’ll learn how to follow up and get the interview scheduled.


If desired, you can view this entire post in the video below:

If you can’t see this video in your RSS reader or email, then click here.

Question: Are there are any concerns or fears that you have about extending interview invitations?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Note: This post is a chapter from my 64-page, FREE how-to STRAIGHT TALK GUIDE titled, CONDUCTING INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS. On this page, you can learn more about the GUIDE, watch a short summary video and request a FREE downloadable copy.

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Dominating Your Internship – Secret #1: Handling the Basics http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/dominating-your-internship-preparation-basics/ http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/dominating-your-internship-preparation-basics/#respond Thu, 10 Mar 2016 13:00:55 +0000 dcg0513 http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/?p=4378 Dear Readers: In lieu of reading this post, you can view the embedded video (bottom of post).

Welcome, and thanks for joining me. This is Secret #1: Handling the Basics, from my STRAIGHT TALK GUIDE titled, DOMINATING YOUR INTERNSHIP

Dominating1

Heading out for an internship is a big step, and as such, it requires some planning steps and specific actions before the start date of your work session.

Giving each step appropriate attention will help ensure that your internship is a successful experience for you, for the company, and for others who you interact with.

PEOPLE

Say your goodbyes to peers, friends and family, and consider how you will stay connected.

No doubt, you have lots of friends and family, both inside and outside of school. These are relationships that you’ll want to continue supporting while you’re off on your internship adventure.

Stay Connected

Let people know you’ll miss being with them, but invite them to share in the excitement of your upcoming internship by staying connected. Give them some background about the company, the job, and where you’ll be living. If you already have it, share your new contact information with them.

Ask For Their Advice

Be sure to ask others if they have any advice or recommendations about your internship. Who knows, maybe they’ve visited or lived in the area where you’ll be living? Maybe they know someone who works at your company currently, or who interned there in the past.

Support from existing friends, family and relatives can be an important part of a successful internship, especially if it’s your first one.

HOUSING

Where will you live? With whom?

If you won’t be living at home, you’ll need to arrange to rent a place somewhere near your employer. Often times, larger companies will have an agreement with a local apartment complex or with some other kind of housing facility.

If your company doesn’t have housing already arranged, your contact person in Human Resources may be able to give you some tips or ideas based on where past interns have lived. Of course, Google and the Internet can quickly help you with the housing dilemma too.

My Housing Experiences

Over the course of my five 3-month intern sessions in Waterloo, Iowa, I had three different living arrangements:CollegeStudying

  • During one summer I stayed alone in a local high-rise college dorm room.
  • Another time I shared a two bedroom apartment with one of the other engineering interns from my plant.
  • For most of my internship work sessions I chose to live alone in a nearby studio apartment.

All three arrangements worked out fine, but my preference was to live alone, even though it was a bit more expensive. Living alone gave me plenty of downtime by myself at the end of each workday and on the weekends, but still allowed me to get together with others when I wanted to.

In order to minimize your costs, sharing an apartment is definitely the best way to go. However, if you’ve ever shared a living space at home or at college, then you already know some of the pros and cons of living with someone else.

My shared apartment living experience was definitely challenging at times, but overall it turned out fine. Let’s just say it taught me a lot about being flexible and how to put up with other people’s unique habits. Admittedly, these are good life skills to learn, especially if you plan to get married someday!

STUFF – Clothing, Equipment & Supplies

Work Clothing

Your locale will dictate much of the clothing that you’ll want to have with you for personal activities, but your employer and work environments will guide your wardrobe choices for the workplace.EngineWorks

Many businesses today follow the dress rule of business casual (unlike in the early 80’s for me), but this is a question you’ll want to get answered by your company contact person. 

Work Environments

Be sure to also ask about the different work situations and environments you might find yourself in during your internship.

For example, one day you might be “in the field” meeting customers at a job site, the next day you could be indoors working side by side with factory workers, and another day you might be delivering an important project presentation to a management team. 

Each of these situations would require very different attire in order for you to maintain the necessary level of professionalism (and safety).

Once you get an idea of what’s needed, make sure you have enough clothing to get you started. Clothing is a basic necessity you’ll want to get handled upfront, so it doesn’t interfere with your work or your performance.

Equipment & Supplies

My reference here to equipment and supplies isn’t so much about your kitchen, bath and general household supplies, but instead it’s about the things you’ll need when you’re relaxing, working, or studying, on your own time.

For example, I would expect these to include a smartphone, a computer or tablet, a printer, and various other electronic devices.

For many of you an XBox, Playstation or other type of game system may be on your list, while some of you may need supplies necessary to support unique hobbies, sports activities or other favorite pastimes.

Unless you’re told ahead of time, you should expect that equipment and supplies needed in the workplace, that are specific to your job, will be provided by your employer.

More Preparation

Admittedly, Secret #1 deals with what seem to be fairly mundane and basic preparation steps, but yet they are important because they play a role in setting you up for success in your internship.

In the next chapter, Secret #2: Goals + Habits = Success, we’ll go through some important mental preparation activities that will also help position your for success. 


 If desired, you can view this entire post in the video below:

If you can’t see this video in your RSS reader or email, then click here.

Question: What other basic preparation do you think is necessary before an internship starts?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Note: This post is a chapter from my 57-page, FREE how-to STRAIGHT TALK GUIDE titled, DOMINATING YOUR INTERNSHIP. On this page, you can learn more about the GUIDE, watch a short summary video and request a FREE downloadable copy.

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Conducting Informational Interviews – Chap.#4: Identifying Interview Candidates http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/conducting-informational-interviews-identifying-interview-candidates/ http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/conducting-informational-interviews-identifying-interview-candidates/#respond Tue, 08 Mar 2016 13:00:17 +0000 dcg0513 http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/?p=4362 Dear Readers: In lieu of reading this post, you can view the embedded video (bottom of post).

Welcome to Chapter 4, where together we’ll go through the first part of step one. It’s called REACH OUT, Identifying Interview Candidates.

InfoInterviews4

The REACH OUT step is all about inviting the right people to let you interview them. However, you can’t find and invite the right people until you decide what it is you want to learn.

What Do You Want To Learn?

One area of learning might be related to Curriculum & Career Exploration.

For example, for high school and newer college students, the interview objective will most likely be related to finding a curriculum of study that will lead to a career that best fits their values, interests and strengths.

In other words, they’ll be looking for information about different careers, and the pros and cons of each. This is probably the most common use of informational interviewing.

Another popular use for informational interviewing is to conduct Company & Job Research.

Ideally, college students nearing graduation will already be in the field of study that fits well with the career they want to pursue. As a result, they’ll probably want to learn more about:

  • Specific companies
  • Company cultures
  • Company reputations
  • Opportunities each company might offer for career growth

These are the same things that would interest a full-time employee who’s looking to make a job change.

Assumptions For This GUIDE

For the purposes of this GUIDE, and the action steps we’re learning, let’s assume that you’re a senior in high school with an interest in engineering, but that you don’t know much about the different engineering disciplines.

With the little that you’ve heard and learned so far, you have a feeling that mechanical, electrical or computer engineering might be a good fit for you.

What you want now is to talk with some engineers in each of these three disciplines to help you figure out the right initial direction for you.

Identifying People Who Can Help You

Now that you know what you want to learn, it’s time to find some people who might be willing to help you. The method I like most for this step is called mind mapping.

To get started, you write your interest or need in the center of a map like the one pictured here.

MindMap

Then at the ends of the tentacles, or arms of the map, you list all of the people who are connected to you in your personal world.

Most likely these will include your parents, relatives, friends of your parents, neighbors, teachers, mentors, past or current coworkers, school alums, and other professional contacts you may already have.

Note: When you get ready to do this exercise, please know that I put a blank mind map in the Worksheets section of the free PDF version of the GUIDE.

Your Sphere of Influence or Network

Once it’s completed, your mind map is often called your sphere of influence, or your network. These are people who you could easily reach out to and ask for an interview, or you could ask them to connect you to engineers they might know, who you could then invite for an interview.

I strongly encourage newcomers to informational interviewing to conduct their first interview with someone from their current personal network if at all possible. It’s a lot less nerve wracking to meet with someone you already know and have a relationship with.

Building a mind map like this usually yields enough people to give you a good start. However, if you come up cold, you’ll want to move your search to the next level, which involves “cold calling” to find interviewees that you don’t currently know.

Cold Calling

The techniques to do this are a bit more advanced, and beyond the scope of this beginner’s GUIDE, but here are a few thoughts that might help you:

  • One of the secrets to success that I’ve found in this situation is to think of yourself as a detective who’s searching for a hidden treasure. This forces you to be more creative, and in some cases it may also force you to develop some thick skin when cold calling, but it can work very well.
  • For example, one of the easiest ways to find engineers today is by using LinkedIn and/or Google. After identifying them, you then reach out by email or phone to invite them for an interview.
  • Another method is to cold call the engineering department at a local company. You simply explain that you’re a student with an interest in conducting an informational interview with one or more engineers. This is a request that’s not that uncommon, and good companies will understand the importance of helping you connect with one of their engineers.

You MUST Keep an Activity Log

If you’re serious about conducting your own informational interviews, then you’ve probably started writing some things down already. That’s good, because I need to emphasize a critical point about writing stuff down.

The point is that to be successful at informational interviewing, you MUST keep a record of all the activities associated with the process, and with the people involved.

Whether you use a smartphone app, a 3-ring binder, a paper journal, or a spreadsheet to track your activities is up to you, but you MUST capture all of your contact and interviewing activities, and the relevant data associated with them.

There are lots of reasons for this, but the two big ones are these:

  • First, you won’t be able to follow through effectively on the commitments you make unless you write them down when you make them.
  • Second, you won’t be able to thank all of the people who help you along the way if you don’t write down their names, their contact information, and the interactions you had with them.

Both of these activities are critical to ensuring that your interviews are successful and professional, but they’re also an important part of building ongoing relationships with many of your new contacts.

So PLEASE….build a habit of writing things down in your personal contact management system, and do it when they happen.

To help you develop this important habit, I’ve included a sample log sheet (like the one pictured here) in the Worksheets area at the back of the GUIDE.ActivityLog

Are You Ready To Extend Your First Interview Invitations?

In this chapter on REACHing OUT, we learned the method of mind mapping for identifying people who might be good interview candidates. We also learned the importance of tracking all of our activities.

The next step is to get some invitations sent. That’s what we’ll cover together in the next chapter that’s titled, REACH OUT – Extending An Invitation.


 If desired, you can view this entire post in the video below:

If you can’t see this video in your RSS reader or email, then click here.

Question: Who will be your first info interview candidates?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Note: This post is a chapter from my 64-page, FREE how-to STRAIGHT TALK GUIDE titled, CONDUCTING INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS. On this page, you can learn more about the GUIDE, watch a short summary video and request a FREE downloadable copy.

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Dominating Your Internship – “How A Summer Internship Changed My Life” http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/dominating-your-internship-changed-my-life/ http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/dominating-your-internship-changed-my-life/#respond Thu, 03 Mar 2016 13:00:58 +0000 dcg0513 http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/?p=4255 Dear Readers: In lieu of reading this post, you can view the embedded video (bottom of post).

Welcome, and thanks for joining me here. In this post, I’m going to give you some context around why I wrote the STRAIGHT TALK GUIDE titled, DOMINATING YOUR INTERNSHIP, by sharing a personal story about How a Summer Internship Changed My Life.

Dominating-Summer

Early in 1976, I applied and was accepted into Iowa State’s Engineering College. Since I liked to fix and build things, engineering seemed like a good path for me.

My Early Years

In my first semester, I declared mechanical engineering as my major. As it turned out, I was one of the lucky ones who chose a college degree path and stayed on it until graduation.CollegeStudying

My first few years of college were not easy, at all!

Poor high school study habits, coupled with farming at home for a year after high school, put me in a tough spot when it came to classroom and test performance.

Fortunately, I finally eased into a routine that allowed me to become a relatively successful student (academically), but I realized about 2 1/2 years in that there was a piece missing.

I had learned from the Career Services center, and heard from a few engineering friends, about something called an internship.

The Missing Piece: An Internship or Co-op 

After investigating and learning more about internships, and the companies that offered them, I knew an internship was something I wanted to pursue.

In fact, I had learned from Career Services about a program they called cooperative education, which meant you would have multiple work sessions with a single employer.

A co-op position was what I decided I really wanted, so I signed up on the campus interview schedule with two companies, Caterpillar and John Deere. I had heard excellent things about both companies and they fit my interest in doing hands-on work with mechanical equipment.

The Interviews

The Caterpillar interview came first, and it didn’t go very well.CatLogo

In fact, I was very disappointed with myself for not being as prepared as I should have been.

In addition, I made the mistake of going off on a tangent during the interview. That’s a story for another day and another STRAIGHT TALK GUIDE, but suffice it to say that I used my poor performance with Caterpillar as a kick in the butt to get ready for the interview with John Deere.

Preparation for John DeereIMG_9417

As part of my preparation for the John Deere interview, I visited with a human resources manager at the company where my dad worked as an engineer. My goal was to get some specific advice about interviewing.

A key thing the HR Manager shared was to make sure I was prepared to talk about “hands-on projects” that I had worked on and problems I had solved.

Since I hadn’t done any hands-on projects yet as an engineer, I applied his suggestion to the past work I had done on the farm.OffToCollegeCropped

Without too much trouble, I wrote up two to three examples of past problems I had solved by designing and building things in our farm shop.

I also gathered a few photos I had taken of the completed projects.

For example, at right is a motorcycle carrier I built and integrated into the back bumper of my pickup truck.

The Pay-OffEngineWorks

Fortunately, my extra preparation paid off in the interview with John Deere. Afterwards, they came back with an offer for a summer internship at their diesel engine manufacturing plant in Iowa.

Although I had really wanted an offer for a co-op position, I accepted their internship offer and ended up having an excellent three months there in the summer of 1979.

Woo Hoo! A Co-op Job

As the summer session was coming to a close, the student coordinator in HR came to me with another job offer, but this time it was for a co-op position.ISUGrad

As you can imagine, I was thrilled and immediately accepted the co-op offer. I ended up working a total of four more 3-month long sessions over the following three years.

Then prior to graduation in 1982, I accepted John Deere’s offer to become a full-time engineer at their diesel engine plant.

My start there in June of 1982 was the beginning of what became a very satisfying 25-year career with John Deere.

I’m A Lucky Guy For SureEngineer

I consider myself to be a very lucky guy.

As I’m writing this, I still have to pinch myself as a reminder that this is all true. That a somewhat shy kid from rural Iowa would end up spending most of his working life with one of the world’s leading and most respected equipment manufacturers.

And just think, it all started with a single summer internship!

Internships Are A Must

Can you see now why I’m so high on internships?

This is also why I’m so excited that you’re here reading this post, and hopefully are reading the GUIDE too. It tells me that you’re interested in making some amazing things happen during your upcoming internship.

So kudos to you for earning an internship offer, and accepting it.

Now let’s go to work together in the remaining GUIDE chapters to make your internship a remarkable experience for you, for the company, and for everyone you come in contact with during your intern session.


 If desired, you can view this entire post in the video below:

If you can’t see this video in your RSS reader or email, then click here.

Question: What type of  experience do you have as a STEM intern?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Note: This post is a chapter from my 57-page, FREE how-to STRAIGHT TALK GUIDE titled, DOMINATING YOUR INTERNSHIP. On this page, you can learn more about the GUIDE, watch a short summary video and request a FREE downloadable copy.

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Internship Success Secrets From an Experienced Engineering Intern http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/internship-success-secrets/ http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/internship-success-secrets/#respond Wed, 02 Mar 2016 13:00:50 +0000 dcg0513 http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/?p=4340 A couple of months ago a sharp, young engineering student, Alec Albright (who I connected with on LinkedIn last year) headed out to start his third internship. It’s scheduled to last a full 8 months.

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After learning of his new internship, I wanted to acknowledge his success and say hello, so I sent him this brief LinkedIn message: 

Hey Alec, I see you started a new internship. Hope it’s going well. This past post might help you: http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/engineering-internship-priority/ Regards, Don

The post I sent him was on a topic that I feel very strongly about: RELATIONSHIPS. In fact, the core information I shared in the post fell under this heading: Five Reasons Interns Should Make Building Relationships a Priority

Alec’s Astute Advice For All Interns

I was very appreciative when Alec sent me a kind reply that included validation of my blog post. However, I was especially pleased (and impressed) with the additional internship advice he offered.

With his permission, the remainder of this post contains the entire LinkedIn message that Alec sent me. I’ve also included a couple of closing thoughts, and some other internship resources for you. Enjoy!

Alec’s Comment About My Post

This was great advice for new interns that I can personally attest to after completing my first couple of internships.

Alec’s Success Secret #1: BE HUMBLE

I want to share with you (for no particular reason) two other pieces of advice that I think are crucial for new interns to hear.

First, new interns need to be humble and not think too highly of themselves (even though receiving an internship is indeed a great accomplishment). It is very easy to feel good about yourself after landing an internship with a great company, but this feeling could lead to an attitude that comes across as arrogance or entitlement.

I can remember how I entered my first internship. I was so excited to be working full-time that I acted as though I had been with the company for years and that I had everything figured out, which clearly was not the case.

Alec’s Success Secret #2: OTHERS ARE WATCHING YOU

My second piece of advice for new interns is to always think about how you’re being viewed by others in the workplace.

As a new intern, people are naturally going to notice your weaknesses before noticing your strengths. As unfair as it sounds, it is usually true. People will also keep a closer eye on your work than that of experienced employees.

This makes it vitally important to work hard and honestly, always acting like someone is watching what you’re doing. Doing this will help others notice your strengths at a quicker rate.

Following these two pieces of advise should put interns in the right frame of mind to have a very successful internship.

My Thoughts

Wow, even though it’s been years since I worked as an intern, I can totally relate to Alec’s ideas. He really nailed the need to be humble. If you act like a “bull in a china shop” who knows it all, you’ll quickly turn off your coworkers and they’ll be far less likely to support you.

I take Alec’s Secret #2 to mean that you need to be honest, be authentic, and always produce quality work. In my experience, if you try to be someone other than yourself, you’ll quickly find yourself in a heap of trouble.

I can’t thank Alec enough for initially sharing his experiences and insights with me, but then also letting me share them here with you. He’s an unselfish and bright guy who I’m confident is going to have an outstanding engineering career after graduation.

More Internship Resources and “Secrets” For You

I tend to write a lot about internships because my five internships with John Deere were life changing. What follows are some other blog posts and a STRAIGHT TALK GUIDE that you may find helpful :

Question: What type of experience do you have as an engineering/STEM intern, and what valuable lessons did you learn?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Conducting Informational Interviews – Chap.#3: A Simple Step-By-Step Process http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/informational-interviews-the-process/ http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/informational-interviews-the-process/#respond Tue, 01 Mar 2016 13:00:29 +0000 dcg0513 http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/?p=4327 Dear Readers: In lieu of reading this post, you can view the embedded video (bottom of post).

Welcome to Chapter #3. This one is very, very short. I’ve titled it, A Simple Step-By-Step Process.

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In the early chapters of the GUIDE, I stress more than once that informational interviewing is simple. This post reveals the proof.

The 3 Simple Steps to Conducting a Successful Informational Interview:

Step #1 – REACH OUT

REACH OUT…by identifying, and then extending an invitation to your potential interviewee.

Step #2 – CONNECT & LEARN

CONNECT & LEARN… by scheduling, preparing, and conducting your one-on-one interview.

Step #3 – MANAGE

MANAGE…your new relationship, first with a professional thank you, then with ongoing follow-up.

Please trust me on this. Informational interviewing truly is this easy.

Granted, the process may feel a little scary at the beginning it you’re new at it, but after your first one I’m confident you’ll be itching to conduct more and more interviews. 

Are You Ready To Get Started?

In the next chapter, we’ll dig into the details of Step #1, REACH OUT. I’ll give you some great ideas on how to identify who you might want to invite for an interview.


 If desired, you can view this entire post in the video below:

If you can’t see this video in your RSS reader or email, then click here.

Note: This post is a chapter from my 64-page, FREE how-to STRAIGHT TALK GUIDE titled, CONDUCTING INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS. On this page, you can learn more about the GUIDE, watch a short summary video and request a FREE downloadable copy.

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Dominating Your Internship – GUIDE Introduction & Benefits http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/dominating-your-internship-guide-introduction-benefits/ http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/dominating-your-internship-guide-introduction-benefits/#respond Thu, 25 Feb 2016 13:00:16 +0000 dcg0513 http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/?p=4226 Dear Readers: In lieu of reading this post, you can view the embedded video (bottom of post).

Welcome to this introduction to my STRAIGHT TALK GUIDE titled, DOMINATING YOUR INTERNSHIP7.5 Secrets to Creating an Awesome and Invaluable Experience as an Engineering or STEM Intern.

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If you’re reading this, then you’re probably headed to an internship in the near future.

If this is true, let me offer my sincere congratulations. You’ve made one of the best decisions you’ll make in your entire career.

Hat’s Off To You

I know from my experience as a corporate engineering recruiter that companies don’t hire just anyone to come on board for an internship. Clearly, you’ve already accomplished some things, and you displayed some characteristics in your interviews that your internship employer found appealing.

So again, kudos to you for snagging an internship and having the excellent sense to gain some hands-on experience before you graduate from college.

You’re taking a step that in today’s marketplace is critical if you want to create a wide selection of attractive, full-time job offers before you graduate.

Benefits of Interning

Even more than in the past when I was in college, I believe most companies today are expecting their new full-time hires to have some true hands-on, technical experience before they graduate.

Employers know that students with internship experience typically ramp up more quickly in a full-time role. And for a company, that’s what it’s all about. They want, and need, new STEM employees who can produce value as quickly as possible.

While I’m sure that getting a great job, and a nice salary as a student, are two of your internship drivers, they are lots of other important reasons to intern as a student.

Here are some of the biggest benefits of interning (which I didn’t fully realize until after I interned for the first time):

Interning helps youGet a strong sense for the type of STEM work you might prefer.

Honestly, this is might be most important benefit of interning. Why? Because it’s no fun finding yourself in a job or a career later on that you don’t like.

Given the hours you’ll spend working during your lifetime, it pays to do work that you enjoy getting out of bed for.

Internships are an ideal way to test drive different kinds of engineering and other STEM work.

Interning helps youUnderstand a company’s values, culture and people.

Let’s face it, the interviewing and hiring process is mostly a show. It’s not a good way to get a handle on what a company is truly like to work for, and how they treat their people.

Although today’s online review sites such as glassdoor.com are helpful, the only way to get the straight scoop on a company is to work inside of it.

You need to work and talk with coworkers. You need to see if the leaders and managers walk their talk. And you need to listen to the water cooler conversations to really understand what goes at a company.

In a sense, internships let you test drive the company, while they’re test driving you.

Interning helps youBuild the soft skills that are needed to excel in the workplace, at home, and in life.

These “soft skills” include the range of communications skills, people skills, and other real world skills that are often not taught, and are not as easily learned, in a college classroom environment.

Interning helps youBuild practical “hands-on” skills and knowledge.

Getting your hands dirty by doing is a great way to learn. It let’s you begin building a strong base of problem solving skills and “in-the-trenches”experience to draw from later.

Finally…

Interning helps youMeet new friends and add to your network of supportive relationships.

It took me years to fully understand the importance of this one, but today I’m a firm believer in the need to constantly be building and managing your personal and professional relationships.

Research has shown that relationships with others are a key element of how work gets done. 

Being able to begin learning and developing relationship-building skills as an intern is a real advantage.

WOW…This is a List of Powerful Benefits

To be honest, I didn’t intend to go this deep into the benefits of interning, but my experience with internships is so positive that it gets me jazzed every time I start talking or writing about them.

It’s that same excitement that prompted me to write this GUIDE for students like you. I want to help make sure you have the very best internship experience possible.

I invite you to join me on my journey (here in the blog) through all the chapters of DOMINATING YOUR INTERNSHIP!


 If desired, you can view this entire post in the video below:

If you can’t see this video in your RSS reader or email, then click here.

Question: What type of  experience do you have as a STEM intern?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Note: This post is a chapter from my 57-page, FREE how-to STRAIGHT TALK GUIDE titled, DOMINATING YOUR INTERNSHIP. On this page, you can learn more about the GUIDE, watch a short summary video and request a FREE downloadable copy.

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DOMINATING YOUR INTERNSHIP – The ULTIMATE GUIDE http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/guide-for-dominating-your-internship/ http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/guide-for-dominating-your-internship/#respond Wed, 24 Feb 2016 13:00:42 +0000 dcg0513 http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/?p=4319 Outstanding internships don’t happen by accident! Put yourself in the driver’s seat with this FREE GUIDE.

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In this GUIDE, I share the most valuable internship secrets I learned during my five work sessions with John Deere as an engineering intern and co-op student….and during my 25 years at Deere as an engineer, corporate engineering recruiter, trainer, and project manager.

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Downloadable as a FREE 57-Page PDF – It includes 20 embedded links to view the entire GUIDE as short videos too!


So What’s In This GUIDE…And How Can It Help You?

Watch The Intro Video (under 3 min.) Below To Find Out


If you’re ready to grab your FREE copy of the GUIDE,

CLICK HERE


Is this GUIDE only for college interns?…ABSOLUTELY NOT!

This GUIDE will be an asset for any student (middle school, high school or college) who is headed to an internship. Why? Because it focuses on the critically important soft skills that are a necessary part of every internship, and every workplace. I also highly recommend this GUIDE to parents of interns (and future interns).  


A Note From The Author

Don GallagherHi, I’m Don Gallagher, the founder and primary author at ENGINEERINGCAREERLAUNCHER.COM. Educated as a mechanical engineer, earlier in my career I spent 25 years in engineering, corporate recruiting, project management, marketing, and training roles with Deere and Company. If you’re curious, there’s more info and some pics on the About page.

My core focus is on helping engineering/STEM students to ratchet up their soft skills, career skills, and personal effectiveness as they work towards building remarkable careers.

Thank you for choosing to let me help you on your journey towards becoming a remarkable engineering/STEM professional with this free GUIDE from the ECL Learning Store.

I wish you much success with your efforts. Please come back often to share your feedback and/or your success stories in the Comments area below.

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A SUCCESS MANIFESTO FOR 21st CENTURY ENGINEERING STUDENTS http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/a-success-manifesto-for-21st-century-engineering-students/ http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/a-success-manifesto-for-21st-century-engineering-students/#respond Tue, 23 Feb 2016 17:00:20 +0000 dcg0513 http://engineeringcareerlauncher.com/?p=4296 Do you want an amazing engineering/STEM college experience? Do you want a top STEM job?…..Then you need this MANIFESTO!!!

Success Manifesto

Engineering/STEM students need much, much more today than just good grades to snag the best jobs (internships or full-time) and to build remarkable careers.

In this FREE MANIFESTO, I share many of the career secrets and skills I learned during 25 years with John Deere as an engineering intern, engineer, corporate engineering recruiter, trainer, and project manager.  rp_STG2ManifestoOverheadCover-1024x683.jpgDownloadable as a FREE 30-Page PDF – It includes 14 embedded links to view the entire MANIFESTO as short videos too (watch sample video of Action #4 below)!


 So What’s In This MANIFESTO…And How Can It Help You?

Watch The Video (under 3 min.) Below To Find Out


If you’re ready to grab your FREE copy of the MANIFESTO,

 CLICK HERE.


Is this Relevant to High School Students and Parents?…ABSOLUTELY!

Is this Relevant to non-engineering STEM Students?…ABSOLUTELY!

If you’re an engineering college student, or the parent of a student, I strongly encourage you to download, read, and use this FREE PDF Guide and accompanying videos.

If you’re in high school, definitely don’t let the sub-title scare you away. Virtually EVERYTHING I share in the MANIFESTO is relevant to you too. In fact, you’ll be at a distinct ADVANTAGE when you get to college if you start taking these 8 Actions while in high school (or better yet, in middle school).

Finally, all 8 Actions are equally applicable to students in all STEM disciplines!


Here’s a Sample Video of Action #4:

Engage in “Hands-on” Activities

 

A Note From The Author

Don GallagherHi, I’m Don Gallagher, the founder and primary author at ENGINEERINGCAREERLAUNCHER.COM. Educated as a mechanical engineer, earlier in my career I spent 25 years in engineering, recruiting, project management, marketing, sales, and training roles with Deere and Company. If you’re curious, there’s more info and some pics on the About page.

My core focus is on helping engineering/STEM students to ratchet up their soft skills, career skills, and personal effectiveness as they work towards building remarkable careers.

Thank you for choosing to let me help you on your journey towards becoming a remarkable engineering/STEM professional with this free MANIFESTO from the ECL Learning Store.

I wish you much success with your efforts. Please come back often to share your feedback and/or your success stories in the Comments area below.

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