How I Found my Job at the Utah Festival Opera

Written by Morgan Laajala, Communications Intern at Career Services

Aaron Christianson first applied to work at the Musical Theatre of Wichita, but he didn’t have a well-written cover letter. His resume never made it to the boss.

After working with a faculty member at Michigan Tech, Aaron re-wrote his cover letter and sent out eight applications to different companies – within two days he had multiple responses.

He sent out his applications on Friday, had two scheduled interviews on Saturday, and two job offers the following Thursday. Aaron credits this success to his updated cover letter. During his interview with the Utah Festival Opera, Aaron had an immediate connection with the Technical Director, the Upper Peninsula. The director’s son was attending Lake Superior State University, which Michigan Tech had just “proudly destroyed in hockey,” as Aaron put it. Ultimately, Aaron chose to take the position with the Utah Festival Opera.

Aaron’s advice to other students is, “Don’t sell yourself short. Tech is an amazing school that gives students skills most other universities ignore, and that makes us very valuable as employees and leaders.”

Aaron is a Theatre & Entertainment Technology student at Michigan Technological University.

Aaron is a Theatre & Entertainment Technology student at Michigan Technological University.
Aaron working at his summer 2017 internship at the Utah Festival Opera in Logan, Utah.

Ask an MTU Career Advisor: What should I do? I accepted a Job Offer but another Company wants an Interview.

Dear MTU Career Advisor,

I accepted a full-time job over spring break (that does not really interest me), and now have another interview with a company I am extremely interested in. I need advice on what information I should share in my upcoming interview as well as what I would do if I got another offer. There are many circumstances that I need to consider in this situation and need professional advice.

Not One, but Two

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Dear Not One, but Two:

Congratulations! Your efforts have been recognized by not one, but two employers! This is both exciting and stressful, right? RIGHT.  I’m glad you reached out to us.  Let’s call the first company…Company One, and the second…. (you may have guessed it) Company Two.

You already said “yes” to Company One and made an agreement. Even though Company Two is more appealing, I don’t recommend reneging on Company One.  It may sound old fashion, but your word is your bond. Meaning, you should always keep your promises, for a variety of reasons.

It’s a small and connected world, especially at Michigan Tech. Recruiters talk. They will and do talk to one another. Launching your professional career with a renege, may burn a professional bridge that can negatively affect your reputation.  It could also keep Company One from recruiting at Michigan Tech in the future, which ultimately impacts other Huskies.

From an employer’s perspective, recruiting is expensive. It’s a significant investment of time and money for every person that is hired into an organization. When you accepted the first position, Company One stopped looking.  You prevented others from accepting that job. When a candidate reneges, there is a real cost to starting the process over again!

Here’s what I recommend:

  • For Company Two, be transparent. Be honest and tell them you accepted another offer. Emphasize that you want to stay connected and build a rapport for future opportunities, but that you can’t, in good conscience, accept this one.  Let them know how excited you are about the company and request an “informational interview,” in place of a job interview.
  • For Company One, remind yourself of why you said “yes” in the first place! Remember your initial excitement. They selected you from a competitive candidate pool, and they are equally excited to have you on their team. You could, and probably will, totally love this job!

Lastly, you may hear advice from familiar and trusted resources (parents and friends) that might be contrary to what I am advocating. I hope you’ll consider this information in your decision.

Our doors are always open to discuss this matter in person. Again, congratulations for being THAT crazy, smart student!

Regards,

 

An MTU Career Advisor


Ask an MTU Career Advisor: When is the Best Time to Start Applying?

Hello,

I’m currently an engineering student at Michigan Tech that will graduate in December. I’m curious, when is the best time to start applying for full-time positions? I started looking at Handshake but I wasn’t sure if it was too early to apply or not.

Thanks so much!

Soon-to-be Fall Graduate

 

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Hi Soon-to-be Fall Graduate,

 

That is a great question. Some recruiters will start making offers up to 6 months in advance, while others may be looking for someone to report immediately. It’s hard to say. There’s no definitive answer.

My best advice to you is:

Get your name out there! And be honest in your timeline. State your expected graduation date -December 2017- on your resume.  Address it in your cover letter, as well. If companies like what they see, they will keep you on their radar, even if it isn’t for that specific position.

Take time to polish your application materials (resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, etc.). Don’t start applying until they’re flawless.

Plan to attend CareerFEST and Career Fair in September, as it is a great opportunity to meet recruiters and start the conversation. In some instances, the hiring process can take up to six months depending on the job, company, and HR policies and procedures. It doesn’t hurt to get your application materials ready, do your research, and start applying.

If you need any help with those application materials, please let us know!

Keep us posted on your progress, we are always here to help!

 

MTU Career Advisor


Conciseness in Communication is Powerful

In High School, I remember the first assignment that needed to be typed and not hand-written.  I had to get my mother to do the typing for me!  The technology of manual typewriters, ribbons, and white-out demanded a high degree of skill, manual dexterity, and practice.  Advancements in word-processors, electronics, and printers have made this a distant memory.  There is no question that documents created today are easier to read, analyze, and search.  

Videos and Infographics seem to be in a similar realm.  The software to create and edit videos has evolved to be nearly as simple as word processing.  The file sizes and amount of information processed is “orders of magnitude” larger, but the process is surprisingly simple.

The focus on being concise and efficient hasn’t changed.  

Students struggle with the idea of making a 1-page resume and a brief cover letter.  They constantly have more information to add to the single piece of paper used to summarize their life and accomplishments.  Conceptually, the focus on the audience and what is important to them is extremely difficult when you are personally invested in the topic.  

Last year, we made a decision to make short summary videos of the CareerFEST events held on campus.  Taking 6 hours of raw footage from any event and distilling into 2-minute videos doesn’t seem fair!  There were hours of planning meetings, scheduling, and logistics that went into these events.  But, when you watch the final product, the focus needs to be on the design and outcomes of the event.  The videos are available on: https://www.youtube.com/user/MTUCareer

Today’s student has grown up with access to the Internet in their hand – both literally and figuratively.  They would much rather see infographics, diagrams, and videos to describe events and complex relationships.  Why not watch the video online rather than read the book?  I have to admit, when these things are done right, I’d rather watch a video or review and infographic too!


Co-op experiences produce graduates desired by industry

Rich Wells, Vice President of Michigan Operations for Dow Chemical, walked into a room of talented students from top Universities across the U.S.. These students were working as employees at Dow’s diverse chemical production facility in Midland, Michigan. Each student’s job is not to sweep floors but to take part in a wide variety of meaningful projects that will significantly impact the company financially, while allowing each student to develop meaningful career skills.

The first question for Rich from these student co-ops was what skills did he see entry level engineers lacking? He quickly listed off five areas. 1) Decision making – being comfortable making decisions with limited data. 2) Trusting the knowledge you have gained in school and build on it. 3) Problem-solving skills that allow you to break down complex challenges and develop an array of solutions. 4) Interpersonal skills ranging from working effectively in diverse groups to constructing a clear and concise e-mail. 5) Producing results where he notes that answering e-mails does not qualify as a result. Dow Chemical structures student co-op assignments to develop and foster these skills in young engineers.

Caleb, a chemical engineering student at Michigan Tech from Leelanau, Michigan, was assigned to the pesticide production division. His process engineering duties included working with a diverse workgroup in both age and experience. Caleb’s communication strategy followed the saying “two eyes, two ears, one mouth”, meaning we were all meant to spend more time observing & listening and less time talking. Caleb learned volumes of information from his mentor Dave and the hourly operators like Scott who had been working there for over 20 years. In the process he gained their respect, allowing him to lead by influence as he successfully completed his projects.

Holly, a third-year chemical engineering student at Michigan Tech from Essexville, Michigan, was assigned the role of process safety engineer. Her job was to ensure all chemical storage and shipping containers were labeled with appropriate hazardous material signage. If these containers were involved in an accident, a labeling mistake can cost lives along with millions of dollars in fines. Holly developed the ability to build a network of ‘expert’ resources as well as a process to accomplish the task for the diverse number of chemicals and storage units.

Andrew, a third year Mechanical Engineering student at Michigan Tech from Reece, Michigan, was tasked to assess and recommend new water pumps to be purchased for the manufacturing complex. These pumps supplied water for steam generators vital for successful operations of chemical production throughout the facility. Andrew’s recommendation must satisfy needed flow rates at an acceptable cost.

Each of these students was given work meaningful to operations of one of Dow’s largest productions facilities. These students were provided mentors, needed resources, and the support of their superiors. They brought the knowledge they gained from their educational experiences, combined it with the practical knowledge they gained from their peers, and developed multidisciplinary teams to successfully solve the challenges they were assigned.

Dow Chemical’s co-op/internship program allows students to put their acquired knowledge to work in a real world setting. Caleb, Holly, and Andrew will leave this experience having not only provided Dow with valued contributions, but also having developed the skills that Rich Wells and industry covenant in their new college recruits.


Great Career Opportunities In #Steel

Arcelor_Tour_Group_Photo_IMG_6526Huskies have a long and proud history of careers in the steel industry.  To help students learn about the opportunities available to them, ArcelorMittal partnered with Michigan Tech to transport a bus full of students from Houghton, MI to Northwest Indiana.  These students had a chance for an all-access tour of the Indiana Harbor facility along with some unique dining and sightseeing opportunities.

During the tour, students saw first-hand some of the challenges and opportunities of careers in the factory.  They learned the importance of teamwork and safe work practices.  Since the tour consisted primarily of first and second-year students, these lessons will help them in their future careers, regardless of their degree or the company they work for.

Some of the post-tour surveys revealed what the students learned:

  • “Everyone we spoke with seemed genuinely invested in the company and also what they are making”
  • “Employees were very satisfied with their jobs”
  • “It is very important for a company to be good to the people that work for them”
  • “…an opportunity to assume responsibility from day one on the job…”
  • “The company…still allows personal fulfillment”

Before the students took the tour, 50% said they probably would not have considered a career in the Steel Industry.  After the tour, 93% of the students said they would consider working for ArcelorMittal.


#MTUCareerFEST Schedule for next fall available

CareerFEST

To better help our students prepare for their future careers, we have a broad variety of programming in the weeks leading up to Career Fair to help them network, build skills, and explore career opportunities.

Industry Days

These days help students explore careers and learn about the different career opportunities for them that they may not have considered before.  The schedule includes days focused on Aerospace, Automotive, Business, Construction & Building Systems, Energy, Railroad, Robotics & Control, and Steel.  As an alumni or a recruiter, these events are an excellent way to share what you learned throughout your lifetime with today’s students.


Messages from Commencement – Pursue your Passion!

Commencement ceremonies are occurring in high schools, colleges, and universities across the country. For graduates, it is a time of anxiety, relief, hope, and choices. A key component of each ceremony is the keynote address by an honored guest whose job it is to capture the magnitude of the moment. They are also asked to provide some insight or pearls of wisdom that can aid you in the journey you are about to embark on with your newly acquired knowledge.

Many commencement speakers focus on the importance of discovering your passion and pursuing it relentlessly. Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, stated “I hope you find yourself on one path but longing for something else, you’ll find a way to get there. And if that isn’t right, try again. Try until you find something that stirs your passion, a job that matters to you and matters to others. It’s a luxury to combine passion and contribution. It’s also a clear path to happiness.”

JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter book series, acknowledges the role that failure will play in your future “You might never fail on the scale I did. But some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all. In which case, you fail by default.”

Others like Larry Page, founder of Google, express the value of dreaming big. “I think it is often easier to make progress on mega-ambitious dreams. I know that sounds completely nuts. But, since no one else is crazy enough to do it, you have little competition. There are so few people this crazy that I feel like I know them all by first name. They all travel as if they are pack dogs and stick to each other like glue. The best people want to work the big challenges.”

Apple founder Steve Jobs spoke of the value of following your own wants and desires in his address. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it in living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Success in life is a journey not a destination. Each of these commencement speakers has faced obstacles, failures, and immense challenges throughout their lives. They each communicate the value of discovering their passion because that propelled them to overcome each of these challenges and achieve their goals. Commencement is a time to reflect on your accomplishments and begin your next journey. Pursue a career and goals you are passionate about, and the best is yet to come!