#SigningDay #MTUGrad – Starting a new tradition!

Graduation day is less than a week away! What is the ultimate result of all that hard work? Starting a job with a new company, applying those skills in a new occupation, and earning money!

We copied the idea of a high school recruit signing for a new college or a professional athlete getting drafted.  Here are some group photos next to our statue in the middle of campus. We think this new tradition will take hold!

Thank you to our corporate partners at: 3M, Alliance Laundry Systems, ArcelorMittal, Caterpillar, The Dow Chemical Company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford Motor Company, Gerdau, Jackson, Kimberly-Clark, Nucor, Oshkosh, Plexus, and Systems Control. Our corporate partners help prepare our students for their careers and now, it is time to get to work!

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The Perma-Smile

Many people talk about the “Senior Slide” as students finish their final year of college, I prefer to talk about the “perma-smile”.  smiley-face-on-beach

Students have worked so hard for their grades.  They have learned how to survive with messy roommates, impossible project assignments, harsh weather, homesickness, and the stress of a job search.  In the last few weeks of the Spring semester, can you blame them for being insufferably happy?

As these students count down the days until they graduate (it’s 22, by the way) – all of their hard work has paid off.  Although nobody knows what it is, they are ready to join the “real world”   As they strike out on their own, hopefully, the Career Culture that we have created on campus will propel them into their first destination.

The educational value of many the things the students have done may not be apparent to them.  There are a lot of technical skills learned in the classroom, but also a lot of other skills learned outside of the class that will help them succeed.  Late nights completing a project before a deadline, networking during a lunch, performing a presentation on a topic in front of their peers, entering a contest, or volunteering their talents to help someone else — these life lessons will serve them well.

To me, the perma-smile is a result of knowing that all the hard work is just beginning but the pay will be much better!


The value of knowledge lies in application

 In 1982 a young man named Jim headed off to college. He knew he was good in math and science, but had no idea what career that would lead to. Like his fellow freshmen, he found college courses far more challenging than high school. Lacking a defined use for the knowledge he was acquiring and the mounting challenge to acquire it, he was headed for trouble.

Jim’s grades suffered and he was put on academic probation by the university. Finally, at the end of his sophomore year, he received a letter from the Dean of Students that he had been kicked out of school. Jim was crushed as he shared the devastating news with his parents. He had a choice to make, speak with the Dean to be reinstated or choose a different path. Jim choose to reach out to the Dean for reinstatement and give it another try.

As Jim returned to school his grades improved marginally, for he still had not figured out a use for his knowledge, only that he needed to acquire it to graduate. He failed to take his knowledge for a test drive by participating in different co-ops or internships, allowing him to explore different career options. Jim ended up graduating with a “C” average, which limited his career choices after graduation.

Jim then began trying out careers beginning with the financial industries and leading to retail management, where he found his niche. He learned to lead others, execute creative merchandising, and manage expenses. He found an application for his knowledge and focus for the passion and work ethic he had developed. This combination of purpose and passion put him on the corporate ladder leading him to a position of training other managers to operate high volume retail operations producing sales of over $60 million annually.

Jim was experiencing professional and financial success, but still lacked personal gratification. In talking through his situation with his wife, he realized the most rewarding part of his job was helping others succeed. Jim, at 39 with the support of his family, decided to leave his job go back to school to be a middle/high school teacher.

Jim became a successful teacher in a small school. To improve his skills as an educator he completed his master’s degree, completing classes in the evenings and weekends. Soon he had an opportunity to work at a university, working with a team to create unique hands-on programs for K – 12 students that helped them discover their interests and talents.

Jim work at the university with freshmen began to bring back memories of his early challenges in college. He found students today suffered the same anxiety of how to apply their knowledge. This led him to return to school to pursue his doctorate in studying college freshmen and their experiences. Jim’s goal was to develop programs that would help freshmen understand how they were going to use the knowledge they were struggling so hard to acquire.

The moral of this story is that the true value of knowledge is decided upon by those that possess it. Successful educational institutions must focus not only on delivering knowledge to students, but ensuring each student explores ways to apply that information or skills that are valuable to each of them.



Designing A New Student Event #MTUCPD

image-forwebWe’ve all seen the scene in the movie where someone grabs a napkin and a pencil and begins sketching wildly.  The scene changes and voilà! — a fully functioning product is working perfectly through the magic of film editing.

To help counteract decreasing student attendance at informational sessions, we created a new model for student engagement this past Fall.  These interactive events were called  “Industry Days.”  Student response was positive.  Students and company representatives that participated both helped each other learn more about each other.  Company representatives were more than generous with their time and life experiences to help students prepare for their upcoming careers.

As we reviewed the success of these events, one of the challenges we noticed was companies that are in the Consumer Products space don’t neatly fit the “Industry” model that we had created.  We use these products every day, but the skills needed to create them don’t exist in a single course taken in school.

As Thomas Edison so famously stated “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”  Nowhere is this more evident than with consumer products.  Market research is difficult work requiring detailed knowledge of consumer needs, wants, and behaviors.  With an understanding of what consumers think they want, the product innovator needs to blend new technology, existing technology, and design to create a product that consumers may not know that they need!

In April, our students will get a chance to participate in an exciting new event.  During a 24 hour period, student teams will have a chance to showcase their creativity, innovation, intuition, and presentation skills.  “Consumer Products Day” will challenge students to start with a box of disparate parts and combine them into something great.  The highlight will be live presentations in front of a panel of judges and an audience.

In less than a month, there will be a short video of the event.  In fact, it will be just like the movies!

For all the details, please visit: http://www.mtu.edu/career/careerfest/students/industry/consumer-products-day/

 


A Disability or a Gift – Dyslexia

John was creative and hard-working college student. His was majoring in computer engineering which is where he found his gift at coding. His interests spanned outside the classroom to rock climbing and other outdoor adventures. This well-rounded creative genius faced one daunting obstacle, the vast amounts of reading associated with demanding, tech-heavy majors. John visualized text differently than others, a situation he saw not as a disability but as another challenge to face.

Dyslexia is associated with difficulties in learning to read, having problems spelling words and some slowness in processing symbolic information. It is a source of anxiety and frustration for many whose learning is based heavily on acquiring knowledge through reading. Neuroscientists have found that the left hemisphere of your brain is the home of our language processing. The right hemisphere is known to be the home of our creativity. Recent research has tied problem-solving and creative thought processes used by engineers and scientists to this right hemisphere. Most adults will have a larger left hemisphere compared to the right. Researchers have found that dyslexic’s possess a larger right hemisphere, providing fertile ground for creativity and problem solving.

Some of our greatest leaders in industry and the arts were known to be dyslexic. John Lennon and Cher shared the gift of the musician. Each day we experience the creative genius of two other dyslexics, Steven Spielberg who brought us E.T. and Saving Private Ryan and Walt Disney who brought us on so many animated journeys starting with Mickey Mouse and then created Disney World theme parks to enjoy them in person. Great artists in history struggled with this disorder including Pablo Picasso and Leonardo Da Vinci leading up to present day Andy Warhol and Ansel Adams. Notables in American history with dyslexia include George Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and Henry Ford.

A disability is often described as a limitation. What is not discussed is the gift that is associated with it. A recent study found that over 35 percent of successful entrepreneurs were diagnosed with dyslexia. The study found they quickly developed perseverance and tenacity to overcome this reading challenge. We now also know that they had a gift of a larger right hemisphere of their brain, providing them with creative tools to see the world a bit differently, allowing them to solve problems in a unique way others could not.

Many employers classify those with dyslexia as possessing a disability. They should be viewing it as a gift. The grade point average of a student challenged with dyslexia is not an accurate measure of their gifts of persistence, tenacity, and creativity. If we use history as our teacher, these individuals are the hidden gems that see the world through a different lens and will bring unique and creative answers to the problems we will face in the future.


Steel Mill Tour 17-Mar-2016

Michigan Tech students are  invited on an all-expense paid trip to Chicago to visit ArcelorMittal’s largest U.S. steelmaking facility.

We know the best way to learn about career possibilities is to experience it first-hand. ArcelorMittal is a valued corporate partner with Michigan Tech, and they have a strong tradition of hiring Michigan Tech students. ArcelorMittal is the world’s leading steel and mining company. It is the leading steel supplier to all major markets, including automotive and construction.

Depart: Thursday, March 17, 2016 at 10:00 a.m.

Return: Saturday, March 19, 2016 at 6:30 pm

Travel by motor coach. During the trip, you will experience tours of Steelmaking, the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, and some great Chicago Deep-Dish pizza! Accommodations with the Ramada Hammond Hotel and Conference Center in Hammond, IN. All travel, accommodations and meals are paid.

You must pre-register at: http://goo.gl/forms/IqMxN6qnmu


Student-Athletes – moving recruits from Good to Great!

If you were to ask recruiters what skills they need in each of their new good recruits the list would include: life-long learners, good communicators, able to work in diverse groups, and adaptable to new situations. If you were to ask what additional skills great recruits have they would include: perseverance, tenacious, resilient, passionate, and dedicated. The experiences of student athletes provides them the opportunity to move from good to great.

John Standeford played football and basketball for Monrovia High School, a town of 1,200 outside of Indianapolis. This 6’4’’, 168 lbs. wide-received was offered a chance to play for Purdue University by Coach Joe Tiller, going from playing for a team of 22 players to one of 105 with a much higher level of skill per player. He made the most of his experience through hard work, graduating in 2004 while holding the Big Ten’s all-time career receptions record with 266 catches. The skills he gained were put on display in his professional football career.

Drafted and signed by the Washington Redskins, he was soon traded to the Indianapolis Colts, playing for then Coach Tony Dungy. John played on the practice squad, focusing on outworking his peers. He took on his coaches mantra of ‘no excuses, no explanation’, a theme that can be associated with Nike’s Just Do It! During the 2007 season John was moved up to the active roster, a day he celebrated with dinner out with his wife. The next day Coach Dungy called him in to his office, telling him he needed to be sent back down to the practice squad due to injuries in other positions. John could have packed his bag and walked out, but he responded with an elevated effort.

With four remaining games in the 2007 regular season, John’s agent was contacted by the Detroit Lions with an offer to play for them. Coach Dungy could have responded by releasing John, but instead called him into his office. Dungy shared his thoughts of admiration he had for John, enduring when John was asked to play a role he didn’t enjoy, John chose to show up each day, putting forth his maximum effort while supporting his teammates in the process. This coach believed in integrity, faith, and hard work, then offering John a spot on the active roster for the remainder of the season. The Colts made the playoffs that year, with Peyton Manning having a career year at quarterback and John stayed on the active roster as the Indianapolis Colts went on to win the Super Bowl.

The next year, John Standeford, with a Super Bowl ring on his finger, moved on to play for the Detroit Lions. In the final game of the season, John went on to have a career high 6 receptions against all-pro defender Al Harris of the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Unfortunately, he would be another name on the wall in the NFL Hall of Fame, this time being a member of a team that went winless on the season.

John Standeford was a small town boy who was carried to success in his career through his perseverance, tenacity, resilience, passion, and dedication. Today’s recruiters are looking for those with the determination to succeed, who are willing to show up and persevere whether they are on a team of 22 or 105. Recruiters should not overlook student-athletes as they fill their rosters to build their success-oriented corporate teams.


One Hundred Years Strong

It was the sound of a whistle blowing from a surrounding factory that became the lightbulb moment leading to cooperative education as we know it today. Cooperative Education has a rich 100-plus year history, with its U.S. roots beginning at the University of Cincinnati thanks to the diligent work of Herman Schneider, an educator dedicated to engineering education. The idea came after his extensive conversations with schools along the east coast as he searched to identify what engineers were missing in their education.

Cooperative education is one model, and I would argue the most valuable, of work-integrated learning. Schneider knew that an engineering curriculum was not complete without students practicing their skills in an authentic setting. Co-ops provide just that.  As students on our campus prepare for the upcoming spring career fair, they may not know Herman Schneider, nor the actual age of cooperative education, but they are well aware that having co-op experience as evidence of their professional development will be highly valued by the recruiters.

The interesting part comes when we begin to ask why. While it is easy to argue that students are better prepared for the workplace as a result of a co-op, research has not focused on the learning that causes the student to return as a different version of themselves. Exactly what do students learn while on a co-op? And how do they learn? What factors are important in their learning?  A co-op is a collaboration between the student, the employer, and the university, so all should be committed to ensuring a quality experience – as Herman Schneider envisioned. Michigan Tech is committed to do our part, and we look forward to our co-op collaborations. If you have not previously participated in the co-op program, contact me to find out how Michigan Tech might may be a great match with your company – and the whistle blowing moments will live on.

Kirsti Arko – Assistant Director for Experiential Learning and Career Development
karko@mtu.edu