Category Archives: Student Stories

Stories about the Career Journeys of Michigan Tech students.

VPA Student Stories: It’s Engineering and Entertainment for Alex

Alex running the light board for the Porterfield Country Music Festival
Alex running the light board for the Porterfield Country Music Festival

Alex Weber is double majoring in Mechanical Engineering-Eng Mechanics (MEEM)  and Theatre & Entertainment Technology.

When Alex decided to double major, she committed herself to twice the workload of her peers, and she increased the amount of time it would take to graduate. But why?

For Alex, it also increased her career options.

Many MEEM students at Michigan Tech go into the automotive, manufacturing or medical device industry, but Alex is blazing her own trail. She is using internship and co-op experience to explore both fields and to create a unique future, all her own.

Her first two summer internships were at Lighthouse Productions in Green Bay, Wisconsin in 2016 and 2017,  where she put her Theatre & Entertainment Technology major to the test. She spent those summers working on productions and controlling light boards.

After completing her last internship at Lighthouse Productions and returning to campus, Alex attended Career Fair and landed an engineering co-op at Packaging Corporation of America in Valdosta, Georgia.

“Who knows,” Alex said, “Maybe next summer I will combine the two and work for an entertainment company like TAIT Towers doing engineering work.”

On the surface, mechanical engineering and theater might seem like polar opposites, but there are certainly professions where the pairing makes sense, and Alex is excited about the possibilities.


VPA Student Stories: How Samantha is building her skill set

“The sound and theatre departments [at Michigan Tech] do a lot to help students grow and form connections in the professional world,” Samantha Palumbo, senior in sound design.

Taking advantage of her sound design major with a focus in productions, Samantha has worked on eight (and counting!) productions in the past three years at Michigan Tech. She says, “One of the great things about Tech’s undergraduate program is the Visual and Performing Arts Department allows students to work hands-on from the beginning… That’s why I love going to school here. You can have a wide range of jobs on different productions.” Samantha has worked a variety of positions – from hanging lights to being in charge of painting sets. After taking the Scenic Art and Illustration class, Samantha was the Scenic Charge Artist for Picasso at the Lapin Agile.

After building her skills at Michigan Tech, Samantha had her first internship at Ohio Light Opera (OLO) as an Assistant Sound Designer. Samantha heard about the position from her professor, Chris Plummer and peer, Charles Southward, who have both worked there in the past. The position was a great opportunity for Samantha to grow, as it’s typically given to more experienced designers. During her time at OLO, she was Sound Engineer and Playback Operator on three out of seven productions. On another three productions, she was Lead Sound Designer. “Working at OLO gave me professional design experiences outside of Michigan Tech, even before I took the official production design class.”

Written by Morgan Laajala, Communications Intern, Career Services

 


VPA Student Stories: Henry Sendek

Keweenaw Awesome Fest 2017. Photo courtesy of www.henrysendekaudio.com.
Keweenaw Awesome Fest 2017. Photo courtesy of www.henrysendekaudio.com.

All Michigan Tech students have one thing in common: Tenacity. They know how to work hard and be successful. Among them is Henry Sendek, an Audio Production and Technology student. Adding on to his full class schedule and on-campus events, Henry’s major requires him to attend four conferences throughout his time at Michigan Tech: two as an attendee and two as a presenter. These conferences are incredible networking and learning opportunities. They are the job fairs of Visual and Performing Arts departments around the country.

Henry has attended two conferences so far: the Audio Engineering Society’s Student Summit as an attendee and the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) as a presenter. Henry will also be presenting at the United States Institute for Technical Theater (USITT) later this semester and attending the Audio Engineering Society’s 145th Convention next fall. Initially, Henry wasn’t very excited to have to attend four conferences, but after experiencing them, Henry wishes he could attend them all many times. He says, “Attending an engineering focused college in Upper Michigan isn’t a great place to find sound designers, broadway productions, and large touring musical acts. That’s why we take part in these different conferences. It gives us the opportunity to see the work of industry professionals and other students and allows us to showcase our work to them. This is our chance to show off who we are.”

Although Henry has had great experiences off-campus, he says that one of the greatest experiences he’s received was through Michigan Tech: the Experience Tech Fee. He can hop in his car and head to Mont Ripley for a free day of skiing and then walk into the Rozsa or McArdle theater that night to watch a show. Henry says, “I have been able to attend almost every show in either the Rozsa or McArdle since starting at Michigan Tech. The Experience Tech Fee has allowed me to do that at a fraction of the cost.”

Henry is returning to his internship this summer, but can’t give details due to a Non-Disclosure agreement. However, he was hired because of a small group of alumni that currently work for the company. They knew how much knowledge MTU graduates have. They took a chance on Henry and were so impressed with his work that they re-hired him for another summer.

Written by Morgan Laajala, Communications Intern, Career Services 


From Intern to Full-time Position

Matthew Rudy is off to ITC Holdings after graduation to pursue a full-time position!

Matthew had an internship in the planning department for ITC this past summer. He was the first intern the economic planning group ever hired, and Matthew’s skills and motivation exceeded his supervisor’s expectations. At the end of his internship, Matthew was offered a full-time position starting after graduation.Matthew’s advice to other students is to network, network, network! He advises students to, “Go out and meet with as many recruiters as you can. Start networking companies early. They will remember you throughout your time at Michigan Tech.”

“Go to industry days, go to Career Fair, go to as many events as possible. By going to these events, you will meet  recruiters that will know you by name.”

Matthew is an Electrical Engineering student at Michigan Tech.
Written by Morgan Laajala, Communications Intern, Career Services 

A Casual Conversation: How Allison got her Co-op at Kimberly-Clark

Kimberly Clark“Network with company reps as much as possible. Having that personal connection with someone… is very helpful on the job hunt.” -Allison Dorn, Mechanical Engineering Student at Michigan Tech.

Allison already had an internship lined up  for Summer 2017, but she still wanted to attend the Spring 2017 Career Fair. She went with no expectations and received a co-op offer for Spring 2018- one year away.

Allison knows it’s important to stay relevant, so she attends career events like industry days, employer info sessions, resume blitz, mock interviews, and the Career Fair cookout. Her goal is to brush up on her interview skills and distribute her resume.

Allison became interested in Kimberly-Clark when they hosted an event with the Society of Women Engineers.

At Career Fair, she noticed there were no students lined up at Kimberly-Clark.  She went to talk to them on a whim. Knowing she had her internship coming up, she wasn’t looking for anything but a conversation. After a great conversation with a  KC rep, they wanted to interview her for a Spring 2018 co-op. Allison scheduled her interview for the following day and received an offer two days after Career Fair.

Allison advises other students to “network before career fair, during different company info sessions and at Career Services’ events- so that when you get to career fair you already have established relationships.”

Allison also advises students to always be prepared. She says, “The two weeks before career fair, you should have resumes on you at all times! You never know when you will have a chance to give it to a company rep!”

Written by Morgan Laajala, Communications Intern, Career Services


A Clear Career Path: How Sooraj got his Full-time Job

Sooraj Rehan Sooraj Rehan_cropis a mechanical engineer heading to Cummins, Inc. to pursue a full-time position.

Sooraj created a clear career path for himself to find success. Sooraj focused on the kind of career he wanted and the companies he was interested in working for. He chose relevant classes and coursework, worked hard to get good grades, and completed an internship.  Sooraj applied for hundreds of jobs before landing an offer from Cummins, Inc.

Part of Sooraj’s personal career journey was to take advantage of CareerFEST resources at Michigan Tech. Sooraj attended employer meet and greets, a mock interview, and an advising appointment.

Sooraj’s advice to other students is, “Have a clear goal and do not be distracted by anything else. Hard work is life.”

Written by Morgan Laajala, Communications Intern, Career Services


Be Yourself: How a Math and Psych Major Landed her Co-op

Rylee Price_cropRylee Price is heading to Greenheck for a Production Supervisor co-op this spring. She went to Career Fair with one goal: to prove that her mathematics and psychology majors are useful to recruiting companies.

Rylee scheduled an interview with Greenheck and attended their Co-op Day. She interviewed with five different recruiters who were looking to hire co-ops. Riley used Co-op Day to network, show off her skill set, and ask questions about available positions.

Rylee’s advice for other students is to be yourself! She says, “Be confident in who you are and your capabilities. Be willing to learn, accept challenges, and make mistakes. Don’t fear rejection, and be ready to put yourself out there. The greatest advice I could give is to know how to market yourself!”

 

Written by Communications Intern- Morgan Laajala. 


Making Connections: How Sachin Landed a Full-time Job at Cloudflare

Written by Morgan Laajala, Communications Intern at Career Services

 

Sachin Fernandes, a Michigan Tech Alumni '17 with a degree in Computer Engineering, working at Cloudflare.
Sachin Fernandes, a Michigan Tech Alumni ’17 with a degree in Computer Engineering, working at Cloudflare.

It was a LinkedIn post and following his gut that inspired Sachin to look at available jobs at Cloudflare,  a company with services he’d used,  good principles he recognized and cutting edge technology.   He looked into different  positions to better understand the type of technology talent they were looking for, and he decided to “give it a shot.”

After doing his research, Sachin emailed an engineering manager at Cloudflare named Tony.  Tony had a similar technology  profile and seemed excited to connect with Sachin.

Sachin shared his relevant engineering experience with Tony and inquired about an available internship at Cloudflare. Sachin was disappointed and discouraged when he found out that someone else was hired for the internship. However,  Kirsti, a Career Services Advisor at Michigan Tech, helped Sachin  keep his spirits up and encouraged him not to give up.

Sachin sent monthly emails to Tony about his current projects and reached out to other employees at the company. He says, “Never be scared to email or text someone, it always pays off.” Sachin was later recommended for an internship by Tony and other connections he’d made at Cloudflare.

Over the course of a few weeks, Sachin had multiple phone interviews and was invited to their San Francisco office to interview. To prepare for his interviews, Sachin reviewed Cloudflare’s open source projects to understand the company’s process of writing and building software.

Sachin interviewed at Cloudflare on October 31, 2016, and felt an immediate connection with the company.  He was amazed by the facility and knew that he wanted to work there. After returning to Michigan Tech, Cloudflare had Sachin complete a final interview with a senior engineer. The interview was a  two-way conversation that made Sachin feel comfortable and allowed him to ask questions and solve problems provided by the interviewer.

A few days later, Sachin accepted an internship offer that turned into a full-time position. Sachin’s tip for students is to always send a thank you note to everyone who interviews them and helps them during the process.


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.

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!