Carnegie Mellon University
August 14, 2015

Career Boot Camp held to Kickoff Masters Students’ Job Search

Career Boot Camp held to Kickoff Masters Students’ Job Search

MS-RT and EST&P masters programs, the Career and Professional Development Center, and 12 Peers Theatre partner hold an annual career boot camp for their studentsCBC

The MS-RT and EST&P masters programs combined forces to offer a “career boot camp” in mid-August 2015.  The boot camp introduces students to career resources at CMU and get them starting to think about their job search before the fall semester is in full swing.

Carnegie Mellon's Career and Professional Development Center (CPDC), a key boot camp partner, hosts extensive career support and learning opportunities for all students on campus, including the College of Engineering and the School of Computer Science master’s students.

The Energy Science, Technology and Policy (EST&P) is an interdisciplinary professional master’s program in the College of Engineering.  The Master of Science in Robotics Technology (MS-RT) is a global robotics education initiative of the Robotics Institute, an academic department in the School of Computer Science.  On the surface, it might not seem like these two programs have a lot in common, but there are many connection points and areas of overlap. Executive Director of EST&P Dr. David L. Landis explains:

“MS Energy and MS Robotics students will discover that they have much more in common than their shared graduate institution.  For example, many robotics applications are limited by the capabilities of their mobile energy sources and high power demands.  Energy students study ways to improve batteries and fuel cells and to achieve efficient end power use.  Energy students also study ways to improve large scale energy supply, smart grid distribution, and energy efficiency using diverse technologies from machine learning, from big data, from collaborative robotics applications, from systems of systems research, using distributed sensors and simultaneous localization and mapping technologies as well as many other methods available to them thanks to advances in robotics.  Both groups meet head-on with the challenges of next generation autonomous electric and hybrid vehicles, and the list could go on and on…”

The career boot camp started last year, when both master’s program directors and managers independently realized that getting their students to start thinking about their professional development and unique career path can never start too early. As Assistant Executive Director of EST&P, Nora Siewiorek says, “no one knows you better than yourself, so no one else can sell you like you can”.  In the one day workshop, many topics are covered such as: career search roadmap, an overview of CPDC services, how to do a professional introduction, personalized coaching on self-introductions and resume reviews.  MS-RT and EST&P partnered with Vince Ventura, Founding Artistic Director of 12 Peers Theater to give an overview of how to present oneself professionally, including verbal and non-verbal communication.  After students have an opportunity to craft their own “elevator pitches”, they present them to the entire group and Mr. Ventura gives personalized feedback and coaching.  As he describes his approach:

“The unique aspect of this partnership is our ability to combine STEM with arts in a way that is directly tangible to the student’s long term goals.  Using my past experience as a freelance artist, I help young professionals avoid common pitfalls through the use of best practices and maximize impact with subtle psychological cues, such as body language.  I think the end result is a well-balanced, confident young professional, capable of securing employment and making a large impact at the organization lucky enough to retain them.”

Marcie Foy and Shaina Tsupros were recently hired as Associate Directors of the Career and Professional Development Center (CPDC) and Career Consultants for College of Engineering graduate students. These newly created roles are shared between the College of Engineering and the CPDC to support College of Engineering graduate students.  Foy and Tsupros join Kevin Collins, fellow CPDC staff member of 15 years who serves the School of Computer Science students.

As Mr. Collins summarizes:

“The boot camp idea grew out of a desire to quickly and efficiently prepare incoming graduate students for the upcoming job fairs and other on-campus recruiting events in early Fall.  As many of these entering students are also newly arrived to the United States, the program also helped students understand the importance of self-awareness of their marketable skills as well as the need for ‘self-promotion’ in interactions with employers.”

CPDC offers many services to both current students and alumni, everything from exploring possible career paths, to practicing interviews and negotiating job offers.  Foy and Tsupros are helping to expand those career services to the College of Engineering students by offering a new course “Career & Professional Development for Engineering Masters Students”, they created summer “modules” for students about writing resumes and developing a linked in profile. 

Ms. Tsupros further explains: “Career Boot Camp is a fantastic event because it gives us an opportunity to engage with the students before they even begin classes.  It’s a fun and creative format for students, faculty, and even actors to collaborate on job search advice and networking techniques and gives students a head start on their job search.” 

Career development mentoring and support is provided to MS-RT students through program seminars, CMU CPDC workshops, and individualized cohort support. The MS-RT program also provides online career and professional development support to its year one students that are studying at our overseas partners. MS-RT Director Mel Siegel and RI Global Programs Manager Rachel Burcin launched the MS-RT Career Conversations and Development Seminar in collaboration with CPDC’s Kevin Collins for students studying at CMU’s Pittsburgh campus.  Dr. Siegel provides a historical perspective:

“Why do universities need to teach and why do science and engineering graduate students need to learn job search and interview skills? This requirement is new…. The solution has been for employers seeking master's degree employees to begin doing what they had already been doing for many years to find bachelor's degree employees: use job fairs, resume books, and staff trained to conduct rapid mini-interviews to select a few candidates for serious review, and for even fewer to be invited for full interviews. And how to do this requires understanding, training, and practice taught and coached by career guidance professionals.”

Through the career conversations exciting connections have emerged between the first year MS-RT students studying in China and the United Kingdom, second year students in Pittsburgh, and program alumni.   For the EST&P students, they have time to hone their skills for the 4th annual Energy Career Symposium in early February. 

As Mr. Ventura states, “It is always a pleasure working with the Carnegie Mellon University Career Bootcamp students.  They really see the value of communication and professional development, and how that benefits their careers in the long term.”  The entire staff of MS-RT and EST&P also enjoy helping the students take the first few steps into their career journey; all together as a team.