Posted on December 11, 2014 by Beata Strubel
Choosing a major is a difficult decision. Continuing our series on major choice and career advice, CCO Ambassador Meagan shares her advice about exploring your strengths and finding an internship.
Meet the Expert
Meagan is a senior in Industrial Engineering. She has three internship experiences and will be working at GE Healthcare after graduation. At Purdue, she works as a CCO Ambassador and led the CCO Greek outreach campaign. She shared her career-related insight with WE Link to help you with your major choice and career development.
How did you choose your major within engineering?
Before coming to Purdue, I had a general idea of what major I wanted within engineering. I learned about my major by researching it online (especially through Purdue's course pages - ie Google search "Purdue ____ Engineering") as well as talking to my older sister who is a Purdue Industrial Engineering graduate.
During the introductory engineering class first semester (ENGR131) I learned about all of the engineering majors and this confirmed that I wanted to do IE. In some sense, I used a process of elimination to decide as well, which I recommend. For example, I am not that passionate about chemistry, so I eliminated Chemical Engineering. Overall, I chose IE because I feel like it fits my future career goals with wanting to interact and lead people in a technical sense (more than management).
I also looked at what my strengths are and what I am naturally good at. For example, I have the urge to do everything the most efficient way in every day life which also coincides with IE. I would advise current high school students to do one or more techniques that I did. If they are struggling with determining their strengths and natural instincts, talk to family and close friends.
How did you find your internship?
I found my three internships (one with General Cable, two with GE Healthcare) through networking and the Industrial Roundtable (IR). IR is a two day event in which I like to describe as a "candy shop for engineers". This college career fair is the largest in the nation! Hundreds of employees set up booths on a large grassy spot on campus known as Memorial Mall. You can simply bring your resume and step in line to talk to employers ranging from Caterpillar to Kraft to John Deere to Whirlpool as well as smaller companies.
Freshman year I would advise as I did and talk to as many companies as possible. I talked to about 20 (which is pretty extreme for the average internship-seeker, but I am happy I did)! Every year, start out by talking to smaller companies or companies you are less passionate about. I call them "warm-up" companies that get you comfortable and extra confident. Have your resume ready and confidently give it to the employer. Usually, they will ask you about yourself. This is your cue for your elevator speech with is about 30 seconds-1 minute where you point out what you are looking for (ie internship or full-time job) and tell them "why you, why them". In other words, explain why with your resume experiences they should want to hire you and then explain why you want to work for them. Typically, they will ask you questions based off what you said or what is on your resume. After talking to companies at IR, you will (hopefully) receive some interview offers (usually interviews are held at Purdue). From there, companies will often have another interview at one of their sites. Every company has their own process though.
Internships are important for receiving full-time job offers and if you perform well, the companies you intern for will offer you a full-time offer (I received a full-time offer with GEHC before school started this year, my senior year).
The CCO offers many free services. These include drop-ins with student ambassadors (undergraduate and graduate) as well as counselors. This service allows you to get your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profiles reviewed as many times as you want. Additionally, you can drop-in for interview advice, career advice, etc. Drop-in services typically last 10-15 minutes. If you want more detailed advice, you can schedule an appointment with a counselor including mock interviews. Additionally, the CCO website (www.cco.purdue.edu/mycco.aspx) has what is called "MyCCO". This website allows you to apply for interviews with companies as well as enter your resume into a resume book for employers registered through the CCO have open access to!
What is your role as a CCO ambassador?
As an ambassador, I attended a two-day training session as well as receive weekly training. I help with the drop-in service by reviewing resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, and talking through topics including interview skills and career exploration. Also, I am on two project committees. One is Greek Outreach which aims to advertise our services to the Greek and Co-op communities. I led a committee of other ambassadors in the planning a week-long Greek competition to entice Greek members to utilize our services during this week to earn points!