NOTE: There is probably way too much content here for a single week. We will progress through as much as possible during Week #9, with the balance to be covered in Week #10. First: The Job Search and Graduation!
HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT: Submit your recent resume (or first draft if you haven't created one yet) on or before noon on Friday, April 5, 2019.
Job Search/Resume Preparation
Your resume should be a continuous work in progress. That is, periodically you should review it and include current skillsets learned and assess previous content as to it's relative importance to your current position and the direction you wish to guide your career. Ideally, you should always have a version of your resume "ready to go". You never know when an opportunity will present itself and you want to be ready to jump on it.
There are generally three things you should have prepared when applying for a position. The most obvious is the resume. Without a doubt, it is probably the key aspect to summarizing your credentials for a potential position. The other two items you should have prepared are your cover letter and your "elevator pitch". The cover letter may be your first chance to make a favorable impression on potential employers. It should answer the employer's question: Why is this person the best candidate for this job? A great cover letter, along with a proper resume, will inspire a potential employer to move you to the top of the interview pile. The "elevator pitch" is a 30 second synopsis of your life and why you are the best candidate for this position based upon your experience and education.
I have had the opportunity to advise & prep many students as they prepare their resume's and go on interviews. I've also had the opportunity to serve on many "search committees" here on campus, as well as on several scholarship & awards committees. They are all similar in that people are trying to "sell themselves" as the best candidate for the position or award. You should be aware that there are numerous ways in which a person seeking a job may be introduced to a potential employer. In just a few paragraphs, here's what I've observed over the years.
First and foremost: BE HONEST!!!! Do not lie on your resume. You should read this article on What Really Happens When You Lie On Your Resume from Monster.com.
Cold Call: If you just do a targeted search on Career sites such as Indeed.com or Monster.com, then it is likely you will have no "inside track" to this position.
(To help with the search, feel free to use some of the Job Title descriptions contained in this promotional sheet I created for the E.E.T. Department. A printed copy of this will be distributed in class on 3/21/19.)
By this I mean that there is no one within the organization to which you're applying that knows you personally. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it does put more of a spotlight on whatever paperwork and documentation you provide. At this point, you are really nothing more than a bunch of words on paper or computer screen. Having the right words, or "buzz words" as they're often called, can make or break this type of application process. Larger organizations often make use of automated search software which pre-screens potential applicants for a position based largely upon the "match" of "buzz words" between the job description and your cover letter & resume.
Inside Contact: In this scenario, you either personally know someone associated with the company to which you're applying, or you know someone who knows someone within the company. That advantage here, over the "Cold Call" process above, is that your inside track often allows your resume to bypass the usual channels through HR (Human Resources) and get right to the person or department with which the position is listed. Another advantage can be that you are not a completely unknown quantity. Depending upon the relationship you have with the connections to the position, they will already have some sense as to your abilities, both technical and soft skills. Stated another way, this process is like having a "live reference" from your resume assist with the process. It can help break down barriers and delays can occur in a "cold call" process, facilitating a more likely pathway to success with the position.
Personal Contact: This one is probably the rarest of the three options, but it can and DOES happen with our students. In this scenario, you actually have personal contact with an employer of the company, who is either in the position to do the hiring, or knows the people who will be doing the hiring. At the Advanced Automation Project Presentations/Advisory Board Meeting, mid-May (May 10 at noon), there will also be representatives from several companies most likely looking for technicians. Attending Career Fairs in the area can often get you contacts within companies, though not always the technical side. Recent seniors & grads of our department have mentioned several times that when they have attended these Career Fairs, they see many companies such as banks, insurance, medical, biomedical, hospitality (hotels, motels, restaurants), etc., who are there to recruit business/IT/sales associates/lab techs/etc., but when they are made aware of the skills our students possess, they either give the student a contact card to the technical division, or accept the student's resume and agree to pass it along.
STCC does offer Career Support under the direction of Pam White in Bldg. 27 Rm. 216, 413-755-4464 or email@example.com . You are encouraged to apply for an account for the STCC-Careernet portal via the link above. I am usually directly notified by Pam White if a related position for our students is posted there, but it's a good idea if you included that as part of your regular search process. I just looked at STCC-Careernet with a search word of "Technician" and saw 6 listings directly applicable to the skillsets of our students, and about 4 others which were related. Most were local.
Here is one company, Resume Now which can assist you with writing your resume, cover letter and elevator pitch. They have a "free" service once you register. They also offer a paid service. I have no affiliation or experience with this company, and there are others out there, but these are an option available to you.
Some other reading from Monster.com while preparing your documentation for your job search:
How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter
Four Secrets of Writing A Short, Successful Resume
Four Unexpected Ways to Shine on your Resume
Resume Critique Checklist
Top Skills to List on your Resume
Buzzwords to Include and Avoid on your Resume
Four Things Rectruiters are Tired of Seeing on Resumes
Four Real Life, Ridiculous Resume Blunders
There are options for those looking to pursue a bachelor's degree. Those students considering transferring to a 4 year institution should have already contacted that institution, including their Admissions Office and the Department Chair of the program you are planning to transfer into. As pointed out in the "Careers, Companies & Skillsets" pdf posted above, most schools offering a B.S. in Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technology will accept the majority of our course as either core coursework or technical elective course work. Schools which offer a calculus based, traditional engineering program of study are far less likely to accept any of our EET courses as core courses, and only a slight possibility of them accepting some as electives. The advice for most of our EET graduates is to pursue a B.S. degree at a school which offers a B.S. in Engineering Technology, such as Central Connecticut State University, Wentworth Institute of Technology or University of Hartford. Even better is to seek employment upon graduation from our EET AS program with a company who will pay for you to take courses for your Bachelor's Degree. In that way you will be earning an income and hopefully building up a sizable savings account, gaining valuable experience, and have little or no college debt. Upon graduation, you will not only have acquired the Bachelor's Degree to pursue those positions, but you will also have between 3-5 years of experience. Something most of your fellow B.S. graduates will not have.
Problem Solving Process
Before I present some formal topics to address the Problem Solving Process, I'd like to relate my personal experience and observation of students when faced with challenging a problem.
In my experience, the majority of people wish to arrive at a solution in one, swift step. That is, no intermediate writing, research, discussion, planning, calculating. Just a simple "This is the problem and here's the solution." Truthfully, except with fairly simple problems, this process doesn't work. In my observation, though, I often see people then stall, unable to proceed. Staring blankly, not writing anything down, not researching. Almost like they've accepted defeat without really trying. That is, since the answer wasn't immediately obvious, they have already resigned themselves to judging the problem as unsolvable. Stated another way, there sometimes seems to be an inherent fear in making a mistake, and the chosen path is to do nothing, rather than to try anything. This, too, will not get a problem solved. Making mistakes is most certainly a large part of the learning and problem solving process.
So, my recommendation, when faced with a problem in which the solution immediately does not become apparent, is to start writing things down relevant to the problem. ANYTHING that might be relevant. Start writing. Something. Anything Relevant.
As an example: If it's an electrical circuit, start writing Ohm's Law, Power Law, Kirchoff's Voltage Law (KVL), Kirchoff's Current Law (KCL), Rtotal for series & parallel circuits, redraw the given schematic...ANYTHING that might be remotely related. If you're not sure of the fomulas or theory, then research it. The process here is to jump start your brain into "thinking" about the problem. Writing, then seeing what you wrote, then reading what you wrote, may spark some ideas which evaded your thought process without the physical action of writing. As an added benefit, if this problem happens to be on a quiz or test, your instructor will have an idea that at least you took a stab at it, you understood some aspects of the problem and had a few ideas, as opposed to seeing a blank workspace which suggests you were clueless as to the solution.
This process also aids in the documentation of the problem and it's solution. Accurate documentation is vital aspect of keeping systems operating properly. Once a solution is found to a problem, documenting the process and how the solution was implemented is key for future instances when a similar problem occurs.
So, now this week we will begin with some methods used to develop a problem solving process. There are various ways. I happen to prefer the first method shown, but all may have their merits, or one may be more appealing to you than another.
The 6 Step Problem Solving Process: These steps help formalize the process for solving technical problems. The handouts attached below will hopefully allow you to create a logical process to resolve various problems. Handouts are attached as pdfs here:
There are other methodologies developed to assist in problem resolution. The POWER and SWOT methods mentioned below often lend themselves to arriving at a resolution for problems of a less technical and perhaps more sociological nature. The tutorials below should be done individually to help assess your personal tendencies toward problem solving.
Here's a link demonstrating the P-O-W-E-R Method Positives, Objections, What Else, Enhancements, Remedies. This is from Wisc-Online.
And here's another tool known as S-W-O-T, Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. This is from Wisc-Online.
Here's a tool which helps to assess how You (personally) Make Decisions and Solve Problems. This is from Wisc-Online.
Introduction to Interference:
A common problem in electrical, electronic and telecommunication circuits and systems is RFI and EMI.
Here's the lead paragraph from the Wikipedia link below which summarizes EMI:
"Electromagnetic interference (EMI), also called radio-frequency interference (RFI) when in the radio frequency spectrum, is a disturbance generated by an external source that affects an electrical circuit by electromagnetic induction, electrostatic coupling, or conduction. The disturbance may degrade the performance of the circuit or even stop it from functioning. In the case of a data path, these effects can range from an increase in error rate to a total loss of the data. Both man-made and natural sources generate changing electrical currents and voltages that can cause EMI: ignition systems, cellular network of mobile phones, lightning, solar flares, and auroras (Northern/Southern Lights). EMI frequently affects AM radios. It can also affect mobile phones, FM radios, and televisions, as well as observations for radio astronomy.
EMI can be used intentionally for radio jamming, as in electronic warfare."
Wikipedia's Description of EMI & RFI.
FCC Defines Interference.
Here's an article from the Wall Street Journal which shows the FCC enforcing radio interference rules.
GE Whitepaper on EMI from Electronic Ballasts for Fluorescent Lighting.
Popular Mechanics - How to Fight RFI with your Gadgets.
RF Interference Hunting Techniques (more advanced than we need to worry about, but FYI):
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