A graduate’s guide to securing a career
“People make an impression of you within the first 30 seconds and it’s really hard to get rid of that impression,” Ann Zuzuly (BSME '13) said to a class of ME 390 students. “Think about your personal brand right now and what you want it to be in the future.”
To Zuzuly, her personal brand is comprised of an array of factors ranging from Google’s returns on her name to her usual role in group lab reports. Branding is just one of the skills she suggested engineering students master when working in an internship.
On February 12, the MechSE alumna shared ways to successfully land, perform, and end an internship. Today, Zuzuly works at Eaton Corporation, a power management company located in Southfield, Michigan. She explores different areas of the company through Eaton’s rotational program.
In Advanced Research and Development, Zuzuly focuses on truck transmissions. She hopes to make the vehicles more fuel efficient and decrease their 25 percent oil consumption and the toll that takes on the environment. Next year, she will work on manufacturing and design.
Before procuring her role at Eaton, Zuzuly sought several internships. In 2010, she was a student research participant at Argonne National Laboratory and a ComEd reliability analysis intern in 2011, among others. Before applying for an internship, Zuzuly recommends that students be informed.
“Learn the lingo,” she said. “You want to get up to date in the industry and in the research area.”
To learn more about the engineering industry’s vernacular, Zuzuly suggests that students read scholarly papers on the subject and attend technical conferences.
After learning the lingo, candidates should know the different positions available in a company. Learning the organizational structure at a company can help applicants determine which position is a best fit for them.
In addition to learning more about the company and its different roles, talking to people is essential. Different ways to network include participating in career fairs, campus presentations, and competition teams.
“Go to Engineering Career Services and have your resume reviewed. A lot of times we will have company reps review resumes,” Zuzuly said. “I know some people who have gone there and walked out with job offers.”
While making connections, students should make mental notes of companies’ skill gaps. After learning about a company’s skill needs, zero in on one and become an expert in the area. Choosing area-focused MechSE electives is one way to begin course to becoming an expert.
To Zuzuly, achievement comes as a result of talent and preparation. Once students receive an internship, that talent and preparation can be put to test. She encourages interns to make an impact their employers will remember. Because they only have 10 to 12 weeks to leave their footprint, Zuzuly suggests starting early and making a good impression.
“Before you start your internship, ask your boss if there are any materials they can send you, so that you can learn about it ahead of time,” she said.
On the first day, Zuzuly said interns should be alert and keep track of new information. She recommends writing and learning people’s names, company acronyms, and departments. Students should ask questions to make sure they understand material and what others expect of them.
“You want to make sure where they are, where the bar is, and then, you want to surpass it,” Zuzuly said.
To exceed company expectations, interns could set three to five main goals to focus on throughout the internship. By the last day of the internship, they should be able to quantify their achievements at the company, whether it is decreasing production time by 10 seconds or saving half a million dollars.
When the internship is over, it is important to continue communicating with previous employers. An easy way to keep in touch: “(If coworkers leave) your company and you hear something good happens to them—say, they get a promotion—send a congratulations email,” Zuzuly said.
“If you do all those things, you will get good feedback on your internship and you will have a great start to your career,” Zuzuly said.