Posts Tagged ‘jobs’

What Employers Look for in Job Candidates — And Employees

Friday, July 9th, 2010
Do you have what they want?

Do you have what they want?

This week, we revisited employers at EMC, one of the country’s leading providers of data storage and a pioneer in the field of Information Technology. All three of the people interviewed stressed the importance of developing a strong math and science background for a future in the IT field, but they also shared numerous other pieces of advice for today’s students to think about while they are still in school. We’ve compiled their thoughts into a “Top Ten” list of qualifications and characteristics that IT employers might look for in both job candidates and employees.

1. Time management skills. EMC’s Todd Matthews notes that besides straightforward technical aptitude, he looks at a candidate’s ability to wisely manage his or her time. “Being able to juggle and prioritize…shows us the sort of mindset that [a candidate] might have out in the field …it’s a telltale sign to employers that you’ve got your act together.”

2. Customer service skills. “There’s a number of different traits you would look for [in a candidate applying for a position involving customer relations]” notes EMC’s Todd Casta. “You want people who can speak well and convey confidence in their abilities. Being able to speak on the phone or in group meeting settings is also important. Presentation skills are big.”

3. Troubleshooting skills. Here’s where analytical ability comes in, adds Todd Casta. “The ability to troubleshoot, to really commit to a problem until it’s resolved, is important. It’s also a great sense of accomplishment once you have it figured out.”

4. Knowledge of industry trends. Staying on top of changes — and they are almost constant in the IT world — is also important. Todd Casta suggests you keep an eye on industry periodicals and websites to familiarize yourself with IT trends, be they storage or programming or any of the other IT specialty areas. It can provide an advantage when you are interviewing — and when you get hired.

5. Pursuit of certifications. All three EMC employers interviewed by ATETV — Kim Yohannan, Todd Matthews and Todd Casta — emphasized that pursuing IT certifications demonstrates to future employers not only your qualifications, but also your commitment. “I think the earlier you can get into a certification program — even in high school — you are setting yourself on the right path to become a better IT professional,” notes Casta.

6. Knowledge of the marketplace. “Why not be in an industry where you know you’ll be needed?” asks Todd Matthews. And, he says, data storage is shaping up to be one of the most critical areas of IT in today’s marketplace. “If you look at just pure supply and demand, almost everything today is stored digitally, and that isn’t going to go away.” He emphasizes that there is much more to IT than just computer programming. “There’s room for the folks that love infrastructure…PCs, servers, networking components. If you look at security, if you look at storage, and at infrastructure, those are probably the three fastest growing areas of IT.”

7. Understanding of the big picture. Whether a student wants to be a network administrator, a database administrator, an application developer or a storage administrator, he or she should have an understanding of the infrastructure as a whole, notes Kim Yohannan. “All of these components work together, so knowledge of what the other person is doing, at least a basic understanding of [their function] is important.”

8. Adaptability. Recognize that in the real world, things don’t always go as planned. “You don’t know what type of situation you’re going to walk into,” explains Todd Matthews. “New products are coming out the door all the time and [you have to be ready for it]” he says. Being flexible and adaptable can help lead to success.

9. Demonstrating initiative. “I think this goes for a variety of careers, but especially in IT,” says Matthews, who recommends that when you get into the marketplace, demonstrating that you’re ready to take the next step and looking ahead to the future is extremely valuable. “Taking the initiative to let people know what you want to do and why you see the benefit to a company is huge.”

10. And yes — Knowing Your Math. Being able to figure out equations, calculating power, thinking empirically and logically — they’re all part of the IT profession and they’re all rooted in math. So if you don’t think that learning algebra and calculus applies to the real world, the employers of EMC suggest you think again — math is where it all begins.

Growing Green Jobs

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Last week’s State of the Union address was all about jobs, and one promising avenue for job growth the President highlighted is the new green economy.

In his speech, Obama framed the need to invest in those types of jobs in terms of keeping pace with international competitors like China, Germany and India. “These nations aren’t playing for second place. They’re putting more emphasis on math and science. They’re rebuilding their infrastructure. They’re making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs.”

Indeed, according to a New York Times report, China is now the world’s largest manufacturer of wind turbines and is making gains in other green fields as well.

If America wants to keep up, ATE programs at community colleges will be vital to training new green workers and retraining older workers for new green jobs. Perhaps that’s why President Obama repeated his call for more funding for community colleges in his speech last week, calling them “a career pathway for the children of many working families.”

There are two sides to greening the economy: investing in new renewable energy projects or cleaner transportation infrastructure like high-speed rail; and improving energy efficiency in order to better conserve heat and electricity. We saw an example of each of these types of green jobs in this week’s episode. At Laramie County Community College in Wyoming, students are learning how to operate and maintain the wind turbines that are popping up across the West.

Meanwhile, at Sinclair Community College, students are working with local affordable housing groups to conduct green energy audits and weatherize homes. And both of these types of jobs need to be done here, in America; they can’t be sent overseas.

The hope is that last year’s unprecedented federal investment in basic scientific research will seed a new green manufacturing sector, building advanced batteries and solar cells. That will mean new green jobs for laid-off manufacturing workers, but first they’ll be need to be retrained. And ATE programs at community colleges across the country will be on the front lines of that training.

Click here to read about some of the green job titles expected to see the biggest growth in the coming years.

ATETV Episode 11: Learning at Any Age

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

This week we meet students with three different circumstances: a recent community college grad out in the workforce, a returning professional changing careers, and current students who got a jump start on their ATE classes during high school.

First we meet Travis Blackwell, who’s putting his ATE degree to use as a field service engineer for ESAB, an international Swedish industrial company with welding and cutting equipment manufacturing facilities located throughout the world. Travis earned a 2-year degree in electromechanical engineering technology at Florence-Darlington Technical College.

As part of his studies, Travis completed an internship, where he worked with the same equipment that he now maintains in the field. “College essentially taught me how to think for a higher level, problem solving and to do any sort of analysis whatsoever,” he says. “The hands-on training did help a lot with establishing good fundamentals for the lectures.”

Next we meet Susan Clark, who has gone back to school to pursue a certificate in biotechnology. After the job that had kept her busy for 12 years ended, Susan decided to act on her love of science and study for a new career, and she says she’s not alone in doing so. “There were several people in my class who were just about my age. One was retired looking for something else to do. Another one, he was switching jobs, due to layoffs.” Susan’s biotech studies will prepare her for a new high-tech career, possibly in environmental quality monitoring.

Finally we return to Florence-Darlington Technical College, where several of the current students actually started earning college credits while still in high school. “We need to begin to develop the technical expertise and the technical skills in a much younger child, so that they have the chance to help us create a global competitive environment,” says Jill Heiden of ESAB — the same company that now employs Travis Blackwell. By starting early, students are setting themselves up for successful careers like Travis’.

ATETV Episode 8: Underwater Robots, HVAC, and Online Learning

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

ATETV episode 8 is up, and this week we’re looking at how community colleges are using online courses to better meet the varied schedules and learning styles of their students. Check out our separate blog post on the subject, where we get into some of the details with Dr. Matthew Olson, Director of Online Learning at Middlesex Community College.

We also feature two very different ATE success stories. First, we go poolside at the MATE International ROV Competition, where teams of students design, build and operate underwater robots. Jill Zande, who helps organize the annual event, says that the learning is as much about teamwork as it is technical skills. “They’re challenged to apply what they’re learning in the classroom to the real world,” she tells us.

We also profile Hayden Mark, who is studying HVAC at Benjamin Franklin Technical Institute in Boston. Originally from Grenada, Hayden came to Boston three years ago. He’s studying HVAC — Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning — to provide a better life for his three (soon to be four) children. Completing his coursework will knock 2000 hours off his required apprenticeship, which means Hayden will be able to be working in his chosen field even faster.

Like what you see? Have a question or an ATE success story of your own? Comment on our blog or start a conversation in our Forum! See you next week!