Have Victors Benefitted From Career Resources?

February 9, 2017

Cubicles in the Chemistry Building

Liz Grabis

The Reserve Officer Training Corps seems like a mystery to most students at the University of Michigan. As Midshipmen, we are very visible around campus when we attend classes in our uniforms, but the opportunities we have are not well known. While our unit office is confined to a corner of the Chemistry Building and our officers operate within cubicles, we are provided with extensive resources. The program is unique in that our training is centered primarily around our personal and professional development. The resources we are provided guide us into the professions we are obligated to fulfill after our training in university.

Applying for the program and scholarship is similar to applying for any college, with transcripts, essays, personal information, and interests. However, it also includes an interview with an officer, a physical fitness test, and a medical qualification. Students are also welcome to participate in the program in the hopes of attaining a scholarship during their time in college.

Once in the program, we are committed to a minimum service requirement of four to five years as officers in the Navy, depending on our chosen major. As a nursing major, I will serve as a Naval nurse for four years after I complete the NROTC program and obtain my nursing degree. Each week, we have to attend morning workouts, our naval science classes, and our Leadership Lab. We are also required to participate in summer cruises that consist of real life training in the fleet.

Everything that we do throughout our time is college is designed to help us achieve our goals of commissioning as naval officers. The mission statement of NROTC states: “The NROTC Program was established…in order to commission college graduates as naval officers who possess a basic professional background, are motivated toward careers in the naval service, and have a potential for future development in mind and character so as to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.”

In practice, this mission statement guides the resources that are available for us. Because we have distinct and concrete career goals, the officers in our unit are motivated towards helping us to succeed. All of the officers teach our naval science classes, which include lessons on naval history, customs, traditions, leadership and management, navigation, warfare, operations, and ethics. They are present in our Leadership Lab, which is used to develop our leadership abilities and expose us to possible specialties and opportunities for our futures. We are all also assigned to an officer who serves as our academic advisor and meets with us throughout our semesters to establish our goals and mark our progress.

The structure of our battalion also serves as a resource for our career development. Each semester, we are assigned to billets, or jobs, to give us practice with various skills and leadership positions. For example, this semester I am in charge of recruiting, which means that I assist students interested in joining our unit. Our billets operate within a chain of command, which gives us the knowledge needed to communicate within a unit when we commission.

When we near commissioning, the officers in our unit again have a large influence over our futures. As a nurse option, I already know which speciality area I will enter. However, other Midshipman have a variety of communities they could enter, including surface warfare, submarines, aviation, and SEAL teams. Some of these communities require special tests and interviews, for which the officers prepare us in our training. They are dedicated to helping us select and prepare for the naval career we choose.

Aside from all of the training that I receive in NROTC, Michigan’s School of Nursing also has very specialized academic programs. There are career fairs throughout the year, special lectures to orient us to various opportunities within our major, and our clinical experiences which expose us to the hands-on work of nurses in hospitals.

While the two programs are completely separate, I have two large support systems teeming with resources for me and my career development. I am always surrounded by people with the same career goals, whether nursing or the Navy, who serve as my last, but perhaps most important, resource.

Liz Grabis is a second year student in the School of Nursing and the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC). She enjoys kayaking, reading on the beaches of North Carolina, and visiting her home state of Maryland.


From Michigan to Disney

Monika Paliwoda

Hi! My name is Monika, and I am sophomore currently away at a co-op, an internship for a semester, with Walt Disney World’s Industrial Engineering Department’s Food and Beverage team.

If you are an engineer with a Michigan email account, you have probably already received a plethora of emails about career fairs, information sessions, career tracks, and more. My biggest piece of advice is to read them all! Reading your emails is the first step to navigating the big, scary (don’t worry it’s not that scary) world of recruiting. The University of Michigan, especially the College of Engineering, has so many resources for finding a job, and coming into college. I hope my insight on Emerging Wolverines, career fairs, information sessions, career track emails, and eventually landing my dream internship help you navigate the job hunt world!

As a freshman, I participated in Emerging Wolverines. Emerging Wolverines is a five week, small group experience that helps identify potential majors that are right for you. Even though I knew I wanted to study Industrial and Operations Engineering (IOE), I decided to participate to explore my strengths and how my personality and goals could align with other majors.

Within the first few weeks of school, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Tau Beta Pi (TBP) hold a two-day Career Fair. Almost every building, even the far FXB, has companies lined up waiting to speak to students. Even if you are an underclassman, go. Talk to companies, get your name out there, or even just practice putting on a suit and waiting to speak to a recruiter. I recommend researching companies in advance online so that you know which day and where the companies are at the career fair. You can also see what positions and what majors they are looking for. This last part is especially important because you do not want to wait twenty minutes just to have a recruiter give you back your resume because their operations recruiter is not there that day. That being said, don’t be afraid to quickly take out your phone and do some research on a company, and then go up and talk to them. I received interview offers from companies that I knew nothing about until the five minutes before I went to talk to them!

The IOE department also has a career fair. This takes place within the week of the SWE/TBP career fair and was an amazing opportunity to talk to companies that were specifically looking for me. The lines are usually fairly short and you get more face time with the recruiter. Go to this even just to see what companies are in your field, and what kind of jobs they offer.

Career fairs are a great way to leave your mark on a recruiter, and information sessions are a great way for a company to leave a mark on you. The College of Engineering sends out weekly and daily emails about events going on on campus. Read those emails! (Have I stressed that enough?) As a freshman, I attended the information sessions for the companies I was interested in or wanted to learn more about. That knowledge of what they were looking for gave me more confidence now as a sophomore to talk to those companies at career fair.

Finally, I have an interest in consulting, so through the Career Center, I signed up for the Consulting Career Track. Every month, I get emails about case prep techniques, recruiting schedules, and more. Anyone can sign up for these, and there are a variety of tracks ranging from business to medical.

For Disney, I attended both the information session and the IOE Career Fair. At the Disney Information Session, the recruiter talked about the company, skills required to apply, and he even gave example case interview questions. With this in mind, the next day at the IOE Career Fair, I was able to tailor my elevator pitch to points he talked about at the information session. The co-op application itself was online, and I received a call for an interview a few weeks later.

Monika Paliwoda is a sophomore studying industrial and operations engineering. This semester, she is interning as an industrial engineer with Walt Disney World in Orlando, supporting Food and Beverage. On campus, Monika is the secretary for the Michigan Polish Student Association, a member of the Michigan Business Club and Society of Women Engineers. She also participated in the Petrovich Emerging Leadership Experience (PELE).


The Glass Ceiling of the Audition Room

Tiffany W. and Liliana T.

Theatre has often had a reputation of challenging a norm, and nowhere is this more true than on college campuses, where young thespians are encouraged to make art that expresses their opinions, political, social or otherwise. Yet for whatever reason, this mindset of intrepidity often does not extend to race. It appears to be an all-inclusive art form, but in the casting room there is often pressure to cast the white majority. We’ve all read about #OscarsSoWhite. But while Chris Rock could constantly make jabs at the Academy for the lack of African Americans nominated for awards, other minorities were left without a voice. Non-black people of color are the minority within the minority, those forgotten even when race is the topic of conversation, and experience their own differing forms of discrimination. This is not limited to Hollywood: even as actors are in training at university, actors of color are passed over in casting for various reasons, and deprived of the career resources to hone their craft that would better prepare them for the professional world of theatre.

While not overt, the problem is apparent. In casting calls, there will be no mention of race. Yet, despite a show might be marketed as “all-American,” you can be pretty sure that the cast will be almost entirely white, regardless of the diversity present in the audition room. A black actor might fit into the “American” mold, but it takes a daring director to cast an actor of any other ethnicity. The problem therein lies in choosing shows that speak to the white American experience.

Yet even when other ethnicities are encouraged with the promise of roles for “actors of color,” these plays often only require black actors, and speak only to the African-American experience - creating a double-standard. Black actors are given racially-specific roles that they can play with little to no guilt of appropriation. Other actors of color don’t often have that option. If there is a call for ‘Latinx’ actors, anyone who passes for Latinx with a bit of makeup is welcome to audition.

It is frustrating for an actor of color to suffer such a double-standard without any real voice or representation. Boards of collegiate theatres feel it is enough to do an ‘African American’ play, or a play that ‘celebrates diversity.’ But by limiting actors’ chances to these specific plays, they perpetuate the idea that actors of color must be cast for only racial reasons. Setting one show of five aside for these actors is patronizing and divisive. Far more inclusive and useful to actors in training is choosing productions that are racially ambiguous, where all actors of any race can work together side by side. After all, in an education setting, all students should have access to all options. Collegiate theatre should be about training young actors, and this training can only be gained through engaging in a production process. When schools pick shows that cannot provide this type of training to all ethnicities, they cannot hope to provide an inclusive educational and pre-professional experience.

Casting can and should be colorblind when a production is part of a student’s education. Proponents of dominantly white casts have argued that when characters are related (it is rare to find a play where there are no relatives present), it is not believable for the family to be of different races. But theatre is about suspension of disbelief - if you are able to believe that Peter Pan is flying, is it so unbelievable that a black woman can have a white father? Families on stage do not all have to be the same race, and the University of Michigan has proven this in multiple recent shows. The shows were well received, regardless of the lack of genetic integrity.

Of course subtle prejudice still exists in casting rooms across the country. Nonetheless, there is a reason why students spend thousands of dollars every year instead of immediately diving into the professional world: for the sake of training that prepares them for a career in theatre. All students are paying this cost - white, black, or otherwise. Casting protocol that pursues the “white all-American” aesthetic, or that specifies only certain races while others remain a matter of “makeup will do the trick,” is neglectful; students of color are then deprived of the opportunity to develop skills in an educational setting, and enter the professional world without the same experience as their peers.

Tiffany W. and Liliana T. are students in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance at the University of Michigan.


Discrepancies from across the pond

Kirsty McInnes

While getting ready to apply for my first internship, I did what many of us do: I sent my resume to my dad and asked for his feedback. I’ve always found it useful to take others’ feedback on my writing with a grain of salt, but when I received an email back from my dad saying: “Looks good, just a few grammatical errors,” I figured it wasn’t entirely true. I had been looking for some real feedback, most of which he usually gave me, so I got to thinking about why, all of a sudden, I wasn’t getting the assistance that I was used to. My family and I moved to the United States from Basildon, United Kingdom, a city about an hour east of London, in 2003. While I’ve been stateside for most of my life, my parents’ way of life still closely resembles that of someone living in the U.K. Maybe I should have seen the slight issue of my parents being foreign coming; my dad had admitted to me that he’d only seen a resume from the United States a handful of times. I have always been aware of most of the cultural differences between the U.S. and U.K., but it wasn’t until recently that I started to realize some differences related to career application expectations may affect me more than the correct way to pronounce “poem.” Don’t get me wrong, there aren’t that many differences in searching for jobs between here and the U.K. However, for small things such as resume-building as well as for larger things such as degrees and how much they matter when applying for a jobs, the two countries do differ slightly. Resumes in the U.K. are actually called CVs, which stands for Curriculum Vitae, and although they convey very similar things as resumes in the U.S. do, they can differ structurally. For example, in a CV, dates are usually listed on the left. This may seem like a minor detail, but this slight change would create a very different flow to my resume. Also, in the U.K., when you receive your degree, it comes with a corresponding “honour”; a first class, upper second class, lower second class, or third class honour. These honours actually play a large role in the types of jobs and programs you are eligible to enter after graduating from university. So trying to explain to my parents that a student with all C’s or a student with all A’s will essentially receive the same degree was somewhat difficult. These disparities led me to turn to the often-criticized but highly underutilized University Career Center. While I had heard some complaints about the Career Center, such as it is impersonal and generally unhelpful, I decided to give it a shot. My first encounter with the Center was attending an “Immersion,” an event that allows you to get a feel for a certain company by touring their offices and meeting with employees. The Immersion was an (free!) enlightening opportunity that showed me what a regular day at an office looks like, as well as broadened my knowledge about what types of jobs a Comm. major can pursue. There was also an opportunity at the Immersion to network with UM alumni and to gain information from an intern manager about the company’s intern program and how to apply. For me, the experience was very important; picking a career path was something that neither my parents, nor anyone really, could help me with. Attending the Immersion was also why I needed my first real resume; I wanted to apply to the company I had toured. I decided to use the Career Center for this purpose as well and, for me, it paid off. After talking to a peer advisor for just 15 minutes, she had gone through my resume line by line and provided much more in-depth feedback than “looks good.” She was able to tell me that dates on your resume should be on the righthand side, but also helped me prioritize which of my past experiences I should focus on most and what to leave out entirely (A.K.A. everything from high school). She went over small details as well, down to whether I should use the words “participated” or “assisted.” Even though the path that lead me to the Career Center stemmed from my parents being from another country, I think that any route one takes will lead them to having a beneficial experience. I plan on taking full advantage of all the opportunities in the Career Center in the near future.

Kirsty McInnes is a current sophomore at the University of Michigan studying communications and planning to minor in writing. She is an associate editor of Consider Magazine and spends most of her free time binge-watching T.V. and drinking coffee.