The UC Berkeley Career Center supports you in finding jobs, internships, and more. This week on the (Not So) Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer we are excited to have Revae Hitt and Michael Harris, career counselors whose primary focus is working with students in engineering and physical sciences.
Find out about upcoming workshops, conferences, and recruiting events. Plus, learn how to make one-on-one appointments, how to contact and work with peer advisers in the Career Center, and which tools to use to guide you in your professional journey.
LAURA VOGT: Hello and welcome to The Not So Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer. I’m your host, Laura Vogt, the associate director of marketing and communications in the College of Engineering. This week we have two advisers from the Career Center to discuss with us the many resources and events that will be available during your time at Berkeley. Join me in welcoming Michael Harris and Revae Hitt. Mike, please introduce yourself and tell us more about your role at UC Berkeley.
MICHAEL HARRIS: Hi Laura, I’m an assistant director at the Career Center, which means I’m a career counselor and I focus mostly on students in the engineering and physical sciences colleges but I generally support students from other colleges too.
LV: Well, thank you so much for joining us today. Revae your turn, please tell us about yourself and your role in the Career Center.
REVAE HITT: Yes, Mike and I have the same role. I’m an assistant director as well, and I specialize with students in engineering and physical sciences.
LV: Well, thank you both for being here this week on the podcast. And let’s start with one of the many ways that students can start getting involved with the Career Center, which is Handshake. Mike can you tell us a little bit more about it?
MH: Handshake is a one stop shop for almost all of our services. Students can see and they can apply for jobs. They can view and RSVP for events, like workshops and career fairs, and of course they can book 30-minute appointments with a career counselor. So I encourage students to set up their profile so that they can use it to measure their candidacy for jobs and they can also track their progress through the application process.
LV: Excellent. One of the things that’s close to my heart, because I’m the one that sends out the newsletter for ESS every Monday, is the Career Center newsletter that Revae does. Revae, can you tell us a bit more about it and maybe how students can sign up for it?
RH: Sure thing. So every week I’ll send students a career mail tailored for those in engineering and tech. It’ll include career news, insights, upcoming Career Center events, as well as events and opportunities beyond the Career Center. And it’ll have upcoming employer information sessions and job opportunities. Students can sign up for the CareerMail on the homepage of Handshake. They just need to go to their initials, to the drop down menu and click career interests. Then they can choose the Engineering/Tech CareerMail.
LV: Does that mean if they wanted to find out about other majors and their career opportunities they could sign up for other newsletters?
RH: Yes, you got it. We have got a business one, international student one. We have a social impact CareerMail. Students can sign up for whichever CareerMails they are interested in.
LV: Excellent. Well, thank you. Mike, are students able to have one-on-one appointments with you, as the advisers?
MH: Yes. So through a Handshake they can book one-on-one appointments ahead of time. These are 30-minute appointments but we also have kind of dropping appointments with our peer advisers. Also, for the first six weeks of each semester in the fall and spring, we offer kind of shorter 15 to 20 minute appointments, these are more drop-in style. Lots of opportunities to talk to a counselor. Like I said, Revae and I support engineering/physical sciences but we also have pre-med counselors, L&S counselors. We also have counselors dedicated to international students and also students with disabilities.
LV: And there’s also counselors for grad students, as well, so as you continue on.
MH: Yes, as they continue on if they want to talk more about grad school, whether its a Ph.D. or MBA programs, we can talk about those too.
LV: Excellent. One of the events that we have coming up, that’s right at the beginning of the year, I think we’re in the seventh or eighth year of it, is the Career Conference. Revae can you tell us a little bit more about that?
RH: Yes, definitely. On September 3rd and 4th, we’ll be hosting the 9th Annual Engineering/Tech Career Conference.
LV: Oh wow, it’s nine years.
RH: Yeah, nine years. This year of course will be virtual. So we are shifting the platform to Zoom. There will be a keynote speaker, workshops to help prepare and empower students for the fall recruiting season. Students will learn about technical resume writing, technical interviewing, behavioral interviewing. We’ll have workshops on debunking the hiring process and job search workshops for international students. We’ll be promoting this conference next month on Handshake and through various newsletters and student organizations.
LV: Is it focused more for a certain amount of time that you’ve been at school like for second, third, and fourth year, or is it something that even freshmen can look into going to?
RH: Yes, this is open to anyone of any class level. Of course, you know we definitely encourage juniors and seniors to attend, especially transfer students who are new to campus. This will be preparing them to recruit for those positions that’ll start in the following spring and summer, whether they are internships or full time positions.
LV: Excellent. You actually got my follow-up. I was going to ask if this was good if you’re doing internships, rather than full time positions.
RH: Yes, good for both.
LV: Building on the career conferences, I know that we have a lot of workshops throughout the year. Mike, can you tell us if you’ve got plans for workshops and how you might be having to change the process because of our virtual environment?
MH: Well, we have workshops. We got lots of workshops and they’re all moving to that kind of virtual space. We’ve had some practice with that at the end of the last semester, so we feel really good about our lineup coming up this semester. We’ll put on various career readiness workshops. We either target them at specific student population, like major, college, or year, or maybe even whether they are first generation, or maybe aiming to go to law school. Most of our workshops are generalized and they focus on skills like networking or resume, technical resume preparation, or interview practice for business school. As I said, all the virtual for this fall semester.
LV: Can you build on that with the job and internship fairs that are coming up?
MH: Yes, job internship fairs we’re really excited about. Each year we partner with our employers to host numerous job and internship fairs. These are great opportunities to network with company representatives. You can find out more about their organization and the roles that they have open. It’s also just a valuable opportunity to network and help you stand out among hundreds of other applicants. This year, we’re taking advantage of the virtual reality of programming to specialize our fairs. In the fall semester you’ll see us host various stem fairs, business fairs, we have public service fairs, grad school fairs, all of these will be hosted on Handshake. Students can RSVP and upload documents and work through Handshake.
LV: Should freshmen and transfer students be approaching this first semester differently, Revae?
RH: There are some similarities and differences, both freshmen and transfer students will need to acquaint themselves with campus, with the resources, student services, and student organizations. They’ll also need to activate their Handshake accounts and profiles. Freshmen though may be in more of an exploratory phase with their careers, so they can check out our Career Center tools like Candid Career. Candid Career is a series of recorded informational interviews, where professionals discuss what their job is like day to day. Students can get an idea of whether or not that job would be a good fit for them. Transfer students may be further along in their career planning process and I would encourage them to prepare right away for the fall recruiting events that happen September through November, for internships that are going to start the following spring and summer. Everyone’s path is different though so I encourage all freshmen and transfer students to schedule a career counseling appointment on a Handshake, so we can help them with an individualized plan for the steps that they can take during the semester.
LV: That’s fantastic. I know as we start with all this planning for the job/internship fairs, that students are going to have a lot of questions about their resumes. Is there specific ways that they can get resumes coaching?
MH: Yes, the resume coaching is kind of a sweet spot for our counselors and peer advisers. They’re used to them and we love to give advice and tips. Students can access this through appointments with a counselor and a peer advisor or they can just go to our website. We have all of our resources available there. We also host workshops where we’ll invite industry professionals, like recruiters, to give individual feedback on resumes. I encourage students to, if they haven’t already started putting a strong resumé together, we have templates available on our website. As they move through their academic journey and they’re updating their resumes to constantly use the Career Center and peer advisers to get feedback.
LV: Excellent. I hear about LinkedIn quite often and I’m told that it’s important. Should a LinkedIn profile be part of what a student is doing during their summer or they’re setting it up or updating it?
RH: Sure thing. Yeah, setting up or updating a LinkedIn profile is a great summer activity. Just like Handshake, having a completed LinkedIn profile, with a professional photo, about me section, experience section, and skill section, is essential for getting noticed on that platform. Students can also engage in LinkedIn discussion groups related to their career fields. They can create their own posts and they can reach out to Cal Alumni with interesting careers to ask for informational interviews on LinkedIn. An informational interview is where a student can ask alumni about how they landed their job and for advice on how they can be successful in doing the same. So summer is a great time to network in that way on LinkedIn.
LV: The last question that I have for today is, is there a way for students to start networking this summer or suggestions for how students can start networking during the school year? We touch a little bit about that just now with LinkedIn, but is there more?
MH: Yeah, I think networking is a skill that takes time to build that muscle. Any opportunities that students can create for themselves to practice, we encouraged that. The Career Center will also host various networking events throughout the year with alums, we call these career Connections. These are spaces where students can come together with alums and sometimes specific fields or industries and they can practice those skills. I encourage students to network with their professors and explore maybe getting introductions to their networks, especially if they have an industry or private sector background. You know the hardest part of networking is stepping out of your comfort zone to initiate an engagement, I encourage students to build this muscle by joining various student groups or organizations or simply just getting to know people and practicing the art of striking up a conversation. So then they’ll learn something new about somebody else.
LV: It’s going to be hard to do it in this virtual world but I think definitely doing things like finding those student org or anything along that line is gonna help. So that’s all the questions I have for today. Is there anything that I missed or that either of you would like to add?
MH: Well, I think just to add, that we’re a valuable resource to students and we encourage them to engage early with us. I think when we see students who engage early on, see good success when they transition into internship or after they graduate. We encourage you to use us, we are readily available and we’re happy to help.
RH: Yeah, just to add to that, even if you’re not sure how the Career Center can help you, come and see us because we can talk about it and we’ll work with you to figure out how we can help you. We support students in every aspect of their career, whether it’s just exploring, thinking about different options, and then all the practical things like resumé, interviewing, salary negotiation. All the way up until they secure that position, or even afterwards.
LV: Oh that’s so good. Thank you Mike and Revae for being my guests today and giving us all this great information about the Career Center and what amazing resources it offers our students. And thank you everyone for tuning into the (Not So) Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer and I will podcast with you again next week!