This week on the (Not So) Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer, we explore professional development opportunities with Marvin Lopez, director of student programs in Engineering Student Services (ESS). Professional development includes workshops, events, retreats and so much more. With the changes to the fall semester, you can expect to have our best events updated to a remote environment that will still be engaging and provide the support you need as you continue in your professional development. The best way to keep up-to-date with opportunities is the ESS newsletter which is delivered every Monday afternoon during the semester.
- ESS workshops and events
- Leadership development
- Student organizations and competition teams
- Career development
- Career Center
- ESS newsletter submissions and archive
LAURA VOGT: Hello and thanking you for tuning in to the (Not So) Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer. My name is Laura Vogt, I’m the associate director of marketing and communications in the College of Engineering. One of the many reasons that you are here at Berkeley is to work on your professional development and this week we have Marvin Lopez, director of programs for Engineering Student Services, to tell us more about how our programs are designed to do just that. Hi Marvin and welcome back to the podcast!
MARVIN LOPEZ: Hi Laura. Thanks for having me. Welcome.
LV: You were a guest earlier this summer to introduce everyone to ESS. Can you please remind everyone about your background and what your role is in ESS?
ML: Absolutely! A delight to have to come back and thank you for the opportunity. I’m the director of student programs in the College of Engineering and basically in my role I manage a team that provides core curriculum support. In other words, support for programs outside of the classroom, support around academic development, academic excellence, professional development, which we will talk about a little bit more today, and leadership development, both individually and through our student organizations. For my background, I’m an engineer from many decades ago and a product of these very programs that I now run. I spent most of my career in industry where I was an engineer at one time and I actually coded for a little while. I then moved on to management and ultimately recruiting and diversity initiatives. Through a series of happenstances, good luck brought me back to campus. I’m delighted to now be in this role.
LV: Well, thank you again so much for joining us today. Let’s start off with, what does professional development mean?
ML: It means a lot of things, different things to different people, but to me it means gaining and acquiring and enhancing the skills you need to both attain a professional role and succeed and thrive in a professional role, in a professional environment, whether it’s industry or academia. It’s really to succeed in the next step in your journey as a student.
LV: Why do you think it’s important for students to think about professional development along with our studies?
ML: Well one simple reason is that 70 percent of students really do go on to professional industry careers whether it’s a startup or a professional or corporate environment. However, they need to start thinking about it early in their careers and in their studies because I always tell students “you want to aim for your dream job, not a job”. Not just ending up in a position somewhere but your dream position. To gain those dream jobs is dream roles, you have to start early. Not only be prepared early but also take advantage of opportunities to explore different corporate and industry environments early so that you know where to go for those dream positions that are out there. So you need to start early to do that.
LV: What programs does ESS have that are there to teach our students how to be professionals and leaders in their industry?
ML: We have lots! It’s something that I always remind students that opportunities for preparation come from lots of places. We’re not the only ones that provide support and I encourage our students to take advantage of all the opportunities that are out there. What we provide specifically in the college are first and foremost our LeaderShape program. Which in normal years, it would be a six day retreat up in the Redwoods where students spend long days to think deeply about what does it mean to be an engineer and what does it mean to have a sense of mission, a vision and a goal for themselves and the impact they intend to make as an engineer. We have lots of workshops on professional development, everything from how to create your LinkedIn profile, how to network, how to interview and one of the more popular that I host, how to negotiate a job offer. Ultimately most of you will receive one, if not more, job offers and negotiating that to arrive at a win-win arrangement is critical. We provide support for students to attend career conferences like Grace Hopper, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, IEEE, where they themselves provide more for professional development and access to professionals. It, of course, is supporting our student organizations to which I alluded a little bit ago. We have over 80 student organizations in the college that themselves provide support for students to develop their professional skills and we support them and those enterprises. Across the portfolio, we have a rich rich set of support programs to develop their professional skills.
LV: How do you work with the centers and institutes across campus to make our programming cohesive and to use their resources that they have and add to our students?
ML: Great, I think you’re referring to, for example, the Jacobs Institute for Design and Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship. Yes we do work closely with them and we are working even more closely with them in particular in the context that we find ourselves in. For example with the Jacobs Institute, part of the Prep Program, our summer bridge program, we work closely with them in having the students, again in normal times, spend time at the Jacobs Institute during the summer prototyping a solution to a societal problem. They spend the afternoon during the summer program working on a project to then build and present to industry at the end of the program. Then after the summer program is over, they get access to Jacobs itself for the remainder of this fall semester to essentially play and try out and expand on their learnings from the summer program, both for prep and t-prep students. For the Sutardja Center, we have an interesting partnership with them where attending the LeaderShape program itself counts as a course towards their entrepreneurship certificate. If they complete LeaderShape, they take, I believe, one or two more courses and they get the entrepreneurship certificate, which is an exciting program to learn about entrepreneurship and more. We’re trying to do more to partner with the Sutardja Center to bring some of their programs on leadership and entrepreneurship to our students. We do work closely with the other institutes on campus and in the college to be a broader suite of programs and opportunities.
LV: Do we have any college courses that you know that are helping students develop their team working skills or their professional development skills?
ML: We do have workshops on teamwork specifically but most classes that the students will have will ultimately have them work as a team. Teamwork is something that industry is telling us more and more is extremely critical in the professional world. Through team environments and working as a team, for example in CS 61A, which is one of the bigger classes in the college, students will work as a team and develop the skills to work as a team. One of things we hear from industry is that they want our students to be team members first and then leaders. It’s becoming more and more critical to not only be able to lead a team but to be able to be in a team and be a team member. So yes, we do provide opportunities to develop their teamwork skills in the classroom but also students organizations are particularly good at providing opportunities for students to develop their teamwork skills.
LV: That reminds me of an industry visit that we had once where a student was asking for more clarification when they got a job working for an airline company for designing a plane. They said “I don’t know if I’m comfortable coming in and being in charge of designing this plane” and the industry professional said “no, you come in as part of a team and we’re gonna teach you and develop your skills”.
ML: Absolutely. Working in the days of engineering, as a profession, where you worked alone working on whether an entire plane or the seat are now over. So engineering is inherently not only a team based profession but a global diverse dispersed team environment. Being able to work in those environments and dynamic team based environments is critical and all that we offer gives you exposure to those opportunities to develop those skills.
LV: I know we also work with teaching students how to be better communicators. Can you tell me more about some of those workshops that we have, that historically we’ve been able to do on campus but we’re gonna be shifting a bit this semester?
ML: That’s right. So, unfortunately, many of the things that we typically offer in person won’t happen and we won’t offer in person, but we will offer online and in a virtual environment. We are working on new topics and new approaches to deliver over the fall online. We do have a number of workshops that in general teach the notion of communication in a professional setting. Cupcake and Headshots and the LinkedIn workshop that goes with it is a workshop/program where we take a professional headshot of you and you get a cupcake of course, which is mandatory. You then have a LinkedIn workshop that teaches you how to leverage LinkedIn and how to network really and how to engage other professionals and communicate through and with LinkedIn. One of the more popular offerings that we have both in the fall and the spring is our etiquette dinner where students and professionals come together at the faculty center to learn how to navigate a banquet setting. It’s a very common setting for conferences, for symposiums, for different environments where networking happens and where opportunities happen and where connections happen. So we teach students not just the mechanics of the forks, the knives and the little plates, which is always fascinating, but the networking and how to engage in that setting. Then we have the research poster sessions both again in the fall in the spring where students present their research they might have conducted during the school year or the summer. Here, they engage with their peers, faculty and industry visitors to share their experience during research. Again, where they communicate and develop their communication skills just to think and simply share highly complex and highly challenging technical terms.
LV: I feel like in some sense, especially when it comes to the communication, it’s a lot about repetition. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’re gonna be with it.
ML: Absolutely, that’s a great point. All of this is a skill like anything else. These are all skills that we all learn and some of us have had them from the time we’re five years older and others have had it later. These are all skills that anyone can learn and that’s the intent. Our intent is to teach those skills and give you an opportunity to practice those skills so that when you’re out in the professional world you’ll be just fine.
LV: Where can students find out about all these offerings that we have in the college?
ML: As I always say, the ESS newsletter. So if it’s not in the newsletter it does not exist. First and foremost a newsletter. That comes out every Monday afternoon where anything and everything that we offer in ESS and in the college is available. Also, don’t forget our website and our social media channels. We have a Facebook channel and don’t forget we have Instagram and YouTube. We definitely have all the social channels, so everything that we offer on social media is to get access to schedules and the offerings that we have. Above all the newsletter. So please please please read the newsletter every single Monday afternoon so you know exactly what’s coming across all our offerings, not just professional development.
LV: I’m actually glad you mentioned YouTube. Whenever we do an online session this semester, for sure, we’re going to be recording them and putting them on YouTube. So if you aren’t able to make that life session, you can catch it later.
ML: Fantastic! Which you know is ironically something that we’ve been talking about doing but the situation that we find ourselves in has forced us to do that. So now we’ll do it, which is great! That’s a new way of doing things, that as a result of not wanting to be in this situation.
LV: I think we can also mention that the college has a toolkit on our Web site that talks about building the complete engineer or building a total engineer. As you go through the tool kit you can click on each of the different gears and it highlights things like leadership, teamwork, and emotional intelligence and tells you that curricular, the co-curricular, the services that are available to support you in building that part of being an engineer.
ML: That’s awesome! I just saw it recently for the first time and I think it’s a fantastic tool that, again, highlights that what we educate and what we aim to educate is engineering leaders. Engineers that are well-rounded and can operate on different levels. Not just technical but personal, interpersonal and have the cultural awareness to interact with to disperse global dynamic society. The tool kit is a great way to understand all the pieces that make up that well-rounded engineer.
LV: Is there anything that I haven’t asked you that you wanted to add?
ML: The only thing I would leave you with is that being an engineer myself, I always like to describe things in an engineering way. To me, success in the professional world and in general, but in this case, is the intersection of opportunity and preparation. We offer lots of offerings in both cases and what I would suggest students do is that they really avail themselves to both sets of all the offerings we have around preparation. Everything that we offer around LinkedIn, networking and interviewing across, not just ESS, but the college so that they’re ready when the other half comes their way. All the opportunities that they avail themselves to and all the opportunities to connect with professional development opportunities. Things like the career fairs, the career center, the company visits, the conferences, everything that’s out there because there’s no one way to get a great job and to get that dream job. It takes a variety of opportunities and putting themselves out there. If we do those two, success will happen. I encourage all of you students to follow that mantra and you’ll be fine.
LV: The one thing I don’t think that we’ve talked about yet is if students want to reach out and talk to someone and get more advice or anything along those lines if they’re missing programs or if they have ideas for programs. Is there anyone particular or any way that they could reach out?
ML: The most accessible way is of course to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of us will get your insights and respond. I am more than happy to chat with anybody. In normal times I would be in the office and I love having students come by my office casually. We won’t do that this time, at least not for a little while, but more than happy to receive emails from any of you that have any questions. I’m at email@example.com. So please feel free to reach out but send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’re happy to hear from you. We’d love your input and your feedback as to what more we can do.
LV: Well, Marvin thank you so much for joining me today on the podcast. I know this summer has been one of change as we work to provide these great learning experiences and the resources and support all while trying to keep everybody healthy.
ML: That’s right. You’re welcome Lauren. Thank you for the opportunity and I hope you’re all safe and well out there and we look forward to engaging with you and seeing you soon.
LV: Thank you everyone for tuning in to the (Not So) Secret Guide to Being a Berkeley Engineer. I look forward to podcasting with you next week. Bye!