When I was six and growing up in Mexico my mom asked me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“A doctor!” I replied.

“That’s a very difficult job,” she said.

“No, I just have to give the people pills and they get better!”

Seven years later I was in Portland at the Benson Polytechnic High School Open House for future students. I wanted to check out Benson’s Health Occupations Program, so I went into a classroom full of curious students and countless diagrams of the human anatomy. I spotted a solitary scalpel on a table in the corner. I toyed with it for the few seconds, then I shivered and the hairs on my arms stood straight as I imagined what it would be like to operate on a human being.

“Hey you!”

I turned around to find a guy in scrubs and white blood-stained gloves standing behind a table. On the table was a pig head.  He placed one hand on the pig head and removed the top of the skull in the same manner that a fine chef would remove the lid from a boiling pot.

“You wanna see a pig brain?” he asked.

And that was the last time I held a scalpel.

Why am I telling you this story? Because many students think that they have a good understanding of what holding a job in their field of study will be like based on the classes they’ve taken and whatever knowledge they’ve acquired online or from speaking to others. And while these are good ways to learn about a career, you will not truly understand what everyday life in your chosen field will be like until you get out there and do the job yourself. The best way to really understand a career is through hands-on experiences such as part-time jobs, summer jobs, internships, or even volunteering. The best way to figure out what a professional in your desired field of study does on a daily basis is to do it yourself.

Last year through the MECOP program, I had the opportunity to go on a six-month internship with Daimler Trucks North America. DTNA is the largest heavy-duty truck manufacturer in North America and it is known for its leading brands Freightliner and Western Star. Being a mechanical engineering student with a main interest in the automotive industry, I was very excited to have received this opportunity. However, I was also nervous because I was afraid I would find out that engineering, like medicine before, was not really something I’d enjoy doing for the rest of my life.

I worked on several projects during my time at Daimler, and through each I gained experience in doing the tasks that mechanical engineers do on a regular basis. Some of these tasks I had done in school before, such as sketching my design ideas, performing engineering calculations, and creating technical drawings of the concept using computer software. Others however, were new to me: I made regular trips to the manufacturing plant to speak with the workers about the feasibility of my designs, worked with finance to create the required report needed to get the money to create prototypes (long, ugly process…), communicated with manufacturing development on a regular basis to ensure that my designs were being manufactured correctly, contacted vendors, consulted other engineers, attended meetings . . . I could keep going but I think you get the point. Through my internship with DTNA I experienced some of the aspects of engineering that can only be learned by actually doing the job. And once I finished my internship the nervousness was gone, because I had enjoyed the entire ride and was more sure than ever that mechanical engineering was the right field for me.

So my advice to you is this: There are certain things that you cannot learn from books, so make the effort to get a summer job or internship that will allow you to experience first-hand what it is like to work in your field of study. I assure you it’ll be worth it.

Posted by Fernando Ramirez, Career Services Assistant

This Thursday is YOUR opportunity to make a difference!

If you are interested in interning with, volunteering for, or working in a non-profit organization make sure you’re in the MU BALLROOM THURSDAY JANUARY 20th from 1-4pm. This year’s Non Profit & Volunteering Expo has over 50 non-profit organizations that are looking for YOU to help them make a difference. So, shine your shoes, comb your hair, and touch up that resume for the 2011 Non Profit & Volunteering Expo taking place this THURSDAY!

2011 Non Profit & Volunteering Expo Attendees

-ABC House

-Albanian Alps Institute

-Albany Area Habitat for Humanity

-Albertina Kerr Centers

-American Red Cross

-AmeriCorps* Vista

-Benton County Sheriff’s Office

-Benton Habitat for Humanity

-Benton Soil and Water Conservation District

-Boys and Girls Club of Corvallis

-Campus Recycling

-CASA- Voices for Children

-College Hill High School

-Community Outreach Inc.

-Community Service Center

-Corvallis Environmental Center


-Engineers Without Boarders

-Friends of the Family Ministries

-Girl Scouts of Oregon and SW Washington

-Greater Albany Public Schools

-Greenbelt Land Trust, Inc

-Home Life Inc.

-Hospice Care of the Northwest

-Hostelling International USA, Oregon Council

-Institute for Applied Ecology

-Institute for Nonprofit Management at PSU

-International Degree & Education Abroad

-International Partnership for Service Learning and Leadership

-Jackson Street Youth Center

-Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest

-L’Arche Nehalem

-LBvision Volunteer Center

-Linn County General Services

-Mid- Willamette Family YMCA


-Oregon Child Development Coalition

-Oregon Department of Human Services

-Oregon Jamboree

-Peace Corps

-Presbyterian Preschool and Child Care Center

-SAIF Corporation

-Show Mercy International


-Susan G. Komen For the Cure

-Teach for America

-U.S. Department of State

-United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

-United Way of Benton & Lincoln Counties

-Valley Aids Information Network, Inc.

-Volunteer Services Department, Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center

-Volunteer with Kids

-Willamette University MBA for Business, Government, and Not-for-Profit Management

Posted by Linsey Stripling, Career Services Assistant

Born and raised in small town Iowa, I grew up watching many people follow a similar path.  Most completed some form of college while also meeting a future spouse, found a job in the Midwest, and settled down in time to begin a family.  Beginning college at the University of Northern Iowa, I too thought I was destined for this type of future.  I pursued and received a degree in elementary education, and soon after took a full time job teaching 2nd grade in a near Iowa city.  I was well on my way to obtaining all the pieces involved in the traditional Iowa picture of adulthood.  However, I always felt like something was missing.
During college and my first year of teaching, I began to discover facets of myself different than the life ahead of me.  I became a camp counselor for the world wide organization Camp Adventure Child and Youth Services and fell in love with international travel as I worked in Hawaii, Japan, Spain, England, and Germany.  Through this travel, I also found I enjoyed being outdoors, and dreamed about living in a place with mountains, an ocean close by, and opportunities for biking and camping.  I began researching places in the Pacific Northwest, toying with the idea of uprooting my life in Iowa.  During the spring break of my first year of teaching, I decided to take a trip to Oregon to attend a career fair for teachers.  I hoped to find a teaching job in the northwest that would allow me to move to a place more conducive to the lifestyle I imagined.  Attending the fair, though, I realized very few school districts were in a position to hire, and without any contacts in the area, my chances of finding a job were small.
I decided to stay in Iowa for another year, understanding that moving across the country without a job would be foolish.  However, Camp Adventure had caught wind that I was interested in living in Oregon.  While teaching that year, I was offered the chance to take a side job as the Staff Development Coordinator for the state of Oregon.  I was tasked with the recruitment, training, and supervision of one hundred college students from the three state universities.  I spent the year teaching Monday through Friday and flying to Oregon every other weekend.  While working in this position, I found that even more than elementary students, I enjoyed working with the college age group.  Trying to juggle such a hectic schedule, though, I knew it was time to take a close look at my life and decide what I really wanted.
While recruiting at Oregon State University, I quickly grew fond of the city of Corvallis.  The charming city, the nearby Pacific Ocean, and the short drive to Mt. Hood were all characteristics that made me envy those who lived there.  In early October of that year, I decided to explore OSU’s website for potential graduate programs, hoping for a second try at moving west.  I stumbled upon the College Student Services Administration graduate program website.  The program would be two years in length, would prepare me to work in the field of higher education, and had opportunities to gain funding through assistantship positions.  I was immediately intrigued.  I emailed the coordinator of the program and set up a visit during one of my weekend trips.  I decided to apply and promised myself that if I were to get accepted and received funding, I would take a leap of faith and make the move.
I spent three months completing the application process.  The application itself was split into two pieces, a portion for the Graduate School of OSU, and a portion for the actual program.  The process involved creating a quality resume, working with my references to draft recommendation letters, researching the program and its competencies, creating a personal statement, and writing short essays.  I only applied to one graduate school, but it is more common for students to apply to many to ensure a successful outcome.
I turned in my completed packet of materials for review in January.  During the beginning of February, I was notified that I had been selected to interview for the program.  I spent two days interviewing in February.  To prepare for the interviews, I purchased a professional suit, practiced mock interviews with my mentors, gathered as much information as I could about the program to ensure I could tailor my interview answers, and created a list of questions I had for the interviewers.  Having taken a large amount of time to prepare, I entered the experience with more confidence.  The interview session was two days in length.  I spent the first day interviewing for assistantship positions, and the second day interviewing for the program.  All interviews were in front of a panel of representatives.  Upon returning to Iowa, I sent follow up thank you notes and then hoped for the best.
Near the end of March, I received word that I had been accepted into the program and was also offered an assistantship through the Career Services office.  I was hit by a mix of emotions: excitement, nervousness, anticipation, and a bit of anxiety.  Staying true to my promise, though, I accepted both offers and put in my resignation from my current teaching position.  I spent my remaining months in Iowa creating a budget plan, searching for apartments, and lining up summer work.
I moved to Corvallis in mid June to set up my apartment.  Once settled, I spent six weeks in Europe with Camp Adventure supervising the students I had worked with throughout the year.  I then began my assistantship and the first term of my program in September.  My first term consisted of four classes.  I took each class alongside 19 other students, forming a tight-knit cohort.  The courses were rigorous and involved a higher quality of reading and writing than I was used to, but I found the information to be extremely interesting.  I also found out how lucky I was to be offered an assistanship with Career Services.  I became a part of a very friendly office and now have the chance to advise students, give outreach presentations, and supervise the work of undergraduate employees.  Transitioning from my undergraduate years to graduate school, I am adjusting to and enjoying the higher expectations, being treated like a professional, personal responsibility, and a more focused curricula.  My life here has truly come together.  After finishing up my first term, I spent ten days back in Iowa for the holidays.  While it was wonderful to be home, I was reaffirmed that I had made the right choice.       Transitioning to a new location and into life as a graduate student can be a daunting experience, but with preparation and planning, the payoff is great.

Posted by Bobbi Meyer, Career Services Graduate Assistant

Summer seems to be a million light years away, especially when everyone has just returned winter break.  Six months from now may seem to be a long time, but that’s barely enough time for you to do a quick search for summer internship opportunities.

Here are some approaches that you can follow to help you secure a summer internship:

1.      Networking: It is never too early or too late to network; so put on a smile and network-away. There are many benefits to networking:

  • Make connections – be actively aware of possible opportunities
  • Gain a network of support who speak in your favor
  • Recommendations are often made by people you know through networking

2.      Social Media Sites:  If you’re thinking Facebook, you’re absolutely right!  Companies do use Facebook to look for future employees. If you’re lucky, you might be hired for an internship or even a potential job! LinkedIn is also another site that can be helpful for you in finding the right internship.

3.      Research: Online resources such as those that offered by OSU Career Services may be the quickest place to look.  Beaver JobNet, for instance, allows you to search internships in and out of state and even overseas. Companies love to see that you’ve done previous research and have an understanding of their organization. This shows that you’re interested in working and thinking about future career development with them.

4.      Informational Interview: Set up an informational interview with a potential employer that you’re interested in working with. Keep in mind that informational interviewing is not where you ask the employer for a position in the company, but rather an opportunity for you to discuss what the company has to offer.

5.      Career Fair: Allows you to meet many employers from all around the country, hence broadening your possibilities of meeting the company that you possibly want to work with. Upcoming Career Fair is on February 23rd and 24th at the CH2M Alumni Center.

6.      Be Prepared: Having a Cover Letter or Resume at hand when you’re ready to apply for an internship/job is very crucial. Keep in mind that the average time to make a solid resume is at least 20hours.

Words of Advice:

o   When you form a relationship, maintain that relationship

o   Always follow up with the person you spoke with at a particular company/organization in order to maintain that contact

o   Be professional, attentive and always be on time

o   Don’t procrastinate, you’re putting your career at risk

o   Always ask for help…the most successful people are those that get help from others. You can’t succeed totally on your own!

Opportunities are endless! Be the first bird that catches the worms, all the worms. The power is in your hands, use it!

Posted by Phi Vu, Career Services Assistant