On Wednesday, February 23, over 75 students and alumni from Schmid College and Fowler School of Engineering attended the STEM & Philosophy Networking Night. This year it was held virtually which allowed our students and alumni to meet with over 40 employers from all over the country. Click here to see the list of employers that attended. 

This night included a panel discussion with Natalie Mello and Scott Johnson, moderated by Schmid College Career Advisor Jose Bejar. Natalie is a recruiter for the biotech startup, Intervenn, located in San Francisco, and Scott is President of Device Alliance and Director of Technical Services for Square-1 Engineering here in Orange County. 

The panelists discussed everything from virtual networking and resume tips to standing out in an interview. We have gathered the main takeaways below. 

Networking is Important

Panelist Natalie Mello from Intervenn

Panelist Natalie Mello, recruiter from Intervenn

Both panelists emphasized how networking played a key role in their career success. They suggested talking with faculty or anyone you know who works in fields you are interested in. “You will come across opportunities you would never have known about before,” shared Natalie. 

Virtual Networking Tips to Stand Out

Scott Johnson empathized that networking over Zoom can be tricky, but he outlined a few tips to stand out to employers. 

  1. Be prepared to listen and ask questions. “We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listening is twice as important!” 
  2. Ask for an opportunity to follow up – get their LinkedIn or email to reach out to them and invite them to coffee. Scott said, “Few students actually follow up, and it’s a missed opportunity for them.”
  3. Do your homework about the person you met. Ask them about their background and to share their career experience. Showing interest will help you to build a relationship with them.
  4. Stay in contact with them and continue to build those relationships. “If you don’t water them, nothing grows.”

Reach out to a Recruiter

As a recruiter, Natalie outlined ways a recruiter can be helpful during internships and job hunts. 

  1. Find a recruiter on LinkedIn that works for a company you are interested in.
  2. Have your resume ready to share with the recruiter to provide talking points.
  3. Share with them why you are interested in talking to them and that specific company.
  4. Ask if they have internships or other job opportunities coming up. Even if they don’t have anything that would fit for you, they can keep you in mind for future opportunities. 

Resumes Tips

Natalie reviews resumes all the time and shared her best practices. 

  1. If you don’t have much job experience yet, include projects and things you learned in school on your resume
  2. Include all your applicable skills, even ones you have from non-science-related jobs. 
  3. Put specific equipment you feel comfortable using or tests you have done. Occasionally, companies will put equipment or tests as keywords when searching through resumes. 
  4. If you are unsure how to do something, DO NOT put it on your resume to avoid being asked about it.  

Preparing for Interviews

  1. Research the company. Know recent news, what they value, etc. This can help with talking points during the interview.
  2. Go through the job description for what they are looking for. If you have a specific skill they are looking for, make sure you demonstrate that in the interview.
  3. Answering the question “Tell us about yourself” – Natalie says sharing something personal can help show why you have a strong interest in working for that company. 
  4. Use the S.T.A.R. Method: The S.T.A.R. Method is a structured method to assist you in breaking down your answers to behavioral interview questions, making sure that you address each of the most important aspects of the question.
    • Situation – What was the situation that you were faced with related to the question being asked.
    • Task – What tasks were involved in the situation that you needed to accomplish? The interviewer is looking for a specific event not generalized, the more detail the better.
    • Action – What actions did you have to take? Keep the focus on you and your role in the situation.
    • Results – What were the results at the end? Was anything accomplished and by how much or how long? What did you learn from the experience?

Final Thoughts

Natalie encouraged students not to let the fear of the job hunt inhibit applying. She says the more you apply and interview, the easier it gets. 

Scott encouraged students to explore industries through podcasts to learn about new and emerging opportunities. According to Chapman’s Economic Forecast, the med-tech industry will have the fastest and largest growth in California over the next ten years. Scott hosts the Device Alliance Med Tech Radio Podcast, where he talks with leaders in the industry from all over the country and they share where the future of the industry is headed. 

Schmid College would like to thank our panelists and all the employers who participated in the event! A special thank you to Career Advisor Jose Bejar for planning the night and to Schmid College and Career and Professional Development staff for their support.