Insider’s Tips From Engineering and Design Alums

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Think you’ve got what it takes to stay relevant in the world of engineering and design? Let a few of our alumni give you some insider’s tips on how to find success in an industry that’s constantly changing. 

Our College of Engineering & Design recently hosted an Alumni Leaders panel at the John J. Bowen Center for Science & Innovation. Panelists included:

  • Michael Brown ’85, Partner at A.T. Kearney
  • Michael Oliver ’13, Chief Information Officer at The Claflin Company
  • Ted Bennett ’05, Electrical Engineer at Bose
  • Corey Cantrell ’09, Web & eCommerce Manager Focal Upright
  • Robert Erskine ’12, Lead Creative Technologist at Hill Holliday
  • Jillian Menoche ’11, Digital Project Manager at Intrepid Pursuits

Here’s what they had to say.

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Never Stop Learning
“You need to develop an attitude of continual learning. Once you [graduate from JWU] it’s not over. You need to take more classes, you need to read, you need to reinvent yourself and learn new skills. You have to stay abreast of what’s going on out there and you have to continue to adapt to change.” ‑Michael B

“Reboot yourself whenever you can. Trust yourself. You know you, and what you can do.” ‑Michael O

“Don’t be afraid of new experiences. Things change and going through your career you’re potentially going to have a lot of different jobs. So, don’t be afraid to change and to adapt.” ‑Ted

"In technology, there is no downtime."

“In technology, there is no downtime. So, while you’re in class you can also focus on working on side projects. They can be utility-based or just for fun, but something you can put on your GitHub or your website to show that you’re taking an initiative and that you care about this industry and that you want to be in it.” ‑Rob

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Make Connections
“Never underestimate a good network. It’s who you know. That’s really an invaluable piece of advice that I wish I had taken on earlier in my career. Always take the time to meet new people, and grow your network.” ‑Corey

“For me it would have to be collaboration — it’s who you work with on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes people like us in technology can be shy or soft spoken, but collaboration is really key to the success of what you’re doing.” ‑Rob

"Never underestimate a good network."

Grow Your Skill Set 
“What you should keep in mind is that the skills you’re learning now are eventually going to be outdated. That’s the scariest part, but just focus on remaining agile and keeping up your skills.” ‑Michael O

“You’ve got to be agile with your skill sets and be able to respond quickly to a situation. I think it’s just about having that flexibility to be able to move with the times.” ‑Michael B

Be Unique. Set Yourself Apart.
“My advice to you is know what your special skill is, what your special value is and make sure you’re constantly highlighting that. Just be memorable and you will be successful.” ‑Jillian

“Employment opportunities are always changing. But focusing on having your skill set and knowing what you have and keep building on it, that’s what’s important.” ‑Ted

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Master the Basics. Then Go Further. 
“It’s not really knowing a specific language, but the ability to learn that is important. Just being able to adapt and showing that you can do that is actually more valuable to me than the languages you know right now.” ‑Rob

“It’s certainly nice to have at least some background in a language. Having that background definitely helps you learn a new language much faster.” ‑Ted

"You’ve got to be agile with your skill sets."

“There’s a lot of great tool sets out there that have come along since I graduated that make the front-end developer job a lot easier, but you have to really master the tools to have a successful career.” ‑Corey

“I would say more than having a certain language under your belt, it’s more about having that well-rounded skill that if it really came down to you to put together the back-end and the front-end that you’re capable of doing that.” –Jillian

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