Florida Tech’s Alumni Association and Career Services team put together their first Real World 101 Conference, held on campus in September. The purpose of this conference is to help students prepare themselves for the transition from college life to the real world. There was also the added bonus of every attendee getting a guaranteed interview from a company of their choice, Florida Tech being the only university in the nation, as far as we know, to offer this! When I got the email advertising a guaranteed interview, I couldn’t quite believe my eyes; it sounded too good to be true, but they came through on their word. The original deal was only for graduating seniors, but at the end of the conference, the Alumni Association was able to get everyone, senior and otherwise, an interview.
The interview alone was enough incentive for many of us, but the other aspects of the Real World Conference turned out to be quite useful, as well. The event started on Friday evening with a mocktail and networking, followed by an etiquette dinner, attended by many Florida Tech alum who have been successful in the real world. I haven’t been to an etiquette dinner in years, so this was a great refresher for me, and we all learned a few new things about how to conduct ourselves in a business dinner. Examples include never start eating before the host does, always pass things around the table to the right, soup should be scooped away from yourself and sipped from the side of the spoon, and when the host finishes a dish, you’re finished, too, whether or not there is still food left on your plate. Some of them sound silly now, but you never know when such manners may come in handy later in life!
The conference continued the following Saturday with three sessions, with topics on security clearances, resume and interview skills, budgeting, identity theft and personal finance, salaries and benefits, and relocation. I attended the salaries and benefits, resume and interview skills, and relocation sessions, all of which had some good tidbits of information that will come in handy for the real world.
My favorite session was the salaries and benefits, led by two hiring managers from Northrop Grumman, because I knew next to nothing about job offers going in, and left feeling a bit better about them. The women went over some basics of what it’s like to actually get a job offer and how you deal with varying salaries and multiple offers. They pointed out salaries will range depending on the location—a job in California will have a higher salary than in Florida, but the cost of living there is also much higher. It also doesn’t hurt to ask if the offer is negotiable, just remember you may be told no. If it is negotiable, you better have a good reason for wanting a higher salary, such as having a competing offer or relocation is going to cost you; simply wanting more money is not a good reason and can easily lead to the offer being rescinded! They also stressed to watch out for “contingent” offers, meaning you will get the job only if certain conditions are met. In our case, as students, this is usually that the job is contingent upon getting a Bachelor’s, but there are other things that could come up, and you need to consider how long you will be waiting for this job. Is it really worth it? Last but not least, say thank you when offered a job!
The interview session stressed having examples ready to back up your qualities listed on your resume, as well as researching the company and showing enough interest in them by asking a question when the interview ends with “Do you have any questions for me?” The relocation session was comparing renting a house vs. buying a house, when it’s smart to do one or the other, and how to go about doing so. While I don’t plan on needing that one as soon as I’ll need information from my first two sessions, it will definitely be helpful in the long run, when I’m getting a house down the road! The sessions were followed by a period of “Rolling Resumes”, which had managers from different companies available to look over peoples’ resumes and give critiques. This was really cool because then you can learn how to cater your resume to the company or type of companies you will be applying to. The conference ended with an information session about LinkedIn, which I will probably now make a profile for because of it (I really liked the way the presenter described it as your “professional social network”).
Of course, we were all excited for the very end, when we all got our certificates of completion and announcements of which company we would be interviewing with in the coming months. The companies included in this were:
- i. solutions
- Brevard County
- Brevard Zoo
- Crowne Plaza
- EA, Inc.
- Lockheed Martin
- Northrop Grumman
- Republic Airways
- Revolution Technologies
- Rockwell Collins
- Sun Nuclear
- TQL—Total Quality Logistics
I am very glad I attended the Real World 101 Conference, and am very excited for my interview with Lockheed Martin Space Systems. I thank the Florida Tech Alumni Association and Career Services for putting together this very unique experience, and I hope they continue to do it in coming semesters!
*All photos courtesy of the Florida Tech Alumni Association.