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Research Assessment #4

ISM Virtual Business Symposium- Mock Interviews

Names of Professionals:  Mike Rodriguez, John Miner, and Jessica Whitney 

Event: ISM Virtual Business Symposium -- Mock Interviews

Location: ZOOM

Date of Event:  10/7/20


        Overall the business symposium was a huge success and allowed me to learn more, not only about myself, but also about what business professionals are looking for. I did not truly know what to expect going into the symposium, because I had never participated in one before and was quite nervous. I had tried to prepare myself for the questions I might get asked or what might occur in the interviews, but I still felt unprepared and uneasy about the whole situation. Little did I know that the event I had been so anxious about, would turn out to be one of the most invigorating experiences I have had this year. 

        My first interview was with Mike Rodriguez, a published author, CEO of his own company, and professional coach. To say the least, I was a bit intimidated by his titles and worried I would fall short of his expectations. The interview started off a bit slow, but once I got into the groove of answering and asking questions, it was quite enjoyable and a wonderful learning experience. I soon figured out that there were numerous important professional skills and tips that I could learn from this individual and decided to take full advantage of the opportunity. After conversing for a couple of minutes, I decided to take a leap of faith and show the interviewer my resume. I was extremely nervous. What if he did not like it? What if the resume I had worked so hard on was not what a person like him was looking for? I was pleasantly surprised when he took one look at my resume and immediately started complimenting me on the layout and the information I had included. After going through all of the different parts of my resume, he gave me some incredible advice that I think will really help me throughout the remainder of ISM and into my college and professional career. Mr. Rodriguez explained to me that as I gained more experience pertaining to my field of chemical engineering,  I would begin to reformat my resume to fit the jobs I was applying for. For each job, I should look for buzzwords or certain phrases to include that would catch the attention of the hiring manager. Not only did I learn so much about my resume, but I also learned about how I can start growing my professional skills now and even do it on my own. The interviewer pointed me to multiple online resources that would help develop communication and speaking skills which would help me later in my career. This has definitely prompted me to start looking into the different free online resources available. The interview that I had been most worried about became one of the most engaging of the day. I really enjoyed being able to talk with a professional that could give me advice on what I did well and what I needed to work on. 

        My second interview was with John Miner, a retired accountant. At this point I felt a little more comfortable with the process and was ready to answer any question given and ask engaging questions myself. I think the most intriguing part of this interview was listening to how Mr. Miner became an accountant. From starting off as a pre- law major to taking an accounting class as an elective and falling in love with the field, which pushed him to switch majors and pursue a career in accounting. It gave me comfort knowing that even if I, at some point decided that chemical engineering was not the route for me, I would have the ability to change my career and still be a successful professional. When talking about my weaknesses with Mr. Miner, I mentioned that I have a tendency to focus on the details of a particular project and obsess over every little thing being perfect. My interviewer informed me that he does the same thing and eventually learned to channel that perfection into a strength. When he described to me how I could find the balance between perfection and obsession, I learned that while it was important to put my best effort into a project, there was also importance for understanding when that crossed into a bad side of perfectionism. I think the best part about hearing this advice was understanding that I was not alone in one of my weaknesses, and that I could find a way to turn this perfectionism into an advantage I could utilize in my career. I enjoyed speaking with Mr. Miner and truly felt as though I had learned some valuable skills. 

        My third and final interview was with Jessica Whitney, an equal opportunity director as part of the Air Force Reserves. This interview was truly eye opening because I was able to see how a mom with multiple kids was able to balance her private and professional life. I am not sure whether or not I will be a mom someday, but I have definitely always felt apprehension when it comes to being able to maintain a high level job and further my career while having other responsibilities. When I asked Ms. Whitney how she juggles everything, she gave me some great advice that I think will help me throughout the next couple of years. She instructed me to prioritize the things that are important to me and to always make time for those things. If reading a book for thirty minutes a day was important, then it was up to me to make time for it. I think this advice will help me with my time management skills and I hope that it is something that will stay with me throughout my professional career. I truly enjoyed being able to speak with a woman, not only in the workforce, but also in the military. After I had explained my field of study with more detail, Ms. Whitney actually suggested that I apply to the Air Force Academy which has a strong engineering program. It is definitely something that I will look into considering the rave reviews she gave about the academy. 

        This experience was truly eye opening in so many ways and I am extremely grateful to have been able to participate. I learned that I was better at holding conversations with complete strangers than I had originally thought, which will give me increased confidence going into my research interviews. I was also relieved to learn that I have a strong start in the professional world through things such as my communication skills and my resume. It was comforting to know that I am headed in the right direction. Obviously I still have many questions and much to learn but I feel like this was a perfect jumping off point. I will definitely value all of the things I learned through this experience and look forward to what all I will learn in the weeks to come.

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