284835 Incremental Development of Student Success Through Leveraged Resume Development in Class and Advising Interactions with Students

Wednesday, October 31, 2012: 12:49 PM
328 (Convention Center )
Paul Blowers, Chemical and Environmental Engineering, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

The University of Arizona has built a strong mentoring and advising system that fully integrates activities from freshman through senior years and has been fairly robust even as new faculty members rotate into courses and take on new responsibilities.  Activities begin in the freshmen year with an elective course for where how to develop a resume is covered along with topics like interviewing skills, time management, study strategies, test taking ideas, and other useful topics for those entering a rigorous academic environment as they transition from high school.  Approximately 10-20% of chemical engineering freshmen take this course.

The sophomore year integrates a discussion of career possibilities and what the different types of jobs are in Material and Energy Balances.  This course also has a companion computer laboratory course where the students will use Visual Basic in Excel.  The first meeting is dedicated to the elements of a strong resume and students are then required to submit one that gets critical review.  The sophomore year is where most students will begin meeting with advisors more regularly.  The core faculty who do the advising continually stress the places alumni have gone and how they achieved their successes.  The alumni are also referred to directly connect with and mentor current students and they do not hesitate to give advice as the same mechanisms benefitted them as students.  This culture of past students helping current students has taken 15 years to build and is incredibly valuable.  It is noted that this network was built by one to two faculty through their deep engagement with students as they transition between school and employment.

The junior year involves increased advising interactions as students select electives.  Students are continually reminded of the need for improving their resumes through leadership in clubs or other organizations, by being involved in research, by building a strong GPA, and by finding technical employment.  Students are shown resumes of past and current seniors and discussions are held that help them find out ways to build from their base.  Resumes are required to be submitted in at least one junior and one senior course for evaluation, with the senior ones being used for ABET assessment of the ability to meet both lifelong learning needs and the ability to solve engineering problems through internships and research.

Senior year involves practice interview questions in the design course where students are trained how to answer questions with specific stories, relying on their resume development over the years and their experience of quantifying, selling skills, being positive, and being specific, which are the same core ideas stressed in building strong resume bullets across the years. 

As a result of the mentoring and advising both inside and outside of courses, retention is high compared to other anecdotal information from other programs.  Eighty to ninety percent of students who enter Material and Energy Balances with chemical engineering as a major continue on to the second sophomore semester.  Approximately 70% of the total students who entered Material and Energy Balances continue on into the junior year, and only 5% or so of students are lost after that point.  Due to the intensive resume focus, student placement is very high, with only 10% of students having no signed offer upon the day of graduation, typically because they did not work on their resumes or because they are foreign students with visa issues.


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