The root of a STEM career: Why I decided to become an engineer

Future Engineer Scholarship Winner_Chandler BurkeSome might say I was destined to become an engineer, or that engineering is “in my blood.” It just so happens that I come from a family of engineers: my father, grandfather, uncle and cousin are all engineers, with specializations ranging from mechanical to electrical to aerospace. Having so many engineers in the family undoubtedly gave me a candid perspective on the field, and at times made me feel like an unintentional apprentice. While I’m certain that my familiarity with the profession had some influence on my decision to become an engineer myself, I do not think it is the only – or even the most significant – contributing factor to my career choice. In fact, I can trace my scientific journey back to elementary school, and specifically, two distinct mentors from that era.
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Recruiting staff for the cloud

Choose the best staffing solution for your businessIn recent years, cloud computing has not only changed the IT landscape, it has literally transformed the way we work, play, communicate, and socialize on the web.

According to recent research by IDC Cloud Research , spending on cloud services is expected to reach an estimated $107 billion in 2017, with SaaS (Software as a Service) companies and businesses holding a little shy of 60 percent of the cloud computing market. It’s no wonder many organizations are actively recruiting team members with proficiencies in computer science, programming, server administration, security, web-development, network engineering, product management and many other related fields.

This article by Wanted Analytics notes that the most commonly advertised cloud computing positions are:

  • Software Engineers
  • Java Developer
  • Systems Engineer
  • Network Engineer
  • Websphere Cloud Computing Engineer

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Pulling a “LeBron”: How to know if it’s time to return to a former employer

lbj-cavDespite the validation of two championships and an “innovative coach who highlighted him with his system,” LeBron James recently concluded that it was time to “come home” to Cleveland. LeBron’s decision to return to Cleveland was spurred by an internal, sentimental contemplation that is not often seen in big-money decisions in pro sports. As the recent Sports Illustrated article puts it, “…despite all his success, he means more where he was than where he is.” LeBron’s decision to return to Cleveland may be a choice rooted in the world of sports – but the decision is a professional one nonetheless, and serves as a reminder that it is possible, and not uncommon, to return to a former employer. Knowing when to make that choice takes a great deal of consideration, thought, and it is wise to consider the following elements:

Weigh your priorities – not the priorities of others.

For many, career path decisions will continue to become more and more rooted in personal factors. For LeBron, the decision to return to Cleveland was largely personal. For those considering returning to a former employer, it is not unprofessional nor is it unwise to pay attention to your inner negotiator. Often, making the sentimental or “gut” choice can yield positive results; following your intuition typically aligns with your passion, and when following a job for passion, you are likely to excel.
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Partner with a staffing company to source STEM talent

It is becoming increasingly clear to employers across the United States that science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs take more than twice as long to fill as other openings. With STEM jobs increasing consistently, outpacing every other industry for job demand, employers are finding it more challenging than ever before to hire talented candidates with STEM backgrounds.

With the skills gap only widening as employers continue to demand more STEM backgrounds, many companies find themselves without options for hiring because there likely won’t be a significant increase in STEM backgrounds until today’s younger students have graduated and enter the workforce in the coming years. Even then, it is still expected that the STEM demand will continue to rise alongside advances in technology. In 2013 alone, 43.2 percent of job openings in the region required STEM skills.
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Metropolitan employment showing improvement nationwide

Jobs report: in your regionSources: Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment Report – May 2014Regional and State Employment and Unemployment – May 2014

The national BLS “The Employment Situation — June 2014” report showed another surge in employment, adding 288,000 new jobs to the economy, the fifth straight month to show 200,000+ job gains.  Economists are hopeful that this upswing will continue as we enter the third quarter.

Both regional and state unemployment rates saw little change in the United States metropolitan areas, according to the BLS’ latest Metropolitan Employment and Unemployment report. In May, the national unemployment rate held at 6.3 percent after April’s drop of 0.4 percent, proving to be 1.2 percentage points lower than it had been a year earlier. In fact, forty-nine states and the District of Columbia have seen unemployment rate decreases over the past year.
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Interview techniques and questions to discover critical thinkers

Millennial indecisive about his job. He, like many other Gen Yers may be a job hopper.Traditional job interviews only provide a finite look into a job candidate’s background and experience. Asking the right questions is a critical part of understanding a candidate and discovering if they truly meet the expectations and requirements for the position. Hiring experts say that rushing to judgment during the interview process is a top reason employers make bad hires, but preparing the right interview questions is a smart first step toward avoiding this common mistake.

One of the more difficult skill sets to interview for is critical thinking. Finding critical thinkers to join your team is a worthwhile investment to make, but many employers struggle to confirm if a potential job candidate is truly a critical thinker, or if their past experience simply meets the job demands on the surface. Interviewing for critical thinking competency is one of the best ways to determine if a candidate will not only fulfill the role, but bring new perspectives and ideas to the team as a whole. The following questions and techniques are geared to help employers efficiently understand if the candidate they are interviewing is a critical thinker.

Describe a problem to the candidate that has missing information, then ask, “What further information would you seek out first before making a decision?”

The candidate will need to assess the given information and quickly seek out holes where more information is necessary. If executed properly, this question should reveal if the candidate can analyze problems and apply an investigatory mentality when they lack required information. In many business situations, employees are not given the precise information or resources that they need to make decisions with ease. This type of question prepares employees to think about how they can acquire the needed resources to make an informed decision.
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