Taking Notes: Sandbox Academy Weeks 3 & 4

Editor's Note: Sandbox Academy helps students level up through hands-on life skills workshops, mentoring sessions with top-notch leaders from various industries, and the chance to meet Tech Square folks through small-scale community events. This blog series will chronicle one student's journey through this summer's session. Here's Mika Munch and her experience.

Week 3

For the third week of Sandbox Academy, we attended Flipping the Search, a miniseries session on how to reach your potential while job searching. From career fairs, to resume building, to facing the ever-rising competition for positions is a daunting process for students. 

We started the evening with Roger Lopez, CMO of BillMo, who led us through a workshop on LinkedIn. While most of us already have LinkedIn profiles, we learned how to utilize these tools to land interviews and expand our network. We went through the steps of updating our profiles to be 100% filled out, which allows your profile to get the most hits as possible. We learned about certain features that are not always widely known. For example, LinkedIn has a feature called Groups. Anyone can join the millions of groups for various skills and fields. Through this, they can search and filter through the members in order to find people that have your dream job. By going to their profile, they can then see the path this person took to get there. We also were encouraged to not be afraid to send InMail to anyone who we are interested in learning more about. Roger even suggested reaching out to 2-3 new people each week.

In the second part of the evening, mentors Melisa Griffin and Trevor Loranger of Keysight; Vincent Haines of Honeywell; Carrie Moore of Delta; and Rylan Albach of Sideqik shared their wisdom on interviewing. A few of our burning questions included:

  • “How can you best prepare to stand out?” 
  • “How can you nail the interview?”
  • “How can you finish strong with the follow-up?”

Melisa Griffin advised us to always have in-depth questions prepared for the end of the interview, while Carrie Moore said to bring printed resources, infographics, or small examples of work showcasing what you bring to the table. It was great listening to how the interview process is scary even for the mentors, and that becoming more comfortable with it only takes experience.

Week 4

In the fourth and final week of the miniseries workshops for the Sandbox Academy, we started with a presentation on interviewing and workplace pro-tips, by Kurt Ronn. Here are some quick takeaways to keep in mind in an interview:

  • Eye contact and smiling show confidence. 
  • Share how something wouldn’t have happened without you.
  • When talking about failure, conclude with a summary of what you learned.

Afterwards, over 15 mentors attended for a mentor-mashup-speed-dating activity. We rotated through, each meeting six of the mentors in order to see which ones would be a good fit for our career interests. These mentors are going to be made available to us in the coming weeks for additional 1-on-1 time. I met some great mentors that I am incredibly excited to sit down with this week and talk to about transitioning my career path from software engineer to designer.

With these mentors, we went through practice interviewad questions such as, “Describe yourself,” “What has been your biggest mistake?” and, “How are you stuck?” While these are tough, and potentially personal questions, it was a good exercise to see how easily you could answer a question in the given time. The mentors then gave us feedback on both the delivery and content. We learned that we should deliver the answers to these questions in the form of a story arch, by laying out a situation, action, and result.

Answering these questions on the fly with a time constraint was incredibly challenging. It was hard to gauge which points were important to include and what I needed to leave out so it wasn’t too long. It became clear to me that I need to write the answers to these questions down, as well as other common behavioral interview questions, to have them ready and on-hand for the future. The activity was excellent practice in how to be succinct and meaningful under pressure with answers to challenging interview questions. After hearing some of the concerns and struggles of the cohort, mentor Carrie Moore wrapped up the session by reminding us that, “students of today are experiencing the same struggles as students of yesterday.”

Taking Notes: Sandbox Academy Weeks 1 & 2

Editor's Note: Sandbox Academy helps students level up through hands-on life skills workshops, mentoring sessions with top-notch leaders from various industries, and the chance to meet Tech Square folks through small-scale community events. This blog series will chronicle one student's journey through this summer's session. Here's Mika Munch and her experience.

Week 1

The Summer 2017 Cohort of Sandbox Academy kicked off Monday, June 5. With 30 interns, representing a handful of companies and labs around Tech Square, including Springboard Benefits, Cyrano Systems, ATDC, SQ5, Siemens, Keysight, Stackfolio, and TechSquare Labs to name a few, we dove into an enriching session on advice for the workplace.

As a warm up, we started off with the Tech Square Scavenger Hunt. Let’s see how well you would do:

  • Name a movie represented on the 12th floor of the Century Building elevator doors.
  • What headquarter building is going in north of SQ5?
  • How many Chihuly glass pieces are in the main atrium of the Scheller College of Business?
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Mentors Carrie Moore of Delta Airlines, Sam Martinez and Mario Suffren of Goodie Nation, Carl Bedingfield of the AT&T Foundry, Kaushik Santhanam of Keysight, and Trish Whitlock of the BridgeCommunity helped give advice on how to be the best part of the team we could be. We discussed questions round-robin style, such as “what does it take to be a great team member,” and, “how do you deal with difficult people, politics, & problems?” Although all of the interns work at different companies and in different disciplines, we were all able to gather gems from the session to apply to our jobs the next day.

Week 2

For the second week of Sandbox Academy, we headed over to ATDC for the Turning Your Talents in Strengths workshop run by Terri Kelly, a certified Gallup StrenghsFinder coach. All of us took the Gallup StrengthsFinder test in preparation, and she broke down the top 5 most common strengths of the entire group, which were Learner, Achiever, Input, Restorative, and Woo. Terri did an exercise where she made us write a sentence three times with our non-dominant hand. The nervous laughs and silence of us wondering, “is she serious?” filled the room as we attempted to complete the task. Then she made us write the same sentence three times with our dominant hand. Terri was making the point that our strengths come so naturally to us that we don’t consciously think about it. We may not even view them as strengths. She taught us the importance of identifying and capitalizing on our strong suits to maximize our potential in our everyday actions and contributions to a team.

We ended the second session to identify our goals with Ed Rieker, serial entrepreneur and adjunct faculty member at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. Ed share how he discovered that the simple act of writing down goals sets you on the path of making them come true. He forced us to write down as many goals as we could in word-vomit fashion, encouraging us to write down anything that came to mind. The most someone came up with in the 5 minutes was 64. We then went through and categorized the entire list of goals by 1, 3, 5, and 10-year timeframes.

It was interesting to see that the way I had written mine down, they were pretty much in this order -- with immediately achievable goals first, and longer term goals, that I either am afraid of or don’t know where to start. At the end, he made us all promise to make some steps forward on our goals. Since then, I have made my own business cards, signed up to volunteer at an animal shelter, and researched how to get a motorcycle license in Georgia.