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?”
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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.”