Hey everyone!

Its been a little over 2 months since I finished my bachelor's degree in plastics engineering, and everything is going great! I know some of my last blog posts were a little depressing, since I was unsure if I would miss school and all of my friends. So I wanted to post an update just to inform you that things are going very well.

I really enjoy my job at NxStage, and I am planning on representing them at the next UML career fair, so make sure you come by and say hello.

Also, check out my new blog at http://guthriegordon.blogspot.com/, so you can follow my new project: 'The Co-op to Corner Office Campaing' Check it out and leave me some comments!

Thanks for reading everyone. Good luck!

Full Circle...

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This past weekend marks the end of my undergraduate career at UMass Lowell. I will be going on to get my master’s degree in plastics engineering here at UML, but only on a part time basis. I am eager to get out into the work force and try to make some money.

 

I went back and read some of my old blogs, including the first one I ever wrote entitled “Back to School at last…” In this blog, I wrote about how I was tired of working full time, and how I wanted to stay in school for my master’s degree. I can certainly say that a lot has changed since then.

 

I am certainly not in a big hurry to get my master’s degree. Since I have spent the past four month’s job searching, I have found a master’s degree with no experience is not any better than a bachelor’s degree with little to no experience. Typically companies want 3-5 years of experience with a master’s degree for a job better than entry level. For this reason, I think it would be the best idea for me to get my master’s degree part time, while getting the experience I need.

 

As far as being tired of working full time, I think I am ready to enter the work place. When I start at NxStage Medical in January, it will mark the beginning of my fourth internship (my third in the medical devices industry). I think I know most of the Do’s and Don’ts of the workplace. I plan to work very hard to get a promotion to a full time position.

 

I feel like I have had a very successful college career at UMass Lowell. I built myself a powerful resume. I have worked three internships. I have lived on campus as a resident and a residential advisor. I have lived off campus with friends, lived off campus with my girlfriend, and even spent six months 200 miles away from campus. I have made many friends, and very few enemies. I am glad to say that I have no regrets about the past 4.5 years.

 

So if you are entering college, or you are part way through your college career; here is my advice:

  • Build your resume: I know it’s a tough market, but apply for internships, and take the job. Even if you think something might be below you, you can learn a lot and build some good references.
  • Go to class: I constantly hear people complaining about 8:30 classes. Give me a break! When you are working full time you will probably have to be in at 7:00 everyday. Nothing will make you look better than near perfect attendance, whether that is in the eyes of a teacher or employer.
  • Have some fun, but take things seriously: You don’t need to go to college to party 5-7 nights a week. Whether you are taking out student loans, or your parents are paying, or you won the lottery; college is expensive. Don’t let that money go to waste. Keep up with your homework and study hard so that you will get the grades you deserve.
  • Get connected: Get involved, meet some people, and make some friends. Everyone encourages you to join societies and groups. There’s a good reason for that; people who get involved with their campus do better in school.

 

Thanks for reading everyone, best of luck to you!

Happy Holidays!

Done with classes, and halfway through finals, the finitude of college has certainly set in. It really blows my mind how fast it all went by, the classes I have attended, the homework assignments I worked on, all the exams I studied for. Now with only one final left, I really do have my foot out the door. I remember looking forward to graduation, but now that I am there I find myself looking back. It really is a bittersweet feeling.

 

Here is the sweet half of it: I have a job, only a co-op, not a full time engineer, but nonetheless a job. In today’s tough economy, I am glad to have an entry level position in a field that I am interested in. I am also on the verge of accomplishing the most challenging task I have taken on so far; studying for my bachelor’s degree. I really beat the odds too, coming from a vocational high school; I was not even expected to go to college. I’ve managed to pull my GPA out of the hole I dug for it my first two years. Going from a 2.5 to a 3.0 is a serious challenge. I will be walking in the spring. I will not be cum laude, magna cum laude or summa cum laude, but that does not matter to me. I am proud of myself for what I have done.

 

Here is the bitter half of it: I will be saying goodbye to what has been my life for the past 4.5 years. I will no longer be a full time college student. I know that I have a lot of growing up to do. Society pressures us to get married and start a family soon after graduation. That’s how my older sister did it, that’s how my girlfriend’s older sister did it. And quite frankly, it scares the life out of me. Above all, the scariest part is that life will be taken off of auto-pilot. When you are a student, you have a schedule and a curriculum laid out for you:

·         2 tbsp. of electives

·          1 cup of gen ed’s

·          2 cups of core classes

·          bring to a boil

·          reduce heat and simmer for 8 semesters.

But now, there is no set path, no recipe for life. I have spent a good amount of time searching for a direction. I have been looking for someone or something to tell me what to do next. I have finally come to the conclusion that there is no one to tell me what to do, I have to make my own way.

 

In conclusion, I have long thought that college was supposed to be the ‘best time of your life.’ I felt like leaving college was the end of my young life. Now I see things in a different perspective. When I realized that I have unlimited opportunities and potential, I came to understand that I can mold my life anyway I want to. I am starting a journey, not as a passenger, but as the driver. I am excited to get out into the real world and make a name for myself. “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

 

Thanks for reading.

Last night my Intro to Philosophy class went out to dinner at Beer Works in Lowell. It is the most interesting feeling realizing that I had been at UMass Lowell the longest at the table. Putting off my electives until my last semester, has given me a chance to connect with some of the freshmen students. It is very interesting talking to someone who is about to finish their first semester, when I am finishing my last. I started to think about what has changed at UML over the past 4 years. And then I started joking with the freshmen by making these comments in an old man’s voice:

 

“Back when I was a freshman… You had to plug your computer into the wall to get internet!”

“There was no Southwick dining hall!”

“…Parking decals were free!”

“…You had to pay to get into hockey games!”

“…There was no parking garage on east campus!”

“…UML didn’t own a hotel!”

“…Prof. Johnston (intro to engineering) was still a student!”

“…There was no fence on the University Ave Bridge, just a railing!”

“…Rowdy the Riverhawk didn’t look like someone from Sonic the Hedgehog!”

I have spent a good amount of time this semester searching for a job for when I graduate in December. This past week I received a job offer at NxStage Medical, in Lawrence MA. The offer is for a six month co-op position, in research and development. Hopefully it will give me a chance to prove myself as a valuable candidate, and I could be promoted into a full time engineering position.

 

NxStage is a company that manufactures dialysis machines, which are used for people who have kidney failure. They make both clinical and home use dialysis machines. NxStage’s R&D facility is located in Lawrence, only 10 miles away from my apartment. Luckily I will not have to drive 60 miles to work anymore. Currently it takes me about an hour and twenty minutes each way, at my new job it should only take me twenty minutes. Best of all, this position will allow me to get into the R&D half of medical devices, as opposed to manufacturing.

 

I was once told that an internship or a co-op is a long term interview. I believe this is the best approach to any internship or co-op you may be hired for through college. In today’s tough economy, it is extremely important to get your foot in the door. I am going to work very hard to make a name for myself at NxStage. This way, if anything opens up 4 or 5 months down the line, I would be an easy choice for the position.

 

I have not gotten all the details about the position yet, but I will be sure to fill you in soon. Thanks for reading!

Crunch Time...

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I realized yesterday morning that I have a busy couple of weeks ahead of me. As the semester is coming to an end, I have an intense line up of exams, essays and project presentations ahead of me. I am currently taking four classes, and although I have had an overall easy semester, it seems that all of my classes are demanding something in the next couple of weeks.

 

In Chemistry II, I have the third exam next Monday. The final exam will be the week afterwards on Wednesday. That’s already two exams in three weeks. In order to do well on these exams, I will need to ensure that I am able to do all of the assigned homework problems. I will probably have to study chemistry every day from now until the final exam.

 

In Intro to Philosophy, I have to submit a 5 page essay. This will be our third essay of the semester, so it will be graded the hardest. It is also worth more points. This is due the first day of finals, which is the same Wednesday as my Chem II final. Luckily, there is no final exam in this class.

 

In General Psychology, I have a group project to present next Wednesday. This will require a few hours of work over the next week. The final exam for this class will be on Saturday the 19th. Hopefully the exam will not be too difficult, and the professor will give a good outline for it.

 

My last class is Computer Aided Engineering. For this class I have a term paper due next Wednesday. Along with the term paper I must give a short presentation of my topic. This is due the same day as my group presentation. I also need to catch up on some homework assignments in this class.

 

As you can see there is a lot of overlap in my schedule. I am confident that a lot of you have pretty busy schedules in front of you. I suggest you lay everything out like I did, so that you can better prepare for your assignments. It is very important to finish the semester strong, to ensure you get the grades you deserve.

My favorite holiday of the year is this Thursday. I love getting together with family and stuffing my face like I’ve never eaten before. This Thursday also marks the beginning of Christmas season, which is essentially the end of fall.

 

Winter brings on lot of exciting things; holidays, winter break, snow, snowboarding. But don’t forget, winter also brings on term papers and final examinations. When we come back to school next week, it will be December. This means we only have two weeks left, and then finals. If you are new to school this year, don’t be scared, but definitely be prepared. Finals are no joke.

 

If a final exam is your only chance of passing a class, then you should start studying ASAP. If you have done well over the semester, finals are a good chance to improve or maintain your grade. I suggest getting your final schedule in advance, and planning out when you will study for each final.

 

Keep in mind, final schedules are pretty random, and they can be scheduled and day from Monday-Saturday. I would advise not to load up finals week with hours at work. Try to maximize your studying time. Forming studying groups can help to understand tough subject areas, and also reinforce your understanding by explaining things to others. Try to use your past tests as a guide for about ¾ of a cumulative final.

 

Enjoy you’re Thanksgiving weekend, but keep in mind that the end of the semester is near. Thanks for reading.

As we are quickly approaching finals, my last semester at UML is almost over. I am really nearing the end of my rope at UMass Lowell, and I am starting to consider whether or not I got the full college experience. I’m going to take this chance to recall my years at school and decide what I would change if I was given a second chance. Let’s go back…

 

I moved into Leitch Hall at the end of the summer of 2005. I know this may sound like ancient history to anyone who is just starting their adventure at UML. I immediately loved the atmosphere of east campus. My freshmen year was spent studying calculus, physics and engineering classes, and my grades were awful. I attended every class and did all of my homework assignments, but I did not take time to ensure I was doing the problems correctly. Given a second chance, I would certainly spend more time working on getting good grades in these classes.

 

My sophomore year was similar to my freshmen year, only I lived on North Campus in Smith hall. I loved how close it was to classes and how convenient the tunnel system was in poor weather. Again my performance was poor in the classroom. My first two years in college made my last two much more difficult, since I needed much better grades to pull up my GPA. Another big regret that I have about my first two years is that I was detached from campus. I did not participate in any extra curricular activities, and spent most of my free time off campus. Luckily for me I was able to connect much more my junior year.

 

Junior year I got a job as a residential advisor (RA) in Eames hall on north campus. Eames is the sister building of Smith, so it was all very familiar to me. I was able to make many friends and get more involved in school. It felt really good to be able to give back to the school.  I also met my current girlfriend in the building. We have now been together for 2 years and share an apartment a few miles away from campus. My grades improved dramatically this year.

 

I took my second semester junior year off to get some working experience. I was offered a co-op position at Husky IMS in Milton, VT. I worked there for six months, lived in Burlington, VT, and made a couple of good friends from Penn State. My friends from Penn State were also co-ops at Husky. I worked a summer internship at a medical devices company in Salem, NH called Advanced Polymers after returning from VT.

 

When I returned to school the next fall, my grades skyrocketed. I think my work experience encouraged me to work harder to increase my GPA. This was the first time in my college career that I made Dean’s List. I also got the chance to rent out an apartment near campus with a couple of friends I had made in Eames hall. We had a lot of fun living there and all enjoyed having our own rooms. We did have a falling out with one of our roommates, which became a major issue towards the end of our stay. So I would advise anyone who wants to rent an apartment to be careful choosing roommates. After this year I got a summer internship working at Teleflex Medical in Jaffrey, NH. I still work there part time now, it is kind of a hike, but the pay is pretty good.

 

Now I am in my last semester of college. I am really starting to feel like I am at the end of my rope. It is kind of a depressing feeling, but I am excited to move forward and explore some new opportunities. I am happy to say that I will be graduating with a 3.0GPA. I had to work really hard to dig myself out of the ditch I made my first two years. I do miss the dorm rooms, as you do not need to worry about bills and upkeep. I would suggest that every college student should live on campus at least one year to get the full college experience.

 

Overall, I am happy with the choices I made in college. I am very glad to have experienced a wonderful four years at UML. Thanks for reading.

A few months back I was pretty up in the air about what I wanted to do after graduation. I was unsure if I wanted to go to grad school full time or part time. I didn’t know if I would be working a full time job or an internship position. I had assumed that my best opportunity would unravel in front of me, but now I am realizing that I will need to make my own path.

 

I have decided that I am going to sign up for 1 or 2 night classes next semester towards my master’s degree at UMass Lowell. I have been actively applying for both full time and internship positions. I have also narrowed down my search field to the medical devices industry. Two of my previous internships worked with medical devices, and I find this field to be the most interesting and the most meaningful to me.

 

I had originally hoped that I would find a full time employer that would reimburse any classes I took. However, I am finding that the job market is a lot tougher than I had hoped. I am going to stay optimistic, and hope to find an opening somewhere in the next couple of months. But I have accepted the fact that I may not have a job lined up for me right when I get out of school.

 

I think that patience and determination are going to be the keys to my success. With time, I am sure things will work out for me. I’ll be sure to keep my eyes and ears open, and to keep my head up.

 

For any of you out there who are actively job searching, know that you are not alone, stay positive, and don’t give up. For any of you going into school now, keep in mind that it’s a tough world. You need to make yourself a valuable candidate while you are in school. Do whatever you can to build your resume, because in the end it will pay off. A friend of mine who graduated recently told me to “Always plan things out two steps in advance,”

Hopefully the economy will get better, and many new jobs open up, but we cannot rely on it. We need to take control of our own futures.

 

Thanks for reading, good luck out there!

 After four years of hard work and determination, I finally get a chance to prove myself to a potential employer. This will be the moment I have been waiting for. That’s right; tomorrow I have an interview for a full time job. I will be interviewing at a medical devices company in Waltham, MA, for a position in research and development.

 

The fact that this is a local R&D position in medical devices makes this job a great fit for me. So I want to do my best at this interview. Here are a couple of tips for job interviewing:

 

Prepare: Researching the company is important. You want to know what you are getting yourself into. If they have given you a job description, make sure you take time to read it thoroughly. You may also want to watch interview videos online and do practice interviews. Anything you can do to make yourself more confident will definitely help.

 

Be presentable and be on time: Make sure you dress appropriately for the position you are applying for. I typically wear a suit, since I am applying for full time engineering positions. I believe it is better to over-dress than under-dress. Make sure you get directions and give yourself extra time. The last thing you want to do is arrive late or miss an interview.

 

Show your knowledge: Try to relate the employer’s questions to what the company is looking for. This is why it helps to know the job description; you can tie past experiences into the companies focus. Stay calm, try not to over answer questions, and make sure to make eye contact.

 

Follow up: Make sure to send a follow up email and reassure the employer you are still interested in the position.

 

I have some preparation to do since tomorrow is the big day. I will be sure to post the results as soon as I find out. Thanks for reading!

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