It’s 46 days into the new year, and I find myself still excited and revitalized by having this time to set and meet goals. I think that’s true of many NSBE members. Whether you are an aspiring engineer working to get into college or a college student working to obtain your STEM degree, consider what your next career opportunity will be.

When I think back to my freshman year of college, I remember being inundated with engineering concepts and theories taught in class and having my eyeballs rolling in the back of my head. The professors always seemed to be speaking in a monotone. I knew engineering was my career of choice, but those monotonous lectures, and the boredom they engendered, became a roadblock to my belief that I could get my degree.

Then, during my sophomore year, I began to learn more about the opportunities for undergraduates to experience the engineering field. One of the many experiences that became appealing to me was cooperative education programs, which have students alternate semesters between school and full-time employment.

I remember learning, in my circuits course, about electrical engineering concepts such as Kirchhoff’s and Coulomb’s laws, and theories of electromagnetism, such as Maxwell’s theory. And I remember not really understanding how all of those concepts applied to the real world. That changed when I began my first cooperative education experience at Powercast Corporation.

At Powercast, which was then a small research and development business, I worked on the company’s second prototype for a wireless power application. My day-to-day tasks involved learning the software P-Spice, designing PCB board layouts in Altera and measuring currents and voltages of the designed circuit boards. I appreciated the experience, because I could feel and see the real-world application of the theories presented in those monotonous lectures.

NSBE provides a great resource for you to obtain workplace experiences like mine, by logging into our Career Center at careers.nsbe.org. A number of companies and universities are recruiting our members year-round. Also, as our Annual Convention approaches, job postings are appearing rapidly.

So, my blog readers, have you resolved to land a co-op or internship this year? How do you plan to stretch yourself professionally?

In my work with NSBE, I encounter plenty of employers that are searching for talented, qualified African-American candidates for their staff. As much as I am pleased when employers ask whether I am available to work for them, I am more thrilled to know that I’m working voluntarily to cultivate thousands of talented, qualified workers who can fill their positions.

I challenge you to get through those lectures and consider getting a co-op or an internship. Once you’ve made that a personal goal, research the employers you would like to work for. Work hard to understand the job description and how you would be an asset to the company, government agency, academic institution or other organization. Through this process, you may see areas of your skill set that you need to improve. Upload your resume to the Career Center, and have someone review it. This is a critical step! Many students submit resumes that are full of errors. NSBE has personal review services online, at http://careers.nsbe.org/jobseeker/resources, and in person at our Resume Review booths, during the Annual Convention.

As I mentioned earlier, many employers are prepping to recruit at the Annual Convention. I highly recommend that you go through our pre-screening process at careers.nsbe.org to begin to connect with them.

I hope to hear about your success! Let’s continue the discussion via Twitter @lightuptheFIRE.

In my work with NSBE, I encounter plenty of employers that are searching for talented, qualified African-American candidates for their staff. As much as I am pleased when employers ask whether I am available to work for them, I am more thrilled to know that I’m working voluntarily to cultivate thousands of talented, qualified workers who can fill their positions..