Archer Center

Technical industry questions answered by RPI alumni

On Friday, March 29, the Archer Center for Student Leadership Development and the Center for Career & Development hosted “Real World: Technical Skills Lunch & Learn.” Planning for the event stemmed from my previous discussion with Associate Director of the Archer Center Christine Allard summarized online, which occurred in response to my opinion piece touching on the lack of technical skills reviewed in professional development courses.

The event featured a panel style “ask me anything” discussion with four recent alumni from Rensselaer, each with different engineering backgrounds. Specifically, guest speakers included Erin Kane from Regeneron, Isabella Cain from IBM, Jackson Lyon from General Dynamics, and Michael Fil from Extreme Molding. There were 18 students in attendance, alongside Archer Center and CCPD representatives. The event began with brief introductions from each alum, speaking to their backgrounds and experiences in industry. Then, the floor was open to questions from attendees, which were centered around the technical skills that were found to be helpful in the job application process and in everyday tasks at work. Each panelist took the time to answer questions as was specific to their experience. The general consensus expressed by the alumni emphasized the importance of problem solving and report-writing skills.

As the event was tailored toward career development, Allard worked closely with Associate Director of the CCPD Dawn Cairns-Weaver and Career Counselor for the CCPD Lindsay Dembner. The event was advertised through JobLink and required registration ahead of time. The Archer Center also advertised to engineering students in Introduction to Engineering Design and Professional Development III. Speaking with Allard after the event, she mentioned, “It was nice to be able to fill a need.”

Allard also touched on a few changes she would like to plan for in the future. For instance, she would like to offer attendees a pamphlet with formal biographies of each panel speaker and possibly open the event to other schools. For now, there are plans to hold another event for engineers in the fall. Allard added, the frequency and variety of events depends on student interest.

I would strongly encourage reaching out to Archer Center or CCPD staff regarding any interest surrounding this event. Allard, Cairns-Weaver, and Dembner are hosting this event for student development. As such, student feedback would be helpful as they plan future ones. I think this is a wonderful opportunity to step out of our daily college perspectives and gain real insight from recent alumni in the workforce. The event is casual enough to feel comfortable and professional—not to mention full of food, and good intentions.