The ChE GSA will be hosting a discussion with a faculty members in Chemical Engineering that will focus on developing personal skills to prepare students for their career after graduate school. The faculty members include Monty Alger, Stephanie Butler Velegol, Darrell Velegol, and John M. Jordan (Clinical Professor of Supply Chain & Information Systems).
The discussion will be held on Wednesday, August 22 at 6:30pm in 58 Greenberg.
Pizza will be served at this event. Please RSVP if you are going to attend.
More information about the event can be found below.
Many signs point to a breakdown in the current U.S. labor market. Hiring companies cannot find people with
the necessary skills, from truck driving to data mining. Workers at all levels, meanwhile, find it more and more
difficult to climb a career ladder, or even to get onto the bottom rung. The rapid evolution in technology and
business practices accelerates and intensifies the need for new approaches to career awareness, preparation, and
A team across Penn State, several at University Park, has coalesced to address this evolution in the labor market
from several sides. First, in a series of industry planning events, graduate courses, and discussions with
students, we have deployed a simple yet effective tool for beginning and maintaining the career planning
discussion: a skills grid tool, with roles chronologically listed as rows and key skill/experience categories as
columns. The student can readily see both existing strengths and patterns of success as well as gaps that can be
proactively addressed. It is useful for initial career planning as well as long-term career management. We have
found that students gain much from sharing their evolving grids with their peers and mentors. Further, one of
us (MA) has used this approach in industry for >35 years and found the grid to be an excellent tool for career
During the past year, we have also been working with Burning Glass Technologies, a Boston-based big
data/machine learning company that has built a substantial database of job postings, resumes, and government
jobs data. Matt Sigelman, the company’s CEO, argues that rather than a jobs market it is more insightful to
analyze how companies are looking for skills. We licensed Burning Glass data products to identify opportunity
areas for Penn State campuses to engage local hiring companies: what skills are in short supply, how might the
campuses respond at undergraduate, graduate and continuing education levels to help ease the shortage, how
can companies more effectively recruit? We seek feedback from a wider audience at Penn State beginning with
students and other interested groups at Penn State.
Career Discovery Sessions
– We plan to pilot new discussions with groups of students from professional societies and university
organizations to have evening event to discuss skills, jobs and careers.
– Prior to the session students will review online content on skills, jobs and state of the market
– A one-page skills grid template will is available and each student should draft his or her personal skills
grid and share during the discussion session.
– Each student will present their skills grid and have a chance to learn from others in the group.
– Session feedback will be collected and will help improving sessions for greater student benefit.
– Students will learn more about the jobs market, skills required to secure a job.
– Future options: we will engage employers to be part of the session discussion and feedback using ZOOM. Other ideas or suggestions for improvement will also be captured during the session.
Questions / Suggestions
Any questions please contact Monty Alger, firstname.lastname@example.org