Meet The Careers Experts

Careers Expert: Kerri Boivin, University ofMichigan

Kerri Boivin, Careers Director at Michigan, speaks about team projects and entrepreneurial culture on campus, plus the benefits of a 70,000-strong engineering alumni!

Kerri Boivin says students need to start networking as soon as they arrive at their university.

Kerri Boivin says students need to start networking as soon as they arrive at their university.

Kerri Boivin is Director of the Engineering Career Resource Center at the University of Michigan.
What do employers value about Michigan Engineering grads?
Michigan Engineering graduates are very team-oriented. They have opportunities throughout their academic career to get involved in all sorts of team activities, such as Solar Car, Formula SAE and many others. There are a host of student organisations where they can build their leadership skills.
As well as this, of course, the academic caliber of Michigan Engineering grads is top notch. The college attracts excellent students, and once they're here, Michigan students work very, very hard.
Speaking of leadership skills, there seems to be a huge emphasis at Michigan on entrepreneurial activity.
The College of Engineering has a very strong entrepreneurial ethos. There's a Center for Entrepreneurship, where students are able to test out their ideas and talk to staff and students who have started their own businesses.
So are there quite strong links between the Engineering and Business schools?
We have seen several engineering students opening their own businesses, often collaborating with business school students. We're also seeing that link more and more, with engineering students taking business school classes, and vice versa. We're really seeing that connection grow.
How does Michigan help its students with internships and jobs?
When students first come in, we work with them - right from the start of their first year - on becoming conscious of their career decisions. We talk to them about building their resumes, and go through options such as internships, study abroad programs and volunteering. We really try to get it in their minds early that they must build up their skills.
But we certainly also connect them with employers. Michigan has a lot of events on campus throughout the year, where students can get to know recruiters, and get to know the fields they might want to enter. We have several career fairs, but also smaller events for more intense networking.
Has the recruitment process changed over the years?
I think employers are more and more active on campus. There's much more emphasis on building their brand on campus, and hosting activities, as opposed to just coming to career fairs. These days employers love to get involved in class projects, or sponsor a student organisation.
Does Michigan have a strong international student body?
Yes, and what's great is that it gives everyone a chance to learn how to work with people from other countries. There are also a lot of international internships opportunities for our students. We think it's very important for Michigan students to communicate cross cultures.
And do international students face tougher challenges after graduation?
They have to cast a broader net, certainly, but it's not impossible for international students to find great jobs. They just have to work a little bit harder.
What tips would you give to engineering students looking at finding work after graduation? 
Students really should think about career options prior to graduation. It's essential they start networking straight away, as soon as they get to a university. That way, they can find early internships, which often open up other doors, and so on. 
Michigan has about 70,000 Engineering alumni – how does this help with jobs for students?
When we have career fairs, most of the companies that come bring back recent or even older alumni. They make an immediate connection with students, as they know the faculty, and they can better understand the projects students are working on. So that's very important, for students and also for companies to build their brand.
Finally, how beautiful is Ann Arbor?
Even more beautiful than it looks!


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