Friday, October 16, 2015

Viking Voices - Major / Minors Fair

This week I had the chance to spend a couple of hours speaking with students and faculty during the Major / Minors Fair organized by the Salem State office of Career Services. The event took place in Veterans Memorial Hall (ECC 201) in the Ellison Campus Center. 

According to Angelique Torres Kim, Associate Director, Employer Relations of Career Services the event, "is designed to assist students who are choosing or rethinking their major as well as considering a minor." Alumni and employers were invited to join with faculty representatives and organizers of clubs and interest groups to engage and inform students. 

I my spent time at the Computer Sciences table with professor Beifang Yi and assistant professor Lakshmidevi Sreeramareddy.  I learned about the robust Computer Science Curriculum available to students and the many extracurricular opportunities to practice the skills learned.  The extracurricular programs include the SSU Programming Club, the Robotics Club, the Computer Science Laboratories and tutoring services. Also available to students is on-line academic advising. For alumni, adult and part-time learners the Computer Sciences Department offers Continuing Education both in a robust evening program and daytime opportunities on a “space available” basis.

As I previously blogged in My Salem State Story: What is Yours?, computer science studies at Salem were crucial to my early career success. I carried a minor along with my major in Business Administration. The computer sciences programming skills allowed me to move into a management positon when the need for a computer systems administrator became a day-to-day business requirement for my employer. That was a long time ago when computer sciences skills could be a niche specialty. 

Today we live in a code based world. Computers govern domains from financial services, to media, to healthcare and more. The degree to which computers affect our lives is increasing geometrically.

The Daily Mail recently asked, "Will your next boss be a robot?" Thinkers including futurist Ray Kurzweil talk about the concept of singularity; the day soon when computers surpass human intellect. Whether you are among the singularity optimists, a pessimist or a skeptic of concepts including singularity, it is a career hazard today to overlook the importance of computer literacy in the workplace. From the seasoned professional to those just starting out, computer sciences are a prerequisite to long-term career success. 

In addition to the coding skills I learned at Salem State, as important are the problem solving and analytical skills that accompanied the concentration courses. Computer sciences teach us to solve complex challenges, apply innovation and work together successfully in teams. Along with good work habits and other soft skills computer science studies whether a major, minor or as electives round out the modern professional. Salem State University offers many ways students and alumni may prepare for this important part of the modern career. 

Beyond computer sciences many other majors and interests were represented at the fair. I met instructor Jane Regan of the Communications Department who is teaching investigative journalism and coordinating a reporting workshop. 

This was my first time taking part in the Major / Minors Fair. I didn't know what to expect. When I first saw Jane approach wearing her flack jacket and Kevlar vest I asked myself, "What have I gotten into?" I found Jane to be dynamic and engaging as she and Robert E. Brown, Ph.D, described careers in journalism to eager students. 

Professor Brown is another great example of the exemplar talent that Salem State University attracts. He, "has served on the full-time faculties of Bentley University, Boston College, Boston University, California State University, California State University-LA, Emerson College, and is on the graduate faculty of the Blanquerna School of Communications, Barcelona, Spain." 

In addition to his contributions to Salem State Doctor Brown is a faculty member of the Harvard University Extension School and is recognized in private industry for his work in public relations and as a speech writer for senior executives of Fortune 500 companies. I encourage you to follow Professor Brown on Twitter @GatheringLight for his witty and insightful commentary. 

For the fair the staff of the Career Services Office worked tirelessly to bring together campus organizations ranging from Arts and Design; to the First Year Experience office; to Interdisciplinary Studies; to Sport and Movement Sciences, to focus areas across the broad spectrum that makes up the Salem State experience. Large numbers of energetic and curious students left the event with a greater appreciation for the educational opportunities available. Prospective employers and fellow alumni including Salem State Alumni Board of Directors secretary, Debra Lee Surface of St. Jean's Credit Union, an organization that is a loyal benefactor of Salem State, also shared in the experience. 

For me it was an invigorating couple of hours well invested. I met a large number of very motivated and thoughtful young people. I encourage fellow alumni to consider participating in the next Major / Minors Fair and other events the Career Services Office sponsors during the academic year.

If you are seeking to move ahead in your career; if you are an employer seeking to expand your pool of talented prospects; if you are looking for interns, or you seek a way to reconnect in the Salem State community, I encourage you to reach out to the Career Services Office and learn about the robust ways to participate. You can click here for contact information

My personal thanks go to Associate Director of Employer Relations, Angelique Kim, and Employer Relations Associate, Josue Flores, for the hard work you put in to making the day such a success. Angelique and Josue you made it easy for me and the many other companies and alumni to take part. Thank you both.

I hope that you continue to find these topics helpful to inform you of the continuing benefits that Salem State provides to our alumni community. I hope that you will participate in this conversation. Next week's  Viking Voices will be a conversation about the Salem State Collaborative Project for Professional Development.

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