Many Paths, One Goal - 10 Strategies for Internships and Career Pathing
Jacobs’ Vice President Freddie Fuller led a coaching session for university students on internships and career development at the recent Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) National meeting. Founded in 1971, COMTO was created to provide a forum for minority professionals in the transportation industry to ensure opportunities and maximum participation in the industry through advocacy, training and professional development. Their national conference is the premier annual gathering of transportation professionals, bringing together industry leaders for learning, training and networking, ensuring diverse and often underrepresented backgrounds share in the industry’s vital contribution to a more connected world.
Fuller, cofounder of COMTO’s Careers in Transportation for Youth program (CITY) 14 years ago, led the conference workshop on career pathing and early career transition from university to the workplace. Students from 20 Universities (e.g., California, Washington, Michigan State, Illinois, Cal Poly, Temple, Florida A&M) attended and are serving internships at 10 host companies, including Sound Transit and Kiewit, and for transportation authorities in Washington, D.C., Tampa and Jacksonville, Florida and Los Angeles and Orange County, California, among others.
According to Fuller, “These student interns are engaged, tech savvy and making the most of the opportunities in front of them. And they are really contributing to the organizations they’ve signed on with.” One student commented, “It’s been great to be exposed to and network with so many officials and influential people and learn how to become a professional in this industry.”
Strategies for making the most of internships and setting a positive career course:
- Be Flexible – Career paths may not always go the way you want or think they should. Cultivate the ability to adapt to changes.
- Be a Better Communicator – Take a writing class to improve business communication skills.
- Be Persistent – Finish what you start. Follow through even if you are delayed on your goal and have to slow your schedule. This applies to business, academic, professional or entrepreneurial pursuits.
- Be Resilient – You will have obstacles along your journey. The key is how you bounce back.
- Be a Volunteer – Look for opportunities to volunteer for assignments or projects at work or in your community that stretch you a little. You never know what could result from delivering on an assignment.
- Be Observant – Note successful behaviors of people you respect or want to emulate. Consider getting a mentor from inside or outside your company or industry.
- Be a Professional – In your demeanor, attire, etiquette and collaborations.
- Be a Participant – Leverage career, networking and collegial benefits of organizations related to leadership, professional development, business and other groups.
- Be Resourceful – Make use of company training and educational resources, and professional social media (LinkedIn Elevate) at your disposal. Lifetime learning greatly enhances career development and social media helps you develop your own brand.
- Be a Giver – Don’t forget to reach back to those behind you who are trying to find their way and may be able to learn from you about internships, scholarships or other lessons and achievements.
Reflecting on 20+ years in the transportation industry
Fuller noted a final motivational strategy from early in his career that helped him maintain his focus. “In graduate school I created a screen saver that provided me with a constant reminder: What are you doing to make it happen?” After all, this was my career and my goals, and I was solely responsible for making the most of it. I had to commit to it and take actions every day to make it happen.”
Jacobs at COMTO
Jacobs has a longstanding relationship with COMTO, including sponsoring 2018 scholarships to minority engineering graduate students from Iowa State and Stanford Universities. At COMTO, Fuller was elected National Chair, Board of Directors. In addition, Jacobs’ Sharon Jean-Baptiste, P.E., moderated a panel session: “What's Diversity Got to do With It” and Jasmine Narcisse received the 2018 Emerging Leader of the Year Award.
COMTO Interns at Career Pathing Workshop.