For This Student, Persistence Pays Off

Take a lesson from Huei Shuan Liu: Whether you're at a conference, attending presentations at school or going to industry association meetings, you've got to work it.

All the undergraduate computer science and computer engineering majors and recent graduates who are having a grueling time getting full-time, internship and cooperative education positions should take a lesson from Huei Shuan Liu: Whether youre at a conference, attending presentations at school or going to industry association meetings, youve got to work it, baby.

Thanks to a talent for collecting contacts—she came home from the Grace Hopper Conference two years ago with 50 contact names—as well as the smarts to keep all those contacts updated on her growing list of internship experiences with a periodic e-mail newsletter, Liu is one Simmons College student who will be graduating with a résumé so sturdy you could stand on it.

Most recently, Liu finished a software engineering internship at the Center for Subsurface Sensing and Imaging Systems, a National Science Foundation research and engineering center at Northeastern University, in Boston.

Even though shes experienced and sharp—with a 3.58 GPA—her most recent internship didnt fall into her lap. As she has in past years, Liu searched for internship possibilities on Monster.com, other online job boards and on-campus listings. The internships, unfortunately, simply werent out there (see related story, "If Internships Dont Work Out ...").

She discovered the NSF option when Steven McKnight, educational director of the center, gave a presentation on the centers work at her college. Liu followed up on it by inquiring if the center had openings.

It did—but not widely advertised ones. "The competition for internships hasnt been very competitive," said Eric Miller, an associate professor at the NSF center who hired and supervised Liu. "Its not overwhelming, partially because its a word-of-mouth thing."

Liu graduates in December. Will her string of experiences help her stand out in the pallid job market? If her classmates experiences are any indication, the answer is yes.

"Of [my classmates who have graduated], the few who have a job right after graduation, they got it from a previous internship," said Liu, in Boston. "For the others, I know friends who graduated in May who are still looking for jobs. It definitely motivated me to work hard and do my homework and to try to find a job before I get out."

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