Spotlight – Jessica Yu, The MITRE Corporation
College Recruiting and Internship and Co-op Program Manager, The MITRE Corporation
Jessica received her Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and is currently attending Bentley University, where she is pursuing Master’s degrees in Business Administration and Human Factors in Information Design. She expects to graduate in December of 2014. Jessica has been in her current role for 6 years.
What was your career path (previous roles) to get your current role? I worked at Career Group Staffing Inc., a small family-owned staffing agency where I had my first experience in HR. I worked as a College Recruiter for Teradyne, Inc., a semiconductor test equipment manufacturer, and as a Human Resources Co-op at Yankee Candle Company.
What was your first job? I was a reporter for the Springfield, MA daily newspaper, which is now called the Republican, but which was called the Union News when I worked there.
Why did you choose this career? I just grew into it. I never had dreams of being a Human Resources professional when I was growing up and honestly didn’t really know what it was all about. Throughout my undergraduate studies the topics and subject matters that interested me the most were always about people as individuals or as part of organizations. I was drawn to courses such as organizational behavior and found my way into a recruiting role. I’ve been very lucky to be able to find positions that have a great balance of the big picture strategy and planning work as well as the actual tactical full-cycle recruiting work.
What is the skill that is most important in your current role? Being in a centralized recruiting function, with a small team, in a medium to large size company requires a lot of communication and collaboration. The ability to bring people together from disparate organizations to work towards the same goal of building and maintaining the pipeline of scarce talent has been of the utmost importance.
How did you develop this skill and how do you fine-tune it regularly? It’s critical to work on building relationships internally and understanding what the goals and needs are within the organization. Human Resources is a support function, so understanding your customers helps to prioritize and guide your work. Last but not least is making sure that all messages are crafted especially for your audience to maximize the effectiveness. Attending internal classes and working on my master’s degrees have helped to keep my skills sharp.
Did you have a mentor? If so, how did that mentor help in your career development? I don’t have just one mentor. I have been very fortunate to have excellent managers, coworkers, and friends who have helped to influence and support me throughout my career.
What is your biggest career accomplishment? Being able to grow MITRE’s College Recruiting and Co-op and Internship Program into the well-oiled machine it is today has been a fulfilling journey. Although we still have much work to do and there are always ways we can do things better, we’ve been able to create a great experience for students to network with each other, learn about the different parts of MITRE, and explore different career paths.
What is your advice to students looking for their first job? Find something with aspects that you like but where you can learn a lot. Don’t get caught up in trying to find the job with the highest salary, but look at the whole picture. Because we spend about a third of our lives at work, you should find a supportive environment where you can continue to grow and learn while making an impact with your work.
What is your advice to young professionals in the field who aspire to your current role? Creativity and innovation are key to running a successful college recruiting and co-op and internship program. Regardless if you are in a for-profit or a not-for-profit organization, there are always resource and budget constraints to deal with. Being able to figure out how to build relationships and create awareness of your organization as an employer of choice requires keeping up with current trends and being willing to break from the pack to figure out what will best serve the nuances of your particular organization. My team keeps a running list of ideas that we can always reference to create pilot initiatives, and we try to improve our efforts with each year’s cycle.
What was the best career advice you have ever received? I have a tendency to try to do everything which can often times be too much. This is a bit morbid, but I remember reading that one of the top five regrets that people have on their deathbeds is that they wish they didn’t spend as much time at the office. I appreciate the perspective that life is more than just work and that having a healthy work-life balance actually makes you more effective and successful in the work that you do.
What would you like colleagues to know about your organization (i.e. hiring practices/programs)? MITRE is a not-for-profit organization that operates research and development centers sponsored by the federal government. We operate FFRDCs—federally funded research and development centers—which are unique organizations that assist the United States government with scientific research and analysis, development and acquisition, and systems engineering and integration. It’s a dynamic environment where engineers and scientists can come to work on technically challenging and interesting problem sets while continuing to learn and grow.
Jessica did visit her career center when she was in college.