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Q&A with Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation

Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation (otherwise known as Ball Aerospace) provides imaging, communications, information systems, among other engineering products. Barb Schiola, Human Resource (HR) Manager for the packaging division of Ball Corporation, graduated from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley with a degree in English. She has worked as a technical writer, an elementary school teacher, and in software. Since then, she has been a HR coordinator, a HR specialist, and is now HR manager. She shares her advice for applying to internships and searching for jobs.

Many of our readers are high school and college students. What advice or recommendations do you have for students who would like to make themselves competitive applicants? What kinds of opportunities should they pursue?
Having some experiences in high school is an excellent way to start–it shows that you took the initiative. Also, an internship, if you can get one, is huge–students should take what they learned in an internship and use it in their resume…. As for, extracurricular activities, it’s not just membership to the ski club or golf club, I look for relevant activities within clubs. It means more if they’ve done something… actually had tasks assigned to them because they can use those tasks to prove what they can do.

Our publication focuses on language learning and the importance of languages. Do you believe international education or study abroad is important to pursue in college? Why or why not?
Language knowledge is becoming more important to us. We [Ball Corporation] are a global company and, as we move into operations into different countries, there will be movement in terms of people in the U.S. working in Europe, Brazil, and China. When I looked at several resumes for this summer, I saw several students who had studied abroad and who were interested in international business. There’s some relevance and that means a lot to us.

As someone who looks at resumes and cover letters on a daily basis, what are your thoughts on service learning opportunities? How do you believe this affects a student’s career opportunities?
I pay attention to a resume that has any type of work experience on it. In any type of opportunity you can list on a resume, we want to see what tools you’ve used, people you’ve interacted with… I don’t think that quantity [the number of experiences] matters so much. I always look at quality first and relevance is considered. Try to put enough information… I want to learn what you did. The more details you can give the better, it’ll catch my eye.

You mentioned your company works on a global scale. What kinds of qualities do you look for in an applicant?
I think it’s important for students to hone in on the type of classes they take. What we’ve seen so far is that we’ve got students who say [Information Technology] is my passion but when the question comes, “What are the IT trends? What are the new resources?” They have no answer. Some of the classes they’ve chosen haven’t provided them enough current experience or hands on experience. Our hiring program doesn’t just look for book learning.

We also tell our interns every summer, “You have to keep up with the people you’ve met in the internship.” Attend networking opportunities, alumni events, really stay on top of things… don’t shy away from following up and showing interest and getting your name in front of a person in HR or talent acquisition. As well, using a professional network like LinkedIn is not only helpful but you can connect with people your contacts know. Sometimes it’s easier to do it that way. With LinkedIn, there’s a lot that’s going on there like job postings.

What other general advice do you want to give students?
We usually tell students that they should really target what they want to do… know what you want to do in the long run, have an idea, find your passion, follow your passion, and follow companies that share your values. If you are someone who doesn’t agree with a certain industry or product or whatever, then go after other companies… You don’t have to be a doctor or engineer to work in a hospital or a corporation. In our company, we still have people working in HR, finance, training–those opportunities are out there. Follow your passion.

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