Engineering co-op student to play Santa's little helper this winter
For Mollie Jameson, the best surprise of the 2014 holiday season is waiting for her in New York City.
The fourth-year mechanical engineering student will reap the benefit of her passion for product design, her job search perseverance and her ultimate career goal next month as she begins a co-op work term at American toy company Fisher Price.
The high-profile placement is not all that surprising, considering Ms. Jameson’s outgoing and resourceful nature. While completing a previous work term in Toronto, she obtained a busker’s permit in order to earn extra spending money by singing and playing her guitar.
When it came time to apply for jobs for her upcoming work term, Ms. Jameson focused on her dream of working in product design. As a child, when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she’d pick up a toy and say: “I want to be the person who makes this.”
Several Google searches later, Ms. Jameson zeroed in on Fisher Price, which offers co-op work terms to university students.
Ms. Jameson forwarded her resumé and cover letter for the company's consideration. The day after, she decided it wasn’t enough – she knew she needed to be more proactive if she hoped to land an interview. She called the customer service line at Fisher Price, an automated service, which transferred her several times before providing a number for the New York offices. Another automated voice asked for the name of the person with whom she wished to speak.
“I guessed two first names, male, and a man answered,” said Ms. Jameson.
She explained who she was and about her passion for product design. The person she was speaking with invited her to send him a resumé. Ms. Jameson asked if he was an engineer with the company, but he just chuckled and didn’t reply.
Meanwhile, she sent the email as directed; two days later, the company called and offered her an interview. Ecstatic, Ms. Jameson continued to research Fisher Price as much as she could and rehearsed out loud so much that her mouth went dry.
“Nothing else has ever even occurred to me,” Ms. Jameson said about her dream of designing products. “I had a Rescue Heroes action figure and I still know how important it is as a kid, with no creative bounds, to learn from play. I practised for this interview in the shower, in the car. I decided I would get this position.”
When the big day came, two managers with Fisher Price’s Character Brands line, the Thomas the Train line and the Disney line, interviewed Ms. Jameson via Skype.
“I asked them, ‘What do you love about your job?’” she said. “One said, ‘I am maybe not a famous performer with sold-out shows, but I have touched millions of lives.’ To touch lives, wow! Gave me shivers.”
After a second interview, Ms. Jameson was offered the job.
Upon receiving the good news, Ms. Jameson made a beeline for the office of Julie Kavanagh, co-operative education services co-ordinator at Memorial, arriving out of breath. Memorial’s engineering students do often complete work terms in the U.S., so it fortunately did not take long to arrange for an American work visa.
“Fisher Price has never hired a student from Canada before,” she said. “I’ll get to oversee the whole process. For example, the company says, ‘We want a bath toy that will sell for $7.99.’ The artists sketch a design, then the engineers work on a prototype, which is sent to Asia. The engineers get the prototype back, test it for safety and durability.”
After the hiring process was complete, the interviewers inquired about how Ms. Jameson came to be acquainted with Fisher Price’s chief engineer.
“That day when I called Fisher Price customer service, I picked two names out of the air,” she said.
Hearing this, the interviewers broke into hysterical laughter.