Student Spotlight: “Go Where You’re the Right Fit”

Upon graduating in fall of 2021, Matt Biederman had it all. The mechanical engineering major had done a slew of internships and had secured multiple full-time job offers. The only issue – he couldn’t decide which offer to accept. To solve his quandary, Biederman turned to the Career Center.

Biederman had been utilizing the Center’s resources since his sophomore year, when he had his resumé reviewed before he began searching for his first co-op opportunity. Flash forward to his senior year, and Biederman was a regular at the Center, chatting with his career consultant Lauren Fagan and doing mock interviews to prepare for the batch of real ones he had. Once he had been offered full-time roles at three different companies, he relied on Fagan’s advice to help him choose the best fit.

“All the positions had varying salaries and benefits, and I didn’t know how to go about navigating that scenario,” Biederman explains. “One of the big tips she gave me was that salary is important, but you want to go to a company that you feel you’re the right fit for and where there are growth opportunities available.”

Using this advice, Biederman compared the three companies, looking at the base salary, benefits, sick day policies, and number of vacation days, and made his decision, choosing to become a project engineer at Shaw Flooring, where he’d previously done a co-op. One and a half years later, Biederman still works there, and is confident he made the right choice. Biederman uses his mechanical engineering background to work implementing, trouble-shooting, and automating new projects in the plant. Biederman describes Shaw as the leading international flooring manufacturer; the company produces carpets, hardwood flooring, and ceramic tile flooring.

“I feel like I made the right decision,” Biederman confirms. “I learned a lot in my first year, and I’m still learning a lots. There’s so much career growth.”

Since starting at the company, Biederman has gained various certifications, including ones for safety practices and one called a green belt certification that targets ways to make a manufacturing plant as efficient as possible and reduce waste.

While Biederman is glad that his current role suits him so well, he acknowledges the utility in working a position that is not the right fit. As a rising junior, he worked a co-op as a quality engineer with Salem Tube, a metal tubing manufacturer.

“It was an okay experience, but I didn’t really enjoy what I was doing,” Biederman notes. “It was helpful to learn that that field was not of interest to me. The company culture wasn’t the best, and there was a lot of aggression. As Lauren told me, you have to look at a company not just for money but for the cultural fit, too, and that experience really proved that true for me.”

Biederman recommends that every Pitt student talk to their career consultant, whether or not they’re currently facing a tough decision.

“Lauren was so helpful at keeping my head on straight and being a sounding board,” he says. “It’s really important to have that relationship.”

Biederman also advises students to find a balance between work and life.

“I think it’s imperative to be at a job you enjoy doing every day, a job that challenges and excites you, but for ultimate life success, you want that work-life balance,” Biederman expresses. “You need to also have a life outside of work, not just 80-hour work weeks.”

Taking his own advice, Biederman is working hard now to establish a foundation for his career that will carry him into the future and allow that flexibility between life and work.

“I’m focusing on building my career and creating my network,” Biederman says. “I’m discovering what I’m good at, what I’m bad at, and what I’m passionate about. In the future, I hope to have a steady job so that I have the resources and time to do things like traveling, seeing the world, and experiencing new things.”

By Dionna Dash
Dionna Dash Nordenberg Scholar