Career Services

Lebanon Valley College

How Choosing a Career Is Like Clothing Shopping

“You may dread the prospect of clothing shopping, but society still expects you to get dressed.” – Katie Wessel

I’m always up for a different way to frame the process involved in exploring careers. Try this one on for size and see how it fits.

Pick Out Your Own Clothes
You could ask your mom to go shopping and pick something out for you. However, the end result is that you’ll end up with something that may not make you feel confident or align with your personal tastes. The same goes for choosing a career. People who know you well can offer input and suggestions, but ultimately you’re the one who has to get up every day and do the work. To truly find occupational satisfaction, the decision should be your own.

Get in the Fitting Room
Maybe you hate the idea of actually going into a store and trying on clothes, so you order something online that looks good on the model. You may get lucky and wind up with something that fits perfectly, or you may get pants that are three inches too long and a shirt that gaps when you button it. Online shopping may seem more efficient, but in order to find the right pants, you need to get into the fitting room. Likewise, you can do occupational research online, but it takes hands-on experience to really determine if a career is the right fit for you. This hands-on experience comes in various forms, including part-time employment, community engagement, job shadowing, relevant coursework, or internships.

Own Your Style
When you’re trying on clothes, you will probably find a lot of items that fit you. But we all have that one go-to outfit that makes us feel confident when we wear it. It fits just right and brings out the color of your eyes. Similarly, there are a lot of career options that each of us could find satisfying. Look for the option that makes you feel most comfortable and confident.

Plan for Big Purchases
Perhaps you’ve tried on your dream outfit and it looked great on you. Then, you looked at the price tag. You may not be able to start in your dream career with limited experience. Like saving up for a big purchase, you have to put a plan in place and take steps to reach your goal. Look for experiences that will help you develop skills and build connections that may lead to your ideal career down the road.

Remember That Trends Change
Keep in mind that styles change over time. While we may keep a few classic staples in our closet through the years, we update our wardrobes over time to match current trends and our own evolving tastes. What we choose to wear fresh out of college might not be what we envision ourselves wearing forever. Luckily, you don’t have to choose one outfit that you commit to wearing every day for the rest of your life. Career interests change over time as we develop new skills, gain experience, and learn more about ourselves and our options. It is the norm for people to change jobs and career paths multiple times throughout their lives. Embrace the fact that at some point, you’ll probably find yourself back in the fitting room.

Need to do a little career shopping? The Center for Career Development is happy to help!

-Sharon M. Givler, director of career development

Thanks to Katie Wessel, assistant director in the Academic & Career Development Center at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her thoughts came my way as a courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers Grab & Go content for career professionals.

What Should I Wear?

” The most beautiful thing you can wear is confidence.” – Blake Lively

In this season of interviews, career fairs, and networking receptions I am often asked, “What should I wear?”  “Would this outfit be OK?” “Is it better to wear a red or blue tie?”

Certainly guidelines abound as to what comprises appropriate professional and casual attire.  It can be tricky, though, for what constitutes “business professional” in some organizations, may be considered “business causal” at others.  For example, you know that your jeans and t-shirts aren’t going to cut it, but perhaps you don’t know if a 3-piece suit is the way to go. You’ve heard of casual Fridays, but aren’t sure what that means either! So what do you do?

First, consider the situation. Interviews should always be business attire; it’s best to wear business attire to career fairs, although business casual could be acceptable if you’re seeking an internship. Networking events depend on the venue, your purpose for attending, and those who you are hoping to meet.

You can take the guess work out of it by setting a few rules:

  • Wear business attire in any situation in which you hope to make a good impression on potential employers/clients/colleagues/etc.
  • Don’t assume that “Business Casual” is in any way casual. Instead, think of it as “Business Smart.”
  • When in doubt, opt for conservative business wear.
  • You don’t have to spend a fortune to find business attire that fits well and looks professional; shop around and find key items that will mix and match to create several looks.

For more tips on “business smart,” consult Interview Dress, one of our Career Spot videos, or this first impressions infographic.

If you really want to dress to impress, then dress as Ms. Lively suggests. Wear confidence!  A smile, a firm handshake, good eye contact, prepared talking points and stories that convey your achievements, thorough research, and good questions. These will surely get you noticed.

-Sharon M. Givler, director of career development

Note: Blake Lively is an actress, model, and celebrity homemaker

We begin…again

Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?― L.M. Montgomery

A good thought, I think, to keep in mind.  Would you agree?

The 2015-16 academic year is sure to find us discouraged, frustrated, and unhappy with ourselves from time to time.  Failure of some kind will touch each of us.  Sometimes it will be of our own doing; often it will come because of neglect.

We didn’t mean to forget an important meeting or date.  We didn’t purposely ignore a person or problem.  We didn’t set out to cause harm or hurt to someone.  We didn’t intend to put off planning for life and work after LVC.

But, we will do all these things and there will be a cost.  But hopefully in the process of living out each day, we’ll learn some new things about our attitudes and habits, some new perspectives on how others think and feel, some new ways to act or react, some new behaviors and tools for getting from here to there.

And we’ll begin… again.

We look forward to helping you make your way each day this year, especially where it concerns finding your career direction and preparing for it.

-Sharon M. Givler, director of career development

In case you don’t know… Lucy Maud (L.M.) Montgomery was a Canadian author, best known for a series of novels beginning with Anne of Green Gables, published in 1908.


What? You want me to read another book?

Yes, I do.  Books can change us, help us to see things differently, expand our horizons.

Lakeisha M. Matthews, Director of the Career and Professional Development Center at the University of Baltimore, recently submitted a post to The NACE Blog titled Five Books Every Student Should Read. Click HERE to read her picks for the five books that “had an enormous impact on [her] professional development as a college student and entry-level professional. 

What I appreciated most in Ms. Matthews comments was the connection she made to the benefits of reading and the skills/qualities that employers seek in the candidates they hire. I’ve no doubt you could easily come up with those connections, but just maybe you need to be reminded of exactly what they are. 

So read… this post, for sure. You might even want to ask some of your favorite professors, administrators, or other professionals for books/articles they consider to be a good read for your development and maturity as a person and as a professional.

Consider this my “encouragement” for how to spend some of your summer days.

-Sharon M. Givler, director of career development



Robots and Résumés

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are the recruiting tools that many organizations now use to streamline the hiring process.  In many ways these systems make it much easier for candidates to connect with employers and opportunities in the job search process.  But, as with most any new system, the old ways of preparing documents for human eyes may need to be tweaked for the robots that now read them.

This INFOGRAPHIC from the HireRight Blog offers great do’s and don’ts for robot-friendly résumés.

-Sharon Givler, director of career development

Fonts, Sizes and Formats – How about yours?

There are all kinds of opinions on what you should and should not do with your résumé.  Sometimes it is a matter of opinion. Always it’s a matter of good taste and sensitivity to the industry and the people that are tasked with reading your document. To ensure your résumé has the look of a well-crafted document consider the tips that this INFOGRAPHIC  from the JobCluster highlights.

Sharon Givler, director of career development

Local to Global: Annville to Shanghai

Within the past decades, China has grown to become the world’s second largest economy, fast surpassing that of its rivals in an explosion of economic expansion. This economic status has led to increases in the consumption of education and luxury goods, trademark developments of a developed country. The internationalization of the Chinese culture includes an increased marketability of both Mandarin and experience in the East Asian world. Through the work of the Center for Global Education, Lebanon Valley College is now proud to offer a study abroad program to Shanghai, China.

Studying abroad in Shanghai, in comparison to the other European programs that the college offers, can appear daunting due to the extremity of the cultural and linguistic differences. Fortunately MyWorldAbroad has several resources that will be very helpful in alleviating any pre-departure anxiety. Under the ‘Top Resources’ section are a series of country guides (specific by region) and tips on travel smarts to help educate students on the norms of their destination. Unique to this study abroad experience is an optional internship opportunity, and students can learn about international internships and the expectations of other countries through the ‘What Do You Want to Do?’ > “Intern Abroad” sections.

Most helpful to students is the 4 Big Things tab, which divides the site into two sections; studying abroad (‘While in School’) and working abroad (‘While Looking for Work’). In this area, students can access all of the site’s articles that pertain to studying abroad, which discuss not only preparation for the study abroad experience, but how to speak professionally about a semester abroad once they return. By making an effort to examine and understand these unique aspects of other cultures (and understanding the quirks of American culture!), students can become adjusted faster, alleviate homesickness, and have an overall better experience!  Happy Travels.

-Marie Gorman, student assistant for the Center for Career Development

MyWorldAbroad: Why Me?

Students are constantly being bombarded with databases and resources that are supposed to make their lives simpler and research process easier.  The number of options can be overwhelming, and each additional program seems to make things more complicated.  Thankfully, MyWorldAbroad is not another endless database but a searchable academic site comprised of informative content.

As a student interested in going abroad, MyWorld Abroad can inform you of the cultural norms of a country before you arrive. Many students fear appearing “like a stereotypical American” or an outsider, and can fear the cultural divide more than the communicative divide. Tips sheets and the stories of others who have already been abroad can help travelers to understand the perceptions of their host nation and learn to better adapt to these norms.

Students who have already been abroad may be interested in finding ways to finalize or formalize their experience. By submitting to the MyWorldBlog, students have the possibility of earning a monetary reward by writing about their time abroad.  Two entire sections of the site are devoted to writing and speaking about study abroad experiences for the workplace, and also provide advice about the international application and hiring process.

Students who are not interested in going abroad may be interested in the country guides, which allow students to grow their international intelligence (IQ). These are organized by country, and can be used in the classroom and for assignments that require knowledge about world regions and the latest significant events. Guides can range from economics and international trade routes to feminism and the treatment of women in the Middle East. The variety of resources ranges from online articles to books to movies.

If you have a question about the world we live in, MyWorldAbroad has an answer. Simply head to the website for the Center for Career Development to get started!

– Marie Gorman, student assistant with the Center for Career Development

Convincing Cover Letters

Getting the attention of an employer in a cover letter is not always the easiest thing to do.  But if you know what impresses them, then you are well on your way to communicating in a manner that increases your chances of being asked to interview.

By now you’ve heard or read many of the things that the Center for Career Development recommends for cover letter writing (see Correspondence for the Job Search TIP Sheet).

  • Make it personal for each company/organization
  • Show a bit of your personality
  • Emphasize 1-2 qualifications the organization would likely be interested in and consider beneficial for the job to which you are applying
  • Explain your interest in the company and demonstrate your knowledge of it

I thought maybe viewing cover letter tips from another source might drive home the message a tad further.  Different versions often have a way of striking chords that help us “catch” things we may have previously missed or misunderstood.

That being said, please check out Getting into the Employer’s Frame of Mind with Your Cover Letter on the Resume Target blog.

-Sharon Givler, director of career development