Career Services

Lebanon Valley College

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

Time to take a break…

… whether or not it “feels” like Spring.

Get some fresh air. Unplug from your studies and technology for a day. Do something different. Try a new restaurant, engage a stranger in conversation, write a poem, enjoy a sunset…

You can count on a new blog entry for March 11th.  I’ll be taking a little “spring” break on March 4th.

-Sharon M. Givler, director of career development

Find your hook…

... and “cast it deftly” (Curran and Greenwald in Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads).

Distinguishing yourself from the pack isn’t necessarily all that difficult. But perhaps the greatest obstacle to finding what sets you apart is the lack of effort made to get inside the head of your potential employer and look at things from their perspective.

What can you do that will add value to the organization where you want to work? What do you have through transferable skills or special interests that could help you to meet a company need?

Consider Chris, a government major, whose first failed application to become a diplomat woke him up to the fact that more foreign language skills could open a door door for him. Or Todd, a music major, with a passion for musical entrepreneurship, learned how to repair and restore musical instruments and then proposed himself as the one to do just that at a school where he identified through research had such a need.  No job was posted; he created one for himself.

Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads is full of stories just like those of Chris and Todd. perhaps reading a few of these stories could help you capture a vision for finding your own hook and getting the attention of employers.

Are you up to the challenge of this fifth and final smart move for liberal arts grads?

-Sharon M. Givler, director of career development

Identify your competence gaps

Do you have the passion to keep learning?

I certainly hope so. for no matter how educated and equipped you are with a degree from LVC there are going to be tasks and responsibilities in the days and years to come with which you will be unfamiliar.

Perhaps you are already aware of a few competence gaps. Maybe you want to run a non-profit company some day or start your own consulting or marketing business.  if your undergraduate studies are primarily in the liberal arts you likely have some work to do developing business skills and business saavy to achieve your goals.  Eventually pursuing an MBA might be needed, but in the meantime are there other things you could learn from a business mentor in our alumni network. Meeting regularly for advice and counsel can be quite valuable.  You may discover that you’ll need to learn what case interviews are or how to segment a market (see the stories of Harpreet and Theresa in Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads).

Project CLOSE-UP students who have put together a Professional SkillScan profile and discussed it with the mentor they shadow have frequently fund two things:

  • skills they don’t particularly want to use in their careers are sometimes actually used in the jobs they are considering
  • mentors often have great ideas for how students can begin to work on their competence (skills) gaps while still at LVC

So where do you need to grow?  Public speaking, making presentations, working with numbers, writing, developing proposals, researching, interviewing, analyzing data, understanding cultural differences, composing thank you notes…..

-Sharon M. Givler, director of career development

Build Social and Networking Relationships

Are you ready to introduce yourself in person should the perfect unexpected chance meeting greet you today? Do you know what you are looking for? Can you convey it, with focus, in writing?

Building social and networking relationships is one of those smart moves you’ve heard about dozens of times. But unless you can do it, and do it well, it won’t have the effect you are hoping for. Curran and Greenwald (Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads) site two items for your career toolbox that are essential to building these relationships – the elevator speech and the eyeball paragraph.

Elevator speech. A thirty-second introduction to the “woman wearing a jacket bearing the logo of one of the city’s four major newspapers” who just happens to be seated on the subway next to you. Would you be able to make the most of this chance meeting with someone who likely has a connection to a place where you’d love to be working?

Eyeball paragraph. A concise e-mail message to the referral you just got from your teammates father. Are you able to write a personal, to-the-point message that conveys who you are, why you are writing, and what you are looking for?  In three to four sentences?

We can help you compose and practice these speeches and paragraphs when you connect with your grocer or next door neighbor, your faculty advisor, a business associate of your relatives, or your summer camp director.  Stop by and let us know you are looking for a little coaching in these matters.

By the way, that subway encounter I mentioned above happened to Sharon (not me). You can read all about it and other chance meetings that opened doors and windows for people just like you in Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads.

Sharon M. Givler, director, career development

Get experience

How many times have you heard that line?

Hopefully, enough to convince you it’s a very good thing to do. But let’s talk about experience a bit. Just what kind of experience is worth having?

Certainly internships equip students with work skills and industry knowledge valued by employers. Enough so that many graduates find their internship opens the first career door for them. So go after those career-related internship experiences, but don’t let that be the end of your pursuit.

Case in point. Several years ago a LVC freshman education major decided to participate in Project CLOSE-UP, our career shadowing program for first-year students. Knowing she would get lots of classroom teaching experience through field observations and eventually student teaching she decided that Project CLOSE-UP should be used to gain a different kind of experience for the “dream job” – international wedding and event planner – she hoped one day to pursue.  Well, we couldn’t send her abroad for a day, but we were able to connect her with a wedding and event planner to shadow, an LVC alumnae with her own business. Not only did this student get the chance to shadow, but she also was got some hands-on experience as the owner later offered her a part-time job.

Don’t underestimate the value of part-time work, volunteer activities, or club leadership. The experiences you can have, especially if you invest in them by taking on a project, stepping up to solve a problem, offering a thoughtful solution, shouldering extra responsibility, or thinking creatively, may just be the accomplishments that get you noticed.

So how about you? What’s your dream job? What do you love? Weddings? Cheese? Cars? Travel? San Antonio? Flowers? Electronics? Rare books?

Most people who write about cheese, sell cheese, manufacture cheese, or whatever else you can do with cheese have to know cheese. So what do you need to know about what you love? Who can you pursue or what can you do to learn more about what you love? How might you discover opportunities that will give you a chance to learn the ropes – get experience – at the ground level?

Some things to think about, perhaps?

By the way, Liz has a cheese story in Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads that’s worth reading. Drop by the office and read her story.

-Sharon M. Givler, director, career development

Discover who you are… and where you want to go

Is there a “test’ for that?

Fortunately, yes.  Unfortunately, no.  Or maybe it’s the other way around.

Certainly assessment instruments like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Strong Interest Inventory, SkillScan, and StrengthsFinder have a role to play in helping students discover themselves.  They can confirm aspects of personality, skills, interests, and values that you likely already know about yourself, but perhaps have never been able to put into words.  They also can reveal aspects of yourself you’ve yet to discover because you’ve been so busy trying to be someone else – the person you think you should be – as well as offer ideas of work environments and/or career paths in which you are likely to thrive.

The down side is that too many students look to assessment tools to provide them with answers. Answers that are right and sure and convenient.  Answers that will fix the nagging fears associated with not knowing what they can or should do.

I love these assessment tools.  They can serve you well.  But nothing replaces self-assessment.  Only thing is that takes time and “a willingness to jettison preconceived notions about success” (Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads, p. 30).  Introspection does not come easily to many but with the help of a good listener whether friend, parent, advisor, or career counselor, students can begin to discover direction as they discover themselves.

I encourage you to do a little self-assessment activity each day.  You might begin by keeping a journal in which you record thoughts or observations as they apply to your career.  Of course, you’ll have to first begin paying attention – noticing – what’s happening internally as you respond to various external events stimuli.  Another activity might be to begin asking family, trusted friends, or mentors to give you honest feedback about how they perceive you as a leader, follower, friend, student, or employee. What do they notice about your strengths?  Where are your contributions most evident? Where could you use a little polish? What, in their estimation, may potentially hold you back from truly succeeding? What suggestions do they have for you to work on or consider? What specifically do they notice that makes you happy? Proud? Keep a record of this feedback as it likely will begin to reveal a pattern to help you see yourself more clearly.

As always, we are here to help.

-Sharon M. Givler, director, career development

Beginning…again

Spring 2015 is on our doorstep!  What shall we do with the Blog next semester?

Usually Gwen Miller and I have this chat late in the Fall semester. This year, however, the “chat” mainly amounted to making sure I knew how to get into the Career Blog (i.e. recalling my username and password),  find my way around the dashboard, and become best friends with the “buttons” I need to press to make sure weekly posts actually “appear.” While I’ve written posts for the Blog over the past six years, I never really “posted” any them. Gwen did that. I will miss her for taking care of those details and much more.

Honestly I am not sure exactly what I will “do” with the Blog this semester, but I promise two things.  First, there will be an entry each week.  Second, reading it will be like “having your own personal career coach.”  That is why we started the Blog, after all.

So let’s get started.

A number of years ago two women, Sheila A. Curran (Duke University) and Suzanne Greenwald (MIT), wrote Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads. Largely the book  is a collection of career stories of individuals that were “primed for serendipity and seized the inevitable moments when opportunity knocked.” As the authors are quick to note, none of these individuals soared to instant career success and happiness.  They did, however, make some very smart moves in their career planning that the authors grouped into five key, smart lessons.

  • Discover who you are and where you want to go
  • Get experience
  • Build social and networking relationships
  • Identify your competence gaps
  • Find your hook

It’s going to take some work, but you too can make some smart moves toward your future in the next few months.  And we’re here to help you.

Make it a great semester!

- Sharon M. Givler, director, career development