Career Services

Lebanon Valley College

Think Ahead: Planning your Career Goals

Who are you?

Setting career goals can be very difficult, whether you are a first or second year student trying to plan for classes, internships, or responses to parent inquiries, or a junior or senior hoping to define success for yourself and set a path to reach it.

Crafting and articulating a plan can feel so final, so specific. Many students may not like the feeling of being pigeonholed into a career field, opting instead to see what opportunities are out there that sound most appealing at the time. However, your spur-of-the-moment approach may not cut it when a registration or application deadline is looming or you are talking with prospective employers, graduate school admission representatives, or concerned parents.

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer, nor can someone else set goals for you. Thus, a few words of advice: start by reflecting on your interests, values, preferences, and strengths. Be sure to seek input from others who know you well and begin brainstorming where you might thrive. This involves quite a bit of research, exploration, and self-evaluation, but you’ll feel much more confident in your decisions if they are based on knowledge and thoughtful reflection.

Looking for a few resources to get you started?

Also remember: setting career goals does not mean you are planning out the next 45 years of your life; it simply means you are being intentional about your career movements as you see them now.

Show Confidence: Know your Strengths

Who are you?

Ever heard the question “what’s your greatest strength?” It seems simple…sort of, unless you find yourself answering with “well this one…no wait, that one is my greatest!” We all have many strengths, many of which we (hopefully) consider great. Otherwise our contributions to the world would be a bit limited, eh? Instead, think of describing your greatest strength as those that are most relevant to the person(s) with whom you are speaking.

Talking to the person who may be your next boss? Highlight the strengths that contribute most heavily to the specific job/department/company. Conversing with potential co-workers? Hit on your strengths that illustrate your ability to adapt and fit in with the team. Talking with an HR recruiter? Perhaps focus on those that demonstrate your commitment to the industry and company.

Sounds fairly simple…but only if you know what your strengths are to begin with! This is where a fun little activity called the 6-word memoir comes in. Think about and write down 6 characteristics that you would use to describe yourself professionally. What might you want someone to know about you? What do you think describes you at your core? NOTE: these can be personality-based, knowledge-based, and/or transferable skill based.

Once you have your list, take a hard look at them.

  • Can you say them better? Is there other terminology that is more descriptive or more fitting for your intended industry?
  • Do you really mean them? Sometimes it’s easy to write down the obvious choices. But that’s way too…well…obvious! You are unique. Try to describe yourself as such.
  • Can you prove them? Come up with 3-5 stories that support what you’ve identified. Not only does that help to clarify your strengths, but it helps develop a story bank to pull from later in an interview situation.

This is a never-ending process, as your strengths grow and develop throughout your life. Word to the wise, don’t shrug off this important step by saying “I don’t like to brag about myself.” If you don’t talk about your strengths, who will?

Get to the Root of it: Why did you pick your major?

Who are you?

This appears to be a deceptively simple question, right? Surely you are aware of the reasons why you are pursuing your chosen field of study. But have you developed a concrete, roll-off-the-tip-of-your-tongue response that expresses your enthusiasm for your field and generates interest? Probably not.

Here are two exercises:

  1. Think of the ignition point that started you on your path to declare your chosen major. Was it an event? (you shadowed a person who described his/her major and made it sound amazing – you happened upon a description of a career that you can identify with a corresponding major – you took a class and realized you “fit” in that department immediately – etc…) Is it a result of a personal influencer? Is it related to your career ambition? Is it a result of being undecided and then stumbling into your choice? Identify what the point was, and then craft a story to tell it.
  2. Next, reflect on what has caused you to stay in the field! What interests you the most? What skills have you developed as a result? How does it tie into your career goals from here?

Doing the above will give you something more substantive to say than a simple “I chose accounting because I like numbers” or “I chose business because I want to work in a business” or “I’m an education major because I like to working with children” The examples are endless…and boring, right?! Don’t be boring. Explain why you chose your major in a way that makes someone think you’re actually proud of the choice and excited for your future.

~Gwen Miller, associate director, career development

Start Strong: Grab interest in 60 seconds

Who are you?

Jumping right in with the most common interview and/or networking question, Tell me about yourself is the opening to many a conversation, the response to which often sets the tone of the exchange that follows. What information is actually sought here? According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, information from this list can prepare you for your 60 second introduction:

  • Name
  • Class (senior, junior, sophomore, freshman)
  • Major
  • Opportunities that you are seeking
  • Relevant experience (work, internship, volunteer work)
  • Highlights of skills and strengths
  • Knowledge of the company

It may seem like a lot to include, but you may not be offering lengthy details all at once. An employer once said, introducing yourself should be like dropping a few M&Ms at a time, not trying to force-feed the whole bag. Let the person digest those few bits of information (M&Ms) and then offer more during the conversation. It’s much easier for the listener and the speaker!

Here are a few examples:

  1. “Hi, my name is _______; I’m completing my degree in _____ and am very interested in talking with you about the opportunities within the ________ department at _(company name)__. I know that __company___ is well known for ______, and I am confident that my skills in _____, _______ and my experiences from _______ and __________ could be a good match.”
  1. “Hello! My name is __________. I’m thrilled to be talking with you, as I’m extremely interested in contributing my skills of ________ and _________ to the _____________ department of _(company name)_. I’ll be completing my degree in _field of study_ in May 2016, graduating from Lebanon Valley College.
  1. “As an experienced ___________, I was excited to see that your company would be attending this event! My name is ________ and……”

There are many ways you could tell someone about yourself, but the key is to put thought into what you’re going to say ahead of time so that your conversation starts strong.

Additional tips: Tailor your introduction to each employer based on research and knowledge of the company. Practice, practice, practice so that it is a natural conversation starter, and pay attention to your nonverbal communications—eye contact, facial expressions, body language, and posture. Finally, don’t just end with an awkward pause – ask a question to encourage the person with whom you are speaking to pick up the conversation!

~Gwen Miller, associate director

Setting the Stage

This is the 6th year for the Career Development Blog! Let me tell you, it can be difficult to come up with topics from week to week without feeling like a broken record. To alleviate such an obstacle, I’ve taken to coming up with themed posts. Last year I attempted to cover certain topics on certain weeks of the month; this year, I’ve decided to span topics of career development and professional preparation over the course of the fall and spring semester. I’ll give you my plan right now, hoping that I’ll hook you into Blog reading and that I’ll keep myself on track!

Over the coming months, expect to read posts that focus on the following areas:

  • Who are you?
  • What have you done?
  • What do you want?
  • Who do you know?
  • Are you ready?

Some of you may be on the verge of dismissing me right now, fearful that by the time I get to the last topic, it’ll be too late. Rest assured, there are plenty of resources to help you along the way, many of which I will continue to point to through the Blog. Just to be on the safe side though, be sure to keep up with the Career Development Weekly E-Bulletin (arriving in your inbox every Monday), log-into your JobCenter account regularly (accessible through the Academic Resources section of MyLVC), and browse the countless resources available to you through our website (www.lvc.edu/career-development).

Otherwise, I look forward to embarking on year 6 of this little Blog and hope you stick around for the journey.

~Gwen Miller, associate director, career development

We challenge you…

…to make the 2014-2015 academic year one that is full of intentional reflection and growth as it relates to planning for your future.

The Center for Career Development is all about preparing students with graduation in mind. From freshman through senior year, our programs and resources, in addition to our individual counsel with you, have been designed to move you from “student” to “professional” and help you finish your time at LVC with tools and confidence for the job search or graduate school pursuits.

Your first challenge? Come find us! Over the summer, we re-branded from Career Services to the Center for Career Development, complete with a new amazing location in the Lebegern Learning Commons of Mund College Center.

Although we certainly hope to meet with you in person, we have long stressed that this blog can also act as your 24/7 career coach by providing weekly bits of advice and pointing you toward resources. Be sure to bookmark us and read our new posts, published each Wednesday of the semester.

Here’s to a new year, a fresh start, and the perfect opportunity to achieve the goals you set for yourself.

~Career Development Staff
Sharon Givler, director
Gwen Miller, associate director
Susan Donmoyer, coordinator

Summer Days are Ahead!

Whether you have vacations scheduled, are intending to work at an internship or other work site, or are studying for GREs and preparing your graduate school applications, we hope that you have a great break!

Career Services will be open all summer.  If you’d like to meet with us to catch up on some of the career activities you were unable to get to this spring, or are hoping to a get a head-start for the fall, give us a call or send us an email.  We’d be glad to talk with you!

Be sure to catch up on our year of blog postings too.  We try to cover a broad array of topics; did you know you can search by category to see the posts that are most relevant to you?

The Blog will also be taking its “summer vacation” – look for new posts in August!

Career Services Staff
Sharon Givler, Director
Gwen Miller, Associate Director
Susan Donmoyer, Assistant

Phone:  717-867-6560
Email: careerservcies@lvc.edu
Summer hours: Monday through Friday; 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Create Your Resume with Resume Creator

Students meet with Career Services for a variety of reasons.  We enjoy having conversations concerning majors and careers, job/internship searches or graduate school pursuits, personal statements and cover letters, interview practice and, perhaps most frequently, crafting a resume.                          

If your schedule has kept you too busy to make an appointment with us, keep in mind that our office is open throughout the summer.  We also have a huge array of electronic resources available to you 24/7 through our Resources for Students webpage and your JobCenter account.

One such resource that we refer to students who are beginning to draft their resume is Resume Creator.  First let me say that we don’t often advocate the use of templates; each student’s experience is so unique that there is no way a template can offer the best headings, sections, or format options.  However, Resume Creator is a good starting place with 13 different customizable options.  If nothing else, the samples may help to spark an idea or two of how to begin putting yours together.

To access Resume Creator, first log into your JobCenter account.  On the left navigation column, look for “Create Resume using Resume Creator.” 

You will then have access to 13 templates, each of which lists the categories that are included in that particular option, as well as the level of student for whom the template may be most appropriate.  However, don’t let that classification deter you – take a look at all of them and choose which fits your needs!

Click here for an instructional sheet on how to access Resume Creator

Resume Creator does not lessen the need for your own creative thinking when crafting your resume, but it does offer a solid starting place to ensure you’re on the right track.  Keep perfecting it from there, as you work to tailor your resume to a specific industry or job.  And, as always, let us know how we can help (even over the summer!).

~ Gwen Miller, associate director, career services

Jocelyn Says: Add Extra-Curriculars to your College Experience

College students are shown, through their course work, how education is relevant to future career paths and/or academic endeavors. At LVC, we learn specific terminology, practice best techniques, and acquire helpful information that will ultimately help us succeed in the “real-world.” But there should be more to our college career than strictly academics, right? I think so.

While complete immersion in one’s studies is noble, a key factor to success (personally and professionally) is overall fulfillment. Therefore, regardless of your field of study, I encourage you to:

  • Identify your interests
  • Hone in on hobbies that align with those interests
  • Express your passions by becoming actively involved in extra-curricular activities

How do you get involved? When you come back for the fall semester, look into joining clubs/organizations. These offer a variety of experiences from leadership roles to community service, which can introduce you to new friends, offer an outlet for your passion, and help you to grow as a person. If you’re not quite sure what would be a good fit, then attend a few meetings with an open mind. Try something new!

The Activities Fair, held every September, is open to the entire campus. I highly recommend taking a look at the activities that interest you, even if they are not directly related to your major. If you’re not sure what clubs are at LVC, visit the student activities page at http://www.lvc.edu/student-activities/ for a quick overview. No matter what year you’ll be entering into, it’s not too late to get involved.

Are you already a member of a few organizations? Spend some time over the upcoming break reflecting on why those clubs resonate with you.  It may help to re-energize you for the fall semester, or it might just provide the motivation that you need to take on a leadership role.

Incorporating extra-curricular involvement into your college experience will provide a much more enjoyable time, while helping you to also set goals and work toward achievements in multiple aspects of your life.

 

J

Jocelyn Davis, ’15, Career Services, Student Assistant

Article Round-Up

Over the past few weeks, several articles have come across my desk that I found interesting.  For students in the midst of a job or internship search, they offer helpful reminders, tips, and perspectives on the current workforce.  Take a look:

 

How to Find a Job in 2014 – Gone are the days when sending a resume through the mail and waiting patiently was enough to land a job.  It requires some creativity, plenty of initiative, and a lot of follow-up to stand out from the competition.

Take a look at the compilation of advice provided in How to Find a Job in 2014 that will help you open doors to opportunities. Some examples: Link up with hiring managers in Linked in, and don’t skip the summary section of your profile!  Broadcast your ambitions to help you reach out to promising contacts.  Also, be sure you are actively finding ways to build experience.  As a student, that can be through internships, part time work, on-campus involvement, community services, etc.

 

Top 10 Internet Job Scam Warning Signs – Networking online, as the article above suggests, is a great idea.  With 24/7 internet accessibility, however, there are also more online job boards than one can count.  That’s not a bad thing! In fact, it’s advisable to have multiple search strategies when you are trying to identify positions, companies, and career paths of interest.  However, it can be overwhelming, so I would encourage you to narrow it down to a few sites that you will monitor regularly.  This will help you avoid getting lost online!

With all online activities, it’s important to be cautious about the information that you put out there.  It’s the same with online job boards; some postings may be scams.  For example, if you are asked to provide confidential information, beware.  If you are contacted through personal email accounts, think twice.  If your “spidey-senses” are giving off warning vibes, take note!  Check out this article for more of the Top 10 Internet Job Scam Warning Signs.

 

Just Graduated, and Fumbling Through a First Job – Although the title suggests that this is an article for people already in the workplace, its contents are just as valuable to job/internship seekers.  Expectations for new hires have shifted.  In fact, “most companies operate with fewer employees and tighter budgets than ever before, so there’s not as much willingness — or time — to let novices come up to speed gradually.”

Read Just Graduated, and Fumbling Through a First Job for several perspectives from professionals who look back on their first jobs with an attitude of “I wish I knew then what I know now about….” It also includes a link to the results from a Student Skill Index, an online study conducted with nearly 2,000 college students and 1,000 hiring managers to pinpoint gaps between students’ perception of their level of preparation and that of the employers who hire new graduates.  Knowing this information ahead of time may help you avoid some common pitfalls in your first job.

 

I hope you read these articles and find a few points of interest that you can apply to your own job/internship search.  Have you read any good articles lately on career readiness or job search tips? If so, send them our way – they may just make it into the next Article Roundup!

Gwen Miller, associate director, career services