Career Services

Lebanon Valley College

What You Need to Know Before Applying to Graduate School (part 1)

Are you considering entering graduate school within the next two years? Can you name the twelve things you should know about a graduate program before applying?

According to Tara Kuther, Ph.D., a regular contributor on the topic of graduate school planning and preparation for About.com, if you don’t pay attention to these twelve items you may end up frustrated and disappointed.

  1. Program Emphasis – know what kind of training can you expect from each program you are considering; if it isn’t stated explicitly, faculty research interests and the research labs within the department offer important clues as to what you can expect.
  2. Program Philosophy – know the difference between theory-oriented graduate programs and applied research programs.
  3. Curriculum and Coursework – look at the courses that will be part of the program; do they look interesting to you?  Can you see the connection between them and the kind of training you are seeking?
  4. Capstone Requirements – know the dissertation requirements/expectations.
  5. Accreditation – check for both university and program accreditation by relevant governing bodies; discipline-level accreditation is also common in applied fields.
  6. Price – consider whether or not you are able to carry the expense of this investment.
  7. Sources of Financial Aid – research the types of aid available, including funding for research and teaching assistantships.
  8. Faculty – consider the work and research of more than one faculty member when making your choice of graduate school.
  9. Facilities – take a look at the labs and equipment; ask yourself if the program and university’s resources can help you achieve the goals you have for your research/study.
  10. Ranking – compare/contrast the universities you are considering; ranking is one way to do that.
  11. Selectivity – consider your chances of being accepted, especially if the university is highly selective.
  12. Location – know what is offered beyond the university in the location where you will be living for a few years.

You really should follow Dr. Kuther’s advice on About.com.  Her point, and mine too for that matter, is that while you want to choose a graduate school with the best academic program leading to the most promising career options, you also want to consider a location where you will be content and happy.  Next week’s blog will cover what Dr. Kuther has to say on the importance of considering your personal life when choosing the right graduate program.

~Sharon Givler, director, career services

Mel’s Advice: Relocating after Graduation

Everyone experiences big changes after graduating from college. From finding a full time job to enrolling in graduate school, it is a stressful time of transition.  An added pressure for some is finding a place to live in an unknown environment when that job or graduate program means relocating to a new city or state.

Personally, I experienced that pressure last fall after I accepted a full-time job at The Hartford in Connecticut.  Although I had spent the summer there for an internship, I relied on my GPS heavily and didn’t know too many people outside of my internship group.  I was fortunate to be offered a full-time position early in my senior year (to start following graduation), but I knew September was a little early to start making concrete living arrangements for the following summer.  Still, I began to think about my general living preferences.  For example, did I want roommates? Did I want to live in the city or outside of it? What was my ideal price range for an apartment? Did I want to live in an apartment complex or rent a house? All of these factors would impact my relocation process.

Ultimately, I decided to find roommates to help keep costs lower.  I also determined that I wanted to live outside of the city. These two decisions gave me some direction on my next steps, but searching for roommates and an apartment are still big activities to manage when you’re far away!  My plan for finding a roommate involved reaching out to people I knew in the Hartford area from my summer internship.  Other strategies that I was prepared for included emailing the Human Resources department at the company to ask if they would help introduce me to other new hires who may be starting around the same time.  I asked the handful of people I met during my internship if they knew of anyone who would be looking for a roommate soon, or if they had recommendations on apartments.  I also planned to search Craig’s List and apartment sites to begin making inquiries.  I knew that moving would require a lot of effort through web searches, phone calls, and (possibly) in-person visits.

I was glad to have plenty of time to plan my move.  At this point, I know where I’ll be living and who my roommate will be – timing worked out perfectly and I’ve made arrangements for where/when I’ll be moving, taking a lot of pressure off the overall stress of starting my career.  My advice to students who are planning to relocate after graduation is to plan as far ahead as you’re able to – even if you don’t know exactly where you will be yet, you can think about your living preferences and figure out your price range so that you’ll be at least that far in the process!

Melanie Modrick ‘14, Career Services, Student Assistant

Other resources that can be helpful as you think about relocating include Career Connections, the online mentor program of LVC alumni and parents.  You can search the database by geographic location to introduce yourself to people living in an area you’re interested in to gain valuable insight.  LinkedIn can also be helpful in building your professional network, as can local Chambers of Commerce for networking events and/or Young Professional organizations.

Where are You in Your Career Planning?

When it comes to your job or internship search, your approach, your goals, your networking, your applications, etc. will be tailored to you and your chosen industry.

Three pieces of advice that apply to everyone, however, is to stay positive, keep going, and be open-minded!  Job searching takes persistence and a willingness to explore.  It also, of course, takes time!  Give yourself plenty of time to learn about opportunities and tailor each application. Several CareerSpots videos address the importance of Being OPEN to Opportunities, Making Career Fairs Counts, Starting Early, and more.

Additionally, think about the following:

  • What do you know about yourself? Can you clearly state your goals, strengths, and preferences in a work environment? Are you able to explain your accomplishments from your college involvement, work activities, internships, or volunteerism as they relate to the working world?
  • What do you know about employers? Have you identified industries of interest, companies within those industries, and potential positions that appeal to you? Have you organized your search activities to help you track when you apply, when you should follow up, and the status of each position? Is your job search public? Meaning, have you spoken with your family, friends, faculty, past employers, mentors, etc. to help you brainstorm and learn about opportunities?
  • Are your materials and interviewing techniques up to par? Have you had your resume reviewed, learned about effective cover letters and other correspondence, and practiced interviewing techniques?

Clearly there is a lot that goes into the job and internship search, and the same is true for those interested in graduate school.  As such, I would add be prepared to the three pieces of advice mentioned earlier! Utilize Career Services’ Resources for Students to get started and include us in your search activities!

Gwen Miller, associate director, career services

 

Reasons to join LinkedIn and resources to do it well

Why be on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn, with more than 277 million professionals, is an essential tool to help students transition into the working world.

  • Create a professional profile and network with others about your strengths, interests, and experiences.
  • A multitude of associations, organizations, and employers use LinkedIn. Join/follow those specific to your interests to receive emails with industry news, current discussions, and job opportunities.
  • Social media is critical in today’s job market. Many employers use LinkedIn in their recruitment efforts. Be a part of the professional community!
  • Use LinkedIn as a research tool; gain valuable information about a company to tailor your application and prepare for an interview.

How do you get started?

LinkedIn has compiled fantastic tip sheets and video resources to help students make the most of their profile.

Take advantage of tips on:

  • Profile Checklist: College Students
  • Finding a Job or Internship
  • Networking on LinkedIn
  • Tailoring your Profile to your Goals
  • Using the Alumni Tool to Explore Career Paths
  • And many other topics!

For a little bit of fun:

Gwen Miller, associate director, career services

Jocelyn’s Advice: Creating an Online Portfolio or Professional Website

Which do you do most often: read hard-copy, printed articles or browse the internet for articles and news? I would venture to guess, unless you’re trying to rebel against a societal norm, you probably engage in the latter. According to industry professionals, employers are also following this trend. Have you ever considered creating a digital platform for your resume or portfolio?

Michelle Mignot, a Career Education Professional who presented at the Careers Done Write! conference in January, regularly speaks to college students about the 21st century resume and the importance of incorporating creativity. Check out her handout to learn about several sites she recommends for establishing an online presence.

Personally, the idea of designing and maintaining a live website initially intimidated me; I’m not a digital communications major!  However, through my coursework, I had the opportunity to learn about several user-friendly web hosting platforms that would allow me to share my job search documents. I chose www.weebly.com because of these easy functions:

  • Premade layouts
  • Free
  • iPhone & Android apps
  • Ability to easily upload your material

On many sites, you have the option to work on and perfect your pages before it’s activated for viewing by the public. Therefore, before publishing your site, be sure you complete each accessible page, proofread your content, check that links work, and remove unnecessary buttons that could crowd your site and confuse your audience.

In order to appeal to a variety of audiences, especially potential employers, I divided my site into multiple pages that make it easy for viewers to find key information:

  • Homepage- Brief bio, contact information, professional headshot
  • Resume- overview of my past experiences, education, relatable extracurricular activities
  • Portfolio- Digital stories, journalism, blog, samples of work

That’s just me.  You may have a whole host of other information to include, which is a good thing!  An online presence can help you stand out and give employers a glimpse of your strengths and interests that may be less obvious on a hard-copy resume. Have fun with it and keep your audience in mind. Creativity is good as long as it’s also professional.

Once your page is live, congratulations!  You now have an online portfolio. It’s important to maintain your site regularly; keep it fresh, and keep it updated.  Also, don’t forget to promote it!  Add the URL of your site to your paper resumes, business cards, cover letters, etc.

J

Jocelyn Davis, ’15, Career Services, Student Assistant

Interviews: Make a Positive Impression

Nearly every year someone conducts a survey among employers about memorable interviewing blunders.  I laugh.  How ridiculous! No one would “attempt to secretly record the interview” or “check Facebook during the interview.”  But, indeed, these were two of fifteen most memorable interview mistakes that surfaced in a recent online survey conducted by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder.

Surely none of “our” students would pull such a stunt.

And yet, I am convinced that more often than not interviewees are not aware of the less-than-stellar impressions they make on employers. For example, half of the employers responding to this survey reported these top five common interview mistakes:

  • Appearing disinterested – 55 percent
  • Dressing inappropriately – 53 percent
  • Appearing arrogant – 53 percent
  • Talking negatively about current or previous employers – 50 percent
  • Answering a cell phone or texting during the interview – 49 percent

And, how about these top two body language mistakes?

  • Failure to make eye contact – 70 percent
  • Failure to smile – 44 percent

Generally it only takes a few seconds to make an impression. You may know that, but you may underestimate how quickly interviewers determine if you are a good fit and match for their organization.  I assure you it does not take the entire length of the interview.  Therefore, know what employers want and deliver.

A great place to start would be to take a look at this Press Room post (1.16.2014) on Careerbuilder.com and determine what communication skills, body language, and etiquette you need to improve upon. Then, concentrate on telling your story of successes and accomplishments that speak to the needs and mission of the employer with whom you are interviewing.  And by all means, don’t forget to prepare thoughtful questions that demonstrate you have researched the organization and want to be part of their team.

Here are a few other action steps you can take to ensure you will make a good impression and have the attention of an employer throughout your interview.

Knowing the basics is important.  And, practice makes you better.

Sharon Givler, director, career services

Resources for your Interests

Between all the books, websites, and people available to you that offer knowledge and insight into the world of work, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.  Lessen the “information overload” by targeting your efforts on resources that more directly pertain to your interests.

Professional Associations – If you’ve yet to consider the networking potential and insider knowledge that can be gained from a professional association, I’d urge you to look into it. Unsure where to start?  I recently learned of Weddle’s Association Directorywww.weddles.com/associations – that offers an entryway into tons of organization websites.

  • Did you know there are seven Economics associations? Eight in Sports Recreation? How about four separate categories related to Diversity – Diversity/Disabilities, Diversity/Ethnicity, Diversity/Gender, and Diversity/Religion.

The list goes on.  Once you’ve found an association of interest, explore their website.  You may be able to access information on industry trends, educational resources, and publications just by browsing the site.  Or, consider becoming a member to view more in-depth information, be invited to events, and gain access to job boards or membership directories.  You may even find that there are discounts on student membership rates!

Professional Associations offer direct access to your industry.  Take advantage of them!

Industry (Subscription) Resources – Career Services offers several industry specific resources:

  • ARTSEARCH – the national employment bulletin for the arts, published by Theatre Communications Group
  • Internships USA – considered one of  the most comprehensive sources of internship information on the web
  • Environmental Career Opportunities – a bi-weekly electronic newsletter with hundreds of job vacancies in environmental policy, conservation, education, and engineering.
  • Bridge Worldwide Music Connection – maintained by the New England Conservatory’s Career Services Center, this resource provides access to thousands of opportunities in music and arts administration.
  • Opportunities in Public Affairs – find Capitol Hill jobs, government affairs, legislative and policy jobs, public relations, communications and fundraising; research, writing, and journalism jobs, etc.
  • MyWorldAbroad – want to go abroad, study, volunteer, intern, teach, or work? Check out this extensive resource!

You can create your own account in MyWorldAbroad using your LVC email address; the other subscriptions require a username and password that can be acquired by contacting Career Services or going into the Resource Library of your JobCenter account.

Information is necessary in your career planning; but don’t get overwhelmed.  Target your research and get more focused results!

~Gwen Miller, associate director, career services

Fun Snow Day Activities

What do you do when your schedule has been turned upside down due to bad weather?

  1. Go outside and build a snowman
  2. Go ice skating on the sidewalks or in parking lots
  3. Study and catch up (or get a head start) on homework or projects
  4. Think about your future
  5. Watch movies or read all day

Well…you probably shouldn’t try the ice skating one…that’s REALLY not safe, nor is it helpful to those trying to clear up the mess. But the other four options? Not bad ways to spend a day.

Surely you saw this coming though – in Career Services, we certainly advocate for option 4, at least for a portion of the day. Since you’re stuck inside anyway though, why not do a little more than just think about your future? Do something that helps you work toward it!

A few fun ideas:

  1. Create an account in FOCUS-2. Complete inventories in this computerized assessment tool that are meant to help you identify and evaluate your goals, interests, strengths, and personality as they relate to your career choices and planning. Call me a bit of a nerd, but I do actually think learning about yourself is fun. Once you create an account in FOCUS-2, you’ll get an email inviting you to make an appointment to talk with us about your results. Please do!
  2. Update your resume. Don’t laugh. I really do find it fun! Think about it – your resume is a chance to highlight your past experiences in a way that demonstrates your abilities. It’s also a record of things you’ve been involved in, achievements you’ve earned, and accomplishments you’re proud of. Basically, it’s one piece of paper that offers prompts and reminders of many of your life’s stories.
  3. Investigate career stuff. This is the perfect day to browse the internet looking at career options, professional associations, companies that you’ve passed on a drive but have never heard of, profiles of Career Connections mentors, etc. It’s a lot more fun to investigate the world of work when it’s because you have a few hours to kill than when you are in a decision-making crisis. Besides, you might learn about a career you’d never heard of before, making this snow day the turning point in your future.

Ok, I get it. Ideas for snowmen are brewing, movies and books are practically calling to you, and homework deadlines are pressing. There are a lot of things you can do when bad weather strikes. So consider this: go build that snowman, make a big dent in your homework, and then split your afternoon/evening between some of the fun activities of reading, movies, and thinking about your future.

And before you ask, no, “accomplished snowman builder” cannot go on your resume.

Gwen Miller, associate director, career services

Making the Most of Networking

Recruitment season is different from industry to industry, although the months leading up to graduation or summer break are often heavy with career fairs, networking events, and recruiting activities.  If you think that you’ll find yourself in a situation where you’ll be talking with individuals who have the power to hire you for a job or internship, admit you to a graduate program, or introduce you to others who do have that authority, you need to be ready.

Regardless of where you are in your career planning process, presenting yourself as a competitive candidate takes time and practice.  From preparing your resume, to practicing your 30 second commercial, to identifying your strengths and interests to building a story bank of situations and experiences to talk about, there are countless activities that need to occur to help you feel confident in a professional conversation.

I could spend this blog post sending you to our webshops about Building a Stronger Network or Job Fair Prep advice…or I could point you to the “Making the Most of the Event” documents for both the CPEC Job & Internship fair and Teacher Recruitment Day.  The CareerSpots videos offer quite a few videos about interacting with employers as well.  In fact, there are plenty of resources to help you prepare for your conversation.  But the only thing that can make you actually initiate a conversation is you!

At the January 19th career conference, Careers Done Write!, keynote speaker Lynne Breil gave a lot of fantastic advice about professional business interactions.  One thing in particular stuck with me, especially as I write about what makes networking most effective.  If you know you’re going to find yourself at an event, a career fair, or a professional meeting, Lynne encourages you to do something before you ever leave your house:  Give yourself a goal of how many people you want to talk with at that event.

Whether it’s one person, three people, or ten, plan in advance how many people you want to introduce yourself to in order to initiate conversation.  Chances are good that your goal will keep you going when you begin to feel awkward or are fighting the urge to hang out against the wall.  You may even exceed your goal because you stop thinking of networking as an obstacle.  I’d encourage you to take Lynne’s advice – after all, it’s difficult enough to put yourself in an unfamiliar situation.  Make your time there more effective by having a goal to motivate your engagement.

Speaking of career events, be sure you’re aware of the opportunities advertised on our What’s Happening? page – how many people do you plan to interact with this season?

Gwen Miller, associate director, career services

Climb to Your Career in Four Years

You have the first full week of the semester under your belt and more than half of January has passed.  It’s amazing how time flies, right?  We comment on that in our office regularly and we often hear remarks from students on how quickly each semester passes.  The lesson we take from that realization is this: if it’s not planned out, there’s a good chance it won’t happen!

This semester, Blog postings will continue to offer advice on career planning and your job/internship/graduate school search, a few resources that we’d like spotlight, and monthly posts from our student workers on their perspectives.  However, I’d also like to incorporate action items or activities – things that you can do to further your own career development – whenever possible.

In the spirit of planning, this week I’m introducing a plan developed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers called: Climb to Your Career in Four Years.  Although the name suggests that you must begin your climb on day one of your college experience, the more important objective is that you devote whatever time is necessary to thinking about and engaging in your career planning.

Here are themes and a few of the activities they’ve identified:

First Year – Asking questions, exploring your options

  • Identify at least four skills employers want in ideal candidates and plan how you will acquire these skills before graduation.
  • Schedule an appointment with Career Services to familiarize yourself with available resources.

Second Year – Researching options/testing paths

  • Each semester, review your progress in developing the skills employers look for in candidates.
  • Work toward one leadership position in a club or activity.

Third Year – Making decisions/plotting directions

  • Complete at least five informational interviews in careers you want to explore
  • Take leadership positions in clubs and organizations

Fourth Year – Searching, interviewing, accepting, success!

  • Participate in interviewing workshops and practice interviews
  • Develop an employer prospect list of organizations you’re interested in pursuing

Although they designate activities by class-year, you can adjust accordingly based on where you are now.  Days and weeks will continue going by quickly with assignments and projects continually being added to your calendar.  Make sure you plan time for your career journey; you don’t want to get to the end of four years and still have the full climb ahead of you!

Gwen Miller, associate director, career services