Career Services

Lebanon Valley College

Build your Story Bank: Learn How to Tell Your Story

You now know what employers are seeking in new hires – many graduate schools and professional programs have similar ideas of what constitutes success. So how do you show that you’re a top-notch candidate?

Demonstrating your strengths and aptitudes requires more than just saying “I am good at…” A successful candidate provides examples and tells stories that prove they’re as good as they say (or that they have the potential to be!).

The difficulty with storytelling is that each event is often comprised of numerous and entwined details. It can cause a narrative to come out more as a series of tangents, leaving the audience wondering if you’ll ever get to the point. Thus, you need to really hone in on the elements that are most impactful and necessary to achieving the purpose of the story. Thoughtful and well-crafted stories show that you have prepared, are aware of your abilities, and are able to clearly articulate experiences and strengths.

A great technique to help you tell a story is the S.T.A.R. method:

10.15.2014 post picture - STAR method

Learn to tell many short stories about your accomplishments and contributions in the classroom, at your internship, on the soccer field, in your volunteer project, etc. These examples help demonstrate how you are likely to conduct yourself in the future. The next several blog posts will focus on forming stories based on multiple aspects of your life to give an interviewer an in-depth look into your abilities.

~ Gwen Miller, associate director, career development

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.

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

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

 

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

What are your goals for 2014?

If you’re like me, it doesn’t set in that it’s a new year until it is mid-January and you’ve had several opportunities to write 2014 on documents or in emails.  You may also be like me in that I refuse to set resolutions, knowing that my brain is hardwired to say “forget about it” three to four weeks in.  Instead, I set goals.  This year my goal is to get up earlier each morning so that I can ease into my day, turn on the news (and actually hear some of it), and no longer be in a rush to get out the door.  Although my goal may not be something you’re particularly interested in, perhaps you can think of something that you’re hoping to change, begin, or focus energy on in the coming year.

Your goals (or resolutions) whether personal or professional, are entirely up to you.  But I’d encourage you to set some!  The Campus Career Coach offered Six Career Resolutions for 2014 that are most appropriate for individuals already in the workforce, but are thought-provoking for anyone.

For those of you just beginning to engage in activities that will propel you toward your first job or internship, consider the following “resolutions”:

Be intentional – What things can you get involved in, or how can you think about things you’re already active in a little bit differently?  Planning to work or intern or study abroad this semester or in the coming summer? Be intentional about the goals you set for yourself and ask for ways in which you can gain experiences or use your time best.  Or, intentionally seek out new things to explore and become involved in to help gain experience in an area of interest.

Tell Stories – You likely tell stories all the time when discussing past experiences.  Consider tweaking, tailoring, and practicing those stories so that your focus becomes one that demonstrates your strengths, abilities, and reactions toward certain situations.  (Hint: meet with Career Services staff – we have several tips/techniques to help you tell your stories!)

Meet New People – Yes, I mean networking.  And exploring, and asking questions, and learning about new companies and products and services.  Get out there and meet people; not because you think every meeting will land you a job immediately, but because every meeting is an opportunity for a next meeting.  And you never know what opportunities will come from putting yourself out there and letting others get to know you.

These may or may not fit with your 2014 goals, but hopefully they’ll remind you to look at this next year as an opportunity to move along in your professional development and planning.  Let us know how we can help!

Happy New Year!

Gwen Miller, associate director of career services

Wind Down 2013 and Gear Up for 2014!

I’m sure many students look to finals week with a mixture of excitement (the semester is nearly over and a holiday break is waiting), and fear (after all, final exams are…well…final exams!).  The office of career services wishes you well as you wrap up fall 2013!

We also hope you are looking forward to 2014; we certainly are!  Join us on Sunday, January 19th to kick-off the spring semester with our career conference: Careers Done Write!  We’re hosting a number of engaging presenters for workshops on the written communication pieces needed throughout your job search and graduate school pursuits.

  • Techniques for writing creative resumes and individualized cover letters
  • Best practices for using the global networking tool, LinkedIn
  • Customized statements of purpose for graduate school
  • 21st century business expectations and etiquette

Plus, Lynn Breil, a certified speaking professional and owner of The Professional Edge, Inc., will tackle The Seven Deadly Sins of 21st Century Business Behavior.  Do you know what gadget groping, bottom drawer dressing, and dirty dining have in common? Come and find out!

Career Conference

Register now to ensure your seat.  Stop by or call (867-6560) the Career Services Office, or look for details and registration in the Career Events tab in your JobCenter account.

We look forward to seeing you there and starting 2014 off well!

~Career Services Staff
Sharon Givler, director
Gwen Miller, associate director
Susan Donmoyer, assistant