Career Services

Lebanon Valley College

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

Putting it all together: Are you Ready?

We’ve spent the semester delving into the broad topics of who you are, what you’ve done, what you want, and who you know. Is there more to career development? Absolutely. But it’s a pretty good start. Take a look back and see where you are at this point in the semester so that you can plan where you want to be in the next.

Hopefully you’ll have a good sense of information to include in your resumes, cover letters, graduate school applications, and interviews, as well as a sense of the occupations and/or environments in which you might thrive. There is plenty of additional information on our Resources for Students page or within the Resource Library of your JobCenter account. The more you know and the more resources you take advantage of, the more you’ll be ready for the next step in your career.

~Gwen Miller, associate director, career development

Your Preferences: Finding your Fit

What do you want?

Aside from articulating your strengths and crafting stories that let your experiences shine, there’s another area that shouldn’t be overlooked in your career planning. It’s not just about what employers are seeking, it’s also about what you want and need to succeed.

A job search is all about fit and match. You can say the perfect things to get yourself hired, but if you aren’t being true to yourself, it may not be very long before your find yourself applying elsewhere. Take some time to think about your work preferences:

  • What type of working environment are you looking for?
  • Under what management style do you best thrive?
  • Do you prefer working in teams or independently?
  • Would you be ok if you only see your boss once a week?
  • What kind of challenges excite you?
  • What are some of your personal values and how do they fit in with your professional endeavors?
  • How does a position fit within your long term personal and professional goals?

Although you may not have a professional point of reference to analyze, think about instances (in the classroom, on the field, as a leader, in an internship, etc) where you have felt supported, and at your best. What were some of the factors contributing to that? Perhaps seeking similar factors in a work environment would keep you engaged.

Before you start crossing possibilities off your list, however, keep in mind: you may not find your “ideal” right away, you also are a contributing factor in your work environment, there will be an adjustment period no matter what, and sometimes it’s best to get out of your comfort zone entirely. Don’t get so caught up in finding a match for all of your preferences that you miss out on the perfect career fit for right now.

~Gwen Miller, associate director, career development

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