Career Services

Lebanon Valley College

The Key to Career Planning: Know Yourself

We recommend networking, we encourage informational interviewing, and we stress the importance of gaining experience.  All are instrumental in exploration and planning for your future career or graduate school pursuits.  After all, you need to see what’s out there before you can determine your path!

However, not all exploration is external.  Don’t forget about self-discovery, the exploration of your own values, attributes, strengths, and preferences.  You can become familiar with many different work environments and companies, but if you haven’t taken the time to really identify what’s important to you and what you have to offer, it’s nearly impossible to know when you’ve found your fit.

Self-discovery isn’t something that you can block off a few hours for, write a report, and cross off of your to-do list; it takes continual thought and reflection to be able to understand yourself, let alone be able to articulate your qualities to other people!

To help get started, Richard Bolles offers the following advice in the well-known job search book: What Color is Your Parachute? (2012 edition, pages 190-191).   In helping a person to define what their “dream job” is, he suggests describing yourself in the following ways:

  1. What can you do – your favorite functional/transferable skills
  2. What do you know – your favorite knowledge or fields of interests
  3. What kinds of people do you like to be surrounded by – the kinds of people you like to help
  4. Where are you most effective – the surroundings or working conditions that enable you to do your best work

These can be surprisingly difficult to define, especially if you haven’t explored favorites in any of these topics!  The following exercise suggested in Bolles’ book might be an even better starting place:

  1. Take ten sheets of blank paper and write “Who Am I” at the top of each
  2. Write one answer to that question on each one (to help get you started, think of roles you play or identify with, attributes you use to describe yourself, etc…)
  3. Go back and write why you said that and what excites you most by it.  If you say you’re creative, give an example or explain why that was one of the answers that came to mind.
  4. Then, look back at those ten sheets and prioritize them by level of importance to help gain an understanding of what you value most, are most proud of, or identify with the strongest.

Of course this is not a perfect system.  You won’t be given the key to success once you put that last sheet into place.  But it will do a number of things for you:

If you struggled to get to that tenth answer (or even the fourth or fifth!), you know you have some work to do.  How can you explain why you’re the best candidate if you can’t quite explain who you are and what you’re best at?  In this case, think of how others describe you; think of how you introduce yourself; think of what you aspire to be – this may help you get past writer’s block.

On the other hand, if you found it easy to come up with ten, great!  You know yourself pretty well (although there is much more to you than 10 things).  Bolles suggests that you then look for common themes throughout your answers.  This might help you to better define what your “dream job” really means to you, thus helping you to target your career or graduate school planning a bit more intentionally.  Then, build on these discoveries to flesh out examples and build a story bank.  Doing so will certainly help you put together a more compelling application and present yourself more confidently and competently when going after that dream!

Gwen Miller, associate director, career services

Where in the world will YOU go?

Lebanon Valley College graduates find themselves studying and working all over the place.  Sometimes they remain in Central Pennsylvania; sometimes they go across the globe.  It’s fascinating and fun for the College to learn of the stories that explain what took one alumnus one way vs. another.  As a student, you may also be wondering what’s out there and how you can expand upon your own career story.  Perhaps there is a city you dream of, a state that excites you, or a study abroad destination that you yearn to return to.

Often times, when someone is telling a career story, the ignition point (the way in which the path was influenced or determined) is a resource they learned of, a networking connection they happened to make, a dream that they turned into a plan, a situation that set off a series of events, etc.  Whatever the case, it has to start somewhere!  Unfortunately, I can’t introduce you to networking contacts through a Blog (unless you’d like me to tell you about Career Connections, an online mentoring program that connects current students to LVC alumni and parents who have volunteered to offer career guidance…), nor can I turn your dream into a plan (although I could start by referring you to our TIP Sheet on Preparing Students to Reach Employment Destinations), but I can certainly introduce you to a few (more) resources!

Your JobCenter account will connect you with jobs or internships that employers post.  It will also give you access to an employer directory that introduces you to companies who have recruited here in the past, as well as a Resource Library with oodles of folders on employers or internship programs to check out.  Still, you may be interested in broadening your search considerably to focus on a specific industry or area.  There are hundreds, probably thousands, of websites out there to help facilitate your search; so many, in fact, that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.  Although we don’t endorse one over another, nor can anyone claim that one website casts a net broad enough to capture every opportunity, one site we would encourage you to take a look at is Urban Employ.

Urban Employ posts thousands of internships and jobs in major metropolitan regions for businesses, nonprofits, and governments.  Interested in Atlanta? Chicago? Denver? Los Angeles? New York? Philadelphia? Search for positions representing 75+ fields in 25 major metropolitan areas.  It certainly isn’t the only website out there, but it’s a great starting place!

Looking to travel a bit further? Say…overseas to study, volunteer, intern, teach, or work?  Our office has partnered with the office of Study Abroad and the Bishop Library to offer My World Abroad, a vast resource for our students and graduates to utilize.  When I say vast, I mean vast enough to have necessitated the creation of a User’s Guide to give users a glimpse of what they’ll see when they create an account and log in!  I can’t even begin to describe all of the information you can gain by spending some time browsing; instead, I’ll offer a snapshot of the “table of contents” that will likely persuade anyone interested in leading their career story abroad to investigate further:

MyWorldAbroad Contents

 

So, although we cannot be the authors of your career story, the office of career services will gladly offer you resources, a listening ear, advice and guidance on your professional development and pursuits, and always, always, always, a place where you can share and celebrate the events of your story, whether they take you down the road, across the country, or half-way across the world!

~Gwen Miller, associate director, career services

Exploration, Part 2: Focusing your Efforts

Last week, I introduced the career planning model geared toward freshmen and sophomore students in Exploration, Part 1: Drawing Connections.  In the early stages of career planning, you often find yourself exploring a broad array of interests and corresponding careers.  You hopefully begin to see patterns, enabling you to hone in more specifically on a few possible career paths.  But you still may be unsure of how to actually get yourself from point A –> having identified possibilities…to point B -> transitioning to your first post-graduate opportunity.

Now it’s time to dig deeper in your exploration.  Investigate these paths more fully and be intentional about gaining experience that will set you up for more promising employment or graduate school leads.  In the second phase of our office’s career planning model, students are encouraged to utilize resources & activities to help you:

Career Planning Model 2

As you work through the resources and exercises, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of understanding what employers and graduate schools are looking for.  When constructing your documents (resumes, cover letters, graduate school essays, LinkedIn profiles, etc) and preparing to talk with hiring or admissions professionals (informational interviews, networking events, interviews, etc), you’ll be expected to articulate what you can contribute to their organization/program.  The only way to do that successfully is to know what they value and how you fit into their bigger picture!

First, gain a broad understanding of the world of work by researching the expectations of employers.  Use this information as motivation to begin developing certain skills, or as affirmation that you are on the right track.  Then, delve into what specific industries look for and expect; read industry journals and explore professional associations of potential career fields.  This will give you greater knowledge of expectations while also helping to clarify further whether or not it is a field you want to continue pursuing.  From there, begin identifying specific companies or programs and research their criteria and preferred qualifications of successful candidates.  By working through these tiers of exploration and investigation, you’ll be more fully prepared and confident as you make your transition into employment or grad school.

You may be overwhelmed with all of the information in these career planning models, and that’s ok!  The key is to break things down into manageable pieces so that you can fully explore your options and feel confident in the decisions you make regarding your career planning.  For a real-life example of a student who has put many of these suggestions into practice, tune in next week to read Jocelyn Davis’ post on exploring careers through job shadowing.

Gwen Miller, associate director of career services

Exploration, Part 1: Drawing Connections

Whether an underclassman meets with us to begin a dialogue about their future, or a junior starts to articulate interests while embarking upon an internship search, or a senior is looking for advice to really target a job or graduate school, exploration is often at the heart of students’ meeting requests with Career Services.  We love to engage students in conversations to help you draw out skills, interests, values, and goals, all while hoping to spark excitement toward investigating what’s out there in the world of work.

This week and next, I’d like to discuss the idea of exploration from two angles:

  • drawing connections between interests and potential careers or majors;
  • delving deeper into more specific professions/industries to help transition to the workplace.

Our office uses a model to help guide students through many elements of career planning.  The first half encourages students to utilize electronic, printed, and human sources of information to begin exploring how ones interests and strengths might relate to college majors and future career fields.  Although it’s geared toward freshmen and sophomores, the resources suggested can be applicable to anyone’s stage of career development.

Career Planning Model 1

One key component that is absolutely necessary to anyone’s exploration is talking to other people!  Whether you’re questioning what major is right for you, or wondering what you could possibly do with a degree in ______, or you’re interested in learning how certain occupations function within different industries, asking individuals who know about the topic is one of the most effective means of gaining valuable information.

So, go through the suggested resources for exploring your options and investigating potential careers…and then talk to someone about what you’re discovering!  And when I say talk to someone, I don’t mean go ask someone else what you should do.  Instead, arm yourself with knowledge, draw connections between what you’re learning and your own interests and goals, and ask others to clarify, offer perspective, or discuss ideas with you that you haven’t thought of.  The discoveries along the way will be worth the effort.

Next week’s blog will look at the next components of the career planning model to offer suggestions and advice on delving deeper into more specific professions/industries as you begin to engage in a job or internship search.  Stay tuned!

~Gwen Miller, associate director of career services

Jocelyn Says: The Worst Thing You Can Do is Nothing

As promised, the Blog will feature a monthly topic written by Jocelyn Davis ’15, one of our fabulous student staff members.  Jocelyn is pursuing her degree in English Communications with a minor in Business Administration here at LVC.  This is her second year working in our office and it’s been a joy to watch as she enthusiastically pursues her goals and takes on any challenges that come her way.  For her first post, Jocelyn is sharing how she pursued her summer internship.

When I was 14 I started working at a Hallmark store in my hometown. Yes, it was a job (and more importantly) yes, it was money, but at the start of my sophomore year I decided it was time for a change. I wanted to spend the following summer at a job that actually applied to my major; somewhere I could utilize and further develop the skills I was learning in my classes. So, I made it my goal to secure an internship for the summer of 2013.

But how would I go about getting an internship? What would I need? Where would I apply? Was I even qualified? After the initial moment of panic and trying to talk myself out of taking the next step, I started with the basics: research local companies of interest, write a resume, and create a portfolio.

First, I needed to identify possible internships. This was important because I had no idea where to send my resume or portfolio and I knew that my documents would need to be adjusted for each organization.  I started checking my JobCenter account regularly for updated postings and also researched local companies that fit my interests to see if they offered internships. By having an idea of where I wanted to get involved, I was able to make my goal more concrete.

Next, the resume, which I will admit was a little overwhelming. I sat in front of my laptop with a list of accomplishments, classes that I have taken, and the two semi-relevant experiences I have had in the past—but wrote nothing. I was stuck. My advice? Do not waste your time. Once you have your ideas together schedule an appointment with Career Services or meet with your internship advisor (both wouldn’t hurt!). They have been in your shoes and know the in’s and out’s of writing a resume.

Then, the portfolio; basically a collection of everything you have ever done that you want to show to a potential employer. The main issue I ran into with this is that most of my work was digital: blogs, digital stories, online news articles. My solution? If everything else is digital, why not make the portfolio digital? I used weebly.com, a free website creator. You can link buttons on your personal website directly to the source where your work is posted so your potential employer does not have to search for each individual entry. If you need an example you can visit my site http://www.jocelyndavis.weebly.com

These are just a few of the steps I took at the beginning of my sophomore year to meet my goal and I hope you find them helpful as you begin taking your first steps toward an internship. Remember, the worst thing you can do is nothing.

Good luck!

J

Jocelyn Davis, ’15

CareerServices- Student Assistant

Make the Choice to Read Job Choices

Among many traits that employers look for in ideal candidates, resourcefulness and an inquisitive approach to problem-solving are right up there.  Learning about the latest trends and resources, as well as staying current on the competition, are important to many organizations for success.  Students should take a similar approach to career planning and the internship/job search!

Each month, the Career Services Blog will spotlight a few of the tools and tips that we believe are valuable.  This month, I’m encouraging you to get acquainted with the digital Job Choices magazine, accessible on the Resources for Students page of the Career Services website.

Why? Because you can be assured that these online magazines, compiled and distributed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, contain oodles of relevant articles and information for your job or internship search.  Published annually, each magazine – Job Choices and Job Choices, Diversity Edition – covers information from rights and responsibilities of job seekers, to social media, to graduate school or first years on the job.  Take a look at the contents page of the Job Choices edition:

Job Choices picture

 

If that doesn’t inspire you to take a look, maybe the opportunity to win $500 by taking a Reader Poll will (details on page 5 of the magazine).  Two LVC students have won within the past several years…maybe your resourcefulness will also be rewarded!

*Note: Even if you don’t win the $500, can we agree that resourcefulness for resourcefulness’s sake is generally a reward in and of itself?  I think so!

~Gwen Miller, associate director, career services

Ready or not…Fall is here!

WELCOME TO (or back to) LVC!

I love the beginning of the semester.  The energy and excitement of having students back on campus is a welcome change from the summer mode of planning and preparing for the upcoming year.  Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Fall is my favorite season… :)

Before I go any further, it occurs to me that you may not know who I am, or who makes up the Career Services staff.  I’m Gwen Miller, associate director of the office, joined by Sharon Givler, director, and Sue Donmoyer, assistant.  Plus our fabulous student staff – Mel Modrick ’14 and Jocelyn Davis ’15.  Want to know more about us? http://www.lvc.edu/career-services/about.aspx.

Now that that’s out of the way…. we understand how busy students are these first few weeks.  This first posting is to encourage you to start the year out with intentional foresight and thought for your exploration, or planning for career or graduate school pursuits.  Put things on your calendar and set reminders on your phone for events that are coming soon.  (The Reminders and Notes apps are my FAVORITES – but you may find that the student handbook becomes your best friend for its calendar/planner.)  This isn’t advice meant only for first year students, even upperclassmen sometimes need a gentle reminder that advanced planning is key if you don’t want to miss out!

To give you an idea of how the Blog is intended to help you – we’ll be offering new posts each Wednesday, with a weekly focus on:

  • Career/Internships/Grad School planning – 1st Wednesday
  • Resources we’d like to highlight – 2nd Wednesday
  • Advice on preparing for the job search – 3rd Wednesday
  • Reflections from one of our student staff members, Jocelyn Davis – 4th Wednesday

Hopefully you’ll add the Blog to your regularly visited websites!  By the way, if you’ve been a reader for the past few years, you’ve probably noticed that the Blog has an updated look this year!

That’s probably enough for the opening post, right?  Please stop in and see us to share your summer successes, make an appointment to meet with us about your future plans, or, if nothing else, avail yourself of our many, many, many online resources – it’s like having your own personal career coach, 24/7!

~Gwen Miller, associate director of career services

Summer 2013 – Make it a Good One!

It’s finals time, making the likelihood of you reading this in the midst of studying, writing, presenting, panicking, celebrating, sleeping, or any other finals week activity, slim to none.  It’s ok.  We understand.  But we also hope that once you do settle into your summer vacation, you’ll take some time to catch up and make it a commitment to include career planning in your schedule for the next few months.

A few easy things to get you started:

  • Re-read (or read for the first time) the blog postings from this past year.  It’s been our goal to introduce the CareerSpots videos and other great resources by incorporating them into these weekly topics.
  • Acquaint yourself with our Career TIP Sheets for advice on resumes, cover letters, internships, graduate school planning, interviewing, networking, and more.
  • Browse the Career Services Resources for Students website for information on job searching, career planning, online assessment tools, and exploring majors and careers.  **I highly recommend the What Can I Do With This Major site to help make connections between majors and careers, view strategies to help you work toward a career goal, and access professional association websites and other career information.

A few more things to work on:

  • Some of you may be interning this summer with organizations that have learning goals built in for you and projects in which you will be developing your skills and abilities.  Great!  For others, you may be returning to a summer job or planning to seek work that will simply allow you to earn some spending money.  In either case, find ways in which you can offer more to your employer.  Develop your skills by tackling a new project, show some initiative by suggesting a different process, and demonstrate your commitment and professionalism by following through on your work and being a reliable employee.  Be sure you write your accomplishments down – it’s much easier to remember them as they occur than months (or years) later when you’re updating your resume.
  • If you aren’t planning to work, look for ways to make connections.  Network with alumni through Career Connections (housed in your JobCenter account); ask to shadow professionals in your area; attend professional association meetings; volunteer in organizations that interest you.
  • If nothing else, draft (or update) your resume and work on filling in your JobCenter profile and exploring this vast career management system.

Frankly, I could go on and on.  There are many steps, big and small, to achieve in your career development process.  The Office of Career Services is open throughout the summer to guide and assist you.  Let us know how we can help!

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

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

LinkedIn Job Search Checklist

Serendipity – making fortunate discoveries by accident.

This morning on my way to work, as happens pretty frequently on Wednesday mornings, I had my weekly brainstorming session in my vehicle about what to write for a blog entry today.  Those sessions often begin with “what haven’t I written about recently” followed by “is that subject something that I can make interesting on this particular morning” and finally progresses toward sentence stems and the framework for a few paragraphs.  Quite frankly, this morning I drew a blank.  My creative wheels just weren’t turning.

But, when I got to work, I opened my email and was greeted with a notice from the Career Services Professionals LinkedIn group that I am a member of.  Within the first sentence, a link to a recently published “LinkedIn Job Search Checklist” caught my eye.  I opened it and…yes!  I could use it as a blog (along with this rather lengthy insight into my blog-writing process)! My failed brainstorming was a moot point.  This was glorious.  This was serendipity.

The November 28, 2012 posting – Why Be LinkedIn – introduced the professional social media forum and provided tips to help students and recent graduates create a profile and utilize the site effectively.  At the risk of repeating too much of that blog, I would like to call your attention once again to the video guides on: What is LinkedIn, Build your Professional Brand, Find your Career Passion, Build a Professional Network, Turn Relationships into Opportunities, and Researching & Prepping for Interviews.

As a complement to those videos, take a look at the Job Search Checklist.  I liked it, so I hope you will too.  But, don’t wait until the last minute to begin building your profile – it’s unlikely that a job will land in your lap without quite a bit of effort, networking, and searching.  After all, even though serendipity came through for me this morning, it probably isn’t a reliable job search method.

The Job Outlook for the College Class of 2013

The National Association of Colleges and Employers releases an annual report for students on the job outlook for the upcoming college class.  Based on a survey conducted from July 25 – September 10, 2012, 244 organizations provided input about their hiring plans and other employment-related issues in order to project the market for new college graduates for the current class and to assess a variety of conditions that may influence that market.

Take a look at The Job Outlook for the College Class of 2013, provided as a student report through NACE, to find information on:

  • Good News – hiring is up for new grads!
  • Who’s in demand
  • Who’s hiring: a look at specific industries, specific majors
  • What employers want in a job candidate
  • How to stand out: advice from employers

Although hiring procedures and job outlook will certainly differ among companies, industries, and geographic locations, the information provided in this report can reinforce some of your preparation and job search efforts.  For those students who are not part of the class of 2013, read through anyway!  Remember, knowledge is power!  At the very least, it provides you with some great insight into what employers are currently thinking in regards to their hiring decisions.