Career Services

Lebanon Valley College

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

 

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

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

Spotlighting The Campus Career Coach

It’s the third Wednesday of November – do you know what that means?  That means in 8 days, we can all celebrate Thanksgiving!  It also means it’s the week that our Career Services Blog serves the purpose of offering advice on preparing for the job search.  This week, my method of accomplishing that is to actually refer you to a different Blog!

Have you passed by the window to the Career Services office this semester and been momentarily distracted by our signs?  Good! Often backed by bright blue paper and hanging from a 4-foot stand, those signs are put up by our office assistant, Sue, who takes the responsibility of finding interesting, often humorous, and always relevant career articles or images for your reading pleasure. They’re resources that catch her eye or make her laugh.  The latest? An image of this little girl:

Campus Career Coach girl

that emphasizes an article titled “Be a Selective Job Seeker, not a Picky Job Seeker.”  The article comes from The Campus Career Coach, a Blog that strives to offer practical answers to career questions for college students.

You should know that in writing this Blog post, I went to The Campus Career Coach to find a few articles that I could highlight to entice you to go there yourself.  I’ve been immersed in the content for the past half hour or so!  I started reading his advice on bullet points vs. paragraphs in resumes; then the article When is the right time for a college senior to start looking for a job? held my attention.  Then, I actually found myself watching a video on tools that welders need….(I’m not a welder…but it’s nice to know that I could find out what the essential equipment is to becoming one!).

Then I noticed that the top of the page includes a navigation bar that consists of Job Search Guides that are nice supplements to our TIP Sheets, more than 30 resumes in a Resume Gallery, an alphabetical listing of Professional Associations, great advice on how to Get your Foot in the Door of different careers, and something titled Coach’s Soapbox (really – how could you not want to see what that consists of?!).  I also found a TED Talk that I plan to watch later called The Happy Secret to Better Work (such a promising title!) under the category: I Love My Job.

Hopefully I’ve convince you to check this Blog out and make reading it a regular habit.  Just be sure that you have some time to spare before you begin to browse!

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

Jocelyn Says: Get Your Foot in the Door by Job Shadowing

You may remember from my last blog entry the importance of researching companies you are interested in as one of the first steps to finding an internship. But, what do you do once you have an idea of where you want to go? How do you get an “in” with a potential internship site?

For me, the first step was to send a letter of introduction to the organization. I searched the company’s website for contact information and sent my letter via email. Of course, this was not a five page essay about my goals and interests, but rather a short paragraph. I explained that I was emailing because I wanted to learn more about existing careers in the organization. I gave a brief description of my relevant experiences and included details from their website that emphasized why their particular company stood out to me. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I concluded the letter by requesting a day of job shadowing.

When I pushed the send button I was nervous. I knew the organization did not have to accept my request and could just as easily deny it. However, three days later the president of the organization replied explaining that they would be happy to help. He provided me with a list of days to choose from and highly recommended that I spend an entire day. He also requested that I provide him with a list of what I hoped to gain from the experience so that he could plan the day accordingly to ensure that I found it worthwhile.

My day of shadowing can be broken into three parts: an informational interview, tour/meet and greet, and assisting an employee with a project.

  • During the interview I had the chance to speak with the president of the organization who answered many of my questions regarding management and responsibilities.
  • While on the tour I was able to meet each employee in the office and speak with them. This opportunity introduced me to the array of jobs existing in the organization and allowed me to seek advice as to how to better prepare myself for a similar career.
  • The final hour of my job shadowing experience allowed me to assist with a project. I was able to actually see myself fitting into the organization; this was a huge confidence boost!

The best part came at the end of my day when the president talked to me briefly about my experience there. He prompted me to consider what I had learned, what I enjoyed, and what I did not like. Before I left, he encouraged me to send a copy of my resume to his office that he would keep on file to consider when they began accepting internship applications.

I left my day of shadowing feeling more confident about the career path I am pursuing. I had gained a better understanding of what I would be faced with as well as the overall work environment. The experience has helped me more confidently articulate what I am looking for in a job, what I want to do as a career, and what type of organizations may be a good “fit.” I made sure to send a thank you note and a copy of my resume the next day and have since kept in touch with the contacts I made.

Although introducing yourself to a brand new person and making a request to job shadow may be out of your comfort zone, I highly recommend taking the risk. After all, how do you know if you will actually enjoy a certain career if you’ve never set foot in the building?

J

Jocelyn Davis ’15, Career Services Student Assistant

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

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