Career Services

Lebanon Valley College

Tell your Story: Classroom Accomplishments

What have you done?

For many new college grads, your education is one of the highest qualifications you offer to a potential internship or full-time employer, or to a graduate school program. Your time in the classroom and/or working on class projects is one of the primary ways in which you are developing skills for your next step. When crafting stories to illustrate leadership, decision making, communication, etc, don’t forget about how you:

  1. critically analyzed a company’s business model to determine growth potential
  2. led your group through a semester-long project by helping to break up and delegate tasks
  3. enhanced your skills in data analysis and deductive reasoning by participating in a research project
  4. showed your knack for written communication by taking responsibility for editing your group’s paper into a document with one style
  5. handled criticism and learned from a mistake by actively seeking feedback on an assignment that was not up to par

The variety of examples are vast, assuming you incorporate them into your repertoire of stories. But in all of them, notice that the emphasis is on the accomplishment you achieved, more so than the task you completed. In other words, you’re not simply explaining the parameters of an assignment when telling your story; you’re detailing your individual contribution, focusing on the strengths that you demonstrated, and emphasizing the learning that took place.

Don’t forget, too, that significant classroom projects can be included on your resume, if they are relevant to a position to which you are applying or they help to demonstrate your capabilities within a graduate program. Consider including a section titled something like “Coursework & Projects” or “Research”. Or incorporate your accomplishments into a cover letter. How you shed light on your classroom achievements will vary, depending on your situation, but chances are good that those achievements are just as impressive as those earned through experience or involvement.

~Gwen Miller, associate director, career development

Article Round-Up

Over the past few weeks, several articles have come across my desk that I found interesting.  For students in the midst of a job or internship search, they offer helpful reminders, tips, and perspectives on the current workforce.  Take a look:

 

How to Find a Job in 2014 – Gone are the days when sending a resume through the mail and waiting patiently was enough to land a job.  It requires some creativity, plenty of initiative, and a lot of follow-up to stand out from the competition.

Take a look at the compilation of advice provided in How to Find a Job in 2014 that will help you open doors to opportunities. Some examples: Link up with hiring managers in Linked in, and don’t skip the summary section of your profile!  Broadcast your ambitions to help you reach out to promising contacts.  Also, be sure you are actively finding ways to build experience.  As a student, that can be through internships, part time work, on-campus involvement, community services, etc.

 

Top 10 Internet Job Scam Warning Signs – Networking online, as the article above suggests, is a great idea.  With 24/7 internet accessibility, however, there are also more online job boards than one can count.  That’s not a bad thing! In fact, it’s advisable to have multiple search strategies when you are trying to identify positions, companies, and career paths of interest.  However, it can be overwhelming, so I would encourage you to narrow it down to a few sites that you will monitor regularly.  This will help you avoid getting lost online!

With all online activities, it’s important to be cautious about the information that you put out there.  It’s the same with online job boards; some postings may be scams.  For example, if you are asked to provide confidential information, beware.  If you are contacted through personal email accounts, think twice.  If your “spidey-senses” are giving off warning vibes, take note!  Check out this article for more of the Top 10 Internet Job Scam Warning Signs.

 

Just Graduated, and Fumbling Through a First Job – Although the title suggests that this is an article for people already in the workplace, its contents are just as valuable to job/internship seekers.  Expectations for new hires have shifted.  In fact, “most companies operate with fewer employees and tighter budgets than ever before, so there’s not as much willingness — or time — to let novices come up to speed gradually.”

Read Just Graduated, and Fumbling Through a First Job for several perspectives from professionals who look back on their first jobs with an attitude of “I wish I knew then what I know now about….” It also includes a link to the results from a Student Skill Index, an online study conducted with nearly 2,000 college students and 1,000 hiring managers to pinpoint gaps between students’ perception of their level of preparation and that of the employers who hire new graduates.  Knowing this information ahead of time may help you avoid some common pitfalls in your first job.

 

I hope you read these articles and find a few points of interest that you can apply to your own job/internship search.  Have you read any good articles lately on career readiness or job search tips? If so, send them our way – they may just make it into the next Article Roundup!

Gwen Miller, associate director, career services

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

 

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

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

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.

Professional Associations

I’ve posted about the importance of networking, informational interviewing, and researching industries and specific companies – all in hopes of encouraging students to become as informed as possible about their career development.

Another great way to be engaged in your field is to become familiar with corresponding professional associations.  A professional association is an organization seeking to further a particular profession and the interests of individuals engaged in that industry.  In a past Career Corner newsletter, we asked faculty to offer insight on the value of these organizations for students, as well as several tips for uncovering ones that interest you.  Click HERE for the newsletter.

In addition, our brilliant office assistant recently pointed out to me that an alphabetical listing of Professional Associations (over 500 included) can be found through The Campus Career Coach resource of JobCenter. Each of the websites included has some form of career center, job board, or other resources to assist prospective and current professionals in their fields connect with job, internship and scholarship opportunities.  Log into your JobCenter account, click on The Campus Career Coach icon in the left hand navigation column, and then select the Professional Associations tab from the horizontal list at the top.

Post 25 The Campus Career Coach

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.

Settle in and browse…the Resource Library of JobCenter

Every week, the Office of Career Services sends out a “This Week at Career Services” email to notify students of upcoming programs, workshops, and deadlines, along with offering a brief spotlight on one of our resources.  Also included is a list of a few of the jobs and internships that were posted in JobCenter the week prior.  The email serves as a constantly updated snapshot of the services available to students; if it were to include everything new and beneficial, it would be much too large for the average inbox!

This week’s blog is meant to call your attention to a section of JobCenter that offers oodles of information on companies, internship, research, or job opportunities, and graduate schools or unique opportunities.  This is only naming a few of the 30+ folders in your Resource Library – a constantly updated electronic filing system of countless resources that should be added to your career planning tool box.

Did you know….

  • The Employer folder offers over 35 sub-folders about industries and/or companies?  There is information ranging from Accounting firms to GREEN jobs to state and federal government opportunities and resources for candidates.
  • There is an Internships / Research / Shadowing folder that includes links to current and annual programs and opportunities at places such as Pfizer, Disney, The Kennedy Center, etc.  I stopped counting at 50 sub-folders, all of which offer students great resources and ideas on identifying potential opportunities of interest.
  • A Unique Opportunities folder includes information on…you guessed it, opportunities that are unique.  AmeriCorps/Vista, Peace Corps, and Teach for America;  English Nanny & Governess School; a Leadership Pennsylvania Summer Institute, and more can be found here.

These are just three of the folders found in the Resource Library, accessible through the left hand navigation column in your JobCenter account.  Take some time today to turn on your computer, settle in, and browse!

A snapshot of current folders:
Post 23 Resource Library

Researching Companies – the most important activity of job searching

Spring often means that many students are engaged in an active search for jobs or internships.  Identifying companies of interest is certainly the first step, but what comes next?  Your resume, along with your cover letter or presence/conversation at a career fair, is your opportunity to illustrate how you would be a good fit for a position or organization.  That means that you should be purposefully highlighting skills, abilities, and attributes that are relevant to the employer.

Figuring out what is relevant is the behind-the-scenes preparation before your resume is created, your cover letter is drafted, and your interview responses are practiced.  By researching the organization and industry of interest, you will be able to tailor your job search materials and create a strong personal brand that advocates for why you should be considered as a candidate.

According to the Digital Job Choices Magazine, available through the Career Services website, “Researching employers is perhaps the single-most important activity you will undertake in your job search.  The information you uncover can help you:

  • Discover organizations that are a good match for you,
  • Identify the organization’s goals and needs,
  • Tailor your resume and cover letters to highlight your skills and experiences that match the employer’s needs,
  • Know what questions to ask employers,
  • Demonstrate your interest in and enthusiasm for the organization,
  • Answer interview questions with confidence, and
  • Make an informed employment decision.”

Click HERE for this 4 page article that advises where to begin, offers research resources, information you should be looking for, and websites to delve into specific industries.  Don’t skip this step!  The more effort you put in, the more confident you will feel when making a positive impression on potential employers.