Career Services

Lebanon Valley College

Get to the Root of it: Why did you pick your major?

Who are you?

This appears to be a deceptively simple question, right? Surely you are aware of the reasons why you are pursuing your chosen field of study. But have you developed a concrete, roll-off-the-tip-of-your-tongue response that expresses your enthusiasm for your field and generates interest? Probably not.

Here are two exercises:

  1. Think of the ignition point that started you on your path to declare your chosen major. Was it an event? (you shadowed a person who described his/her major and made it sound amazing – you happened upon a description of a career that you can identify with a corresponding major – you took a class and realized you “fit” in that department immediately – etc…) Is it a result of a personal influencer? Is it related to your career ambition? Is it a result of being undecided and then stumbling into your choice? Identify what the point was, and then craft a story to tell it.
  2. Next, reflect on what has caused you to stay in the field! What interests you the most? What skills have you developed as a result? How does it tie into your career goals from here?

Doing the above will give you something more substantive to say than a simple “I chose accounting because I like numbers” or “I chose business because I want to work in a business” or “I’m an education major because I like to working with children” The examples are endless…and boring, right?! Don’t be boring. Explain why you chose your major in a way that makes someone think you’re actually proud of the choice and excited for your future.

~Gwen Miller, associate director, career development

Start Strong: Grab interest in 60 seconds

Who are you?

Jumping right in with the most common interview and/or networking question, Tell me about yourself is the opening to many a conversation, the response to which often sets the tone of the exchange that follows. What information is actually sought here? According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, information from this list can prepare you for your 60 second introduction:

  • Name
  • Class (senior, junior, sophomore, freshman)
  • Major
  • Opportunities that you are seeking
  • Relevant experience (work, internship, volunteer work)
  • Highlights of skills and strengths
  • Knowledge of the company

It may seem like a lot to include, but you may not be offering lengthy details all at once. An employer once said, introducing yourself should be like dropping a few M&Ms at a time, not trying to force-feed the whole bag. Let the person digest those few bits of information (M&Ms) and then offer more during the conversation. It’s much easier for the listener and the speaker!

Here are a few examples:

  1. “Hi, my name is _______; I’m completing my degree in _____ and am very interested in talking with you about the opportunities within the ________ department at _(company name)__. I know that __company___ is well known for ______, and I am confident that my skills in _____, _______ and my experiences from _______ and __________ could be a good match.”
  1. “Hello! My name is __________. I’m thrilled to be talking with you, as I’m extremely interested in contributing my skills of ________ and _________ to the _____________ department of _(company name)_. I’ll be completing my degree in _field of study_ in May 2016, graduating from Lebanon Valley College.
  1. “As an experienced ___________, I was excited to see that your company would be attending this event! My name is ________ and……”

There are many ways you could tell someone about yourself, but the key is to put thought into what you’re going to say ahead of time so that your conversation starts strong.

Additional tips: Tailor your introduction to each employer based on research and knowledge of the company. Practice, practice, practice so that it is a natural conversation starter, and pay attention to your nonverbal communications—eye contact, facial expressions, body language, and posture. Finally, don’t just end with an awkward pause – ask a question to encourage the person with whom you are speaking to pick up the conversation!

~Gwen Miller, associate director

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

Making the Most of Networking

Recruitment season is different from industry to industry, although the months leading up to graduation or summer break are often heavy with career fairs, networking events, and recruiting activities.  If you think that you’ll find yourself in a situation where you’ll be talking with individuals who have the power to hire you for a job or internship, admit you to a graduate program, or introduce you to others who do have that authority, you need to be ready.

Regardless of where you are in your career planning process, presenting yourself as a competitive candidate takes time and practice.  From preparing your resume, to practicing your 30 second commercial, to identifying your strengths and interests to building a story bank of situations and experiences to talk about, there are countless activities that need to occur to help you feel confident in a professional conversation.

I could spend this blog post sending you to our webshops about Building a Stronger Network or Job Fair Prep advice…or I could point you to the “Making the Most of the Event” documents for both the CPEC Job & Internship fair and Teacher Recruitment Day.  The CareerSpots videos offer quite a few videos about interacting with employers as well.  In fact, there are plenty of resources to help you prepare for your conversation.  But the only thing that can make you actually initiate a conversation is you!

At the January 19th career conference, Careers Done Write!, keynote speaker Lynne Breil gave a lot of fantastic advice about professional business interactions.  One thing in particular stuck with me, especially as I write about what makes networking most effective.  If you know you’re going to find yourself at an event, a career fair, or a professional meeting, Lynne encourages you to do something before you ever leave your house:  Give yourself a goal of how many people you want to talk with at that event.

Whether it’s one person, three people, or ten, plan in advance how many people you want to introduce yourself to in order to initiate conversation.  Chances are good that your goal will keep you going when you begin to feel awkward or are fighting the urge to hang out against the wall.  You may even exceed your goal because you stop thinking of networking as an obstacle.  I’d encourage you to take Lynne’s advice – after all, it’s difficult enough to put yourself in an unfamiliar situation.  Make your time there more effective by having a goal to motivate your engagement.

Speaking of career events, be sure you’re aware of the opportunities advertised on our What’s Happening? page – how many people do you plan to interact with this season?

Gwen Miller, associate director, career services

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

225 million professionals…One site

If you’ve walked past the Center for Student Engagement in Mund College Center recently, you’ve hopefully noticed the large bulletin board that asks “Are you…LinkedIn”?  Perhaps you’ve dismissed it, thinking that you don’t need one more thing to manage; or, perhaps you’ve wandered by thinking “I’ll definitely create an account once I graduate and have information to include.”  In both instances, I’d encourage you to take another look.

Students can, and should, become active on LinkedIn, the well-known professional networking site that is 225 million strong.  According to What Every College Student Should Post on LinkedIn, students should include information about their coursework and extra-curriculars, as well as their schoolwork and projects.  Asking professors to write brief recommendations for you can also be a great way to highlight your accomplishments in the classroom.

There are plenty of resources available for students interested in expanding their network, including:

We would certainly encourage you to review these resources and seriously consider creating an account.  However, once you do, commit yourself to keeping it up-to date, using it as a research tool of companies, industries, and professionals, and becoming engaged through groups and discussions.  By the way, once you have an account, you can also join groups that you’re interested in, including the Lebanon Valley College Professional Network that connects over 1500 alumni, students, and employees of the College!

Lastly, SimplyHired offers a recent Blog post that encourages taking your use of LinkedIn one step further: Creative Ways to Use LinkedIn in Your Job Search, which includes tips on discovering career paths, researching people and following companies, and using it to develop skills and read the latest industry news.

Still not convinced to create a LinkedIn account?  According to the article above, What Every College Student Should Post on LinkedIn, “social professional networks are the fastest growing source of quality hires.”

So…Are you LinkedIn?  If not, why not?!

~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

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

Importance of Networking

Spring break is just days away and, for many students, it’s time to close the text books, sleep, and catch up with friends and family.  It can also be the perfect time to begin articulating your goals and summer plans/pursuits with the people you know.  Although I hesitate to use the word ‘networking’ (the word seems to strike fear into the hearts of students), spring break is a great opportunity to do just that!

We’ve all heard it, and it’s true: it’s not always what you know, but who you know.   Networking is about building and maintaining professional relationships and connections, which can often start with people you already know.  Take a look at the CareerSpots video on the Importance of Networking and read through these basic tips (as provided on the downloadable tip sheet):

  • Networking is a crucial first step in the job search process.
  • EVERYONE you know is included in your network – family, relatives, friends, professors, coaches, former bosses, friend’ parents, etc.  (Don’t forget about Career Connections – the alumni mentoring database through LVC! – see this TIP Sheet for information and advice on appropriate networking and informational interviewing)
  • Making connections can product a ripple effect.  For every person you build a relationship with, that person has relationships with 20 other potential job connections, and each of those another 20, and so on…
  • Professional organizations can offer tremendous connections.  Internships with these organizations, even if unpaid, may prove invaluable further down the road.
  • People who know you can give you an extra edge in landing a job since they can tout your positive characteristics and confirm them.
  • Be patient.  Networking does not always provide immediate gratification.

So…if the key to a more successful job search lies in networking, spend a portion of your spring break thinking about who YOU know.