Career Services

Lebanon Valley College

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

What about Graduate School?

This week’s post is in response to a few common questions surrounding the decision to pursue graduate school and the application process that students will want to consider.

Should I attend? Now or later?

That depends. If you are thinking of attending graduate school because you don’t know what else to do, because you are avoiding the job search, or you are generally unsure of your career goals, then you probably are not pursuing an advanced degree for the right reasons.

In college, the major you pursue offers a broad introduction to a field of study.  In graduate school you will specialize and narrow your focus for study and research.  Thus, the study of biology becomes the study of plant sciences, neurobiology, bioethics, physiology, animal science, etc; the study of psychology becomes the study of child & human development; clinical psychology, organizational psychology, applied behavior analysis, or psychoanalysis; the study of English becomes the study of writing, linguistics, literature, or humanities.  Not knowing the specialization you are seeking may be a good indication you are not ready to begin graduate study.

While many LVC graduates express appreciation for the way in which their undergraduate education prepared them for the rigors of graduate school, make no mistake. The level of academic commitment, not to mention the expense, is considerable. Whether you begin graduate school immediately after college or wait several years is a personal decision. Research indicates that up to half of grad students are over age 30, so taking time off is not unusual. The important thing is to be ready for the challenges and commitments a graduate program brings.

Can I switch fields and go to graduate school in a different area?

Absolutely!  But be prepared to demonstrate how your interests, preparation, career goals, experiences, and skills make you a good candidate. Graduate schools, just like employers, are looking for candidates that are the right fit, so spend some time getting to know the programs and schools that interest you.  In your application, essay, and interview make the connections between your experiences and the goals of the program/school.

What do graduate schools want?

Graduate schools want to enhance the reputation of their school and program. Therefore, they want students that will finish the program, excel in their studies, and have the capacity to become important researchers and leaders in their field.

I won’t pretend to know what every admissions committee wants. But I can say that GPA, scores on graduate entrance exams, recommendation letters, and your personal statement are universally important.  Tara Kuther, Ph.D. does an excellent job of sharing how and why these criteria play such an important part in admission decisions. Read about it in the Graduate School section of About.com.

What do I need to know about letters of recommendation?

An effective recommendation letter is written by persons who can discuss your skills and abilities, personal characteristics, and leadership strengths. These individuals also will need to evaluate your present academic performance and potential to succeed in the field and in the program to which you are applying.

First, be sure the persons you ask to write these letters are willing to write a positive letter that supports your candidacy. And, when I say “ask” I mean “ask in person.” This is not the time to send a quick e-mail!  Rather, make an appointment to discuss your graduate school plans; don’t wait to the last minute, and be certain to provide them with materials that will enable them to write an informed letter. This includes items such as your transcript, essay, resume, and research abstracts.  You also might want to include honors or awards you’ve received, relevant work and/or volunteer experience, and a description of your professional goals.

Finally…

…a word about graduate school entrance exams. Kaplan Test Prep & Admissions does an excellent job preparing students for exams such as the GRE, MCAT, LSAT, GMAT, etc.  Find out about the FREE online practice test dates/times and register for them HERE.

More information on graduate school planning can be found on the Resources for Students page of the Career Services website. Also, the articles written by Tara Kuther, Ph.D., found in the About.com Guide to Graduate School are worth perusing and reading.

Sharon Givler, director, 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

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

Experience Counts

Internships are a vital part of the collegiate experience, intended to help develop the work habits, attitudes, and skills needed to begin your career. They enable you to build your network of professional contacts, explore career options, apply classroom theory/concepts, become acquainted with company culture, and make a contribution to the organization that mentors you.  Sound a tad daunting?  Read on!

It’s never too early to start thinking about internships. In fact, lack of planning may prevent you from getting the experience you want. All students (including freshmen!) would be wise to acquaint themselves with the steps to find, secure, and make the most of an internship experience.  The Career TIP Sheet – Best Practices for Student Interns – or our weekly internship tutorials, where you will be given a workbook offering practical advice on topics of importance surrounding the full internship experience, would be great places to start.

Before, during, and following:

It can easily seem as though the most difficult stage of being an intern takes place long before your first day – as you search and apply to, interview for, and ultimately are selected for a position!  Career Services has oodles of resources to help you uncover leads, compose your resume and cover letter, and prepare for interviews.  Consider watching the Creating a Resume webshop and reading the Telling Your Story (interviewing) TIP Sheet.  These, along with other resources can help you make a professional first impression at events like the Capital Region Internship Fair (an annual fall event – held this year on October 1st).

Landing the position, however, is only a fraction of what it takes to create a quality experience.  Setting goals as part of your pre-internship planning will help you identify opportunities that match your interests and needs.  Thoughtful goal setting will also help you articulate what you hope to learn to your supervisors; maintaining regular communication about expectations and assignments is vital too.  Ask for feedback frequently and keep a journal to track and reflect upon your activities.  Nearing the end of your experience, make plans for maintaining your new network and practice telling others about your internship.

Making the unobtainable, obtainable!

Perhaps you’ve been thinking an internship at the Smithsonian would give your resume the boost it needs.  Or, maybe interning in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, NYC, Nashville, London, or Rome would surround you with professionals in the industry you hope to enter upon graduation.  “Sounds great,” you say, “but how will I afford it?”

The Edward H. Arnold and Jean Donlevy Arnold Internship Grants were created to remove financial impediments and help students pursue previously inconsiderable internships. Examples may include underpaid internship experiences within the United States or assistance with an international opportunity. Preference is given to proposals that show cost-intensive, unique, transformative experiences, and provide students the opportunity to have internships out of the local area.  Learn more HERE.

So, how about it?  Will you hone your strengths, make a contribution, build your network, and improve your chances for a bright future with an internship?

~Sharon Givler, director of 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.

On-Line Video Interviewing

In this technology-rich era, it’s no surprise that many companies are incorporating it into their hiring practices through the use of on-line video interviewing.  On-line video interviewing may take the place of telephone screening, or could be used throughout the first round(s) of interviewing. Why?  Because it is convenient and can save the company time and money if initial interviews are conducted on-line versus bringing candidates on site.

On-line video interviews may be through SKYPE or other similar applications, in which candidates and interviewers are both “live,” or company’s may use technology that allows an interviewer to pre-record questions that candidates may respond to within a designated time period.  Either way, video interviewing requires preparation and practice if you want to present yourself as well as you would in person.

The CareerSpots video – On-Line Video Interviews – suggests the following tips:

  • Do a test call with friends or family.
  • Check for technical problems ahead of time
  • Dress as though you are conducting a face-to-face interview
  • Make sure your space is tidy and clutter free with nothing distracting in the background
  • Eliminate interruptions by informing others that you will be conducting an interview
  • Plug your computer in so your battery doesn’t die during the interview
  • Check lighting to ensure interviewers will see you clearly
  • Frame your shot – make sure the camera focuses on your face
  • Look directly into the camera lens – it’s the same as making eye contact
  • Be enthusiastic!

Most importantly, practice, practice, practice!

Juggling Job Offers

It’s so easy for students to become caught up in the job search/interviewing process that it can come as a surprise when it’s time to evaluate whether or not a job that has been offered is a good fit.  Trying to juggle multiple job offers to determine which is best can be even more of a stressor.

If you find yourself in this dilemma, first take a look at the CareerSpots video – Juggling Job Offers – for advice on how to make your decision and remain professional.

The National Association for Colleges and Employers also offers a great article with accompanying rating sheet for students to use when evaluating multiple job offers.  An excerpt from the article explains:

There is no perfect formula for making your decision, but one of the best ways to begin is by making a list of all of the features that are important to you in your first job. These may include such items as the type of work you’ll be doing, the organization’s reputation/prestige, training program, salary, specific benefits, location of job, opportunity for advancement, work environment, opportunity for free time (evenings and weekends), opportunity for travel, colleagues with whom you’ll be working, and so forth. Add every possible item you can think of to your list.”  Continue reading HERE.