Job Fair Checklist for Success

Meredith College alumnae, use these tips below as you prepare for the Recruit NC Alumni Only Career Fair to be held on Wednesday, June 6, 2012, 11am-4pm at UNC Chapel Hill.  Register at http://hirenc.eventbrite.com/ before June 4 for a discounted rate.

Career Fairs can be a good way to meet employers face-to face.  The key to success is to prepare in advance and to use your time effectively during the fair.  Where are you with the preparation process?  Ready to step in front of an employer today?  Follow this checklist to ensure you’re ready!

BEFORE THE FAIR:

Evaluate your interest in attending the fair.  Do you want to explore employers and industries that are hiring?  Are you eager to meet employers face-to-face as it can be difficult to manage this process in a job search that is highly electronic? Are you desperately looking for a position and looking for all opportunities to stay engaged in the process?

Research the companies that are scheduled to attend the fair and identify those you want to target.  Begin now to review all organizations and position descriptions at http://hirenc.eventbrite.com/.  Gain information about the company mission and values and think about how you might fit.  Begin to narrow down those that interest you most and develop a list of those you want to visit.  This will help create your career fair game plan by determining with whom you will talk in advance so you don’t wander aimlessly at the fair.

Create a clear, concise, error free, professional looking resume. Have your resume critiqued for accuracy, format, and content.  Make multiple copies of your resume on resume paper and have them available to distribute to employers at the fair.  Note: Don’t be discouraged if an employer says he can’t take a paper copy of your resume, but instead wants you to apply online.  Applicant tracking has changed over the years and paper documents don’t work for the processes of some organizations.

Prepare a short introduction.  Introduce yourself (name, year, major), shake hands, make eye contact.  Listen carefully while the representative introduces him/herself (remember his/her name).  Explain why you decided to stop by their booth, including your interest area(s).  Your introduction may also include:

  • Convincingly, affirming your interest in their company and opportunities you’re seeking
  • Connecting your experiences to their needs (skills, strengths, relevant previous experience – in and out of the classroom)
  • Discussing the knowledge you have of the employer
  • Asking appropriate questions

Plan to wear professional attire.  First Impressions Count!   Professional suit (skirt or pants) with blouse or professional-looking blazer/jacket with skirt or pants, and blouse, closed-toe, polished shoes with hosiery, professional conservative nail polish (if any), conservative jewelry.  Before the fair, look at yourself in the mirror and ask, “Would I hire this person?”

DURING THE FAIR:

Remain focused, respectful, and professional.  Concentrate on those organizations you’ve identified as your best fit.  To “work out” some nervousness consider visiting a booth to begin with that is not on your list.  Allow the recruiter to finish up with the candidate in front of you and then move in, offer a handshake, and smile.  Rely on the research that you’ve completed before the fair.

Use your time wisely.  Consider the interaction between you and the employer to be a conversation – give and take.  Be prepared to share your introduction as appropriate and listen carefully to what the representative has to say so that you can share relevant skills and experiences with him/her.  Gather the information you need to best understand next steps, which could be applying online.  Ask for a business card and after you leave the employer’s booth, jot down a few notes to remind you of your interaction and next steps.

AFTER THE FAIR:

Follow up and next steps.  Send a thank you note or email to recruiters you met.  Express your appreciation and further interest.  Be sure to complete and mention any next steps the employer representative asked of you.

Reflect upon your career options.  Utilize the contacts you’ve made.  Evaluate your interests, values, skills, and personality and how they relate to the needs of each employer to determine which one(s) may be a good fit for you

“What do you do with a BA in English?” (or any other degree for that matter)

By Jennifer Prince

In the musical comedy Avenue Q, Princeton, a recent college graduate with a BA in English and no work experience, is ready to discover his purpose in life; but he needs to find an apartment and a job. Here’s his lament:

I do agree with Princeton that it is a struggle to figure out what to do with a liberal arts degree, but I don’t think that a four-year degree from any program at Meredith is “useless.” Throughout your time as a student you’ve learned plenty of transferable skills in everything from group projects for class to late night Cornhuskin’ practices. But, the question still remains, “What do you do with a BA in English?”

Just because you’re an English major (or any other major) doesn’t mean that you have to follow what may be considered a “traditional” route for your degree. (For example, if you major in English, you don’t have to become a writer or a teacher, if you major in religious and ethical studies, you don’t have to become a minister, if you major in biology, you don’t have to become a doctor.) With many programs the career possibilities are endless, and the Office of Academic and Career Planning has many resources that can help you find that path.

I came to Meredith wanting to major in history and teach high school, but halfway through my second semester as a freshman, I realized that I could not see myself in a classroom teaching every day. I then switched my major to religious and ethical studies and planned on becoming a minister. Then, from several experiences I had during the summer after my freshman year and the first semester of my sophomore year, I discovered the field of student affairs in higher education and I knew that I had found my future career.  It combined my passion for education with helping students find what their passions are in life and learning the skills to be successful beyond the classroom.

My major and minors, though not directly related to my career path, are giving me great preparation for the environment within which I will be working in. College campuses and the world of higher education is becoming a more diverse place, and my knowledge of world religions and different cultures will assist me as I interact with international students and students whose religious views differ from mine. I want to work specifically in leadership development, so my knowledge of different schools of thought within ethics will assist me as I encourage students to not only become leaders, but ethical leaders. I have also developed my critical thinking skills as part of my major. Thanks to our general education program, I have the confidence in my writing and mathematical skills to write reports and do the statistical analysis of data that is required for assessment. And after two years of graduate school where I will take specialized courses in college student psychology and development, leadership development, and higher education administration, I will be ready to begin my career in the field.

After reading all of this, some may say “What about me?” I encourage you to visit the ACP website and take a look at the “What Can I Do with a Major In…” page. It will begin to give you an idea of what you can do with your major. You can also schedule a one-on-one appointment with a staff member in the office to discuss what you’re interested in and how to make the most of your undergraduate major.

Marketing Your Study Abroad Experience

chrisroll / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

by Amy T. Losordo

Welcome back from your study abroad experience.  As you reflect upon the adventure you had, consider how you will communicate your accomplishments to future employers.  Here are some simple tips  to help you communicate this valuable experience through your resume, cover letter, networking opportunities, and during the interview.

Preparation:

  1.  Assess how you have changed as a result of your experience.  New skills, knowledge, and abilities.  Which of these transferable skills relate to the position?
  2. Recall an example of a situation where you demonstrated these skills, knowledge, or abilities.
  3. Include the study abroad experience on your resume under one of the following headings relevant to the position you seek – Education, Relevant Experience, International Experience, etc.
  4. Visit ACP to review your resume (call us at 919.760.8341 for an appointment or use the Resume Drop-In Clinic).
  5. Practice talking about your study abroad experience in a mock interview.
  6. Research the position, the employer, and the industry.  Hoovers is a great resource for understanding a company or organization beyond the company’s own website.  Visit http://www.meredith.edu/acp/links_employer.htm for other employer information resources.  Find ways your study abroad experience will make a connection.  You may be relying on those transferable skills.

Interview:  When asked about your study abroad experience, showcase your accomplishments verses the “fun” you had.  This is the time to talk about the few extra things you did like lead a student team, visit companies or organizations to learn more outside the classroom, talk with professionals.  Understanding the position and employer will help you decide how to frame your conversation about your study abroad experience.

If you are not asked about your study abroad experience, then work it into the conversation when responding to a question. Review typical interview questions on the ACP website or view Job Choice Magazine at http://www.jobchoicesonline.com

  • Tell me about a time you have had to use your problem solving skills (remember missing the train or having to find your way back to your hotel?).
  • Why should we hire you? (able to navigate in new cultures and environments with little direction, etc.)

Tips to Survive and Thrive in the Job Search

By: Allison Jones, Graduate Student Intern, Academic & Career Planning

The job search can be a daunting, yet necessary task to find that much needed job or internship.   Today the job search takes on many forms and is conducted through many different avenues.  While there isn’t a one-stop-shop for where to find a job, there are many things you can be doing that can help you with the search and also to land that internship or job!

Things to consider:

Define your goals:

Consider your goals in terms of your professional and personal life.  What are you looking for?  This will help you be able to write your resume and cover letter, and once you get interviews it will help you when asked questions like: “What are your goals with this position” or “What are your future goals”.  This will also help you narrow down industries and companies you are interested in and want to consider.

Research:

First begin by researching the industry.  Are there things you should know about the industry as a whole before you begin your search?  Learn about how the industry hires, what they want to see on resumes, and trends that happen within the specific industry.

From this begin researching individual companies.  What kind of work do they do within an industry? Where do they rank or compare to their competitors?  Find information through these various links.

Stay Involved:

Do anything to keep your foot in the door with a company or doing something within the industry, volunteer, intern, attend conferences and events, do research, present your research, and join professional organizations (many organizations have student memberships and ways to get involved now).  Not only are these things helping you stay connected, but also help build your resume.

Network:

Once you’re involved in the industry you can begin to network, meet people in other companies.  Talk to people who are doing jobs that you would one day want, find out what companies who are hiring are looking for.  Find out who you know that may know someone where you are considering applying.  Linkedin, the Meredith Alumna networks, and professional organizations are great places to start networking.

Things to do:

  • Use your social networks, but know your industry when you are doing this. Does your industry use a specific social network, are professionals involved online?
  • Job shadow, intern, do informational interviews- get to know who you want to work for.
  • Use Meredith Alumna networks
  • Keep a list of what you’ve done and your future plans so you know where you are with the various companies.
  • Use ACP to help organize your job search and help you with resumes and cover letters!
  • Good luck and happy searching!

Questions to ask Graduate Programs and/or Professional Schools

dream designs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

by Amy T Losordo

What questions should you be asking?  Many of these may be answered through your search on the school’s website and by visiting their program/school.

Questions for Graduate School Admission office:

  • Are there requirements that are not posted but that you look for in applicants? Incoming class profile:  males/females, years of experience related to field of interest, recent graduates, types of activities during undergraduate years, undergraduate institution, geography, range of admissions test scores, etc.
  • What should be the length of resume?
  • Do you read the personal statements or does it go directly to the department or program?
  • How do you evaluate an applicant when reviewing the test scores, personal statement, previous experience, volunteer experience, research, etc.?  Is one more important or carry more weight than another?  Do you get guidance from the programs in making these evaluations?
  • What criteria do you use for forwarding the application to the department and program?
  • How do you in the Graduate School interact with the various departments and programs?
  • Do all departments/programs receive all the application information?  How many require a separate application for the department/programs?
  • How do students meet departments and programs?  Should they first contact you (the Grad School)?  At what point should students visit the campus/faculty/programs?   Do you like to receive phone calls from applicants checking on their application?
  • What advice do you give applicants to your University?

For the Department /Program representative?

  • Do you receive and review all the graduate school applications?
  • Do you require similar personal statements and your own application form?
  • What are your recommendations on how students should connect with faculty/programs/areas of interests?  Do you like to receive phone calls from applicants checking on the status of their application?  Do you use primarily email, phone, or postal service mail to communicate with applicants?
  • How much does the standardized test (i.e. GRE) required for your program count in the evaluation of an applicant?  What other activities, experiences do you consider?
  • What advice would you give a student applying to your program?
  • What is the typical class size for your program?
  • What are the criteria for selecting TAs, RAs, and Fellows?
  • What kind of student thrives in your program or school?
  • What is your attrition rate?
  • What are your recommendations on how students should connect with current students and alumni?
  • Is it possible to work (not as a TA or RA) while I am in your program?
  • What are the ways to be engaged as a graduate student?  (i.e., Graduate Student Association).

Microsoft Clip Art

Frequently Asked Question:  Should I take the standardized test (i.e., GRE) to see how I would do before I study? Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo NOOOOOOOOOO  NOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Take a FREE practice test offered by test preparation companies BEFORE you begin your preparation to establish your baseline score.

  • These free tests will provide you with diagnostic feedback for each section.
  • You will be able to determine the level of preparation needed.
  • Free – taking the test multiple times is expensive.
  • The scores are viewed by graduate schools…they do not choose your best scores, they see all scores.

Schedule an appointment to discuss additional questions by calling us at 919.760.8341.  If you are not receiving emails about graduate schools, be sure to add yourself to our Graduate School Listserv by selecting this link – http://lists.meredith.edu/mailman/listinfo/gradschoolfac

Timetable for Applying to Graduate School

Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Timetable for Applying to Graduate School  by Amy T. Losordo.

It is never to early or late to begin to think about graduate and/or professional schools.  You may be thinking of professional schools as early as  high school when looking at professions known for requiring additional years of education such as  – medical, dental, veterinary, counseling, etc.  Yet again, most of us start to look at graduate studies when we have developed a better understanding of ourselves and have expanded our awareness of careers.

Here is a link to a suggested time-line of activities to consider during your undergraduate studies.  Modify the timing to your current needs.  Use it as a checklist to be sure you stay on task.

Make an appointment to discuss your interest and let us help you with your research, questions, etc.  Call 919.760.8341 to make an appointment.

The World of Portfolio Websites

By: Cindy Kohnen, ’12, ACP Guest Blogger

Want to find alternatives to Flickr, deviantART, and etsy in order to present yourself in a more professional way? Although you may feel overwhelmed by the Google search results for “Top Portfolio Host Sites,” deciding where to host your professional portfolio does not have to be a complicated decision. With some basic research under your belt you will be able to decide what site accommodates your needs and budget best.  Questions to ask yourself:

  • How much involvement do I want my viewers to have with my work?
  • What type and how many projects do I want display?
  • How much maintenance am I willing to commit to and do I want to have a blog?

The main portfolio sites that I have been exposed to are behance.net, cargocollective.com, and carbonmade.com.

Behance
I currently have a free portfolio on Behance (http://www.behance.net/cindykohnen) because I wanted my portfolio to be viewed directly from my LinkedIn profile (Behance supports a creative portfolio application for LinkedIn). Although LinkedIn allows for a website hyperlink under your profile information, I felt that more people would view my work if the visuals were directly on my profile page.

Behance users can enable viewers to like and/or comment on their work. I particularly liked this feature because I am able to understand which projects are best received. Since I use my behance as a “collection of projects site” until I compile my portfolio used for interviews, feedback can help me determine which projects to include in my portfolio.

The free Behance profile has no project limit. Images can be uploaded directly through Behance, but audio/video projects are embedded into Behance from other sites (Vimeo, YouTube, Blip.tv, Veoh, Mevio, Yahoo Video, MySpace Video, Fast Company, SoundCloud, Mixcloud, Bandcamp, 4shared, Issuu, JotForm, Google Maps, Wufoo, SlideShare, Flickr Photostream, Picasa, Blurb). Behance ProSite allows users to completely build/customize their site with their own domain name and unlimited hosting for $11 a month. The ProSite also allows viewers to import their blogs.

The only aspect of Behance that I do not like is the resume template. Behance users can fill out a resume template that is viewed while on the user’s profile page—I wish that my designed resume could be uploaded instead.

Creating projects is a simple step-by-step process with Behance that allows users to import images into a template, fill out project information, and add search tags. Each project has a cover image—once the cover image is clicked, all images from the project can be viewed. This feature is ideal for organizing series of work. When dealing with account problems, Behance has a frequently asked questions page as well as a way to email a technician.

Carbonmade
http://natalialopes.carbonmade.com/

Current student, Natalia Lopes, said this about deciding on her portfolio host site:

There are lots of online portfolio websites out there to choose from, but I definitely would recommend checking out Carbonmade.com. I use Carbonmade for many reasons. It is a simple, clean design and it is super user-friendly and easy to maintain and update! For a small fee each month you can include multiple projects as well as video pieces! You can customize your portfolio to include bio, resume, and let people know if you are looking for work too! The website name you get is also simple and easy to remember. I would recommend it to anyone starting out with an online portfolio.

Carbonmade’s free option you can have a total of 5 projects, 35 images, and 0 videos. However if you want to be able to expand on these numbers, you can pay $12 a month to have 50 projects, 500 images and 10 videos. When dealing with account problems, Carbonmade has a frequently asked questions page as well as a way to email a technician.

Cargocollective
http://cargocollective.com/kfowlerdesign

Kristen Fowler, Meredith Alum ’11 said this about her portfolio host site:

Cargo was one of the websites suggested to me by Josh Janicek at McKinney (a large design firm in Durham). I had done a lot of research on looking for portfolio sites, but ultimately Cargo was the best. It’s insanely easy to set up. You can have a free version (12 projects and 100MB of uploaded content for every free account) or pay for an upgraded account ($66/year or $9/month fir unlimited projects and pages (up to six gigabytes, unlimited bandwidth, advanced editing (CSS and HTML), a custom url, and all the cargo template designs available). It also allows you up upload your logo—even with the free version. I’m all about that, especially if you’re working on establishing your personal identity. Overall Cargo provides the best layout, options, set-up, and options for showcasing your work than others—some just look cheesy.

Like Behance, you can’t upload video directly to Cargocollective, but if you host it somewhere else you’ll just need to put the url in your embed code. This site also enables viewers to follow your work, and a new, optional feature that allows viewers to comment has been added.

When looking up information about Cargocollective, it seemed that there was a strong support forum in which has answers to frequently asked questions and a place where users can post questions/account trouble and have them answered by a Cargocollective technician.

 

Thinking strategically about electives

By Jennifer Schum, PhD

It’s natural to focus on the requirements for graduation: major courses, general education, a 2.0 GPA and 124 credit hours.  Some students also have other requirements, such as for a minor, or for education licensure. But many students have the opportunity to take a few elective courses in their college career.  How will you use those extra “freebie” credits?  For example, as an undergraduate psychology major I was not “required” to take courses in the area of business and couldn’t see at the time how that area could be relevant to my goal of “helping people,” but I’ve come to wish I’d developed a deeper understanding of the role that organizational behavior, economics, and management play in so many of our workplaces—for- and non-profit alike.  Below are a few approaches that could expand your horizon, enrich your thinking, or help to develop a new skill.

Courses that will help you develop a certain skill, whether to improve a weakness or to help make you a more well-rounded, marketable graduate in your area. Consider electives such as: CS 156 web site development, COM 225 public speaking, ART 200 computer literacy for design, BUS 300 principles of management, ENG 358 professional writing, PSY 120 stress management, PHI 210 critical thinking, SOC 335 race and ethic relations, and internship/co-op/career planning seminar credit. Most do not have pre-requisites and would add to the experiences of any major program.

Earn a minor, particularly in an area that complements your major.  How about a minor in Environmental Sustainability with Interior Design or Fashion Merchandising & Design majors? Ethics & the Public Interest with a Biology or Political Science major? Spanish with Social Work or Psychology? Math & Computer Applications with a Business Administration or Economics major?  Professional Writing & Presentation Media with a Communication major?  It’s easy to see how the major coursework is enriched with the addition of certain minors, and could potentially create a certain professional niche for you.

Complete additional foreign language coursework.  Why stop at the 205 level (required for general education) of a language? Furthering your speaking, writing, and comprehension in a foreign language to an advanced level opens potential career opportunities and is a wonderful ability.

Take elective courses through the CRC (Cooperating Raleigh Colleges).  Full-time Meredith students with at least 12 hours a semester may take up to 3 courses a year at other CRC schools, including NC State University, Shaw University, William Peace University, and St. Augustine’s College.  While it’s not recommended for freshmen, CRC can be a great way to take a few electives in areas Meredith doesn’t offer. Just be sure to check the pre-requisites required for courses at CRC colleges; these can be found in schools’ online undergraduate catalogues and links from our Registrar’s website.

An interesting or “fun” area.  Perhaps a course topic just sounds fun and interesting, or other students have raved about a class they’ve enjoyed. You might have always wanted to take a class in photography, poetry, or Asian religions. Now is your chance!  Many disciplines will permit you to take even upper-level courses as long as you have had a certain introductory course and/or are of upperclass status; check the pre-reqs in the catalogue.

As always, your faculty advisor is a great resource for suggested electives. Think broadly about how you can best make use of these opportunities.

Thinking About Graduate School

Microsoft Clip Art

 

by Amy T. Losordo

When is the best time to go to graduate or professional school?  The decision is yours.  Some go directly after completing their undergraduate studies while others work a few years.  Some have even decided to attend after they retire.  The decision depends on what is best for you.

Reasons for going to graduate school:

  1. To reach your career goals; a means to the end; necessary in your desired field.
  2. To improve or expand your career opportunities.
  3. To change career directions.
  4. To fulfill your intellectual curiosity and passion.

Microsoft Clip Art

Bad reasons for  going to graduate school*.   Is your motivation strong enough to justify the time, energy, and costs?

  1. Avoiding the job market – you may be delaying your opportunity to develop and test out job related skills.  Working will provide you with experiences to make relevant connections to your graduate studies.
  2. Following their dream – you’ve been told you should be a doctor, but you really don’t share that dream.  Will you be studying something you don’t enjoy?
  3. Deferring your student loans – you will be adding to your current balance unless you have been awarded a fellowship, teaching or research assistantships.  Even with funding, you will be losing out on a full time salary.
  4. Clueless – a strong graduate program will not accept someone lacking in direction.  A good self assessment and working with your career counselor may help you jump start on how to find your path.
  5. Study mode – you think after spending a minimum of sixteen years in school (1st-12th grade plus 4 years in college) you will lose the motivation to keep going or forget how to study?  If anything, you might find yourself needing a break.  Take a single graduate level course or better yet, take courses to improve your writing and analytical skills.
  6. Friends are going – graduate school is different from undergraduate school.  Your peers will be focused.

Microsoft Clip Art

Benefits to working before going back to graduate school.

  1. Gain experience – learn more about the world of work and  yourself (interests, skills, and what matters).
  2. Employer paid – some companies will fund your continued education.
  3. Much needed rest.  RE-energize and refresh before devoting yourself to another few years of intensive study.
  4. Self exploration – you will learn a lot about yourself in a job, even in one you hate.
  5. Brain maturity – The prefrontal cortex is not yet fully developed until around 25. That’s the part of the brain that helps you to inhibit impulses and to plan and organize your behavior to reach a goal.

Call ACP at 919.760.8343 for an appointment to continue this conversation and explore your options.

Source: * http://www.idealist.org/info/GradEducation/BadReasons

Cox, Tony (2011, October 10), Brain Maturity Extends Well Beyond Teen Years, Tell Me More, NPR News, Retrieved.  January 2, 2012 from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=141164708