Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"If I could go back..."

If you weren't at our Life after Marquette panel last night...you missed out! We had recent graduates from MU talk about what they would do the same or differently if they could go back to where you all are sitting.

Here is what we learned:
1. Get an internship!!! Even though one of our panelists has a great position now, he really wishes he did more to get experience before graduating.

2. Join something, Join anything. Whether it be student organizations or Intramurals or MU activities - just get involved. They ALL wished they did this more.

3. Talk. Anyone, anywhere (but not about Anything). Some of the panelists talked about how they wished they shadowed more, did informational interviews with professionals in the field, and in general - just did more to find out about companies, the field, and potential positions.

4. Do less "assuming" and more "exploring". Many of them discussed the fact that they ended up in a company or career they had not necessarily expected. You might think you ONLY want to work in an agency or go to law school - but keep an open mind. They LOVE what they are doing but definitely didn't expect it!

5. Seriously...just go to Career Services (and no, I swear I didn't make this up). Coming back and seeing all that we do for students they wondered why they didn't meet with a counselor. Whether you think you've got it figure out or you are freaked out that you didn't start anything - we are here to help - so use us!

Don't you want to look back and say "I wouldn't change a thing!" If so - make sure you are on track and come visit us.

Monday, March 30, 2009

It's Career Week!

Welcome to our biggest week of the year: Career Week! From now until Friday, we'll be hosting a number of great events to highlight different career fields and opportunities. And as incentive, if you attend 4 events during the course of the week, you will receive a free padfolio.

Here are the events this week, and for additional information on each event please visit our website


Post Graduate Volunteer Opportunities Panel, 12-1pm, AMU 254
Science Careers Panel, 12-1pm, AMU 252
Life After Marquette, 4-5pm, Career Services Center
CIRCLES Speed Networking, 5:30-7pm, AMU Ballrooms, REGISTRATION REQUIRED


Technical Careers Panel, 12:30-1:30pm, AMU 252
Non-Profit Careers Panel, 12:30-1:30pm, AMU 254
Long Distance Job Searching, 4-5pm, AMU 227
Creating Your Portfolio Panel, 4:20-5:35pm, Weasler Auditorium
Majors Fair, 6-8pm, AMU Ballrooms


Communications Careers Panel, 12-1pm, AMU Ballroom D
Non-Traditional Careers Panel, 12-1pm, AMU 305
Finding an Internship, 4-5pm, AMU 252


Environmental Careers Panel, 12:30-1:30pm, AMU 305
Rotational Programs Panel, 12:30-1:30pm, AMU 313
Professional Networking Using LinkedIn, 4-5pm, AMU 313


Careers in Government, 12-1pm, AMU 305
Entrepeneurial Careers Panel, 12-1pm, AMU 313
Getting a Job with the Social Security Administration, 1-2pm, AMU 305
International Careers in the Federal Government, 2-3pm, DS 105

We hope to see you at these events all week!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

10 Ways The Job Search Is Like Marathon Training

As everyone around here knows, May will be a big month for me. Not only will I be graduating with my Master's degree but I will be celebrating Memorial Day weekend by running my first marathon. Here are 10 ways I think the job search is like my marathon training:

1) Commitment to the long run- Progressively building muscle and endurance as well as making connections going through the job search process can take a long time. Each involves commitment from the start, making goals and making time for the training, networking and applying. Overall dedication is key to success in either way.

2) Networking helps- Whether its tweeting about what to eat after a long run or how to break into the book publishing industry, there is no better way to gather information than doing your research and networking with those who have done it before or do it on a regular basis. Social media websites (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook) can all be very useful in getting connected to others with similar interests or career goals.

3) Take care of yourself- The job search can be mentally draining, marathon training can be both physically and mentally exhausting. The key to survival is listening to your body and to yourself and knowing what you need to give 110%. Whether it's a rest day off of training, visiting a career counselor for some help, having a good cry or a eating homemade meal from your mommy, do what you need to do to feel refreshed and ready to go!

4) Dress for success and come prepared- You're not going to show up to a marathon wearing a business suit and you certainly aren't going to wear your running shorts to a job interview. It is also important to remember what you need for the event, whether that's copies of your resume for an interview or your recovery shake for your post-race snack.

5) Details count- Careful editing of your job search materials, including all e-mails and other correspondence, and paying attention to the details in a job description and your interview responses are important things to pay attention to in the job search. Similarly, in order to prepare for a marathon, you need to track mileage and nutrition. Things that might seem obsessive to some people are what may make the difference between your accomplishments and their's.

6) Take set-backs in stride, celebrate victories- Who doesn't have an off day once in a while? Don't get defeated if you have a bad run or an interview doesn't go as expected. Learn from the experience and move on. Also remember to celebrate all victories as small as some may be!

7) Stay positive and keep the ultimate goal in mind- You have to continuously have a goal in mind and stay focused in order to get there. Remember why you are doing what you are doing.

8) The Sprint- Sometime quick and speedy gets the job done. A short, speed training day will help improve your overall time in running and sometimes a quick search of job postings will lead you to the job of your dreams. The application may be due tomorrow so being prepared ahead of time will make even your shortest race a victorious one!

9) The Long Run- Interviewing can be as exhausting as a marathon and either can take up to a full day. Getting your rest and preparing ahead of time will help you in the long run.

10) Be PROUD of yourself- Whether it is a job offer or a finisher's metal that you walk away with, be proud of how far you've come and what you've achieved! You may not finish in your goal time and you may not get your dream job at first, but you've made it through the first step on to something that you can build on for the future!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cover Letters Count

I was talking to a professor last weekend who told me that when he left his two-year post doctoral fellowship at Stanford his supervising faculty told him that the only reason he brought him to interview for the position was because he WAS THE ONLY CANDIDATE WITHOUT A TYPO ON HIS COVER LETTER! Subsequently, he was hired and is thriving in his field; all that because he wrote a strong, well-written cover letter.

There is always debate among career counselors and recruiters alike as to how important a cover letter really is. I consider it an essential job search piece as it can be a strong writing sample demonstrating a candidate's skill in communication. These days, when communication can be whittled down to a LOL or BRB, any demonstration of this skill is highly valued.

Whether ten people read your cover letter or just one, it's important that it be perfectly written and include these three main points:
  • Catchy introduction... why you are applying
  • Strong pitch... your skills, experience, and passion for the position
  • Call to action... what you want, how to reach you

Don't underestimate the power of a cover letter!

For tips on writing your cover letter click here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Job A Day Keeps Unemployment Away

Or so we would hope at least.

One site that I've been looking at recently is One Day One Job. This site is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Each day the author takes a look at entry level jobs in a different organization. Today is actually their 500th job featured on the site (at least assuming I counted properly among the archives).

The thing I enjoy most about One Day One Job is that they look at organizations of all shapes and sizes. Sure, they've profiled huge organizations like PricewaterhouseCoopers and Draftfcb, but they've also looked at some very unique companies as well, such as CustomInk or Thunderhead Alliance.

They even featured I Can Has Cheezburger? Yes, the Lolcats people.

One Day One Job is great about giving recommendations on how to apply for positions at these organizations, and they really do tend to focus on the interests of the current college student/upcoming graduate. I promise you can find something on this site that would be of interest to you!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Be Careful on Twitter

Namely, don't do this!

The same goes with Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc. You have to assume anything you write, even on someone else's page, is going to be found. The internet doesn't forget...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Recipe For Success

I was reading through some discussions on LinkedIn the other day and saw an article posted that presented an idea that forced me to think a little bit outside the box. Although the overall premise was focused more toward professionals seeking a new job, there were some tips that I would strongly recommend to any student as well. The author called it his "recipe for success", and since creativity isn't necessarily my forte, I decided to use that title as well.

The recipe for success is a very simple four step process that anyone can implement.

1. Make a list of all the things you love doing or things that intrigue you that you'd like to try doing. This is brainstorming so don't limit the list or judge it; write down everything you can think of.

2. Separate the activities you do with people from the activities you do alone. For example, gardening, reading, meditating, and writing are alone activities. Volunteering to run a fundraiser is with people.

3. Look at the activities you do alone and figure out if you can (and want to) do them in a way that includes other people. For example, join a garden club. Or a reading or meditation group. Or write something that other people read (a blog counts!). If you can (and want to) make them activities that include other people, keep them on the list. If not, then cross them off the list.

4. Now's the fun part: Spend your time doing things you love (or have always wanted to try) with other people who also love doing those things. If possible, take a leadership role.

These are all things that any college student can do. Getting yourself out there doing things you enjoy will showcase you in a positive light. When people see you doing things you enjoy, they see the best side of you, which is the side you always want to portray in your job search. And like always, you never know who might have that golden connection that lands you the dream job, so you may as well look around while having a good time!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Your barn door is open...

When I was a sophomore in college I took a drawing class. Our professor was a professional body builder, a tall black man named Willie who was one of my favorite teachers ever. His career choice seemed so opposite of what one might expect from a man of his stature but once I saw his passion, not only for drawing and ceramics, but for teaching college students, I knew he was right where he needed to be.

One day when we were learning "line drawing" he gave us a short 10 minute lecture on the process. While he was speaking I noticed that his fly was down. I'm sure everyone saw... there were about 20 students in the class. As soon as he was done with his lecture, we were getting our supplies and starting our drawings. I approached him and told him that his fly was down. He thanked me and quickly zipped up.

As soon as everyone was starting their projects, Willie asked the class how many of them had noticed his fly was down. No one answered but many chuckled and looked around as if they had noticed. He pointed out that I was the only one who told him; and how much he appreciated me for that.

In my years since then, I have had many opportunities to share in similar moments... a crumb on the face, a spill on a blouse, and one of my favorites: a booger in the nose; sometimes I was the victim of such minor embarrassments.

Remember the golden rule? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. While it may seem awkward and impolite, you are doing others a favor by letting them know. Be respectful when letting someone know; just as you would want them to be.

Thanks to my experience years ago with art professor Willie, I will keep on closing barn doors, one at a time!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Live from New York!

We promised you a blog entry from the Big East Tournament in NYC, so here I am! This city is buzzing about March Madness and especially the BIG MU win! Wow!

As I got off the plane in my MU gear last night, a guy told me, "Bring back a win!" I laughed, but realized that Marquette's school spirit is contagious and I think all fans are both relieved and thrilled after the great game yesterday.

I will be meeting with other career services folks from the Big East Career Consortium today to help get ready for the fair tomorrow, but hope to get a ticket to the game against Villanova this afternoon.

Stay tuned and Go Marquette!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Comic Relief

Everyone loves comics, right? Whether its Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, or The Far Side, it seems that most people have some sort of humor they prefer.

Well, we're no different. So what we've decided to do was to make our own comic that can illustrate some of the pitfalls of job searching. Because let's face it, stories of things gone wrong are funnier than stories where everything goes to plan.

Here's our first foray into career comics, with the help of an online program, because if there's one thing we don't have (and I especially lack), its an art degree. Click on the actual comic to see a bigger, more legible version!

Writer's Block

Okay, if you are anything like me - you HATE developing those professional emails to "network" with those in my field. In an attempt to help myself (along with ALL of you) - I developed some templates I hope will be helpful.

Love Linkedin like me? - Here is a great template:

Dear Name:

I am currently a [year in school] at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin studying [Major/Minor]. I’m graduating this May and looking to start my career in the (be specific) field and am looking to connect with professionals in [State] for networking purposes. I have past experiences with [list broad experiences]. Your [specifc] background on Linkedin is very intriguing. I was wondering if you would be willing to answer some questions I have about the (specific) field or offer any advice to someone in my situation.

Any suggestions you have would be appreciated.

Name (signature)

Marquette University, May 2009 Graduate
[List college]

This template can be used for any type of correspondence so save it as a word document and tweak it for various types of emails.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Making Bad Days Better

Let's face it, we all have bad days. It's easy to get discouraged and feel a lot of anxiety about the job search. Just about the only thing that clears my head these days is running. One of many reasons I'm training for a marathon is because the hours of running help me channel my energy (otherwise known as stress) into something positive. But training for a marathon is not for everyone. Instead, I suggest you to find your own outlet for stress, something positive to focus on when you just can't seem to find a smile. Maybe blogging?

One thing I did today was pull out old letters of recommendation that I had saved from previous job searches. Those letters reminded me that I do have something good to offer and there are a lot of people out there that want to see me succeed. Remembering your past achievements can help remind you to focus on the future success that is ahead of you!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

It's March Madness!

Happy Spring Break!

For those of you who are headed back east for spring break or are planning to attend the Big East Basketball Tournament, have you considered attending the Big East Career Fair on Friday, March 13th? For those of you looking for an internship or full-time position, this is a great opportunity to meet with over 100 employers looking for all majors!

Registration for the Big East Career Fair is still open! You can also register on site on Friday. The Big East Career Fair website also has all of the important information for the day of the fair, how to prepare, what to bring, etc.

I will be in NYC cheering on MU and will be working the fair on Friday, so I hope to see you there! If you have any questions about the fair,email me at kristin.finn@marquette.edu

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Me, Myself, and I

There are tons of things you should know about when you are searching for a job. Some of them are simple, like what company you are interviewing with at the time (don't laugh, we've seen this mistake made in the past!). Others can be rather difficult, such as all the trouble shooting problems Google has you answer during interviews.

But if there is one thing you should know more than anything else when looking for employment, it is yourself. After all, you are the product that you are marketing. If you can't talk well about yourself, who can?

So how do you go about knowing yourself? Shouldn't you already know all of these things?

It's very possible that you do know each of these things before the interview. But it's equally possible that you don't know how to articulate them as well as you possibly can. Let's say you tell everyone you are a great communicator. This is a skill that many employers value and covet. If you talk about how you are a great communicator, you better be able to back that up by using your communcation skills to demonstrate that. Otherwise you've lost some credibility right away.

To prepare to talk about yourself, list out all of your skills and abilities. This kind of activity can be daunting for many people, but if you can materialize these traits, it will make it ten times easier for you when speaking with potential employers. In addition to your skills and abilities, make sure you have a solid example that can go along with each of those traits. Again, you don't want to be the person promoting communication skills and not being able to back them up.

A nice way to package all of this together is in what we like to call your 60 second commercial. In just one minute you can market yourself effectively to anyone you meet. The three main points you will want to touch upon are:

1. Where you are now (I'm currently a senior at Marquette University majoring in Chemistry. I am also an intern at XYZ lab where I...)

2. Where you've been (Last summer I worked as a research assistant with Dr. _____ where I worked on...)

3. Where you want to go (I'm looking for a position in _______ where I can use my skills....)

If you can master these simple things about yourself, you will find the job search much much easier. It's not everything you need to know by any means, but the rest of the information is out there for anyone to find. The information on you can only come from yourself.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Get your head out of the sand!

My fellow career center directors keep telling me to stop spreading gloom and doom... they say it's not so bad out there. Well, I disagree. It is bad out there; but that doesn't mean YOU (yes you!) can't find a job.

On Sunday I was listening to National Public Radio (NPR... it's all I listen to); specifically Marketplace Money and heard a story that gave some good advice.

Basically it was about people being too scared to open their 401K statements (retirement accounts) being equal to hiding your head in the sand. We need to know what is going on in order to effectively survive and navigate through it. This economic mess isn't going to magically go away. We need to be armed with the right tools to succeed.

The same is true for the college job seeker. Don't hide in the sand, instead, be prepared. Know what is going on, know how it affects you, know what you need to do to move through it.

Here are four actions you can take RIGHT now to be more successful in your job search:

  1. Clarify your career goal... you MUST know what you want. When asked you need to be able to tell anyone what you are seeking.

  2. Know your skills... you have hundreds of them... pick the top ten, make them relevant to your career goal, and be able to give an example that would demonstrate each one.

  3. Communicate your skills and experiences effectively... this means be a pro at interviewing... this takes practice!

  4. Master networking... this is the key to finding a job right now.

Each of these actions can be developed by anyone... including you! The Career Services Center have resources, services, and coaching for each of these.

Get your head out of the sand and get out there.

Next week I'll tackle each action item individually...until then