The Career Services Guide to Thanksgiving Break

By Devlin Brush

During the semester it can be hard to find time to think about your career path. Once you’re done with class, it’s time for student org meetings, homework, work, and exercise. And once you’re done with all that… Well, often it’s time for bed. When things slow down for Thanksgiving Break, it can be nice to take the time to relax and unwind before hitting the books again hard for final exam season. However, it can also be an invaluable time to start the cogs turning in your career process while your other obligations are on hold for the weekend. From networking to improving your “look”, here’s a few ways that you can get ahead this Thanksgiving break:  Continue reading

How Social Should Your Social Media Presence Really Be?

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By Sarah Evon

It’s no secret that the power of social media is rapidly increasing in our society today. It has veered away from just a Gen Z audience and has grown to include employers, businesses, younger generations, and yes, even our parents are learning to become active social media-lites.

As students, we all know that we need to monitor our Facebooks, Twitters, Instagrams, etc. when going through the job search process. It is inevitable that employers will be using all of the tricks up their sleeves to see what image we put out on more than just our resumes and cover letters.

As I’ve spent more time perusing the “careers” tab on the websites of potential future employers. Looking more deeply into the job search and what I want to be in the “real world”, I’ve noticed how important it is to be aware of my social media presence.

I’m a huge list-oriented person, so I’ve compiled a sort of “Social Media Goals” to-do list for myself. (And of course, it’s an ongoing list…)

  • I’m not Kim Kardashian – none of us are – so while I may “like” her Instagram photos, I’m not going to use her posts as a guide for my own. And by that I mean no selfies. Studies have shown that posting an excessive amount of selfies can actually damage your work and personal relationships. According to a joint study conducted by the University of Birmingham, the University of Edinburgh, and Heriot-Watt University, “increased frequency of sharing photographs of the self, regardless of the type of target sharing the photographs, is related to a decrease in attachment.”
  • As with most things in life, keep it positive. I’m not one for Facebook statuses or really sharing what I’m thinking via social media, but it is important to be mindful of what I’m “liking” on Facebook and Instagram and “favoriting” or “retweeting” on Twitter.
  • Lastly, because I know that potential employers can access my social media accounts, that doesn’t mean I have to limit myself on them. In fact, a goal of mine is to actually increase my social media presence, but in a thoughtful, creative way. As a communications major hoping to go into the advertising/marketing/public relations field, it’s helpful for my career to have a good presence on social media.

While this list is slightly personalized, I encourage all students to keep in mind your social media presence and how you appear to employers, as well as to your peers. Whether that be through a set of goals like me or another method that works better for you, like Nike preaches, Just Do It!

Graduated Without a Job?: What to Do Next

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By Marcie Waters

So, you’ve graduated college and are now faced with the seemingly daunting task of finding your first full-time job. By this point, you are sick of hearing, “Do you have a job yet?” and “What’s your plan?” You are just hoping something falls into place before the lease on your college apartment ends in August. If this sounds familiar, you should first know that you are not alone. The good news, however, is that there are some steps you can take to ensure you are not unemployed for long:

  1. Prepare Your Elevator Pitch – While it’s tempting to avoid answering questions like, “What kind of job do you want?”, use this as an opportunity to make connections. Every person you talk to has the potential to help you or know someone who could be a great connection. That’s why it is important to have a quick elevator pitch prepared. Tell the person (1) what you’ve done so far, (2) what you would like to do in the future, and (3) why you chose that area to focus on.
  2. Network – You may have heard that finding a job is really all about whom you know, and that is not entirely untrue. You can network in many different ways; consider these:
    1. Asking for help – This is the simplest form of networking, and you shouldn’t be afraid to do it. Just asking someone for help with your job search can go a long way. A great way to do this is, at the end of your elevator pitch, to ask, “Do you know anyone who might be able to help me get into this industry?” You could be surprised to find they have a great connection!
    2. Social Media – Nowadays, social media is really where the job search is at. Utilize LinkedIn and Twitter to reach out to professionals in your desired industry. You can also use these sites to look for job postings.
    3. Informational InterviewsInformational interviews are a great way to obtain knowledge about an industry or position you are interested in, which can make it easier to successfully apply and interview for a job. They are also great ways to meet people in your desired industry and get advice. Ask the professional how they got their current job. Maybe their story will help you determine what your path should be.
  3. Gain Experience – If you feel you haven’t found your dream job yet because you don’t have the right kind of experience, you can try to gain more experience before applying. Volunteering, part-time jobs, and internships are all ways you can gain a little more experience that may give you the edge in the job market. Keep in mind that to obtain your dream job you may have to work your way up the company ladder. Consider taking a job in a lower position in the company you want to work for; many companies prefer to hire from within, and you could have a better chance of ending up in your dream job.

Follow these tips to get your job search moving. If you are still unsure about what you should be doing to secure that full-time job, make an appointment with a career advisor for some more advice tailored to your situation.

6 Career Lessons from Harry Potter

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By Marcie Waters

From Harry Potter, one can undoubtedly learn many life lessons (“Wit beyond measure is a man’s greatest treasure.”), but did you ever realize the great career advice J.K. Rowling indirectly provides in her magical series? Through Ron, Harry, and Hermione’s seven years at Hogwarts, they pick up skills and practices that are crucial when looking for and starting a new job. Consider these tips:

harrypotter11. Get experience before committing to a career path.
Harry definitely got a lot of experience fighting the dark arts before deciding to become an auror. You can gain experience in an industry by interning, volunteering, or joining a student org or professional organization. Conducting an informational interview with a professional in the industry you’re interested in can also help you to gain an idea of what the field is like. It’s beneficial to have a grasp on an industry, so you can be sure you will like the industry you’re in before accepting a full time job in it.

harrypotter22. Networking. Networking. Networking.
Harry gained many connections throughout his time at Hogwarts by getting to know his professors and fellow students. He even attended networking events, like Professor Slughorn’s “Slug Club” dinners of outstanding students. Anyone can be a potential networking connection, but you can get started by reaching out to professors, alumni, and supervisors. Attend LSCS events like the career fairs, mock interviews, and employer panels to meet professionals. You can also utilize LinkedIn and Twitter to network online with professionals.

harrypotter33. Work hard.
Hard work does not go unnoticed. Take it from Hermione, who worked hard at Hogwarts; she was recognized by her peers and superiors many times for being the “brightest witch of her age”. Supervisors and professors will be more likely to give you a recommendation if they see you working hard. By working hard, you are also likely to get more done and could have more completed projects in your portfolio.

harrypotter44. Do not be afraid to fail, but learn from it.
When Ron was learning charms, he failed to correctly execute the “Wingardium leviosa” spell. He learned from his errors though, and was able to successfully use the spell to rescue Hermione from the troll in the girl’s bathroom. Failure is inevitable, but as long as you keep an open mind and learn from the mistakes that you make, you can improve your skills. These situations are not only great learning experiences, but also make for great examples to talk about in future job interviews to show how you problem solve and overcome challenges.

harrypotter55. Teach yourself.
When Harry, Ron, and Hermione were dissatisfied with how little they were learning in Defense Against the Dark Arts, they formed Dumbledore’s Army to teach themselves and others how to fight the dark arts. If you are in a situation where you feel like you don’t know as much as you should, do some research. There are many online resources that can teach you about an industry, how to use software, or offer advice on strategies. Of course, don’t hesitate to ask coworkers and supervisors questions, but you can also impress them with knowledge you’ve acquired on your own.

harrypotter66. Meet with a career advisor.
Fifth-year Hogwarts students meet with a professor to discuss their career plans to prepare for their N.E.W.T.s. Harry met with Professor McGonagall to discuss his plans for becoming an auror. If you’re unsure how to make your dream career a reality, visit Career Services to discuss what the next steps should be in your career path. LSCS can also review resumes and cover letters, conduct mock interviews, and discuss job search strategies.

With these tips, you are now ready to face the Dark Lord (or at least your first job).

Not Your Parents’ Job Search: Using Twitter to Network

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By Marcie Waters

The job search has definitely changed since our parents were looking for their first full-time jobs. One of the biggest differences is social media’s role in the job search process. Now sites like LinkedIn and Twitter are emerging as top networking tools.

Why Use Twitter?
Twitter allows you to easily connect with businesses and organizations that you’re interested in working for. It is an easy way to stay up-to-date on news, trends, and ideas in your desired industry. It’s a convenient way to network with professionals. Each tweet is capped at 140 characters, forcing you to stick to simple questions and answers; this can be less intimidating than other forms of networking. Twitter is an inherently public platform, so you don’t have to feel like you’re stalking a professional by asking them a question about their career. Its public nature also allows you to share content that tells other professionals about your interests and accomplishments.

Getting Started:
Make sure you have a professional Twitter profile photo. Follow the same guidelines as you would for LinkedIn: a headshot in professional dress with a neutral background. Before uploading the photo, name the file with your first and last name to make it more easily searchable. Make sure you have a Twitter handle that is appropriate for the professional world. Also set a location on your profile. If you have a personal website, include the link on your profile as well. If you don’t, include a link to your LinkedIn account (If you don’t have one of those, check out this blog post to get you started).

Write a Twitter bio that includes keywords about the industry/career you are looking for. You can also tag an account you are connected with, like a company you are currently interning for. Including a characteristic, hobby, or humorous phrase can make you more personable. So if Don Draper was writing a Twitter bio, he could say something like “Creative director at @McCannErickson advertising, former partner at @SCDP, spontaneous road trip taker”. His Twitter could now be included in search results for “creative director” and “advertising”, so think about how you would want employers to find you.

What to Tweet About:
It’s important to share valuable content, which includes news, how-to’s, and fun (appropriate) items. These tweets could include useful blog posts, videos, or services that you’ve found, and will help future employers get an idea of who you are as a person. You can also tweet links to an online portfolio or photos of your projects (Use a URL shortener to conserve characters and keep tweets readable). Use relevant hash tags to make them more searchable. Try to get on the radar of professionals in your industry by tweeting at them to ask for help or advice about professional matters.

You can also join in Twitter Chats, which are organized conversations on Twitter at a certain time around a specific topic. Participating in a Twitter chat in your industry will allow you to connect with others in your industry and gain information on related topics.

A final Twitter tool that you should take advantage of in your job search is the lists feature of Twitter. It allows you to group similar Twitter accounts together on a list that you can check separately from the rest of your followers. Make a list of companies you would like to work for or of accounts that tweet job openings. You can also subscribe to others’ lists if you don’t want to create your own.

The final, and maybe most important, tips to keep in mind while tweeting during your job search are: keep your account current and proofread every tweet. An account that hasn’t been active since 2012 looks lazy or like you have nothing to say. Tweeting with spelling and grammar errors makes you look careless. Keep these tips in mind and start networking like it’s the twenty-first century!

How to Impress Employers With Your Study Abroad Experience

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By Marcie Waters

More and more students are taking advantage of opportunities to study, intern, and volunteer abroad. These are often impactful and meaningful experiences that stay in their minds for a long time afterwards (over a year later, I’m still driving people crazy by telling them how great Seville is). What not every student realizes, however, is that a study abroad experience is a great asset to the job hunt. In an increasingly global business world, cultural competency is a necessary skill, and an experience like studying abroad provides many talking points to show off that skill and more. If you’re unsure whether you’ve gained cultural competency from your time abroad, consider that a person who has cultural competency values differences, is responsive to diversity, understands the importance of culture in interpersonal interactions, and promotes quality cross-cultural interactions.

If you’re not sure what other skills you many have gained from studying abroad, think about these:

  • Communication Skills: Did you learn/improve foreign language skills? Did you participate in group discussions with people from diverse backgrounds? Did you communicate with others in stressful or challenging situations?
  • Organizational Skills: Did you successfully juggle multiple demands? Did you have to prioritize? Did you better your time management skills?
  • Interpersonal Skills: Did your appreciation of diversity or cultural awareness increase? Are you now more open to differences, new ideas, and other perspectives? Did you learn to be sensitive to cultural customs and norms?
  • Intrapersonal Skills: Did you take initiative and risks? Did you have to learn to adapt quickly? Did you handle stressful situations? Did you gain self-confidence or independence?

Now that you know what skills you have gained from studying abroad, you may be wondering how you can utilize these during the job search. One way is to effectively include your experience on your resume. For this, you have three options. Pick which ones make the most sense for you.

  1. Include in the education section. You can note a specific skill or skills that you learned through the program, such as language acquisition.educationyellow
  2. Include in the experience section. This works especially well if you completed an internship or relevant volunteer experience. experienceyellow
  3. Include in activities section. Note any volunteer experience or special activities you participated in while abroad.activitiesyellow

Of course, you can also discuss your experience in an interview. Nearly every employer asks a behavior-based question during an interview, like “Tell me about a time you had to solve a problem on your own” or “When was the last time you took a significant risk and what were the results?”. Chances are you’ve got a study abroad scenario that would be a great example of solving a problem, taking a risk, or making a difficult decision. Just remember to focus on how the skills you gained from the situation are directly applicable to the particular job for which you are interviewing. Depending on the geographic reach of the company and position you’re applying for, mentioning your cultural competency will also be beneficial.

At the very least, a study abroad experience gives you an interesting topic to bring up in an interview if you can’t think of anything else to talk about, and you probably should talk about it!

Saving Face on Facebook (and Other Social Media Sites)

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By Leah Peterson

A couple of weeks ago the L&S Career Services staff got the chance to meet with the founder of Social Assurity, a business that promotes proactive social media use in a way that helps students or job seekers by creating a social media presence that embodies their own personality as well as showcases their skills that employers and colleges are looking for. Having the chance to hear and ask questions about online personal branding really opened my eyes to what I should be doing with my own online presence and made me realize that some things I originally thought about Twitter and Facebook are not always necessarily true.

What I walked away with from this meeting are some important points that all college students and job seekers should know:

  1. Let your personality shine through online. Like or retweet pages that hold some interest to you. Post about things you enjoy doing. Make this online space a true insight into your character and remember to be authentic to yourself.
  2. Don’t overshare, especially if it’s complaining about work. Employers don’t want to see you whining about your coworkers and bosses and how much you hate your current job because you could do the same thing at their company. In general, it’s a good rule of thumb to not use your social media pages as personal diaries.
  3. There are numerous ways to become more noticeable on LinkedIn. Some of the ways you can get yourself to stand out is by putting keywords that describe you and what you aspire to be into your summary statement (so when employers search for these key terms, your page comes up). Join groups on LinkedIn to broaden your outreach to people with similar backgrounds and interests, and get those recommendations on your profile from classmates, coworkers, supervisors, and professors.
  4. Don’t erase your online presence, but rather build on top of it. So yeah, you can keep some of those drinking pictures (as long as every other picture isn’t of you with some sort of alcoholic beverage), but make sure to intersperse other appropriate, telling features about yourself throughout your page.
  5. Portfolios and resumes don’t have to be limited to original means. You can also take advantage of online sites or creative outlets like Instagram or Pinterest to showcase past projects you have done or your prior experiences.
  6. Networking can be done on sites besides LinkedIn. Social media sites like Twitter are actually becoming a big source for job seekers to reach out to the companies they’d like to work for by getting involved in online chats.
  7. Avoid a case of mistaken identity by making your pages easier to identify. While some cases can be cool (Googling my own name results in a motorcycle stuntwoman), others can be detrimental to the online image you’ve been trying so hard to preserve, like criminal records or inappropriate content. To help combat a mistaken identity, associate your name with more identifiable features, like tacking on “Wisconsin” or “Madison” or even something as simple as your middle initial to your name and page.

As a college student, you should be concerned about what sort of image you are putting out into the online world. Sure, some things you post may seem silly or irrelevant to what an employer may be looking for, but as long as it speaks about you—and that you’re proud of that image—don’t be afraid to put your own sort of brand onto what you post on social media sites. Jobs want to see your personality shine through on these platforms. Also keep these tips in mind when sprucing up your social media and have it be a source that displays yourself and work, rather than it being a reason for not getting offered that job.