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

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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.

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!

Be a Good Intern Every Step of the Way

09-2014-interns-01By Marcie Waters

For many students, an internship is their first look into the career world. This can be exciting, but also a little nerve wracking, especially if you’re trying to get your foot in the door at a certain company or are hoping to score a great reference for future job applications. Having an internship experience on your resume is positive, as it demonstrates to potential employers that you take initiative in your career. However, having a successful internship experience in which you learned new skills, beefed up your portfolio, made networking connections, and received helpful feedback from supervisors is even better. Here are some tips that can help you be a fantastic intern, while getting the most out of your internship.

First Day Tips:
Arrive early and dress appropriately. While first impressions may not be everything, they are definitely important. Arriving early and looking nice will show that you are prepared and professional.
Be friendly and introduce yourself. Smile and introduce yourself to everyone you meet. Know your position and department title, so that you can tell them your specific place in the company. Everyone you’re working with has the potential to be an important networking connection.
Ask questions and be an active learner. If you don’t know or understand things about the company or the workplace, ask. It’s better to get simple questions answered now, so you’re not asking about things you should already know later on. Be an active learner by doing some research on your own. Google information about the company and its work to better understand the environment you’ll be working in.

During the Internship:
Be proactive. Try to avoid sitting idly; you’re not helping the company or learning anything by doing that. Ask for more projects or create one for yourself (Just make sure it is worthwhile).
Listen carefully and take notes. You can really learn a lot from supervisors and coworkers. Take notes, especially during meetings. This way, you can reference them to avoid asking silly questions later. They can also be useful when you are in a job interview and need to provide examples of your prior work experiences.
Follow texting and social media policies. It can be tempting to tweet about your cool new internship or Instagram a picture of your very own desk, but if a supervisor was to see something posted during work hours, it will make it look like you are not doing your job.

Final Days:
Send thank you notes. Thanking your supervisors for their help and guidance during your internship experience will leave a good impression of you in their minds.
Request feedback. Getting feedback from supervisors and collaborators can be a great way to discover your strengths and weaknesses. Not only does this allow you a catalyst for personal improvement, but you also have a starting point for answering future job interview questions.
Get contact info. Ask your supervisor for their contact info. They can be a great resource while navigating future career searches. Make sure to also ask your supervisor if they are willing to be a reference for you in the future.

The Lowdown on LinkedIn

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By Marcie Waters

LinkedIn can initially be a bit baffling. You may have heard it described as the “professional Facebook” but are unsure exactly what “professional” entails. It is important to remember that LinkedIn’s purpose is to connect employers with potential employees, so you should only include attributes and experiences that you would want an employer to see. Additionally, LinkedIn is a social networking site, meaning just like Facebook or Twitter, it is most effective at connecting you with others when you are actively social, posting statuses and contributing to group discussions. If you’re still not sure how to get started, here are a few essential tips:

  1. Add a high-quality photo. It does not have to be professionally taken, but make sure it is appropriate and is of only you. It should be clear and not over-edited (with filters, color distortion, etc.). Make sure you are dressed appropriately in the photo and look put-together.
  2. Get a custom URL. On your profile, under your photo, is a URL that directs to your LinkedIn profile. Click on it to customize the link with your first and last name to make your profile more easily searchable for employers.
  3. Fill in your profile completely. LinkedIn provides sections on your profile, like Education, Experience, and Skills & Endorsements. Fill as many sections out as completely as you can to reach “All-Star” status. LinkedIn will actually monitor your profile completeness with a circular meter on the right-hand side of the screen, so you know how well you’re doing. Having a complete profile increases your search ranking with employers, so it is extremely important.
UW-Madison Letters & Science Career Services LinkedIn Group

UW-Madison Letters & Science Career Services LinkedIn Group

Once you have your profile together, the best way to utilize LinkedIn is by joining groups and following employers related to the industries you are interested in. You can get started by joining the UW-Madison Letters & Science Career Services group. Once you join a group, you can like and comment on posts and discussions, creating a network! It is also helpful to gain “connections” to increase your visibility. Connect with past employers, teachers, and friends. No matter what industry they are in, they could be a mutual connection to someone in your desired industry.

Business Insider reported that in 2011, 10.2 million people found their current jobs through LinkedIn. By utilizing the above tips, you could be one of those people too!