Marketing Yourself: Turning What You Don’t Have into Something You Do

-Kristy Virgo

What do you think of when you think about the skills you have? Good listener, attention to detail, responsible. Sure, these ‘skills’ take up space on a resume, but what do they really mean, and, do these skills really apply to you?

This week’s blog isn’t just about skills. It’s about turning something you don’t have into something you do. This aligns perfectly with the frequently asked question, “What is your greatest weakness?”, because it’s all about the title of this blog.

Let’s think this through. Sometimes it’s as easy to see as an elephant playing the trombone, whereas other times it’s hard to see, like a lake in a desert. It’s a matter of perspective- how you perceive your skills, and how you market yourself with those skills and qualities.

For the purpose of this blog, we are going to use two make-believe profile students. We have Janet, the engineering major, and Carl, the social sciences major.

Janet & Carl

Janet is in a program that focuses on engineering-related skills. She gets hands on experience through her course work and has never had a part-time job to obtain other, ‘transferable’ skills, but she has learned those skills (time management, team work, goal setting / accomplishment, report-writing) through group work and everyday interactions. She volunteers at a local performing arts theater where she has been exposed to the thespian world.

Carl is in a program that focuses on helping people. Being in the social sciences degree field, he can adapt to either continue his education to get his, Master’s, Doctorate, or PhD, seek a job in case management or go into Social Work (disclaimer: these are just a few suggestions, and do not imply that this is all that someone in this field is limited to doing). He has had an internship shadowing in a behavioral health office, working with children with cognitive disabilities, and a part-time job as a sandwich artist at a local Subway, where he has learned many skills, such as customer service, patience, inventory management, time management, report writing, and teamwork.

Now, looking at the different profiles of these two students, they both have transferable skills. What are transferable skills, you say?

According to Flexjobs.com, “Most people have heard of transferable skills. Some people actually know what they are. Very few people actually know which ones they have and how to use them….. [they are] skills that can be applied in various situations”.

They are skills that you build every day, just like Janet and Carl (does anyone else read this like Rick would yell it in The Walking Dead?) did.

What we as Consultants in The Career Center see a lot of in students is the lack of confidence in those skills. Someone once said to me, “well, yeah, I have customer service skills, but how is that going to get me a job?” True story, this statement came out of someone’s mouth. It’s simple- it starts with confidence.

Imagine Carl’s customer service experiences at Subway. I’m sure there were some unpleasant ones, but it’s possible those unpleasant experiences taught him conflict management, conflict resolution, or even negotiation skills. These are all transferable skills. It goes back full circle to the title of this blog: turning what you don’t have into what you do have.

Let’s take this in a different direction. Janet is getting her degree in civil engineering, but she really wants to jump start her acting career (the engineering degree is just a ‘side thing’). She likes the idea of acting because it gives her a chance to be someone she’s not through a character. Now, audience, riddle me this: how could she possibly market herself to get a call for an acting gig?

Simple. Market herself with the necessary skills for the position that she has. Note, I emphasize has because if she didn’t have those traits and she put down she did, the agency would know pretty immediately if she was lying (it takes roughly 30 seconds for an employers to gauge who you are in person versus on paper).

Janet understands the way theater works:

  • She’s worked behind-the-scenes, and, enjoys practicing at home.
  • She dabbled a little in high school theater but always got small roles.
  • She may not seem outgoing but she sure can act like it!
  • Janet has the experience to work well in a team
  • She can think and act quickly (from her experiences with troubleshooting her projects- great for improv if your co-actor forgets their lines!)
  • The ability to memorize lines, which she learned from all of her reading

Side note: these skills and abilities were taken directly from job descriptions on O*NET.

So there you have it- two people who took skills from other experiences and made them relevant. It’s hard to do, but again, you have to have the confidence to get there.

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Differences and Similarities in the Workplace

-Luke Faith

Hello everyone! I welcome you all back for yet another weekly blog post. I hope that everyone has found their footing for the spring semester, but even if you’re still scrambling a bit this week I promise that this is lightweight reading for students. It will still enlighten you, but it’s super light. This week we are going to discuss the ups and downs that may challenge workers as we unavoidably work alongside our polar opposites, better known as our “wonder twin.”

Wonder Twins

We all have one

Everyone has co-workers that share a lot in common with you. In the workplace some may suggest that it is an advantage for coworkers to share similarities, while others may feel the same about differences. Though, common work qualities and behaviors can be difficult to work with. A lot of people find working with their parents, siblings, and close friends to be difficult (putting nepotism completely aside for the sake of the purpose of this blog). There are so many things that can influence a mesh or contrast in personalities: stress, one’s values, or even one’s worldview compared to yours. But we have to remember that we work with the other person and so reflection must be done on how to make it work. That’s how you become Wonder Twins. This is also what we in the career development world call Teamwork.

It’s complex at times to fathom the fundamentals that apply to working with others. It is a constant experiment that every individual plays a part in. Have you ever looked at a co-worker and thought, “man, I hate that guy”? What do you do? How do you fix that? You either come to terms with your feelings, or you fix it.  Remember, too, that your job is the central process of these feelings, so jumping upon any opportunity to tell that co-worker that you hate him may jeopardize your relationship, or even your job. Work politics at it’s finest, folks.

Remember, too, that fixing it is better than letting it go, because whatever your feelings are, bottling them up can cause chaos. But when you “fix” whatever needs to be addressed, remember that there are two people in the situation. You are different than your co-worker, and the best thing to do is find similarities in those differences. Especially if you love you job. Resolve it.

It is truly a challenge for businesses to assemble and develop work teams that will thrive. The true difficulty in this process stems from one characteristic: diversity. It’s a broad term that embraces people’s differences, whether it be culture, characteristics, physical traits, or even personality types. But it also bring perspective. What good is a team without different perspectives? That’s how they thrive.

I myself have gone through battles where I was forced to learn how to accept others’ differences at work. I know that there will always be co-workers that, in comparison to myself, are much different in behavior and work ethic. Yet, I understand that this challenge will reappear more than once in my life and that each time I must work to find some resolve with urgency. My advice for everyone is to be open to diversity and try not to be so quick to make conclusions upon others based on surface level conversation, or a bad experience. I understand that differences may exist between everyone but I also believe there is always a solution. Let’s speak some truth here, I’m sure there have been people who have felt the same about you at one point or another. It’s up to the two of you to figure out how to be the Wonder Twins.

People achieve more as a result of working with others than against them. -Dr. Allan Fromme

Courtesy of: careersandmoney.com

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Upcoming Events & Other Goodies

-Kristy Virgo

Students, staff, and faculty: congratulations for surviving not only the first, but the first 2 weeks of the Spring semester! All others who read: welcome back to another exciting post from The Career Center!

This week we are taking a break from the fun, insightful posts that we usually share to make a HUGE announcement. I mean, it’s HUGE (did I mention it’s a huge announcement?). Below this paragraph will lie what may be some of the most important information you’ll ever find or need: our upcoming events.

I know, I know- I bet you were expecting something large, like that one of us won one of the Powerball tickets and that we magically adopted all of the abandoned dogs in the world to give them a place to prance and play, but alas, no (though, I wish we could do that!).

So, career events. I’m sure you hear that term thrown around a lot and you’re probably thinking, “yeah, so what? another thing for me to sign up to go to”. But, these events- these workshops, fairs, webinars, all of the things we as worker bees work so hard to put together, are for you to take advantage of. They’re for you to develop yourself, and, some of them, are merely to have fun!

So let’s talk about the things we have coming up. By the way you can find all of our event information on our career events page(s).

LinkedIN 101 Webinar- February 1, 6:00 p.m.

We know this gentleman named Chaim who is an expert at LinkedIn. I mean, we’re all experts in The Career Center, too, but sometimes different perspectives are better than just one. This is a webinar, which means you don’t have to change out of your pajamas to attend. You can attend this from the leisure of your couch, with your cat, and a bowl of popcorn if you’d like. Just don’t talk with your mouth full if you have a question. Learn the basics of LinkedIn and how to get your profile boosted to almost an All-Star status. This event is open to students and alumni of the Universities, and registration is through CareerTrax.

Career Fair Prep Workshops

I have a joke for you- an employer and a job seeker walk into a room. Really, there’s no joke. I just wanted a quirky line to start this section.

These workshops can either be attended online via WebEx (again, in your pjs and with your cat and popcorn), or on your respective campus. We have 2 different workshops: How to Impress Employers, and Writing the Winning Resume. In both you will get some great feedback from an expert on how to market yourself, from what you wear to what you say. The resume writing workshop is pretty self-explanatory. An expert will go through the different elements to a resume, and if there’s time, will critique your resumes for you.

To find out more about the workshops & WebEx dates and times, you can check out the North Central dates, or the Calumet dates, or both if you’re feeling squirrel-y.

Spring Career Expos

The creme de la creme. We have been working on a job fair for each campus. Students are able to attend either one, or both (we’re unified, remember?)! The North Central event is on Wednesday, February 17th and the Calumet fair is on Friday, February 19th. Both are from 11-2 and both open up to the public at 1. If you register early, you get a printed name tag. If you register early and upload your resume, employers will get to see it before the fair. There’s a trend: register early. Registration will also be open at the door the day of the fairs, but we strongly encourage job seekers to register early.

This link will take you to the list of registered employers for both fairs.

Note: Career fairs are not specifically for juniors and seniors. Employers come to these events looking to hire for full-time, part-time, seasonal, and internship work. If you’re a freshman or sophomore, come to the fair! Don’t feel like you can’t because you’re not looking for an internship or job yet. Go network with companies you’d be interested in working for in the future, and find out what skills / qualities they look for in a candidate.

State of Indiana Collegiate Talent Search Virtual Career Fair

On Thursday, February 25th there’s a virtual career fair happening. Make sure you have your A-game and webcam ready, because employers are online and waiting to e-interview you. You can do this from the comfort of your own home, again, but this time, be dressed for business at least from the waist up. And, hide those Slipknot or Bieber posters (I don’t know what music is hip anymore- I’m a classic rock gal) on your walls if you’re going to be using your webcam. If you want some tips on online interview etiquette, schedule an appointment with a Career Consultant and we can help you.

Mock Interview Marathons

Each semester we work really hard on recruiting recruiters to come to campus and engage with students one way or another, whether it be through an information session, campus interviews, or a career-related event. My favorite event to watch happen (before you ask, yes, I am a people watcher) is the Mock Interview Marathons.

Employers come to campus and serve as interviewers for students who sign up, and they are given feedback on what they did well, and where they can improve. Heads up, this is not a real interview. It’s practice. And, hey, a networking opportunity.

This year, the North Central event is on March 1st from 11:30 to 1:30 in LSF 144. Pick whichever time slot (11:30 or 12:30) works best for you and you’ll be set up with 3, 15- minute interviews, along with 5 minutes of feedback for each. Registration is on CareerTrax.

The Calumet campus’ event is on March 18th in Alumni Hall and starts as early as 9:30. If you want to check out the time slots, you can do so in CareerTrax, as well.

Student Employee Appreciation Week

Mark your calendars! If you’re a student employee at either campus, we have a bunch of fun activities planned for you, like lunch with your department supervisor, family feud, a celebration ceremony for Student Employee of the Year, and maybe even a pizza party!

Student Employee Appreciation Week is April 11th through 15th, so we plan to have lots of fun activities for you!

Celebrate good times, c’mon!

Well, I think I’ve hit you with enough HUGE announcements for one week. I just wanted to let you guys know that there’s stuff out there for you to do, and it’s not all ‘daunting’ or ‘boring’.

 

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Start with a Smile

-Luke Faith

Hello and happy New Year! Welcome back to another exiting semester!  Once again The Career Centers’ staff promises to extend our services to students & alumni along with offering another batch of blogs which you all may find helpful and constructive.

I personally would like to start off the year on a positive note for you all. That being said, I’d like to talk about emotional contagions in the workplace and about life in general.

So, what is an emotional contagion? My definition is when one employee’s attitude or behavior is sensed by another and then mimicked or transferred. It’s instant transference, and in the work place this reality can either have a positive or negative result.

Joker Smile vs. Frown meme

imgflip.com

Two bits of advice I’ve been told now come to mind when I think about the ways emotions interplay in relationships both in and out of work:

Piece of Advice #1: This comes from my father. Once he told me that he considered his uncle to be a role model because he always appeared happy with a big smile that stretched from ear to ear. At first, I made little of this discussion but now I’ve found the significance in this story: something as simple as a smile can do wonders for those around you.  I can easily be transferred as if it were a sort of viral infection (a fun one, not like the plague). I see the contagion both at work and in my social life, which has urged me now to try to smile more.

Contrary to the positive, someone’s bad attitude can often be passed on to another. I can tell you from plenty of experiences that working with someone that is a Negative Nancy (we all know one or two in our lives) or Debbie Downer can be quite difficult. So maybe try and smile at the next person you see down and out.

Piece of Advice #2: This came from a teacher I had in high school who always told my class that perspective is everything. I find a lot of truth in that statement. In reality, the outlook of any individual definitely ties into their emotions and interpersonal life. I’ve seen it, experienced it, and have found that having a positive outlook is the most effective. I’m a glass-half-full type of guy. I also remember seeing this quote below hung up on a wall in one or more teachers’ rooms through high school:

Work is a place where I believe we should learn to get a tremendous grip on our emotions. We are encouraged throughout college when preparing for a career to leave the baggage at the door. Wouldn’t work be the greatest if we all learned to basically hide any issues we have at home, any negative emotions, or any frustrations we have when interacting with other employees and customers? Smile more, it’s a simple solution. Think of things from a different perspective. Did you get a C on that paper? Instead of beating yourself up over it, think about it differently: at least you didn’t get an F.

Making a work place one where everyone is comfortable, satisfied, and at peace is certainly a challenge we all are and should be involved in. Being positive is key.

Guy with safety pins holding a smile

hague6185.wordpress.com

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Does Anyone Know what Time it Is? Tool Time!

-Luke Faith

Welcome, everyone, to another week of the Career Center’s blog. With this semester winding down, I thought it would be a great idea to talk about a career tool called the Online Career Center, you know, for good measure.

I imagine that in just a week you all will be enjoying the start of the holidays, which also equals time away from school. I’m sure you can all agree that it is always a pleasure to take advantage of a few days off. However, why not consider putting aside some time for career planning or a little self-evaluation? I’m talkin’ about skills (not to be confused for skillz)!

Question: Do you know what employers expect from a candidate? I know I’ve talked about their expectations in my previous blog before the Fall Expo, but I’m talking skills. Do you know what you should know how to do? There are the basics: problem-solving, working as a part of a team, or even specific programs such as AutoCAD or MATLAB, but let’s shed more light on specific skills that would be beneficial for you to obtain before transitioning into the professional world.

Each profession has its differences when compared to others as far as skills and abilities, but they all share some skills in common. When working on your all-star resume, try to think of what those skills are. You don’t have to have had an internship or a professional role in a job to have marketable skills. That’s what your job and school experience is all about!  If you are struggling coming up with types of skills you may already have, try using the skill assessment function in the Online Career Center. It does a fantastic job of helping you pull those skills from the back of your brain (it’s always easy to perform those skills rather than write them down). For the sake of this blog, and for your future, by the time you start searching for post-graduate employment, you need more. It reminds me of the professional wrestler, Ryback (If you don’t know his motto, it’s “Feed Me More”, and he’s pretty scary when he’s hungry). Feed Ryback, the hypothetical skill set, more.

This is Ryback. Isn’t he intimidating?

Not sure what skills you may need to have for your future? Try looking at some sample job descriptions of your “dream job” or even O*NET. Each career field has at least one unique skills that defines that field from others. Food for thought: what made you interested in the field you’re currently studying? They sort of go hand-in-hand.

Take nursing, for example. Most students who come into The Career Center tell us that they love helping people and that’s why they chose the nursing profession. Some find out later that they can’t handle the idea of being in a fast-paced setting, or maybe can’t emotionally handle seeking tragic events, but something attracted them to that profession initially. Nursing is a high-skill and high-knowledge profession: nurses need to understand various procedures, policies, laws, and science, and have a strong set of interpersonal skills.  Below is a simplified summary of tasks and skills nurses may utilize on a daily basis:

Remember in the previous paragraph when I mentioned discovering that something isn’t for you? Well, something attracted you to it, and then something turned you off from it. It’s funny how that works. However, you can still take the skills you’ve gained and apply them to what you want to do later in life. Showing that you have transferable skills (skills that you can take from one job to another), and how you can use those skills regardless of the career field (with confidence, of course) will help you.

So, our most important duty in college is to acquire the necessary skills and abilities for any given job you may pursue. Remember what your goals are when you receive a degree, and work toward gaining the experience and knowledge that will enable you to succeed in your future career.

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What’s the Deal with Interviews, Anyway?

-Luke Faith

Hello and welcome back to yet another week of my blogging antics! This week I’ve chosen a very important topic to discuss, but, then again, they’re all important. This week we are focusing on the importance of preparation for interviews. I personally believe that the interview is one of the most important phases of job search.

In case you have not had a chance to view one of my previous blogs, I encourage you to check it out because it highlights some employer expectations. Click here to see what those are.

5 Simple, Yet Serious, Interview Tips 

So let’s get started! First, try to think about the different elements of an interview: your presentation / delivery, preparation and rehearsal, and lastly, the effort and confidence you put in during the “performance” (so-to-speak). Be aware that though we may always think interviews are easy, they aren’t, nor are they ever easy for some. You must remember to present yourself with confidence, and talk about applicable content that will show your competence in the future,

Tip #1: Apparel and etiquette

Do you think how you dress and act effect the end result? I mean, it comes second-nature to some, but there are some employers who are considered “traditional” who expect you to over-dress. So what if their company uniform policy is a polo and dress pants? It’s better to over-dress, anyway. Impress! When an employer meets someone for the first time they are very attentive to physical and social cues- how you are dressed is one of them.

How you act reveals character and your delivery that portrays intelligence. Employers evaluate anything and everything you do and say to aid them in making a decision. Things like body language, responses, your tone of voice, and your posture are just some examples.

Being improper in any way may create the impression that an individual lacks effort and may suggests that person does not adhere to a professional attitude.

Tip #2: Keep speech in mind, and be professional

Another thing to consider is language during your interview. Make sure that you’re prepared to speak about your skills/qualifications, any accomplishments, and have questions ready to ask at the end (always do this).

This goes directly in line with one of our #1 tips to resume writing: write it yourself. If you have someone else do it for you, an employer will be able to tell almost instantly whether or not you wrote it based on your verbal language and how it compares to your resume.

P.S. Did you know that The Career Center does mock interviews with students and alumni? You can contact them at either office to schedule one, and, for those of you interested, check out our other events scheduled for this year. Also, students interested may wish to register for the upcoming Mock Interview Day at the North Central Campus.

Tip #3: A resourceful info-graphic

Tip #4: Practice makes perfect

I really feel like this tip title is an ongoing theme of mine. Practicing for an interview is crucial. Whether it be with a Career Consultant, a family member or friend, or in front of the mirror at home, it helps. With practice you can demonstrate your readiness and confidence, and will provide the opportunity to put some thought into your answers. Oh, and most importantly, you feel more comfortable.

Practicing also shows your communication skills. If you land the interview, why not go the extra mile to get the job?

Tip #5: Recommendations for success

Most often employers ask behavioral-based questions, since these show past behaviors, and past behaviors are a prime indicator for future behavior. Prepare yourself to ask reflective questions that begin with “Tell me about a time when….”, or “How did you handle…..”. Having answers prefabricated will help you to breeze through an interview rather than feeling like your brain is being scrambled.

I myself have only been through a handful of interviews, but I have always taken any opportunity to help prepare myself by participating in mock interviews in school and outside of school.

Some Questions for Practice:

It is also very beneficial for the interviewee to express interest in the company, and have questions ready to ask the employer when given the chance, and do research on the company.

If you feel the need to build on you interview skills, feel free to come into either the North Central or Calumet Career Center and schedule and appointment. Or, to get even more experience with interviews as well as opportunities to network yourself, sign up for one of our mock interview events that occur each year.

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Graduate School: ‘To Be or Not To Be?’

-Luke Faith

Welcome back! I hope everybody is feeling well with the change of seasons and we are another week down before the end of the semester! As Mother Nature shifts gears and we are approaching the final months of the year, I’d like to change directions and focus on something we all may have thought about at one point or another in life: graduate school.

As college students or graduates, we have already made one big decision in life- to go to college. However, an even BIGGER decision may have you sitting on the edge of your seat, hypothetically speaking, and that’s whether or not to continue your education after your baccalaureate degree. Should you apply? When is the right time to apply? How do I know which program is the right one for me?

beta.diylol.com

beta.diylol.com

We all know that graduate school is a large financial investment, which amplifies why this decision should not be taken lightly. For those of you considering Graduate School see Lynn O’Shaughnessy’s advice in an article on U.S. News & World Report’s Education website.

It is obvious that completing a graduate degree can benefit you, but how? Well, that’s part of career planning and some exploration (again! Remember when I said it was always ongoing?). Obtaining a higher degree involves being directed and concentrated towards gaining expertise in a particular field, as the quality of education is above average.

A graduate program challenges you to focus. It challenges you to think, and to apply skills directly. It also challenges you to work with others who may not always live close to you, or who have different schedules than you (I am referring to our favorite thing in the undergraduate world- group work). But think about the additional skills you will learn from this. Think about how valuable you can be. Ultimately, deciding to pursue a graduate degree is up to you. We do, however, have a plethora of resources to help you!

Where do you start? The first thing to do is look at where you want to be, and what career field you’d like to work in. Below is a list of things to think about when looking at graduate programs:

  • What can I get my degree in that sets me apart from the other candidates?
  • When is the application deadline?
  • What is required to apply (i.e., GRE exam, MCATs, LSATs, a stellar GPA, etc.)?
  • Do I have people in my life who would be willing to give recommendations?
  • Do I want to attend solely online, or in a classroom setting?
  • Will the class hours work with my current work schedule?
  • Can I handle taking an accelerated semester (6 or 8 weeks) if the program requires it?
  • Is the program I am looking at accredited? How do I know what accreditation to look for?

To actually work toward getting started in a program itself is a lot of work. It’s like making a decision about what you want for dinner when you REALLY don’t know- it almost has to be perfect.  The Career Center has an entire section on their website dedicated to Graduate and Professional Schools, and a Career Consultant can sit down with you and go through different programs with you, especially if you are unsure about accreditation (my favorite website to look at programs is Gradschools.com because you can filter schools by program and program type). You can also stop by The Career Center to pick up a graduate guide.

Some things that may be required for your application:

  • A resume or a CV
  • A personal statement
  • Two to three recommendations
  • Academic Transcripts

It never hurts to simply weigh out the possibilities when making decisions as important as graduate school. Otherwise, whose to say whether graduate school is or is not for you. Overall, I hope to send you some friendly advice. Consider if Graduate School is for you but remember to think it through thoroughly.

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