Posted by Karina Wiener, CCPA
Hello again sophomores, I hope you’re having a great fall break so far! Hopefully you can find some time over break not only to re-energize, but also to reevaluate how you’re going to plan your next quarter; make some room for your summer internship search! Create a schedule for yourself, follow along with the Sophomore Success Series schedule, or talk to someone from the CCPA or the OAR to help you set some deadlines so you don’t get overwhelmed. Another great way to get involved is to sign up for the Extern Program, which you’ll hear more about in a later blog post from Dean Kelly Cleary at the CCPA.
Last week’s 3S was packed full of helpful information, mainly focused on the “Exploring and Planning” step of the job search process which, in my opinion, is the fun part! A large part of this process is understanding yourself. Only once you identify your interests, personality, values, skills, and lifestyle preferences can you begin to explore occupations and major areas of study that are compatible with your personal attributes.
For homework, students were asked to complete a StrengthsQuest assessment (which is available to anyone, just email the CCPA for an access code). After answering a series of qusetions, StrengthsQuest gives you a list of 5 “signature themes.” There are 34 themes, or strengths, overall and students were encouraged to look over the themes they didn’t get and embrace the freedom to choose the other strengths they felt applied to them. In my opinion, it’s important to understand your strengths for two main reasons:
1. Knowing your strengths gives you the content and vocabulary for talking about yourself in a positive way. Interviewers often tell the CCPA staff that Haverford students are too modest–there is definitely a way to show off your talents while still maintaining that humble and genuine “Haverfordian” quality, and being able to state your strengths with confidence is one of those ways. When you’re writing your resume, cover letter, or talking to an interviewer, it is important to be comfortable talking about your strengths.
2. Understanding your strengths can help you make a more informed decision when choosing a major or career. If this test makes you realize that many of your strengths involve dealing with other people but you’re on track to work alone at a desk, you may realize that that isn’t the career path for you after all!
We then discussed leadership, as that’s a common quality that employers look for. Below is a chart with four different styles of leadership. A different group of “themes” fits under each style. We asked students to group themselves into the four styles and look for the strengths and weaknesses of their type of leadership. It’s important to remember that all of you are leaders, you just have different ways of leading, none of which is better than another!
If you’re reading this thinking “I’ve never been in a position of leadership before,” that’s totally okay–college is a great place to develop leadership skills. You can do so in the classroom, during class assignments and group work, in athletics, in student organizations, and in your on-campus or off-campus jobs. The reason we focused on strengths instead of weaknesses, even though it’s just as important to understand your weaknesses, is because it’s a lot easier to improve something you’re already good at. College is a great place to build upon your strengths so that you can have concrete examples to give when talking about yourself.
The next set of self-assessment tests were called Focus2. After a series of questions, you receive a blurb about yourself, and then a list of careers you may be good at or interested in based on your results. Interestingly enough, one of my suggested careers was to work as a Career Counselor, who knew?! But anyway, Focus2 helps you get a general idea of what kind of work environment you might thrive in based on the following image. For example, my work interest profile is mostly social, followed by artistic, then enterprising. This suggests I work well with people and that I’m comfortable working with both data and ideas, I don’t prefer one over the other.
Once the students learned a little about themselves and their ideal work environments, we directed them to the What Can I Do With This Major page found on the CCPA website. This tool gives a list of possible careers based on major which is helpful for you sophomores. However, we reminded students that you don’t have to choose a career based on what you majored in, what’s important is that you enjoy your area of study while you’re here, and you feel prepared for whatever career you choose to go into. Luckily, because you’re at a liberal arts school, you’re going to acquire a lot of useful workplace skills regardless of what classes you take. The National Association of Colleges and Employees (NACE) published the 2015 Top 10 Skills Employers Seek in Recent College Graduates:
- Work in a team situation.
- Make decisions and solve problems.
- Plan, organize and prioritize work.
- Verbally communicate with persons inside/ outside the organization.
- Obtain and process information.
- Analyze quantitative data.
- Technical knowledge related to the job.
- Proficiency with computer software programs.
- Create and/or edit written reports.
- Sell or influence others.
You’ll gain most of these skills just by being a student and doing what you enjoy! And if you’re nervous about working with computer software, the OAR holds workshops for learning how to use excel and other programs!
If you’re still at a loss of what kinds of careers you could possibly be interested in, try this activity called Create-a-Career. All you do is think about two or three things you’re interested in, for example math, sports, and writing. Then, you can think of a job, either real or imaginary, that would incorporate all of those things, such as a sports analyst.
An even better way to brainstorm careers is to actually see what’s out there! Laura Reiter, who is in charge of Employer Relations at the CCPA, talked to our students about how to go about searching for job opportunities.
Laura introduced students to a few very important search tools:
1. CareerConnect: jobs and internships posted for Bi-Co students. You can also find Information Sessions and Events in the “Events” tab.
2. Liberal Arts Career Network: job and internship opportunities compiled from 9 liberal arts colleges.
3. TriCollege Recruiting: jobs and internships posted for Tri-Co students.
4. National Internships Consortium: internship opportunities compiled from 16 colleges and universities.
5. CampusPhilly: access to career fairs and jobs in the Philadelphia area.
6. Online Subscription Sites: other specialized databases that Haverford College subscribes to so that you can have access to them!
CareerConnect and the Online Subscription Sites are the two important links that can be accessed right from the haverford.edu/ccpa homepage.
From the CareerConnect homepage, you can “jump to” LACN, TriCollege Recruiting, National Internships Consortium, Going Global, and Campus Philly.
Another great way to get an idea of what it’s like to work in a certain industry is to reach out to an employer and ask for an informational interview. Some easy ways to find employers is by asking your friends if they know anyone who works in the field you’re interested in, go to LinkedIn and search through Haverford or Industry affinity groups, or by visiting the alumni directory and searching for alumni in your field of interest.
When you do contact an employer, be sure to give a little information about why you’re interested in them, and ask them if they’d be interested in talking to you about what they do for a living. Remember, they’re doing you a favor by agreeing to chat, so be sure to thank them afterwards! Here’s an example email a student might send to an employer she’s never met before:
The homework for next session is to update your profile on CareerConnect, search for an internship posting on CareerConnect (or one of the other subscription sites) that you’d be interested in applying to, and have a “career conversation” with an alum, whether that’s asking for an informational interview, or attending a CCPA event like Fords on Friday.
I know this was a lot of information but fall break is a great time to parse through it and explore the online resources on the CCPA website.
Thanks for reading!