Category Archives: Career

Summer Internships and Resume Tips

By Karina Wiener from the CCPA

Hey there Sophomores. I know second semester is hard but this is when you need to make sure to set goals, prioritize, and stay organized. Deadlines for summer internships are fast approaching so it’s time to polish those resumes, fill out those applications, and hit submit! If you’re feeling discouraged, just try to channel the energy this awesome kid is putting in to reach that finish line:

finish line

A few weeks ago, the CCPA hosted a Summer Internship and Resume Tips workshop in which Jennifer Barr and I spoke mainly to first years and sophomores about the internship search process. Watch the workshop now, or read on for a summary!

Continue reading Summer Internships and Resume Tips

Sophomore Success Series: Session 4

Posted by Karina Wiener, CCPA

Last week we had our last session of the Sophomore Success Series. This blog post is packed full of information so I apologize in advance for the length, but feel free to scroll through to find the information you’re interested in. We discussed the interview process, following up after an interview and your online LinkedIn persona. The session was therefore focused on the “Interviewing & Follow Up” step of the job search process.

3S summary diagram

We first gave students a re-cap of different ways to find job and internship opportunities, including (but not limited to):

  • HC Recruiting Events (On-Campus Recruiting in the TriCo, Philadelphia Career Connections Event, SLAC Recruiting Days, STEM Recruiting Event)
  • College Sponsored Internships
  • Haverford-Specific General Internship Listings (CareerConnect, LACN, Nationwide Internships Consortium)
  • General Internship Listings (internships.com, indeed.com)
  • Industry or Region Specific Listings (GoingGlobal, Policy Jobs, Idealist, etc.)
  • Organization websites
  • Reaching out directly and asking if they have opportunities
  • Contacts (Family, Friends, Alumni, etc.)

Then, we jumped right into a discussion about interview skills. In an interview, your job is to demonstrate to the employer why you’re the candidate they should hire. Employers want to know about your aptitude (do you have the skills and knowledge to succeed in this position? what distinguishes you from other applicants?), interests (why do you want to work for the organization? why are you interested in the position?), and fit (will you fit in with the office’s culture? what kind of colleague will you be?) for the position.

We broke the interview process down into three parts: Before, During, and Closing/After the interview.

Continue reading Sophomore Success Series: Session 4

The Graduate School Decision Making Process…

It is graduate school application season again. For undergraduate seniors planning to attend graduate school right after graduation, that means you are probably already working on your admission letters, asking faculty for letters of recommendation and organizing spread sheets with program deadlines, application costs and so forth. Sophomores and juniors are likely still mulling over the decision-making process. Asking the question many who came before them did, including myself, is graduate school right for me? It is not a decision to be taken lightly. Continue reading The Graduate School Decision Making Process…

Sophomore Success Series: Session 3

Posted by Karina Wiener, CCPA

Congratulations on surviving the week AFTER fall break! I don’t know why, maybe it’s because you’re coming off a week of relaxation, but that seems to be one of the hardest weeks for students. Hopefully many of you drafted a resume and maybe even a cover letter over break–last week’s 3S session will help you make those the best they can be, and remind you of the resources available to you!

We began the session by discussing our “alumni conversation” homework. Students attended various events on campus with alumni present, shadowed professionals in their workplace, or had a casual conversation with a family friend in an industry of interest. There are endless opportunities to ask professionals about their work–everybody loves to talk about themselves, right? If you’re thinking about a certain field and don’t know anyone in it, sign up for the externship program offered by the CCPA, in which you can sign up to shadow professionals in their workplace over winter break! There are over 170 professionals in various fields, go to CareerConnect to learn more and apply by Thursday, October 29!

The rest of this session was focused on the “Applying” step of the job search process.

3S summary diagram

Barbara Hall from the Writing Center talked to the class about the ways in which the writing center can help in the job and internship application process.

barbra hall

Barbara suggested that writing a cover letter, personal statement, or statement of interest should be a process, similar to that of any other academic paper. There should be drafts and feedback, ideally from the writing center and the CCPA. She also reminded students that if there is a prompt, be sure to answer the questions that were asked. And lastly, make sure what you write can withstand both the “quick read” and the “slow read.” It needs to stand out upon first glance so it gets put in the “maybe” pile, and then there has to be some interesting meat to it so that it moves from “maybe” to “yes”!

After Barbara left, we touched on the importance of professionalism in terms of corresponding with employers. We did this by watching a video on Career Spots. Career Spots is one of the CCPA online subscription sites; it has hundreds of short videos about internships, the job search, and careers. Career Spots can answer questions anywhere from “what does a dental hygenist actually DO?” to “what should I wear to my interview?” to “how do I negotiate a salary with my new employer?” These videos are just four minutes, perfect to watch when you’re on-time to class and have to wait for haver-time to kick in, or you’re waiting for your quesadilla at the coop.

We returned the students’ resumes and went over some tips based on common mistakes we saw students make:
– Under experiences, list bullets in order of relevance/importance
– Quantify results whenever possible
– Under bullets, try to answer “how” and “how much”
– Only list high school if relevant
– Use minimal accents (ideally just use bold and italic)
– Be consistent in terms of layout, font size, wording, style, etc.
– Be aware of tenses
– Don’t use “I”
– Right-align the date

Additionally, we provided a sample education section for students to model theirs after.Screenshot 2015-10-26 08.37.34

Next, we asked the students to begin thinking about career values using this image:

Untitled

A career is not just about one of these four things, but it’s about the intersection of the values that matter the most to you. If you’re really lucky, you can find something that intersects with all four categories and reach a sort of “career bliss.”

Students were asked to stand in a single file line and step to the right if I read off a value they held strongly, step left if they did not hold it at all, or stay where they were if they were neutral. I read off of a values checklist that Kelly created while she was at Penn. The goal of this exercise was to get students to start thinking about what really matters so that they know what they’re looking for. Maybe you think you want to be a consultant but you don’t want long hours and hate traveling—those would be good things to realize and odds are you’ll be able to find a job with the things you need. Additionally, values change and that’s okay! Maybe now you want to travel to the end of the world and work all day, but one day you may care more about settling down with a family. It’s important to continue to re-evaluate which values are most important to you.

Lastly, we discussed cover letters. Cover letters should address four basic questions:
– Why are you writing?
– Why me?
– Why you?
– What’s next?

Here’s a breakdown of what each paragraph of a cover letter should contain:
Paragraph 1:
• Introduce yourself (without saying your name)
• Tell the employer why you are writing (and briefly why you are interested)
• Say how you heard about the job
• If you have a connection to the company, make sure to mention it!
• Include job title (if applicable)
• Be concise
Paragraph 2:
• Answer the question of why you would be good for the job
• Do not restate your resume
• Don’t get bogged down in details (avoid the “kitchen sink” syndrome)
• Address the concerns in the job description
• Be enthusiastic
• Be positive (don’t dwell on negatives-”although I don’t have experience…”)
Paragraph 3:
• Why you are excited about this company/position
• Show that you know something about the organization and position
• Don’t be vague (“I’d like to work in a challenging environment.”)
• Can be omitted if first paragraph covers this information
Paragraph 4:
• State what you would like to see happen next (interview, provide additional materials, you will be in town, follow-up with a phone call, etc.)
• Follow up if you say you’re going to follow up

Basically, a cover letter should be why you are a good fit for the company or organization, not why the company is a good fit for you. If the job description suggests specific traits or qualifications they’re looking for, restate those in your cover letter and have strong examples to prove that you embody them.

Some common mistakes students can make when writing resumes include:
– Writing your whole life story
– Only talking about yourself and why the job is good for you
– Spelling mistakes (such as Deer Jane)
– Repeating your resume without offering any more information

*Remember, if you’re emailing your cover letter as an attachment to save it as a pdf and to include something like the first paragraph of your cover letter in the body of the email.

The homework for next week is to draft a cover letter for the internship posting they found the previous week, and to update their resume based on the feedback we gave them. I’ll be back in a few weeks with some advice on interviews and online persona.

Stay warm everyone!

Sophomore Success Series: Session 2 Overview

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.

3S summary diagram

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!

SQ outcome

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.

focus2

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 Reiter

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. When you log in, go to your “Profile” page and fill out your “Career Interest(s)” by ctrl+clicking. This allows the CCPA to send you email notifications of jobs and events that align with your interests!

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.

Screenshot 2015-10-12 18.13.18

 

From the CareerConnect homepage, you can “jump to” LACN, TriCollege Recruiting, National Internships Consortium, Going Global, and Campus Philly.

Screenshot 2015-10-12 18.17.03

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:

coldemail

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!

Karina