Alternative Break to Asheville, NC

By Danielle Golinski, Career Advising Fellow

As Kristen alluded to in her previous post, I also had the pleasure to join in an Alternative Fall Break this past weekend.  Myself, another fellow staff advisor, 2 phenomenal student leaders, 9 other students, and 2 passenger vans, made its way to Asheville and Black Mountain, North Carolina. Our trip revolved around community engagement and working with a charter school Art Space. Art Space is a K-8 school which has a focus on the integration of the arts in and out of the classroom. The brightly colored hallways of the school showcase the true talent and passion that the students share and that the teachers encourage. The school focuses on the experiential approach, and encourages all to explore, create, and achieve wonderful things.

New to the North Carolinian area, not knowing much about Asheville (but hearing wonderful things), and having very little knowledge on the concept of a charter school, I became wide-eyed and anxious about what the next few days would hold.  My daily mantra since arriving to NC 3 months ago has been to “keep an open mind”, and keep an open mind I did!  All aboard!

Our trip consisted of getting a tour of the school Saturday afternoon and starting with some outside work which continued through Sunday. Redeveloping steps between two fields, cutting back bushes and weeds behind the storage shed, pulling up, pulling down, flipping over, and aerating heavy pieces of turf and then reflipping, resizing, pulling back up, and stapling to keep in place, graveling, and making a path for the children were just some of the many tasks completed by the entire team. As you can probably tell, we did a lot of work with the turf that they had on their playing area, and boy, it certainly took every single one of us to get the job completed. Through our reflections each night, many of the students reflected on how hard it was to move the turf around, but that they were able to recognize and appreciate that it was a project that they couldn’t do alone. It was the true definition of team work. They also spent time reflecting of the point that the school staff was so appreciative of this project completed because it was not a project they could have done on their own. It took 15 strong bodies and many hours of labor to complete it, but the job was done!

A few snap shots from our time together at Art Space. The top picture is the last picture we took after working all day at location. You can also see one picture of the entire team moving around the turf. Naturally, I had to include a picture of our luncheon spot, pure deliciousness - NC bbq.

A few snap shots from our time together at Art Space. The top picture is the last picture we took after working all day at location. You can also see one picture of the entire team moving around the turf. Naturally, I had to include a picture of our luncheon spot, pure deliciousness – NC bbq.

As we worked really hard during the day, we had time for exploring and sightseeing in the afternoon/evening hours.

Some pictures from around Asheville and Black Mountain. We saw an absolutely gorgeous water fall in Black Mountain.

Some pictures from around Asheville and Black Mountain. We saw an absolutely gorgeous water fall in Black Mountain.

Have to take a trip selfie! What a great group of students this was! Could not be more proud of their leadership, reflection, and hard work.

Have to take a trip selfie! What a great group of students this was! Could not be more proud of their leadership, reflection, and hard work.

This trip was the definition of leadership and giving back. All members – initially strangers – became a tight knit group over the 4 day excursion. We shared memories, laughs, and beautiful views together. We learned through reflection, what it truly means to give back and to help those who are in need. We experienced what it was like to be selfless during our fall break, to keep an open mind, and step outside of the “Elon bubble” to live and to learn fully.

Alternative Breaks – Fall 2014

By Kristen Aquilino, International Career Fellow

This past weekend was Fall Break at Elon. Students had a four-day weekend to go home, travel, rest, catch up on assignments, and, for those who stayed, to enjoy the quiet that envelops campus.

For those students who look for something different from typical break activities, the Kernodle Center organizes Alternative Breaks during the fall, winter, and spring. It is a wonderful program that fosters a variety of opportunities for students to engage with communities (both domestic and international) through service learning. Each break is entirely planned by student coordinators who demonstrate incredible leadership and take the reins with organizing the break from start to finish.

For this past round of programs, Danielle and I each served as advisors for an Alternative Breaks program and we’re excited to share a bit about these experiences with you!

Educational Disparities – Boys and Girls Club, Pembroke, NC

Yesterday afternoon I returned from a trip to Pembroke, North Carolina that was full of discovery and culture. The focus of our program was to volunteer with the Pembroke Boys and Girls Club of the Lumbee Tribe. The Pembroke area is home to many Lumbee Tribe members and we were privileged to be immersed in their community and to learn about their customs.

This was a first-time Alternative Breaks program. As such, we really didn’t know what to expect… and we could not have asked for a better experience. The Pembroke Boys and Girls Club welcomed us with open arms and what followed were a series of events and activities that encouraged a great deal of learning and reflection.

I could write for ages about all of our experiences such as: attending the 5th Annual Running Water Singers Pow Wow in Fayetteville, going on a buddy hike in Lumber River State Park, visiting the Native American Resource Center on UNC Pembroke’s campus, helping with homework and playing games during the Boys and Girls Club after-school program, and learning traditional Lumbee dances around a drum circle during an evening culture class. The best way I can think to sum up some of the most important takeaways is through an exercise inspired by the student coordinators of the program: the Rose, Thorn, and Bud activity.

On our last night in Pembroke, we went around in a circle sharing our Rose (a positive experience or special memory), Thorn (something difficult or challenging), and Bud (a lesson or source of inspiration that you can take with you into the future) from the break. It is a wonderful way to reflect on both short- and long-term experiences! Each group member had thoughtful and insightful comments to contribute, and here are some of my reflections:

Thorn

While we were preparing for the arrival of the boys and girls for their afterschool activities, one of the staff members from the club was providing “tricks of the trade” and helpful background information. What took us all aback was the gratitude that she expressed for our being there at the Boys and Girls Club. It was deeply heartfelt and genuine regardless of our being there for such a short time. It pricked like a thorn for me by being a potent reminder of the importance of gratitude and how meaningful it is to express it… especially having the message come from someone who dedicates a great deal of her time to working with the youth in the area. It was a wake-up call to always practice gratitude and to recognize all of the reasons that many of us have to be thankful.

Bud

Another member of the staff expressed his thanks for our being there and emphasized just how necessary it was for the boys and girls from the area to connect with those different from themselves, and to be encouraged to try new things and challenge their thinking. It is easy to forget how important it is to share your knowledge and experience with children in need of strong mentors… something to think about!

Rose

The Elon students who participated in the program. All of the students in the group were truly inspiring with their open minds, open hearts, and willingness to jump into any situation with respect, curiosity, and positivity. I learned a great deal from them and am thrilled to have been a part of their adventure!

Are You LinkedIn?

Networking, networking, networking! In today’s social media age, networking doesn’t just happen in person. 94% of employers use social media for recruiting purposes (Job-Hunt).

So what does LinkedIn have to do with networking?

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional networking site with over 313 million members in 200 countries. People use LinkedIn to build their network, develop their professional identity, and share news and insights related to their industry.

Over the past month I have given several presentations on LinkedIn to Elon students of all ages, ranging from first year students to students in our Law School, encouraging them to create a profile and instructing them on how to do just that.  In preparation for this position (and those inevitable presentations), I have also been intentional about creating a stronger profile over the past several months.  However, I have learned that it is not enough to create a LinkedIn profile; you need to continue to engage with your connections and work constantly to expand your network.

So, how often should you engage with LinkedIn?  This is a question I have been wondering about myself.  In my research, I found a really helpful article that suggests ways to interact on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

Daily

  • Interact with your homepage feed: Take a few minutes out of your day to stay up to date on the news in your industry and find out what your connections are up to.

Weekly

  • Post Something: Found an interesting article or want to update your network on your accomplishments at work? Find time at least once a week to stay engaged by posting.
  • Add New Contacts: Set aside time once a week to send personalized invites to people you’ve recently met. This is a great way to keep track of your contacts (especially if you’ve started a new job recently!).

Monthly

  • Update your profile: Find time at least once a month to update your profile with new accomplishments, projects, or job responsibilities. When the time comes to job search, you will have already updated your profile along the way.
  • Contribute to Groups: Comment on existing discussions, start your own discussion, or post an article in groups at least once a month to make new connections and start to establish yourself as a thought leader.
  • Reach Out to Old Contacts: At least once a month, take time to catch up with old contacts. Congratulate them on a new position, update them on your work life, share an article they may find interesting, or just ask how they are doing.  Don’t wait to reach out when you need something.  Catch up with them regularly.

How do you engage with LinkedIn?

RIASEC: A Career Assessment Acronym

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Some photos of my presentation: Top right- students completing sudoku puzzles (Realistic); Bottom left- drawing and coloring pictures (Artistic); Bottom right- Arranging pennies according to dates using non-dominant hand (Conventional)

By Danielle Golinski, Career Advising Fellow

Last week, the Career Advising Fellows presented to 4 sophomore business communication classes on the Strong Interest Inventory career assessment. Developing the presentations from the ground up, we made the class engaging and interactive while sharing the message of John Holland (who revised the assessment in 1974, and it continues to be revised today) and his predecessors. Overall it is an assessment of interests, not abilities, so that an individual may have an easier time in determining an appropriate career choice for themselves.

People are grouped into 6 themes: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, conventional. Work environments can also be grouped by the same 6 types – General Occupational Themes (GOTs) – and in each occupation a certain personality type tends to dominate. “Thus, the personality types of co-workers, as much as the job requirements, establish the working tenor of a given occupation”. Individuals find success and productivity in work environments that allow them to use their skills and abilities. “Behavior is determined by an interaction between a person’s personality and the characteristics of his or her working environment. Factors such as job performance, satisfaction, and stability are influenced by this interaction.” Although there are about 720 different combinations, most individuals are given a one, two, or three letter code. For me, as I have a firm grasp on what I want out of life (but, boy, has it been a journey to get here) and the work environment that I can see myself working in, I have a one letter code – S or Social. Having a one letter code (compared to a two or three letter code) simply means that I have a better understanding of my likes and dislikes when it comes to my career (phew! *pats self on back for a lot of hard work and reflection to get to this point*).

REALISTIC: The Doers

  • Described as: practical, persistent, adventurous, sensible, self-reliant
  • Motivated by hands-on, tangible results: work with things
  • Typically assertive and competitive; tend to be interested in scientific or mechanical

INVESTIGATIVE: The Thinkers

  • Described as: curious, independent, reserved, rational
  • Motivated by: curiosity, learning, knowledge: work with data
  • Typically think and observe

ARTISTIC: The Creators

  • Described as: impulsive, independent, non-conforming
  • Motivated by: self-expression: work with ideas and things
  • Typically creative, open, original, perceptive, independent, and emotional

SOCIAL: The Helpers

  • Described as: humanistic, idealistic, cooperative
  • Motivated by: helping others: work with people
  • Typically teach or help in scenarios

ENTERPRISING: The Persuaders

  • Described as: persuasive, adventuresome, competitive, energetic, social, optimistic
  • Motivated by: persuading others: work with people and data
  • Typically good persuaders, and value a good reputation, power, money, and status

CONVENTIONAL: The Organizers

  • Described as: practical, organized, systematic, accurate, and conscientious
  • Motivated by: organizing and bringing order to data and things: work with data
  • Typically likes rules and regulations and emphasize self-control

    strong-interactive-graphic

    Source: https://www.cpp.com/ An updated version of the Holland hexagon, to highlight the interaction of all themes.

What Do You Value?

As advisors and counselors, we consistently educate students on how to prepare for interviews and present their best self. Sometimes though, we forget to remind them that interviews serve two purposes: the company is looking for the right employee, but the candidate should also interview the employer to decide if the fit is right for them as well.

So, how do we determine if the fit is right?

Well, it is a combination of factors, one of those being work values.

Richard Morrill says, “Values can be defined as standards and patterns of choice that guide persons and groups toward satisfaction, fulfillment, and meaning.”  Through the job search process, we want to find a company, position, and environment that align with our values, so that we may be satisfied at work.  This process and the things people value varies from person to person.

Personally, over the last couple of weeks, I have learned that I truly value working in an environment with supportive and understanding colleagues.  Having been out of work for almost a week while I was sick, my colleagues did not hesitate to cover my presentations, take my appointments, and reschedule meetings.  I was given ample time to recover and never felt like I was inconveniencing anyone.  If I were working with colleagues who were not as supportive, I can assure you I would not be as satisfied, nor would I be as productive because I would not be my best self without the recovery and rest time.

Other people may value things such as job security, autonomy, leisure time, compensation, or recognition.  The list goes on and on. Regardless of what you value, it is important that you take some time to explore what you value in a work setting and search for a company and positon that aligns with those values.  Unsure of where to start?  Check out MyPlan on our website and utilize the values assessment.

What do you value most?

Ummm…That’s a Good Question!

By Danielle Golinski, Career Advising Fellow

I have come to enjoy (and get giddy!) seeing a student’s appointment on my calendar with a mock interview, particularly because by the end of this fellowship adventure, I hope to be a self-proclaimed interviewing guru. I am well on my way! Our wonderful student ambassadors ask the student which company they are practicing for, and I get to do a little bit of research prior to learn about the company in order to make the interviewing questions as authentic as possible. I have learned so much about these (primarily) major business firms; they are doing wonderful work, focusing on client services, while being innovators and leaders in their industry. (As I have already started to compile so much information on these companies, I have even created a new folder on my desktop for easy access.) One of my favorite questions to ask students during our mock interview is that of the infamous “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” With the students who are well practiced, they are able to roll a response with ease, for other students (and why I am writing this blog), they stare back at me with wide eyes and oh my gosh facial expressions. For these students, read on.

Through some research, I’ve highlighted some key components in order to ace this “sneaky” interview question. Overall, the purpose of this question is to “understand whether the candidate is looking for a career rather than a job, whether their goals align with the organization’s goals, and whether they have a realistic plan for their future (Business Insider).”

  • Be ambitious, but realistic”: Be realistic and mindful of how quickly you can rise through the ranks, do your research to determine the typical time of progression and the trajectory mapped out, but showcase your flexibility. As companies spend a great deal of time and money in recruiting and training candidates, they don’t want to lose their investment in a hire that is going to leave in a year or two (although it has been commonly said that the primary purpose of your first job is to find your second job, but I’ll leave that for another blog post), so it is best to avoid saying that you’ll be at another company (even if it’s true).
  • Talk in terms of achievements and responsibilities”: Focus your answer on your professional development and skills you would like to acquire, or qualifications you’d like to have completed.
  • Be specific, but flexible”: “Employers want to know that you know what you want” and only speak about your interest in the industry in which the company operates, especially if you are considering multiple avenues/career opportunities. Be mindful of how you are phrasing your words. Instead of saying “I need…” say “I’d like…”
  • Talk about your professional, rather personal, ambitions”: Discussing personal ambitions, unless it is specifically asked in the interview, can be seen as irrelevant. Keep the conversation focused on you, and yourself professionally.
  • Emphasize the value you can bring to the organization”: This is the opportunity to tell the employer exactly how you can (and will) make a difference in the organization. Make sure your 5 year plan is in line with theirs.

For me, I look forward to working with students every day, becoming energized by every one of their stories and talking about career services and all of the resources every single day. My goal over the next 5 years is for me to continue to love the work that I do, being challenged with new projects and new ideas to support the mission and values of your company in order to achieve outreach and success for all of our students. As I have shown through my fellowship opportunity, career growth and development is important to me, and I am eager to take on more responsibilities in order to gain more industry knowledge. Additionally, through hard work, focus and passion, I hope to have an office with a window so that I may be able to become energized by the view and give life to my house plants.

Global Initiatives and Resources

By Kristen Aquilino, International Career Fellow

Over the past few weeks it has been very exciting to learn about international and cultural programing at Elon. There are so many creative initiatives in place as well as helpful resources for students with international aspirations.

As we explore these resources, we look forward to sharing some of our discoveries with you along the way! Here are three resources to get us started: Elon Students and Alumni with Abroad Ambitions, Going Global, and International Opportunities Outside Elon. Each offers a unique approach to searching for opportunities through links to international organizations, announcements about job and internship postings, guidance for tailoring resumes to certain countries, ideas about different ways to go abroad, and much more. 

Stay tuned to learn about other resources and campus initiatives promoting cultural awareness and global participation among the Elon community!