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?

Job & Internship Expo Prep!

By: Amber McCraw, Career Advising Fellow

Hi all!  Classes are back in session and things for the Career Fellows have kicked into high gear – what a whirlwind it has been!

Amongst a steady stream of appointments, presentations, programs, and classes, our office has also been preparing for the upcoming 2014 Fall Job & Internship Expo. In preparation for this great event, the Fellows have made several presentations to students over the last week to ensure that they get the most out of their Expo experience.  We’ve reached out to everyone from first-year students who will be engaging in this experience for the first time to seniors who will be searching for their first professional position following graduation.  I thought it might be useful to share some of the tips that we’ve presented to students:

  • Before the Expo:
    • Research the companies – We encourage students to utilize the Elon Job Network, LinkedIn, and Google to do research
    • Prioritize and make a list of the companies you are interested in
    • Prepare your resume and bring 15-20 copies
    • Practice your 30-second elevator speech
    • Dress professionally
  • During the Expo:
    • Check to see if new organizations were added
    • Scan the venue map
    • Implement your Expo strategy
    • Listen attentively to employers, take notes, and grab business cards
    • Be prepared to ask questions
  • After the Expo
    • Follow up on promises
    • Pursue job leads
    • Don’t forget to write thank you notes!!

What advice would you add?

We are looking forward to a successful event!

Joining the Team

By Kristen Aquilino, International Career Fellow

Hi everyone! It’s very exciting to be here at Elon and a part of the SPDC team. As Danielle mentioned in her post on Monday, I just recently arrived and thought this would be a great opportunity to say… thank you for such a warm welcome!

Three weeks ago I started as an International Career Advising Fellow and am thrilled to be able to work with students and colleagues to help foster the global career aspirations of the Elon student community. So far it has been a wonderful whirlwind of meeting new people, training, settling in, and learning about all that the university has to offer.

My path to Elon has involved a variety of both domestic and international experiences, each with a very close tie to the field of Education. After completing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and International Studies at Penn State University, I worked to gain experience within education from multiple vantage points including consulting, teaching, and programming, as well as through completion of a Master’s degree in International Education Policy at the University of Maryland. As for this leg of the journey, it’s great to be immersed in the southern hospitality of North Carolina and energized by the innovative spirit of Elon.

With this blog, we (the fellows) look forward to posting interesting discussion topics, reflecting on our experiences, and sharing helpful resources along the way!

The Fellows Are Back and Settled In!

By Danielle Golinski, Career Advising Fellow

Hello all, it is a true pleasure to be writing the first blog on behalf of the 2014-2015 Career Advising Fellow crew! Although this may be the first post of the academic year from us, it is just the beginning of our amazing journey and story that we will share with each one of you dedicated readers. It is going to be an absolutely thrilling ride, I hope you are ready to join us!

So what have the Career Fellows been up to? Well, first, there are now 3 of us; 3 wonderful ladies working together every day and learning about all that Elon University has to offer and how we fit into the realm of things. Kristen is the newest addition member to our team, she will be sure to introduce herself. We are so fortunate to have another support in this 3-legged stool of our – the fellows role – team.

During the first 2 months of our time here at Elon we have breezed through training, the first day of school, and the first 3 weeks of classes. We have begun our presentations to various classrooms and campus organizations, met with a wonderful group of Elon’s Senior Staff, met with and have gotten to know the Student Professional Development Center and all of its staff members, and we have learned about Elon’s mission and strategic plan all while settling into our new on-campus apartment (with a can’t be beat 2-minute walking commute) and surrounding environment. It sure has been a lot, but every moment of every day has been engaging, educational, rewarding, and most of all, fun!

Feel free to send us all positive vibes as we dig deeper into the year. To end, I would like to include a quote that I most recently put on my LinkedIn profile because I feel that it expresses exactly who and I am and why I am here “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

Just Live Your Life

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about creating your future and seizing opportunities when they are presented.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with students in the “Life Entrepreneur Program (LEP)” this year. The program “prepares students to craft meaningful and flexible life plans in light of the ever changing, fast paced world outside of Elon”. We looked at each student’s strengths and helped them to discover their core identify. We looked at how they use these strengths and helped them realize the unique talents they have to contribute to the world. They prepared their resumes, interview skills and their all-important 1-minute pitches in order to be ready when opportunity knocks. “These skills will help students better align their core identity with their professional and personal goals.”

In the book titled “Luck is No Accident”, the author explains that we must remain open to change and accept where we are at the moment, knowing that there is a purpose. In the end all of the dots somehow seem to connect, even when you’re not sure they can. This was an evident theme that arose as guests shared their stories during a young professionals panel I hosted for a group of Transition Strategies students. One of our panelists realized mid-way through a doctoral program that it was the wrong path and completely changed direction. The individuals this person met and the experiences they had however led to the next opportunity and the next culminating in a position and a place in life they are very happy with.

So, are you charting your own course or letting someone or something else do it for you? My hope is that you set a goal to follow your passions and interests, even when the vision is fuzzy. Chances are the course will change anyway, but there is a reason you are where you are and you will get where you’re going.

Check out this fantastic TED talk to learn how you can become a Life Entrepreneur!

Fellows Update: What happened to the Fellows 1.0?

By Marianne Brigola, Assistant Director of Career Services for the School of Communications, Career Fellow 2011-2012

Here are Elon, we are in the midst of Planning Week. Students arrive move in on Friday and the Fall 2013 semester officially starts next Tuesday.  Soon, our new Career Fellows, Rayna Anderson + Danielle Garrison will be updating this blog weekly. Before they start though, some of you might be wondering where the previous fellows have gone on to work. As you can see in previous entries, Katie Smith has started at Duke University, down the road in Durham, NC, as an Assistant Director of Career Services for STEM students. Mikkie Hornstein returned to Vanderbilt University as a Study Abroad Advisor in the Global Education Office. But what about Ashley Pinney and myself?

This past year, Ashley served as a Senior Career Fellow, working with Student Professional Development Center and Katie and Mikki to continue providing career development outreach programs and further developing the Career Fellows program.  After another summer as Internship Coordinator for Elon in NY and bridges in NY, Ashley recently started her new role as Senior Program Manager for at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. She is working with the MBA program there, and her position includes travel to Fuqua’s international locations, including China, South Africa, Russia, the Middle East and the UK.

After completing the Fellows Program, I accepted a position as a Career Counselor for the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. I had the opportunity to experience working at a large, public institution (with an office in the football stadium!) and learned a great deal from my colleagues. As much as I enjoyed my time at U.Va., when I learned that the Student Professional Development Center at Elon had an opening for a career counselor for the School of Communications, I knew I couldn’t turn down the chance to return to such a great university and a great team! Just this past July, I returned to Elon as the Assistant Director of Career Services for the School of Communications, a role previously held by the fantastic genius behind the Fellows program, Ross Wade.

My new office in McEwen, home to the School of Communications from Under the Oaks

My new office in McEwen, home to the School of Communications from Under the Oaks

So, here we are–at the start of another school year, the 125th birthday of Elon University. Two years ago, I came to this campus as a Fellow, not quite sure what I was getting myself into, but confident that I would learn and develop as a professional. So, welcome to our new Fellows, Rayna + Danielle–I am so excited for the two of you and I can’t wait to see what impact you will have on the students of Elon and the Fellows program. Long live Elon!

Resumes and Cover Letters

Created by: Katie Smith, 2012-2013 Career Advising Fellow


I’ve found myself talking about resumes and cover letters a lot lately. I presented on the topic last weekend for the 160-member sorority chapter of Phi Mu, on Monday for the Math and Statistics Transitions Strategies course that I am currently co-teaching with faculty member Lisa Rosenberg, and yesterday for the Leadership Transitions Strategies course taught by Steve Mencarini and Janis Baughman. Many students are working on these documents as they apply for on-campus opportunities such as the coveted University Guide position in the Admissions Office and in preparation for the upcoming spring break. Further, Mikki and I are currently in the midst of reviewing the resumes and cover letters of Career Fellow candidates for the 2013-2014 academic year, and lastly, the two of us continue to polish our own documents as we prepare for our next steps.

Although a well-written resume and cover letter are crucial to a job search, many students do not learn how to create these documents prior to their interaction with career services at the college level. In reflection of the conversations that I have most frequently on these topics, I wanted to share some general resume tips for students:

  • Be sure to not only list your experiences, but also to provide details (typically in the form of bullet points) describing what you did at the job/internship/leadership role, your accomplishments, and the skills that you gained.
  • When recounting experiences on your resume, be specific. Compare “assisted with fundraising” to “assisted with the creation and execution of a campus-wide philanthropy event, raising over $2,000.” The second phrase is more specific, and much stronger.
  • Resume formatting should be consistent and clean.
  •  Sections should be arranged to highlight your most relevant experiences at the top of your resume.
  • Undergraduate resumes should be kept to one page.

For cover letters:

  • Try to address the letter to a specific person. If you cannot find a person’s name, addressing the letter to the company or department you are applying to is typically better than “To Whom it May Concern.”
  • Your cover letter should focus on how you will benefit the position and the company instead of how the position will benefit you.
  • Each cover letter should be different and catered to the company, the position, and the job description.
  • A cover letter is not a duplication of a resume. Instead, it should highlight a few of your most relevant experiences, providing additional detail and drawing direct parallels between past experiences and the opportunity to which you are applying.

There are, of course, probably one hundred more tips that I could list above for each, which is why it’s a good idea for students to visit the Student Professional Development Center early and often. It is our hope that first year students will use our services, establishing a strong foundation for continuing to build experience and articulate skills in a professional manner. Additionally, students who use our services early in their academic careers still have time to consider how they want to shape their time at Elon. What do underclass students want their resumes and cover letters to look like once they are seniors? How can they get there? We’re happy to work with students to answer any of these questions.

While reviewing resumes and cover letters is a crucial part of our job, a great deal goes into preparing students for opportunities related to their professional interests. Establishing an excellent resume and cover letter is just the start.