Fellowship Finale & Moving Forward

By: Beth Mannella, Career Advising Fellow (2015-2016)

Since beginning the Career Advising Fellowship in July 2015, my experience at Elon in the SPDC has been the most rewarding post-master’s experience possible.

Fellows at Student Org Fair

Latisha Taylor and Beth Mannella (2015-2016 Career Advising Fellows) tabling at the Student Organization Fair in September 2015

Looking back: In preparation for my Career Advising Fellowship interview one year ago (to this day!), I read numerous blog posts, and I looked forward to the prospect of learning industry trends and overall knowledge of career services to then share on this blog. Throughout my fellowship, I wrote blog posts on new beginnings, things coming full circle, ePortfolio tips, media analytics, updating cover letters, and continuing to search for a job/internship during March madness! My content developed from attending presentations hosted by my colleagues in the School of Communications, teaching five sections of Transition Strategies courses, and meeting one-on-one with students. These opportunities served as means of gaining first-hand knowledge of challenges students face regarding professional development, as well as learn feedback from employers to share with students and colleagues beyond Elon.

Gratitude: Prior to joining Elon, I ran residence halls for four years and was seeking a new functional area within higher education to start my career. Elon provided endless opportunities throughout the fellowship that led me to a career in which I am excited to wake up to every morning! Throughout the fellowship, attending conferences, managing on-campus employer relations in the fall semester, presenting to students on finding careers in new-to-me areas (criminal justice, geriatrics, history), and having support from an office who appreciates, respects, challenges, and encourages the fellows has been invaluable. Every day for the past nine months, I felt gratitude toward Elon and my colleagues for providing this Career Advising Fellowship and all of the opportunities embedded in the fellowship.

Moving forward: After the fellowship, I am joining Action Greensboro in Greensboro, NC as the Program Director for a new initiative, the Opportunity Greensboro Summer Fellows Program. This position combines many aspects of career services that I gained experience in (and realized I loved) during my fellowship. As the Program Director, I will work with a cohort of students from the seven local Greensboro colleges and universities, each respective institution’s career services office, and organizations throughout Greensboro who host local college students (my cohort of Summer Fellows) in paid summer internships. To learn more about the Summer Fellows Program, which launches summer 2016, feel free to check out the website here! In addition, my supervisor is an Elon alumna, which is great!

Overall: It is amazing to explore new career areas and find a position/office/environment that truly fits. I am forever grateful for the Career Advising Fellowship in the SPDC and the greater Elon University community for providing ten incredible months. I am looking forward to staying nearby in Greensboro and continuing to support the Career Advising Fellows, while engaging with the SPDC in my new position!

 

Resume Tips Courtesy of Beyoncé

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By: Latisha Taylor, Career Advising Fellow

Beyoncé has been causing so much commotion these days with her Formation song and music video, as well as rumors of a new album dropping. So being a card-carrying member of the Beyhive, I couldn’t help but to find some way to incorporate her into my next blog post with a professional development flair of course. All this time, I had no idea Beyoncé was so skilled at resumes. Did you? With five song titles sang by the chart-topping American singer, look and see just how much Beyoncé knows about resumes and what you could learn:

  • FORMATion
    • Although this song may have a totally different meaning, getting your resume in FORMATion is an absolute must! There is not a ‘perfect’ way of formatting your resume. The go-to section headers that you typically see listed on resumes are Header/Identification, Education, Employment/Internship Experiences, Activities, & Skills. Some section headers may be optional based on your field. Make sure your resume format has a clean and functional overall design to it with easy-to-read fonts and a visually appealing layout. There should never be too much white space but also keep in mind to leave enough white space so it doesn’t look too crowded.
  • Flawless
    • Beyoncé hit the nail right on the head! Your resume should be flawless of all spelling and grammatical errors. Have several people look over your resume for any of those mistakes. We often become blind to our resume flaws since we spend so much time crafting them to be as perfect as can be.
  • Upgrade U
    • While Beyoncé may be focusing on how to upgrade her partner, Mr. Carter himself, when it comes to resumes upgrading or updating your resume is essential. When you start a new position or begin an internship, update your resume as soon as possible. It’s a pain to have to do it right before your resume is needed again. Keeping your resume updated causes less stress.
  • Countdown
    • Like Beyoncé does in this upbeat R&B love song, your resume must countdown. Doesn’t make sense? Well, when it comes to the jobs and internships you list on your resume, they should be in reverse chronological order. Whatever position you are currently in or have most recently completed goes first and so on. If you have multiple sections of jobs/internships, each section should have the positions listed in reverse chronological order.
  • Ego
    • Just because you aren’t Beyoncé doesn’t mean you can’t have a big ego too. Your resume is the first impression that employers have of you. If you have any accomplishments you achieved while in your job or internship, don’t be shy, include them! For example, if you increased sales by 50% or you increased followers on Instagram by 65%, list this as one of your job description statements.

Are there any other songs by Beyoncé that could relate? I would love to know!

P.S.  While writing this blog, I found this awesome video by a Morehouse College student, Christopher Sumlin, that also saw how Beyoncé gives the best resume tips:) Check it out!

Job & Internship Search During March (Madness)!

By: Beth Mannella, Career Advising Fellow

As a former Wisconsin resident/graduate student/Assistant Hall Director, March was a special month where college students throughout the state dedicated their time to college basketball. If you are a current student seeking full-time employment or an internship for this upcoming summer, you likely feel the search pressure as March (Madness) has begun. While building your bracket and watching March Madness might be one of your favorite times of the year, searching for jobs and internships during basketball games could be part of your viewing experience.

New Job Ahead

A few weeks ago, Elon welcomed employers from G&S Business Communications and Foothills Brewery to speak about the job and internship search. Employers provide a wealth of first-hand knowledge about search processes, as they are the ones reviewing resumes, extending interview offers, conducting interviews, and ultimately assessing if candidates are the right fit for the organization. Whether you are in your second year of college or graduating this May, read through the employer’s insights below as you continue applying for jobs and internships during March Madness commercial breaks!

We asked: What do you suggest in terms of students researching the company?

  • Use LinkedIn, Google, and the company website
  • Check out a company’s social media – what stands out?
  • Rule of 3: know the job description, know the company, and know yourself
    • For example, in an interview, our employer from Foothills Brewery asks, “Tell me what you know about Foothills brewery?” It only takes 30 seconds to show the employer you’ve done your research!
  • Be prepared to thoroughly answer WHY you want to be at the company. Again, show them you have done your research and that you know yourself.

Bottom line: To show you have done your research, consider writing/saying “I saw _____ on social media and I really liked it because _____.”

We also asked: How do students stand out?

  • Cover letter! Submit a tailored cover letter (not generic) and PROOFREAD! Find something you can pick out from the company website (campaign, research, mentor program) and make it clear in the cover letter to show you have done your research.
  • Get in touch with current employees on LinkedIn and make a connection, then send a message to find out what they love about their job.
  • Proofread: Employers can eliminate 1/3 of submitted resumes due to misspelled words, incorrect punctuation, and bad grammar.
  • If you are invited in for a face-to-face interview, ask who you are going to be interviewing with, and review the interviewer’s LinkedIn profile to gain background information on the person.

Bottom line: Proofread application materials and connect throughout the search process.

Feel ready to research companies and stand out? There is one final bottom line for the job and/or internship search: It is soul crushing to dread waking up to go to work. You never want that. There is SO much opportunity out there so you don’t have to dislike your job – you just need to put in the work to find it.

We are grateful for the insights of employers who visit campus and engage with our students about topics such as the job and internship search. Thanks to G&S Business Communications and Foothills Brewery for sharing information with us!

P.S. March Madness begins March 15th!

Wait! What Did You Just Ask Me!? How To Navigate Illegal Interview Questions

ilegal-interview-questionsBy: Latisha Taylor, Career Advising Fellow

Picture this: You are invited to interview for that dream job you have so desperately wanted ever since you could remember. During the interview you are asked one final question that doesn’t sit quite right with you. The interviewer asks, “I notice you have a Hispanic accent, where are you from?”

You may think nothing of it at first; however, the interviewer may be treading on thin ice and seeing if you can legally work in the United States.

Interviewing for a position can be stressful enough but then when you are possibly asked illegal interview questions, things can get even tougher. Here are some tips and guidelines to keep in mind if you ever find yourself being asked an illegal interview question:

  • Illegal vs. Awkward—there are certainly illegal interview questions that interviewers feel the right to ask and should not. However, those questions might not necessarily be illegal but just plain ol’ awkward. For example, an interviewer may ask you, “how long have you been working?” They might be trying to guess your age but because they know not to ask that outright, they ask this instead. It’s more so an awkward question for them to be asking you how long you have been working rather than an illegal one.
  • How do I even respond to that!?—If you are asked what you think is an illegal question, there are several ways you can choose to respond. First, you could refuse to respond to the question. If you make this decision, be prepared for the interview possibly ending prematurely. The second option is to answer the question head on. If you feel comfortable answering the question, although you know it isn’t a question they should be asking, then answer. Lastly, you can ask them how the question is relevant to the position. If you decide to make this decision, be sure that it comes off as polite as possible.
  • Give the benefit of the doubt— Most of the time, if an interviewer asks you an illegal interview question, chances are it was more accidental than purposeful. Don’t first assume that the interviewer is trying to intentionally invade your privacy for malicious reasons. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Direct answers usually make better impressions, but if you don’t feel comfortable with the question asked, then follow the guidelines above to manage that question.

So how about the person that landed an interview for their dream job but was thrown off, when asked, “Where are you from?” Consider addressing it head on or redirect the conversation to a more relevant topic such as your strengths, work ethic, ability to fulfill job duties, or informing them that you are fluent in English as well as Spanish and how that will serve as a benefit in the role.

New Year – New Cover Letter!

By: Beth Mannella, Career Advising Fellow

As the first month of the New Year winds down, it is time to reconsider New Year’s resolutions. Have you set resolutions and kept them? I have not been one to set resolutions in the past, but as this 10-month fellowship gears up to begin recruiting for the 2016-2017 Career Advising Fellows, I have set personal goals of updating my resume, cover letter, and reference documents.

Regardless of where you fall in terms of searching for a new position, updating your cover letter will take time, effort, and attention to details. Latisha and I recently finished teaching a 3-week January term Transition Strategies course and had the opportunity to review first and second drafts of our students’ cover letters. Then, we held a cover letter workshop for first-year students in one of Elon’s residential neighborhoods! Kicking off the New Year with a new cover letter might be exactly the resolution you need.

As you review your cover letter(s) and make revisions, here are four suggestions to keep in mind. Remember, every cover letter should be tailored to the specific position you are applying for, so do not be afraid to personalize it. In addition, you will find that cover letters vary based on your writing style and the position you are applying for! Please note – my suggestions are mere suggestions, which stem from my experiences as a career advisor, instructor, and job seeker.

  1. Header: I recommend students use the same header for all position materials: resume, cover letter, and references. This allows for your documents to be cohesive, which is helpful when an application requires that all documents are submitted in one PDF file. Having a consistent header also allows for your materials to look uniform. *If you have an updated LinkedIn profile, be sure to customize your unique URL and paste it into your header. Don’t forget to un-hyperlink it though!
  2. Formatting: Be sure to keep everything left aligned. It might feel strange to have your paragraphs begin at the far left, but this is traditional cover letter formatting. Also, for margins, I recommend using the same margins for your resume, cover letter, and references (again for consistency).
  3. Tell A Story: Your resume (which is also updated, right?) will give specific, detailed examples of the work you have completed throughout various experiences. Your cover letter is a space where you can tell a story. Do not repeat exactly what your resume says. Instead, choose relevant experiences that relate to the position you are applying for. In each middle paragraph (aim for 1-2), tell a story that guides the reader through your skills and experiences.
  4. The Closing Paragraph: We want our cover letter to speak to our qualifications and skills, as well as give reasons for why we want the job! In your closing paragraph, use 3-4 sentences to remind the reader of a few skills you bring and thank the person in advance for considering your candidacy. Notice how I do not suggest reminding the reader of how to contact you? This information is above in your header, so no need to use space on it in the closing. Finally, if you have the capabilities to sign your signature, scan it as a PDF, then crop the image, this is a great way to imbed your actual signature on your cover letter.

As you revise your cover letter(s), I hope you will keep these suggestions in mind. Just remember to proofread, proofread, and proofread (and have someone else read your cover letter) before you submit it for a job application! Happy New Year, and happy cover letter-writing!

 

3 Tips for Staying Focused on Your Professional Development over the Holidays

By: Latisha Taylor, Career Advising Fellow

happyholidays

Time has surely flown by these past couple of months. I blinked and it was December! We all know that with the month of December comes not only holiday celebrations and cheer but also what I like to call End of year-itis. End of year-itis can look different to everyone. It could be in relation to the winding down of another intense college semester. It could be in relation to finishing a huge project at work. With either situation you may be in, the holiday break is much needed and anticipated. However, don’t “break” too much.  The holidays are the perfect time to recharge and reenergize yourself to work on your professional development for that first or next career move. Follow these 3 tips over the holidays to stay focused on your professional development:

  1. Update Your Resume
    • Use this free time to update your resume with new leadership positions you took on this semester or technical skills you just mastered. I suggest creating a master resume that includes every experience you’ve ever had, that way when you’re applying for a position you can plug and pull what’s relevant to that particular position from the master resume.
  2. Research Companies/Organizations
    • This is probably the most important step, but actually performed the least. Often times, we assume we know all there is to know about a company or we focus so much on knowing what the position requires and not on what the company is about. In addition to the typical Google search, try researching companies via LinkedIn and Glassdoor. Glassdoor is a great resource to see current and former employee’s reviews as well as potential interview questions asked.
  3. Conduct Informational Interviews
    • Informational Interviews are first-hand opportunities to gauge whether or not you would like a particular profession or to just get a sense of what that interviewee’s career path was. There may even be an alum from your institution who works in your desired field of interest, and lives in your hometown/dream city that would be happy to talk with you. In addition, by connecting with an alum, they will likely remember you when an opening is available. Click here for sample informational interview questions to ask and click here for sample informational interview requests by email or phone.

Have a Happy Holidays and see you in the New Year!

10 Tips: Media Analytics

Media Analytics post

By: Beth Mannella, Career Advising Fellow

Panelists Ryan Sweeney (‘10, Strategic Communications) and Nicole Martin (‘03, Business and Economics) engaged with Elon students to discuss all things related to Media Analytics, which was not a major when both panelists attended Elon. Elon introduced Media Analytics as a major for the 2014-2015 academic year, which is exciting for our current and prospective School of Communications students!

Below I’ve listed 10 tips from Ryan and Nicole’s experiences regarding starting a career and being successful in Media Analytics. Personally, Media Analytics was fascinating to learn about as a Career Advising Fellow with no prior knowledge. If you are also new to Media Analytics, keep reading to learn more!

  1. Communication: In Media Analytics roles, you need to tell the story and communicate it to your audience. Especially with agencies – clients are in the daily trenches. You have to see ideas and tell them what they need, while supporting it with data. In addition, it is crucial to be able to have a wealth of info but be able to boil it down.
  1. “Tell me about yourself: Do not go into your life story about siblings unless it is truly fascinating. This really means: how can you fit in here? Your response can include: I am able to change my perspective, I am very data driven, organized, off the cuff, open-minded thinker, strategic, and more! *Think about key words related to Media Analytics
  1. Interviews: You will often be asked, “What did you think about our website?” Be able to give examples of what you like/what you didn’t like. Also, show your curiosity – this shows that you do not necessarily accept things as they are and you want to dig more.
  1. Language: R – stats language is increasingly becoming a favored language for statistical analysis. It is all open source and free.
  1. Skills: Basic business communication is really important – you have to be able to speak colloquially to certain people. Cannot jargon, jargon, jargon because people will get lost!
  1. Social Listening: As trends in the industry are constantly changing, stay current with Avinash Kaushik, Seomoz, FlowingData, Social Control.
  1. On Failure: Failure is fantastic. Although failure is sometimes expensive, so as long as you can plan it out and test, then you have learning opportunities versus huge financial failures.
  1. Advancing your career: Psychology is very important. Panelists recommended students obtain a Master’s in Psychology over pursuing an MBA.
  1. Internships: If there is no internship available at your desired agency/company, offer to come in and write whitepapers for the company – this is a great way to get your foot in the door!
  1. Hiring: Employers want people on the team that are passionate, can be trusted, and can see the big picture. Keep this in mind (in other industries as well)!

We are thankful for the insights of Ryan and Nicole, and are hopeful these 10 Tips: Media Analytics resonate with you, whether you are pursuing Media Analytics or were unfamiliar with the field and opportunities!