future career

The In's and Out's of Internships

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I don’t know about you, but the majority of my college career consists of long nights studying, trying to maintain a social life in addition to a normal sleep schedule, and family members telling me that an internship is crucial to my future career.

Interning seems a tad daunting: how can an unpaid position help me get a job after I graduate? How can I give up working for money to work for education? While all these questions are valid, students need to be prudent and consider their long-term future.

First, it might be a good idea to understand what an internship is.

The best way to describe an internship is a hands-on learning experience in a career field, either paid or unpaid. Internships allow individuals to learn on the job, make connections with people in the industry, and add experience to their resume. Companies today are looking for candidates who have years of experience behind them before they start an entry-level job. The best way to gain this experience is through an internship. Granted, not being paid for work being done can be hard; however, the long-term payoff is worth the effort, allowing you to move up the corporate ladder later in life.

The next question, then, is how can I get an internship?

In my personal experience, internships are best gotten through experience. A family member calling a friend, or a professor reaching out to a colleague. Getting an internship is all about who you know. Granted, you can always apply for internships to a company directly, but having a direct connection to someone makes it so much easier to make sure you get it. Managers love to hear friends and coworkers tell them about a potential intern, rather than just reading resume after resume. Personally, I’ve had an aunt call in a few favors to help me get an internship with a production company in California. While on my own, I can always send in an application and resume, but by having a personal connection within the company allowed her to vouch for me, which enabled the manager to trust that letting me on as an intern would not be a mistake.

What if you don’t have an inside connection?

Well, I’ll give you a few pointers on applying without one. However, my biggest recommendation is that you network as much as you possibly can now. Is a professor offering a trip to a conference? Consider going, and making connections with other students, business professionals, or professors there. You never know when you can call on a connection you made somewhere in college to help you find an internship or job.

A bit of advice when applying to internships, coming from a seasoned-intern: pay attention to the required skills and abilities, but don’t feel that you should rule out options that you are not completely qualified for. If you are missing one or two qualifications when applying, don’t let that hinder you. Apply for the internship anyways, you might be surprised when you receive a call back.

Remember, an internship is all about learning on the job, so managers will not expect you to be completely qualified. If you were, then there would be no need for an internship, and you could start an entry-level position right away.

 At the same time, don’t apply for a position that you are wholly unqualified for. As a marketing major, that would be similar to me applying for an engineering internship, or accounting internship. These kinds of positions are things that I have no experience, education, or abilities to speak of. Just because these internships are not the right fit for me, doesn’t mean that there isn’t something else out there that will be perfect for my skill set.

My next advice is to make yourself invaluable to the company which you are an intern for. Going back to my internship at the production company, I started on as an unpaid volunteer, coming in on my days off to help sort files, organize office supplies, and interview lighting directors and logistics directors. However, after a few days of hard work, the company realized that having me on as a full-time intern was far more beneficial than the one to two hours I had been spending with them.

An internship is the best option for work as students looking for lifetime careers. Without this vital experience, applicants end up less prepared than other candidates for entry-level opportunities. So take advantage of the opportunities present in your network, and find the internship that is right for you and your future career aspirations.

The Young Professional's Guide to Gratitude

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In the midst of Thanksgiving festivities and the highly-aniticpated Black Friday shopping, it can be hard for one to really think about what he or she is grateful for. For me, it takes a great deal of self-reflection to not only acknowledge what I'm grateful for, but to really understand why I am thankful for it in the first place. Is it because it satisfies a personal need or desire, or is it because it contributes greatly to my life and cultivates a sense of purpose within my being? I try to focus on the things that serve the latter; however, it is difficult not to be stuck in my own mind without paying attention to the external opportunities available to translate gratitude on a daily basis. 

Thankfully, moments of self-reflection always bring me back to my priorities and reaffirm a sense of graciousness in my outlook on life, especially in my pre-professional journey. I have been blessed in my career journey this past summer by working with middle and high school students in a classroom setting, while being surrounded by many accomplished women in the education field. I was - and still am - grateful for the experience because it fueled my desire to teach, and to even pursue a Master's and Doctorate in the near future. I realize that the thing I am most grateful for is the ability to serve others through my future career choice, because I firmly believe that education is the most fundamental element in the fruition of the whole person and who that person is going to become. 

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I decided to write a guide on how to translate gratitude in your pre-professional pursuits that will also help you in your future career.

Keep a positive, determined outlook. This is so incredibly important. A positive outlook can transform any negative situation into something that can shape your character in ways that will help you in the future. Instead of despairing and running straight to your fainting couch (I know, I have one too), view every rejection or missed opportunity as an experience you can learn from. Experience is the best teacher a person can have, especially in the professional world. Instead of perceiving yourself as a failure, take control of the situation and convert it into something constructive. If you feel as though you did not have a particularly awesome interview, prepare for future ones by scheduling a mock-interview with the Office of Career Services. Do what is necessary right now in order to better yourself and your future career opportunities, instead of settling for mediocrity due to a previous mistake. In the words of my grandfather, who is a 94 year old former FBI agent, "Never give up!" Your hard work and determination will pay off if you pursue your pre-professional journey in a state of gratitude, as reflected in your positivity and determination.

Each day, write down three things you are thankful for. This personalized practice will consistently put what is important to you in perspective. Whether you are thankful for something as small as the yummy coffee you had this morning, or for things of pivotal significance like attending a university, it will continue to cultivate a constant state of gratitude in the many facets of your life and provide a positive shift in your perception of the career you wish to pursue. Moreover, writing down what you are grateful for at the end of each day is beneficial in times of uncertainty, because - like the aforementioned point stated - a positive outlook is what keeps us motivated, determined, and steadfast in our journey.

Humble yourself. In any internship or early stage of your career, it is crucial to approach professional opportunities in the position to learn. In the process of establishing your career, it is inevitable that mistakes will happen or you will be ill-prepared for a project proposal or important meeting; however, one of the best ways to avoid mistakes is to ask the appropriate questions beforehand. If you are unsure about a certain procedure or how to do an assigned task, do not be afraid to communicate with your boss or supervisor. They would rather you ask questions now than to hear you apologizing later, and asking questions is a great way to establish yourself in the work place. A constant stream of applied inquiry will show your employers that you are engaged in your work and determined to deliver perfection. Humility is the best way to translate gratitude in the workplace, as it indicates that you are grateful for the opportunity to learn and to gain experience in your chosen career path.

Be sure to thank those who helped you succeed. One of the most important things to remember is that there is no such thing as "self-made." Rather, our success in due largely in part by those who took the time to mentor, teach, guide, and help us in our pursuits. Make sure that you maintain and nurture your professional relationships by putting forth the effort to show your gratitude. It can be as simple as thanking your professor for an informative lecture, or writing a thank-you note to your interviewers. When you attend a Career Services event, make it a point to thank the speaker for their time - it could possibly be the perfect opportunity to make a new connection. Last, but certainly not least, if your parents or other relatives are supporting you while you are attending school (whether it is financially or spiritually), thank them, thank them, THANK THEM. Obtaining a college degree opens up amazing opportunities that were unavailable to you before, and they helped make it possible. This point also ties in greatly with humility, and such a disposition will translate in both your professional and personal life.

Your words have power - use them. While we know by now that expressing your thanks is a huge part of professional etiquette, it comes down to how you say thank you. Keep a stack of thank-you notes in your desk (you can always find awesome stationary in Target's $1 and $3 aisle, for example) and make sure you send the card in a timely manner. Timing is everything, and it will show the recipient that they are important to you. Additionally, make the effort to tell them exactly what you're grateful to them for. For an interviewer, compose a hand-written note thanking them for the opportunity and the chance to meet them in person. For a professor who wrote you a glowing letter of recommendation, slip a card in their mailbox expressing how grateful you are for their time and how appreciative you are for their support. Even on LinkedIn, be sure to pass along your thanks for introducing you to a valuable connection. Once you implement this practice in your professional relationships, you will see how they will begin to flourish and become fruitful in your future career pursuits. Also, it enables potential employers to see you as a person who genuinely puts forth the effort to convey your gratitude, and for them to see who you truly are beyond the résumé.

In any profession, these pointers on gratitude will foster a fulfilled and active engagement in your pre-professional journey and, later, your future career field. In turn, you will begin to realize that your purpose is made increasingly more apparent to you within your daily life, as you seize each opportunity to better yourself professionally and thank those around you who made such resources available. While we may have legitimate worries about our future and what career field we wish to work in post-graduation, it is nonetheless crucial to our pre-professional pursuits that we remain grateful for the resources, opportunities, and chances we receive through the reserves of our universities, networks, and previous professional experiences. In the mean time, let us make the effort to emulate and manifest a grateful nature in not only our professional lives, but in our personal lives as well.

From all of us at Career Services, have a blessed, bountiful, and happy Thanksgiving season!

Career Exploration: Looking Inside to Look Outside

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Beginning a career may be something you’ve never thought about before, or you’ve been putting off considering for years. It might be something you hope to achieve in the next few months!

Wherever you are in life, exploring the career that will be right for you is an important step in preparing for your life after the “fun and games” of college are over. 

However, there are approximately 6 million jobs available in the United States alone. How do you take this staggering number of potential careers and narrow it down to find the right one for you?

Exploring careers is more than just Google-ing “Jobs” and applying for everything you can. It’s about knowing yourself, what you would best be able to bring to a company, and what you would most enjoy as a career. 

The first step in career exploration is self-examination. What are your hobbies? Have you held any previous jobs that you’ve enjoyed? Where can you see yourself in five years? Think about what you are skilled at and how it can help further the mission of a company. Always remember, a company will want you most for the value you add to their company, and it is important to know how you can best add value to a company.

Make a list of your skills and hobbies and see if you notice any trends. If you do, then you can further pursue that option. For example, if you program as a hobby, and have prior experience with a construction company that you enjoyed, then you may want to look into a career in architecture. If you are struggling with this, try new hobbies, or developing new skills, to see if anything sparks your interest!

Once you know what you enjoy doing and what field you would like to work in, it’s time to research what type of work uses that field and which companies can offer you those jobs. A good starting point is to look at the most well-known companies in that field.

For example, if you are interested in history you can look up jobs with The Smithsonian Institute to get an idea of what careers a company can offer. Some careers they offer range from Museum Specialist, who take care of the movement and display of artifacts, to Director of Programs and Audience Engagement, in charge of coordinating events for the benefit of the Institute.

If you’re more interested in the preservation and passing down of history, the Museum Specialist may be a more fulfilling and practical career for you because the qualifications of the Director of Programs may be far beyond anything you’ve done before, and the work itself may not be something you enjoy.

Read the job descriptions of some careers and see if they interest you or if your skills would be valuable at such a position. Picking out types of careers with larger, well-known companies will help you narrow down your search when you look to begin your career.

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Now that you know what types of careers you would like to pursue, it is very important to do a reality check. Go to a site such as indeed.com, and read into position requirements to see what the requirements are for the careers you are interested in.

One of my favorite jokes is that every “entry-level” job nowadays requires 10 years of experience, your PhD, and three arms.  Keep your career search realistic, and know that, without years of experience, it is going to be very difficult to start out in a company with a Director of Programs-type job.  Once you know the sort of experience and skill required for a position, you can look into gaining that experience or practicing that skill through internships, online classes, and personal effort.

An entry-level job may be the best option to get you to the career you are most interested in; starting out as an intern in NASA is much easier than getting hired as the manager of their space program.  Even if you don’t qualify completely for an entry-level job, don’t rule it out! The requirements on the job description are entirely up to the company, and can always be overruled if they see that you are a good fit for the position.

 Although the magic of Google can give you clues as to what careers you want to pursue, the worldwide web is not a good place to apply for jobs. Experts estimate that close to 80% of position openings are filled through networking.

But wait… I thought networking was for professionals? Isn’t that where a bunch of CEO’s got together for coffee and cheap variety packs of cookies? Networking is much easier and far more useful than that! According to Entrepreneur.com, networking is “developing and using contacts made in business for purposes beyond the reason for the initial contact.” Think about people you know who are associated with the fields you are interest in, because they will be your best allies.

If your former football coach has been working with Atari and you are interested in game design, set up an informational interview to see what his job consists of, or ask if you can shadow a day at his job to see if such a career is really what interests you.

Internships are a great way to network, because you work with people in the career you are interested in. Seeing what they do on a daily basis, as well as gaining experience in the field for yourself, will help you choose the best career for you.

Picking the right career might seem daunting, based on the enormity of the job market.  Narrowing down the list of careers is a possibility, but a better approach is narrowing down your own search through knowledge of yourself. Once you know yourself, you can explore the careers that interest you or apply to you, instead of filtering through millions of listings. The right career for you is out there, and knowing what you want will help you explore and land a more productive and fulfilling career.

Awesome Online Certifications that Will Supercharge Your Resume

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As a senior, I find myself constantly reviewing my resume as I begin applying for jobs post-graduation. Since I’m pursuing the competitive field of secondary education, my goal is to differentiate my resume from the rest—I want my potential employers to think, “Wow! That’s certainly something we’ve never seen before.” However, I had—and still have—difficulty finding the time to fit additional activities in my already busy schedule. In the midst of working two jobs, taking classes full time, and living off campus, cultivating my professional portfolio often takes a backseat. 

Like many students, I need something that will work around my schedule and pace so that I can invest into my future career.

Thankfully, I did not marinate in my pre-professional preparation plight for long—I stumbled across www.udemy.com, a website that offers online courses at an insanely discounted price, as I was searching for opportunities to expand my educational knowledge. From there, I took it upon myself to explore other options of free certifications and courses online that either pertained to my potential profession or indicated my desire to better myself career-wise. 

These certifications and courses will not only help your resume and LinkedIn profile stand out, but will also diversify your portfolio in ways thought not to be possible. Additionally, it is a convenient and time-efficient way a student can educate themselves online for free, which is perfect for the busy (and often broke) college student. 

Potential employers and companies will see that you are a candidate who invests in his or herself in a professional and personal manner, as evidenced in your willingness to explore options that cultivate your career. If you put in the effort, the outcome for job interviews will increase based upon your ability to continually learn new skills that will benefit your future employer.

Here are online certificates and courses that will boost your professional skill set and widen the horizon of job prospects:

 

The Digital Garage by Google

This free, online introductory certificate enhances your knowledge of Online Marketing in areas such as Analytics, Adwords, E-mail Marketing, efficient web-search processes, social media, and more. 

As an award winning platform, the Digital Garage offers various tutorials taught by experts in the field that can be taken separately based upon your specific interests, or taken altogether so that you can receive a certificate from both Google and IAB Europe upon its completion. 

It is a perfect way to convert your communicative and technological talents into a useful certificate that will enhance your resume and career prospects, as well as place you on track to further technological knowledge.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network’s Psychological First Aid

This online course is not only free, but is endorsed by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs. Hosted by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, it teaches you how to help children and adults who have experienced, or are currently experiencing, psychological distress after surviving disastrous circumstances. You will learn how to connect them to mental health professionals so that the individual can begin to heal in the wake of their trauma. 

There are also other free courses offered on the website that are geared towards aiding children and military families with their specific coping needs. This is an essential course for those who wish to pursue careers in psychology, education, law enforcement, and medicine, and will definitely enhance your qualifications in the eyes of a potential employer.

Microsoft Learning: Certifications in Microsoft Excel

Microsoft has an online platform that offers many certification courses for Microsoft Office—one of the most popular being a certificate in Microsoft Excel!

You will learn how to write formulas and functions that can be useful to many career fields, have constant access to course materials and instructor, and participate in interactive lessons that will keep you engaged. 

The courses offered will turn you into an expert of Excel and will be an asset to your resume and LinkedIn profile, especially if you are interested in a career involving business, accounting, finance, and even communications. 

In addition to Microsoft’s platform, there are many beginner and advanced courses on Microsoft Excel that are hosted by www.udemy.com, some of which retailing for only $12—93% off of its original sticker price!

Codecademy: Learn to Code

In this technological day and age, coding is playing a larger role in every career path as the demand for coding skills in various fields is on the rise. Be ahead of the curve, and use Codecademy! 

Codecademy is an online resource that offers free coding courses. It is perfect for those who are tech-savvy and innate autodidacts, and an extremely useful certification to have when entering any field reliant upon technology and computer programming. The website will help you facilitate the brain’s methodical faculties, as well as merge analytical skills into the technological field. 

The website boasts that 45 million people across the world have utilized the skills learned through their courses, which means that it is not only doable, but able to be applied to a number of careers.

American Association of Medical Assistants’s Medical Terminology Certification

The American Association of Medical Assistants offers a free certification in Medical Terminology that will be an amazing asset to your resume, especially if you are student considering careers in the medical field, such as Pre-Med programs or Nursing, or studying the Health Sciences. 

It trains and familiarizes you in the medical jargon implemented in healthcare settings, as well as extensive knowledge of Anatomy and Physiology. They offer practice examinations and study tools to help you ace the final certificate test, and enhances your knowledge in the field. (It will help you on Dr. Sallai’s and Dr. Curtis’s exams, too!) 

Students who wish to attend medical school will find this to be a perfect addition to their own prior medical experience, as well as a useful resource for future studies.    

Udemy: An Online Resource for Learning

Udemy features a variety of certifications and courses geared towards the enrichment of your studies or facilitating knowledge in a subject you were not particularly attuned to. Many of its courses are perfectly tailored for college students seeking guidance, diversity, and additional skills to help in their professional pursuits. 

While the courses and certifications offered are mainly geared towards business and technology, there are also many other curriculums geared towards one’s own personal development. Whether you are seeking to hone pre-existing skills, learn new ones, or simply invest into yourself as a person, the investment is certainly one that will prove to pay in spades!

Udemy has a plethora of low-cost courses, ranging from IT & Software to the Humanities. It is a wonderful resource for those who wish to grow in knowledge in many fields, as well as those who seek to better themselves on an intellectual level. Coupled with the essential assistance offered by the Office of Career Services, you will be fully prepared, confident, and secure as you enter into the professional world.

 

Whatever field you are interested in, there is an array of online introductory certifications and courses that are either free or low-cost that will bring your resume to the next level. Potential employers will wish to have you work with their company as a multi-faceted and well-rounded person, who takes the initiative to invest in yourself and your career aspirations. 

You will be well ahead of other applicants because you demonstrate your desire to learn and grow in knowledge of your craft, as well as foster the talents you already possess and make them THAT much greater as assets. 

Visit the Office of Career Services, or “The Den,” located on the first floor of the Student Union, to help begin your pre-professional pursuits and place you on the path for success!