Preparing for a Career in Occupational Safety

Occupational safety is one of the under-the-radar majors offered at UW-Whitewater, but it shouldn’t be. Year after year, graduates of the program experience a strong employment rate, along with one of the highest paying entry-level salaries of all majors at UW-Whitewater.

Power line safety IMG_5317-

Career & Leadership Development compiles an Annual Report of Employment & Continuing Education, a record of where the past year’s graduates are employed or are attending graduate or professional school. Here is a sample of where some of the safety grads from the past couple of years were employed after graduation:

I contacted several of the employers listed above, and here are some selected attributes that they expect students to demonstrate in their employment preparation before entering the Safety profession:

  • As a UW-W Safety graduate myself from several years ago, one of my personal recommendations for students looking for internships or their first job would be to spend the time up front on their resumes. I believe one of the most beneficial decisions I made as a student was to have Career & Leadership Development and the Safety faculty review my resume in advance.
  • Make your resume uniquely and effectively different in terms of organization, layout, communication, relevance and substantive content that speaks to the job description.
  • We are looking for students who can demonstrate that they have a strong work ethic. When reviewing resumes we are always looking for evidence that they are active in their education. Resumes should highlight past work experience, current GPA and coursework, and student or professional organizations. Review and have others review your resume before submitting.
  • Resume presentation and interview performance are samples of how one presents oneself; this is a skill that will be needed many times in the Safety profession.
  • During the interview, internship candidates should be prepared to provide examples that support their resume. We are looking for candidates that can demonstrate examples of problem solving, leadership, initiative, conflict management, and teamwork. A general understanding of the company and their product or service also goes a long way.
  • During the interview, express energy, passion, initiative and a hunger to enter the Safety profession; be willing to do what it takes to succeed. These characteristics may be verbally and non-verbally communicated by tone of voice, mannerisms, confidence and conviction expressed during the interview.
  • Lack of confidence during an interview can be a deal breaker. Know yourself well and practice interviewing so that you seem more sure of yourself.
  • Demonstrate a balance of sincerity and conviction for Safety compliance, along with interpersonal toughness and resilience when getting employees to buy in to Safety procedures.
  • I think the most important characteristic an aspiring Safety professional needs to have is being personable and relating to your coworkers. Knowing all the regulations and all the safety information in world won’t matter if you can’t build rapport and form relationships with your coworkers. Aspiring Safety professionals must understand that in order to get coworkers and management to buy into safety, you have to explain why you need safety, how to work safely, and most important is asking for coworkers’ and management’s input on safety. People are more likely to do something that they suggested or helped develop. A Safety professional has to know how to deal with all different types of personalities and leverage those different styles to help move the safety program forward.

Several employers seeking safety candidates attended the Hawk Career Fair on September 26. This semester and next, some employers will also be conducting interviews in Career & Leadership Development’s Bailey Interview Center for employment and internship opportunities in safety.

To find out which employers will be interviewing, check Hawk Jobs for interview schedules and attached job and internship descriptions.Then, be prepared to impress the employers, based upon the tips that are provided above, and the research that you’ve conducted about them.

Photo by N A I T.

Preparing in Advance for the Hawk Career Fair – Even If You’re Not “Perfect”

During a recent appointment, I met with a student who wanted assistance with her resume. In our conversation, her effective communication skills and interpersonal presence were apparent, and I suggested that she consider attending the Hawk Career Fair on September 26.

She was not aware of the Fair, and was almost apologetic with her concerns that she was: a) not a business major; b) not very involved on campus; and, c) that her 2.9 GPA might not be good enough to merit serious consideration from employers. She wondered if it would still be worthwhile to attend the Fair, given her “imperfections”.

We began to talk about her accomplishments outside of her academic identity. Some of her “imperfections” were due to the fact that she worked about 30 hours per week while being a full-time student. We discussed how her work ethic itself was distinguishing and appealing, and that she could focus on that, along with her effective interpersonal skills and presence, and lead with those attributes to promote herself at the Hawk Career Fair.

Moral to the story:  You don’t have to be “perfect” to attend the Hawk Career Fair. Just lead with your strengths, and let the conversation unfold from there.

Hawk Career Fair

To prepare in advance of the Fair, research the employers and the jobs and internships of their recruitment interest. How do you find that information? Here are the steps:

  • Log into Hawk Jobs with your Net ID on the Student Login page.
  • After logging in on Hawk Jobs, click on the Career Fairs & Workshops tab.
  • Click directly on Hawk Career Fair.
  • Select ‘View Employers’. At this point, scroll through the names of employers, or use filters, and then click on the name of a particular employer to reveal the Positions Available, Majors, Degrees Sought and Job Categories. The name of the recruiter(s) may also be revealed. If you want to gain a competitive advantage, you can really distinguish yourself if you contact recruiters and introduce yourself appropriately and effectively to them prior to the Fair.
  • If an employer has attached a job or internship announcement to their profile, read the details of the announcement, and think of how you can connect your background to the characteristics sought by the employer.

How ever you have grown and developed as a person, you can draw from all of your experiences to promote yourself to employers. Just think about the knowledge and skills that you possess – whether related to your academic identity or not – and articulate them in an appealing way.

If you need help with this process, you’re welcome to schedule an appointment with someone in Career & Leadership Development, where we can help you identify skills and attributes that you already possess.

Photo by UWW Career.

Is Teaching Abroad Calling Your Wanderlust?

On April 23, I worked at the Wisconsin Educational Recruitment Fair (WERF), which was attended by about 500 teacher candidates, as well as 38 school districts and organizations from Wisconsin, other states, and other countries. I met a representative from EduConUS, who was recruiting for teaching opportunities in South Korea and the Middle East, a rep from Teach and Learn with Georgia (the country, not the state), and a rep from Contact Singapore.


Attending WERF reminded me of the adventurous job searches of several recent grads, or current students, with whom I’ve worked with in the recent past.

“Anthony” is an English ed grad who has taught abroad for two years and is now teaching in the Philadelphia area. He landed his job as a result of working with EPIK, and his girlfriend benefited from working with Korea Connections.

“Michael” is a non-traditional, post-baccalaureate student who has taught abroad in Bangladesh and South Korea. He has worked with a number of placement agencies, but has less than positive things to say about them and urges caution.

“Lucas” is a post-baccalaureate chemistry student who has also taught abroad in South Korea. He did not use a recruiting agency, and instead researched everything on his own. He found the email address of a HR Director of a company called YBM Sisa, which for him ended up being a more effective approach and outcome than working with a recruiter.

If you are considering teaching abroad, here are links to some of my favorite resources over the years:

Here is a quote from one of the students mentioned above about the adventurous nature of teaching abroad:

‘Going abroad to teach is like rolling dice. Even if you read the books and prepare yourself, you never know what you’re really going to get. You need to be okay with that. It helps to remember that a bad year abroad is still better than a year in your hometown watching TV and working at a job that pays $10 per hour.’

Whether you’re seeking teaching opportunities out of the country, out of state, or in Wisconsin, please schedule an appointment with me, Brian, in Career & Leadership Development to discuss resources and strategies that will help you secure employment.

Photo by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Careers in Biology: Tips from Sciences Employers

BPAE cells

Each year, Career & Leadership Development compiles an Annual Report of Employment & Continuing Education, a record of where the past year’s graduates are employed or are attending graduate or professional school. Here is a sample of where some of the biology grads from the past several years were employed after graduation:

I recently contacted some of the employers that have hired UW-W science grads, and here are some selected comments from them about employment preparation.

Online Image

  • Facebook is fine, but control access and privacy, and pay attention to what’s on your page. If you’d be embarrassed for your mother to see it, it is most likely not going to make a good impression on an employer.
  • LinkedIn – Use it! This is where you can really refine your professional online presence. Highlight your education, publications, accomplishments, and get recommendations from reputable sources (professors, respected researchers) as appropriate. Read LinkedIn profiles of recent grads from your major/profession to get an idea of what should be present on your page.
  • Twitter is good too, but tweets should be relevant. Tweeting every weekend about how awesome the latest party was won’t help you in the long run.


  • Creative resume formats are not rewarded in science professions. Your resume should be professional, clean, and very easy to read.
  • Highlight your research topics and skills along with your talents and accomplishments.
  • Be succinct. Writing should be short and to the point. Run-on sentences or entire paragraphs will just get glossed over by a hiring manager.
  • Employers don’t care about anything from your high school unless you are an undergraduate looking for internships.


  • Be sure to contact your references to verify that their contact information is correct and to inform them that they may be contacted to serve as a reference. It is always most professional to ask permission of each person you desire to use as a reference. You want your references to be prepared to speak to your strengths.
  • Once a person agrees to serve as a reference, you should help them understand the company and type of role you are pursuing. This will allow the referee to tailor their comments accordingly.


  • Go through mock interviews. Ask a career counselor, professor, or science professional to interview you as if they might hire you. Ask for honest feedback after the fact about your interview performance and demeanor. Make sure you do not have any nervous habits that can be distracting to a potential employer.
  • It’s difficult to overcome an unfavorable first impression. Portraying yourself in a professional manner is crucial for a successful interview. A significant part of a hiring decision is based on grooming, clothing, accessories, body language, eye contact and listening skills. It is important to carefully plan the professional image you want to project. Campus clothing and work clothing are two completely different worlds. Unfortunately, many recent grads underestimate the importance of conservative, professional clothing when interviewing.
  • Get a suit or other appropriate business attire. This is especially important when trying to get a job in industry. Showing up in jeans and your “nice” shirt will not send the message that you are serious. Consider the money for a good interview outfit to be an investment in your future.

Several science employers have scheduled recruitment visits to UW-Whitewater in April, and several others are in the process of scheduling. Watch for announcements for those events, and be prepared to impress the employers based upon the tips that they’ve provided.

Photo by Joseph Elsbernd.

Teacher Career Fairs: Should You Bring Your Fishing Pole?

Sound ridiculous? Hope so. Yet, that’s what happened at a teacher job fair several years ago when a teacher candidate, with an apparent affinity for fishing, brought his fishing pole into the job fair, fully extended, with an index card on the hook stating, “Fishing for a Job.”

Fishing on Kalunkijärvi, Käylä near Ruka

Memorable? Yes.

Recommended? Probably not.

If you are an Education major who is graduating this semester and seeking a teaching job, attend a teacher job fair to diversify your job search strategies and to sharpen your interpersonal and interview skills. A job fair is a great opportunity for visibility, especially if you make a good impression in person, and even more so if your in-person impression is better than your on-paper impression.

In keeping with the blog post from two weeks ago, you may have to extend your geographic boundaries to consider employment in a location that may not be your first choice in order to help you secure your first professional job. Think of relocation as a great opportunity for your personal and professional growth.

In chronological order, here are several upcoming teacher job fairs in Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin:

Multicultural Career Fair
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Noon to 4:00pm
UW-Whitewater (University Center, Hamilton Room)
Cost = Free
While this fair consists mainly of companies and corporations, several school districts have registered to attend, including the School District of Holmen, Milwaukee Public Schools and Verona Area School District. The Boys & Girls Club of Dane County has also registered to attend.

Mid-America Educator’s Job Fair
Monday, February 27, 2012
10:00am to 3:00pm
Northern Illinois University (Convocation Center) – DeKalb, IL
Cost = $10 for non-NIU candidates
NIU students/grads are eligible to attend at 9:00 am, whereas all other students/grads are eligible to attend beginning at 10:00 am. Schools/districts from Arizona, California, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Texas and Honduras have registered to attend this fair. Review each district’s profile to determine their anticipated vacancies.

Lake County Education Job Fair
Saturday, March 10, 2012
8:00am to Noon
Adlai Stevenson High School – Lincolnshire, IL
Cost = Free in Advance Online; $5 at the Door
At the time of this post, 16 school districts from the Chicagoland area had registered to attend this fair.

University of Northern Iowa (UNI) Teacher Job Fair
Saturday, March 24, 2012
8:00am to 5:00pm
University of Northern Iowa – Cedar Falls, IA
Cost = Free
School districts from Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and Wyoming have registered to attend this event.

Southeastern Wisconsin Teacher Recruitment Fair
Saturday, April 21, 2012
8:00am to 1:00pm
South Milwaukee High School – South Milwaukee, WI
Cost = $15 in Advance Online
Typically, about 12-15 school districts from the Milwaukee area attend this event. Districts are yet to be announced. Preregistered candidates can enter the job fair at 8:00 am, whereas onsite registrants cannot enter until 10:00 am.

Wisconsin Educational Recruitment Fair
Monday, April 23, 2012
2:00pm to 7:00pm
Monona Terrace – Madison, WI
Cost = $5 for students/grad from sponsoring Wisconsin colleges/universities
The name of this event is a misnomer in that the fair is not limited to Wisconsin school districts. At the time of this post, districts from Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Texas and Wisconsin had registered to attend. In the past, districts from Alaska, Arizona, California, Georgia and Nevada have also attended. Click on ‘Candidates,’ ‘District Recruiters’ and then on the District name to reveal the district’s areas of recruitment interest. Registration, via WECAN, begins in March.

Take time to review the information for each fair carefully, because each event has nuances. Also, go back to the fair websites periodically, and especially as the event draws near, for any changes to the list of participating districts and their recruitment intent. Finally, arrive early, bring your professional image, pleasant demeanor and enthusiasm, teaching experience and knowledge, and plenty of resumes – and leave your fishing pole at home.

Photo by Heather Sunderland

How to SELECTIVELY Research Employers BEFORE the Hawk Career Fair

As a UW-Whitewater student or graduate, you’ve already had many opportunities to conduct research. Consider the upcoming Hawk Career Fair one of your best opportunities, because this time, the potential reward is substantial.

The Hawk Career Fair takes place on Wednesday, September 28, from 12pm-4pm in the Williams Center. At the moment, 106 employers have registered to attend the event. So, how do you find a list of the organizations that will attend, along with their jobs and internships of their recruitment interest? If you haven’t done so already, you can quickly establish an account on Hawk Jobs by logging in with your NetID at the Student Login at

  • After logging in on Hawk Jobs, Click on the Career Fairs & Workshops tab
  • Under Category, select ‘Career Fair’ and then Search.
  • At Career Event Search Results, go to the Action column (on the right) and click on ‘Search Employers.’ Without using any filters, click Search to reveal the Organization Name, Industry and Website of all employers registered to attend the Fair. The best research option at this point is to click on the name of a particular organization name to reveal the Positions Available and Job Categories for which the employer is seeking candidates (for the ‘Hawk Career Fair). If an employer has attached a job or internship announcement to their profile, even better. Read the details of the announcement, and think of how you can connect your background to the characteristics sought by the employer. Be prepared to communicate the qualifications in your background to those identified in the announcement. Review the employer’s website, and mention something about that research that is relevant to your profession, that will distinguish you and which appeals to the recruiter.

Do you need to research all 100+ organizations? No, just do a selective, targeted search using some of the filters, such as Position Type, Major, or Job Category. By the way, some organizations may not have completely accurate, up to the moment information on their recruitment profile for the Fair. And although their profile may not have indicated an interest in your qualifications for the Hawk Career Fair itself, they may be interested in your qualifications in the near future, and by the time you graduate.

If you want to take your research one step further, use LinkedIn to identify UW-Whitewater graduates that are working for the employer in a similar capacity. Contact an alumnus, and find out directly from that graduate some personalized information about the employer, job, or internship itself. If you can take your research to this level by obtaining information from internal, informal sources as well as formal, canned sources, you will have an edge over your competition.

Photo by: sffoghorn