Why Do You Want to Work for Our Company?

How many of you think about this question BEFORE you step up to an organization’s booth at a career fair?

Question mark sign

What attracts you to that booth? If you’ve done your research ahead of time, this question can be answered fairly simply. They have the prestigious name you’d like to work for. The work seems interesting and satisfying. There are benefits with the job. They have job or internship openings.

You are just looking for a place to land… Sorry, this last one is wrong! It implies you didn’t do your job ahead of time to research the companies that were coming to the fair. Let’s take a little look at how you can prepare ahead of time for the career fair.

  • Know what you’re looking for – Do you want an Internship? A job? What type of company would you like to work for? What do you want to do? What skills do you want to learn/use?  Think ideal internship/job. You can always adjust your criteria as you start your research.
  • Know who’s coming to the fair – Most career fairs will provide a list of the companies and organizations that are planning to attend. Research the companies/organizations to find which ones match (or come closest) your ideal list. Then, figure out if you meet their ideal list (they have expectations, too).
  • Put together your resume – This is a general resume that covers your skills, abilities, accomplishments, etc. It will appeal to a wider range of employers than the resume you will send when applying to a specific company for a specific job. Career & Leadership Development can help you. Schedule an appointment (phone: 262-472-1471; in person – UC 146) or email it for a review. Be sure to have another set of eyes look at your resume.
  • Print your resume on resume paper – Don’t print multiple page resumes back-to-back or staple pages together. In general, a one-page resume, well-written, should be sufficient for a career fair. Make enough copies for the employers you plan on seeing, plus a couple of extra “just in case” resumes.
  • Dress properly – Business dress is always appropriate, but at least come in business casual. You’re trying to make a good impression.
  • Practice your elevator speech – Tell me about yourself in 30 to 60 seconds.

Best of luck to you at this year’s Multicultural Career Fair!

Additional Information & Tips:

Photo by Colin Kinner.

Veterans and Service Members Recognition Week

This week my blog will not be a typical career blog, but will cover some of the events happening at UW-Whitewater, as we come together to honor and remember our veterans past and present. There are a variety of exhibits, presentations, and events in which everyone from the university or the community at large can participate and from which we can learn. A complete list of all the activities can be found at http://www.uww.edu/news/archive/2011-11-veterans. I would like to point out a few of the activities the Veteran/Military Service Member Committee has planned as well as take time out to thank the many generous organizations and people who have helped bring this together for what I believe will be a moving and fun experience for those who choose to participate.

Spirit box exhibit pays tribute to fallen service members – This is a powerful and moving memorial to the 106 Wisconsin military men and women who died fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. Be sure to stop by the Fiskum Art Gallery to see this exhibit. It’s an experience you’re not likely to soon forget. I’m very excited about the opportunity we have to see this exhibit right in our University! According to Elizabeth Watson, Director of the Center for Students with Disabilities at UW-Whitewater, “When you can stand and see these faces, it’s very personal and intimate. I think it’s important to pause and recognize these individuals who served.” For a longer description and more information about what you will be seeing, go to:  http://www.theriseofthefallen.org/theproject.html .


Another event, in which everyone can participate, is the Honor Tree. It will be found in the University Center. You may choose as many ribbons as are appropriate to you to tie on our tree to say thank you to our veterans. Choose a color that indicates your support and honor to our veterans.

Are you a faculty or staff member who wants more information regarding the process our veteran students go through returning to school after being in combat? Then I suggest attending From Combat to Classroom: Transitions of Modern Warriors” presented my Cari Myles, an independent clinical Social Worker. Ms. Myles worked as a civilian social worker on US military installations in Turkey, Germany and Okinawa, Japan.

Check out the complete list of activities and take advantage of as many as possible. Be sure to note, if you are a veteran, there are many activities available to you, specifically.

Because I am a Career Counselor and I work with our veteran’s on campus, I would also like to invite you to come in to see me if I can help with any of your questions or related career needs. You may email me at craneyk@uww.edu or schedule an appointment by calling our office at 262-472-1471 and ask whoever answers the phone for an appointment with Kathy. And once again, thank you for all you have done for us!  We really do appreciate it!

How to Dress for a Career Fair

“Put your best foot forward.” “First impressions count.” “Dress for success.”

No matter how you say it, it does matter what you wear to a career fair. Whether you’re a senior, looking for your first, entry-level position, an underclassman looking for an internship, or a freshman who’s just looking to see what all the fuss is about, it’s important to be properly dressed for the occasion.

The Hawk Career Fair is coming up on Wednesday, September 28th and we want you to attend. However, if you aren’t appropriately dressed, someone is going to ask you to change into something more appropriate. What is appropriate? Look at some of these suggestions:

  • According to Monster.com, “The US Department of Labor says 16 percent to 18 percent of all job seekers find jobs at career fairs. So the reality is that your formal interview begins the moment the person behind the booth lays eyes on you.”
  • According to EmploymentGuide.com: “Business Casual is usually the most appropriate at job fair – nice slacks and a collared shirt for men (a tie is a good idea too) and nice slacks or a skirt and a blouse for women are appropriate. Make sure your clothes are clean and pressed. Avoid wearing excessive jewelry or clothing that is too short or revealing.”
  • Ehow.com suggests, among other things:  “Wear interview attire. In some cases business casual attire is also appropriate, but it’s better to err on the side of caution. Potential employers are much more impressed with those who overdress than those who are under-dressed.”

If, like me, you are more visual, here are a couple of sites with pictures:

My own piece of personal observation: Don’t forget to wear dress shoes (make sure they’re comfortable and polished)!

Photo by: brennuskrux

Nonprofit Organizations

Years ago I was working with a student looking for a job. As we were discussing areas where he could look, I mentioned non-profit organizations (NPOs). He told me he couldn’t consider them – his parents didn’t want him to work for a non-profit. It occurred to me at that point people don’t understand what non-profit organizations are and are not.

Service intern Gwen Casebeer works with a stream insect beside Natioonal Park Service staff and volunteers

First, a definition: A nonprofit organization (abbreviated as NPO, also known as a not-for-profit organization) is an organization that does not distribute its surplus funds to owners or shareholders, but instead uses them to help pursue its goals. Nonprofit organizations may generate revenue, but this revenue cannot be distributed to owners or employees as they might be in a for-profit business. Nonprofits include, but are not limited to, hospitals, churches, educational institutions, social welfare organizations, and charitable organizations.

Salary information: You may be surprised at some of the salaries in non-profit organizations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2007:

    • The average hourly earnings of full-time workers in nonprofits were $21.68.
    • Managers in nonprofits averaged $34.24 per hour.
    • Business and financial operations occupations at nonprofit establishments earned an average of $26.49 per hour.
    • Computer and mathematical science occupations average wages of those employed by nonprofits was $32.00 per hour.
    • The average hourly earnings of legal occupations at nonprofits were $33.53.
    • Office and administrative support occupations include secretaries and administrative assistants as well as tellers, dispatchers, and various types of clerks. The average hourly wages of nonprofit office and administrative support workers were similar for those in state government, $15.92.

Sample Job Titles in Non-Profits:

    • Marketing Director
    • Assistant Marketing Director
    • Director of Development/Fund Raising
    • Event Coordinator
    • Publication Specialist

For Further Information:

Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

Coming Out at Work

The biggest hurdle in coming out at work is determining if you are ready to come out. Nobody can really know this but you, and it is a big decision.

Gay pride 302 - Marche des fiertés Toulouse 2011.jpg

When looking for information on coming out at work, I came across a great article:  Coming Out at Work by Russell Kaltschmidt, Editor of gay.com. Coming out is always risky, but you may be able to minimize the risks by following a well thought-out plan.

Kaltschmidt’s advice is to:

  1. Assess your readiness
  2. Perform at your best
  3. Gather supporters
  4. Choose a strategy
  5. Conduct a trial run
  6. Consider the timing

Here are some other links that may be helpful:

Photo by Guillaume Paumier.

Federal Hiring Reform

Applying for a job with the Federal Government has been a cumbersome and complicated process. As a result, many qualified people gave up on the process.

Last year, the President mandated changes more in line with the application process of most jobs in the private sector. One major change was the use of a resume and cover letter versus a long list of essay questions with lengthy answers. You may still be required to answer a questionnaire or submit an online form, so pay close attention to the information listed under “How to Apply” in each job announcement.

federal hill flag staff plaza dedication

There are two places to look at when you are considering a Federal job. One place is the agency website. If you are interested in working for a particular agency, look for their website and see if they have openings. The other site to look at is USAJobs.gov. I recommend starting with at First Time Visitors.

Here you will:

  • Learn to create an account
  • Build and store up to five distinct resumes
  • Save and automate job searches
  • Save and apply for jobs
  • Learn how to use USAJOBS
  • Learn about the federal hiring process
  • Discover special hiring programs
  • Look for a job
  • See which jobs are in demand
  • Apply to Federal Agencies

Resources:

  1. USAJOBS – The Federal Government’s Official Jobs Site
  2. USAJOBS – Students and Recent Graduates Jobs
  3. Federal Careers by Field of Interest
  4. USAJOBS.gov Tips
  5. Federal Resumes Using USAJobs.gov
  6. USAJobs.gov Tips
  7. Federal Internships
  8. Why Public Service?

Photo by Maryland GovPics.

Event Planning

This morning as I was getting ready for work, I was watching a Milwaukee news program and watched an interview from the Milwaukee NARI Spring Home Improvement Show. They have over 330 exhibitors and more than 700 booth spaces as well as speakers, competitions, etc.

Home improvement may not be your particular interest, but have you ever thought about what goes into planning an event and who coordinates all those people/spaces/etc? An event planner – also known as a meeting or convention planner.

Other Titles:

  • Corporate Planner
  • Government Meeting Planner
  • Convention Services Manager
  • Conference Coordinator
  • Education Planner
  • Manager of Registration
  • Education Seminar Coordinator
  • Conference Services Director

The core components

Qualifications:

1. Many employers prefer applicants who have a bachelor’s degree in:

  • Marketing
  • Public Relations
  • Communications
  • Business
  • Hotel or Hospitality Management

2. Experience planning meetings for a university organization or club (Also think internships!)

3. Useful Skills:

  • Excellent written and verbal communications
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Good at establishing and maintaining relationships
  • Detail-oriented
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Meet tight deadlines
  • Maintain composure under pressure
  • Quantitative and analytical skills
  • Computer skills
  • Speaking multiple languages may be a plus

Job Prospects: Employment of meeting and convention planners is expected to grow 16 percent over the 2008-18 decade, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Opportunities will be best for individuals with a bachelor’s degree and some meeting planning experience.

For Further Information:

  1. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition Meeting and Convention Planners
  2. For information about meeting planner certification, contact: Convention Industry Council, 700 N. Fairfax St., Suite 510, Alexandria, VA 22314
  3. For information about the Certified Government Meeting Professional designation, contact: Society of Government Meeting Professionals, 908 King St., Lower Level, Alexandria, VA 22314
  4. For information about internships and on-campus student meeting planning organizations, contact: Professional Convention Management Association, 2301 S. Lake Shore Dr., Suite 1001, Chicago, IL 60616-1419
  5. For information about meeting planning education, entering the profession, and career paths, contact: Meeting Professionals International, 3030 Lyndon B Johnson Fwy., Suite 1700, Dallas, TX 75234-2759
  6. Additional career information about meeting and convention planners

Photo by mpclemens.

Interview Prep: Three Things to Do

If you’re graduating in a couple of weeks or looking for an internship, I hope you’re preparing for your interviews. In case you’re not quite sure how to prepare, here are some basic ideas to help you get started.

Self-Assess

One reason for an interview is for the person to determine if you’ll be a good match for the organization (and if the organization is a good fit for you). Think about why you are the best person for the job. What are your strengths, weaknesses, goals, and so forth? What do you bring to the job that others do not have? Make a list of your accomplishments and consider how they are relevant to the employer. Quintessential Careers has a worksheet that can help keep track of accomplishments in various areas of your life.

Research

Make sure you research the company/organization for which you will be interviewing. Also, research the department and position for which you are applying.

The company/organization website is a good place to start. Keep in mind that this is just a start. Here are some additional suggestions:

  • Vault – Go to Hawk Jobs. Once you’re signed in, look under “Career Resources” and click on “Vault.”
  • The Forbes 500
  • Job Search Intelligence (includes salary information)
  • Standard & Poor’s
  • Andersen Library
  • EquiRaise – a free calculator that determines average compensation increases (including wages and salaries and benefits) and cost-of-living adjustments based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There are many other sites to discover and don’t forget to talk to others that currently work in the organization/company you’re considering. Also consider finding out about the companies competitors.

Practice

This is commonly referred to as a “Mock Interview.” You are welcome to call our office at 262-472-1741 and schedule an interview with one of our counselors. You could also go online and look for “Interview Questions.” The point is to practice. I recommend working with as many different people as possible to give you a better preparation.

If you have further questions about interview preparation, check out our website or contact our office.

Tips for Considering Graduate School

Are you planning on going to graduate school? The first question I ask is “Why?” Possibly your career choice requires a master’s or PhD. Or maybe you like school and want more education. Another reason might be because you can’t find a job. Whatever the reason, the decision to go on to graduate school deserves some consideration.

Graduation

Evaluating a Program

Assuming you’ve decided to proceed with your graduate degree and know what you want to study, the next step is finding a program that is suited best for you. The process is very similar to what you went through in for your undergraduate school. You might want to consider if you want to go to the same university where you got your undergraduate degree or find a different school. There are very good reasons for either choice. You will want to know if it is an accredited school and by whom is it accredited. This is a very important fact to find out, as you will want to have your degree mean something. What is their reputation? Other points to consider are found on our website.

Applying to Grad School

Once you’ve decided on one or several schools, you will need to apply. Most schools will look at your GPA, your involvement, volunteer and other experience. The programs usually require a resume, personal statement, transcripts, an admission test and references, plus an application form and an interview. By looking at the university’s website, you can find out what each school and program will require.

Financing Grad School

How to pay for school is always a consideration. In general, there are no financial aid grants, but loans are typically available. As you are evaluating a particular program, look to see if there are scholarships and definitely look at graduate assistantships. Graduate assistantships are particularly important as they not only provide money, but also much needed experience in your chosen field. This is important when you look for your job after graduation.

These are but a few highlights of the process of getting into grad school. Talk at length with the schools you’re looking at. A visit to the school can be very useful. Speak to the department chair, other professors, students in the program and alumni if possible. If you are planning on an online program, find out the particulars of the program, the expectations, and what resources are available for you.

There are a variety of websites to help you including our website. You can also contact our office at 262-472-1471 to schedule an appointment if you’d like to discuss any aspect of grad school. You can also go to a search engine to look for any aspect of the process.

Photo by Joe Shlabotnik.

How To Transfer Military Skills To a Civilian Resume

It’s Veteran’s Day week and there will be a week-long celebration and thanking of veterans on our campus. This is also a time when veterans may be thinking of putting together their resumes for either graduation or an internship. Last year, I gave some advice to veterans about writing your resume. This year, I’d like to continue with some advice.

The first thing anyone wants to do is to gather their experience that will be useful to your new employer. Are you having difficulty remembering everything? The good news for you is your military experience has been recorded for you on your DD2586 form. It lists your military job experience and training history, recommended college credit information, and civilian equivalent job titles.

Now that you have a list of your experience, you need to translate them into skills and accomplishments. To do this, look at the qualifications and job description, check your experience, and decide which skills you used to perform these military jobs and what you accomplished by using those skills.

For example, if the job requires problem solving skills, you might say something to the effect of: “Troubleshoot operational functions to insure productivity and optimize quality.” In this case, you’ve listed the required skill – problem solving – and shown your accomplishment – insured productivity and optimized quality. Each job/internship will have its own required skills and accomplishments, so make sure you carefully read the job description to find what you need and list each one needed. Don’t list items that aren’t needed and stay away from listing your job duties or responsibilities. Stick with related skills and accomplishments.

A few things that are worth repeating:

  • Don’t forget volunteer information, especially if it’s relevant. Many of you in the military have had some very impressive volunteer experiences helping others. Don’t diminish that. These experiences can show good communication skills, diversity, problem solving, leadership, etc. Just because it wasn’t in your “job” description doesn’t mean it’s not an accomplishment!
  • Don’t forget other military advantages, things such as giving and following directions; working as team leaders (management experience) and members (teamwork is a highly valuable skill in the workplace these days); working with diversity; and the ability to work under pressure. Other advantages may include your military security clearance, attention to safety, working with expensive equipment, advanced technology and so forth.

Be sure to contact us if you need help with your resume and thank you for your service!