Colliding Worlds: Student & Professional


You’ve been a student your entire life! The daily ritual of getting up, going to class, and doing homework has become nothing short of a habit for you. But unlike Peter Pan, you have to grow up and become a professional with a career. Here are three easy ways to act like a professional while you’re still technically a student.

1. Polish your image

You’ve slowly created a public image of yourself over the years. Whether it’s your voice mail, e-mail address, or social media presence, they all speak about who you are. For this reason, it’s important as a professional to polish your professional image. Change your voice mail to a simple one that a recruiter will understand and respect. Make sure you create an e-mail address that is professionally appropriate, no more “” Instead, opt for an e-mail address that includes some variation of your first and last name. Lastly, make sure your profile pictures across all media are appropriate. While you can make these accounts private, people can usually still see your profile picture.

2. Invest in business cards

Business cards are a great way to make sure your new connections have a way to contact you. I know it sounds a little weird to have business cards as a student, but they are the easiest way a person can retain your contact information. You can buy relatively inexpensive business cards, some sights, like vista print, even offer free business card options. As a student, consider putting your school name, major, and expected graduation date on your new cards. Be sure to include your full name, e-mail, and phone number. Bonus: if you have a LinkedIn Account, then include your URL.

3. Become an industry expert

Whether you’re a media major or a finance major, you need to know the industry. Make sure you’re up to date on trends and hot topics within your industry. Nothing is more worse than not being able to answer an industry related question in an interview. Here are some relevant trade publications for advertising, book publishing, business, finance, media, nonprofit, science/health, technology!


*Some of these tips are from Lindsey Pollak’s book Getting from College to Career. It’s a great read, and I highly recommend it!*

How to Be a Leader in a Technology-Driven World

This post was written by Career & Leadership Development Leadership Advisor Melissa Grosso.

Being a leader can be tough in the most perfect of circumstances…add technology into the mix and it can be a downright pain!

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people are always on their phones or tablets in meetings or while they are having conversations with you and it what they are doing on their said phone or tablet has nothing to do with your meeting or conversation. My second pet peeve is that we have forgotten about the old school “face to face” meetings.

Cell Phones

Not everything can be communicated or solved through technology. Here are my top 5 tips for being a leader in a technology-driven world:

Not everyone has a smartphone or uses social media, believe it or not!  Branch out and use other “old school” methods. For example, if you want to communicate a conference schedule to the group, using an app like Involvio or Guidebook is great for those who have smartphones, but also remember that not everyone does. Have a handful of paper copies available for those who don’t have smart phones.

There is nothing better than a face to face, in the same room conversations! Understanding when to have an in-person conversation is a skill that many people, due to technology, are lacking. Don’t send a text or email to ask how your performance at a job has been or that you need to resign from your position. It’s always best to have these types of conversations in person. Intent or meaning can be lost when NOT communicating face to face.

LinkedIn is a great tool to network with, however, it drives me nuts when people I don’t know try to connect with me and they keep the generic “I’d like to add you to my professional network.” Well that’s awesome, but why should I connect with you, especially if I don’t even know you? I know there isn’t a lot of space in the box, but give the person you are trying to connect with a reason to connect with you – they will be happy to connect with you once they know the reason why.

Everyone learns or hears about things differently! Don’t always use just one form of communication when trying to connect with others. Try to figure out their preferred method of communication and use it. It might take longer, but in the end you will have a much more connected group with individuals who know you care.

Put down technology and have an honest uninterrupted conversation. These conversations can be the most powerful conversations where both people are engaged. The meaningful conversations that can come from being technology free are priceless.

Do you have any other tips or tricks of the trade for living and leading in a technology-driven world?

Photo by Irving Martinez.

Your Best Professional Self

Recently I’ve noticed that more students are creating LinkedIn accounts. This is good! LinkedIn is a wonderful way to present your best professional self to the world. It works, and actually provides the reader with a more complete picture of you than does your resume.

LinkedIn is a great tool if used effectively, therefore we want to use the LinkedIn functions fully so we can more thoughtfully present who we are to others. Here is some very basic advice to new users that will help you successfully use this wonderful professional networking tool.

Professional / Graduate /Designer

Personalize Your Messages: I receive several requests each week from people asking me to join their network. It seems to me that 99% of those who contact me use one of the standard messages from LinkedIn, such as “I’d like to add you to my professional network”, or the slightly more familiar “Since you are a person I trust, I wanted to invite you to join my network on LinkedIn”. Seriously, you trust me? We just met. I must really come across as a trustworthy individual. When someone personalizes their message, it really stands out, and makes me want to accept that connection immediately. Personalizing your message is a great way to begin the relationship, and it helps you be unique in my mind.

Make Your Profile 100% Complete: Upload your resume; Use a professional profile picture; Complete the skills section, etc. Be honest, be thoughtful and intentional, because this is about how you show up as your best professional self.

Join LinkedIn Groups: Groups are a great way to connect on LinkedIn, and are a way to connect with professionals presently working in your desired field. Some groups have fairly vibrant conversations that can provide you with a perspective about that particular field, the work, or an employer. Groups can also help you identify others to whom you may reach out to in the future, thereby building a solid professional network as you begin your career.

Lastly, Learn About LinkedIn: UW-Whitewater alumnus Wayne Breitbarth wrote a very helpful book titled “The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success.” This book is a must-read in my mind, and can help you learn about the various features that LinkedIn offers, which are extensive. Talk with people who have great profiles, check out others profiles and constantly work to improve and enhance yours. Stay active and keep moving forward with how you use LinkedIn. You’ll reach a critical mass that will begin to pay dividends in the near future.

Photo by thinkpublic.

Friday Favorites – Social Media Best Practices

Last Friday, I wrote about five things you absolutely shouldn’t do on social media. We’re taking a positive turn this week to explain five things that you should do on social media. While nothing beats face-to-face conversation, and I encourage you to have conversations with your peers and friends over coffee and not over the Internet, here are some tips to help you when you are on social media.

Social Media

Be Social

Social media is social. It’s about interacting with your friends, your followers, and your subscribers. While you don’t need to tweet, ‘Thanks for the follow!’ to everyone who follows you on Twitter, following them back is good enough.

Following people or companies, or ‘liking’ their page on Facebook, who work in the field you want to get into is a really great idea. If they post something you’re interested in, retweet them, or comment on their post. And, if someone tweets or comments on your post, always comment back or favorite their tweet.

Be Active

When social media was becoming more and more popular a couple of years ago, many people thought it was just a fad. (Hint – it’s not. Social media is here to stay!) You might have jumped on the Twitter bandwagon because all your friends were on Twitter, and then tweeted twice since you started a profile in 2009. If you have a profile on a social media network, make sure you are active on it. Post regularly. You don’t have to go overboard and post 18 times a day. Remember – quality over quantity.

Post About Things You’re Interested In

We all know that potential employers will Google you, and then probably look at your Facebook and Twitter profiles. They will see your recent tweets about how a company recovered from a scandal, and how their public relations managers really pulled things together, and think, ‘Wow, this person is really on top of their game. They’re tweeting about this recent thing that happened in the PR field – that’s awesome.’ Be an opinion leader on social media.

Be Respectful

This one is a no-brainer, for most people, at least. Don’t be a bully, don’t over share, don’t gossip, don’t be disrespectful. If you are nice and polite on social media, potential employers will be more likely to take you seriously than if you were a bully. If you choose to make your social media profiles public, your professors, peers, acquaintances, and supervisors will be able to see everything. Make sure what you’re doing on social media is positive and respectful.

Tweet others the way you would like to be tweeted (Haha. See what I did there?)

Have a Personality

I think that social media is a great way to express yourself. You can upload photos of your recent skydiving trip on Facebook, you can tweet about the funniest cat videos on YouTube, and you can blog about your new job. Different platforms require different ways to express yourself. For example, you wouldn’t post all your skydiving pictures on Twitter. That’s for Facebook! But you can still have fun with Twitter.

Add a little personality when you tweet or post. If you’re retweeting something on Twitter, add a little comment before the RT. If you’re sharing someone’s post on Facebook, add your own opinion. Don’t be stiff – you can have fun on social media!

Are there any other tips you think that are useful to do on social media?

Photo by Aslan Media.

Social Media – Friend or Foe?

This post was written by Career & Leadership Development staff Nicole Golden and Jan Bilgen.

For each of us, social media technologies create a number of opportunities to share, foster, learn and connect. With each opportunity there is a chance you might enhance your life or complicate it. Here are a few suggestions to insure that your social media interactions enhance your personal and professional life.

Social Media

No matter what, once it’s out there you can never take it back

Just because Facebook has a delete option on your posts and comments or on pictures doesn’t make it 100% true. Anything on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. can be downloaded, or emailed around to any number of others or sites. Think of all the great and witty tweets or posts you’ve seen and how they’ve gone viral. What if that was a picture of you doing something questionable? Or a post or comment that was hurtful? Written in anger? Think twice before posting. Ask yourself, what do I hope to “add” to my presence on social media with this?

Consider multiple profiles

Separation isn’t always as a bad thing. If you don’t want to edit your statuses or think too hard before you click, consider having multiple profiles. Be very sure that those you “friend” or “follow” on each of those profiles should be there. I have a professional Twitter account where I only tweet work-related items of interest. LinkedIn connections that you accept should only be professional contacts if you choose to follow this approach. Because social media is an amazing tool to connect, most people start with friends and then blend in business connections, but consider the opposite. Seek professional connections first.  Starting a professional “profile” on a social media outlets will not only let you create your personal brand it will let you protect it.

Don’t let social media replace face to face connections

In today’s world, it is much too easy to only connect and communicate with people via social media. However, it requires technical interest and resources so might not be everyone’s first choice in connecting. Social media contacts should broaden in number and in quality your relationships. Relationships must have direct connections in order to be improved and maintained. That means face to face opportunities, phone calls, Skype, etc. in addition to what you are posting and tweeting. In order to have impact on what others perceive about you, you must be able to interpret their non-verbals and have a higher chance of being understood.

Know that social media (i.e Facebook and Twitter) can be huge time drains and drama vortex

Time seems to slip away if you’re plugged in 100% all the time. Being too “plugged-in” can hurt the task at hand, like homework or work in general. You may seem distracted to those you are around and is seldom positive multitasking. Use of social media can also impact your friendships in a negative way. It oftentimes is a method that individuals use to drag others into their problems or arguments. They also use it in a passive aggressive manner. Beef with something? Find a non-social media way to vent or clear the air of frustration- talk in person.

Remember, social media was created to connect and make the world more open and connected. According to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, “We hope to strengthen how people relate to each other and even if our mission sounds big, it starts small — with the relationship between two people.” So take a minute before you click, post and celebrate and make those relationships strong and productive!

Photo by Yoel Ben-Avraham.

Personalizing Your LinkedIn Account


LinkedIn, or any professional networking for that matter, is all about selling yourself. You have to convince people that you are the right fit for the job or internship opening.


Marketing yourself as a desirable product is really what you’re trying to accomplish on LinkedIn. Every marketing major knows the four P’s of marketing: Product, Price, Placement, and Promotion. Those 4 elements are at  the core of successfully selling any product. However, there is a now a fifth P: Personalization. Personalization requires a connection between the marketer (you) and the consumer (the prospective employer). Personalizing your LinkedIn account is easy! Here are three easy steps to achieving personalization perfection on LinkedIn.

1. Send personal messages.

When you click to connect with someone on LinkedIn, an automatic message is included with your request to connect. Do not fall victim to sending the standard message. First, make sure to delete the automated message. Next, write a short (only a few sentences) message to the person you want to connect with. If you’ve met them in person, bring up something unique the two of you chatted about. If you haven’t met them in person, tell them why you want to connect. Are they in the field you’re interested in? Do you have a strong mutual connection? Make sure to let them know you aren’t serial adding people on LinkedIn to get more connections. They need to feel like their connection means something to you.

personal message

2. Add your interests and hobbies to your profile.

While LinkedIn is a professional network, you should also share some personal things about yourself. I don’t advocate sharing deeply personal things about yourself, like how much money you make or the details of your relationships. Reveal the personal things about yourself that speak about your character and who you really are. There’s an “additional info” section where you can slip in a few personal details about yourself. Include hobbies that  you genuinely enjoy (e.g. blogging, running, crafting, hiking, etc.). Adding these personal touches can help a recruiter learn a little more about what kind of person you are. It can also lead to a great connection! Recruiters like hiring people who are like them, so if you share a common hobby they may be more apt to hire you.

additional info 2

3. Be active on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a social networking site, so be social! It’s important that you not only make an awesome LinkedIn page, but that you also interact with people on it. Post industry-relevant information, say congrats on people’s new jobs or accomplishments, and endorse your connection’s skill sets. Staying active on LinkedIn will help your connections stay fresh. If your connections see you posting information, or if you endorse their skills, they’ll be more likely to look at your page. If you’re feeling extra ambitious you can take it a step further and write a recommendation for someone. Maybe they’ll return the favor!


Photos by Marco Ghitti and UWW Career.

The Power of Personal Branding

We may all know about personal branding, but do you know why it’s important? Your personal brand can help in more ways than one. Keep reading to find out how you can improve your personal brand and how it can help your career!

Here’s a refresher into what personal branding is all about:

  • Your personal brand is a way to distinguish yourself from other people.
  • It is like any other brand, but a personal brand is all about YOU. It is all about your presence.
  • It is as if you are the CEO of your own company, and you are trying to promote yourself.
  • Your personal brand should “convey your interests, personal strengths, experience and future goals.” (Mashable)
Here are some tips to help you get started into helping build your personal brand.Build your online profile carefully

Nowadays, it seems like everyone has a Facebook page, a Twitter, a LinkedIn profile, possibly a personal website or blog, and even a YouTube channel. Your online profile can say a lot about you, and it’s important to post or upload only things that could help build your image. Most employers will at the very least Google you when they’re looking to hire. The last thing you would want is something negative to pop up when they search your name. So be smart about your online profiles.

After all, you are what you tweet.

Start something that is uniquely you

The other Social Media Intern that I work with, Heather, started her own website that has to do with all things beauty, crafting, humor and photography. Every part of it reflects her style. This website is something that she has created all on her own and takes a lot of time to keep it up to date. I also have a blog that I created when I studied abroad last semester, which includes my photography, posts about places I’ve traveled to, and some funny stories.

Starting a blog, website, YouTube channel, or even branching out to start up a club or organization on campus can be great ways to help build your personal brand as well as add to your resume and can help build credibility. Starting something that is uniquely you can only help you in the long run!

Own it

If you’ve started your own business, have a unique talent or skill that you could easily market, are really involved in an organization, or just want to get your name out there, creating personal business cards are a great way to jump start that. VistaPrint is a great resource to use. You should also figure out what makes you proud, famous or different from everyone else. If you’re at a networking event or Career Fair or even talking to your dentist or one of your parent’s friends, it’s okay to brag about your talents!

Once you find that thing that makes you unique, own it!

What does my personal brand have to do with my career?

You may not realize it, but you are living your personal brand 24/7. Things like dressing appropriately for work, showing up on time, meeting deadlines, your personal habits and body language, and working with coworkers and independently all have an important part in your personal brand. It’s important to showcase your talents and abilities as well as values and beliefs in the workplace. Remember that first impressions mean everything, but keeping those good impressions are just as important.

I hope these tips have been helpful! If you’d like to read more about this you can visit this post from our archives.

Good luck marketing your personal brand! Remember, you are the CEO of your own company, and you can personalize your “company” however you wish. Dr. Seuss said it best, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is Youer than You.”

Photo by Victor1558.

6 Tips to Network Like a Pro!

So you finally gathered up the courage to go to a networking event (good for you!). What seems like hours have passed, and you’re still standing between the table of smelly cheese and the table of overly sweet and sour drinks. Well time to buck up and start selling yourself!

Nowadays, life is a constant opportunity to get you closer to success through conversation. And it’s not about being seen: we need to go deeper, engage people in conversation and allow them to connect with us. A true conversationalist knows the key to meeting people, befriending them, teaching them, persuading them, and inspiring them.

Unfortunately, we are not all born conversationalists. Some people say they fear public speaking and networking more than death! But there are some very simple ways to start conversations at these events and promoting your own personal brand.

Here are some tips to get you started!

  • Smile. The easiest way to have people approach you is to make them feel welcome and comfortable. A simple smile can be a friendly way to invite someone over to start a conversation. Remember, you need to make people WANT to interact with you! No one wants a Grumpy Gus on their hands.
  • Ask Questions. Seems obvious right? Well a lot of the time when people are interviewing or talking about a job opportunity they do a lot of listening to information, instead of asking for it. Don’t be afraid to speak up! Employers and those you are interacting with with appreciate your curiosity and ability to start conversation.
  • Know Your Audience. Prior to the event find out who will all be attending. Do your research and see what these people are all about. Yes, I mean pull out Google and type these people in! You will have a lot more confidence approaching people and holding a conversation if you know a little something about who you’re talking to.
  • Read Them Like a Book. Try to figure out what the person’s motivations are. If you pay attention to body language and facial expressions it is easy to see if this person is “all business” or not.
  • Sell What You Know. You know yourself better than anyone. That gives you a lot to talk about and sell. So don’t try and impress these people about your knowledge of 401k plans when just yesterday you thought a 401K was the world’s longest marathon.
  • Let Loose! It’s hard to not feel uptight in your shirt and tie or blazer and skirt; but don’t forget the person underneath those stuffy clothes! Don’t be afraid to let your guard down and stray away from serious work-talk a little bit. For example, you might notice the employer has a Green Bay Packers logo on their portfolio. Ask them if they saw the game last night. “Yeah, maybe we should both leave here and go apply to be referees!” It’s okay to joke around and show some personality!

You’ve got the tools and tips. Now get out there and network, network, network!

Career Fair 12

Photo by Heather Schwartz

Electronic Portfolios

Know thyself. The accurate determination of what we like, what we value, and what we’re good at is one of the most important aspects of a successful career. An honest, straightforward self-assessment helps us know in which career field(s) we’ll be most happy and successful.

The process of self-assessment requires us to reflect upon our lives, our actions, achievements, and yes, our failures. Reflective thinking is a learned behavior that each of us cultivates over time, and in our daily focus on our to-do lists, it’s as important as ever to take time to reflect upon what we are learning and how we’re growing as human beings.

Electronic portfolios have been shown as an effective method to engage the learner in reflective learning. An electronic portfolio is a collection of items that provide evidence of your learning, skills, knowledge, and abilities. The process of identifying, gathering, and organizing artifacts that accurately represent you is what elicits the most learning.


It’s not necessarily the product, it’s about the process.

Students engaged in developing a portfolio have the opportunity to bring together evidence from various aspects of their experience – academics, co-curricular involvement, work or internships, athletics, and so forth. This opportunity to reflect on the interconnection of our lives helps significantly with our career development.

PDF Portfolio

UW-Whitewater students interested in developing their own electronic portfolio have access to various campus resources to assist them. Interested students should contact Ron Buchholz in Career & Leadership Development.

Photos by Hans Gerhard Meier and Hung Le.

Managing Your Online and Social Media Presence

It’s no secret—social media is a growing industry these days, and it’s growing fast. This being said, whether you like it or not, embracing social media is a must in this day and age.

First off, it’s a way to brand yourself. Social media branding is low cost and it’s a way to communicate with people inside and outside your company. According to a study conducted by Harris Interactive, 45 percent of employers said that they were using social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to screen their candidates. When viewing social media presence, 35 percent of employers said that they decided not to offer a position after viewing one of the previously mentioned sites. More than half of the employers who participated said that the main reason for not offering a job was because of provocative photos.

Secondly, social media is a way to engage, simultaneously, with a broad range of people. You can engage with your peers, employers, consumers, and especially with the younger generations. Social media can be a time consuming thing, but you can reach numerous people at the same time. Make sure to set some time aside each day to upkeep your social media presence, check your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for chatter and new ways to network every day.

Finally, social media can also be a learning tool. Yes, that’s right, a learning tool.  Information and feedback is given to you instantly. Take the time to check out those discussion groups you’ve joined on LinkedIn, and comment on the topics. This is not only a way to boost knowledge, but you may stumble upon a networking opportunity by giving feedback. Twitter has millions of companies and organizations that tweet out interesting articles every day. Local news stations are beginning to use Twitter, big name websites such as Mashable tweet out useful information, and you can even find jobs through Twitter.

Managing a social media and online presence can be a time consuming thing, but just remember that 45 percent of employers are now using social media as a tool to screen there contacts.  It will be well worth your time to keep your presence clean and up to par.

Photos by ivanpw and daniel_iversen