Category Archives: Career Development

How to Sell Yourself at the Career Fair

A career fair is a great place to gather information about potential employers and make contacts that can lead to your first job. Here’s some advice on how to make the most of your time.

5 Things to Take to the Career Fair

 

  1. Information about the organizations attending. Gather information as you would for a job interview on organizations you’re interested in talking to. To maximize the brief time you have with each employer, you need to know how your skills and interests match their needs. And don’t just concentrate on the “big names.” There are often great opportunities with smaller companies or those with which you are not familiar.
  2. A 30-second “sales pitch.” Share basic information about yourself and your career interests like this: “Hello, I’m Carrie Jones. I’m a senior here at Wonderful University and I’m majoring in English. I’m very interested in a marketing career. As you can see on my resume, I just completed an internship in the Marketing Division of the ABC Company in Peoria. I’ve taken some courses in business marketing. I’m very interested in talking with you about marketing opportunities with your organization.”
  3. Copies of your resume (10 – 15, depending on the size of the event). Be sure it represents your knowledge, skills, and abilities effectively. It needs to look professional—easy to read format on plain white or cream colored paper—and be free of typos. If you are looking at several career options, you may want to have two or more targeted resumes with different career objectives!
  4. A smile, a strong handshake, and a positive attitude. First impressions are important. Approach an employer, smile, and offer your hand when you introduce yourself.
  5. Energy! Career fairs require you to be on your feet moving from table to table for an hour or so. Each time you meet someone, be at your best!

 

5 Things Not to Do at the Career Fair

 

  1. Don’t “wing it” with employers. Do your homework! Research the companies just as you would for an interview. Focus on why you want to work for the organization and what you can do for them.
  2. Don’t cruise the booths with a group of friends. Interact with the recruiters on your own. Make your own positive impression!
  3. Don’t carry your backpack, large purse, or other paraphernalia with you. Carry your resume in a professional-looking portfolio or a small briefcase. It will keep your resume neat and handy, and gives you a place to file business cards of recruiters that you meet. Stow your coat, backpack, or other gear in a coatroom.
  4. Don’t come dressed casually. A career fair is a professional activity—perhaps your first contact with a future employer.
  5. Don’t come during the last half hour of the event. Many employers come a long distance to attend the fair and may need to leave early. If you come late, you may miss the organizations you wanted to contact!

 

5 Things to Take Home From the Career Fair

 

  1. Business cards from the recruiters you have met. Use the cards to write follow-up notes to those organizations in which you are most interested.
  2. Notes about contacts you made. Write down important details about particular organizations, including names of people who may not have had business cards. Take a few minutes after you leave each table to jot down these notes!
  3. Information about organizations you have contacted. Most recruiters will have information for you to pick up, including company brochures, computer diskettes or CD’s, position descriptions, and other data. You won’t have time to deal with these at the fair!
  4. A better sense of your career options. If you have used the event correctly, you will have made contact with several organizations that hire people with your skills and interests. In thinking about their needs and your background, evaluate whether each company might be a match for you.
  5. Self-confidence in interacting with employer representatives. A career fair gives you the opportunity to practice your interview skills in a less formidable environment than a formal interview. Use this experience to practice talking about what you have done, what you know, and what your interests are.

 

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Locating and Applying for Internships

An internship allows you to test your career objectives, helps you identify your talents, and directs you toward an appropriate career, while helping you acquire essential practical and professional skills you need in the business world. It also lets you see how well you fit into a specific company’s culture. But finding an internship takes some preparation. Before setting out to find an internship, ask yourself these questions:

  • Where do I want to do an internship? My hometown? Out-of-state?
  • What type of work would I like to do? In what field?
  • What type of organization would I like to do an internship for?
  • What do I want to gain from an internship? What specific skills or experiences do I want to acquire?

Locating opportunities

After you’ve answered these questions, you’re ready to start searching for internships. Here are some suggestions for locating internship opportunities:

  • Check out College Central Network (CCN) – NOVA’s online internship and job database for students.   Through the database you can learn about internship opportunities with local companies as well as connect to a national internship board.  Did you know it may be possible to earn college credit for an internship?   Visit this website to learn more.
  • Attend job fairs. Employers often use fairs to identify students for internships as well as for full-time employment.  View the “Upcoming Events and Programs” and the “Announcements” sections of CCN to learn about upcoming, local job fairs.
  • Network. Talk with friends, family, co-workers, supervisors, instructors, administrators, and professionals in your field of study, and let them know you are searching for an internship.

Applying for an internship

Each employer has its own application process. Does the company want you to apply online? What is the deadline? What will the employer need from you to make your application complete? Start the process early. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Create your resume.
  • Write a cover letter, if required.
  • Utilize the resume builder and Job Search Kit in CCN to create your resume and cover letter.
  • Work with a NOVA career counselor to discuss internship opportunities, have your resume and cover letter critiqued, and discuss tips and strategies for getting the most out of an internship.

Choosing an internship

Your final task is to select the internship opportunity that is the best match for you. Review your goals for doing an internship and choose the opportunity that best meets those goals. An internship offers many benefits, including:

  • Valuable experience. Many employers want to hire people who have experience and can step into the job and be productive right from the start.
  • Information. An internship will help you make contacts, get ideas, and learn about the field.
  • Practical application. You will have the chance to apply theories learned in the classroom to a real-world setting. When you return to the classroom after your internship, you will better understand the many nuances of business operations that relate to the theories you study.
  • In many cases, an internship can lead to a job offer.

Original article by Amy Marie Charland and Mary Ann Lawson. Modified by Christy Jensen. Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Free Online Job/Internship Search Tool for NOVA Students

Looking for a job?  Trying to find an internship?  Whether you are near a computer or on the go, a great place to begin your search is by accessing College Central Network (CCN) – NOVA’s online job board system.

The following are some benefits of using the system.

  • Search for jobs and other opportunities posted exclusively to NOVA.  Take a look at many local positions available now.
  • Search for jobs on CCN’s Jobs Central® national job board.  The job board contains over 500,000 opportunities from unique sources.
  • Check out CCN’s Intern Central® national internship board to search for internships.
  • Build a new resume with the Resume Builder feature.
  • Upload your resume and make it searchable to employers.
  • Check out over 1,000 career articles written by industry professionals.
  • View career videos and listen to over 25 career advice podcasts on topics including resume basics,  interviewing, and personal branding.
  • Browse and sign-up for upcoming workshops, programs, and events at NOVA and in the surrounding area.

Don’t delay – follow the steps below to begin using the system.

  1. Access College Central Network
  2. Select Students
  3. Follow on screen instructions

Contact Career and Experiential Learning Services if you are unable to access the system.

Social Media In Your Job Search

Social media is a great way to stay in touch with friends and relatives, but it also can be a useful tool in your job search. Employers are using social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to both promote their organizations and connect with potential job candidates.

While social media can help you research employers (critical to your job-search success), be sure to use it more actively—as a way to connect with potential employers. By following a few basic tips, you can use social media to get in front of hiring managers.

Get Noticed

There are a few key points to keep in mind when using social media as a job-search tool.

Create a Profile That Gives a Positive Impression of You Think of it as your online resume: What do you want it to say about you? Hiring managers can get a stronger sense of who you are, and if you’re a potentially good fit for their company, through your profile.

Be Aware of the Keywords You Include in Your Profile This is particularly true for sites focused on professional networking, such as LinkedIn. Many employers do keyword searches to find profiles that contain the skill sets they’re seeking in potential hires.

Don’t Include Photos, Comments, or Information You Wouldn’t Want a Potential Employer to See

Don’t Mix Personal With Professional The social media you use in your job search has to present you as a potential employee—not as a friend. Follow the rules for writing a resume.

Make Sure Your Profile Is Error-Free You wouldn’t offer up a resume rife with misspellings, would you?

Choose Appropriate Contact Information Your e-mail address or Twitter handle should be professional—a simple variation on your name, perhaps—rather than suggestive or offensive.

Connect Many organizations have embraced social media as an extension of their hiring practices, and provide information that you can use to research the organization and connect with hiring managers and recruiters.

    • Check your college/university’s social media groups: Many times, employers join such groups.
    • Check social media groups that are focused around your field of interest or career.
    • Search for the social media pages, profiles, and videos of organizations that interest you. Many organizations post job descriptions, information about salaries, and more.
    • Ask questions. Even something as broad as “Is anyone hiring in [industry]?” may bring responses, and asking questions about a specific organization—“What’s it like to work at Company X?” can give you insight into the organization and its culture.

Stay Connected Keep in touch with recruiters or other decision makers you may interact with in cyberspace.

There may not be an available opportunity at their organization right now, but that could change, and you want to be considered when it does.

Finally, in addition to maintaining your network, use social media tobuild your network. Don’t just establish a social media presence—work it. Reach out. Interact. You will get out of social media what you put into it.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers

Are Your Career Plans in FOCUS?

As you plan your schedule for your next semester, prepare to transfer, or get ready to begin a new job take a moment to focus on your career development.  Are you attending NOVA to pursue a certificate or degree, but unsure about what career options might be available to you? Have you decided on a major, but have difficulty answering the question – “What can I do with a major in _____? Do you need to fine tune your skills or add to your skill set in preparation for a career change? Learn more about career options by utilizing FOCUS 2, an online interactive self-guided career and education planning system that can help you:

  • Select a program/major based on your interests and aspirations
  •  Discover occupations matching your personal preferences and attributes
  • Map out your career plans, present and future
  • Make informed career decisions

FOCUS 2 is free for NOVA students.   Learn more about and access the system at NOVA’s Career Services website.

Also check ELI’s webinar schedule for offerings of the Focus on Your Career Planning webinar.  This 45 minute webinar will introduce students to FOCUS 2 and provide an overview of the career planning process.

Need some help?  Have a question?  Contact Christy Jensen, ELI Career Counselor, at chjensen@nvcc.edu.

Interview Time Is Show Time

Want to tell a potential employer that you’re creative? A problem solver? Flexible?

Instead of describing yourself as a “self-starter,” tell a story about how you took action when you saw an issue that needed to be fixed.

Don’t say you are “flexible”—tell the hiring manager about a change in your job (or schoolwork demands) and what you did to deal with the change.

Well-worn phrases won’t help you get the job, but concrete examples will!

Don’t say

The story you need to tell

Highly qualified Highlight your accomplishments in previous jobs. Emphasize your specific skills and note any certifications you have earned.
Hard worker Explain exactly how you’ve gone the extra mile for your job. For instance, did you regularly meet tough deadlines, handle a high volume of projects, or tackle tasks outside your job description?
Team player Provide examples of how you worked with colleagues or individuals in other departments to meet an objective or complete a project.
Problem solver Highlight a difficult situation you encountered and how you handled it.
Flexible Describe how you responded to a major change at work (or in your schoolwork) or dealt with the unpredictable aspects of your job.
People person Can you offer examples of your strong communication skills? Can you describe how you’ve worked with co-workers and customers?
Self-starter What can you contribute immediately to the company or to the department you work in? Describe how you took action when you saw an issue that needed to be fixed.

 

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Marketing Your Resume to Employers

Hiring managers get flooded with resumes for job openings. How can you ensure your resume will be looked at? Take some advice from hiring managers:

  • Do the basics.
  • Proofread for spelling, grammar, and tone. (Ask friends to proofread, too.)
  • Use a simple, easy-to-read typeface.
  • Follow instructions in the job posting. If the employer asks for information—such as references or writing samples—provide it.
  • If you’re applying by e-mail, your cover letter should be contained in the e-mail. If you’re applying online and there’s no space indicated for a cover letter, put your cover letter in the comments section.
  • Don’t let the informality of e-mail and text correspondence seep into your communications—whether e-mailed, online, or written—with potential employers.
  • Organize your resume for the employer—Organize your resume information in a logical fashion. Keep descriptions clear and to the point. As possible, tailor your resume to the job and employer, emphasizing skills, experiences, abilities, and qualifications that match the job description.
  • Customize your response—Address the hiring manager directly, if possible, and include the name of the company and the position for which it is hiring in your cover letter/e-mail response.
  • Make it easy for the hiring manager—Use your name and the word “resume” in the e-mail subject line so it’s easy to identify.
  • Focus on the skills and abilities you can bring to the employer, not what you want from the job—In your cover letter, answer the questions: What can you do to make the hiring manager’s life easier? What can you do to help the company? This is your opportunity to market yourself and stand out from the other candidates. Your resume should support that.
  • Be professional—Use a professional-sounding e-mail address or voice mail/answering machine message.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Where Will Your Path Lead? (Part 3)

This article is part three in a three part series that provides readers with an overview of the career development process designed to help you identify your path and continue on your journey.

Last week exploring careers and making decisions was discussed.  This week the focus is on finding employment and gaining practical experience.

Step Four: Finding Employment (also Gaining Practical Experience)

Are you trying to find any job or a job that is a good fit for you?  While you are in college have you considered obtaining an internship to gain practical experience in a field of interest?  Developing job search skills including identifying job leads, creating a strong resume, preparing for interviews, and networking will help you find and obtain a job or internship.

One resource to try now – NOVA’s College Central Network

This tool includes a database of current, full-time, part-time, and contractual jobs as well as internships posted by employers interested in hiring NOVA students.  This resource also includes career articles written by industry professionals, career videos, and career advice podcasts to help you develop and strengthen your job search skills.

NOVA’s Career Counselors are available to assist you with each step of the career development process.

Article by Christy Jensen-NOVA Academic/Career Counselor.

November is National Career Development Month.  Check NOVA’s Career Services website for information about programs being offered virtually and across the College in support of NCDM.

Where Will Your Path Lead? (Part 2)

This article is part two in a three part series that provides readers with an overview of the career development process designed to help you identify your path and continue on your journey.

Last week the importance of self-assessment was discussed.  This week the focus is on exploring careers and making decisions.

Step Two: Exploring Careers

Have you ever wondered what you would really do on a daily basis if you pursued a particular career?  You can explore careers by utilizing resources that have information on academic majors, job salaries, job outlook, required skills, educational requirements, and typical work duties.

One resource to try now – Occupational Outlook Handbook.

This publication from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is revised every two years.  Numerous resources exist, in various formats (including print, online, and video), to provide you with information on just about any career.

Step Three: Making Decisions

Are you wondering if a program of study,  major, or career is right for you? After you have taken time for self-assessment and  explored careers, you will want to evaluate your academic and career options to make a decision and develop a plan.

One resource to try now – Making Decisions section of NOVA’s Career Services website.

Here you can follow a step-by-step process to reflect upon what you have learned, make a decision, set a goal, and create an action plan.

NOVA’s Career Counselors are available to assist you with each step of the career development process.

Article by Christy Jensen-NOVA Academic/Career Counselor.

November is National Career Development Month.  Check NOVA’s Career Services website for information about programs being offered virtually and across the College in support of NCDM.

Where Will Your Path Lead? (Part 1)

This article is part one in a three part series that provides readers with an overview of the career development process designed to help you identify your path and continue on your journey.

Stop for a minute and answer the following questions:

  • Are you thinking about pursuing a degree at NOVA, but are unsure as to what degree and program to select?
  • Are you considering transferring to a four year institution to continue your studies, but are unsure which major to pursue?
  • Are you trying to decide on a career to pursue, but are unsure where to begin your exploration?
  • Are you trying to find a job or gain practical experience, but are unsure where to begin your search?

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, look no further than NOVA’s Career Services website to help you get started finding answers.  The Career Development Process section of the website provides an overview of a four step process that will help you with the following:  1) understanding self, 2) exploring careers, 3) making decisions, and 4) finding employment.  The career development process begins with self-assessment.

Step 1: Understanding Self

When was the last time you thought about what you really enjoy doing?  During this step you will focus on gaining a better understanding of yourself by identifying your interests, personality, skills, and values through career assessments. The results of the assessments will identify potential career options for you to consider and explore.  A list of free assessments and resources can be found on the website.

One resource to try now – FOCUS 2.

FOCUS 2 is an online career and education planning system that can help you –

  • Select a program/major based on your interests and aspirations.
  • Discover occupations matching your personal preferences and attributes.
  • Map out your career plans, present and future.
  • Make informed career decisions.

NOVA’s Career Counselors are available to assist you with each step of the career development process.

Article by Christy Jensen-NOVA Academic/Career Counselor.

November is National Career Development Month.  Check NOVA’s Career Services website for information about programs being offered virtually and across the College in support of NCDM.