Tag Archives: career development

5 Ways to Focus on Your Career Development

It’s National Career Development Month (NCDM).  Below are five things you can do to focus on your career development this month.

  1. Visit NOVA’s Career Services website to learn more about career development.
  2. Participate in the Career Development Webinar Series – a lunchtime webinar series that will take you through the basic steps of career development with the goal of helping you make informed decisions about your academic and career goals.  All webinars are free, but registration is required.
  3. Check out NOVA’s Events calendar for information about programs supporting NCDM being offered across the college.
  4. Follow ELIfe on Twitter to receive a daily inspirational quote along with tips to help you with your career development.
  5. Vote for your favorite quote on NOVA ELIfe.


Are Your Career Plans in Focus?

As you plan your schedule for your next term/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.

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

It’s Advising Week

Advising Week is offered every fall and spring at NOVA as a time for students to reflect upon their academic goals and career development in preparation for planning and evaluating their schedule for next semester. Advising week for spring 2018 will be held this week – November 6 – 10. Priority registration for continuing NOVA students begins on Monday, November 6.Get the most out of Advising Week by following the steps below:

  1. Attend the Advising Week Webinar Series: Getting Ready for Your Next Semester webinar designed specifically for you to select your next semester courses, verify your degree plan on your account and revisit your academic and career goals. Learn more about the webinar and register for the session.
  2. Use the Student Success Planner to build your academic plan and compare your plan to program requirements.
  3. Review your Advisement Report.  Access NOVAConnect to run an advisement report to view your progress and outstanding degree requirements.
  4. Take a moment to reflect upon your career planning. If you need more information about career options or would like to learn about a resource to help you build a career plan consider attending a webinar or two in the Career Development Webinar Series to Support National Career Development Month.  Learn more about the webinars and register for the session.
  5. Communicate with your advisor about your academic and career goals.  Be sure to take a moment to review your plans for the spring semester. Plan to have your academic plan,  advisement report, and/or career plan handy when communicating with your advisor.

If you have not declared a program of study or are not pursuing a specific program at NOVA connect with an academic counselor or advisor for assistance. Open spring registration for all students begins on Monday, November 13.  Priority registration for continuing NOVA students begins on Monday, November 6.

This Advising Week Series will focus on academic planning, connecting with your advisor, and preparing for your upcoming terms. Throughout Advising Week the ELI Student Blog will provide you with tools to plan effectively, resources to help guide your decisions, and answers to frequently asked questions throughout the process. Take advantage of Advising Week events on campus or virtually as you plan your schedule and register for courses. Reach out to the Student Services offices or Virtual Advisors with any questions you have as you are planning your courses.

Calling all Poets and Artists – National Career Development Month is Almost Here!

Did you know that November is National Career Development Month?  NCDM was designed to highlight the importance of life-long career development and the personal empowerment of all people. 

Help celebrate National Career Development Month by participating in the 52nd annual poetry and poster contest. This year’s theme is “Leading the Way to a Future Full of Possibilities”. There are various division areas for the contest including adult student – 18 and older enrolled in school as well as open adult – 18 and older not enrolled in school.  Learn more about the contest here.

Network For Your Job Search

Networking could be what helps you land a job.

If you take part in social networking sites, you probably have a pretty good idea of how networking can enhance your personal life. But, if you’re like many new college graduates, you’re probably not as comfortable about incorporating networking into your job search.

In spite of your discomfort, you need to incorporate networking into your job search: Especially in a competitive job market, networking could be what helps you land a job. In fact, many jobs are filled before they are even advertised—filled by people who learned about the opportunity before it was formally announced.

What is networking when it comes to the job search? It’s not about using people. Just as you look to build personal relationships through social networks, you want to build relationships to foster your professional life. These relationships can help you not only in your current job search but down the road as you build your career.

Networking is not one-sided: It works both ways. You offer assistance to others just as they offer assistance to you. Perhaps the easiest way to think about networking is to see it as an extension of being friendly, outgoing, and active.

Here are some tips for building and maintaining a healthy network:

  1. Make a list of everyone you know—and people they know—and identify how they could help you gather career information or experience.
    Who do you know at school? Professors, friends, and even friends’ parents can all be helpful contacts. Did you hold a part-time job? Volunteer? Serve an internship? Think about the people you came into contact with there.
  2. Sign up for an alumni mentoring program.
    Many colleges offer such programs, and they are a great way to build relationships in your field.
  3. Join the campus chapter of a professional society that relates to your career choice.
    In many ways, a professional society is an instant network: You’ll be with others who have the same general career interest. Plus, you may be able to learn more about your field from them. For example, you may be able to learn about the field and potential employers from others who share their internship experiences.
  4. Volunteer at a local museum, theater, homeless shelter—anywhere that even remotely relates to your field of study.
    By volunteering, you’ll not only learn about your chosen field firsthand, you’ll also be able to connect with people who are in the field.
  5. Speak to company representatives at career fairs, even if you’re not ready to look for a job.
    Be up front that you’re not currently in the job market and don’t take a lot of the representative’s time, but touching base with a potential employer now can help you down the road when you are ready.
  6. Attend company information sessions at your college and talk one-on-one to the recruiters who run them.
  7. Schedule informational interviews with people who can tell you about their careers.
    It’s best to ask to meet in person or by phone for a short interview, and don’t immediately start asking “How can you help me?” Plan your questions ahead of time, focusing on how the company works and how the person shaped his or her career path.
  8. Add your profile to LinkedIn.
    It’s free. And then, work your profile. Add work history (including internships!), skills, and keywords. Make connections to people you’ve worked with or met through networking. Ask for “recommendations” from people who have worked with you. You’ll find LinkedIn is a good source of suggestions for people in your field to contact for informational interviews.
  9. Remember to be courteous and tactful in all your conversations, to send thank-you notes to people who help you, and to find ways to help others as well.
    Don’t drop your network once you’ve gotten a job. Nurture the relationships you’ve built and look for opportunities to build new connections throughout your career. Getting started might be uncomfortable, but with time and practice, networking will be second nature.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Do You Have This Essential Interview Skill?

Congratulations! You landed an interview for your dream job or internship and you think you’ve done all the necessary prep work. Are you really ready to knock it out of the park and show this company why they should hire you? Before closing the book on your interview prep, you must be sure you possess this skill:

The ability to articulate your experience in a way that is meaningful to this particular employer.

The employer already has a vague notion that you can do the job or else they would not bring you in for an interview. Now, they need you to inspire confidence that will confirm their initial instincts about you were on point. Specifically, the interview process needs to assure the employer that:

  • You have the specific knowledge, skills (soft and hard), and abilities to perform the job duties
  • You have the motivation/initiative to do the job
  • You will work well with the team/clients and demonstrate emotional intelligence
  • You have problem solving skills and can offer solutions to company pain points

Now that we know what you need to accomplish, there are three concrete steps you can take to prepare for your interview.

1. Know the job description inside/out and do in-depth research about the company.

This is huge! In order to tailor your message to this employer, you have to understand who they are (see the corporate website, about us page, mission statement, press releases, social media accounts) and have a firm grasp on the key qualities they are seeking in a candidate. Most job descriptions will ask for 50 different things, but you can usually group these into three to five major skill areas (hard and soft skills).

2. Understand Yourself and Be Able to Tell Your Story.

This is an exercise I call “Your Greatest Hits.” This will give you a quick visual depiction of approximately 30 success stories across your skills areas and is a great prompt for those behavioral, “Tell me about a time when…” questions.  They are based on the premise that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

On one sheet of paper write 10-15 skill areas (for example, leadership, teamwork, cultivating client relationships, demonstrating initiative, customer service, project management, problem solving, data analysis, persuasion, communication, presentation, mentoring, product management, budgeting, coding, and other technical/non-technical skills. Select those five skill areas represented in the job description (from step 1), plus soft skills and other skills applicable to your field/industry.

For each of these skill areas, write two to three Challenge, Action, Results (CAR) stories. Challenge (what was the challenge you encountered), Action (what were the specific actions you took to address the challenge), and Results (what were the positive results). The answers to these should be 90 seconds to two minutes long and demonstrate your using that skill.

When doing this exercise, don’t write out long answers. You know your experience and should not memorize the answers, rather use keywords and phrases to trigger your memory. For example:


C: Wedding planner for outdoor ceremony/reception in Florida in July; forecast called for showers

A: Encouraged couple to consider party tent; called frequently-used vendor and secured tent days before ceremony; worked with other vendors to adjust to new configuration for reception. Ordered umbrellas.

R: Sunny for ceremony, but rained most of reception. Tent in place, dry guests, good time had by all. The couple was happy and guests commented on beautiful event in spite of weather.

3. Practice talking about these success stories aloud.

It will help you smooth out the flow (get rid of “ums,” pauses, and “likes”), identify areas where you need to come up with a better example, and in the process, increase your confidence.

By engaging in these exercises, you have made a significant step in preparing for a successful interview. You are now able to articulate how everything you have done in your career to this point has been building transferrable skills and leading you to this interview!

Article written by Tiffany Franklin, Career Services Associate Director, at the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers

Jobs and Internships Database for NOVA Students

Trying to find an internship?  Looking for a job?  Whether you are near a computer or on the go, a great place to begin your search is by accessing the Jobs and Internships Database for NOVA Students. 

The following are some benefits of using the system.

  • Search for jobs and internships.  Take a look at many local positions available now.
  • 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 the Jobs and Internships Database
  2. Select Students
  3. Follow on screen instructions

Contact ELI Counselor, Christy Jensen (chjensen@nvcc.edu) if you have any problems accessing the system.

Free Career Planning Tool for NOVA Students

Did you know all NOVA students, staff, and faculty have free access to 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

View a Getting Started with FOCUS 2 handout.

Follow the steps below to begin using FOCUS 2.

  1. Visit NOVA’s Career Services website
  2. Select FOCUS 2
  3. Click FOCUS 2 button
  4. Click REGISTER button
  5. Enter “NOVA” for the access code
  6. Enter your NOVA student e-mail address in the e-mail box
  7. Provide requested information
  8. Check box to acknowledge terms and conditions of system
  9. Click CONTINUE button

Contact Christy Jensen (chjensen@nvcc.edu) if you have any problems accessing the system.

Focus on Your Job While Managing Your Career

Landing your first job is just the first step on your career path. It’s important to keep your job-search and work-related skills up to date, even when you’re happy with your employment. After all, U.S. Department of Labor research indicates that the average worker will hold eight to 10 different jobs during his or her employment lifespan—and the greatest turnover happens before a worker reaches the age of 30.

So how do make yourself a valuable employee and prepare for your next career step?

Keep yourself on the cutting edge of your field—because it will make you more valuable to your current employer and it will help you move along your career track without missing a step.

Follow these simple tips and you’ll find it easier to weather all the career course changes that come your way.

  1. Think of yourself as an entrepreneur. You are the product that is being offered in the job marketplace. Continue to develop and market your strengths and interests.
  2. Learn and earn. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn something new—by helping out on a new project, volunteering to “cover” for an employee who’s on leave, or attending seminars and workshops that the company may offer. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement, so take classes in your field. Don’t allow your education to become obsolete.
  3. Keep your records up to date. Keep a record of your accomplishments, perhaps even a portfolio. Be able to demonstrate the value you add to your organization. Include contact names and references in your portfolio, along with a resume that’s updated on a regular basis.
  4. Take “It’s not my job!” out of your vocabulary. Volunteer to take on new responsibilities and think of every new assignment as a learning experience. Look for other ways to contribute. Being cross-trained will make you more valuable. If you have to work some extra hours to help with a special project, do so willingly. It will be remembered.
  5. Dress up your attitude. Even when doing the most unpleasant or routine tasks, do them with style. Deal with everyone on a professional basis, from the receptionist right up to the CEO. You are all partners in creating a dynamic and cooperative workplace.
  6. Seize the opportunity! Don’t wait to be told to do a job or take on a responsibility. Ask “May I help?” If you see something that you think should be done and would help make the company better, offer to handle it.
  7. Make the team. Employers want employees who can work together for the goals of the company, instead of promoting their individual goals. Having personal goals will help keep your career on track. Just make sure you’re in line with the employer’s goals as well.
  8. Bond with the boss. A good relationship with your supervisor will endure—in the form of good recommendations and networking in the future.
  9. Make change your perspective. Every employee should acknowledge—even embrace—the changes in the workplace. If you’re not a part of the change, you’ll soon find yourself left behind. Demonstrate that you have the ability to perform well in changing circumstances and difficult situations.
  10. Keep your technology skills cutting edge. Take any technology-related class or seminar offered by your employer—even if it’s a class offered after hours. You don’t want to have to play “catch up” while looking for a new position or trying to secure a promotion.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.