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.

How is online learning different from on-campus courses?

In honor of our recent celebration of National Distance Learning Week, let’s talk about how online learning is different from on-campus courses!

Are you considering NOVA Online as an option for a spring course? We want to point out some of the differences between online and on-campus courses.

  • Format
  • Technology
  • Time Required

Although online learning and on-campus courses cover the same content, the format is different. NOVA Online courses are flexible, with stated deadlines, meaning, you can work on your course at any point throughout the week, but will need to meet weekly or even mid-weekly due dates. NOVA Online requires proctored exams to be completed within the stated course deadlines. Some courses may also be accelerated with the instructor’s permission.

Technology provides content and interaction. NOVA Online courses use Blackboard as the course management system to communicate and facilitate class discussions. Students are required to use their VCCS student email account to communicate with the instructor.

Online learning courses usually require at least as much time as you would spend taking a campus-based course. You should plan to study at least 2-3 hours a week for each credit. In other words, for a 16-week, three-credit course, you would study 6-9 hours per week. For 12 or 8-week courses, more time would need to be scheduled to complete your requirements. When you compare this time with what you spend in class and studying outside of class, it is about the same.

Here is a chart that illustrates the general amount of time per week you should expect to study per credit hour based on the course length. For example, if you enroll in an 8-week, 3-credit class, you can expect to spend 12-18 hours per week studying for this class. In general, the shorter the class length (8-, 12-, or 16-week), the more hours of study time you can expect to spend per week per credit. (Click on chart to enlarge picture)nullWe encourage you to participate in an NOVA Online Orientation to help as you are getting started in your first online course. You can view short videos from Blackboard to review how to submit an assignment, post on discussion board, check grades, etc.

For more information about getting started at NOVA Online, please email or call 703.764.5076. Have a question, but not sure who to ask? Start with a Success Coach!

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.

Happy Thanksgiving

Northern Virginia Community College will be closed later this week for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Offices close Wednesday, November 23 at noon and will reopen on Monday, November 28 at 8:00 am.  This includes testing centers! Plan ahead!  Happy Thanksgiving

Digital Open Courses

Have you started thinking about your schedule for next semester? Spring  registration is currently open for all students! Are you interested in taking a course that doesn’t require you to purchase any textbooks or course materials? A Digital Open NOVA Online course might be right for you!

Mobility conceptNOVA Online offers several online courses that do not require students to purchase textbooks or other course materials. Digital Open courses use free online material and Open Educational Resources (OER) instead of textbooks or purchased course materials. You can try one or two Digital Open courses, or even complete an entire AS degree track. Instead of requiring traditional textbooks, all readings and materials used in the courses will be available to students free of charge online as OER, or through NOVA’s library resources.

Are you ready try one of NOVA Online’s Digital Open courses? Just look for the notification in the notes section in the online schedule of classes stating: This is a digital open course. No textbook purchase required.

Save time and money with a Digital Open course at NOVA Online! For more information about registering for one of NOVA Online’s Digital Open courses, contact the NOVA Online Success Coaches at or 703.323.3347.

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.

This week at NOVA Online!

Open registration for all students begins today, Monday, November 14! Are you thinking about an online course for Spring 2017 term? The online catalog is available in NOVAConnect – search the online catalog to see what options you have for online courses.

NOVA Online offers courses that begin on January 9, 23, 30, February 20 and March 13! Review the steps for our prepare for your spring semester blog post to help you plan ahead to enroll on-time!

Not sure if online learning is right for you? Take the SmarterMeasure assessment to help you gauge your readiness!

Join NOVA Online Career Counselors Wednesday, November 16 from 12:15 pm – 1:00 pm for the Finding a Job or Internship Webinar. This 45 minute webinar will focus on basic strategies for finding a job or internship. Topics covered will include creating a plan, identifying sources of job/internship leads, and resume, cover letter, and interview basics. Register Today!

Join our Virtual Student Union – NOVA Online’s VSU has a new look! Are you taking online classes and looking to connect with other students outside of a classroom setting? Check out our Virtual Student Union or VSU. This is an engagement hub where NOVA Online students have access to create a profile, join discussion forums and connect with other students. In celebration of our new site launch, students will be eligible for raffle prizes once they create an account and interact on the site. Drawings will be done weekly and monthly through the fall semester. Join now!

Engage in your Community! Did you miss our Community Involvement Fair last year? Check out our community volunteer booklet to learn more about the variety of non-profits participating and volunteer opportunities available: Community Volunteer Booklet. Email us at and tell us where and when you are volunteering and we will send you a FREE NOVA Student Life T-shirt to wear!

Financial Avenue – Financial Literacy Contest – Twenty $100 NOVA bookstore gift cards towards educational costs at NOVA will be given-away throughout the 2016‐2017 academic year to randomly selected students NOVA Online who successfully complete Financial Avenue web‐based financial literacy modules! For more information visit Financial Aid’s Financial Literacy Blog. Official contest rules and registration to participate can be found here.

Learn more on the NOVA Online Student Blog. Want to write for the NOVA Online Student Blog? Share your story? Connect with your peers? Send us a writing sample to get started. Email NOVA for more information.

Honoring Veterans Day

Below is a NOVA Online student spotlight post from Army veteran Evette in honor of Veterans Day.

American Flag display commemorating national holiday memorial or veterans dayCongress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance national holiday, 11th of November as Veteran’s Day.

As an Army veteran, I look back at the time which I served my country with gratitude. My patriotism and willingness to serve and my sacrifice for many of years.  Take time to recognize soldiers, veterans, and families of soldiers who are away from their family.

RIP to my veterans who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Veteran’s Day is not just a day off, honor veterans who had defended and continue to defend our country!

– Reach out to families of fallen soldiers and soldiers who remain in harm’s way today.

– Visit Veteran’s in Nursing Home, Wounded Warrior Hospital (Fort Belvoir, Va.), and veteran’s in the hospital.

– Most of all, recognize veterans everyday not just Veteran’s Day.

Remember, never forget our debt of gratitude to our brave men and women.


Want to write for the NOVA Online Student Blog? Share your story? Connect with your peers? Send us a writing sample to get started. Email NOVA for more information.

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.

National Distance Learning Week

To mark National Distance Learning Week, we wanted to take the opportunity to share with you 10 things you might not know about the Extended Learning Institute (NOVA Online) at Northern Virginia Community College.

This picture was dated 1974 and shows staff getting media ready for some of the first distance learning courses offered through the  Extended Learning Institute! 1974-eli-011.    23,000 NOVA students taken online courses through the NOVA Online each year.

2.    NOVA Online offers more than 500 online courses, so whatever field you’re in and whatever degree requirement you’re working to fill, you can probably find it at NOVA Online!

3.    NOVA Online courses and NOVA Online faculty win national awards every year.

4.    You are not alone when you take a NOVA Online course – you will interact with your instructor and classmates through discussions, group assignments, and more.

5.    NOVA Online staff provide lots of services to support you in your online courses, too, including 24/7 free online tutoring, online librarians, 24/7 technical support, student success coaches, and much more.

6.    NOVA Online offers several start dates each semester, for most of our courses, so just about any time you want to get started with us, we have a new session starting soon!

7.    You can earn more than 40 complete associate’s degrees and certificates entirely through NOVA Online. Check out the complete list on NOVA Online’s website.

8.    Not sure whether an online course is right for you? You can take the Smartermeasure assessment to find out!

9.    NOVA Online offers courses in 16-week, 12-week, and 8-week lengths so you can choose the schedule and course length that best fits your needs.

10.    Most NOVA Online students take classes on campus as well as NOVA Online classes; combining the two can be the perfect way to complete your degree.

Happy Distance Learning Week to our online students at NOVA. If you have any questions, contact the NOVA Online Student Services Team at 703.323.3347 or or connect with us on social media. We are more than happy to answer your questions, as well as refer you to useful resources and services that will support your online learning experience.