Category Archives: Jobs and Careers

Helpful articles and tips for job seekers and career switchers.

November is National Career Development Month!

The National Career Development Association (NCDA) promotes career development through its annual celebration of National Career Development Month (#NCDM). This month, Northern Virginia Community College is joining NCDA’s mission through several events that will help you develop your job search skills, or further your career!


For a complete schedule of events this month, visit NOVA’s Events Calendar. These events are sponsored by NOVA Career Services. Students & alumni can search for jobs, internships, and events on College Central Network (CCN)!

Focus on Your Career Planning (webinar)
Wednesday, Nov. 412:15pm – 1:00 pm

This webinar will introduce students to FOCUS 2, an online, interactive, self-guided career and education planning system. The system can help you select a program/major, discover occupations that match your interests and personality, and much more! Register here.

Job Searching in 2015 & Beyond
Thursday, Nov. 5, 5:00-7:00 pm
Alexandria Campus Room 158

Job search has changed dramatically in the last few years. If you want to succeed, you’ll need the most up-to-date information on Social Media, Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), Online Job Boards. Contact Edythe Richards to sign up.

Exploring Career Options (webinar)
Wednesday, Nov. 1112:15 pm – 1:00 pm

This webinar will focus on using various online resources to research career options. The relationship between programs of study at NOVA, college majors, and career options will be discussed. Resources presented will provide information on nature of work, educational requirements, job outlook, and wages. Register here.

Professionalism in the Workplace
Thursday, Nov. 12, 2:30-3:30 pm
Medical Education Campus (Springfield)

Are you currently in clinical or about to graduate? Your attitude, appearance, and behavior make a lasting first impression to employers. Learn the importance of everyday professionalism during your clinical rotations & beyond.  Register here

Walk-in Resume Clinic
Friday, Nov. 13, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
Annandale Campus CA 105

You have prepared your resume and your application documents, but are you ready for that interview? Stop by and let our career professionals critique your career documents on-the-spot.

Basics of Resume & Job Search
Monday, Nov. 16,  10 am – 1 pm
Arlington Employment Center
2100 Washington Blvd, 22204

Discover how to get your resume noticed by both online systems (Applicant Tracking Systems) and recruiters/hiring managers. Contact Edythe Richards to sign up.

Conducting a Job Search (webinar)
Wednesday, Nov. 1812:15 pm– 1:00 pm

This webinar will focus on basic strategies for conducting a job search. Topics covered will include creating a plan, identifying sources of job leads, and resume, cover letter, and interview basics. Register here.

Nationall Career Development Day:
Pop-in for Career Tips
Thursday, Nov. 19,  12 noon – 1:30 pm
Annandale Campus CA 105

Students may drop in for popcorn and career tips to celebrate National Career Development Day!

Meet our hiring companies.

Next week, on September 30, NOVA’s Workforce Development Division will be hosting our second annual STEM Career Fair. We have a wonderful lineup of companies who are ready to meet job seekers, and some on-the-spot interviews will be available to pre-qualified candidates!

STEM career fair companies

“What do I need to attend the Career Fair?”

Our STEM Career Fair is open to all job-seekers, whether entry-level or experienced. We also welcome veterans, students, and currently employed individuals seeking a new career path. In short, if you are interested in a STEM job with one of our hiring companies, do a little research online and be prepared. Make sure that you have an updated resume, and leave the t-shirt and jeans at home! Business casual is an excellent approach for a career fair, but we have seen some job seekers show up in suits, ready to meet their next employer.

Whatever you do, be comfortable, be yourself, and say hello to several of our hiring companies:


ABC Supply Co., Inc.

We are the largest wholesale distributor of roofing in the U. S. and one of the nation’s largest distributors of other select exterior building products. Since 1982, ABC Supply Company has become a national organization with more than 490 locations in 49 states. We provide contractors (large and small) with high-quality products, superior service, and competitive pricing.

ActioNet Inc.

ActioNet’s seasoned personnel are experts in a wide range of IT systems, Program Management, Software Engineering, Information Assurance, Infrastructure Solutions, and IT Business Governance. 75% of our staff has at least one certification directly related to their area of expertise. ITIL, PMP, MCSE, CISSP, Security+ comprise many of these.

Capital One

One of the 10 largest U.S. banks and a Fortune 500 company headquartered in McLean, VA, we approach financial services challenges the way Internet start-ups approach development challenges. Capital One’s Technology department provides scalable infrastructure for our entire enterprise—managing both internal and customer-facing technology. Career opportunities are available for data architects, systems analysts, engineers, and information security professionals.

Diplomatic Security – U.S. Department of State

As the DoS’s security and law enforcement arm, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security serves an essential role: To provide a safe, secure environment for the conduct of U.S. foreign policy. Diplomatic Security is a unique organization in the foreign affairs community—it is the only law enforcement agency with representation in nearly every country in the world.

Dulles Glass & Mirror

Founded in 1972, Dulles Glass and Mirror offers glass, mirror and shower doors for residential and commercial uses. We deliver nationally and offer installation services in northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.


eIntern is a first-of-its-kind online internship where aspiring IT programmers attain actual job-based skills. The eInternship program is designed in close collaboration with several academic and corporate partners to deliver qualified, reliable & expert IT talent geared for the complex IT needs of the industry today. eIntern’s individually tailored and mentored program helps talent succeed not as entry level programmers, but as experienced job candidates with specialized IT skills.


Established in December 2000 in Reston, Virginia, Evolver has successfully grown to a recognized IT solutions provider. Our employee base now exceeds 200 and our clients— both government and commercial —span the globe. Our services include Infrastructure Engineering and Operations, Application Systems Engineering, Data Management, and End User Support (Seat Management).


Providing IT professional services with a specialty in managing business processes and systems integration, iWorks has been appraised at Level 3 of the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), as well as ISO 9001:2008 certified. We maintain two U.S. DoD cleared facilities in the DC metro area, and we team with top firms to achieve breakthrough performance for our clients.

Fairfax County Government

The core purpose of Fairfax County Government is to protect and enrich the quality of life for the people, neighborhoods, and diverse communities of Fairfax County. We do this through:

  • Maintaining Safe, Caring Communities
  • Building Livable Spaces
  • Connecting People and Places
  • Maintaining Healthy Economies
  • Practicing Environmental Stewardship
  • Creating a Culture of Engagement
  • Exercising Corporate Stewardship


A Fortune 100 company with more than 127,000 employees worldwide, including more than 22,000 engineers and scientists, Honeywell creates solutions to improve the quality of life of people around the globe: generating clean, healthy energy—and using it more efficiently; increasing safety and security; and enabling people to connect, communicate, and collaborate.


Leidos  brings a mix of innovative technology and sector expertise to customers in national security, health, and engineering. We look for solutions that not only transform businesses, but change the world. Our approach to every challenge is holistic and systematic. We see solutions others can’t with impactful analytics. We make real life better with a human point of view.

National Student Clearinghouse

Founded in 1993 by the higher education community, National Student Clearinghouse relieves the administrative burdens and costs related to student data reporting and exchange, verification, and research. We are a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, and our work provides numerous time- and cost-saving benefits to students, schools, administrators, and requestors.


Since 1901, Nordstrom’s commitment to providing our customers with the best possible service has taken us from a small Seattle shoe shop to the leading fashion specialty retailer we are today. We’re proud to serve customers at 310 stores in 38 states and Canada. We also serve customers online in 96 countries through We believe fashion is a business of optimism, and in that spirit we continue to grow and evolve.

Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC)

We design, develop, and sustain offerings in the technical, engineering, intelligence, and enterprise information technology markets; we empower diplomatic missions, support warfighter requirements, and advance exploration from the ocean floor to outer space. We maintain leadership positions in supply chain management, hardware integration, and global network integration. SAIC has approximately 15,000 employees worldwide.

Satnam Technologies

We manage complex software projects from inception to implementation and support, including enterprise applications, application development, and Quality Assurance Testing. Satnam’s IT staffing and consulting services provide qualified technology specialists and IT consultants when and where our clients need them.

Southland Industries

Advocating a design-build-maintain model, Southland specializes in the design, construction, and service of mechanical, plumbing, fire protection, process piping, automation and controls systems, as well as comprehensive energy services needs. Our in-house experts have earned Southland its reputation as one of the top design-builders in the nation.

VSE Corporation

VSE Corporation was established in 1959 to provide engineering and technical services to the owners and operators of transportation and equipment assets and large, mission critical fleets (ships, vehicles and aircraft.) VSE serves this market by extending the service life and modernizing these aging platforms.

If you would like more information on the Career Fair, contact Cinthia Molinari at 703.323.3281, or email

Governor’s grant program will help fund employee skills training for Virginia businesses

Throughout the U.S., there have been ongoing discussions about providing solutions to address the shortage of skilled workers for many in-demand jobs.

Here in Virginia, many businesses are providing innovative solutions to meet this skills gap. This private-sector dedication to workforce will now have an opportunity to receive state funds to leverage their investment in our Commonwealth’s workforce development. In June 2015, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced a $900,000 initiative to provide grants targeted to close a skills gap in key industry sectors.

“I am pleased to launch this grant program as part of my ongoing efforts to prepare Virginia’s workforce to do the jobs of today and create the jobs of tomorrow.  … it will take commitment and investment from both the public and private sectors to achieve this goal.  This grant competition is designed to encourage these partnerships.” (Governor McAuliffe)

Virginia's Governor McAuliffe

These state funds, available through Virginia’s Workforce System, will leverage private investment in workforce development. This pilot program, called the Governor’s Competition for Talent Solutions, encourages Virginia’s private sector businesses to take the lead on regional workforce solutions.

Detailed information is available online at An overview of the Governor’s Competition for Talent Solutions Program:

  • Pilot program to help private sector employers take the lead on developing the skills and credentials of their employees. Employers can work with community colleges and training providers to design and deliver workforce development programs.
  • Training focus is on Advanced Manufacturing, Information Technology, Cyber Security, Healthcare, Energy, Logistics, and Transportation. However, other sectors are welcome to apply as well.
  • Businesses in the same industry or businesses with the same skills requirements from different industries can combine their efforts to request funding.
  • $900,000 is available for training statewide. The state will match employers’ contribution up to the maximum individual grant award of $200,000.

Applications are due by September 30 to be considered for funding. Grant recipients will be announced October 23. Funds will be available to use for training from November 2015 to December 2017.

Northern Virginia Community College’s Workforce Development Division is happy to consult with employers to design a training program as part of the Governor’s Talent Solutions Grant. Contact us at or call 703-323-3281.


Joe Matope is a Business Development Manager with NOVA Workforce Development Division, and works with employers to develop and deliver customized training solutions for their staff. For more information about NOVA Workforce Development Division’s customized training programs, contact Joe at

Career Pathways Initiative awards 8 certificates to August 2015 program graduates

In August 2015, NOVA, in partnership with the Fairfax County Department of Family Services (DFS) Employment & Training Program Career Pathways Initiative, awarded 8 certificates for Career Pathways’ Administrative Professional and Medical Administrative Professional Training Certification programs.

This graduation ceremony marks the 5th time that NOVA has provided this targeted training for DFS clients in a group setting at a DFS office site. To highlight the program’s success, Job Developer Warren Smith read an email from a program graduate who is now employed by Fairfax County.

Career Pathways Initiative

Fairfax County DFS:
a history of helping careers

The Virginia’s Initiative for Employment, not Welfare (VIEW) Program is one of several employment programs operated by Fairfax County DFS. In October 2013, VIEW partnered with NOVA to run the inaugural Administrative Assistant Training Certification Program at the VIEW Job Center, located in the Pennino Building in Fairfax. The class was filled to capacity, and all 10 students graduated.

Due to the success of the first cohort, a second class began the next month, in November 2013. This time 8 students received certificates. The third cohort, held in February 2014, issued 7 new certificates.

The fourth cohort was held in February 2015. This was the first offering of the Administrative Professional and Medical Administrative Professional Training Certification. 12 students participated and graduated.

DFS Career Pathways

During the latter part of 2014, DFS Employment and Training staff researched in-demand occupations in the Northern Virginia area with the goal of establishing targeted certification training to assist our job-seeking participants.  The VIEW Program had partnered with NOVA in the past, but offerings were limited to VIEW program participants only.

We wanted to make sure opportunities were available to all program participants, so representatives from the following organizations gathered to discuss how to make this happen:

  • VIEW
  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Adult
  • WIOA Youth
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training (SNAPET)

We worked out the details and determined which occupations we wanted to target, and decided to add a medical administrative professional component to the training. By adding the medical administrative piece, students would be able to sit for an exam that would award them an industry-recognized credential.

DFS once again reached out to NOVA to develop a curriculum, which was taught in February 2015. This class had participants from several of our employment programs, not just the VIEW Program.


Rick Garrett is Manager for the Fairfax County Department of Family Services Employment and Training. Amy Miller is a WIOA Supervisor for Employment & Training. Read more about Employment and Training services at

Ilene Danforth ( is a Business Program Developer for NOVA’s Workforce Development Division. She develops customized training programs for NOVA’s corporate training clients and community partners. 

STEM of Consciousness for Career Changers

We hear a lot about the high demand for workers to fill STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers. What’s less clear is what actual jobs are available, and how you, as a career changer, can leverage your experience to enter these fields.

NOVA Workforce Development Division | STEM jobs

Interested in a STEM education?

Consider the realities of today’s job market:

STEM Advantages

  • High pay. STEM education isn’t just a path to a job; it’s a path to a high paying One study indicates that STEM majors will earn a minimum of $500,000 MORE over their lifetime compared to non-STEM majors, even if they don’t work in a STEM career.
  • Job availability. STEM jobs are found in numerous different fields, ranging from research to education. By 2018 there will be 3 million NEW or replacement jobs in STEM, so as a STEM graduate, it’s unlikely that you’ll have trouble locating a job in this field.
  • Less competition. Every year 2 million jobs in the STEM fields go unfilled, mostly due to lack of qualified applicants.
  • Basic skills are always needed. Yes, technology is ever progressing, but the basics stay the same. We’ll still need math and research. If you have basic knowledge of the scientific method, computers, and report writing, you’ll be valuable, no matter how things innovate.

Potential Hurdles

  • There’s no guarantee. STEM education doesn’t guarantee that you will walk straight into your dream job on a high salary. Without necessary “soft- skills” (see below), it’s unlikely that your technical skills will get you a long-term job or promotion.
  • What’s “hot” varies. It’s almost impossible to predict what the job market will look like years after you graduate. As a result, it’s difficult for educators to develop a curriculum to best fit the material that will be “hot” in the future.
  • Most STEM careers require a degree (often an advanced degree). By 2018, 92% of STEM jobs will require post-secondary education and training.
  • Career advancement may be limited. STEM is continually evolving, and only those who frequently update their skills will move forward in their careers.

NOVA Workforce Development Division | STEM jobs in science

The good news for career changers

No matter what you studied in school or your work background, employers will value your critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. The trick is to demonstrate that you have these key skills through your cover letter, résumé and interview.

  • Collaboration: Employers look for workers who possess “soft skills”, like being able to collaborate on teams and interact smoothly with clients.
  • Critical Thinking: According to a 2013 study by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, 93% of the survey respondents said, “a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than [a candidate’s] undergraduate major.”
  • Communication: Successful managers communicate well, build relationships, and create an environment where employees can do their best work. In other words, they practice the skills most closely associated with a liberal arts education, where emphasis is placed on participation, community, and functioning as part of a team.

NOVA Workforce Development Division | STEM jobs in tech

Whether you decide to pursue a STEM career or not,
here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Work experience trumps degree. When asked what they look for in new college grads, a recent survey shows that employers are overwhelmingly interested in experience outside the classroom. A few specific classes and some real-world experience, even if as a volunteer, may be enough to get a job – whatever your field.
  • Core skills can be developed in fields other than STEM. Critical thinking and analysis can be honed in the Humanities and Social Sciences as well as STEM fields. Many experts agree that as a society, we need better STEM literacy overall – not just more STEM graduates.
  • Thought about Teaching? As demand for STEM workers has increased, so has the need for teachers who can prepare students to pursue STEM careers!

NOVA Workforce Development Division | STEM jobs in engineering

Final Thoughts

If you don’t like the STEM majors, you won’t be happy pursuing a STEM career. Students who are not happy are far more likely to switch majors, losing time and money, or to drop out altogether.


About the Author:

Edythe Richards is a Career Counselor who specializes in working with mid-career adults in transition.