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Career Corner

Current Career Topics for Mount St. Mary's University Students

Hello Everyone,

My name is Mary Kate Baehl.  I am a senior, communications major from Glen MK BaehlEllyn, Illinois a suburb of Chicago.  I am the Journalism Intern in the Career Center for this semester.

In addition to being the Journalism Intern in the Career Center, I am also General Manager of the Mount Radio Station (89.9 WMTB) and the Community Section Editor of the Mountain Echo.  I’ve been involved with the Lighted Corners literary magazine, Young Women’s Leadership Program (mentoring middle school girls from Thurmont), the Women’s Club Volleyball team and the Club Tennis team. I love to run and I recently ran a half marathon over the summer. 

As part of my internship, I will be writing the Career Corner Blog as well as contributing to the Mountain Echo.  I am incredibly excited to be interning in the Career Center and am looking forward to the semester sharing the news and updates of the Career Center with you.

As I look around and see the bright sun shining upon the lushest green grass, I find it hard to believe how much time has passed. It seems like just the other day I was walking into the Career Center on a cold January morning for the first day of the semester and my first day on the job. Now, only one week of class remains and summer break is upon us.

Coming into this experience, I had a few different goals for my Career Center internship. First, I wanted to learn more about higher education, specifically career services, by interacting with career professionals. Second, I want to enhance my writing skills through journalism-related tasks. Finally, I wanted to learn more about myself and where I am headed. Luckily, I can say that all three of these goals were accomplished.

I was fortunate enough to spend a large majority of the semester working with Career Fair 2015Matt Pouss, the Assistant Director/Internship Coordinator of the Career Center. I am very thankful that Matt allowed me to work with him on a number of different Career Center events. The LinkedIn Seminar, the Career Fair, and the Etiquette Dinner were a few of my favorite events of the year. Seeing how all of these events were planned, developed, and executed was a great experience for me.

 

Working in the Career Center has also taught me how important career services are at a higher learning institution. The end goal of every college or university is to prepare its students for success after graduation. The Career Center is the bridge between college and the real world for so many students. Being a part of the goals and missions of this office has truly been an honor and a privilege.

I feel that my writing skills have been greatly enhanced as a result of working at this internship.  Every week, I was able to cover a new topic related to careers. I enjoyed spreading the message of career development through my talents as a writer. I hope that others found my advice helpful and motivational as we all continue to seek out our vocation in life.

Finally, I have learned so much about myself through this internship. Four months ago, I had a very narrow view of the options that would be available for me after I graduate. Now, I am aware of the many options available, and I know how to find them. By researching topics like resume writing, choosing your major, and how to make the most of your internship experience, I have learned that there are so many opportunities for those who seek them out.

As student, I regret not using the Career Center’s services earlier in my academic career. There are truly wonderful people in this office that want to help you find happiness in your career search. You should never feel stressed out about the future if you are using the services that the Career Center offers.

For anyone who may be interested in interning at the Career Center, I highly recommend it. It is a great way to experience personal and professional growth. Also, the information you learn on the job will be invaluable no matter what career you pursue.

Luckily, I can say that this is not my final week in the Career Center. I will be returning as a summer intern where my major role will be helping to plan Accounting Evening in September. I hope that I can continue to assist the Career Center and students of this university through my efforts.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to check out the blog and read my articles in the Mountain Echo this semester. Be sure to stop by again in the fall for more career advice. Until next time, have a great summer everyone!

Time. It can be a great thing but also a very scary thing. It moves swiftly and waits for no one. We are all at Mount St. Mary’s University to undergo four years of growth and self-exploration. Before we know it, we will all be in a professional setting leaving a positive impact on the world in our own special and unique way.

If we ever feel lost in our journey, it is important to remember that we are all part of the Mount community, and there are so many people who are willing to help. Mount alumni are among the most knowledgeable individuals when it comes to transitioning from the classroom to the workforce.

This week, I spoke with a couple members of the Mount’s class of 2014 to get some perspective of how they are doing one year removed from college. Their advice can be very useful for those of us who are looking towards the future at the end of this academic year.

Maria Marinelli (C’14) currently works for Lockheed Martin's Information Systems and Global Solutions division as a member of the core management team on a large-scale software development effort. She thinks that the best advice she can offer to current Mount students is to seek out opportunities to develop strong communication and leadership skills. She was very involved on campus holding several leadership positions, actively participating in campus ministry, and working extensively with the SPARC festival.

“The SPARC fest taught me how to advocate for something I believe in,” Marinelli said. She believes that opportunities like this help to build your personal brand. She continued saying, “people put a lot of focus on picking the right major, but building your brand is so much more important.” When picking a major, sometimes students focus too much on what they want to do for a living. Building your personal brand allows you to find out who you want to be.

Marinelli said it was important to apply yourself both inside and outside the classroom. She went to the Career Center early on in her college career and took self-assessments so she could find her passions and strengths. Marinelli is very grateful for the Career Center’s assistance. “They definitely helped me with the first step sophomore year,” she said.

Drew Carrick (C’13, MBA’14) is another recent alumnus who has found early success out of college. He is currently an Audit Associate at Grant Thornton, LLP, the fifth largest public accounting firm. Like Marinelli, he thought that experiences are just as important as your major.

“Use your time wisely,” Carrick said. “Don’t just go to class and go back to your room. Get involved with activities so that you have an extensive resume that shows your ability to handle multiple things at once and willingness to possess more depth and versatility.”

Carrick took full advantage of all of things the Career Center had to offer. He scheduled several sessions with career counselors to improve his resume and searched for new job opportunities using career center resources.

“The career fairs and emails about new job opportunities always gave confidence that there were jobs out there to be gotten, and with the right drive I could get any one that I wanted,” Carrick said.

Time is one theme that our featured alumni stressed over and over. Live every day to the fullest and take full advantage of all of the opportunities that lie in front of you. If you do that, there is no doubt that you will find great success. Always fight for what you are passionate about because even if you fall short, there is no better way to live.

What is proper etiquette? This is the question that students were asking themselves on the night of the Career Center’s annual etiquette dinner. The event led by career specialist Michael True was held in O’Hara Dining Room last Thursday.

True is the president of Intrueition and the Director of the Internship Center at Messiah College. Under True’s direction, Messiah’s Internship Center is one of the top in the nation. Two of his publications, “Starting and Maintaining a Quality Internship Program” and InternQube: Professional Skills for the Workplace are used as references across the country.

The Mount community was very lucky to have a leading expert like True at the event.  He was a very engaging speaker who had many valuable tips to share about eating at a formal dinner.

One thing that True stressed from the start was that business dinners are not all about eating; they are about interacting with others. Knowing how to use proper etiquette eliminates any uneasiness about the experience so that you can enjoy it to the fullest extent.

Having proper etiquette at a dinner table begins with turning off or silencing your cell phone. True said, “Unless you are the President of the United States, you should not be answering a call when you are sitting at the table.” He said that there were exceptions to this, such as awaiting to hear news about a sick family member. However, you should inform everyone at the table of this beforehand.

After some initial introduction and brief storytelling, True got into the nitty-gritty Place settingof proper etiquette. This began with the napkin. He said that once everyone is seated at the table, you can pick up your napkin and place it on your lap. If you have to leave during the meal, leave your napkin on your chair. Do not leave your napkin on your plate until you are done eating. Doing so is a signal to the server that you would like to have it taken away.

Next, True taught the audience how to properly use the different utensils that can be found at a formal meal. True said that the key to understanding this was to “work from the outside in.” This means that if you are brought a salad first, you should use the fork that is sitting furthest away from the plate. Then, work your way in as you are given more courses.

The utensil sitting horizontally at the top of your plate is always for dessert. It can be a spoon or fork, which allows one to predict what the dessert will be. Usually it is just a fork or a spoon, but if it is both, True exclaimed, “It’s Christmas!”

The plates and glasses sitting in front of you can also be tricky. True gave students an easy acronym to remember what each plate or glass is used for – BMW. Moving from left to right, your bread plate is first, then your meal plate, then your water glass. He cleverly called the bread plate the “launching pad” because you move bread from the basket to this plate and never from the basket to your mouth.

If there is a saucer and cup for coffee or tea, and you do not wish to have any, simply flip the cup upside down on the saucer it is sitting on. This will be a signal to the server that you do not wish to have any. Also, as the plates and utensils are being collected, place your utensil on your plate at the four o’clock or five o’clock position so it is easy for the server to collect.

This is only a brief synopsis of the many different topics discussed at the etiquette dinner. The event was full of so much wonderful information, and I would highly recommend attending next year if you were unable to attend this year. Until then, be sure to stop by the Career Center for any questions regarding proper etiquette.

You are sitting in a reception room awaiting a hiring manager who will welcome you to an interview. So many things are probably running through your head. Did I remember everything? Am I properly dressed? How will I answer their questions?

Interview questionsIf you are well prepared, there will be no reason to feel uneasy the next time you have a face-to-face interview. One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to compose answers for common interview questions. Also, planning a mock interview with the career center will make you more than ready to take on anything the interviewer may throw at you.

The initial meeting between the employer and you will say many things about yourself and your future with the organization. Will your hiring be a good fit for both parties? How well will you be able to communicate with each other?

There are a few types of interview questions that you can expect to hear in any job interview. This week, we delve into those inquires so that you can conquer common interview questions.

1. Tell me about yourself

When you answer this question, you want to be confident. At the same time, you should not pretend you are someone without flaws. Aim for your answer to be between one and three minutes. If it goes over this amount of time, you are probably going to lose the attention of the interviewer and sound too self-centered. Some things you may want to bring up are where you grew up, education, and relevant work experience. Your answer can be a short version of your resume that focuses on things relevant to the interview.

2. What makes you qualified for this job?

When answering this question, do not focus on things like your GPA and the school you graduated from. The interviewer would much rather hear about your skill set and accomplishments. They want to know what makes you valuable and how you will benefit their organization. For example, you could talk about leadership positions you have held in college. Tell the employer what you have learned from those experiences and how you will apply them to a job.

3. What is your greatest weakness?

This is definitely one of the toughest questions an interviewee can be asked. However, if you anticipate it being asked, you will be more than ready to give a good, thorough answer. Avoid cliché answers like “I work too hard” or “I have trouble leaving tasks unfinished.” If you say something like everyone else would, there is a good chance you will not be remembered. Make your answer truthful and memorable. For example, if you are not a particularly good public speaker, you could say that you are working to improve that area by taking speaking classes. Interviewers want to know that you are self-aware and willing to improve.

4. Do you have any questions for me?

The answer to this question should always be YES! Show the employer that you are curious and eager to learn more. You could ask “what would be some of my day-to-day responsibilities” or “what are some of the abilities and skills needed to be successful in this position” to name a couple of examples. By doing plenty of research beforehand, you will be able to think of questions specific to the interview.

Of course, these are only a few of the many questions you could be asked. Sometimes, there is no way to predict what questions you will face. That is why the most important thing in an interview is to have a strong sense of who you are, what you have accomplished and what you are capable of doing. With the right amount of confidence and self-awareness, you will do an amazing job at your next face-to-face interview.

This week begins a daily exploration of different federal agencies. Tuesday through Friday, the Career Center will be offering an event that will give students an inside look at these organizations that offer a wide variety of positions.

Even if you think you are not interested in a particular agency, the programs are great for anyone looking for federal employment. These agencies are always in need of individuals who are educated in just about any major, from human resources and bookkeeping to security and other skills. This week will also be a good time to learn about the application process for a job in the federal government, which includes using USAJOBS.gov to find more information and opportunities.

The Career Center will host the US Postal Inspection for their information session on Tuesday, March 24. This event will be held in the Gelles Conference Room from 12pm-2pm. The US Postal Inspection entails far more than just delivering mail. They protect the nation’s mail system from illegal use. This event will be especially intriguing for criminal justice majors. As federal law enforcement officers, postal inspectors carry firearms, make arrests and execute federal search warrants. They are not your average postal workers!

The Secret Service will visit campus on Wednesday, March 25 from 12pm-2pm in Knott Auditorium. This agency is headquartered in Washington, DC with more than 150 locations across the country. The Secret Service carries out a dual mission: to protect national and visiting foreign leaders and conduct criminal investigations.

The NSA (National Security Agency) will be holding their info session on Thursday, March 26 from 2pm-4pm in the O’Hara Dining Room. The NSA is unique because it has government-wide responsibilities. It provides products and services to the Department of Defense, the Intelligence Community and other government agencies.

Federal Agency Week will wrap up on Friday, March 27 with an info session presented by the U.S. Department of Justice/ATF from 11am-1pm in the O’Hara Dining Room. ATF stands for the Bureau of Alcoholic, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. This special branch of the U.S. Department of Justice protects citizens from criminal actions, the illegal use of firearms and the illegal use of alcoholic and tobacco products.

Federal Agency Week is sure to be a great opportunity for all students who choose to attend. Try your best to attend as many of the sessions as you can, even if it is just one or two. The agencies have their own missions and cultures, like any business. Therefore, it is good to get a taste of what these missions and cultures are like as you continually develop your career path.

Not every college or university is fortunate enough to have a week solely dedicated to careers in the federal government. It truly will be a unique opportunity to network face-to-face with federal government professionals who may even be Mount alumni. These people will be able to answer many of the questions you may have about these careers.

Federal Agency

Patriot Hall will be opportunity central on March 18 from 3pm-5pm. Nearly 40 employers will be in attendance at the Career Center’s annual Career Fair. No matter your class year or major, you are welcome and encouraged to attend and explore what this great event has to offer.

blog photoAmong the organizations in attendance will be National Institutes of Health, Frederick Police Department, New York Life Insurance Company, Target Community & Educational Services, the U.S. Department of State and so much more. This event keeps getting bigger each year, and this year will be no exception.

If you decide to take the next step and attend the Career Fair on March 18, it is important that you put your best foot forward. This will begin with your attire.

Men should wear polished shoes, dark socks, and a two-piece suit that is navy, dark gray or black. A white long sleeved dress shirt is also appropriate with a simple tie that matches the color of the suit. Women should also plan on wearing a two-piece suit in navy, dark gray or black. Polished shoes with a 1-1 ½” heel are preferred.

blogTo prepare for the event, check out the list of the employers that will be attending. Research all of the companies you plan on speaking with so you can show that you are prepared and interested. For example, the recruiters with Edward Jones will be impressed if you already know that they are a nationwide investment firm and a leader in the financial services industry. Bring fifteen copies of your resume on heavier bound paper in order to have enough to share with employers.

It is also important to be proud of who you are. Job fairs are an awkward experience for many students. Having to start a conversation with complete strangers who are professionals in a given field is never easy. To defeat your nervous tendencies, accept your uneasy feelings and move forward with a confident and outgoing attitude.

Being prepared is also a good tactic to defeat these uneasy feelings. Create a brief pilot speech that addresses your qualifications and expresses your interest in the position or company. Once you get past the initial introduction stage, the rest will be easy.

While it is important to go into a job fair with a plan, you should also remember to go with the flow. Many times, you will end up really liking a company that you did not research too heavily prior to the event. Remember that many organizations hire a variety of different majors. Do not limit yourself and look to network as much as possible.

Remember that when you are speaking to recruiters, you are having a conversation. This means that both parties should be asking each other questions and answering. Think of both general and specific questions you can ask employers prior to the event. For example, “what kind of entry-level positions exist within your organization?” and “does your organization hire on a continual basis or just certain times of the year?”

In the end, you should approach each conversation with three goals in mind. First, you want to hand off one of your resumes to the employer. Second, you want to receive a business card in return in order to follow up with the employer. Lastly, you want to treat every individual with respect and professionalism. If all of these things happen, you are executing the fundamentals of a job fair.

Take the next step in your career development. Attend the Career Fair and discover all of the opportunities that your Mount education has gained for you.

If you need more assistance or advice for job fairs, proper attire or resumes, be sure to visit the Career Center. The Career Center staff wants nothing more than to see you succeed and find the perfect job or internship.

Next in our series of job application posts comes interviewing. Your cover letter Interview Photoand resume were stellar, and you have been offered an interview as a result. Now it is time for you to meet the employer face-to-face.

Will you be ready for this new and exciting opportunity? Below are some suggestions to help make your next interview run smoothly.

1. Interview Preparation

Whenever you find out the time, date and location of your interview, be sure to write it down. The last thing you want is to forget when and where you will be interviewed.

To prepare, look over common interview questions. The Career Center also has many resources available, such as mock interviews and interviewing workshops, to help you reach your potential.

Another good idea is to read over the company’s website to get a better understanding of their goals and missions. You could really impress the interviewer if you bring up something interesting about their organization during the interview.

2. Day of the Interview

Bring extra copies of your resume, a reference list, something to write on and a pen or pencil. You should also be dressed appropriately for the interview. Women should have skirts no shorter than 1” above the knee. Men should be clean-shaven or neatly trimmed. Your appearance will go a long way in determining whether you are the right candidate for the job.

Arrive 10-15 minutes early to your interview. If you do not know exactly where your interview is located, practice the route ahead of time. It is always better for you to be waiting on your employer rather than the alternative.

3. During the Interview

Experts say that 90% of cues we give off are non-verbal. Make sure your cell phone is off and all of your focus is towards the interviewer. Smile at the employer and offer a firm hand shake whenever you sit down to meet them. Good eye contact will be the key to show the employer that you are engaged in the conversation.

As the interviewer is asking you questions, your first goal will likely be to answer in a way that shows you are qualified for the job. However, it is also important to be as honest as possible when talking about your accomplishments and abilities.

There is no doubt that you will feel a little anxious or nervous while you are being interviewed, but that is okay! The sooner you accept this fact, the sooner you can settle in to the interview and show the employer the best of you! Remember, in the interview, you are interviewing the employer as much as they are interviewing you.

4. After the Interview

If the employer asks if you have any questions at the end of the interview, make sure you have a question or two prepared. This will display your true interest in the position.

Follow up with a prompt thank you note after the interview. It is also a good idea to evaluate your performance in the interview.

Regardless of whether you get the position or not, each interview can be a great learning experience that could benefit you in other job searches down the road. The key is to never give up, and continue to seek out new opportunities!

Last week’s post was all about the steps in writing a cover letter. This week, we will shift our focus to the document that follows the cover letter – the resume.

Time is of the essence when an employer reads your resume. According to a study released by the Ladders, an online job-matching service, recruiters spend only 6 seconds reviewing a resume. As a result, following the style and guidelines of resume writing will be crucial in any job search.

The first thing that should appear at the top of your resume is a heading. The heading should include your name, current address, phone number and email address. Your name should be the focal point of the entire document, so be sure to make it large, bold or both.

After the heading comes the objective statement. This statement should clearly tell employers the type of position you are seeking and the skills and experiences you can contribute to the company.

Resume

The objective statement is a controversial aspect of the resume. Some experts say that it is too limiting, and it eliminates other job opportunities within the company that the candidate is unaware of.  Others say that it provides much needed focus to the resume. A career center counselor can help you decide if an objective statement is right for your resume.

For students and recent graduates, the next section of the resume is usually education. This portion of the resume lists the colleges and universities you are attending or have previously attended. It is also important to indicate your major(s), minor(s) and concentration(s). GPA can be included if it is over 3.0.

Next comes the experience section. In this portion of the resume, you should bullet or briefly explain the responsibilities held and skills demonstrated for each position you have formerly held. Pick up a list of resume actions verbs in the Career Center so you can keep your duty descriptions clear and not too wordy.

Skills will follow experiences in your resume. In your skills section, it is good to include computer, customer service and leadership skills if these are applicable to your prior experiences.

Honors and Activities sections can be altered on a case by case basis. For example, if the Dean’s List is your only honor, you might not want to make a specific section for honors. Instead, you could add the Dean’s List to your education section.

So, do you feel you are ready to submit your resume? Think again! Have a peer look over your resume beforehand. Bring it to the Career Center so it can be critiqued by a professional. Do not let simple grammatical or mechanical mistakes prevent you from being offered an interview.

A cover letter can make or break the opportunity to be offered an interview. If you write a great cover letter, it can grant you an interview that your resume alone would not give you. If you write a poor cover letter, the greatness of your resume and experiences could be overlooked by the flaws of the initial letter.

Don’t let your cover letter be a hindrance in your job search! Below are 10 easy steps to make sure your cover letter sets you apart from the rest.

Step 1: Review your resume

The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce your resume. Therefore, you should have a strong hold on what is written in your resume before you begin to write a cover letter.

Step 2: Think about making a good first impression

This will be the first time your potential employer shapes an opinion of who you are and what you bring to their organization. Capture their attention immediately and use the cover letter to encourage him/her to read your resume.

Step 3: Address your letter to a real person

Be sure to get a name or position title of the person you are writing to. If you do not know who you are addressing in the letter, jump into the body of the letter. Do not use “Dear Hiring Manager” or “To Whom it May Concern.”

Step 4: Do not repeat what is said in your resume

Cover letters are not resumes in essay format. Cover letters add new information that would not be found on your resume like personal traits, work habits, and why you are interested in the job.

Step 5: Keep it brief

A cover letter should be three to four paragraphs at the most. It should not exceed one page, and preferably, not more than three quarters of a page. A cover letter should be clear, concise, and convincing.

Step 6: Show experience in your first sentence

Do not start your letter with a generic sentence such as, “Hello, my name is Jane Doe, and I am applying for this position as a summer intern.” An introduction like this makes you sound very inexperienced. Spice it up a little and explain how your hard work and dedication in this field makes you a great candidate.

Step 7: Write your first paragraph

In the first paragraph, tell the employer why you are writing to them and any personal contacts that have referred you for the position. Also state how you resonate with the company or opportunity.

Step 8: Write paragraphs two and three

Do not tell the employer what you want. Tell them why they should want you. Make sure the employer knows all the knowledge, skills, and experience you can bring to the organization. While your needs are also important in the job search, it is not what an employer is looking for in a cover letter.

Step 9: Finish with a “Call to Action” Statement

In the last paragraph of your cover letter, it is very important that you inform the reader when you will be following up with them. Give an exact date and how you will be contacting them.

Step 10: Send as a PDF

To ensure there are no formatting issues, send your cover letter and resume as a PDF.

For more details on formatting a cover letter, be sure to visit the Career Center!

 
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