Major Dilemma? Let Career Services Help

               With registration for the spring 2012 semester fast approaching, some students are faced with that all-important (but hair-pullingly stressful) task of declaring a major.  With so many choices, how can one possibly choose?  Human Biology, Political Science, Communications, Education, and Accounting: the list goes on forever!  But don’t worry, because Career Services is here to help guide you on your way to making the decision that is right for you.

               The best place to start your possible major search would be the “Choosing a Major” guide on the Career Services website.  There you can look at the list of majors and minors UWGB has to offer and even print a complete copy of the guide.  This information will help you consider your interests, values and abilities and transform them into a major that fits you.  If you’re not quite sure what a major is or are interested to know what kind of career options are available within that major, you can visit Majortopia, also on the Career Services website.  This page will provide you with in depth information about the major, including necessary skills, possible career paths, and links for even more extensive information. 

               Choosing your major could be one of the biggest and most personal decisions you make during your college career.   It is important that you choose something that helps you get where you want to go, and most importantly, something that you enjoy!  If you aren’t sure where to begin or want to know if you’re on the right track, you can make an appointment with Career Services by calling (920) 465-2163 or stopping by SS 1600.  The Career Services staff members would be happy to talk to you and help you figure out what you want to do with your major and what you intend to get out of it.  They can also tell you more about the Human Development 225 class offered at UWGB.  This is a one-credit course that teaches and prepares you for career planning.

No matter what major you choose, it is a very personal decision.  Only you can make the one that is right for you.  It’s important for you to know that there are many tools offered by UWGB Career Services.  They are there to help you every step of the way!

“Seven Mistakes Job Seekers Make Online and How to Avoid Them” by Lindsay Cummings

In an era of Jersey Shore, Lady Gaga, and Twitter, our idea of professionalism can get somewhat misconstrued and hazy.  Where do we draw the line between our personal lives and our business lives when it seems everything we do is readily available for viewing on the Internet?  50% of employers rejected a prospective employee based on a Snooki wannabe picture found online while Googling his or her name – and they WILL Google you.  In his book, Job Seeking with Social Media for Dummies, Joshua Waldman addresses these Internet faux paus and how to avoid them.  He provides his readers with this crucial information for job seeking in the 21st century by using LinkedIn, the world’s most powerful professional network.  Here, Waldman identifies the top seven mistakes job seekers make on LinkedIn and how they can be avoided.

1: Not having a well-defined brand across platforms

Branding starts with you and ends with them.  Identify your values and then do research on your target employer’s top two problems. How can you help solve these problems?  Align all messaging and images with that.

2: Using your job title in your professional headlines

You are NOT your job. Move away from commodity and into personality by using your personal branding message in the 120 characters available in LinkedIn’s headline space.

3: Rambling on and on in your Profile Summary

The profile summary of your online resume is a place to differentiate yourself in 20-30 seconds. Deliver your elevator pitch in 5 lines or less.  Keep it to “Hello, my name is….I’m a….specializing in….”

4: Not using LinkedIn’s applications

Tell your prospective employer what motivates you by showing them what books you are reading and recent blog posts or slide shows you’ve created using LinkedIn’s applications.

5: Not having 100% LinkedIn profile

Just like you would dress up for a job interview, you want your LinkedIn and online profiles to be as clean and professional as possible. LinkedIn guides you through the process of getting to 100%.

6: Looking like an axe murderer

Like it or not, people make split-second decisions about us based on the way you look. Make sure your profile photograph is professional and welcoming.

7: Leaving your online relationships online

You want to get the meeting, phone call or appointment as quickly as you can.  Although networking can feel somewhat uncomfortable, don’t hide behind your computer monitor.  Take these relationships off line and buy them a cup of coffee while you ask them industry-specific questions. 

Twitter can also be an extremely helpful resource.  Jobs are posted to Twitter in real-time and can be applied for in seconds.  You are 40% more likely to get hired if you apply to the job within 30 minutes of it getting posted.  Twellow, Twitter Yellow Pages, is another way of searching for specific jobs in your respective location.  Just remember, if you are using Twitter to network and contact prospective employers, do not tweet what you had for breakfast unless it was life-changing.  That’s the fastest way to get un-followed and moved into the rejected pile.  Keep your personal life off line and focus your online attention on the fast track to success.  The best way to do this is by branding yourself BEFORE going online, polishing off your profiles, and deepening your relationships by taking them offline.  Combining all of these tools will make you a success both on and off line!

2011 Job & Internship Fair

In case you didn’t see the countless posters and Facebook and Twitter posts, the Fall Job & Internship Fair was held at UWGB last week on September 28th.  Now, being a first-year student, I really didn’t know what it was all about.  The professionals in the Career Services office were tangibly excited, but the students on the other hand, were terrified.  The idea of walking into a room full of potential employers was almost as scary as meeting up with a band of monsters.  But if there is one thing I learned from watching Scooby Doo it’s that there is always a person behind that mask.  So I set out for the Job & Internship Fair with one goal in mind: to solve the mystery of the Job Fair Scare!

Why are students so intimidated when it comes to interviewing?  Is it the fear of answering a question wrong?  Of being ill-prepared?  These are the questions I asked myself as I began to investigate the topic.  The Career Services website had tons (literally, TONS!) of advice on what to wear, how to sell yourself, and so many other ways to be prepared for the Job Fair, but students were still nervous.  The nerves were even starting to get to me!  At 10:30 AM, I arrived at the Job Fair wearing my best business attire and a brave face (I thought it best to skip the bell-bottoms and ascot).  Not surprisingly, there were no cobwebs, no eerie fog, and NO masked ghouls anywhere.  It didn’t seem like this was going to be as eventful as anything Scooby and the gang encountered, but the mystery was still unfolding…

With my name tag on, I decided to begin my investigation with a little observation.  The Fair was already in full swing: smartly dressed students were everywhere (obviously they checked out Career Services’ “Dress for Success” tips!).  And as I watched the many tentative (and some bolder) students work up the courage to approach the company reps, I wondered, “What are they afraid of?”  “It’s so nerve-wracking,” one girl said.  “They just seem so intimidating.”  The employers at every single booth were standing, smiling, and practically begging to be approached.  Their tables held enticing goodies like candy, snacks, pencils, pens and other free stuff; anything they thought would lure in students.  It was obvious that they wanted to be engaged, but they were waiting for students to make the first move.  When a student approached, the interactions always started the same way: a firm handshake, the exchange of names and the four-word phrase that can make or break you in any job interview—“Tell me about yourself.”   Jinkies!   My first clue!  It was time to dig deeper. 

I wanted to get some insight from employers, so I approached a table for WS Packaging Group, Inc.  I spoke with a representative who told me what she thought the most important thing to do before an interview was.  “I feel that when we read resumes, applicants are not looking at the job description and the qualifications.” She felt it was extremely important to research the position and its requirements before you apply.  Don’t apply for a science-related position if you are an English major that hated your science classes.  A representative from the Wisconsin State Government expressed concern that students and graduates looking for jobs “think they can jump right into an advising position.” Students seem to be so confident in their abilities and eager to climb the career ladder that they forget they do have to start on the bottom rung.  She said they must remember that no matter how smart they are, going from graduation to management is simply not (or at least very rarely) going to happen.  When I asked employers about skills their company was looking for in a potential employee the responses were pretty much what you would expect: communication and writing skills, work ethic, leadership, and education among the most common.  I realize that many students may think that these skills are obvious.  They already know they must possess the vast majority if they even want to be considered for a job.  That’s when I knew I had found my second clue.

I stumbled upon my third clue in a much more subtle way.  There is no doubt that the company representatives are all very good at their jobs and that they know what they are doing, so it’s easy to see why students are intimidated at the thought of speaking to these employers.  But who would be surprised to know that the employers were just as nervous?  It’s true!  When I first approached a booth, I would introduce myself, telling them I was an intern with UWGB Career Services, and ask if they would mind answering a few questions.  Almost immediately, there was a change.  Their eyes widened a little, smiles faltered for just a split-second, and I knew right then that I had made a breakthrough.  I had definitely caught them off guard: most of the representatives came to the Job & Internship Fair to interview students, but in an ironic turn of events, they found themselves in the middle of an interview.  They answered my questions and were very helpful, but I could tell that it was quite unexpected.

At that point I had gathered enough information.  I couldn’t help feeling a little like Velma as I went through my list of clues, but I was definitely ready to solve the Job Fair Scare.  First of all, I wondered, why do employers ask such a broad question to start the interview?  Such openness makes some students very nervous.  They aren’t sure exactly what to say, but above all, they want to avoid rambling.  Employers do this because they want to know about you.  They generally look for the student to speak first at a job fair because their main objective is to get an idea of whether or not you would be right for their company.  The representative is never going to try to embarrass you or make you look stupid.  Just be confident and professional, but most of all, be you. 

Secondly, it is one thing to have the skills employers are looking for, but it is entirely another to actually know what to do with those skills.  A professor in one of my classes once said, “Interviewers are really thinking, ‘I know you have the skills.  So what?  How is it going to help my company?’”  I think this is a really important question that students should ask themselves as they prepare for a job fair or interview.  If you can tell employers a specific example of how you can help their company, it is a much more impressive answer and will definitely help you stand out.

Finally, the third, and I feel most important thing I learned at the Job and Internship Fair, is that everyone is nervous about being interviewed!  Even professionals that are very knowledgeable about their field and position are susceptible to the butterflies and stutters that come with this natural fear of speaking publically.  It’s important for you as a future job applicant to realize that it is natural to feel a bit on edge—everybody does!  No matter if you’re eighteen, twenty-two, or forty-three, the nerves get to us all.  This doesn’t mean we have to let it get the best of us, and miss important opportunities:  no, it just means that we can recognize the nervousness and easily learn to push it aside.

So, jinkies, that’s that!  Mystery solved.  There were no ghosts, goblins, or monsters running booths at the Job and Internship Fair; just normal professional people with the same emotions as students.  So now that all of your fears are put to rest, start your own job search today!  Go to http://www.uwgb.edu/careers/skills/job-search.asp to get started!