Both Human Development and Psychology are liberal arts degrees, much like History, English, or Political Science; these are programs that are intended to equip you with a broad range of critical thinking, communication, and analytical skills that may be helpful in a diverse range of careers. They are different from degrees in professional programs, such as Accounting, Education, or Social Work, which are degrees designed to prepare you for a specific career path. Those with liberal arts majors may go on to pursue a number of different job options. In 2009 alone, some of our alums took their first jobs as personal bankers, psychometrists, community relations specialists, after school program coordinators, store managers, line therapists, and pre-school teachers. That does not mean, however, that your Human Development or Psychology major automatically prepares you for all of these jobs. In fact, the great news about a liberal arts degree is that it gives you options. The burden that comes with that, though, is that you must select specific classes and gain other relevant experience (e.g., jobs, volunteer work, internships) that makes you marketable for the jobs you might wish to pursue. For example, a student who eventually wants to work in human resources would likely also minor or double-major in Business and would be sure to take classes like Organizational and Personnel Psychology. He or she would also want to gain employment experience in the business world and/or to obtain a human resources internship. On the other hand, a student who hoped to pursue a career in social services would probably take relevant classes like Counseling Across the Lifespan and obtain part-time work at a local human services agency, such as a homeless shelter. Either student might also decide to increase his or her marketability with a minor in another language, such as Spanish and by pursuing electives (e.g., teaching assistantship) and co-curricular activities (officer in a student organization, Student Ambassador) that demonstrate leadership and strong interpersonal and communication skills. To get a better sense of the types of careers students pursue with their bachelor’s degrees in Human Development and Psychology, check out the annual survey Career Services conducts of our new graduates and click on a year under “Survey Results by Major”. Remember that Career Services can also help you as you consider how best to make yourself marketable for specific careers. Your academic advisor can also assist you with relevant course selection.
We have written in previous issues about the “dos” and “donts” of references and recommendations, such as making sure to ask people before including their name as a reference on a job application or resume. This time, we’d like to provide some information about common questions we are asked to address in telephone references or letters of recommendation, as well as the ways we might assess those things in students. Think coming to class late doesn’t matter? Read on!
- How long have you known this person and in what context? The first thing employers and grad schools want to know is how well you know the person you are recommending. They will use that to decide how seriously they can take the recommendation. Worked with the student in two classes? Okay – maybe you know something about him or her. Worked with the student in two classes and as a research supervisor? Excellent – tell us more! On the other hand, if the faculty member has only worked with you in one class and that was some time ago, the employer or grad school may not take that reference letter as seriously – and the faculty member may be reluctant to provide one because he/she just doesn’t know you well enough.
- How responsible is this person? Employers want to know if you will be a responsible employee. How can we address this issue? We have to think about ways you have shown responsibility as a student. Have you submitted assignments on time, or have you asked for extensions? Have you arrived to class on time, or are you chronically late? Are you attentive and engaged in class, or are you passing notes, texting, or sleeping? Are you proactive about your learning (e.g., seeking feedback on drafts of assignments, clearly proofreading assignments and submitting neat and complete final products, asking good questions)?
- How would you rate this individual’s interpersonal skills? Leadership skills? Particularly if your professor has only worked with you in a traditional classroom, he or she might not have a lot to say about this issue. What he or she has observed is how you interact with your instructor and with your classmates in that setting. That means that your participation in class is important. In addition, your group work skills are something we observe and may then comment upon. Did your group work well together? Did group members complain about you? Did you complain about them? Did you seem to take a leadership role? How active were you during in-class group work? These things do matter.
- How does this person deal with stress or deadlines? Nobody likes stress, and deadlines aren’t usually high on people’s list of favorites, either. That said, employers need you to be able to work with both effectively, and they want to know you have those skills. Again, professors will likely remember if you have had to ask for extensions, or if you have typically turned in assignments late – or if you have come running into class with your paper at the last moment asking for a stapler and holding a document printed out in green ink (because that darn black cartridge is out of ink again!). They will also remember if you have dealt with things that are often challenging – such as getting feedback that a paper or test could have been better and then working hard to do better the next time. Life happens. It happens to us, too, and it’s not that you can’t make mistakes or have bad days, but remember that you will likely benefit from providing an overall impression of someone who cares about their work, who completes work on time, who does so cheerfully, and who submits work that is complete, neat, and professional. That’s what your employers will expect.
- How would you assess this person’s writing skills? Public speaking skills? Speaking of papers, they are the major way that we can assess your writing skills, and employers frequently rate communication skills (written and oral) as among the most important qualities they seek in job candidates. Keep in mind that the content of your papers matters, but so does the way you write, as does whether you are able to follow instructions. Your oral presentation skills also matter, whether they are demonstrated through formal class presentations or via general class participation.
This information isn’t intended to scare you or give you the impression that we are always judging you – we aren’t. And, again, we all have bad days. However, it is important to think about the impression you give to your peers and to your professors not only with your grades, but with how you approach your work and your role as a student. We are trying to help to prepare you for the world of work, not only through the content of classes, but also by setting expectations and creating learning activities (e.g., group work, presentations, papers) that require the same skills you will need on the job.
One of the most important events you may attend this semester is the Spring Job & Internship Fair (Wednesday, March 3, 2010 from 9:30-1:00 in the Phoenix Rooms). Sponsored by our good friends at Career Services, it is not only for graduating seniors. All students who are actively looking for a job, who might be looking for an internship, or who want to begin networking for the job they will need in the future are welcome to attend. Career Services has provided excellent information on their website (http://www.uwgb.edu/careers/2010_SJIF.htm) about what all students (Freshmen-Seniors) might look for at this event, as well as strategies for how to get noticed, and more! Make sure that you dress for a professional setting and bring your resume. Don’t have a resume? Learn more about how to create a great one at: http://www.uwgb.edu/careers/Creating_Resume.htm.
Whether you are looking for a job right now or dreaming of a graduation still several semesters away, it is never too early to create a polished, professional resume. Where to begin? Try the on-line “Creating a Resume Guide” on the Career Services webpage (http://www.uwgb.edu/careers/Creating_Resume_Guide.htm). You can also check out sample resumes (http://www.uwgb.edu/careers/Sample_Resumes.htm). Don’t just use those as templates, though – or rely on other professionally produced templates. Employers will recognize many of those, and they will have received many resumes that look just like them! You want your resume to be a fresh, professional document that is a unique reflection of your abilities and experiences. Don’t forget, by the way, that Career Services offers great resume review services, and they will also be the special guest at the P/HD Club resume writing session for our students on Monday, November 16th at 5:00 p.m. in MAC 210. You want this document to be perfect, so proofread, proofread, proofread, and get as many other perspectives on it as possible.
Is anyone feeling a little nervous about looking for a job right now? You’re not alone! Our good friends at Career Services have a range of resources to help you in that process – some of which are brand new this year. Check them out!
- There’s a new series of short, web-based videos related to the job search process that just might help you feel more prepared. Find them at http://www.uwgb.edu/careers/ (click on the CareerSpots.com link).
- Many of you are probably familiar with PRO (http://www.uwgb.edu/careers/PROstudents.htm) and using it to look for jobs or internships, but did you know it also contains two great resources for learning more about careers in different fields (descriptions, salaries, industry profiles, etc.), international career opportunities, and U.S. cities where you might be looking for jobs? You can access Facts on File (national database of career information) and Going Global (international opportunities, city guides, etc.) by logging into the PRO system.
- Career Services has a range of FREE workshop offerings on creating resumes, interviewing, and applying to graduate school (see http://www.uwgb.edu/careers/Programs.htm#Calendar for a full schedule). Some of them are scheduled for September, so don’t miss out!
Are you graduating in May? Are you feeling excited, thrilled, on top of the world? Or are you perhaps feeling a bit nervous, uneasy, and maybe even a little nauseous? We at the PF understand that the thought of looking for a job right now is daunting. Even though we teach you about Freudian defense mechanisms in class, though, that doesn’t mean we endorse over-use of them! Denial might seem like a good strategy (Job? What do you mean I need to find a job?) now, but it’s probably not in your long-term best interests. Our Career Tip of the Month, therefore, is to check out the wonderful work done by UW-Green Bay’s Career Services (http://www.uwgb.edu/careers/). They can assist you with your resume, cover letter, interviewing skills, and job search strategies, and most of their services are free to you as a current student. Take advantage of those services now before you graduate, and don’t let fear delay putting you on the path to career success!
If you think you want to teach, but you do not have the credentials from an approved Education program that would make you eligible for certification, consider investigating the Milwaukee Teaching Fellows program. It is a competitive program that can help highly qualified candidates with bachelor’s degrees in other areas become certified to teach in Wisconsin as they teach full-time in Milwaukee (and are paid to do so) and pursue the coursework needed for licensure. Our quick read of their website seems to indicate that individuals might be able to teach math, science (if they have majors in those areas), special education, or elementary bilingual education (if fluent in English and Spanish). It can be dangerous to rely on your Editors’ quick reading skills, though, so learn more for yourself by visiting the program’s website at: http://www.milwaukeeteachingfellows.org/.
We at the PF understand that the prospect of job hunting feels particularly daunting right now. How can you cope with anxiety about the job market? Be prepared. Some great ways to start include:
- Visit the Career Services’ website at http://www.uwgb.edu/careers/. You’ll find a great article about how to deal with a tight job market, as well as the opportunity to join a webinar on February 11th that will address how to thrive in that market.
- Attend the Human Services’ Networking Night on Monday, February 23, 2009 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. in Phoenix C. Learn more about the potential employers who will be in attendance and about Networking Nights in general at: http://www.uwgb.edu/careers/NetworkingNights.htm.
- Plan now to attend the Spring 2009 Job and Internship Fair on March 4, 2009 from 9:30-1:00 p.m. in the Phoenix Rooms.
Obtaining the job of your dreams does not begin with the job search just before graduation. It begins now with course selection, extracurricular activities, skill-building, and part-time employment. It also begins with networking – making connections in the community, meeting potential future employers, and practicing professional communication skills. Not sure when or how to begin with networking? Plan to attend Career Services’ “Networking Nights”! Networking Nights are regular opportunities to connect with professionals from diverse career areas. You can find out more about the program at: http://www.uwgb.edu/careers/NetworkingNights.htm. Upcoming dates (and attending organizations) are listed below. Several of them are businesses, but keep in mind that many of our Psychology and Human Development students take entry-level positions in businesses as their first jobs. Please also note that local human service agencies will be on campus one evening next semester.
October 20 – M&I Bank
November 3 – Nsight/Cellcom
November 17 – Sherwin Williams
February 9 – Schenck Business Solutions
February 23 – Area human service organizations
March 9 – Associated Bank
March 30 – LaForce
April 13 – BayLake Bank
April 27 – Virchow Krause
Career Services has a fabulous line-up of offerings for Fall 2008. Make sure to put the Job/Internship Fair on your calendars: October 1st from 9:30-1:00 in the Phoenix Rooms. First year students through seniors can benefit from attending. Find tips and details at: http://www.uwgb.edu/careers/2008_FJIF.htm
Career Services will also be presenting workshops on interviewing and creating resumes and cover letters. Each will be offered twice – once in September and October. See the complete schedule at: http://www.uwgb.edu/careers/
Remember, Dr. Eric Landrum from Boise State University will offer his thoughts on careers you can pursue with a Psychology major on April 16th at 6 p.m. in Rose Hall 250 (see previous Psi Chi item). Why listen to us when you can get information from a real expert? That means our best career advice this month is to attend his presentation!
We hope most of you already know about the PRO System that is run through the Career Services Office on campus. If not, let the PF be the first to tell you that it’s a great system that allows you to search for available internships and part-time and full-time jobs. Many of you may be thinking it will only be of use when you graduate, but that’s not true! You can access PRO and look for an internship or summer job that helps build your resume. In addition, once you are ready to head onto the job market full-time, it is a great resource for finding that first job. For example, two recent posts to the system were for a full-time Victim Advocate at Golden House and for a Volunteer Coordinator at Harbor House, both domestic violence shelters in the area. To learn more about and access PRO, click here: http://www.uwgb.edu/careers/PROstudents.htm