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Get In The Game!

25 Feb

There are two types of back-up quarterbacks in football. The first type is scared and apathetic. He is a back-up for a reason; always shying away from the action. During a game, he can be seen sitting on the bench occasionally glancing at a clipboard or talking with his friends who share his lackluster approach. The second type of back-up is just the opposite. He is the coach’s shadow; just waiting for his opportunity to prove himself. He stays late after practice working on his skills and studying the playbook. He might not have the social life his friends have due to the fact that he is always in the gym, at practice, or watching film. This type of back-up quarterback is rare and won’t be a back-up for long. He will jump at his first opportunity and excel. This is the type of quarterback every coach longs for.Tebow
Just like a back-up quarterback, most students don’t understand how close they are to getting into the “game” of life. They love the college atmosphere and wish that time would stop so they could live in adolescence forever. However, sadly this is not the way life works. This mindset causes most students to get so caught up in what is going on around campus that they forget the reason why they came to college in the first place. To prepare themselves to succeed in the outside world! Just like the first type of back-up quarterback, they are unprepared to enter the game.

So how do you prepare yourself? Just like a good quarterback will study film on opposing teams to learn how they play the game, it is pivotal that you as a college student prepare yourself for the job market. One way to prepare yourself is through making yourself known. Above, I spoke about how a good back-up quarterback is the coach’s shadow. How close are you to your dream employer? With modern technology, your dream employer is just a few clicks away! Why not send them an email, add them on Facebook, join their LinkedIn network, or actually give them a call!? Obviously, this must be done with wisdom and discernment. A question such as “How would you advise I prepare now so I can work for you when I graduate?” will likely make a great impression on the employer and could lead to practical advice that could help in landing a job down the road.

Working in the Career Center, I see hundreds of former students walk into our office and say, “Hey… Umm… Can you help me get a job?” I always cringe when I hear this. I think about the back-up quarterback who wants to play but won’t put in the effort necessary. If only this student would have been their dream employer’s shadow; focusing on what the employer looks for and jumping on a good opportunity, they would be in the game by now.

So take initiative, locate your dream employer and become their shadow. What are you waiting for? Get in the game!

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The Hunger Games and Your Career

8 May

College can be compared to the training period before The Hunger Games, as referenced in the novel. The contestants were well aware of what they were facing. They were given a brief, specific amount of time to select their strategy and to be intentional about gaining as many relevant skills as possible. At the end of the day, no single strategy could guarantee victory. They could only be diligent in seeking out as many skills and experiences as possible, to best position themselves for victory. Sounds a lot like life, right?

If life is like The Hunger Games, then college is the training ground where the choices you make, or don’t make, weigh heavily on your performance on the field. It is important to note that you have entered into a very open-ended training field, where you can find out what you need to learn, and then train to develop the necessary skills to increase the likelihood of your future success. Or, you can choose to view college as an extended vacation and a postponement of responsibility, only to experience a rude awakening upon graduation.

Working in a University setting, I’ve noticed that a staggering amount of students are expecting a collegiate diploma to be a cheat sheet to life. The reality of the situation is that 2.5 million people will graduate with Bachelors’ Degrees this year alone. Anyone living in our current economy would probably, and accurately assume that there will not be 2.5 million entry-level jobs opening alongside this year’s graduates.

Additionally, study after study lends evidence to the idea that, in the long run, a college degree typically ends up being worth the financial sacrifice incurred. Not to mention that the majority of jobs and careers that pay decently, provide a moderate level of security and satisfaction, and allow for responsibility and growth require at least an Associate’s degree. So, if degrees are beneficial, why are so many employers echoing the complaint of having job openings but being unable to fill them in the midst of a struggling economy? They are citing a lack of skilled applicants. In other words, employers do not have the time, resources, or personnel to train completely new, unskilled applicants. Hence, they are looking for individuals with the academic training and the practical experience to back it up.

Here are 6 things that you can do throughout your time in college to ensure that you are taking advantage of your education:

1. Visit the Career Center. In the Career Center, you’ll find free Career Counseling, resume and cover letter assistance, and mock interviewing, in addition to other career related resources and events. Come early, and come often.

2. Volunteer. Not many employers, agencies, and organizations are going to turn down free labor. Volunteering connects you to professionals in your field, gives you practical experience that you can include in your resume, and allows you to develop the skills that employers are looking for.

3. Intern. Internships give you practical experience in your field, allow you to learn and develop new skills, build your resume, and expand your connections. It doesn’t hurt that nearly 40% of employers hire directly from their internship programs.

4. Start stuff. Are you surprised or frustrated to see that there’s no student club for (insert your interests here)? Who’s stopping you from starting one? You’ll gain skills in leadership, organization, teamwork, branding, promotions and more.

5. Lead. If you’re involved in a club or organization, step it up and become a leader. In addition to leadership skills, you’ll gain additional skills as they pertain to your position.

6. Social media and blogging. Are you familiar with the term “SEO?” Have you ever developed a systematic social media strategy? What do you use to schedule tweets and track analytics for hits on your organization’s Facebook page? If any of that sounded like another language to you, it would be to your benefit to gain some skills in this area if you’re interested in working with Social Media or in a Communications related field. Additionally, blogging hones your writing skills and establishes you as a voice in your field.

Consider this your heads up. Imagine if the participants in the Hunger Games squandered their time of training, only to find themselves unprepared for the harsh realities which they would eventually face. College is not a vacation from responsibility. How you spend your time here will greatly influence what your life looks like when you enter “the real world.” The world is open ended. It becomes a lot less intimidating when you equip yourself with the necessary tools. We in the Career Center would love to help you along your journey.

Loving Your Job

16 Apr

Here’s a question right off the top: Have you ever been in a restaurant and seen a waitress wearing one of those shirts that read, “I love my job.” Inside, you probably laugh a little. She may like her job, or making good tips, but does she truly love her job?

Forbes.com released a list of the top 20 happiest jobs in America. Newsflash: Some people really do love their job. Here are some that caught my eye, and I’ll end with a challenge.

Topping the list was Software Quality Assurance Engineer. This is a well-paying job that is vital to the success of software manufacturers.  Tied for second were Executive Chef and Property Managers. Following these on the list were quite a few more involving software developers and technicians, while some were common jobs such as electrician and accountant.

Some on the list were management positions, which would make you think, “Of course they’re happy, they’re making good money.” But that might not be the whole story.

Consider this: “Many of the happiest jobs have some component with working with people,” Heidi Golledge, CareerBliss’ chief executive said. “Folks who work with others tend to rate their happiness higher on our site.”

While working with people, they likely possess certain gifts, traits and skills that made them a great fit. Essentially, they’re doing something that they were made to do. You can’t replace passion and genuine desire to do a job.

Can you say that about yourself? Maybe not yet, but what about your studies and degree plan? Are you studying something that you know you were meant to do?

If so, great. Continue to follow and pursue it so that you can hopefully make money doing what you enjoy. If not, what will you do about it? Changing careers is one possibility. First, do a self-examination to see if there are other things that could affect your happiness at work.  Then look at your job in a new light, and try to highlight the characteristics that attracted you to work there in the first place.

Not all of us will go around wearing t-shirts bragging on how much we love our job, but that doesn’t mean its not something to strive for.

A Communicative Theory for Leadership

23 Feb

As a student at our fine university, your thoughts are constantly turning to the big picture. What are you going to do when you graduate? What’s out there on that big scary road we call the future? When you graduate, you will apply for entry-level jobs, pursue paid internships, and hunger after the chance just to be the boss’ assistant. Sadly, that’s where a lot of graduates make their first mistake. Everyone should know the steps to be an effective leader if you ultimately want to reach a high rung on the ladder of success. The LMX (Leader-Member Exchange) Theory is a highly suggested theory used in organizational communication for leaders in the workplace.  I have taken this theory and broken down its stages into three quick, easy steps that will help you to become the best leader that YOU can be!

1. Acceptance of the Role

When a new member joins a team that has already been in the creation process, their abilities and interactions with the other members of that team need to be immediately assessed. Ask yourself; can they work cohesive with the group? Do they handle new task and team building strategies well? Do not feel as though you are adding unnecessary pressure towards this new team member. It is important for them to establish their standing and show themselves as capable and proficient. If said member is not tested, then you as the leader will be at fault for any failures that occur or tasks that cannot be fulfilled. So it is vital that you utilize this stage to discover the strengths and weaknesses of the new member.

2. Creation of the Role

If you have moved into stage two, this means the new member has been accepted. This makes him a part of your “in” group. Your “in” group contains high level positions of trusted officials. These are the people you have chosen to represent your ideas and carry out your direct orders. In war, they would be your lieutenants and colonels. At this stage, your confidence and assurance in them is solid since they have shown great consistency through stage one. However, the members should always be reminded that your trust is earned, not given freely and can easily be revoked should failure become constant. This shouldn’t be looked at as too harsh though, as the member should receive rewards as well. A position of importance and benefits is given in return for loyalty and ambition. Therefore, the member has something to continuously work to keep. They need to remember that there are always new members on the horizon.

3. Routinization

By this stage you and the member should have a comfortable social exchange established. There should be no need to explain projects when they are assigned or expand on information already given. The member agrees with your goals and actively helps you accomplish those goals. Many members become an apprentice of the leader and therefore become leaders themselves. The leader can then trust them to lead others. They understand the thoughts and motives why something is needed. You have ultimately trained and groomed them to become extensions of your own self.

People have always said that life is one big race, and as a college graduate you are putting yourself ahead of the competition. Statistically the majority of people who are managers, CEOs, and supervisors pursued higher learning. You will find yourself in a position of leadership, so it is important that you know how to not only get there, but stay there! Remember; do not follow where the path may lead. Instead, go where there is no path, and lead a trail. That is true leadership.

Inspiration: 9 Dynamic Digital Resumes That Stand Out From the Crowd

1 Aug

We found this cool article that shows examples of some extremely creative digital resumes. Maybe this will inspire you and give you some new ideas on how to make your resume stand out! Let us know what you think and share your digital resumes with us!

9 Dynamic Digital Resumes That Stand Out From the Crowd