Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Finding a job, on-campus or off

CareerBuilder.com It’s a truth universally acknowledged that job searching is not all that fun. It takes a lot of work. Especially in this economy, getting a job is a full time job in itself! It’s not enough to just want a job and fill out a few applications – you have to do a whole lot more.

Above all else, you have to be strategic, creative, and proactive in order to get the results you want…

First, Strategize!!
Get clear about your goals for finding a job or internship.

  • Do you need to earn a certain amount per month to cover your expenses? Do you need a flexible schedule, or a job that is only on weekends? How many hours do you want to work? Don’t aim to work more than 20 hours a week – your grades could suffer.
  • How important is it that you gain work experience of a certain type or in a certain industry? How can you use a job during the school year to help you either figure out your career path, or build your resume? What types of industries / careers and job roles / functions are you interested in?
  • How will you know when you’ve found a job that meets your criteria? Write your criteria down in ranked order of importance, then draw a line below the criteria that are your absolute minimal requirements. Just remember to be realistic, you can’t necessarily get everything you want, especially in a tough economy.
Be Creative!!
Now that you know your goals, be creative about how you find opportunities that match up to them.

  • Have a favorite store or company? Call and ask if they have any openings. If they don’t at the moment, ask if they will be hiring seasonal employees for the quickly-approaching holiday season.
  • Ask your professors if he/she knows of any student employment needs in their department. Having a connection with someone on the inside can be a really easy way to get a great referral for a job not a lot of other people know about!
  • Got any skills that you can showcase as a freelancer? How about advertising as a tutor, babysitter, snow-shoveler, make-up artist, or dog walker?
  • Go to the Career Center on campus. They have a wealth of resources for job seekers, and oftentimes, they have connections with employers who specifically want to employ students from your school!
  • Check out job bulletin-posts on campus other than in the Career Center (buildings, class rooms, kiosk posts) and off campus (coffee shops, windows, unemployment offices, education centers).
  • Check out online job sites! There are the obvious ones like Craig’s List, Monster.com, Careerbuilder.com, but how about these others:
http://www.studentjobs.gov/
http://www.snagajob.com/
http://www.groovejob.com/

Be Proactive!!
A job or internship doesn’t find you … you find it!

  • Get the word out that you are looking for a job. Talk to friends, roommates, professors, past coworkers, family members, etc. to see if they know of any openings. You could even use your status on Facebook to get the word out!
  • Call potential employers and ask to talk to a hiring manager. If they are not available, at least get a name so you can try them again later. This can make a huge difference in whether your application actually gets reviewed or just added to the pile.
  • Tailor your resume to fit each job you apply for. To save some time, create a few resume templates that you can alter just slightly, like a ‘retail resume’ and an ‘office job resume’, that showcase your skills and abilities specific to each job type.
  • Feel limited by not having a car? Take out your bike, skateboard, walking shoes, or rollerblades even and get some exercise! If you don’t want to sweat then figure out the public transportation in your area – you can access route maps online or call bus companies to talk to someone who can help you figure out a route…and while you’ve got them on the phone, ask if they are hiring!

Whether this is your first job search, or your umpteenth, it certainly won’t be your last. This experience will serve you well far into the future!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Building rapport with your professors

Tea cup resting on top of books
According to a recent study, the top three fears of college students in America are:
1. A fear of public speaking
2. A fear of death
3. A fear of meeting with a professor during office hours

Just kidding! …But seriously, I am always surprised by the number of students who don’t want to take advantage of talking with their professors during office hours! Some don’t because they don’t have a concrete question to ask and don’t see why they should go otherwise, while others don’t because they don’t want to be thought of as not being smart, or conversely, as a teacher’s pet.

Well, today is the day. I want to encourage you to step outside your comfort zone and go to your professors’ office hours merely for the sake of building a more significant relationship than can be had in a classroom setting alone. Office hours are a great way to:

1. Show who you really are. In a one-on-one setting, professors are able to get a more individualized look at your interest, commitment, and effort levels as a student in their class, leading to more consideration when grades come due. So open up to them about your interests in the class, as well as your challenges, and see what comes out of it. Don’t forget, you are probably going to need at least one recommendation letter while in college, and it really should be from someone who really knows you and your student-ethic.

2. Get personal insights that can benefit you in the class, and beyond. Continuing conversations that the professor started in class will help you gain insights into this subject to help you assess your interest in this field, and will give you awesome tidbits that you might be able to use on the midterm or final that other students will not have had access to. You attend a great university that has incredible professors. You should take full advantage of this opportunity to learn from them. Plus, you will gain additional perspective that you can take into future classes, internships, careers – in life in general!

3. Open new doors. Professors are a wealth of resources in their fields and industries. Pick their brains about what got them started in the field, what they might have done differently if they could go back, or on ideas they have about current career opportunities / possibilities. You never know which professor might know about the perfect internship or research opportunity for you to be a part of. There’s some truth in the saying that it’s all about who you know.

4. Build communication skills. I know for some people this isn’t a big deal, but you are going to have to interact with authority-type figures throughout your life, whether they be bosses, clients, governmental figures, etc. Developing a mature, confident communication style is going to benefit you no matter what field you end up in and getting more practice can never hurt. Even if your professor may seem difficult to communicate with, this will give you the good practice you’ll need to deal with future challenging work and school interactions.

So what are you waiting for? Building rapport with your professors will help you get even more connected to your campus and everything that it has to offer. If you are still feeling a little uncomfortable, brainstorm with your Coach beforehand about some talking points or topics to get you going, and I think you’ll find that the conversation will flow from there.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Meeting new friends in the dorms

Photo of a dorm room door with a sign 'Out with friends'I’m sure you heard it all the time when you were a kid: Don’t talk to strangers. Well, as a new freshman in college, you'll need to start talking to all the strangers you can find …that is, unless you just want to hang out in your dorm room by yourself for the next four years!

It might seem obvious, but actually hanging out on campus is the best way to meet other students. If you are visiting your boyfriend or girlfriend off campus every weekend, then yeah, it’s going to be harder to get connected. So, enjoy your surroundings! There’s lots of ways to get yourself out there, whether you live on campus or off, so we’ve put together a Top 10 List to get you started:

Top 10 ways to meet other students

10. Strike up conversations with students in your classes. People love to talk about themselves, so the best way to get them talking is to just ask questions.

9. Get to know your roommates better. Forgive your roommate for not putting away her hairdryer and go chat and de-stress over some frozen yogurt.

8. Join a campus club or two to meet students with similar interests. And think outside the box – consider starting your own club if what you are interested in isn’t at your campus yet.

7. Consider whether rushing a sorority or fraternity is a fit for you. Talk to your RA and/or other upperclassmen to get more perspective on what it’s really like.

6. Play intramural sports. It’s a great way to get some exercise (aka fight the Freshmen 15) and you’ll meet fun people who aren’t afraid to make fools of themselves with sports they might not have ever played before – how’s that for getting outside your comfort zone?!

5. Host a game night in your hall. Get out the old board games…remember those? In the days before Wii and Guitar Hero? Try Apples to Apples , Catch Phrase, or Would you Rather…? for some hilarious moments.

4. Do your homework in the library instead of your room or, I know you might not want to have to start thinking about this already, but better to get ready for it now instead of later, organize a study group for an upcoming exam.

3. Eat your meals in the cafeteria and challenge yourself to talk to new people each time – even if it only means sharing a laugh with someone about the newest casserole sensation.

2. Use Facebook to connect with students at your new campus and organize face-to-face get-togethers. Take a look at your new Facebook friend’s pictures from Spain or Hawaii or even the neighborhood BBQ to get the dialogue going.

1. Be yourself and be positive. When in doubt, smile. You will be amazed at how much it can do.

Remember, you are not in this alone – everyone else in your freshman class is right there alongside you, meeting people and navigating the new social scene just like you are. And of course, you can always bounce ideas off of your InsideTrack Coach or talk through suggestions for how to meet people. Your life-long friends from college may just be the people you meet in the next few weeks!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Translating high school experiences to college

Photo of a fish jumping to a new bowl In movies, high school is usually characterized as either the best of times or the worst of times. As far as Hollywood is concerned, there never seems to be an in-between. You and I both know that that’s not always the case – there are people along the entire spectrum, from those whose high school experience seemed like a dream come true, to those who had a perfectly ordinary experience, to those who didn’t have a very good experience.

Wherever you fall in this spectrum, starting college is a completely fresh start. A fresh start means different things to different people – what does it mean to you? Since your first semester of your new life is going to begin in just a few weeks, this is the perfect time to ask yourself these questions:
  • What do you want to take with you into your college experience?
  • And what are the things you want to leave behind?
Maybe you loved being on the high school soccer team and are dreaming of college soccer games; maybe you always wanted to learn how to play an instrument but never did; maybe you hated being the class clown and want to be thought of more seriously by your professors. Spending some time now considering how you want college to be similar or different from your high school years is a great way to feel more prepared for what’s right around the corner: walking across your college campus for the first time as a college student.

Remember, there are no rules here: you decide what you want your college years to look like. Think back to when you were in your cap and gown getting your high school diploma, how did you feel about your high school experience? Now, fast forward four years – you are in cap and gown again, getting your college diploma, how do you want to feel about your college experience?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What will you do this summer?

Photo of feet resting on grass With summer now officially underway, I have been talking to a lot of students who are starting to feel – dare I say it? – bored. A big contrast to the school year, when you’re inundated with clubs to join, activities to try, friends to hang out with, and of course, tests to study for. So summer comes, students go home, maybe get a job, maybe take a class. The result? The landscape of your time has drastically changed – leading to the unfortunate but common phenomenon of feeling like you have all the time in the world but nothing to do.

O.K., so what does that leave you with? Probably one of two things: you either feel guilty about not being more “productive,” or you just want more fun stuff to fill your time.

Are you of the sort who had all sorts of plans for your summer, things like lists of books you wanted to read, volunteer work you wanted to get involved with, closets you wanted to organize (I could go on, but you get the point)? Maybe that list of things is really important to you, and if it is, my message for you is: Summer Is Fleeting! Get Up And Get Things Done! Or, if now that you’re in summertime, you could also change your plans and focus on enjoying the freedom that summer brings, especially knowing that it will not last long. Fall is around the corner, and your schedule will shortly be filled to the brim once again. Don’t undervalue rejuvenation!

Or, if you’re looking for more fun stuff to fill your time, try to think specifically about what you’d like to have bragging rights to once school starts back up again – maybe trying something new or going somewhere unique. Are these things you need to plan in advance, or do you just need a casual summer to-do-list? If you don’t have lots of ideas, And if you are having trouble coming up with ideas, there’s lots of great websites to give you ideas … on any budget (here’s a few to get you started: www.planjam.com, www.yelp.com, www.citysearch.com.

Either way, summer will be over before you know it, so what are you waiting for?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Keeping your energy level up

It’s the final push to finals and the end of your freshmen year! I know that you are busy trying to fit everything in to these last few weeks, so you’ve got to make sure you are taking care of yourself in the meantime. For so many students, getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and taking the time to exercise are usually last on the priority list when the pressure starts building. But if you prioritize these things last now, it is going to negatively affect you down the line when you really need to be performing at your best!

Let’s clear up some misconceptions about college lifestyles and get you on your way to finishing the year strong.

No, college students are not zombies – they do actually need more than 2 hours of sleep per night…
I know how it goes: you have every intention of starting your 10-page paper at the reasonable hour of 7 pm, but then your roommate walks in and convinces you to go get dinner at the cafeteria, and then your favorite shows come on, and then the cute guy down the hall asks for help with calculus, and then you realize you have to do laundry, and then your high school best friend calls for a catch-up session, and before you know it, it’s 3 am and you haven’t started a thing! Sure, most students pull an all-nighter every now and then, but if you let too many of them stack up right before finals week, your body is going to protest in a big way. You might not notice it now, but you will definitely notice it when you over-sleep the morning of your last final.

Yes, you do need more variety in your diet than Cup of Noodles is able to provide…
Everybody jokes about the eating habits of college students. But questionable cafeteria food + way too many microwaveable meals might equal more than just the infamous Freshmen 15. Your eating habits impact your energy and productivity levels, which in turn ultimately impact your grades and social life! I know you are super busy all day, so try to think ahead so that you can be prepared with healthy, easy snacks you can take on the go, like fruit, granola, energy bars, nuts, or pre-made deli sandwiches. If you keep your blood-sugar level throughout the day you will be far less likely to binge on sugary foods that will cause you to crash later.

No, playing Wii Sports does not count as exercise…
Well, maybe you can count playing Wii Fit as exercise, but other than that, you have got to get moving! You’ve heard it before, and here it is again: exercising helps keep you alert, gives you energy, helps you sleep better, and it gets the endorphins going so those finals don’t weigh you down as much. Even if it’s as simple as taking the long way to class, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or grabbing a friend for a trip through the mall, every little bit counts. Try wearing a pedometer or tracking on your calendar when you work out so that you can visualize the progress you’ve made and the steps you have taken to be good to yourself.

Remember, your Coach and I want you to have the best possible end to your freshmen year, and in order for that to happen, you have to take care of yourself! You’ll thank me when you are looking at those final grades.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

5 ways to conquer stress

Though stress is an inevitable part of every college student’s life, you’ve got to make sure that it doesn’t overwhelm you. Now that we are in mid-April and the year is winding down, where’s your stress level at? Feeling some stress can definitely be a good way to get things done, but if you start feeling too much pressure, your productivity will actually go down. To make sure that doesn’t happen you need some good go-to’s to combat rising stress levels. Here are five easy things to try next time you snap at your roommate for breathing too loudly.

1. Take a walk: Get up from your desk and go take a walk down the hall, around campus, or to the store down the street. That paper will still be waiting for you when you get back, and getting some light exercise will help clear your head and re-energize you to actually finish it!
2. Make a phone call: Sometimes when the pressure builds, you just need a good friend who will either listen as you unload or get you to laugh and put aside what’s going on for a few minutes. Reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while and see what unfolds – maybe you’ll even get some killer summer plans out of the conversation.

3. Check in on your expectations: Is any of your stress attributable to an overly aggressive workload? Maybe it’s time to reevaluate your to-do list and double check your prioritization. What are the things that really need to get done today, this week and this month? And what are the things that you can push off a bit to make your load feel a bit more reasonable?

4. Reward yourself: What are some of your favorite simple pleasures? When the stress starts creeping up on you, be good to yourself and schedule in some time to reward yourself. If you’ve spent all day in the library and finished your problem set, get a change of scenery by hanging out with your friends or going for a run. Or, after you’ve finished your assigned reading for a class, take 20 minutes to visit your favorite blogs. Rewards can really help motivate and rejuvenate us, but if time is really tight, make sure you commit to a time limit so you don’t get sidetracked.

5. Just breathe: According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, fast breathing rates are linked to high blood pressure. Take a minute to close your eyes, go to your happy place (island in the Bahamas, maybe?!), and concentrate on taking deep breaths. Mindful breathing isn’t just for yoga fans – it releases endorphins…and you don’t even have to get on the treadmill!

By learning the best ways to handle and diffuse your stress now, you set yourself up for a much more peaceful and productive college experience, and ultimately a much more peaceful and productive post-graduation life! Can’t really argue with that, right?