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Career Corner

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

As we finish up our series on the top five most common interview questions, the fifth and final question is: What experiences have prepared you to succeed in this position?  Employers are looking for candidates who can take what they have learned from all of their previous experiences and make a positive contribution to the company or organization.  Since this question requires a carefully planned answer, keep reading to learn how you can prepare a great answer to this question so you can really impress the interviewer!

When faced with this question, it is very important to relate your experiences to the requirements of the position you are applying for.  These experiences can range from anything like work and research to student and volunteer activities.  No matter what kind of experience it is, the key is to be able to explain how those experiences have prepared you for this new position.  This is your biggest opportunity to summarize all your experiences from a learning perspective.  Employers are looking to see what value you will bring to this position, so be sure to comment on how you have benefitted all the companies and organizations for which you have previously worked.

Don't be afraid to share specific examples which apply to your desired position.  Examples are the easiest way for employers to see how you have handled a situation in the past and how you will handle a similar situation on the job in the future.  One helpful way to successfully share an example is the STAR Technique.  To organize an answer that incorporates an example, ask yourself the following four questions: What was the SITUATION? What TASK(S) did you identify that had to be completed? What ACTION did you take? What was the RESULT of your actions?  By answering these four questions, you present your example in an appealing way to the interviewer because it shows that you took the time to prepare a detailed response to this question. 

If you have any questions concerning any of this information, please do not hesitate to contact the Career Center at 301-447-5202, Career-Center@msmary.edu or simply stop by the Career Center to make an appointment. The Career Center offers interviewing tips and mock-interview sessions to help students be as prepared as possible for the interviewing process, so be sure to take advantage of this great resource!  To learn how to answer more of these common interview questions, check out the Career Corner Blog on the Career Center's website.

As many of you know, one of the biggest events sponsored by the Career Center is Internship and Job Fairquickly approaching: the Internship and Job Fair! It will take place on March 19 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in Patriot Hall. This annual event gives students the opportunity to network with approximately 35 local companies and organizations right here on campus. But to get the most out of this great event, here is a list of things to prepare so you can make the internship and job fair work for you!

It is very important that you research companies BEFORE the event. On March 14, you will receive a guidebook via email listing the companies and organizations that will be present at the fair so you will have plenty of time to research potential employers. After going through the guidebook, make a list of employers to visit and come up with questions to ask. Employers are looking for students who are genuinely interested in their organization, and asking questions is one way to show your interest. Be knowledgeable about the companies and organizations that interest you. But it is also important to remember to be open to any company or organization - many hire a variety of different majors!

On the day of the fair, be sure to dress professionally. First impressions are key, and the way you dress really does affect the employer's view of you as a potential employee. Men should wear a 2 or 3 button two piece suit with a white long-sleeved dress shirt and a tie that matches the color of the suit. Women should wear a white or lightly-colored blouse with 1 or 2 button jacket and a knee-length skirt that is at least 25 inches in length. Slacks are appropriate as long as they are tailored and dark in color.

It is also important to bring plenty of resumes and business cards with you to the fair. More is always better than less, and you want to make sure you have enough to give out to the employers in whom you are interested. Also, remember that it is normal to be nervous, but don't let your nerves keep you from networking! Be confident in your skills and be proud of who you are. If you show your personality, then you will stand out among the crowd - literally!

If you have any further questions or concerns about this event, contact the Career Center at 301-447-5202, CareerCenter@msmary.edu, or simply stop by the Career Center. Be sure to check out the Job Fair Preparation Workshop on March 11 at 3:30 p.m. in the Career Center Seminar Room. We hope to see everyone at the Internship and Job Fair on March 19!

As college students begin applying for internships and college graduates begin applying for full-time jobs, an important thing for both groups to consider is the future. You need to consider how every experience, whether it is an internship or a job, affects your future plans and goals. Employers are also very interested in your future goals, which is why a very common question for employers to ask in an interview is "Where do you see yourself in five years?" The whole purpose of this question is to show employers that you are focused on the future, so keep reading to learn how you can prepare!

Whenever you are asked this question, it is very important to demonstrate how the position for which you are interviewing fits into both your short and long-term goals. Be ready to explain how you hope to progress within the company in the future. However, even though this question requires you to clearly explain your future plans, it is just as important to be practical and realistic about those goals. Before the interview, be sure to research the structure of the organization itself in order to identify where and how entry-level employees progress. If you have a contact within the company you are applying to, respectfully ask them about this and other topics in order to get a sense of the overall structure of the organization. Remember that it is always better to have more background information on an organization than less when applying for an internship or job.

When answering this question, a common response from recent college graduates involves graduate school. Although this is obviously such a great path to follow after graduation, you may not want to immediately tell your employer of these plans during an interview. Oftentimes, a company or organization has a program that supports young professionals in achieving their master's degree, but educational benefits are typically discussed after an offer of employment has been made. So before you share your graduate school plans, be sure to research if the employer supports further education.

If you have any questions concerning any of this information, contact the Career Center at 301-447-5202, Career-Center@msmary.edu or simply stop by the Career Center to make an appointment. The Career Center offers interviewing tips and mock-interview sessions to help students be as prepared as possible for the interviewing process, so be sure to take advantage of this great resource.

No matter what company or organization you apply to, there will undoubtedly be some kind of competition among applicants for the job. That is why during any interview, employers will most likely ask you the following questions: "Why are you interested in this organization?" or "Why are you interested in this job?" By preparing an answer to this question before the interview, you will stand out among the other candidates, so keep reading to learn how to perfect an answer to this question!

There is a very simple rule to follow when answering this question in an interview: ALWAYS have an answer to this question! Whether you are applying for an entry level position or a position at your dream job, you should always have a well prepared response to convince the employer to hire you. Employers receive numerous applications every day for various positions within their company or organization, so they are looking for the applicants that went above and beyond in their preparation for the interview. They are looking for individuals who really want to work at their company and who show a sincere interest in helping the company or organization fulfill their purpose.

So when you are answering this question, be sure to share an informed interest and passion in their mission. But in order to do so, you will have to complete some research before the interview. Some helpful things to look for are the organization's mission, products, size, reputation and history. Most of these elements can be found on the organization's website, and be sure to research if the company has been in the news recently. However, it is not enough to show the interviewer that you have completed some research before the interview. You should also include in your answer an explanation of how you can make a contribution to the company's goals. Talk about their needs and how you can fulfill those needs. Be confident in your skills that you will be able to benefit the company or organization.

If you have any questions concerning any of this information, please do not hesitate to contact the Career Center at 301-447-5202, Career-Center@msmary.edu or simply stop by the Career Center to make an appointment. The Career Center offers interviewing tips and mock interview sessions to help students be as prepared as possible for the interviewing process, so be sure to take advantage of this great resource. And to learn how to answer more of these common interview questions, check out the Career Corner Blog on the Career Center's website.

            As we continue our series on the top five most common interview questions, the second question is one that you will undoubtedly be asked in ANY interview: “Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses.”  Although this question may seem straightforward, it is important to prepare a well-thought out answer to this question, and here are some tips to provide an answer that will make you stand out as a candidate to the interviewer. 

            When answering this question, you should always start with your strengths to give a positive first impression.  But when you do list your strengths, it is important to relate your skills to the position that you are currently applying for.  Provide specific examples of how you have used your strengths in a school, work, or even a social setting.  Examples provide evidence that you really do have the Strengths_weaknessesexperience necessary to succeed in the position you are applying for, so you should always have a variety of examples prepared to back up your claims.  Some personal characteristics that interviewers usually look for are: loyalty, a strong work ethic, and good interpersonal and communication skills.  Typically for this answer, you should really only give your top 3 or 4 strengths so that you do not completely overwhelm the interviewer, but make sure that your strengths will make you stand out from the crowd!

             The much harder part of this question involves sharing your weaknesses with the employer.  As humans, we all have faults and weaknesses, but the trick is to present those weaknesses in the most positive light possible during an interview.  You should give 1-2 weaknesses that do not directly disqualify you from receiving the position.  By asking this question, employers are looking to see if you are self-aware and are taking steps to better yourself.  So when concluding this part of the question, it is important to put a positive spin on your weaknesses by mentioning that you are working to overcome them. 

             If you have any questions concerning any of this information, please do not hesitate to contact the Career Center at 301-447-5202, Career-Center@msmary.edu or simply stop by the Career Center to make an appointment.  The Career Center offers interviewing tips and mock-interview sessions to help students be as prepared as possible for the interviewing process, so be sure to take advantage of this great resource!

            As most of you may know, LinkedIn has become the world’s largest professional network, which is why everyone should take advantage of this great networking tool.  The important thing to remember is that it is never too early or too late to create a profile on LinkedIn, but the sooner you do, the better!  If you are unsure of where to begin, keep reading for some great tips on how to get started on LinkedIn – the right way!

            As the name of this social media network suggests, LinkedIn is NOT Facebook.  One of the most common mistakes that young professionals make is that they treat LinkedIn and Facebook as the same thing.  Facebook exists so you can keep in touch with friends and family.  LinkedIn, on the LinkedInother hand, exists so that you can connect with people who will actually help you advance in your professional career.  When connecting with people on LinkedIn, always be sure to ask yourself why exactly you are connecting with them before you accept or invite them to connect with you.

            Another common mistake young professionals can make involves their profile picture.  This picture is the first thing potential employers will see when they look up your profile so it is very important that you make a good first impression – even before you meet them!  In your profile picture, you should be wearing professional dress with a professional background.  Young professionals should also be aware that they should include all previous work and volunteer experiences in their LinkedIn profile.  You never know what experiences employers are looking for, so it is important to make your profile as versatile as possible.

            It is no surprise that LinkedIn is one of the first social media sites employers will use to research potential candidates for a position in their company because LinkedIn allows your previous and current employers to “endorse” you directly on the site, meaning that they can recommend you for various skills and even write you a reference letter.  Once you create your profile, you can also upload any projects you have completed throughout your education and work experience.  This allows potential employers to see that you really do have the experience necessary to benefit their company or organization. 

            If you would like more information or if you have any questions, stop by the LinkedIn Information Session and Workshop hosted by ’94 Alum and Senior Recruiter at Paypal Kevin Dunn on Tuesday, February 4 in the O’Hara Dining Hall from 5 to 7 P.M.  Pizza will be served and come dressed for a FREE professional photo for your networking profile.  Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to start or improve your LinkedIn profile!

The approach of various job and internship fairs brings with it the inevitable interview.  Interviews can be nerve wracking, but the important thing to remember is that like in everything else, preparation is essential in order to present yourself in the best possible way.  Throughout this spring semester, I will be covering the five most basic interview questions, and this article covers the “tell me about yourself” question.

Although this question may seem simple and straightforward, the way in which you answer this question is very important since it will most likely be the first question you are asked during any interview.  Although it is tempting to present your whole life story, your response to this particular question should really only be between one or two minutes.  Keep your answer short to ensure that you are retaining your interviewer’s attention.  If you answer this question for more than two minutes, you run the risk of either boring the interviewer or losing their attention, and clearly neither of those are good options.  Although you may be nervous, it is important to remember to talk to the interviewer, not at them, meaning that you should always gauge the interviewer’s reaction to what you’re saying and remember that an interview should feel like a conversation.

This question presents the opportunity to verbally express the highlights of your resume, like your general goals, skills and background.  It is also important to focus on the particular skills and experiences that you will apply to that specific position within the organization.  To help prepare for any interview, you should mentally organize a response to this question.  Since first impressions are key and this question will be the first time that you will actually be able to talk about your resume with the interviewer, it is important that you have a coherent and organized response prepared.  Even though it should not sound like you have this answer memorized word-for-word, you should practice your two minute response until you feel comfortable with your answer. 

If you have any questions concerning any of this information, please do not hesitate to contact the Career Center at 301-447-5202, Career-Center@msmary.edu or simply stop by the Career Center to make an appointment.  The Career Center offers tips for interviewing and mock interview sessions to help students be as prepared as possible for the interviewing process, so don’t be afraid to take advantage of this great resource!

Welcome back to another semester at the Mount! I hope everyone had an enjoyable and relaxing winter break and that the first week of classes went well. Each year, the Career Center looks for new ways to assist students in their major and career exploration, and the 2014 New Year is no exception. As this spring semester begins, the Career Center will be starting a new initiative: the Peer Career Advising Program.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this new program, the Peer Career Advising Program involves career coaching, which focuses on forging partnerships with students and providing support. There are several other colleges and universities in the surrounding area that also have this program, and the Career Center has researched those schools and their programs while individualizing the Peer Career Advising program to best benefit the Mount community. The Career Center hopes that this program will be both successful and beneficial to students.

PCA logo

Beginning the week of January 27, Peer Career Advisors, or PCAs, will have the opportunity to introduce students to the services and resources provided by the Career Center. More specifically, PCAs can offer information, tips and reviews of resumes, cover letters, reference pages, interviewing skills, networking, LinkedIn, College Central Network and overall professionalism. This is obviously such a broad range of subjects that PCAs can assist students with, and the Career Center hopes that everyone at the Mount takes advantage of this new program.

For more information or to make an appointment with a PCA, please contact the Career Center at 301-447-5202, Career-Center@msmary.edu or simply stop by the Career Center. Along with Clare, Matt, Naomi and the entire Career Center staff, I look forward to being a part of this program, and we hope you will take advantage of this new resource!

I'm sure at this point of the semester we're all thinking the same thing: how is it already the end of this fall semester? It seems like just yesterday that we received the syllabus for each of our classes, and now we are receiving review sheets for all our final exams. This semester just seemed to fly by, and yet here we are in the midst of preparing for final exams.

M OrnerI know that I am personally finding it hard to believe that it is already my last week interning at the Career Center this fall semester. This has all been such a great experience, and I could not be happier with my decision to intern here. This internship gave me the opportunity to improve my writing and editing skills by writing weekly articles for the Mountain Echo newspaper and the Career Corner blog, and I was also introduced to some basic marketing principles. I feel like I was really able to grow as a person and as a writer throughout this whole experience.

This internship also provided me with a very deep insight into the inner workings of the Career Center, and I was given the opportunity to understand more about professional marketing, promoting, and event planning on a daily basis. I look forward to continuing my internship in the spring and seeing how this experience will help me in my future career.

The Career Center will be starting a new initiative in the spring: the Peer Career Advising Program. The Peer Career Advising Program will most likely resemble the Peer Tutoring program here on campus, but it will involve career coaching instead of academic coaching. Peer Career Advisors, or PCA's, will have the opportunity to provide students with resume review and tips, cover letter information, reference page information, interviewing skills, networking and LinkedIn information, an introduction to College Central and Career Center resources, and overall professionalism. I look forward to being a part of this program. Be sure to lookout for more information about this program at the start of next semester!

I would like to thank Clare, Matt and Naomi for giving me this great opportunity. I encourage everyone at the Mount to consider interning at the Career Center. It is such a great work environment, and just like any other internship, it was such a great learning experience!

I hope everyone had a great semester, and good luck on your finals! Have a nice and relaxing break, and I'll see you next semester!

Contrary to popular belief, not all interviews or business transactions take place in an office. Many times employers will ask to interview you in a dining setting to see how you handle yourself in a different environment. Regardless of your professional field, there will always be events where you must prove that you know how to present yourself and your company in a professional manner. But don't worry - the Etiquette Dinner is one way to learn how to conduct yourself in this setting!

This semester's Etiquette Dinner will be hosted by Michael True, the Director of the Internship Etiquette DinnerCenter at Messiah College. He has been working in this field for 22 years now, and this will be his third year hosting this great event at the Mount. In the spring of 2010, Mr. True released a website called www.internqube.com, which is a website that helps students develop professional skills during their internship or co-op experience. Forbes magazine picked this website as one of the "top 100 websites for your career" for the second year in a row!

The Mount is obviously very excited to welcome back Michael True to host this great event, but what exactly will you learn? Michael True can teach you essential skills you will need in a professional dining setting, such as holding your plate and drink in one hand while shaking hands with the other professionals present at the event. It is also an important reminder to always have your nametag on the right side of your chest. When you shake hands with someone, their eyes are automatically directed to your nametag and they will associate your name with your face as you shake their hand.

Michael True will offer some other helpful tips that are important to know. For example, when rising from your seat, you should never drape your napkin over the back of your chair. Always fold the napkin and place it next to your plate before rising from your seat. It is also important to note that interviewers typically pay for the meal. With that being said, remember to bring cash just in case and always wait to see if the interviewer is ordering dessert before you order - it's just polite!

These small yet significant details can really affect your reputation as a professional mature adult in the business world, so be sure to be aware of them as you take your next step into the future. To hear other important tips from Michael True, sign up to attend the Etiquette Dinner at the Career Center. But hurry - there is limited spacing available!

The Career Center also thanks Enactus and Edward Jones for making this great opportunity available to students. We hope to see you all there!

 
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