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Career Corner

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

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!

     Every graduate school’s application process is different, but a common element among most of them is the submission of a personal statement.  The main purpose of a personal statement is to convince the admissions committee that you should be chosen.  Here are some tips so you can achieve that purpose!

     The topic for personal statements really depends on the school – some require you to give specific information while others allow the applicant to address a wide range of matters that interest them.  Some applications require one statement, while others require shorter responses to six or more questions.  But regardless of the structure required by each school, it is equally important to realize that the significance of the statement varies depending on the school field. 

     When determining your purpose in writing the personal statement, remember that the content you choose to incorporate should be presented in a way that will unify the whole statement.  You should strictly adhere to the purpose of your statement and always pay close attention to your audience.  Before you begin writing, analyze the questions or guidance statements for the essay so you know the exact guidelines and can completely and succinctly answer the questions proposed without including irrelevant material.

     Remember that personal statements should be both objective and self-revelatory.  Even though this is not a research paper, it should still be specific and organized in a cohesive way.  Personal statements are typically no longer than two pages unless directed otherwise by the school, meaning your statement has to be concise.  Be sure to catch your reader’s attention early on and form conclusions that explain the value and meaning of the experience you chose to write about.  When you have finished writing your statement, ask yourself the following question to put your essay to the ultimate test: Is this essay one that only I could write?  Your goal is to stand out from among the other applicants, and since this is a sort of interview, provide some insight into your personality through this statement. 

     One of the most common mistakes made when writing personal statements is that you simply write an expository essay on your background and experience.  Remember that a personal statement is not a resume.  Avoid the “what I did with my life” or the “I’ve always wanted to be a…” approaches.  You should not lecture the reader either – graduate committee members are not trying to learn about the field from applicants.  Instead, try to focus on one or two specific themes, incidents or points and be creative with this – they are more likely to remember a creative personal statement than a generic one, and remember to let your personality shine!

    If you ever need more assistance in writing your personal statement, see the Career Center for help.   

One of the most important steps in preparing for an interview or job fair is to make sure that you have the proper attire to wear when you meet your possible future employer. First impressions truly can make or break you, so be sure to put your best foot forward; here's how to do just that!

The most basic yet essential wardrobe element is the business suit. When shopping for suits, it is manimportant to consider the quality of the suit. It is always best to purchase the highest quality garments you can afford. It is worth the higher cost to have a higher quality suit that fits and cleans well and that will last for a long time.

Men should purchase a conservative 2 or 3 button two piece suit in black, navy or dark gray. Men should have a white long-sleeved dress shirt along with a white undershirt. Men will also need a tie that matches the color of the suit in either a simple pattern or a solid color. Bowties are not appropriate for an interview or job fair setting. Shoes should always be polished and in good condition. Black shoes, not loafers, with laces are preferred with a leather belt that matches your shoes. It is also important to remember to wear dark socks that are high enough to cover your leg when you are sitting.

WomanWomen should also purchase a dark conservative two piece business suit in black, navy or charcoal with a 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. Women should wear a white or lightly colored long-sleeved blouse that is not too sheer or low cut. As for shoes, they should be black, well-polished shoes. Heels should not be more than an inch and a half heel and they should be without an open toe. Along with the shoes, it is important to remember to wear either natural tone or sheer black pantyhose to complete the look.

There are also some important accessories that go along with a business suit. Men and women should have a leather notebook, portfolio or briefcase that is large enough to hold resumes and notepads without folding them. Women can wear a conservative necklace or bracelet with one pair of earrings. Men should be clean-shaven with a nice haircut. For both men and women, nails should be trimmed and neat, and body piercings and tattoos should not be visible. The key is to look clean and smart, but not overdone. The final accessory is your smile. Smiling will make you look confident and will actually help make you less nervous for your interview.

If you have any further questions on how to dress to impress, contact the Career Center at 301-447-5202 or at Career-Center@msmary.edu.

 
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