LinkedIn How-To: The Basics of Your Profile

LinkedIn has become a vital tool in getting your face out there for employers to see. Additionally, the site serves as a way for you to seek out job opportunities and connect with employers after an interview or career fair.

The first step to making your LinkedIn account worthwhile is understanding how to set up your profile. While there are many things you can do over time to embellish your profile, let’s start with some basics.

||Headline and Photo||

You want to grab the viewers attention by using a short statement as your headline outlining who you are and what you’re looking for. For example, say your major (i.e. Business major) followed by what kind of job you’re looking for (i.e. seeking a position in public relations). You also want to make sure you’re well-represented in your photo. This photo should either be a professional head shot or resemble one. You want to be well-dressed and have a background that isn’t distracting.

||Give a good summary||

When you edit the summary section of your profile, utilize this space to quickly showcase your goals and career aspirations. The paragraph should be concise, give some information about your studies, and also showcase your unique self. Think of this as the start of your best cover letter.

||Fill it in||

Take some time to fill out your profile. Put in all of your education experience as well as extracurricular activities. Possibly most important is that you add in your work experience and volunteer work as well. The descriptions of your work should be similar to the bullet points of your résumé, but you want to make them more personable and put those skills and experience in paragraph form.

||Be active||

Treat this like your professional social media. This means you should interact with posts, share blogs you’ve written or articles you’ve read, and update people on new positions and professional moves. Engaging on LinkedIn gets your name surfacing more and allows employers to see your interests. This is also a great way to let people see the projects you’ve done that you’re passionate about and have spent time working hard on.

||Be Yourself||

Finally, it goes without saying, but it’s important to showcase who you are on your profile. You still want to keep things professional, but share things that you’re genuinely interested in and not just what will “make you look good.” Make your abilities and skills as well as your personality evident to employers.

If you ever have questions about your LinkedIn profile, you are always welcome to stop in at the Boerigter Center to ask questions or get feedback. Drop-in hours run from 3:00-4:30 PM every weekday. Stay tuned for a post about how to use LinkedIn to network and job search coming soon!

Grow Your Network in Three Easy Steps

Trying to build yourself a network of people seems like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be so intimidating. Here are three simple things that you can do to get started!

1. Be friendly with your professors!

Even if you don’t want to be a college professor, they often have connections and contacts in fields that you may be interested in. The same applies to faculty and staff in your department. Having a good relationship with your professors can make their connections, your connections.

2. Do some informational interviewing

An informational interview is not an interview for a job or an internship, but rather it is a meeting where you can ask questions and get advice about a field of interest. Basically, it’s a long conversation with a potential connection. Not only can you learn a lot from the person you meet with, but they could be someone to help you with your career or an internship in the future.

3. Come to the Boerigter Center!

The Boerigter Center offers many opportunities to network. Not only can we help you find internships and job shadowing experiences where you can make connections, but we also offer networking group sessions with our staff. At these sessions students will learn about how to use LinkedIn to network and can leave with contact information for alumni in their field of interest.

Stop by at the Boerigter Center, and check out even more details about networking here!

Where will you go with your connections?

Your Best Foot Forward: Navigating a Career Fair

Career fair season is knocking on our door and we want to help you feel more confident and prepared! First impressions are essential when you are trying to make an impact on recruiters who are encountering tons of faces within a few hours. Here are some tips to help navigate the room:


Bring copies of your résumé — lots of them. You may go in thinking you are only going to talk to a couple of employees, but before you know it, you may be talking with a few more employers and recruiters who catch your eye. You want to make sure you do not run out of copies before talking to the employers you had intended to target, so a safe bet is to bring about 15 copies.


Before heading to the career fair, try and get an idea of potential employers that will be there. You can head over to Handshake to get a list of career fairs that the Boerigter Center is advertising and see a list of companies there. Know the people you would potentially like to talk to, and take the time to check out their websites and have some talking points. Knowing details about the company shows initiative and can help you standout.


Dressing business professional is always a safe bet. Keep your color palette neutral. When it comes to dressing the part, you’re always better to be slightly overdressed than under dressed. Need ideas? Check out our Pinterest page!


Work on an elevator pitch. This is basically a quick rundown about yourself and giving the recruiter some information that sets you apart. You can read the blog on elevator pitches here for more information:


After you have a conversation, be bold and ask for a business card or a way to be in contact with the employer. Some employers will use LinkedIn and will want you to reach out via that platform whereas others may be more apt to a traditional business card. Either way, you should try and have a LinkedIn profile setup and you will want to reach out to the employer to follow-up shortly after the career fair. Send an email or a message thanking them for their time and expressing further interest in being in contact.


Do not just walk up to an employer’s booth and take all of the brochures and pamphlets. Instead, have a conversation with the recruiter and then follow-up by asking them what materials would be most suitable for you to take. This will help show the employer that you care about knowing more and that you are proactively observing what is around you. Additionally, taking small notes as the employer talks is not a bad idea. This shows you want to remember the conversation and makes your follow-up more personal.

Ultimately, show your best side and be confident. Confidence is key when it comes to the job search process. The more you know, the more confident you will feel, and do not forget to be courteous, respectful, and engaged. Even if the employer you are talking to is not your first pick, be sure to be present and show your best side. You may be surprised how much you will like a company if you give the recruiter time to give their pitch.



Elevator Pitch: Engaging an Employer in Less Than a Minute

Career fair season is in full-swing, and there is nothing more important at a fair than to standout amongst the crowd and win employers over. One of the central aspects to presenting yourself at a career event is having a quick elevator speech to present to employers. An elevator speech is a brief introduction that you give about yourself that seeks to highlight your best qualities and show a recruiter or employer why you would be a good candidate.

Here are some tips and tricks to knockout your one-minute conversation:

Start with a note card

It sounds simple, but writing out what you want to say on a small index card helps to condense your pitch to the basics. Since you only have about a minute to give the run-down on who you are, it’s important to use specific and targeted language. By having to fit everything on a note card, you will better be able to focus on what really matters.

What does matter?

Start with your name. It might be obvious, but don’t forget about introducing yourself, what you’re studying, and where you go to school. Once you’ve covered the simple basics, grab the attention of your audience. Don’t just give a rundown of all of the things that you’ve done, but make yourself an attractive candidate by exemplifying your qualities and expressing how you specifically fit the job or place of employment.

Do Your Research

Especially in the case of career fairs, know who you want to talk to and why. If you know a company or the recruiters you can cater your speech to that specific employer. This shows initiative and a desire to work for their company. It also helps you to better exemplify your qualities and experience because it is catered toward the job.

practice, practice, practice

You might feel silly looking in the mirror or asking your friend to practice, but doing this step can help you feel more comfortable and confident. Additionally, looking in the mirror and seeing yourself talk can show you how you may talk too fast or say “umm” a little too much. Elevator speeches always feel uncomfortable. Sometimes it can be weird to talk about yourself, but know that this is normal. Practice so that you can be confident when it’s game time.

post-pitch prep

It is not a bad idea to pose a question at the end of your pitch and be prepared for any follow-up questions. Ask the employer about a project you saw in the works on their website, ask about work environment, or think of something you want to know about the company. Be creative and be direct. Know how to answer questions an employer may pose in reference to your pitch.

Ultimately, it’s important to feel good about what you say. Be intentional about taking the time to craft a pitch and know what you want to showcase about yourself. Dress the part and carry confidence as you present your unique qualities and goals.

Get in a Group: Sessions to Help You Navigate Calling and Career

Centered in connecting, Boerigter strives to meet with every student across campus. In this mindset, we are now offering group sessions. This opportunity will allow you to meet in a setting of around 5-10 students to engage in learning and asking questions in a variety of topics. Whether you are in your first year as a Hope student or have a few years under your belt, there are sessions that can likely cater to some of those common questions about resumes, interviewing, and more.


Calling all freshman discerning majors and careers — in an exploratory advising session we will assist you in the process of figuring out what to study and how to explore your areas of interest. If you are thinking of off-campus study or have no clue how to narrow in on a potential major, this session can help you get started with what it means to find and pursue your passions and interests in life.


Internship Overview

Thinking about applying for an internship? Whether you are thinking of summer options or future semesters, it’s important to feel confident about the basics of internship, how to find work specific to your goals, and how an internship can prepare and launch you into your future career. This session is a great start to get you putting your best foot forward and to set you apart from others.



Along with seeking employment comes interviewing, which can be a daunting notion to both those with little and those with plenty of experience in the world of interviews. However, with more knowledge and techniques of how to interview well, you can feel more confident in utilizing your personality and skills in order to feel calm, cool, and collected in your next interview. This session will provide you with an understanding of what it means to display who you are, demonstrate what makes you an excellent candidate, and answer the tough questions with ease.


Networking & LinkedIn

If you are seeking summer employment or looking into future careers, it’s helpful to get your name and face out there for employers to see. This group session will allow you to understand the general process of networking and provide access to alumni in your areas of interest. Additionally, the session will equip you with the tools to use LinkedIn successfully and help you to understand the process of informational interviewing in order to stand out in the networking process.


Personal Statement Preparation

Thinking about graduate school? This workshop will help you get started on one of the first things on the checklist to applications. Personal statements are a way that a graduate school can get to know you, and this session will provide you with an understanding of how to best compose this statement. What to showcase and how to present yourself to a school can be explored within this group process.


Resume & Cover Letter

One of the most basic steps to securing a job is having a solid resume and cover letter. From never making a resume before and having no idea where to start, to trying to hone-in on what can make your cover letter stand out, this group will help point you in the right direction. Resume and cover letter sessions will involve how to properly format each and what information to include. Plus, you will be able to better grasp how to gear your resume and cover letter to the specifc job you’re seeking.

Group sessions will be starting this September. For more information or to schedule yourself into one of these hour-long sessions, please call us at 616.395.7000, or stop by our new location on the first floor of Dewitt.

The DiscoverWork Program: What Our Students Have Been Up To!

It’s early morning and a student has just shown up at their host’s office for a full day of job shadowing. The student starts the day with an amazing informational interview and quickly gets through most of the questions she came in curious about. Now the host is staring back at the student and a small look of panic comes across his face as he thinks about what to do for the next 5 hours.

Fortunately, this scenario is not one that plays out here at Hope College. In fact, our DiscoverWork job shadowing program offers a robust opportunity for students to not only connect with alumni, but live like them for a few days.

Open to all students at Hope College the DiscoverWork program gives alumni the opportunity to:

  • Make a positive and lasting impact on the career exploration process for an undergraduate student
  • Aid in informing students about the helpful and required skills needed to enter the workforce
  • Develop personal connections with current students in a coaching/mentoring capacity
  • Have a chance to meet potential new talent for positions they have open
  • Increase the exposure of their company and career field/industry

Curious as to what some of our students have been doing so far? Take a look…

Student: Junior, Prescott Binder

Alumni Host: Dr. Craig Kozler, Urological Surgeon, Chief of Surgery at Fort Memorial Hospital  

“The week I spent shadowing a surgeon in Wisconsin was one of the most rewarding and educational experiences of my entire Hope College career. I am forever grateful for Dr. Kozler and his family for being so willing to host me in their home for a week and to allow me to vastly expand my knowledge as what life would be like as a future physician.”… “The picture included represents the amount of fun that doctors can have with each other. Craig and many other college friends and physicians have created an almost full size ice rink in Craig’s backyard where people come from around the country every year to play at the USA’s first and only outdoor curling club.”

Student: Senior, Justin Richardson

Alumni Host: Rachel Romero, Energy Engineer, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

“This job shadow showed me that working at a government facility has its differences from the corporate world, but they are not bad. Now, I will always consider government research as a good possibility for my future work when searching. Rachel was a great host who allowed me to tour a large part of the campus, learn as much as possible in a day of work, and meet and connect with many of the employees there.”

Student: Freshman, Anna Hagner
Alumni Host: Scott Synder, Physical Therapist, Athletico Physical Therapy

“This experience was beneficial to me as I learned so much about what the job description of a physical therapist actually entails and how my strengths of working with people and being interested in the sciences could work in this profession.”

Student: Junior, Marissa Solorzano

Alumni Host: Brad Nordan, Nurse Anesthetist, Macatawa Anesthesia, PC 

“After this shadow experience, I have a lot of interest in anesthesia and I can not wait until medical school when I can learn more and have the possibility to specialize in this field of medicine. Hearing Mr. Norden’s process of deciding that becoming a nurse anesthetist was his lifelong goal was empowering. He decided in his junior year that he wanted to earn a degree in nursing, and became one of only a few men in the department -­‐ a story I find inspiring and encouraging. I am in awe by Mr. Norden’s drive to give back to the Hope College community; a personal goal I wish to fulfill as a health provider in the future. I am so blessed to have had this opportunity and I can not wait to keep diving into the health professions’ world.”

Student: Freshman, Matthew Dickerson

Alumni Host: Evan Boote, Director Physics & Technology, Spectrum Health 

“As my job shadow continued, I realized that multiple concepts from my courses were being used in diagnostic radiology and the hospital as a whole… I will forever treasure the opportunity I received to job shadow at Spectrum Health Hospital. I know in the future, I will look back at the knowledge I gained there and apply it to not only to my career decisions but to my life decisions as well.”

The Career Development Center is so proud of this growing program and the amazing connections we are building between alumni, friends, parents and students here at Hope College!

Do you desire to connect with students through the DiscoverWork program? Want to be apart of our 2018-2019 program goal of 100 alumni hosts? Email Megan Scheldt to learn more or to volunteer!

Helping Your Student Succeed: Tips from Career Development

Dale Austin, Associate Dean of Career Development

Many students meet with us and report they have no idea where they should even start when it comes to networking and the job search. As a parent of three college graduates, I sincerely wanted the best for each of my children as they attended college. I hoped that they would figure out what they would major in, that they would have quality advisor relationships, and that they would have a plan for what they would want to pursue following graduation. Frankly the college years at times, were stressful, even though I had been working in a college setting. Questions about major, questions about what to do with the major, hoping that as each of my children entered their last year and last semester, that they would take the initiative and seek out viable options following graduation. There came a point in each instance with all three, that I had to trust that as adults, it was their responsibility to do, or to not do it. And sometimes part of becoming an adult is learning hard lessons, which too many times, we want to protect our children from.

Through my own experience, I saw the value in frequently serving as a sounding board to each of my “collegiate children”, empathizing with their struggles, providing encouragement and support whenever possible.

Encourage them to explore options

As my oldest considered post graduate options, I listened to her choices and pointed out pros and cons of each, with her deciding on taking a gap year before heading to the University of Michigan for graduate school. My son reconsidered pre-med after his sophomore year when he took organic chemistry. I expressed to him that the core outcome of his liberal arts education should be to think, write and communicate critically (i.e., effectively) and he decided to study History and now works as an entrepreneur. Whenever he is back in West Michigan, he reconnects with his former History advisor.

Importance of Internship Experience and Contacts

As my youngest planned for study abroad during a May term, I suggested that it would be wise to gain an internship for the summer; she also thought it made sense, and through a personal friend, was able to provide an introduction that resulted in an interview and summer intern role.

Guide Your Student to Resources

Events Coming Up:

GVSU Winter Career Fair

Out of State Teacher Fair

West Michigan Teacher Search

Technology/Online Resources:


Spotlight on Careers (username: spotlightkey; password: lacn18)


One important part of the job search that will be crucial for your student is networking! Here are four helpful tools and tips from Megan Scheldt, Career Counselor-Networking, to share with your student to help them combat the anxiousness surrounding networking.

Come meet with us!

The Career Development Center offers appointments specifically tailored to students seeking to network. During these meetings students are able to tap into the Career Resources Network. This database is a comprehensive list of alumni willing to connect with students for informational interviews!

Build a Strong LinkedIn Profile & Use the Alumni Database

Just as we review resumes, The Career Development Center is here to help students build a professional online presence. We also navigate students through the LinkedIn database of Hope College graduates.


Conduct Informational Interviews

No matter how a student finds a contact it is important that they conduct several informational interviews. It gives them the opportunity to hear firsthand from a working professional and be given advice to confidently move forward in the pursuit of their career. Many of our students have reported back that their contacts have helped them tweak their resume, passed along this document, as well as provided helpful tips for interviewing with their company. In addition to this, students can potentially expect to learn about jobs that are not yet posted on a company’s website.

Follow Up!

As cliche as it may be, “thank you” goes along way. It is important to encourage your student to write anyone who supports them with their job search a thank you note or email. Being able to clearly express what they learned as well as their gratitude can help them make a great impression! In addition to a thank you note, following up with contacts days, weeks, or months later is very crucial. At that time they might be hiring or be able to provide an additional introduction to another professional of value.

We asked a student!

Nursing Major, Madeleine Goodman

The process of searching for a job can be a stressful time for students, but there are some things that parents can do to help. However, there is a fine line between helping and nagging, and the trick is learning to navigate what your student wants from you and what they don’t want.

With all the help you give your student, there are still some pitfalls that parents should avoid stumbling into. A student does not want to be told what job they should do by their parent. A parent might just be trying to give a friendly suggestion when they confidently say, “You should do this job,” but a student is going to interpret that as an order. Using an “I” statement instead of a “you” statement can make sure that your student understands your suggestion is genuine. For example: “I think that you would excel in this career.” Paying attention to make sure that comments don’t come across as controlling can go a long way.

Not being controlling is key with your student. They are already worried about applying for jobs and preparing for interviews and having their parent checking up on them too frequently can aggravate them. You might want to be kept up to date on what’s happening in your student’s job search, but they might feel like you are watching to make sure they don’t mess up. As hard as it may be to be more hands off with your student, it will help reduce any friction.

Following these guidelines should help you help your student, but remember, you can never go wrong with simply asking your student what they would like from you during this big change.



Greek Life and the Real World

 “It takes community to maintain a human.”                     –Earon Davis

There are a lot of negative connotations that can be associated with members of Greek life. A lot of people assume that being part of a sorority or fraternity means that all you do is party, have a low GPA, and that it does not help you after college. However, what people do not realize is that a lot of this is not true. They are a lot of positives and learning opportunities that come with being part of Greek life organization.


  1. Networking
  • Joining a Greek organization requires you to network a lot  (what is even more important is to make a lasting impression)
  • The skills that you use to connect with your peers during Rush are skills that are transferable to impressing a future employer for a job or internship.
  • Once you are an active in a Greek organization you have made connections with brothers or sisters which may be beneficial to you in the future.
  1. Organization and time management
  • Being a part of Greek life means that you must fulfill various duties and responsibilities.
  • Being able to juggle your school work, attending events within your organization, having a social life, working and still managing to get a decent amount of sleep is not an easy thing to do. Managing to do this, will build on your organization and time management skills.
  1. Team work
  • Sororities and fraternities have events that they organize and participate in. This involves a lot planning and coordinating with each member of the sorority or fraternity. This also allows you to learn to work within a team, which is an extremely helpful skill to have.
  1. Leadership 
  • There are different leadership roles within a Greek organization. If you get one of these roles you have the opportunity to build your skill set and learn the dynamics of your leadership style.
  1. Communication
    • There are a number of meetings and events Greek organizations have. To make this work there has to be a lot of effective communication within the organization.
    • Being able to effectively communicate and having your ideas and messages understood is essential not only to your work life but your personal life.
  2. Conflict management
    • Members of Greek life have to learn to deal with conflict within the organizaton. It teaches indiviudals to work together towards a common goal even if members do not always see eye to eye.
  3. Philanthropy
  • One of the most important aspects of Greek life is giving back to the community.
  • Every member within an organization must meet a required amount of hours of community service per semester. This should hopefully instill a sense of selflessness, (which I believe is a great thing).


Being part of a sorority and fraternity gives members a chance to polish and perfect their skills that transfer into many aspects of life. One of the most important aspects for me is that it provides a strong support system, which I believe is essential for a human being to survive and thrive. Greek life has a lot of positives and I hope after this read you see that too!




How to Make the Most out of Family Gatherings

So it’s almost the holiday times once again, Uncle Joe and Aunt Marge will be in town yet again. You see the same people every year, but do you know what they do? Family (and friend) gatherings can be long and repetitive year to year, BUT use this time to your advantage. People love to talk about themselves and if you have no idea what you want to do, start by talking with people you’re comfortable with. Ask your aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, grandparents, and family friends what they do for a living. See if you can shadow them. On the other hand, if you know what you want to do already, you can still make good use of this time. Ask the people at your family gathering if they are in the industry your pursuing. Ask for contacts you can connect with; consider even asking if the company they work for is hiring or looking for interns. Remember to do everything genuinely and with respect, but don’t waste away the whole holiday season eating sweets…

Here a couple tips on how to start the conversation with friends and family around the table:

  1.  Ask your parents to introduce you

Chances are that your parents, aunt and uncle, or trusted family friend will know most everyone at your holiday get together. If you express your interest to them about a career interest you have, they will probably know someone in the room who is in that field. Having a parent or friend that knows the person you want to get to know will make the conversation less awkward to begin with and will make it easier for you to know where to start networking at your family event.

  1.  Grab a seat at the adult table

I don’t know if your family is like mine, but growing up we always had the kid table and the adult table. I don’t know if this was because they thought some of us kids were too messy or if they just wanted to have more grown-up conversations, but either way, I’m sure you have come a long way since 3rd grade. If you have the choice, grab a seat for yourself at the adult table. The easiest way to network with people is to be in close proximity to them and talking over food is way more casual and inviting.

  1.  Sit by someone new

Sometimes seating arrangements are preplanned (if you have any say in this order, then try to get a seat next to someone you’d like to talk to), but if it’s a free-for-all then definitely be strategic about where you sit. Ask your parents or relative if they know someone at the party who works in the field you are considering. Try to sit near this person and use the meal time to pick their brain and learn about what they do for a living.

  1.  Get the contact info

If you make a strong connection, or even if you miss the opportunity to talk with someone at your holiday event, double check with your parents, relatives, or family friends to make sure you get contact information for anyone you want to chat with moving forward.

  1.  Ask about winter break shadow opportunities

Finally, this tip is a little gutsy if you just met the person, but don’t be afraid to ask someone at a holiday get together if they wouldn’t mind letting you shadow them. Be careful not to assume anything or put any pressure on the person, as the end of the year can be a busy time, but don’t be afraid to ask. Chances are they will say yes, or at least let you call them to ask more questions.

The holiday times are a great opportunity to make connections with people who are either family or family friends. These people are more than likely already invested in your life in one way or another and would be more than happy to help you or talk to you about what they do. Remember these are the types of people that will be most valuable to you as you seek to begin your career.

How to Use Social Media to Open Doors

It’s that day and age when everyone and their brother is on social media. From celebrity tweets to your grandma’s birthday pictures, social media connects the world in a way we have never seen before.

So how do you use this powerful tool to your advantage? Here are some tips for how to use social media like a pro:

  1.     Create a personal website

Okay, so it’s not quite social media, but you can definitely link it to your pages. This site is a place you can share your contact information, house your portfolio, and give future employers a way to get to know you. It is also a way to show off your design skills and personality.

  1.     Reach out to those people that inspire you

Have you ever been perusing Instagram and wished you could be one of those bloggers or adventurers you like to follow? Or do you follow any inspirational self-made entrepreneurs? The best way to find out how someone got to where they are now is to simply ask questions. You never know what can happen when you DM someone…

  1.     Post about cool opportunities you have had and tag others

Anytime you have the opportunity to do something out of the ordinary such as attend a conference, meet a speaker, or travel to an unexpected place, post about it. Do feel like you’re bragging, but rather you’re virtually recording your experience. Think of this more as creative resume documentation. Also, if your goal is to go into any sort of marketing/design-work/event planning type field, this will help you stand out!

  1.     Follow companies you might want to work for

Whether it’s on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, or some other platform you’re on, make sure you like or follow companies you are really interested in. You may not think they take notice, but believe me, they will check when they think about interviewing you. Another plus of following a company is it is a great way to get to know them on a more personal level and start to understand their culture.

  1.     Keep your pages clean

Everyone wants to share everything that is happening to them. It may seem like a good idea at the time to post that 2am selfie, but remember that once something is on the internet it is there forever. Before you post, think about whether your grandmother would be happy to see it. This seems cliché I know, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

The internet is an amazing tool. It can open up so many opportunities for you, but it can also be an unforeseen enemy. Remember that if you post it, people can and will see it. Just think, with no more effort than you already put into social media, it may just be your ticket to the dream job you never thought you wanted.