LinkedIn How-To: Networking and Job Search

As a continuation to a series of blogs about LinkedIn, let’s dive in with what it looks like to utilize LinkedIn. Once you have set-up your profile, your next step is learning to navigate the site. There are plenty of ways to connect with employers and find potential jobs to apply for. This short post will help lay some of the foundation of ways to get started with this process.

||It’s Never Too Early To Start||

Building a network is important, but it isn’t necessarily easy. It takes time to meet people, get your name out there, and feel like you have several connection. Start the process early. Take time to connect with professors, even if they are not necessarily in your specific career, they often have contacts with former students as well as plenty of employers or people who can connect you further. Additionally, don’t be afraid to talk about your career goals with family or in other circles of people in the workforce. Just expressing your interests can often go a long ways.


Don’t be shy. Add people to your network. Even if you don’t know someone super well, it doesn’t hurt to connect with them on LinkedIn. The more connections you have, the wider your pool of potential is. With more people on your network, you have more people who will see your posts, interact with your profile, and get your name circulating.

||Be Bold||

Reach out to people on LinkedIn. Send personal messages to people letting them know you’re job searching and if they have any connections to help you out. You should never simply ask someone for a job, but reaching out to people is always a good idea to build your network. Customize each message you send to show that you value the person you’re speaking with. Better yet, reach out to a recruiter on LinkedIn. Confidence shows initiative. After applying to a job, let the recruiter know and ask a question or engage with them. Don’t be afraid of putting yourself out there. The boldness may just land you the job.

||Browse Around||

Use LinkedIn as a resource to find potential companies you’re interested in. Plenty of employers use LinkedIn and frequently make posts about their companies projects and initiatives. You can get a pretty great sense about employers based off of their profile pages. Follow different companies and people that interest you. You can then share those posts and interact even more with companies that you would want to work for.


Lastly, you can always search for jobs. You can narrow down filters to make it more applicable to you, and then you can often apply straight from LinkedIn to different opportunities. Try and follow-up and make a connection within the company in order to have a more personal relationship to the job you’re applying for.

There are so many ways that LinkedIn can help you find a job. The more you interact with the site, the more comfortable and easy it will be to understand how to use the site to its full potential.

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!

Why Consider the Insurance Industry?

Michigan is home to some of the nation’s largest insurance companies. The industry employs over 50,000 people and serves millions of policyholders in areas such as health insurance, property/casualty insurance, and life insurance. Insurance companies work to provide financial assurance products covering a diverse range of financial risks.

Many students do not have the insurance industry on their “career radar,” but here are some reasons why you should:

  • The insurance industry offers significantly higher wages. Michigan’s insurance industry average wage is $85,000, whereas average wages across all industries is $60,000
  • There is a substantial need for talent – the industry is replacing a quarter of the workforce due to retirement and broadening areas of recruiting interest
  • The insurance industry is seeking students with all backgrounds of study, which means it could be a great fit for everyone and especially those in fields with fewer job opportunities.

Alumni, Julia Mills (’18), is currently working in the insurance industry after recently graduating and shared some insight into the field.

“The insurance industry can be an excellent fit for students navigating the post-graduation transition. As most insurance companies are large scale, there are frequently many roles to fill at any given time. By working for an insurance company, you begin to get a taste of what the real world is like, which is necessary to face after college. Although it is not all glamorous, and the type of work available may not highlight your Myers-Briggs, it is an excellent place to learn what you do (or do not) love in a work environment. Hours are consistent, benefits are substantial, and interviewing is relatively easy. Another perk to the insurance industry is their commitment to training you thoroughly. Because your expertise on insurance will contribute to the greater picture of the entire company, businesses are likely to put time and effort into your training. This means that many doors are open for you, especially if you want to continue in the insurance world. If you are a learner, and taking in new information everyday excites you, the insurance industry could be perfect for you.”

If you are curious or interested in learning and discovering more about a career in the insurance industry, we invite you to attend The Michigan Colleges Alliance Insurance Industry Recruiting & Informational Event on November 15th from 1:00- 4:00PM. The event is being held at the Crowne Plaza Lansing West (925 S. Creyts Rd, Lansing, MI 48917).

The event’s agenda will include small-group roundtable networking sessions with each company. These sessions will have overviews of current and future recruiting needs.

A special drawing for multiple $500 Scholarships will be held at the conclusion of the event. All students graduating in May 2019 or later will be eligible. You must be present to win.

International students are encouraged to review individual positions and attend. Select companies offer sponsorship opportunities. Below you can find a link to register as well as learn more about the companies that will be in attendance.

Please register here to attend:

Review each company’s positions currently posted via

As always, the Boerigter Center would love to help you prepare as well as answer any further questions. Feel free to give us a call (616-395-7950) or stop by the office located in Dewitt.


Here at the Boerigter Center for Calling and Career, we know that students are SO excited about résumés! And they definitely have extra free time to write and perfect those important documents. Right?

Some of you may have a drafted version of a résumé stored somewhere within the endless documents on your computer. Maybe you need to work on it, but you say will get to it eventually…

Résumés are very important – they are a culmination of all of your work experiences fit into a one-page document. Oftentimes, résumés can be the difference in getting a job or interview, and the employer tossing it to the bottom of the “no” pile.

So don’t put them off anymore!

Give our office a call and make an appointment for a group résumé review session, you can learn valuable tips to perfect your résumé. Best of all, you will be in a small group with other students who are in a similar position as yourself. We know you have worked exceptionally hard in those volunteer or work experiences, let us help you show future employers that you are qualified.

After you have attended a group résumé session, we encourage you to come back for further help in a drop-in. Our drop-in hours are from 3:00-4:30 PM every weekday, where you can meet with a career advisor for additional information. If you are still seeking more résumé assistance, you are welcome to make an individual appointment with a BCCC staff member.

We look forward to working with you!



The Value of an Internship: Pam VanPutten ’87

With over half of the semester behind us, you may be starting your search for a job or internship for the spring or summer of 2019. This past week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Pam VanPutten ’87, Coordinator of Mentoring & Internships in the Center for Ministry Studies here at Hope. All who know her love her, and her advice is just as good.

What is the value of internships for college students?

“Internships are a wonderful way for students to get hands-on, practical experience working with an organization or business. Not only does this help equip students for working somewhere in the future, it also gives them insight into leadership, organizational structure, work ethic, and so many other valuable opportunities.

Students have been immersed in an academic culture for many years. Having the opportunity to be in the workforce allows them to see different expectations and give them ways to mature and grow. It also gives the student an opportunity to contribute to an organization and have a valuable impact. Students often come up with solutions or fresh insights that can be very valuable to an organization.”

How have you seen students grow personally and professionally through an internship program?

“Internships reveal the day-to-day details of a job. Administrative skills, communication skills, and specific expertise related to a job are often learned in an internship setting.  Students also have opportunities to learn the soft skills of life in an internship. Showing up on time, following through with projects, time management skills, adaptability, and working well as a team can be very valuable concepts to learn through an internship.”

How are the specific internship classes helpful in students reflecting and growing from their internship position?

“The Ministry Minor has an accountability component regarding internships. Every student is required to submit 4 journals each semester during their actual internship experience. The students are given prompts regarding their internship experience, what they are learning about various aspects of their internship and how they are developing personally. In the Ministry Minor, students are also asked to reflect on how their faith impacts their experience.

I have the privilege of reading and grading these journals for the Ministry Minor. The growth and development that comes from each student during their internship is amazing! There is a definite change in the student as well as a positive impact on the organization as well.”

VanPutten wanted to note how valuable she believes the experience of an internship can be and says,

“I highly encourage every student to take advantage of an internship experience during or after college. The amount of growth as well as the impact they can have an organization is limitless.”

Wherever you are in your internship search, the Boerigter Center would love to help you on your journey. Make an appointment today or call our office (616-395-7950) to get started!

Owning Your Internship Experience

Are you hoping to gain real-world work experience before graduation? Internships can be a valuable way for you to connect with employers, practice skills you have learned in your courses, better understand your skill set and identify areas for growth, and learn more about potential careers after graduation.

Although it can seem that most of the pressure is on you to prove your worth to a company, an internship is also an opportunity to decide if the position is a good fit for you. Some internships may fit very closely with the work you want to pursue in the future, and others may be filed as additional experience, helping you to decide what you don’t want. The main things to consider are whether you can see yourself in a similar position to the full time employees you are working with, and if there are additional courses or skill sets needed for you to hold this position. Ask about industry trends – are some skills becoming outdated, or are new areas becoming more important for newcomers who want to be competitive applicants?

Be sure to look at aspects outside of the work you are doing as well. This is a company you may spend a significant amount of time working at, and it is important that the industry or company culture fits your needs. What is that culture like? Do people participate in sports or activities outside of work? Do they seem to enjoy working together? It can also be important to know whether these trends are specific to the company you work for, or if they are normal for your industry.

This can also be a great opportunity to learn more about your coworkers. How long have they worked in different positions or with other companies? What have they enjoyed about their time in this industry, and what advice do they have for you as you join the workforce? An internship is a perfect time to build professional relationships and connections that can help you when you are ready to pursue full-time work.

A New Space for Online Interviews

Skype interviews are becoming more and more common. In fact, it is likely that you will have a digital interview before actually going to an in-person interview or having a face-to-face interaction. Because of the commonality of this, it’s important to find a quiet, professional space to conduct an online interview.

Good news! One of the exciting new features of the Boerigter Center for Calling and Career is the private interview room for students. The room is a small, semi-soundproof area with a sliding glass door that provides natural light. There is also an outlet to keep your computer charged throughout the interview, so that you have one less thing to worry about.

Some people have already jumped on the chance to utilize the space when having an interview. Jenny Lussenhop, a Hope senior, recently used the space.

“The simplicity of the Skype room helped me to stay focused during my interview, and allowed my interviewer to stay focused on me, not my surroundings. There was natural light, accessible outlets, and pens and paper just in case. I also felt supported just by being in the Boerigter Center space. If anything would have gone wrong, I know I would have had multiple options of accessible people to ask for help.

I would recommend this space to other students. It was really easy to reserve and comforting to know that I had a space that I could arrive early to, set up, and be fully present in my interview without worrying about disruptions. If anyone would feel uncomfortable with others seeing you interview, it might not be the best choice.”

The small room is visible as people walk by, but a sign is put up informing people when an interview is in-progress. It can be hard to find an appropriate space to have an online interview given the nature of shared living spaces at college. So next time you are faced with this situation, be sure to call (616-395-7950) or email ( our office to reserve the space for your next online interview.

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?

Is a Gap Year Right for You?

That time of year is upon us where we will all return home for holiday breaks and be bombarded with questions about what our future looks like after Hope College. For some, maybe the panic starts to set in and you feel like you have zero answers. For others, maybe you have known for a while now what you are doing after graduation.

We want you to feel prepared and ready to take on the next adventure, no matter what that looks like. There are multiple paths that you can choose from and The Boerigter Center for Calling and Career wants to help you in the process to discern, prepare, and pursue. The Gap Year Fair is the perfect place to explore what opportunities and careers are available to you once you graduate from Hope. Several different nonprofit organizations and programs such as Teach For America and Peace Corps will be represented at this event, which will be held on Tuesday, October 30th from 11:00AM to 1:30PM in Maas Auditorium.

Hope College alumni Sarah Jane Carpenter writes about her personal experience with the Gap Year Fair:

“I always feel a little surprised when people ask me, “How was your gap year?!” or even, “How was your trip?!” I always interpreted the term, “Gap Year” as a period of time somebody takes when they have no post-college plans. For me personally, I was in the midst of applying to various graduate schools to receive my education degree for teaching 7th-12th grade English Language Arts. I worked as the 7th-10th grade English Language Arts instructor for a phenomenal school called Abundant Life Christian School in Gracias, Honduras. It’s part of a nation-wide school system, but my particular location was in sweet little Gracias. I view that year as a major stepping stone in my life. It was tremendously helpful and essential to my personal, professional, and spiritual growth. I often say that I think I learned as much during that one year in Honduras as I did throughout four years of college! And don’t get my wrong, the four years I spent at Hope College changed my life! So did one year in Honduras, and it changed me just as much, but in different ways that I never would have expected. After teaching my subject to my targeted grade levels for a year, I feel so prepared to now get my education degree.”

So what exactly is a gap year? Typically, a gap year consists of a one to two year-long opportunity in which students who recently graduated take some time to explore different career options and vocations by getting involved with some type of non-profit organization or program. Sometimes, participating in a gap year program can lead to potential employment opportunities within that organization. However, even if it doesn’t, students usually benefit from these experiences as they learn more about themselves and what types of careers they want to explore and pursue.

If you would like more information about the employers attending the event and the event itself please visit Handshake. If you would also like more information on what questions to ask at a Career Fair or how to prep for a career fair, please visit our website or stop in to ask questions. All are welcome and no registration is required.

Get to know Shannon Schans!

“Not how long, but how well you have lived is the main thing.” -Seneca

Shannon Schans is the Career Counselor for assessment education and career exploration at the Boerigter Center for Calling and Career. Shannon began working at Hope College in August 2015. We asked Shannon to answer 10 questions to give us the opportunity to get to know her a little better. This is what she had to say:

  1. What is your role at the new Boerigter Center for Calling and Career?

I work with primarily first and second year students in the process of introducing and working through calling and vocation and major discernment.

  1. What was your very first job?

I worked at Dairy Queen for most of my high school years. It was the most delicious and the most disgusting job of my life. Pro tip: Do not get a dipped cone.

  1. What is the most interesting gift you have ever given someone?

I love giving personal gifts that mean something to whomever it’s going to. The gifts are never huge or expensive, but hopefully they are really meaningful. A couple of years ago, I gave my mom and my sister a necklace made from a coffee mug that belonged to my grandma. It was her trademark bright orange mug and it was always filled with coffee. When it broke, we were all pretty sad. So I sent the pieces to a jeweler on Etsy and she made necklaces for me, my mom, and my sister made from the glass.

  1. What is your favorite family tradition?

My mom hosting Thanksgiving. It’s the loudest and most insane party ever, but it’s the most fun day of the year.

  1. What is the weirdest food you have ever tried?

 I actually don’t think that any food is weird, it’s just different from your own normal. When I was in high school, I was an exchange student in Russia and I defiantly ate food that wasn’t normal to me, but was very normal to them! Probably tongue was the most unique.

  1. What was your favorite band/singer when you were growing up?

New Kids On The Block, hands down. Hangin’ Tough since 1987.

  1. Do you have any unusual phobias?

Yes. I am afraid of almost everything so if you name it, I’m probably actively avoiding it. Germs, flying, buffets…they’re all bad.

  1. What is your favorite place out of all of the places you have traveled?

I have been to some lovely places, and picking just one is hard. I think Orvieto, Italy takes it though. It’s so beautiful.

  1. What is one thing that you are better at than anyone else you know?

I am an excellent problem solver.

  1. If you could spend the day with any celebrity, who would it be?

Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Oprah, and Michelle Obama. Can the four of us hang out?

We hope you have enjoyed getting to know Shannon Schans. We are excited to have you meet with her!

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching” -William W. Purkey