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:

RÉSUMÉ, RÉSUMÉ, RÉSUMÉ

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.

KNOW YOUR STUFF

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.

DRESS THE PART

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!

SELL YOUR PITCH

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: https://blogs.hope.edu/boerigter-center/internships/elevator-pitch-engaging-an-employer-in-less-than-a-minute/

ASK FOR A BUSINESS CARD

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.

ENGAGE WITH THE MATERIAL

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.

 

 

Hey First Year Students…We are here for you!

First year students, welcome to the family!
Our goal is to help each student discern, prepare and pursue their calling and career. Read on to find out five easy ways you can interact with our office from day one:
  1. Not sure what to major in? Make an appointment with Amy Freehafer, she can help you explore possibilities based on your career interests.
  2. Are you unsure what to do with your major? Not a problem! Check out our “What Can You Do With A Major In” section on our website, or come in and meet with a career counselor who can assist you in discerning which path is right for you.
  3. Start your resume! Meet with a career advisor to organize previous work experience in order to create a resume. You will learn how to add, format, and adjust your experiences – skills that will help you throughout your college career.
  4. Come in and learn how to four-year-plan. Not only does this help with future organization, but it provides comfort knowing that your four years at Hope will be completed according to plan.
  5. Begin networking early! Meet with Megan Scheldt who can help you with your LinkedIn account and teach you the importance of making connections with people in your intended field.

Ready to take action? Call our office at 616.395.7950 or use the new online scheduling feature on our website! We are excited to meet you and get you started with some great resources.

 

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:

Handshake

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

InterviewStream

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.

 

 

Networking with Alumni

 

Image result for networking

Networking is marketing. Marketing yourself, marketing your uniqueness, marketing what you stand for. – Christine Comaford-Lynch

 

Research has found that in today’s workforce, 60-80% of the people found their jobs through networking. This fact alone should motivate all job-hunters to start making and utilizing their connections – they could help you land a job!

There are over 32,000 Hope College alumni across United States and 80 countries. As a Hope College student you have the amazing opportunity to network and connect with a number of alumni who have different backgrounds, experiences and are very willing to help you.

Connecting with the alum is a great way to learn more about the real world. You may have the opportunity to speak to people who are working in the fields you are interested in, connect with people personally who may be a stepping stone towards a potential job after you graduate.

So how does one go about networking? Here are some useful tips from the Career Development Center’s website to help you get started:

  1. When you’re networking, always look for the next step in gaining information about your field. When casually networking, ask for an informational interview.
    Most networking begins through casual conversation. Strike up a conversation with the people you meet in your normal routine — you never know who may have an aunt or a brother or a colleague in your field.
  2. Remember to use the informational interview as an opportunity to gather information and seek advice, not to ask outright for an internship or employment opportunity. It is often appropriate, however, to ask the person you speak with for advice on ways you might pursue employment or internship opportunities in your field of interest and give specifics about your search.
  3. Before you jump into this valuable exercise, you will need to have a solid understanding of who you are (self-assessment) and a basic understanding of your fields of interest (career exploration) in order to answer questions from the professionals you meet.

 

Megan Fisher is who you want to talk to at the Career Development Center if you are interested in networking. We asked why she thinks networking with alumni is important and this is what she had to say:

I have 3 key points for why networking with alumni is important:

  1. The majority of jobs within companies are not posted. Networking helps open doors to new opportunities.
  2. Networking helps you get insight into a specific job, company and industry.
  3. Networking with alumni helps you get your foot into the door as you tackle the job interview process.

Now that you know the importance of networking and a few ways to go about it, you can book an appointment with Megan Fisher and get started.

The Job Search and Networking – Where to Begin?

Image result for looking for job

IF OPPORTUNITY DOESN’T KNOCK, BUILD A DOOR. —MILTON BERLE

 

As we move into the fourth week of school, and homework lingers over our heads, the question on everyone’s mind is: “What am I going to do with my life?” and especially for seniors, the main question is: “What will I do after graduation?”

Even though this is a pressing question, don’t worry! The Career Development Center has a number of steps and resources that will help you get ready for life after graduation.

Steps to Preparing for the Job Search

  1. The first step to making sure you are ready for after graduation is to make sure that your resume is polished and professionalThere are a number of staff members that can help you with your resume, curriculum vitae or cover letter, so schedule an appointment today! If you need some quick tips, drop ins at the CDC are from 3:00-4:30 p.m. You can also visit the Career Development website to get the gist of where you want to start.
  2. After you have your resume completed, it’s time to schedule a mock interview with Dale. Mock interviews are valuable in the sense that they give you important practice with certain interview questions and how to answer them. In addition to mock interviews for jobs, there are also mock interviews for grad schools and internships. Click here for an overview of how to prepare for mock interviews, otherwise, schedule an appointment with Dale!
  3. In addition to resumes and mock interviews, another important step is networking. Megan Fisher is definitely the person to schedule an appointment with to learn about the ins and outs of this valuable skill. When networking, you can connect with Hope alumni and others that have majored in your field or are doing a career you are interested in. This can help open multiple doors that you might not have known were a possibility. You also have the opportunity to learn about the importance of social media and the positive or negative impact it can have in your job search process.

We talked to Megan about Networking and her experience with it and she had some valuable comments. When asked how Networking could help students in their job search, she stated,

“Networking can help students during their job search in multiple ways. Information interviewing is a piece of the networking process. An information interview allows you to explore your field of interest through a structured, longer conversation with someone already working in that field. It also helps students learn from the wins (and mistakes) of others. This process is FREE career advice!

There is also formal networking, for example connecting with people at a company you want to work for, [which] helps students get their foot in the door as well as create an awesome first impression.”

She also noted that,

“Employers want to do business primarily with people they know. Resumes alone are often too impersonal especially when there are many applicants. Networking helps your resume come to the top of the pile during intense competition.”

Megan has personal experience with this, as she recalls,

“When I was first looking for a Graduate Assistant position (coaching lacrosse and getting my masters degree) I attended the US Lacrosse Convention. I created business cards and printed out copies of my resume. During my time at the convention I gave out the materials I brought and networked with other coaches. I ended up connecting with a new lacrosse program that was looking for a G.A. After following up after the convention I found myself interviewing for the position and got the job. I was later told that my “go-getter” attitude and my unique business cards/resume made be stand out in the networking process.”

As you can see, networking is a valuable skill when it comes to the job seeking process. Networking, combined with the other job seeking skills mentioned above, will help you be prepared to get a job that you love. Schedule an appointment today to see how the Career Development Center can help you!

Philadelphia Fun

Interested in studying off-campus for a semester while getting a taste of independence in a big city? The Philadelphia Center offers an awesome program that does just that! Hope College senior and Career Advisor Jaclyn Van Dyk writes about her experience in the program:

Jaclyn enjoying a sunny day in Philly!
Jaclyn enjoying a sunny day in Philly!

“I had the opportunity to spend the past fall semester on the East Coast at The Philadelphia Center in which I took part in an off-campus, experiential learning program that was made available through Hope. My time in Philly consisted of working 32 hours a week at my internship, taking two classes, and exploring the city and surrounding areas. Experiential learning is at the heart of this program as you dive right into finding housing upon arrival to the city and securing an internship the following week. My internship took place at The SHARE Food Program, a non-profit in North Philadelphia that offered various programs that would promote affordable access to healthy food. I was able to gain incredible experience at my internship by bringing on of SHARE’s food package programs into four schools within the city.

My experiences went far beyond my internship as one day a week I had my city-seminar class in one of the Philadelphia County Prisons with half of the students being from our program and half being inmates. Outside of classes and internship hours I was busy exploring the city of brotherly love, the historic sites of Independence Hall, Penn’s Landing, The Liberty Bell, visiting museums such as The Franklin Institute, Eastern State Penitentiary, and the infamous Art Museum and Rocky steps. Outside of being an everyday tourist, I was able to get involved in a local church, visit the many neighborhoods of the city, attend improv shows, theater performances, grocery shop at the Italian Market, and take in all the art, culture, and history the city has to offer.

My semester in Philly was the most incredible experience. The forced independence allowed me to try new things, be pushed out of my comfort zone, and develop a great appreciation for all places, spaces, and people. To check out more about the program visit The Philadelphia Center.”

If you have any interest in learning how to fit the Philly program into your time at Hope, stop by the Career Development Office and we’d be happy to discuss possibilities with you. Experience the City of Brotherly Love!

Internships Shouldn’t Scare You

Do you have an idea of what you would like your dream career to look like, but aren’t sure how to get there? Or maybe you have no idea what career you want, but are looking for ways to find out? Either way, having an internship is a great way to open doors for future opportunities! Often paid, they provide great ways to earn money while getting relevant experience in your intended career field while networking with potential employers. They will not only offer glimpses into what certain fields are actually like, but will also allow you to meet both friends and mentors at the same time while exploring your career.

Career Advisor Gaby Vazquez commented on her internship experience, saying,

“I had an internship in Grand Rapids last summer which is what helped me land my dream internship in Chicago the following summer.”

There are many ways to go about obtaining an internship. One great way is by attending internship fairs. Internship fairs generally consist of multiple employers setting up booths in a relaxed environment where students seeking internships can walk in with a pile of resumes and walk out with a pile of business cards.

Internship Fair
Maas Auditorium

These opportunities are not hard to find. In fact, there will be an internship fair here on campus on Thursday, February 4th from 3:30pm-5:00pm in Mass Auditorium. No registration is required, so students can drop by and jump in on the networking. Business casual is the expected dress code for this event. Come with a few printed copies of your resume to pass out to select employers, and don’t forget to prepare a couple questions to ask while networking with the professionals. We at the Career Development Center would love to help you with the preparation and follow-up processes, so stop by today and talk to us!

See you at the fair!

New Year, New Career!

If you’re like most college students, your Christmas break was likely filled with family and friends who lovingly asked questions like “So, what are you studying? What can you do with that major? What are you going to do after college?” targeting some undetermined and sometimes frightening topics. They can cause you to stand there, stammering to find an answer, and anxiously looking for a quick way to change the subject.

Luckily, those questions don’t have to be scary, and you can easily provide answers for all of them! Come to the Career Development Center (CDC). No matter where you find yourself in your career exploration process, we are here to help you.

Looking for a fun summer job? The CDC is hosting a Summer Camp Fair on January 20th, from 11:00am-2:00pm in Maas Auditorium. This is a great opportunity to network with numerous camps, located anywhere from right here in Holland, to Warwick, New York.

Hope College first-year student and devoted counselor at Covenant Harbor Bible Camp (which will be represented at the Fair) commented on her employment experience, saying,

“It doesn’t feel like a job to me. It’s an incredible way to spend your summer! It’s super rewarding, and you build a great community among your staff members.”

Come as you are, no resume needed! For more information about the event and a full list of the camps attending the fair, click on the following link: Summer Camp Fair Information

 

The CDC has also created an event discussing important steps during the transition between Hope and “The Real World” called From Hope to Hired. Kevin Deane from the Image Group will offer tips on finding a job, CDC Career Counselor Megan Fisher will discuss how to effectively network with people in your field, and CDC Director Dale Austin will highlight how to prepare for interviews.  The event will be held from 7:00pm-8:30pm in the Martha Miller Rotunda. No pre-registration or outside preparation is required. See you there!

Lastly, don’t forget to stop by and see us at our office, located on the first floor of the Anderson-Werkman building! Set up an appointment with our front desk, or call us at 616-395-7950. We also hold Drop-In Hours from 3:00pm-4:30pm every weekday for ten minute appointments and reviews.

We look forward to working with you this semester!

Steps to Exploring Out of State Careers

Is there a city you’ve always wanted to live in? A town that you can totally see yourself living and working in, but you have no idea how to make that happen? Starting a career in another state can be a scary yet exhilarating time. Being away from the security net of your home and school can offer a new found independence which can allow you to grow. Although it can be challenging, it can prove very beneficial.

Diving into it is made easier by the many wonderful resources that Hope College provides us. The Career Development Center (CDC) offers resources such as Job Stop, externships, and career fairs that enable us to tackle the challenge of finding a job.

The CDC offers numerous events for students to explore out of state opportunities for a variety of majors and interests. For a list of all the events the CDC will be hosting soon, follow this link: CDC Events. The CDC has also created a handout outlining suggestions for how to prepare for career fairs (which often can lead to out of state opportunities) which can be found here: Career Fair Handout

Although a lot of these resources initially connect you with in state opportunities, sometimes the companies you get to know in state also have offices out of state. Building relationships with them can be a great way to build your network, as they can put you in touch with all the right people in the state of your choice.

Keep in mind past connections, and use social media sites such as LinkedIn to get in touch with recruiters outside the state. Although may seem daunting at first, LinkedIn can really help your networking.

Internships can also open doors for out of state experiences. Hope graduate Abby Wilhelm of the class of 2015 is currently working as a Project Coordinator for an organization in Washington D.C. She commented on her out of state career exploration, offering a little advice for current students, saying

It was the professional and social connections I made during the Washington DC Honors Semester [while at Hope] that made it possible for me to return here after graduation. I could not have found housing, job opportunities, etc. if I had not had a a supportive network to reach out to at graduation. Taking advantage of internship experiences and networking relationships, especially ones that are fostered in new places and during your time at Hope, will make for an incredibly smooth transition into a new state and a new season!

There are many resources in the Career Development Center website to help improve your out of state career search, or you can also meet with a staff member.

Taking risks is a part of life, and although starting a career in a different state can seem unsettling, there is no better time to do it than when you are young. Being willing to fight for what you really want will set the tone for the rest of your career.

Networking Works

Networking works. However, we know it can also be a little intimidating. Hope has thousands of alumni, and you probably know hundreds of professionals!

How do you sort it all out?

First off, take advantage of the resources you have! Know some professionals in your potential field? Shoot them an email saying you’re interested in talking to them about their careers and asking what insight they would like to share with you. Also consider creating a LinkedIn account. The “Connections” page on LinkedIn is a helpful resource for connecting with alumni. Networking can lead to some pretty fantastic opportunities while pursuing your career exploration path.

Not sure about your own resources? Make an appointment with the Career Development Center! We’ll help you link with alumni and other resources to build your professional network. Megan Fisher is the go-to person for any and all networking questions, so don’t hesitate to make an appointment with her to get started in the networking process!

Career Advisor Hadley Roy speaks to her own personal experience with networking here at Hope:

 Last week I made an appointment with a Career Development staff member to talk about internship possibilities. That appointment got my name on an email list with the Office of Alumni Engagement, and that email list got me to a lunch with Hope alumnus who is a successful businessman in international travel. That lunch got me connected with staff in Alumni Engagement, who got me in touch with a Senior VP at a major ad agency back home. All because I made that appointment and talked to someone in Career Development about networking.

When it comes to networking and informational interviews, there’s one thing you have to remember: you can’t gain information unless you ask for it.

So get out there.

Start asking questions.

Start making connections.

You’re on your way to amazing things.