Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone – Studying Abroad & Career Development

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Perhaps one of the biggest challenges and opportunities a Georgia College student can take is studying abroad. For most, this is their first time leaving the United States and spending significant time away from friends and family. For me, I studied in Austria and Germany for 8 months, almost the whole academic year! It opened me to a whole new global perspective and I experienced significant personal growth being confronted with situations that are often not faced by the average American. There were points of anxiety, frustration, and nervousness to obstacles I faced, but ultimately it made me into a better person. The friends and relationships I had while in Europe were perhaps most significant, with many of these individuals guiding me through several situations that I did not know how to personally handle.

The biggest benefit of studying abroad for your professional development is the international experience of engaging with those from other cultures and nationalities. In a rapidly globalizing world, it’s critical to be able to connect with those through interpersonal skills and communication. There were many times that I was confronted with no ability to speak native language (be it Polish, Italian, or Swedish), being forced to communicate via body language and hand gestures. Although it’s sometimes nerve-racking to not be in an English speaking country, this ultimately makes you appreciate your homeland and differences we share per country.

In the end, the decision to study abroad, be it for two weeks or a full year, is a momentous decision that has a lifelong effect. Regardless if you go to Canada or the far reaches of Tibet, it is a tremendous experience. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to be an exchange student in Austria and Germany from Georgia College, my family, and generous support of several scholarship donors!

Alexander Cline – Georgia College Career Peer Advisor

LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexander-cline-13b594b4

 

 

 

What is LinkedIn & Why You Should Use It

Have you ever wondered what LinkedIn is and how it can help you in college and in your future career? Well, you have come to the right place! First of all, LinkedIn is a networking tool used by students and professionals alike. There are several uses of LinkedIn that you can use to your benefit as you begin your transition from college to your first job out in the real world.

Here is why you should use it:

It could potentially be an expanded version of your resume.

            Sometimes students and professionals have so much experience that it won’t all fit on their one page resume, so this is where LinkedIn comes in. On your profile, you can put all your experience and skills on there where there is no limit. You can even add more to the entries you already have on your resume to explain them even further in detail.

You have the ability to connect and network with classmates, alumni, and companies.

            This is one of the most used features of LinkedIn. You can connect with people all over the world, or right down to your classmates in your business class. You never know which one of your connections could help you get that dream job you always wanted, or help you connect with someone that you would like to do an informational interview with. Plus, it is a great way for your classmates and colleagues to keep up with what you are accomplishing while in college or in your career.

You can search for jobs anywhere!

            Everyone wants a job after college, right? Their job search tool is a great place to start if you do not know where to begin. You can specify your desired geographical area , and what industry you prefer. You can also search by experience level, which includes internships and entry-level positions. You might even find a job that you never thought existed, and that you would be great at! Finding the right job does take some time, so don’t become discouraged if you do not find the right one for you the first day of your search.

LinkedIn can help you create a professional brand.

            One of the most important things college students should begin to think about is their professional brand. You want a professional brand that reflects you and all your accomplishments thus far. You can further tailor your brand to what you want your future to be like as well. Having a professional brand helps you become competitive among your classmates and colleagues so you can get that job you have always wanted.

 

Want to learn even more about LinkedIn? Come to one of the Career Center’s LinkedIn Meet-Ups, or schedule an appointment with one of our professionals to get your LinkedIn profile reviewed!

Three Common Career Fair Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them!)

Fall recruitment season is upon us! Whether you’re a freshman seeking career inspiration or a senior pondering a post-graduation internship, a career fair is a valuable tool in your job search. However, those of you who are career fair newbies might be stressing about how to prepare. What do I say to employers? Who do I talk to? What do I wear?! Luckily, we’re here to help! Avoid the following career fair mistakes, and you’ll be golden! Try putting these tips into practice at the Fall Career & Internship Expo on Oct. 5.

1. Not dressing professionally
You’ve probably heard that you only have seven seconds to make a good first impression. This is especially important to keep in mind at a career fair, where you may only have a few minutes to impress an employer. That being said, you need to dress appropriately for the event! This isn’t the time to look like you’ve just rolled out of bed. A good rule of thumb for career fair attire is business casual. This means dress shirts, blouses, dresses, slacks, skirts, low heels, and dress shoes. Ties and blazers are optional but also appropriate. While you want to look professional, you also want to be comfortable. You’ll be on your feet for a while, and the last thing you want is to develop a blister or feel uncomfortable. Don’t wear five-inch heels or a tuxedo.

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2. Lack of preparation
It’s a great idea to ask questions to show your interest and learn more about an employer. However, you don’t want to ask for information you could have easily found on a company’s website. Before attending a career fair, make sure to research all attending employers and prioritize the ones that interest you. Find out basic information about a company to give you a solid understanding of its work and culture. Once you’re informed, you can come up with a few open-ended questions to ask employers at the career fair. Also, you need to practice how you’ll introduce yourself to employers. This way, you’ll be able to answer the “tell me about yourself” question.

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3. Forgetting to follow-up
While you were at the career fair, we’re sure you acquired a lot of business cards (hint, hint). Don’t let them sit around and collect dust! Within a day or two of the career fair, make sure to send a follow-up email to recruiters. Make sure your follow-up is professional and cordial, and attach your resume, even if you gave it to the recruiter at the event. Remind the recruiter of your qualifications and why you’d like to work for the company. Also, mention something specific from your conversation to add a personal touch.

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By avoiding these mistakes, you’ve conquered the career fair! You’ll feel much more confident when attending your next networking or Career Center event.

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Job Search Strategies: How to Land Your First Job !

Congratulations!! You are now an official alumnus of Georgia College. Whether you’re searching for your first full time job or applying to graduate school, we’ve got you covered. This entry will discuss strategies to broaden your competitive advantage while looking for that J-O-B!

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Graduating from college can be a stressful time in your life, because we feel the pressure to figure out what we’re going to do with “the rest of our lives.” The good news? You don’t have to know! You just have to be prepared for the next step, which for many of you will be the job search. It’s important to start this search during your senior year, and it can sometimes feel like taking another class. As someone who has graduated two different times with two different degrees, below are some tips that helped me and hopefully will help you navigate the job market.

Strategy 1: Assess Yourself

My first time job searching out of college was a stressful event. What jobs do I look for? What am I qualified to apply for? These questions that began occupying my mind are certainly important when you are beginning your search. But it’s also important to think about to ask yourself: what do I bring to the table? Answering this question has not only helped me be selective in the jobs I was applying for, but it provided me with knowledge of how much of an asset I am to any organization I joined.

Strategy 2: Set Goals and Be Organized

Want to know a secret about the job market? The job search process will take about six to nine months, which means employers are looking to fill positions months in advance. Remember that the early bird gets the worm. Setting a goal to apply for a certain amount of jobs per week, and creating an Excel spreadsheet that outlines the job, position, and date you applied can help you stay organized and keep you on track.

Strategy 3: Diversify your search

It takes multiple methods to find the job you want. Just posting your resume on a website will probably not produce the results you want. Not all jobs are posted online! In fact, research states that 80% of jobs are never posted. So how do you gain access to those opportunities? Make sure you take advantage of networking opportunities like LinkedIn.

Hopefully these strategies will help you navigate the search process. If you’re hitting a roadblock, please stop by the Career Center 110 Lanier Hall so we can help you out!

Three Reasons Why Campus Involvement is Important – Notes from a Former Student Slacker

We’ve all heard the saying “hindsight is 20/20.” Whether it’s related to sports, school, or everyday life, we’ve all been there. I’m a proud alumnus of Georgia College. As an undergraduate student here from 2002 to 2007, I made a lot of lifelong friends and have a lot of great memories here. Regardless of the good times, there was something missing. When it was time for me to graduate and I worked to develop my resume, it was bare and boring. Yes, I had a half of a page of education and work experience, but that was really it. I had spent four and a half years at Georgia College and had not joined one club or organization. Shame on me.  During college, the importance of being involved honestly never crossed my mind. However, I quickly realized I was setting myself apart from many other GC students — and not in a good way.

As an Internship Coordinator at Georgia College now, I have the awesome opportunity to speak to students who remind me of myself during my GC days. I review resumes daily that have very little to no campus involvement. One of the first questions I ask when I see a resume like this is “Why do I see no campus involvement on here?” I often get the common answers like “I don’t have the time” or “I don’t know how to get involved.” From my own “hindsight is 20/20” experience, here are three reasons why you should be involved in your campus NOW!

  • A chance to work with new people – During my GC days, I had my friends, my clique, my squad, whatever you want to call it. However, I was limiting myself by not exposing myself to others different than me. When you begin your full-time career, chances are you are going to be working directly with people who are much different than you. Joining clubs and organizations now will expose you to a diverse array of fellow students and a chance to participate in valuable interactions with them. I have no doubt that if I’d participated in clubs and organizations during my time at Georgia College, I would have been better equipped to work with others who are different than me.
  • It’s great for a resume – Put yourself in the shoes of an employer who is reviewing resumes for potential employees. If you are looking at two resumes from students who have identical degrees and GPAs, but one has extensive campus involvement and the other does not, naturally more attention and preference will be given to the applicant with the campus involvement. That’s only natural. Think ahead and prepare for this. As I’ve mentioned before, campus involvement is one of the first things I notice when I review a resume. Be proactive, get involved today!

 

  • It develops valuable skills – As I mentioned before, you have potential to develop transferable skills in college through campus involvement. As a result of your involvement, you will gain experience in leadership, communication, problem-solving, group development and management, budgeting and finance, presentation and public speaking, and much more.

 

My challenge for you is to get involved today! As a GC student, you have access to over 160 clubs/organizations, 17 fraternities and sororities, and 12 months of rec sports, all of which can be found here. Don’t be the slacker I was as a student. Be the student employers want to hire. Get involved, better yourself! If you’d like to contact me to discuss this further, don’t hesitate to email me at josey.cameron@gcsu.edu.

Three Things Every GC Senior Should Know Right Now

Ah, your senior year. Bittersweet. So many wonderful college memories that it’s hard to consider that this is the final hoorah – that last chance to do all the things that you’ve been saying you wanted to do. You also want to focus on finishing the final year of classes. But, I bet this is also a time that’s forcing you to consider what you’re going to do after graduation. Maybe your family is asking you about your plans and you keep dodging the question. Or, maybe you’re torn between several different choices. How can you decide? Maybe you’re graduating in May, so you have plenty of time to figure it all out. Right?
Here are three things that every GC senior should know right now in September while the Fall semester is young:

1. It’s OK if you don’t know. 

Our society makes us feel guilt or shame for not knowing what we’re “going to do for the rest of our lives”. It gets worse because we all have that one friend who constantly brags about how they’ve known they’re going to be a [insert nurse, doctor, lawyer, teacher, or any other career we’ve all heard of] since they were born. So, if you’re feeling doubtful about what you want to do, what’s wrong with you? Here’s the truth: nothing is wrong with you. Actually, I argue that most people have NO idea what they’re going to do next let alone for the “rest of their lives”.  Most American workers change jobs over 11 times throughout their working life. There’s even growing research that suggests that most Americans will change careers multiple times throughout their lifetime. How can that be? It’s because careers are evolving and constantly changing. At any given time, we have limited amounts of information of which to make career decisions. Consider the career paths of the 57,000 people who work for Google. Although it might be hard to remember a time before Google, it really hasn’t been that long. Google was founded just 18 years ago! That means those graduating from college any time before at least 1998 did not think they were going to graduate from college and work from Google!
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So, how do you figure it out? Focus on narrowing down the possibilities by considering the immediate options in relation to the tasks you like to do, your skills, and your personality. Tools like the Focus2 career assessment offer insight especially when combined with meeting with a professional career advisor, who can help you develop a strategic career plan.

2. You have more options than you realize.

Remember at freshman orientation when you were told that Georgia College will give you a well-rounded liberal arts education that intentionally exposes you to a wide range of subjects and teaches you diverse skills needed to tackle the biggest problems plaguing our society?
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Don’t worry. Let me remind you that you intentionally sought out a different college experience. One that offered you opportunities to engage with faculty, experts in their subjects. One where you were more than a number. One where you were challenged to apply what you’re learning inside the classroom to experiences outside the classroom like doing undergraduate research, internships, student leadership roles, studying abroad, and any number of other experiences.
So, what’s all this got to do with your career? You have more options that you realize. We try to force every major into one specific career path. Like, aren’t all history majors teachers just like all nursing majors are nurses? All business majors work in business, right?  Well, out of the nearly 500 GC history graduates on LinkedIn, 105 cite that they work in education, whereas over 190 state they work in business areas such as sales, operations, human resources, finance, project management, and marketing. Twenty-eight of those 190 even started their own businesses! Also, in case you’re curious, 187 GC business graduates report that they are working in education.
The truth of the matter is that your major in combination with all the experience you’ve had, paid and unpaid, inside and outside the classroom, gives you skills that can be applied in many different career paths. You must learn how to see these skills and communicate that you have them. A 2015 survey found that employers want to hire college graduates who are leaders that can work in a team, communicate effectively in writing and verbally, and solve problems.  And, the best news? You have these skills. Own it and practice sharing examples that prove you have them both in writing (hello, resumes and cover letters) and verbally like in an interview or at a career fair. Challenge yourself to start exploring the wide range of current career options where you can apply your skills. If you’re thinking about going to work after graduation, it’s time to figure out what employers are hiring right now. If you’re considering graduate school, make sure you’ve thought through the financial return graduate school will offer and if a graduate degree is even necessary for the job you want to pursue. For a look into what others have done with their Georgia College degrees, search by your major for the career paths of GC Alumni inside of LinkedIn. For ideas on possible career paths, check out What Can I Do With This Major or scan some of the 300 job and internship postings the Career Center receives each month in Career Connection, GC’s job and internship database. You will be surprised because you really DO have more options that you realized.

3. Get started now. 

Procrastination gets the best of us. At the root of procrastination is simply an instinctual desire to avoid the tasks that seem like too much work. Maybe that’s because we’re afraid of what’s going to happen. Or, maybe it’s easier to put your time towards simpler tasks first, telling yourself “I’ll get to that harder thing later.” Regardless, when it comes to planning for your next steps after graduation, waiting can be costly. In 2015, by January, nearly 2/3 employers reported that they had already made offers to their open entry-level positions to be filled with a soon-to-be graduate following December, May, or August graduations.
I’ve also talked with many employers and they all have one thing in common: they don’t just want to hire any college grad. They want to hire top college grads. Top college grads are usually the ones who start early, create and implement a strategic career plan, and use the Career Center’s events and resources. Finding a job can sometimes take 6 to 9 months from when you start your search. Pursuing graduate school usually means starting the process at least a year in advance, especially if you want to get access to the best financial packages, like assistantships and scholarships.
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No need to worry. Georgia College makes it easy for you. You need motivation. So, your Career Center brings you Senior Picnic. In a casual and fun environment, kick off your senior year right by not only enjoying lunch with your classmates, but also networking with sponsoring employers and exploring the possibilities.  This year, seniors will schedule a Senior Check-In at Senior Picnic. A Senior Check-In is a 15 minute meeting with a career advisor who will help you start getting organized and prepared for your next steps after graduation. Even you have 15 minutes. So, see you at Senior Picnic on September 7th, 11:30a – 1:00p, in Magnolia Ballroom. Yeah, the first 400 seniors to attend get this year’s Senior Picnic t-shirt, but a t-shirt won’t get you a job. Can’t make it to Senior Picnic? No problem. Contact the Career Center and we’ll get your 15 minute Senior Check-In scheduled. Start seeing yourself as a “top” college graduate and take this one step. One step is how we all start our career journeys.
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How to Tackle the (Dreaded) “Tell Me about Yourself” Question

You’ve landed your first job interview with an employer you’re really excited about, and right now, you’re following them into their office to begin the interview. You feel confident and ready. You’re wearing a brand new suit, you’ve got a killer resume, and you’ve done extensive research on the company.  Your handshake is on point. If they ask about how you’ve shown leadership in the past, you’ve practiced your response. An example of a conflict you’ve had with a coworker and how you resolved it? Your answer is polished and prepped. You’ve got this.

The two of you sit down. The potential employer clears their throat. You’re ready for anything they’re about to throw at you. They say, “So, let’s start with you telling me a little bit about yourself.”

Crickets.

You’re racking your brain for something, ANYTHING to say. You stutter out your name, and where you’re from, and then….

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Your inner monologue is screaming: what else do I say? Where do I begin? Do I tell them how many siblings I have? Or about my hobbies? My penchant for eating a whole can of Pringles while marathon-ing Netflix shows in bed?

Being prepared for the beginning getting-to-know-you questions in an interview is an absolute must, although we often overlook it. So here are a few tips on how to prepare:

  • Address your strengths – what do you want the employer to know about you?
  • Think about the research you’ve done on the company and this position – what have you done or what skills do you have that will make you an excellent candidate for THIS job?
  • Reference the “why” – why should this employer hire you over the other five people they have interviewed that week?
  • Consider the Present-Past-Future formula, which is a great way to design your response. First, mention what you are presently doing and what skills you possess (that will be needed in this position), then, talk a little bit about what you’ve done in the past  that would contribute to the company, and what you’re planning to do or hope to achieve in the future,  For more info about this formula and for some examples, check this article out:
    Present-Past-Future Formula

Last words of advice: PRACTICE. Go ahead and type up an introduction for yourself, and rehearse it in your head before your interview. Don’t memorize it (you obviously don’t want to sound like a robot) but having a general framework in your head will ensure that your confidence remains unshaken, and that you start your interview off with a bang.

If you’d like to see some more examples, here’s a video that shows interviewees giving a “bad” answer and then a “good” answer:
“Tell Me about Yourself: Good Answers vs. Bad Answers”

If you want to get some feedback on your introduction as well as practice it on a real live person, please make an appointment for a mock interview with us at the Career Center. We will be happy to help!