Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Back-to-School Rush: Are YOU Ready to Rumble?

Scary as it may seem, the summer is just about over and it is time to seriously think about how to ramp up for the beginning of fall semester classes. Beyond the usual preparations like finding textbooks, selling your unborn first child to purchase text books, moving into your dorm or apartment, and figuring out your class schedule, there are things you should be thinking about to prepare for your job search this fall. These things can be summed up into several categories: Things Involving Career Services, Things You Need to Do Yourself, and Things You’ll Kick Yourself For Not Doing ASAP.

Now class, let us begin.

Things Involving Career Services

Even though you may have never set foot in your local Career Services Center, it is time to change that. Many Career Services Centers, and especially the ones at MSU, have loads of information regarding interviewing, resumes, and many other subjects. Unless you have been doing some serious research on your own, there’s a solid chance that taking a few minutes to stop into your nearest career center will help you to learn something new. Another great asset the majority of career centers have are experienced advisers who can help you figure out what path you would like to take or help you be more successful in the career path you have chosen. In addition to learning about how to enrich your career path by speaking with an adviser, most career centers also have a plethora of resources in the form of written materials, websites, and information sessions you can use to use to enhance your skills.

If you are an MSU student or alumni, your next step after visiting your career center is to register for My Spartan Career. This is a website that supports job postings, seminar registrations, and other events relating to career services.

Once you have registered for MSC, your next step will be to upload an updated resume to your profile and fill in all of the required information regarding your contact information and education. Other documents that may be helpful to upload include your unofficial transcript (you can go to to get this information) and a cover letter.

**A word of warning for anyone on MSC. You cannot apply to ANY job postings in MSC until you have posted a resume to your profile. Also, the times for generic resumes and cover letters are over. It is important to cater your resume and cover letter to each job you apply to!**

Things You Need to Do Yourself

Aside from your usual responsibilities, there are some key things you need to
do to prepare for the upcoming career search season. Here are a few:
  • Update Your Resume
  • Update Your Unofficial Transcript
  • Look up the companies that will be attending the Career Gallery in October and make a list of the ones you would like to visit at the event.
  • Start researching your top 5-10 companies that you’d like to apply to this semester.
  • Visit the Center for Spartan Engineering to schedule a mock interview, get a list of upcoming seminars, bring your resume in to be critiqued, and find a time to meet with a career adviser.

Things You’ll Kick Yourself for Not Doing ASAP

Here begins the section of the things you might just kick yourself for not doing ASAP. The number one thing on your list should be to put the time in NOW to save yourself grief LATER. I’ve talked to far too many students who have left their career searches until the last minute or are seniors and have never even put together a resume. To be frank, it would be silly to think that even if you wait until the last minute, you’ll still be able to pull something off. With the way things are right now, even people with their ducks in a row are having an incredibly difficult time finding internships and full-time positions. This is not the time to sit back and watch the world go by. It’s time to take charge of your career goals and get rolling!

Now that I’ve gone through my generic “get your butt moving” pep talk, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of things you really should be doing to get your search rolling…

One very helpful method of staying on track is by making yourself a list of career goals to accomplish for the semester along with a record of the things have done so far. One thing I do every year is to make a list of all of the companies I have applied to. After I have my base list, I’ll add in how I applied to them (in person, online, etc.), when I applied, who I can contact from the company if I have any questions, if I sent them a “Thank You” note via e-mail or snail mail, and what position(s) I applied for. Making a list like this is a good way to keep your head straight during the craziest part of the career search season (from September to November).

That’s about all for now. Taking care of these things now will be an important asset in the near future when things become a little more complicated and you’re required to keep track of many different activities. In addition to all of these different action items, make sure to check in with my blog each week to learn more about resumes, networking, interviewing, and many other career search related topics. I will be covering a new topic each week so tune in and maybe you’ll learn a thing or two!

Like always,

Good Luck Job Seekers!

Starting next week (the first week of classes), I will begin my fall blog series. Each week will be devoted to a new career topic so tune in to learn more about how to search for jobs McSpartan style!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I'm LinkedIn, You're LinkedIn, We're ALL LinkedIn: A Lesson in LinkedIn

With social media sites on the rise, sometimes it's hard to figure out which sites are ones that you should really take advantage of. One very helpful site is called LinkedIn ( For anyone who is unfamiliar with LikedIn, this is a social networking site with a focus in professional networking and resources. To make this little LinkedIn tutorial as informative as possible, I'll divide it up into sections.

How Do I Get Started?

First of all, here's a quick definition of LinkedIn:

"LinkedIn is an interconnected network of experienced professionals from around the world, representing 170 industries and 200 countries. You can find, be introduced to, and collaborate with qualified professionals that you need to work with to accomplish your goals."

Getting signed up with LinkedIn is really easy. Just go to their website (link above) and create a profile. Once you've done that, it's time to make your profile shine!

Creating a Rockin' Profile

There are several components to a LinkedIn profile and as you may notice, a lot of the information you are able to provide may fit in closely with information you already have in your resume. The main categories in your profile will include summary, experience, education, recommendations, contact information, and additional information about yourself. Your best bet is to approach these categories like you would a resume. Avoid spelling and grammar errors; make sure to state your achievements and goals clearly and concisely; and keep everything appropriate. LinkedIn is meant to be a lot more professional than other social media sites like Facebook or MySpace. Try to keep everything on your LinkedIn as professional as possible because there are lots of very important people who may see your profile on LinkedIn and the last thing they need to see if you topless on Spring Break last year.

One great asset you can have with your profile is recommendations. LinkedIn recommends that you have at least 3 recommendations by other professionals because it will help develop your profile and will give you a better chance of getting more hits to your site (visits). These recommendations can come from peers, co-workers, bosses, etc.

Exploring Your Resources

One great thing about LInkedIn is that it doesn't just stop at networking by finding people you already know. LinkedIn is focused on connecting you to people from all over that do all sorts of things with their professional life. You can find other people who similar interests to yourself by getting connected to groups and also by requesting that your connections introduce you to other people.

For example, if I was very interested in working in Company X and my good friend, Joe, was connected to one of the recruiters for Company X, I could request that Joe introduces me to that recruiter. Don't be afraid to use LinkedIn as a networking tool to get your name out to companies you may be interested or people you're very interested in meeting.

Wait, LinkedIn Has Job Postings, Too!?

It's true boys and girls! LinkedIn also has a handy dandy job posting section. With many people out of work due to recent cut back at many companies, this tool can be a HUGE asset for your career search. When apploying for jobs online, make sure that your resume and cover letters are polished, refined, and customized! Sending out mass cover letters and resumes just isn't going to cut it anymore. Make sure to state your qualifications and genuine interest in the company and position.

Additional Resources

Since it would take a small novel to list of the great things you can do with LinkedIn, I'm going to leave all of your with some great additional resources to check out if you'd like to do more research on LinkedIn.

Here are some great places to start...

LinkedIn Learning Center:

BNET LinkedIn Crash Course:

LinkedIn Blog:

"What is Linked In?" Video:

"LinkedIn for Dummies" Video:

Hope this helps!

Good Luck Job Seekers!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

How to be a Busy Bee Without Getting Squashed: A Lesson in Time Management and Organization

For anyone that knows me personally, you probably know that I am the queen of overbooking myself and sprinting from one activity to another. While I do not encourage other people to take on jam packed schedules, I have been able to work out a few time management and organization tricks that will hopefully help anyone and everyone efficiently complete everything they want to in a day.

Let's hit organization first. When I'm talking about organization, I'm not necessarily talking about whether your socks are folded and arranged in neat little piles in your drawer. Organization (especially when it comes to career searches and school) is your ability to set yourself up for success because you have covered all your bases before ever entering an interview or a classroom. The best piece of advice I can give to any student or professional is to keep track of the things you do! Keeping a planner, jotting things into a Google Calendar, or having a notebook with your daily accomplishments can make a huge difference!

Here's how I have applied these ideas to my life. Ever since high school, I have kept a planner to manage all my classes, appointments, homework assignments, projects, tests, etc. Depending on who you talk to, the idea of keeping a planner is either seen as an essential or a waste of time. In my case, I think I'd forget to do a whole lot of things without a planner. The more you have going on, the more a planner seems to be an asset to your day. On any given day during school, I can check out my planner to figure out what my #1 priorities are for the day in order to get work done. Once I know what I need to attack for the day, I can decide how I want to space out my time. If I know I have to accomplish a lot in an evening. I'll avoid scheduling any other activities, get over to the gym early, and space things appropriately so that I have enough time to take a small break in between activities to catch my breath.

The way I use this method at work is to keep a notebook with everything I get done during the day. Obviously, I'm not going to put "Peed 6 times and chatted with my officemate for 24.5 minutes", but I will put down if I finished a spreadsheet, called someone to get critical information for one of my projects, or attended certain meetings. Doing this will help set you up for productive reviews with your boss and also works great for helping you remember what all you've accomplished if you feel like you've gotten stuck in a rut.

This brings up to time management. I had a discussion a while back with a friend about prioritizing time in two different ways. One way is to give yourself a list of things to do for the day knowing that each thing will take a certain amount of time and just take each thing down one at a time. The other way of organizing your time is outlining your day almost minute-by-minute and saying that you may have 1 hour at the gym, 4 hours of class, 2 hours to finish your thermo homework, etc. Either method works depending on how you like to divide up your time. Personally, I like the first method. It may not always be the most efficient, but it seems to keep me from getting so overwhelmed with what I have to do when and I'm more likely just to sit down and tackle a whole mess of things.

The next step to mastering time management and organization is figuring out your priorities. What is going to be most important to get done in your day? Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in small details that we are unable to focus in on the things that are essential to our day. When planning your time, think about what you truly need to get done in the time you have available. Some days that is actually going to be realxing and taking time for yourself and other days that is going to be spending 4 hours in front of a computer at an EB lab and knocking out a lab report. It may occasionally be frustrating to face the fact that today is just going to be a very tough day, but dealing with one tough day is generally way better than scrambling through an entire night trying to get something done and losing sleep.

One tip I have for anyone with lots of projects on their plate or tests coming up is to break everything into manageable pieces and attack the entire project over time. Giving yourself several days and knocking out material in small portions can be a huge asset to your ability to get things done. Instead of spending an entire evening trying to finish a project, it is way less stressful to work on it over several days. You're also way more likely to get things done on time and save yourself from losing some serious sleep.

The final piece of advice I'd like to extend is making time to do the things you want to do. I've talked to a lot of people who tend to say "No, I can't, I don't have enough time." Okay, I understand if you're just flat out too busy to do something, but that's not always a passable excuse. If you aren't using your time wisely and are thus missing out on great opportunities, you may want to rethink your approach to time management. Even though I'm busy, there are things I'm almost always willing to make time for. Even in the worst semesters, I have made time to communicate with family, get in solid workouts at the gym, or even take walks with friends or family member to just cool down my stress levels.

The moral of the story is that time management and organization are HUGE assets to your ability to get the things you have to do done so that you can start focusing on the things you want to do. There's always going to be times where your life feels like a mad house, but if you set yourself up and cover your bases, there's a solid chance you'll survive your busy days. Also, if you stay open to continuously re-examining your priorities and maintain a positive attitude, you are almost guaranteed to make a dent in your day.

Like always,

Good Luck Job Seekers!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Commercial Break: The Fall Blog is Coming!

Believe or not, there are only 28 days left until the Fall 2009 semester begins!

As soon as school arrives, I will be shifting gears a bit to weekly themed entries. For example, one week I'll be focusing completely on resumes, another on interviewing, another on networking, etc. Start tuning in each week to get your dish on some great career search tips and advice!

Did I miss something you're wondering about? E-mail me at to ask specific questions relating to career development. Want to talk to someone in person too? Stop by the Center for Spartan Engineering at the MSU Engineering Building (at the corner of Shaw Lane and Red Cedar) to meet up with one of our advisers!

Get excited everyone! The Fall Blog is coming! : )

When Squirrels Attack: The Freshmen Survival Guide

This week's entry goes out to all of the "youngsters" who will be entering college this fall. Just to make it clear right away, to the best of my knowledge, no one has actually been attacked by squirrels on MSU's campus or any other campus that I know of. Do not fear the MSU squirrels. As long as you're not covered from head to toe with peanut butter, you shouldn't have anything to worry about.

Continuing on, I'd like to focus on a few main points that will help incoming freshmen prepare for college and especially for starting their exploration of the job market. I know it seems like it may be too early to start thinking about jobs, but the sooner you get your basics down, the better. Honing your networking, interviewing, and resume skills now will help you stand out sooner and help enrich your college experience.

Not sure where to start? The first step is to figure out where you are now and where you'd like to be in the near future. Here are some questions you should be asking yourself:
  • Do I have a resume?
  • Do I know how to write a cover letter?
  • Have I ever interviewed before?
  • Do I know what kind of major I'd like to have in college? If so, what kinds of things am I interested in relating to that major that I look into to get more information about my major?
  • Do I know who my adviser is? Have I been in contact with them yet?
  • Do I have any extracurricular interests I'd like to pursue at school? Are there any clubs or organizations that cater to my interests?
Once you've gone through these questions, your next step is going to be finding ways to find out the things that you don't know, but will hopefully learn over the next few months. College is a great opportunity to focus on what you WANT to learn and less on what you HAVE to learn. There are always going to be classes that you aren't 100% happy with, but for the most part, your college education should include subjects that you enjoy on some level or that you at least feel are valuable to your future. On a side note, if you seem to be majoring in things where course numbers will never be flip cup or power napping and only minoring in things like math or economics, maybe it's time to re-evaluate your goals.

Some great ways to answer these questions are by asking questions. Find upperclassmen, advisers, faculty members, and other students who have experience in any of these subjects. If you have never heard of resumes before and don't have a clue what a cover letter is, stop by one of the many career services centers on campus and find out. There's a solid chance that someone will be able to tell you then and there or at least direct you on the right path. If all else fails, ask me!

Another aspect of making the most of your college experience is getting involved with extracurricular activities. This is a great way to make new friends, try new activities, and spend time participating in activities you enjoy. For example, if you have been a huge fan of break dancing for years, but never really had a chance to try it, there's actually a club on campus for people who love to break dance! Seriously! This applies for a lot of other things, too. You can play intramural sports, join professional organizations based around your major, and if there's not a group that fits your interests, you can even register your own student organization. Cool, right?

I know this doesn't give a whole lot of specifics on how exactly to survive your first year at school, but the first step of your college career is going to be to define what you'd like it to encompass. One thing that I can guarantee about your college experience is that if you make an effort to grow and learn something new every day, week, and semester, you will never be disappointed with your experience.

In summary, this is the time to start figuring out what you'd like to do to learn. Before you know it, you will surrounded by hundreds of people who are going to contribute to your academic education and your education in life.

Welcome Future Spartan Job Seekers!

And watch out for squirrels. ; )