Thursday, August 13, 2015

How much do you value your reputation?

By Anna Kenney, Assistant Director, Internships 

As a society, we are conditioned to assign value to things based on our experiences with them. Ex: “That restaurant on South Beach is great, because I saw a bunch of celebrities there. “ Or “The Grove is horrible, because I got a flat tire once.”

We also associate value, very often, by what others have told us about that particular thing. Ex: “That professor is amazing, my brother took his class and it changed his life.” Or “The staff member working at the dining hall is so nice; my roommate told me they gave her candy the day before her biggest final.”

All of these examples can be tied back to the reputation of an establishment, location or person. This reputation could be the deciding factor on how you perceive that person, place or thing forever.  The same can be said for us as individuals. One interaction can change a person’s opinion of you, change their perception of how capable you are and change their ability to see you as anything but that one interaction.

Developing a strong professional reputation is incredibly important and in the long run, as it relates to your career, it can prove very rewarding. A great reputation could mean multiple job offers, higher salary and better project assignments.  And guess what? You don’t have to wait until you have a full-time job to start working on your professional reputation. You can start NOW!

In the classroom
Show respect to your professors by being attentive in class. Visit them during their office hours so that they get to know you outside of class. Not only are they a huge wealth of knowledge, you never know who they know. They can be great resources for internship and full-time opportunities. They can also write some pretty amazing letters of recommendation!

Outside the Classroom
Get involved and work hard! It will make you stand out from the people who don’t. Take on leadership opportunities to master those “soft skills” such as communication skills, teamwork and problem solving.

Online
Monitor your online presence! You’ve heard it many times before, but it is a reality. Raise your hand if you Facebooked your first roommate when you found out who they were. You probably determined in about 45 seconds whether they were your new best friend or whether you needed to find a new place to live ASAP.  I can guarantee that there are some companies/organizations that will do the same thing to you the day they get your resume.

Get a LinkedIn profile! Start building connections today to help you get that J-O-B! Use it along the way to get advice from professionals in your intended industry (or to explore them if you haven’t found it yet).

Involve Toppel

Utilize the Toppel Staff to polish and market that wonderful reputation that you’ve established for yourself. Attend our workshops; come in for walk-in advising to tweak that resume. Sign up for a practice interview to secure that internship. Participate in on-campus recruiting to land that full-time job! 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

You're Welcome



By Carly Smith, Assistant Director, Career Education

Take the next 30 seconds to think of a reason why sending a thank you note is a bad idea.

How many reasons have you come up with? Probably very few or none at all. So here’s a little tip for you as you enter the world of interviewing: always send a thank you note after an interview. 

You might be thinking right now, “Yea, a thank you note is cute and a nice gesture, but is it that important?” The answer is yes, it is very important, and here are a few statistics that will show you why you are missing out if you’re not on the thank you note train, or you’re ahead of the game if you’ve been writing them. A survey done by CareerBuilder of hiring manager found these following statistics:

22% of employers are less likely to hire a candidate if they don’t send a thank you note after an interview. That is reason enough to me to send a thank you note, especially when I just put in all the time to prepare for the interview.

86% said that not sending a thank you shows a lack of follow through. I want employers to find me dependable from day one. To be honest, I probably mark dependability as one of my major strengths when I am interviewing anyway so why would I tarnish that reputation before even getting the job?

56% said it indicates that the candidate isn’t really serious about the position. If you made the time to interview for this organization, you probably have at least some interest in the role. Employers want to hire individuals who are interested and enthusiastic about the work that the company does. Sending a thank you note can show that.

Finally, 89% said that is okay to send a thank you in the form of an email, which is an amount I feel will continue to grow as more tech savvy generations enter the workplace and are put in hiring positions. When it comes to email vs. hand written note, I am of the mindset that time is of the essence. Make sure your thank you is received in 48 hours, and if you can hand write a note and have it quickly shipped to your interviewers within that time frame, then go right ahead.

To sum it up, thank you notes convey your interest, show that you are gracious that the interviewers spent time getting to know you, and a great way to leave a positive impression before the employers make their decision.

Final tip: Each person you interview with should get their own thank you note. A big group thank you is easier, but an individualized note can be personalized and seem more genuine.


Now it’s time for you to actually write the cover letter, so check out our letter writing guide online to get started.


Thank You Note Etiquette.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Art of Interviewing, from a Career Advisor’s point of view…

By Ali Rodriguez, Director, Employer Relations

Over the years, I have interviewed many candidates for full time jobs, student internships, and professional positions. While working in higher education. I've learned a few things about what works, behaviors to avoid, and how to make a lasting positive impression.

Step 1: The initial contact
When the recruiter calls you to offer an interview, make sure you have your list of applications close-by. I’m always surprised when a candidate doesn’t remember applying to the job I am calling about. Also, demonstrate enthusiasm. I'm not implying you want to scream with joy over the phone, but be thankful and let that person know you are looking forward to the opportunity. If the organization reaches out by email, this can be more challenging, but it’s nice when a candidate is excited about an opportunity and shows it.

Step 2: The interview prep
If the interview is longer than an hour, ask for an itinerary. This will allow you to see who you'll meet with and plan accordingly. Research every person you will meet with, as you may discover helpful information. Prepare different questions for each person you meet with, and show specific interest in his/her job and background. I'm always impressed when a candidate knows where I went to college or specifics about my job. This shows that time and effort went into preparing for the big day.

Step 3: The interview is here
You've probably read about behavioral based interviewing, which interviewers use to determine how your past behaviors indicate future performance. What’s the best way to get a handle on these questions? Preparing examples in advance is important, and you should have many scenarios to discuss at the top of your head. Most importantly, you also want to research how recruiters in your field conduct interviews. Will there be a case study? What are some of those brain teasers? Should you bring a portfolio?

This goes without saying, but be professional. Dressing the part is easy, but how you interact with team members is critical to a successful interview. With that being said, don't get too comfortable during the interview. If you get a sense that the office culture is warm and welcoming, that’s wonderful; remember you are still auditioning for the part. Don’t act like you’re a part of the team just yet, but demonstrate that you are a good fit and would work well with others.

Step 4: The follow-up
Please, write a thank you note.  This seems so basic, yet so many candidates don't do it. Sending an email is fine, and it's important to demonstrate why you are the best fit for the job and reiterate what skills you bring to the table. I've had candidates interview with a group of 3-4 people, and then follow up with a group thank you email. This doesn't allow you to personalize the note in any way.  Take the time to connect with each person and that really will go a a long way.

Step 4: The offer

We all know that it’s a candidate’s market right now. Don’t take advantage of this. Be polite, follow up on all requests to interview, and evaluate all opportunities fairly. In an ideal world, you will have multiple offers (this is a whole different blog).  Negotiating the process can be tricky, and I highly recommend you talk to an advisor at the Toppel Career Center about the process. We are here to help as you secure that job or internship and have valuable resources as you work to achieve your career goals.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Marine Corps Educator Workshop

By Betty Zambrano, Assistant Director, Career Events



This week I had the absolute honor to spend a week in Marine Corps Headquarters for the Educator and Key Leader Workshop. Located in beautiful Quantico, VA, about 45 minutes south of DC, Marine Corps Headquarters is the training ground for the future leaders of America's elite fighting forces.

As part of an effort to educate others on the challenges and rewards of joining a military, the U.S. Marine Corps invited groups of educators from around the country to participate in lectures, listen to panels and even perform training exercises!

The U.S. Marine Corps recruit students who embody the virtues and values of great soldiers and great citizens. Those interested in joining the ranks as an officer have several options to serve, either through the Platoon Leaders Course (undergraduate students) or the Officer Candidates Course (college graduates). Each option gives candidates the opportunity to prove their mental agility, physical fitness and above all, their ability to lead in times of uncertainty.

This is done through a combination of physical training, mental preparation and studying the logistics and techniques that govern a specialized arm of the military. As a guest of the USMC workshop, I had the opportunity to simulate some of the physical activities like the Leadership Reaction Course and a brief session at the Martial Arts Center for Excellence. We were also treated to a once-in-a-lifetime helicopter ride with HMX-1 pilots (those who pilot the POTUS helicopter) and a simulated infantry patrolling mission. As a civilian, I felt honored and inspired by the sense of purpose displayed by each and every one of our Marine escorts.

To learn more about the benefits of a career in the U.S. Marine Corps, please reach out to our University of Miami Officer Recruitment Officer, Capt. Cipriano Rivera. He is reachable at Cipriano.rivera@marines.usmc.mil or at Fall Career Expo on Friday, September 18th! 



Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Bilingual Advantage

By Betty Zambrano, Assistant Director, Career Events



Living in South Florida is a constant reminder of how crucial it is to be open to other cultures and especially other languages.  Miami serves as the most important commercial and cultural link to Latin America and as a UM student, all you have to do is walk down to the local bakery or make your way to the beach to hear a flurry of foreign languages.  If you were not able to learn or practice another language in your childhood, living in Miami during your college career is the perfect place to pick up at least the basics of Spanish, Portuguese, French, etc.
The advantage of knowing the basics of a foreign language stretches far beyond cultural appreciation.  In fact, this could have a significant effect on the rest of your career. In an increasingly interconnected global market, this skill could be the spark that catapults you above the rest.  Check out some of the added benefits of sticking to your Mandarin minor!

1. Makes you a more marketable candidate:  Bilingual employees are widely sought after by every industry, from engineering to communications.  And not only in major cities like Miami, but across the U.S. and abroad!  I remember a friend who did Peace Corps in Tanzania found a job in Kansas working with African refugees in the area.  You can bet that his resume was at the top of the list when the employer realized he was fluent in Swahili!

2. You can negotiate higher pay:  Not only will you be more qualified to land a job in a highly competitive job market, but you can leverage your knowledge to negotiate an increase in pay.  As a bilingual employee, you are able to offer not only language skills, but often times a cultural competency that other candidates are not equipped with.  The right employer will recognize, value and be willing to offer higher compensation for that.

3. More employment opportunities.  Depending on your proficiency, you can use your language skills to take on a second job or create your own freelance business.  If you are a college student looking for extra cash, what better way than charging for tutoring and translation services?  These non-traditional options can help you make money while giving you the freedom to create a schedule around your classes and activities. 

Taking on a second language can be time-consuming and require concentrated effort on your part, but it is one of the most valuable skills you can offer over the course of your career.  Take advantage of living in a multicultural city and explore the world of languages available through UM or community classes!

Have you ever been in a situation where you were grateful to be bilingual? Share your experiences in the comments!




Thursday, June 25, 2015

Welcome to Handshake - Toppel’s New Way to Find Jobs and Internships!



By Jordan Adams, Assistant Director of On-Campus Recruiting

At the Toppel Career Center, we are always searching for innovative ways to provide the best experience to all of our students and employers. As a result of this mindset, we are excited to announce our transition to a new career management system beginning on Monday, June 29, 2015, powered by Handshake. The new system is a modern career services management platform that empowers you to efficiently connect with employers and search for jobs and internships to launch your career. 

Handshake is a modern and intuitive career platform that resembles many common social media websites.  Through social networking technology you will be able to quickly connect to classmates, career resources and events on the go and be connected to recruiters from around the country. 

Just by signing on to Handshake you will have already made some great steps towards finding your dream job or internship.  You can make yourself viewable to employers so that they can reach out to you directly and you can use the system to search for opportunities on your own.  You can also request an appointment with a Toppel Career Advisor, upload important documents like resumes, and checkout upcoming events.  


Make sure to check back regularly over the next few months as our UM career community grows and the system gets into full swing!  

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Living Your Passion Even When You’re Not Sure What It Is

By Brian Reece, Associate Director, Assessment & Communication

When I was younger, I remember being told all sorts of things about what I should be (and who I should be, for that matter) when I “grow up.” Now that I’m all grown up, I still don’t really have a concrete answer to this question. It gives me anxiety from time to time—maybe I’m just in denial--but I’m slowly coming to the realization that I don’t have to be just one thing. It’s okay not to know what I want to be when I grow up. As I move ever closer toward my 30s, I can see how all of this education, regardless of the name of the field of study, the major, or the framework, influences me in countless ways.

I wound up in a job doing assessment and communication for a career center. To many of my colleagues, this is an odd sort of mix. But then again, I’m an odd sort of mix. I have degrees, minors, and certificates in English, Spanish, Music, Higher Education, Nonprofit Management, Prevention Science, and Counseling. In other words, I’m a writer, a translator, a musician, an educator, an organizational manager, a data analyst, and a helper by training, and this is exactly what I now do as my full-time job. Interesting how it works out.

I ended up where I am today not because I chose a straight and narrow path toward a specific career, but instead because I explored a variety of options, developed expertise in multiple areas, and was open to the possibilities, including those that didn’t yet exist or that I didn’t yet understand. Whether you’re an incoming student, a senior getting ready to graduate, or an alum with years of experience, here are some tips for living your passion even if you don’t know what it is yet:

Explore anything and everything. If it excites you, learn about it, practice it, and get good at it. If it scares you, dive right on in anyway. If you think you’ll hate it, find out if you’re right! Your experiences define who you are and your attitude about engaging in new opportunities defines who you’ll become.

Don’t make a decision (yet). It’s okay to be unsure! You may be unsure because you don’t have enough information—so do whatever you can do learn and gain experience. You may be unsure because you have too much information—so take time to reflect and digest it all. You may also be unsure because all the options sound great—so think creatively about ways you can have both/all instead of just one or the other.

Prepare for change. Things don’t always go as we planned. In fact, they rarely go exactly as we planned. Preparing for uncertainty means having contingency plans, but it doesn’t mean you can’t commit wholeheartedly to Plan A. It just means that you’re ready to go with Plan B or C or D if the original plan falls through. Or if you’re really creative and you like Plan B enough, you might find ways to merge the two. Now that’s innovation!

Be open to living your passion outside of work. Each of us lives and operates differently. Some of us want our work to be a calling. Others of us want our work to support our calling. No matter how you live your passion and no matter what your passion is, remember that your work is or will be a huge part of it in one way or another. And be open to having many passions—enjoy life to its fullest!


You’re not alone. At the Toppel Career Center, we offer many different ways to explore your interests, values, skills, abilities—to learn what your passion is. We also have highly trained and motivated staff who can help you as you do. Take advantage of your network: friends, colleagues, mentors, professors, supervisors. And if you want help doing so, Toppel can help with that too!