Thursday, February 4, 2016

Career Myths Debunked!

By Peer Advisor: Trish Vega

Ever thought about your future career and felt a tiny bit (or a lot-a-bit)... well… exasperated? I think we’ve all been there at one point or another. But worry not, perhaps I can help ease some anxiety. In this post, I will debunk three common career misconceptions in order to help you look at your future career not with nervousness, but with excitement!

Myth #1: My major dictates what kind of jobs I will get.
Contrary to popular belief, what you major in does not necessarily lock you into a specific industry. In fact, (with the exception of careers that require highly technical skills and knowledge such as engineering or medicine) it is possible for almost any major to find a fulfilling career in any industry! I actually know of a family friend who happily works as a Marketing Analyst at AAA, and he graduated with a music degree. The fact of the matter is, your skills and what you learn from your experiences are more valuable than your specific major. Focus on those, and you’ll be surprised at the multitude of opportunities that open themselves to you!

Myth #2: I have to know it all to get the job.
Most employers don’t expect you know you every single aspect and duty of a given job when considering hiring you. This is why it’s very important to take into account transferable skills. These skills are qualities such as creativity, good decision making, positive energy, and confidence. You can take these skills with you wherever you are in your career journey, and they will help you be adaptable and open to learning on the job, which is very valuable to employers.

Myth #3: I need to find the one perfect job for me.
Your perfect job is going to look different depending on where you are in your career journey. What might be piquing your interest now as a college student may be wildly different as you gain more experiences under your belt. It is also possible to explore multiple avenues at the same time. I have another friend who travels the country as a speaker, but also has taken time in her career to write for blogs, do service work, and record a jazz album! Another great example is entrepreneur, video blogger, entertainer, educator, writer, philanthropist, and musician Hank Green. He is another highly successful, real-world example of how you can succeed in having your career being made up of multiple paths. The possibilities are endless!

Hopefully some of these demystified misconceptions can ease your view of the career world. The world is your oyster, and here at Toppel we aspire to help you explore your future with optimism and excitement!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

So Much Free Time!

By Marian Li, Toppel Peer Advisor

You’ll soon be saying sayonara to the balmy Miami weather and saying hello to actual winter wherever you call home. While you’re on break over the holidays, it’s easy to get into a lazy mode where you sit around doing nothing with your days, letting them mesh into one long continual nap fest where the days lose their names. While there is some value in taking a breather and relaxing, there is only so much rest necessary and, to be fair, you have other, more important things to do. Make the most of every moment; you’ll be happy you did once you’re back into the swing of second semester!

Update your resume Regardless of where you are in your job search, use this spare time to create or update your resume. Did you learn a new skill in any of your classes this semester? Consider adding your relevant coursework and updating your grade point average as well. Did you work last semester? Include any work experience and add versatile details. Also add any volunteer work you did, or if you were an active member of any clubs. Your resume is the key to applying for internships and jobs, so you want to keep it up to date and looking its best.

Find a short-term internship – Put your time off to good use with a short-term internship. Inquire about internship opportunities during break at your career center and by searching for internships the same way you would during the semester. If you aren’t seeing anything available, try and make your own internship opportunity. Spruce up your resume, research nearby companies you’d like to work with, and send them a standout e-mail detailing what you’re looking for and what you can offer them. Explain why you want to intern at that specific company during your break and why you’d be a good fit. If neither of the above works, get a head start on your spring semester or summer internship search. Start researching companies and keeping track of internship opportunities.

Shadow an employee in your desired field – If you can’t intern at a company, find out if you can shadow an employee for a period of time. Shadowing an employee is a nice way to get a glimpse into the career – what a typical day entails, what’s required of employees, and what the atmosphere is like. If you are certain of what you want to do, this is a fantastic opportunity to see what skills you could work on now to improve your job search. You can learn specific computer programs or other skills you see in use, and figure out which personal attributes are needed for the job. On the other hand, if you’re still not sure what career path is right for you, shadowing workers in a few different industries could be your chance to see what various jobs are like and help you make a better decision.

Volunteer – The holiday season is all about helping those less fortunate, so it’s a great time to volunteer. Besides giving back to your community, making a difference in people’s lives, and forming friendships with fellow volunteers, it’s a great way to build your resume and to gain experience for scholarship applications. You might also consider doing something that could add specific, valuable experience to your resume.

Apply for scholarships – If there ever was a time to apply, it’s now! You don’t have to spend the entire break applying for scholarships, but even if you devote a few hours to your scholarship applications, it’ll make a world of difference.

Ultimately, your break is yours. Take the time to relax and catch your breath! But don’t forget to remain productive; it’ll make it easier to transition back in the springtime. Until then, happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Managing your Busy Life

By Lindsey Shanck, Toppel Peer Advisor

Juggling classes, a job, an internship and whatever else you might have on your plate can be extremely stressful. It can feel like you have a million tasks to complete each day with little time left for yourself. Although it would be nice to sit back and relax, remembering that college is for exploring career paths and discovering your interests makes you want to take on new leadership roles, more classes, and join more clubs. BUT it is so important to take a step back and realize that you will never be able to discover your passions if you are too overwhelmed! This is why learning how to manage your responsibilities is a necessary skill.

1. Keep Organized

Make sure you are regularly checking up on your emails and calendar. It is so easy to forget about returning an email to a professor, miss a meeting because you forgot to put it in your calendar, or get behind on class readings because you didn’t jot them down in your calendar. Create a plan (like checking your email 3 times a day) and stick to it.

2. Create a Routine

Each week your classes remain the same, but your other obligations may not. Maintain a routine that you follow each day. Plan out the night before or the morning of, any changes that you may need to make because of an important meeting or errands that your need to run.

3. Block Out Distraction

When you are doing homework, studying, or preparing for an interview, turn your phone on “do not disturb” and do not open social media tabs on your laptop. Even just hearing the little buzz of your phone signifying a text can create a 5-minute pause from your work.

4. Remember to Allot Time for Yourself

You will not be able to achieve a high-test grade or land the perfect job if you are running on four hours of sleep and fast food. Create time in your schedule to exercise, eat a good meal and even take a nap if you need to. Your body and mind need time to recharge, and you will feel the difference.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Interviews Are Two-Way Streets!

By Trish Vega, Toppel Peer Advisor

Interviews can be nerve-wracking. There can be so many things to keep in mind in order to help sell yourself to your interviewer:  Am I sitting up straight? I gotta make sure I’m not using too many “ums”! Am I talking too fast?

But we can chill a little bit and take some pressure off. In a way, you are an interviewer too! Interviews are a great way to figure out if a company or position is a great fit for you and your professional development. Here’s how to make sure your potential opportunity can be a place for you to thrive.

It’s a Conversation, Not an Interrogation

Often, an interview can turn out to be a rattling off of questions and answers. Take this opportunity to make your interview time more of a conversation! For example, if your interviewer asks about your experience with writing blog posts, don’t be afraid to follow up with a question about what the company’s goals and aspirations are in terms of audience engagement. This will help you in a few ways: it would give you an insight to the company and how they work so you can discern if it is an environment for you, and it would also show that you have an interest in the company, making you more appealing to the employer. Additionally, this can help establish a rapport between you and your interviewer and leave a good impression.

Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

As your interview progresses, be on the lookout for any tidbits of information that signal what the work environment of the company is like. Do they mention travel? Overtime? Opportunities for advancement? If so, see if you can ask a question to get more information on those topics! With that in mind, here are some other questions we recommend asking to get a feel for whether a company is the right fit for you.

What qualities are you seeking in a candidate?
How would you describe the organization culture?
What are the best things about the job and the most challenging parts of this position?
What opportunities are there for me to develop?
What does a day in the office look like?
What goals do you have for the person who will serve this job?

Happy interviewing!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Time to Apply for the Summer Internship

By Melissa Wyatt, Toppel Peer Advisor

It’s that time of year again – time to apply for a summer internship. With many application deadlines fast approaching, here’s a quick checklist of how to perfect your applications and find an internship.

1. Visit the Toppel Branding Lab

You can visit the Toppel Branding Lab Monday – Friday, 9 AM – 4:30 PM to help perfect your resume and cover letter. You don’t need an appointment, and can solidify your application materials by critiquing them with a Peer Advisor. When applying for a competitive internship program, you need your application to stand out.

2. Ask for letters of recommendation and references now – don’t wait!

Ask for letters of recommendation today! You won’t be able to get a great recommendation if you wait until the last minute. Whether your application is due December 1st or February 1st, reach out to former employers and professors now about writing you letters of recommendation. Even if an application doesn’t ask for recommendations or references in the first application round, still reach out to potential references now. Stay in touch with them throughout your internship search, and ask their permission to use them as a reference if needed.

3. Practice your interview skills with a practice interview

You can schedule a full practice interview with Toppel’s professional staff at (305) 284-5451. In just one hour, you can have a practice interview specifically tailored to your field, and you will receive detailed feedback about your interview performance. If you’re pressed for time, drop in for a 20-minute mini mock interview and assessment with Toppel’s Peer Advisors. Both options will help you learn how to answer the tricky questions interviewers might ask, and will teach you how to sell yourself to an employers.

4. Use Handshake to look for an internship

Last but not least, log onto Handshake and use Toppel’s job search feature at Through your Handshake account, you have access to the 2,000+ jobs and internships that employers advertise through Toppel. Once your online resume is uploaded and critiqued by our staff (3-5 business days), you can even apply for an internship directly through Handshake.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Why you should take an Introduction Business Technology Class

By Madison Bowden, Toppel Peer Advisor

Business Technology is expanding and dominating not only the business world but also playing a role in almost every work field. Learning the basics to hardware infrastructure and network infrastructure is almost a necessity in this day and age. An introduction to Business Technology class allows you to use technology to your benefit. With an introductory background in Business Technology one can access and create information that is vital in this world.

Albert Einstein once said, “ It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” So why not become knowledgeable in one of the dominating forces of today’s society when it comes to news, media, and ethical standards. Technology allows you to express yourself in a way that could be a selling point for employers. Nowadays, technology can be used to create a personal show and tell of skills by creating your own personal website, personal LinkedIn Page, or even creating a new tool such as an application on your smart phone!

However, without the knowledge of how to make your digital footprint it is hard to make a very big impact. The power of search engines and other technological parts of computer software play a big role in how you can display yourself in an efficient, innovative manner. I encourage everyone to take a Business Technology class to expand their horizons.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Do You Belong?

By Marian Li, Toppel Peer Advisor

Each company is defined by it, but not many know it by name and many don’t even know it exists! An important attribute when considering future employment options is the company culture, the DNA, if you will of the organization.

A company’s culture is the only truly unique identifier. Products and strategies can always be duplicated. Your company culture defines the way in which your organization interacts with one another and how the team interacts with the outside world. It’s the formula that guides the team, as well as inspires and motivates employees. When companies are going through the recruitment process, they’re not only looking for qualified individuals, but also individuals they want to work with in the future.

It’s not uncommon for job seekers to enter organizations without understanding the culture and come away disappointed. When considering a new prospect, be sure to investigate the institution’s culture! Consider these questions to guide you:

What should I learn? – Understand the organization’s purpose – not just what they said they’re doing, but how their purpose leads to decisions and what makes them proud. Learn how the organization operates. Different purposes and different organizational features can be more or less appealing to different people, and that’s okay! No two people in the job market are the same. When you understand how the potential employer operates, you’ll need to consider how well that matches your goal. Your target organizational culture is an important part of your aspirations.

How should I learn? – Read everything you can about the institution, but read with a critical eye. Read in between the lines, all the formal vision statements are filled with buzz words, but what do they mean? Discuss culture with people in the organization; see what it means to them. You’ll talk to people in the interviewing process. But you may learn different things if you meet others there that aren’t involved in your recruiting process. Their different experience with the institution will affect their views, so ask about situations where they’ve seen the culture in action.

When should I learn? – It’s hard to learn about culture at such an early stage in your search, but your impressions can guide to you your ideal workplace. Culture may come up in job interviews, although it may be complicated to do much investigation when you’re trying to sell yourself. People sometimes worry that discussing culture might make people uncomfortable and put a job offer at risk. The culture topic isn’t entirely off base and it’s necessary to know for future growth in the company.

If this culture concept is hard to grasp, just think back to the time when you were considering which college to attend. Why UM? The strong athletic department? The diversity that defines our campus? The love for the alma mater during this Homecoming season is a good time to reflect on our own school culture so Go Canes and get some soul searching done!