Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Wishing you the very best for your holiday season! Hope your finals went well and you come back safe and sound from winter break!

Monday, December 19, 2011

‘Tis the Season! Holiday Guide to Top Interview Tips

Written By Pallavi Pal

It is the season for enjoying the holidays, gifts galore, amazing home cooked meals, holiday parties, and all things merry! Everyone is usually excited about the holiday season for the festivities and fun but as a college student the holidays can be a time for interviews and applying for jobs or internships. But don’t let these interviews ruin your holiday cheer! Here are a few tips that most don’t know (or do) for an interview!

1. Do your research before going to the interview
Just as you prepare before a holiday party or celebration, you want to make sure you have prepared before the interview. Having done your research you appear a more knowledgeable and eager candidate. You can start off by doing informational interviews with current employees so you can get the inside scoop on the company, position and/or department for which you are interviewing.

2. Know how to sell yourself
When interviewers sit through 20-50 interviews for a particular position, the answers they get start to become generic. To set yourself apart from others strategize on how you want to market yourself. (Look for our blog entry on Jan. 12 about Personal Branding). There are many different sides to a person and if you are cognizant of the type of person you want to portray to the interviewer, you can tailor the experiences and skills that you highlight during the interview to reflect that specific persona.

3. Practice before the real deal
Just as the famous saying goes, “practice makes perfect,” rehearsing possible questions and answers can make you less nervous for the interview and can also be a great way to avoid those awful filler words such as “er” or “um.” Also, some difficult questions may require you to think carefully to answer the question. If you practice beforehand, the interview process becomes smoother and you won’t need to have awkward pauses anytime you are faced with a difficult question. If you want to get a list of general interview questions so you know what to prepare for, please check out Interview Preparation page on

4. Chat up the Receptionist to get the inside scoop
So what can the receptionist really do for you? Well, the receptionist sits at the front desk everyday and they hear all the latest news and updates about what goes on in the office. Receptionists are a particularly good source of information mainly because they are willing and excited to talk to those who walk in to the office but also because they can be an untapped source of information. Moreover, the impression you leave on the receptionist can be passed along to the hiring managers through casual conversation. Some hiring managers would like to learn about how interviewees interact with others when they are not interviewing. Thus, hiring managers may ask receptionists about the behavior and attitude of the interviewees after the interview is over.

5. Have several questions prepared
Many disregard this piece of advice because they don’t think that their questions are being evaluated or have an impact. Questions should always be asked towards the end of the interview in order to not only show that you’re genuinely interested in the position but also to demonstrate the amount of research you’ve done. Stay away from questions that can be answered by simply looking at their website, questions regarding pay and compensation, and questions in which you ask them to tell you what type of candidate they are looking for. You want to ask them thought-provoking questions regarding recent trends in the industry, questions relating to strategy changes that the company is making or the department for which you are applying, and questions about the interviewer’s past experiences.

6. Bring several copies of your resume and thank the interviewer
This is a simple thing to do prior to the interview but it can leave a resounding impact on the interviewer(s). The reason we recommend to bring several copies is because sometimes interviews are held in a panel style or can be with more than one person. Bringing several copies of your resume can allow you to look prepared to handle anything. Moreover, you are supplying each of your interviewers with a copy of your resume without them having to share with another. Thanking them in person with a firm handshake towards the end of the interview can demonstrate your genuine appreciation for their time. These may seem like minute details, but these minute details can make you stand apart from your competition.

7. Send a thank you note
If you send your interviewer a thank you note, you may not automatically get the job offer but you will leave a lasting impression on the interviewer. It is a great gesture of appreciation for the time and energy they invested to interview you. Sometimes sending a handwritten note can mean a lot more to the interviewer than a typed, rather impersonal note.

To get more information on interviewing, please check on our Interviewing Skills Handbook and more blog entries on interviewing. Or you can stop in to Toppel for a Mini-Mock Interview that we offer to students on a walk-in basis!

Monday, December 12, 2011

How to Work Your Way Up the Corporate Ladder

Written By Pallavi Pal

So let us assume you’re a recent graduate and you have a job lined up. You’re excited and apprehensive about what the future holds but mostly you’re ready to get out into the workforce and make some hard earned dinero (especially in this economy). What do you have in life to worry about apart from getting the most of your penny pitcher Wednesdays and GroveThursdays?

How do you make sure a job that you’ve been preparing almost twenty-some years for lasts more than three days? Well, believe it or not even if you have just landed a job don’t think that you are out of the frying pan yet. There’s still a lot that you can do to be proactive about the keeping the position you have and moving up the corporate ladder.

Here are some tips to help you maneuver the corporate world and make the best of the opportunities in which you are placed.

1. Sweat the small stuff
Although it may not seem like it, the little things in life really do matter and make a difference. If you go above and beyond with the small things then you set in stone a great reputation for yourself. The small things can include double and triple checking a project or presentation to delivering it, wishing those in your office happy birthdays and anniversaries, and simply by paying attention to the details of daily interactions within your office.

2. Network within the company
Everyone always talks about the power of networking, and believe me it is not overrated. Networking may sound painful and time-consuming without a direct reward but in the long-run these networks and schmoozing tactics will get you those elusive positions that you would never have known without developing relationships within your office. A great way to start would be by having lunch with a different person in a different office per week. You can reach out to them via email about their work or through others within your department. Always remember to reflect a positive image of yourself by building relationships instead of pretentious simpering and scheming. If you need more advice and tips take a look at these previous Toppel networking blogs for more info: Get Your Game Face On and How to Network

3. Be passionate about what you do
You want to give off the impression that you care deeply about what you do. You want your enthusiasm and dedication to shine through your work. The best way to show your passion for the work is by 1) asking for more work when you have little to do and 2) take an initiative to learn about the industry and your job in your own spare time. Even though it means taking more time out of your personal life for work, learning more about your industry can make it easier to network with individuals higher up in your company by having more common ground to talk about and also can give you an edge in terms of coming up with new, profound ideas based on market behavior.

4. Be a leader
Be someone to take charge when the situation calls for it. Leaders are responsible, headstrong, mature, knowledgeable about the job and, most importantly, know how to generate creative, out-of-the-box ideas. If you act like a leader, everyone in your office will look to you for advice, support and help. When your superiors see that you are the go-to person, they will put you in a position of leadership as well.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Travel as a Student

By Marlo Wyant

All students should take advantage of travel opportunities while they are still in college. There are myriads of travel opportunities for college students that will never be encountered quite the same way again once they graduate. Unless you are like George Clooney in Up in the Air, once work begins and you are limited to just two to three weeks’ vacation time, your travel prospects become minimized. Traveling can broaden one’s cultural perspective, help learn a new language and discover interests not previously known. Whether traveling abroad or staying within the United States, there are many modes of participating in enriching experiences, many of which have scholarship and funding opportunities.

1.) Study Abroad

One of the best and more practical ways to gain extensive foreign travel experience is to participate in the study abroad program at the University of Miami or other partnering institutions of higher learning.
The University of Miami has an excellent study abroad program for students of all majors and varying language proficiencies. The U has partnerships with over 80 universities in 32 countries around the world, including Spain, the Galapagos Islands, and China. You have the option of studying abroad for a semester or up to one full year, all while gaining college credits towards your UM degree. With the world at your feet, why would you not take advantage of this opportunity? Check out the University of Miami Study Abroad Program at

Another program to consider is the Semester at Sea program by the University of Virginia. Semester at Sea is one very unique opportunity that allows college students of any major take university courses while living aboard a ship and traveling around the world. The trips can last as long as 111 days during the semester or as short as 20 days in the summer. Most recently, the Fall 2011 semester trip lasted 111 days and traveled to 14 different countries including Canada, Morocco, Ghana, South Africa, Mauritius, Panama, Vietnam and more. Check out the Semester at Sea program at

2.) Participate in a University of Miami Intersession Trip

The University of Miami is fortunate enough to offer international travel opportunities for students during its winter and spring breaks, while providing academic credit. Accessed through the UM Study Abroad office, intersession travels have several programs open to a variety of majors. This coming semester, there are sessions held in countries like Argentina, Italy, Panama, Peru, Spain, and England. Typically these sessions only last one to two weeks but expose students to the cultural diversity of the world and also provide them with three academic credits. Check it out at

3.) Travel with a Club or Competition

With nearly 180 clubs and organization at the University of Miami, there are ample opportunities to travel for competitions, community service projects, conferences, and sometimes for free. UM Alternative Breaks participates in community service trips each fall and spring semester to places like New Orleans, Detroit, and Los Angeles. Engineers Without Borders has had several major service project trips to Peru that were fully funded. The UM fencing club recently traveled to Philadelphia to compete in a national competition. Members of the Society of Women Engineers traveled to Chicago, Illinois for the national conference at nearly no cost and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers traveled to Anaheim, California at nearly no cost to the students.

With these eye-opening cultural experiences available, there is no reason why students should not be able to take at least one trip away from their home and the University of Miami during their student careers.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Creating an Online Presence

Written By Monica Page

When many people think of creating an online presence their mind automatically goes to creating a Facebook or LinkedIn page. Although social media can be a beneficial addition to your job search, it is also important to use other outlets to expand your reach. Whether it is creating a personal website or ensuring that employers are able to look at your complete employment history, using online components can simplify your job search and make it easier for recruiters to find you.

Online and Offline Components
It is important that what you present online and what you present in person are the same. Resumes have a certain amount of available space to fill with information. With an online version, it may be possible to extend the document to more than a standard page. Your print resume, which should not be longer than a page, can be tailored to a specific position. For example, if you are applying for a marketing position the resume you present should touch on your experience relevant to that position. If you have an excess amount of non-relevant experience, have the information readily available on your LinkedIn profile with a link to the page on your resume. This way, you are presenting the employer with the relevant experience first and if they want to know more about you everything is readily available to look through.

Central Hub/ Official Website
An easier and more creative way to develop an online presence is to create a simple online “landing page” for recruiters to access with links to all your various social networking websites and webpages. Free websites such as and allow you to create and edit websites that contain all of your social media channels and any additional information you would like to have. The benefit of using these channels is that they are both free and require no HTML or web design experience to manage. In the simplest terms, your personal website should act as an RSS feed for yourself. Blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr and any other relevant websites you may be a part of should be linked to your personal website. Recruiters don’t want to sit and type in every single social media URL you have, it is best to just provide them with a simple link that they can click through for all your information.

Visual Resume
This may be more along the lines of creative careers, but visual-based resumes are becoming more popular. Whether you create an infographic or chart chronicling your employment experience and skills, it is best if they are accessible online in addition to paper versions. The reason for this is to ensure that all the colors and graphical quality are seen in their best representation on a computer screen. Depending on the employer (or your own) printer, quality may be lost which could look bad on your part especially if you are applying for a position in advertising or graphic design.

Social Media
A simple Google search can reveal the content you post on social media, so it may be wise to just provide the links to the recruiters, especially if you are applying for a position in either marketing or communications. Social media is the double-edged sword where you are made to believe that what you post is private, but it actually isn’t. The best advice would be to either keep your social media channels clean enough that if an employer finds them and searches through them, they won’t be discouraged from hiring you or to just not have them at all. It may be heartbreaking to close your Facebook, but one misplaced photo from South Beach could make or break your job search.

It is possible to begin your job search without a proper online presence, but it will make you look a little dated. For careers in communications it may be expected to have personal websites and social media channels versus those looking for careers in the field of law and medicine. The benefit of the Internet and technology is that you can create and delete what you feel is and is not relevant to your job search. When deciding on what you feel you need, put yourself in the shoes of the recruiter and think of the best way to search for and obtain information on multiple candidates.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How to Network Part Two

By Pallavi Pal has a networking section for employers who want to network with UM students. If you login to and then click on the green “Networking” tab. Once you click the tab you will find a multitude of contacts that are populated based on the majors you indicate in your profile. You can reach out to these employers to get a chance to understand more about their company specifically and what kind of opportunities they have for you.

Another subscription through is Career Shift. This site allows you to find others listed on Career Shift in the same industry as you. It functions somewhat as a mentorship system because as you find those in positions that interest you, it would help to reach out to them to get more advice and feedback. After logging in you should hit the “My Contacts” button to start searching for professionals that are willing to give you advice. You can even search for UM alumni by entering “University of Miami” in the School Attended box. Make sure you put UM in quotation marks or you will get alumni from a variety of universities.

LinkedIn is growing in popularity as a new social media site which allows its users to connect with others in a professional sense. Starting out, you can add classmates, teachers and previous employers as contacts. However, you are able to utilize their networks to search for more contacts. Once you message them, you can build a relationship with them to help you either find more contacts in the field or find out more about the industry. One word of advice, personalize your message when you ask someone to connect on LinkedIn. Remind them who you are, and if it is someone you don’t know then tell them why you want to connect with them.

Also, there is a 100 page guide on Vault’s Guide to Schmoozing. Login through and then on the homepage scroll down “Career Insider: Vault Career Online Library.” After that make sure to click on “Guides” and hit the button “Career Topic Guides.” Under this category you will find Vault’s Guide to Schmoozing.

If you have more questions or concerns, please look over the networking guide for quick tips.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Get Your Game Face On!: How to Network

By Pallavi Pal

Game on! One of the easiest ways to get a job is by networking. It is especially useful in this economy, where employers are being more selective and the candidate pool can, at many times, be in the hundreds and near thousands. Many students think excelling in this is hard, however, like a game that takes a while to master, once you have mastered it networking becomes a piece of cake. That’s a sure fire way to learn to play the game right!

So what is networking? Networking is a fancy term for getting people to know who you are, building relationships and creating a so-called “network” people in your industry of choice. As a college student, you already have a network set up. Although you do not realize it, your parents, friends, classmates and teachers are automatically in this network. They know you, in some respect or the other, and they appreciate you and your skills. But how does one start networking on a professional level?

One of the most direct ways to network is through informational interviews. What is an informational interview? Informational interviews are meetings that you set up with individuals in a company, field or position where you have an interest and you get a chance to ask them questions and learn about the field. The great thing about setting up these interviews is that you are in control of the interview and you get a chance to put others in the so called “hot seat” to learn more about the industry and see if it is a good fit for you. Even though it may be daunting, setting up these sessions allows you to express an interest to someone in the industry and after meeting with them you are able to send your resume to them. More likely than not, they will have you in mind if a position opens up and a referral from an employee within the company will help you be offered an interview rather than if you had just sent in your resume and cover letter. For more tips on informational interviews and examples of questions you can ask please look at our Informational Interview Resource Sheet.

Now that you know how to network through informational interviews, how do you begin to even meet people with whom you can set up these informational interviews? Well, the easiest way is to simply reach out to others in a company that you want to work in or via LinkedIn. You can send them an email with a short description of you, your interests and career plans along with a request to meet with them for coffee or lunch just for a few minutes to learn more about the industry/position/company. Many times emails can be overlooked so a follow-up phone call may help.

Moreover, conferences can help as well. The recruiters you meet at conferences can give you feedback on what they are looking for in a candidate and what you can do to make yourself an ideal candidate. By getting their business card, you can follow up with them via email, send them a few questions and request to meet with them for a few minutes. Conferences can also be a time where you do on the spot interviews and certain companies may also offer you a job if they are interested. The Toppel Peers Blog has a great article on tips for attending conferences. Also, All Conferences has lists of industry related conferences.

Finally, when working at an internship or job, make use of this opportunity to network. Although you are working in one specific department or team, you can reach out to others in different departments in the company and set up coffee or lunch meetings with them. It is a chance to get to know more about the company, see if there are more fitting opportunities elsewhere in the company and also get a chance to build your network. Once you meet a few individuals a couple of times, you have developed a strong enough relationship to pass on your resume to them and see if they know of future career opportunities for you.

Although these are various ways to reach out to individuals in the industry of your choice and begin to meet with them, make sure to remember that networking is not a one-way street. The key to networking is building lasting relationships and the communication is a two way channel. The individuals you meet are not those that are only there to help you succeed but also you should help them in turn. As the famous saying goes “what goes around comes around,” make sure to offer your services when you can and others will be more willing and likely to help you when you need it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

2011 Most Valuable Intern Competition

Congratulations to the winners of the Most Valuable Intern Competition. View the winning videos below:

First Place: Pallavi Pal, SEO Internship with Moody's Corporation

Second Place: Monica Page, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Choosing the Right Employer or Option After Graduation

Written By Marlo Wyant

A job should be more than “just a job.” It is where you will be spending most of your time after you complete your formal education. In this current economic climate, it might seem difficult to be selective with your prospects for employment. However, if you do enough research, networking, and interviewing you will be able to find a job or alternative option that will match your goals or, at least, help you realize your goals.

Stay Honest throughout the Recruitment Process
When you meet with recruiters at career fairs, professional networking events, you might have the tendency to try to tell recruiters exactly what they want to hear. Regardless of the industry, if a job seeker at a professional networking event or career fair is asked by any given recruiter “What do you want to do?” The common reply is “I want to work in the “__your___” industry and a have strong interests in opportunities with “_your__” company. While this might make the recruiter suddenly take a greater interest in you, you should always try to be as honest as possible with your goals. This way, recruiters will be able to understand your aspirations and help you find a position that fits you, not just a position that you know they may have.

Don’t just accept any job
Once you have been fruitful in your job search and have one or more offers, it is now the time to think critically about what you now have on the table. Consider the total benefits in an offer package once you have received one. Make sure you are satisfied with both the actual nature of work and the company’s benefits such as Relocation, Health Care Insurance, 401(k), Pension Plans, and Vacation Time. Follow up frequently with the company recruiters, current employees, and your potential managers to discuss your future work assignments. Try to get a good picture of what your daily life at that company would be like. If it is at all possible, try to arrange for at least one site visit so that you may be granted the opportunity to explore the area and examine the office environment that you will be working in for the next two or more years. Another good resource in gaining company insight is This website allows current and former employees of a company to post anonymous reviews and salary information about their company.

If, after all of your completed research, you do not feel completely comfortable with the offer, you should not necessarily feel obligated to accept it. Before accepting the offer, you may want to consider if you have other potential companies where you might find opportunities. Another option to consider is if continuing your education would be a viable option. For many industries, graduate degree assist in making one more marketable and specialized, which allow one to find a niche in the industry.

If you find yourself in a Situation with Multiple Offers
Some individuals may find themselves in a predicament: two or more offers for employment. While this may seem like a great situation, it also can complicate the job-seeking process. The best way to tackle this dilemma is to make a thorough list of pros and cons. As mentioned previously, examine all aspects of the job, including salary, location, insurance, vacation time, and flexible working hours. Try to make a table that compiles these aspects of the job and see if there is a clear “winning” position. If you are still not sure, try to discuss the job with your prospective managers. Finally, having a second opinion is also helpful. Make a career advising appointment at the career center. At the University of Miami, the appointments are free and give you the opportunity to talk about your options with someone. Discussion with an advisor, who knows what to look for in an offer, may be the most beneficial in determining which job is the best fit for you. In the end, you can only choose one place of work. However, do not be afraid that the job you pick after graduation is your employment for life. The average American will change his or her career between 5 and 7 times in their lifetime.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Global Entrepreneurship Week

What if there were a global movement to inspire people everywhere to embrace entrepreneurship?

Since 2008, Global Entrepreneurship Week has been a rallying point for thousands of organizations working together to strengthen economies while changing the world around them. The Launch Pad at University of Miami has been the proud #1 US Campus partner for 2008, 2009, and 2010.

This year, GEW occurs from November 14 – 18, spurring new ideas, ingenuity and firm creation through more than 40,000 local, national and global activities. Leading the way is an interesting collection of activities, listed below.

Global Entrepreneurship Week will also include the 4th annual Elevator Pitch Contest presented by The Miami Herald. Open to both students and the community throughout South Florida, last year's contest awarded over $107,000 in prizes. This year we have over $116K in prizes.

Pre-registration is required:

Details for all of these events can be found online at
Reservations Required | (305) 284-2789

Friday, November 11, 2011

10,000+ Views of Nostalgia

We here at the Toppel Career Center feel that 10,000+ views is a glorious milestone, so we're going to pat ourselves on the back and share the love. As a thank you to all those who read (and as a shameless plug to ourselves), we have created a tiny compilation of our most viewed and shared posts so far. Take a trip down memory lane as we recap our most recent accomplishments:

Jam Your Way to A Perfect Resume
Written By Samantha Gil and Thaimi Fina
Hello loyal Toppel Peers Blog followers! We are Thaimi Fina and Samantha Gil and we serve as the Toppel Career Center’s Graduate Assistants. If you’ve come in for a resume, cover letter, or personal statement critique during walk-in hours, chances are you’ve had the pleasure of meeting with us (lucky you)! When we’re not busy critiquing students’ professional documents, we enjoy our time at Toppel by jamming to old 90’s classics at our desk. Therefore, we found it thoroughly appropriate to create a blog entry linking useful resume tips to our favorite 90’s hits. So come with us as we embark on a little musical journey to the past.

Read More

Interview Fight Club
Written By Monica Page
Fight Club, the nihilistic book and movie based on the problems of the early 2000s became a pop-culture staple as memorable as a pink bar of soap made out of body fat. Tyler Durden became the voice of a generation and introduced America to three important things:

1) Brad Pitt’s abs
2) The idea that you are not a beautiful or unique snowflake
3) The eight rules of Fight Club

Concerning number three, most people are pretty familiar with the first two rules, but the other six seem to get lost between The Narrator writing haikus during work and Marla Singer stealing clothes out of washing machines. Not only are the eight rules great material to quote from in everyday life (try it sometime), they can be manipulated to be beneficial in all kinds of situations. Today, you’re getting the eight rules for a customized, University of Miami Toppel Career Center sponsored Fight Club.

Read More

The Office Shows You How to Make The Most of Your Internship
Written By Thaimi Fina
Finally, summer is here! And lucky for you, you’ve just landed a great summer internship! You enrolled in the Toppel Internship Program (TIP) and you’ll be starting your internship in the upcoming weeks. Congrats on not spending the whole summer on your parents’ couch mooching off their free food and laundry service. We’re all very proud. So you’ve secured your internship, now what? Let us here at Toppel (with the help of my favorite TV show ‘The Office’) show you how to make the most of your summer internship experience.

Read More

A Deadly Case of SENIORITIS
Written By Priyanka Surio
Everyone gets it at one point in their lives and it can be very very contagious! All of us can admit to being exposed in high school when we got our acceptance letters to college and felt that we needn’t jump over mountains and under hoops to study for exams or work on projects. But according to CollegeBoard and USA Today, what is becoming more common as a result of this attitude is the alarming fact that “every year colleges rescind offers of admission, put students on academic probation, or alter financial aid packages as a result of "senioritis." Now the vicious cycle threatens to continue for us seniors or those graduating from Undergraduate or Graduate school.

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Employment, Mafioso Style
Written By Monica Page
Before we even begin one thing should be made clear: the differentiation between “gangster” and “gangsta.” This post is not about the life and times of 50 Cent or any other rapper with “thug life” tatted on their chest. What we are talking about here is an all-American institution. The movie roles that guarantee Oscars and the life choices that guarantee jail time for tax evasion, not murders or crime. This is the livelihood of Scorsese, the original famous Italians before Jersey Shore made “Guido” a household line. This is the Mafioso guide to employment.

Read More

Thanks To Everyone Who Has Shared and Read

Here's To 10,000 Views and 10,000 More

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Classically Prepare for a Job Upon Graduation

Written By Monica Page

Graduation is the time when you finally put your money where your mouth is. All these years of slaving around in the library and using every last cent of UPrint to finally get that research paper turned in on time leads to this. College is about the experiences, but above all it is about learning the skills to succeed in the future job market. Parents do not send their kids to college for them to just party; that is a by-product, but not the ultimate goal. When it comes to obtaining a job, the “golden prospect” is having it secured and in the bag before graduation. It is about having the chance to sign all the paper work, obtain the start date and relax to the best of your abilities before you shake Shalala’s hand and walk off the stage into your future. So what better way to explain obtaining a post-grad job early than to use movies that were released before you (and maybe even your parents) were born?

Stanley Kowalski: You know what luck is? Luck is believing you're lucky, that's all... To hold a front position in this rat-race, you've got to believe you are lucky. (A Streetcar Named Desire, 1951)

When it comes to talking about students who are able to obtain jobs before they graduate, it can be easy to consider them lucky, but it is so much more than that. Luck is more than catching a Hail Mary pass in football or making it to the shuttle right before it leaves. Luck is lining up everything you have done in your life to a point where, when you least expect it, everything comes together. Luck is not waiting until some glorious moment is beamed down to you from the heavens, but rather just existing in a moment in time where everything is going right. If you believe you are unlucky and fated to work in a minimum wage job, living on a pull-out futon in your mother’s basement for the rest of your life, you will probably end up that way. If you believe that waiting a couple of days, weeks or months for everything to come together, it will.

Philip Marlowe: I know he was a good man at whatever he did. No one was more pleased than I when I heard you had taken him on as your... whatever he was. (The Big Sleep, 1946)

The resume stands as a way to show employers who you are and what you are capable of before they meet you in person. It is the sum total of all the relevant experience you obtained in college from jobs to internships. It is very common for a recent college graduate to have a resume filled with multiple internship positions that have no connection to what they have finally decided to do with their life. The purpose of internships is to discover what you really want to do with your life, not to have a decision already set in stone. Additionally, you may not have had a clear position in the company, but rather just bounced around to whatever department you were needed, having a multitude of experiences for each position. When it comes time to apply to companies and get your life together, focus on shaping your resume and experience in way that makes you come off as a proper fit for the position. Small changes such as switching verbs to ones that are used a lot in the field can easily make a resume seem more attractive to specific positions.

Gilda: [to Johnny] You haven't been around lately. I thought maybe you were an amnesia victim or something. (Gilda, 1946)

The development of social media in the 21st century has barred people from claiming they forgot about someone. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other services all provide people a way to constantly keep in contact with others. The ancient Rolodex has now been moved online as we can easily go through all our connections to see who may be able to help us. As a basic lesson in formality, just e-mailing someone out of the blue makes you look bad and can easily be linked with using someone just for his or her connections. If you meet someone, whether as part of a job/internship or a basic networking event, that looks as though they may be beneficial in helping with you future career prospects, keep in touch with them. Make a good impression and demonstrate that you are valuable as a way to indirectly encourage them to keep you in mind when future opportunities arise.

Brick Pollitt: What is the victory of a cat on a hot tin roof?
Margaret "Maggie" Pollitt: Just staying on it I guess, long as she can. (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, 1958)

It can be easy to resign yourself to a less than glamorous position based on feedback from the current job market. Resigning yourself and taking a temporary position are two different things. Everyone needs to be able to support him or herself and if the “job of your dreams” is not available, you still need to pay off student loans and put food on the table. The interim “dead period” may be similar to traversing through Dante’s Inferno, but when you survive you will not only have money saved in the bank but also more experience to include on your resume. It should also be a noted that taking an interim position does not mean working in the first position you find, but rather using a little thought in trying to find something half-way decent.

Although having a job upon graduation is a marvelous, marvelous thing it is not an impossible feat. It is also not a requirement to be considered employable. Having a job before graduation allows you the freedom to have a little time for yourself to get your life together and take a breather before you enter the real world. If you are able to get a job before graduation, you go Glen Coco. If not, the apocalypse isn’t around the corner you still have time. Or at least enough time until the next Rapture date is announced… then you’re screwed.

Friday, November 4, 2011


Written by Oleg Ignatenko

What is LinkedIn? If you haven’t had a chance to check out this website yet, then you are definitely missing out. LinkedIn is a business related social networking site that was launched 8 years ago. Just imagine if Facebook and CareerBuilder morphed together and formed a site where you can network, but on a professional level. Gone are the pictures of you or your friends partying away and in are the pictures of you in a business attire ready to take on the future. LinkedIn allows you much more than just having the ability to look at an employer’s site and information, it allows you to connect and interact with the employer, former employees, colleagues and other organizations that might be looking for the talent that you may be able to present to them.

Let’s start with the basics. First sign up and fill out the requirements for profile access. You will have the ability to personalize you profile just the way you would want an employer to see it. Then, select the specific skills that you have acquired throughout your life such as typing, sales, knowledge of other languages, etc. This will highlight your resume by showing what kind of experience you possess and give the employer a better perspective as to how you could be a helpful addition to their company. You also want to add your education information such as where you go to college and what you majored in. Last thing you will need to do is list your former occupations, where they were located, your supervisor’s name, and the responsibilities that you were assigned.

Once you have completed all of these steps, you are ready for the fun part. Start browsing the website for new connections. These connections could be people you worked with from the past or possibly people that you are working with at the moment. It is very important that you add people that you know or that have some sort of affiliation with the field that you are pursuing a career in. Be careful not to overdo it. Numbers aren’t everything in this world. For example, just because somebody has 5,000 friends on Facebook, it does not mean that these are their actual friends. In reality they are most likely just a picture and no story. This is why you should be more selective when choosing new connections. Pick people and employers that you know can be utilized for useful information and that will have some sort of impact on your future. Whether they will provide you with some extensive information or possibly a recommendation or maybe even just somebody who can give you advice on how to go about doing something. You should connect with people that are more relevant to your career rather than those who might become more of a distraction. Also, when you request a connection to another member or group on LinkedIn, it is always good to send them a message letting them know who you are and why you want to add them as one of your connections.

Now that you have everything set up all you have to do is explore. Try to log on as much as possible and just browse and find out more about the site itself. Be consistent, do it on a regular daily basis. Even if it’s for 5 to 10 minutes, you should have no problem taking that small amount of time out of your daily schedule. Stay involved in what is happening around you, update your status regularly, check what your connections are discussing or browse for possible information sessions being held by companies or industries that you are interested in. Who knows what you might find in those ten minutes. Just look at it this way, by putting yourself out there you will allow your voice to be heard and your presence to be recognized by others. Remember it’s the same as going to a party, a music concert or some sort of an event. Just by showing up, you are half way there and anything is possible.

For additional information on LinkedIn you can also follow webinars held by Steve Green: the president of NetUpNOW which is a social media company. His info sessions are very helpful and will give you a deeper insight into LinkedIn and all of its possibilities.

Here is a link to Steve Greens LinkedIn account
Click Here

Here is an additional link that will provide information on why you should join LinkedIn and will give you some information on how to use LinkedIn to get ahead.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Trick or Tweet - The Halloween Guide to Twitter

Written by Carly Smith

October 31 is almost here. So, in the spirit of one of my favorite holidays and my newfound love of Twitter, here are a few tips to keep you safe and successful when you go “Trick or Tweeting” this year.

  1. Yes to outrageous costumes, no to outrageous tweets.

    Many people consider Halloween a time to get a little wild. Hey, when else can you walk around pretending you are Lady Gaga, a tanned Jersey Shore cast mate, or a certain embarrassing tweeting politician? Probably not so often… Unfortunately, the same idea does not work as well for your tweets. Shock value and comedy are not always best, especially when your tweets are public. Yes, in case you haven’t been told this a thousand times already, what you do on the internet is public. Not to scare you because it’s Halloween, but what is said over social networks can and has been used against seeking and current employees. This could include you… if you’re not careful. Just like your mom used to inspect all of your candy before you got to dig in after a successful night trick or treating, review what you wrote before you tweet. Is it appropriate, rude, potentially embarrassing? Think: Would I want my future or current boss to see this? If the answer is no, you probably shouldn’t tweet it.

  2. There’s nothing worse than no one “getting” your costume.

    This is the worst. You think you have the greatest Halloween costume idea ever, and then no one has any idea what you are. Because I try to get creative and make my own costumes every year, I’ve fallen victim to this time and time again. One year I was a pirate, but everyone thought I was dressed as a biker. Not a successful Halloween for me. Obviously, I need to be clearer on what I am trying to be. With Twitter, you also want your followers to “get” who you are. The simplest way to do this is in your bio. This is the perfect opportunity to let people know who you are, what you’re interested in, and what your goals are. Your bio can be clever, simple, funny, whatever… what’s important here is that it represents who you are. Your tweets should also be representative of how you want to portray yourself. For example, if you are thinking about going into the fashion industry, tweet and re-tweet interesting and relevant information about the field. Post pictures of your favorite trends and styles. This applies to every field. Share what is interesting to you and what might be relevant to others. This way, people will more likely to want to follow you. Who knows? These people might even be so impressed with what you have to share that when the time comes for you to search for a job, they will want to hire you.

  3. Trick or treat at the right houses.

    Let’s be honest. There were always those houses you avoided when you were trick or treating. These were the houses where you knew the owner was going to give you a granola bar instead of a chocolate bar or where you secretly thought the owner dressed like a witch was probably a witch in real life. On the other hand, there were also those houses you knew to definitely stop at. These were those neighbors who let you take 2 or 3 candies instead of one. When it comes to Twitter, you also want to make sure you are going to the best houses. What this really means is that on Twitter you have access to a ton of information. Some of it is pointless. Some of it is hilarious. But most importantly, some of it is extremely useful. While you can and should follow your friends and your favorite celebrities and comedians, remember that you should also be following people that will help you stay current in your desired career field. Because I want to work in Higher Education, I currently follow the twitter accounts of HigherEduTalks, HuffPostCollege, and others who tweet information that is relevant to my field. I get to stay updated with what is going on in the world of Higher Education which will make me more successful when I’m in the working world. If you are interested in working for the government, consider following If you want to go into the healthcare industry, why not follow nytimeshealth or WHOnews? You’ll definitely gain a lot of interesting and important knowledge from doing so.

  4. It’s okay to be a witch on Halloween, not on Twitter.

    Some of the best Halloween costumes are the scary and evil ones. The witches, zombies, and horror movie villains are always a hit. Still, while it might be fun to dress up like one of these terrifying characters on Halloween, it is not in your best interest to be the witch or villain on someone’s Twitter feed. When you start to tweet a lot about what you are thinking, it sometimes becomes easy to throw in the angry, annoyed, and occasionally rude thoughts that pop up in your head. We all have these thoughts. There is no use trying to hide that fact. However, just because you have a negative thought does not mean you have to share it with the world. It takes one spur of the moment tweet for you to offend someone. Also, if you’re constantly tweeting about the negative, people who follow you might then view you as a negative person. This also may hurt your image during your future career search.

Most importantly, social media, especially Twitter, doesn’t have to be as scary as some of the costumes you’ll see this weekend. Just remember to be yourself, think before you tweet, and have fun!

Toppel wishes you a wonderful and safe Halloween!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Pan Am Guide to Studying and Working Abroad

Written By Monica Page

Study abroad is the ability to explore a new culture while still enrolled in school. Although there are plenty of scholarships and grants to aid students “cross the pond,” it can still be a pain for many to afford the room, board and class credits. Waiting until graduation to go abroad can be a little stressful, but for some that is the only way to go without backpacking. Instead of spending all your money on a plane ticket to the “Old World” with no place to live and sleep, it’s best to take advantage of as many opportunities as you can.

Teach English
Although Mandarin and Cantonese may be gaining ground on the international learning front, English still remains the dominant language of business. When going abroad, it can be pretty easy to find a job teaching English, most likely in an Elementary school. There are two ways in which you can do this: you can obtain a certificate to teach English as a Second Language (most likely at a local college) or you can go abroad with various programs sponsored by international governments (the most well known is probably the JET Programme in Japan). The benefit of teaching English is that even if you don’t like children, you can also make money on the side teaching English to business executives and college students. Many of these side jobs involve no more than just speaking with other people in English for an hour.

HireACane Tip

Check out the following programs recruiting through HireACane!
EPIK (located in South Korea) and People Recruit

Go to a Country Where You Like the Language
Just like the stewardesses on Pan Am, knowing the language of the country you want to go to is very beneficial in survival. Since you are not going as part of a study abroad program, it is safe to assume that you have control over your final destination. If you enjoy Italy, most likely you have studied Italian either in a formal setting or as independent study. Knowing the language not only makes you a more attractive candidate, but it is also a way to improve on skills you have already developed. It is totally possible to go overseas without knowing the language and speaking in Lonely Planet phrases and do-it-yourself sign language, but who wants to be the uneducated American?

HireACane Tip

Established by President Kennedy, the PeaceCorps is a way for Americans to travel and give back to countries in need. Not only does it provide an entrance into a new culture and the ability to change someone's life, it also provides tuition remission and a paycheck. Check HireACane for updates regarding the PeaceCorps on campus.

Let the Company Pay For Your Relocation
If teaching English to mini-humans isn’t very attractive to you, there is always the option of working for a company that requires travelling or living abroad. Most likely the company pays for any expenses incurred while travelling and also relocation fees. Just like most things in life, after the “honeymoon” period is over, it is up to you to pay for your housing, food and regular expenses. On the topic of money, it is also intelligent to learn the exchange rate overseas. If you work for an American based company and they tell you your salary in U.S. dollars, make sure you figure out the exchange rate. Just because you are making five figures in the land of the stars and stripes does not mean you can live in the same comfort overseas.

HireACane Tip

Many companies allow for the chance to work and travel abroad. Check companies such as IBM, Proctor & Gamble, U.S. Department of State and CIA, all which recruit through HireACane.

Explore The Region You Move To
If you are going all the way to a new country, you may as well enjoy it. Don’t just go back and forth to work every day. For those who do “Teach English” programs the company usually has outing and gatherings for foreign and local workers. Just like moving from high school to college you will make friends and move away from them, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep in contact with them when you move back (if you do). Also, make sure you go off the beaten path when exploring your new country. Don’t be the person who goes to Paris and only visits the Eiffel Tower, because that is a total waste of an experience and people will look at you as if you aren’t worthy of traveling.

Become a Flight Attendant
Really, if you don’t want to teach English and don’t want to work for a company overseas, you can always become a flight attendant. I did use Pan Am as the subject matter for this blog post.

HireACane Tip

Log in to HireACane to access Career Insider by Vault's Guide to access information about flight attendant careers and other traveling based professions. When you are in your HireACane account, scroll down the main page until you see the link to Career Insider.

Going abroad is an opportunity that many people will never have the chance to take advantage of. You can also go when you get older, but who knows what your beliefs and ideas will be then. It’s best to go now while you are thinking about it and, even if it is only for a year or a couple of months, take advantage of what’s available. Plus, we are in a recession and backpacking through Europe is only for people from the ‘90s who had the opportunity to be economically stable and able to take the time off.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Consulting Basics

By Pallavi Pal

Consultancy is a fancy title for those who are paid to give their advice in their field of specialty. Although consultants exist in all types of industries, from health care to sports, management consultant positions seem to be a hot commodity for the recent graduate. With their high pay, great benefits, constant travel and not to mention the luxurious lifestyle, it is not a surprise that many choose this industry.

Management consultants or business consultants are those paid by large companies to help make strategic decisions for company’s internal processes, such as change in corporate structure, or external processes, such as entrance into different markets or industries. The consulting firms tend to look for analytical thinking and proper application of business processes that have been learned in a classroom environment and applied to real world examples. Also if you have a strong mathematical ability as well as intellectual curiosity, you could be the perfect candidate.

However, being the ideal candidate isn’t the end all be all. Acing the rigorous consulting interview is the end goal in this highly competitive process. Since this type of job is a hot commodity, the hiring process is far more competitive than an average job interview. Usually, the best and brightest find themselves receiving offers from consulting firms and only with a lot of preparation and practice can one navigate through these interviews effectively. Take a look at a few tips below to get yourself started.

Normally, the first round or the beginning of the interviews will be based on a generic interview prototype. Many questions will be asked to get you to talk about yourself and your past experiences. These are behavioral questions and if you follow the link below you can get more help on preparing for this portion of the interview.

The second part is the killer part of the consulting interview process. These will consist of a mix of case and estimation questions. This requires that you prepare yourself well in advance; some even start preparing 6-8 months in advance. Questions such as these will test your level of analytical reasoning, ability to work under pressure, ability to advise others as well as your mathematical capability.

For case questions you will be given a case that consultants typically work on such as a case regarding entrance of company A into a specific industry. You are expected to know how to effectively reason out the situation given a few pieces of information, make accurate assumptions and provide the interviewers with a confident response. They are not necessarily looking for the correct answer but rather a correct manner of approaching the problem and reasoning it out.

Furthermore, the estimation type questions are a little more abstract and require creativity in how you maneuver your response. An example would be “estimate how many shoes are sold in the U.S. each year.” Given no further information or assumptions, you are expected to come up with an answer with a pen and paper. Although daunting at first, practicing these types of questions will make responding a lot easier and pain-free. Usually one would respond by considering the possible assumptions for the question and estimating an answer.

Do you have any further questions? Well, you should! As an ever curious candidate, you should learn everything you can about the industry and prepare yourself fifty times harder than what you did to prepare yourself for the SAT. Learning about the industry and the type of questions is key and the best industry guides can be found on Since Toppel has subscribed on behalf of all UMiami students, the easiest (and cheapest) was to access it would be by logging into Then once you have logged in scroll down until you see “Career Insider: Vault Career Online Library.” After that click the “Industries” and type in “Consulting” and you will find a multitude of articles.

Moreover, read up on the case interviews, especially, Case in Point by Marc Cosentino should be your guidebook. Also, check out the following links for more guidance!

Case Interviews
Case Interview Frameworks
Nailing that Consulting Interview

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Special FourSquare Promotion

Starting today (October 19th), the Toppel Career Center will be holding two specials connected to FourSquare. The specials are:
  • When you check-in for the first time, you will unlock a special on your phone which entitles you to a free Toppel gift
  • When you check-in for a third time, you will receive free business cards
When you unlock the special, make sure you show your phone to the front desk to receive your free gift or fill out the business card order form.

For business cards, your resume must be approved on HireACane and is only available to Undergraduate students (FourSquare will inform you of this when you unlock it).

To participate, search for "Toppel Career Center" in FourSquare or click the icon at the top of this page. Good Luck!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Microsoft Tips to Help you Edit your Document in a Flash

Priyanka Surio

Ever wonder how to make life easier? Especially with when writing and editing Word documents such as your resume or cover letter? Well worry no more; below the Toppel Peer Advisors have compiled a list of Microsoft shortcuts that are easy to use, simple, and quick to learn. Stop trying to find out where the print preview button is or how to look through your address book in Outlook. Let these shortcuts reduce the time it takes to find things, after all Time = Money.


Word Documents
CTRL + B = Bold
CTRL+ P = Print
CTRL + V = Paste
CTRL + C = Copy
CTRL + I = Italics
CTRL + S = Save
F12 = Save As Dialog Box
CTRL + F12 = Open Dialog Box
CTRL+ U = Underline
CTRL+ SHIFT + < = Decrease font size CTRL+ SHIFT + > = Increase font size
CTRL + X = Cut the selected text or object
CTRL + Z = Undo the last action
CTRL + Y = Redo the last action
CTRL + N = New Document
CTRL + O = Open a document
CTRL + W = Close a document
CTRL + F = Find text, formatting, and special items
CTRL + H = Replace text, specific formatting, and special items
ALT + CTRL + I = Switch in or out Print Preview
F7 = Spell Check
Shift + F3 = Change the Case of letters (all uppercase, lowercase, case sensitive)
CTRL + 1= Single-space lines
CTRL + 2 = Double-space lines
CTRL + 5 = 1.5-line spacing

Outlook Email
ALT + S= Send an email message through Outlook
CTRL + SHIFT + B = Open the Address Book
CTRL + SHIFT + G = Create a message flag (for importance, due date)
ALT + P = Open the Microsoft Outlook Message Options dialog box and check the option of Request a Read receipt so you can see who is actually reading your email and who isn’t

CTRL + K= Insert a Hyperlink in a word document
ALT + LEFT ARROW = Go back one page
ALT + RIGHT ARROW = Go forward one page
F5 = Refresh

Check out even MORE shortcuts here:
Microsoft Office Shortcuts

Happy typing!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Why Attend a Conference?

Written by Marlo Wyant

A professional conference may sound like it is out of reach for undergraduate students, due to expense, distance, or registration costs. However, conferences can present both valuable networking opportunities and offer insight into the needs of a particular industry to all levels of education, be it undergraduate or post-doctoral.

Conferences are not as costly for students as you may think. Most professional organizations have special student or collegiate registration prices that are far lower than the professional rate. For example the Society of Women Engineers National Conference registration for student is discounted by 81% in comparison with the professional registration fee. The American Psychological Association Convention also offers a 76% discount to collegiate members. There are dozens of other professional organizations that also offer similar discounts to their student members. Additionally, campus organizations may also provide subsidies for their students to attend conferences.

If you are interested or curious in finding organizations and conferences related to your field of study, you can check out

Another benefit of these national conferences is that they often have career fairs of grand proportions. For example, the Society of Women Engineers National conference hosts a career fair of 240 companies and organizations focused on the field of engineering. Other conferences may also have such specialized career fairs. Career fairs provide excellent opportunities for job seekers to learn about new companies in a face-to-face setting, ultimately increasing the chances of finding a good fit for employment.

Some conferences focus primarily on the technical aspects of a particular industry, rather than pure career development. If this is the case, there are still numerous benefits for even inexperienced attendees. There are opportunities to network with professionals in the industry. Often times there are trade shows associated with the convention where different companies will showcase their products. The 2011 American Wind Energy Association Conference recently had over 1,200 booths. Although these events do not directly advertise available jobs, it allows prospective candidates to meet employees of those companies.

The second benefit of attending the conventions include the seminars and workshops. These sessions often provide insight into new trends in the industry. Learning about emerging technologies or methods in a specific field can help young professionals to find their career path and located where new opportunities may lie.

I encourage you—be you Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior, Grad Student, or Young Professional—to attend any professional conference related to your field. You just might happen upon opportunities that you would not expect.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Create The Ultimate Personal Statement: Modern Family Style

Written by Thaimi Fina

So if you’re like me, you couldn’t help but let out an overly enthusiastic girlish squeal last Wednesday during the Season 3 premiere of everyone’s favorite dysfunctional bunch: Modern Family. Whether you’re tuning in just to check out what hilarious fight Cam and Mitchell are a-brewing, or what Colombian miscommunications Gloria’s gotten herself into again, you always manage to pick up some witty life lessons along the way. Now what if I told you that your favorite Modern Family characters could also offer you some valuable advice about writing the most effective personal statement for graduate school? Skeptical? Understandably so. But, have the Toppel Peers ever steered you wrong before??? (Quick: The answer is no.) Follow along as we reminisce about our favorite Modern Family quotes, while learning how they could help you successfully stand out in a pool of graduate school applicants.

PHIL DUNPHY: I'm the cool dad. That's my thang. I'm hip. I surf the Web. I text. LOL: laughing out loud. OMG: Oh my God. WTF: Why the face? Um you know, I know all the dances to High School Musical so…

Now there’s no denying that Phil is easily the most unintentionally hilarious dad on the block… but the cool dad? Let’s not get crazy. Phil is constantly trying to prove to his wife, children, and us viewers that he’s hip and “in the know.” But even all the High School Musical dance moves in the world couldn’t convince Alex and Haley that their dad is indeed “the cool dad.” How does this fit in with the dreaded essay that determines the next 2-5 years of your life, you say? Excellent question! Avoid writing what you think admissions committees want to hear, and instead write what comes natural to you. Admissions committee members have heard it all before and can spot a cliché a million miles away. For instance, if you’re applying to med school avoid stating that you want to become a doctor in order to “help people and save lives.” A basic rule of thumb I always communicate to students is: if you think it’ll be in someone else’s personal statement too, get rid of it. Be genuine and original. Let the admissions committee members get to know the real you, not the “OMG, LOL, Why The Face” you.

And on that note…

CAMERON TUCKER: We’re a very traditional family.
MITCHELL PRITCHETT: That’s what the disabled lesbian shaman who blessed Lily’s room said, too.

Were you born into an adopted family of loving gay parents and instantly blessed by a “disabled lesbian shaman?” Awesome. Don’t be afraid to stress what makes you unique! Admissions committees get tired of hearing the same old stories over and over again. Capture their interest by letting them see who you are, what your story is, where you’re coming from, and what makes you unique. (Keep in mind that what makes you unique doesn’t have to be tied to culture or upbringing, it could be a unique volunteer experience, work experience, or educational background that sets you apart). Have there been any particularly meaningful experiences in your life that have significantly shaped who you are or the career you want to pursue? Have you or someone close to you gone through an experience that few others have the chance to share? Write about it! Don’t let your personal statement read like a resume. Instead, color it with descriptive narratives that enable admissions committees to understand your story and discover the unique perspective you bring to the table.

PHIL DUNPHY: You can insult a lot of things about me - my hair, my voice, my balance-board exercises - but don't insult my selling. That crosses a line. What line? Oh, you don't see it? That's because I just sold it!

Follow Phil’s example and don’t be afraid to highlight your accomplishments. This is your time to focus on you: what you’ve learned, the skills you’ve acquired, and the characteristics you possess that make you an excellent candidate for a particular graduate program. Don’t just describe how your interest in a specific career or field was piqued. Emphasize significant experiences and accomplishments that have cemented your interest in the field and prepared you to be successful in graduate school and in your profession of choice. For medical school, these accomplishments might include acquiring unique research experiences, learning to build rapport with diverse patients through community service, and developing foreign language proficiency. For law school, these accomplishments might include earning public speaking awards, honing critical thinking abilities through research, and publications demonstrating strong written communication skills. No matter what the program, think of the skills that are necessary to be successful in that field and demonstrate these abilities by incorporating specific and compelling examples in your essay. In other words, bring out your inner Phil Dunphy and don’t be afraid to sell yourself as a competitive candidate to admissions committees.

GLORIA: He scared the baby cheeses out of me!

Baby Cheeses Clip

HALEY: If you do this you'll be a social piranha.
ALEX: Yes, I'll be an Amazonian carnivorous fish.

Gloria and Haley are notorious for their hilarious communication blunders. While these make for great television, there is no room for them in your personal statement. And that’s where Toppel and The Writing Center come in handy. Stop by during walk-in hours anytime Monday-Thursday 10:00 am-4:30 pm for an individualized critique of your personal statement to ensure that there are no typos or grammatical errors in your document. The Writing Center can also help you to organize your thoughts and improve your transitions between ideas in your personal statement. Take advantage of these resources so that admissions committees can focus on the amazing content you’ve laid out for them, rather than fall out of their chair laughing at your baby cheeses reference.


PHIL DUNPHY: Cheerleading in my college was cool. The football players were so jealous, they wouldn’t even let me and my buddies, Trevor, Scotty, and Ling, go to their parties.

Turn everything into a positive! Football players didn’t invite you to their parties? It’s obviously because male cheerleaders have reached an intimidating level of cool! Even the most negative of experiences can result in growth, wisdom, and insight. If you choose to discuss difficult life circumstances in your personal statement, avoid harping on the negative. Always demonstrate what you learned from these experiences and how they made you stronger, more passionate, or how they taught you specific skills that will help you succeed in your profession. Also, avoid blaming others for past mistakes or challenges. For instance, don’t attribute your C in biology to your “terrible professor.” Take ownership of your mistakes; demonstrate what you learned from those experiences and how you are putting that knowledge into practice to avoid repeating the same mistakes again. Admissions committees are looking for maturity, ability to overcome obstacles, and strength of character. Follow Phil’s glass-half-full attitude and you will be sure to market yourself in the best possible light.

Not sure if you’re on the right track? Check out our Personal Statement Guide. Once you’ve created a rough draft, stop by The Toppel Career Center during walk-in hours (M-TH 10-4:30) to review your personal statement with a Graduate Assistant.

A Deadly Case of SENIORITIS

Curing and Preventing Senioritis

By Priyanka Surio

Everyone gets it at one point in their lives and it can be very very contagious! All of us can admit to being exposed in high school when we got our acceptance letters to college and felt that we needn’t jump over mountains and under hoops to study for exams or work on projects. But according to CollegeBoard and USA Today, what is becoming more common as a result of this attitude is the alarming fact that “every year colleges rescind offers of admission, put students on academic probation, or alter financial aid packages as a result of "senioritis." Now the vicious cycle threatens to continue for us seniors or those graduating from Undergraduate or Graduate school.

• Laziness
• Procrastination
• Excuses
• Lack of interest in all things school related
• Desire to just have fun
• Lack of seriousness
• Frustration and stress

• Can lead to plummeting grades
• Can lead to getting fired from jobs
• Can be chronic and deadly to your career goals


There is indeed a very effective cure and prevention steps to make sure you don’t fall susceptible to this disease.

• Don’t allow yourself to get in the mindset that you are done and your responsibilities don’t matter, because even in the real world after you graduate, your responsibilities only increase.
• Do not get peer pressured into going out every night. Demonstrate self-control. You can do work Sunday - Thursday and have the last two days to yourself as a reward for working hard throughout the week.
• Do not let things slide and pile up. Time management is not for nerds only! Keep a calendar of activities and a list of things to do, and cross off the list each time you complete something. Even schedule some “me” time in there. You’ll feel more organized, stay on track, more accomplished, and more deserving of your breaks.
• Don’t just coast by with easy classes. By no means do we recommend you enroll in the hardest finance or science class, but enrolling in courses that keep your interest or that will be beneficial to you in the future, whether in graduate school or the workforce, will help to keep your attention. For example, if you are planning on working for ESPN after college as a news writer it might not hurt to take a few communication classes to learn the graphics and technical side of new television. Or let’s say you are aspiring to become a lawyer or a doctor, business classes may not hurt especially if you plan on owning your own practice at some point. These classes will pique your interest especially since they are not something you are familiar with and can just rely on prior knowledge for.
• Don’t burn bridges and don’t get frustrated. Gloria Varley an assistant director of health at the University of Georgia Health Center says, “[Senioritis] is several things – perhaps frustration, you’re done with [school] and want to move on”. A common onset to senioritis is this feeling that we can’t improve our situation or outcome, so we act apathetic or uncaring towards our academics, yearning to move on. One bad grade or an unfortunate experience with a teacher shouldn’t make or break your academic career. The choice is up to you on whether you improve your situation and can make something better out of it.
• School is your JOB! Remember, being a student is an occupation so treat it as such. Make an effort to prepare ahead for classes and be on time. In the real world, unprepared and late workers get fired, so get used to building good habits early on and don’t allow yourself to slack off even in that last semester because it is so hard to climb back up the hill once you’ve rolled down!
• Don’t STRESS! You will manage to get more done if you relax and take it one step, one day at a time. Don’t eat with your eyes and overload your plate full of things you won’t be able to complete. If you feel as if you can’t handle everything or are dealing with more than you can chew, the Counseling Center can help you manage your stress. They are your trustworthy resource in stressful times. The ACAR and Ombudsperson is also here as a resource to listen to your troubles while providing useful tips for future action.

Well what if I’m not going to school afterwards?

The worst thing about this deadly disease is its transmissibility. Senioritis can spread to the job search, securing an internship or applying for that entry level position and following through with employers. Ways to prevent this from occurring are to start EARLY!

Maybe you are confused about where to begin. The Toppel Career Center should always be your go to place to begin your first steps into a successful career. What we recommend for a successful job search:

Pinpoint – What do you want to do? Take a Career/Personality test to determine your specific field
Learn – how to write a stellar resume, how to win employers over with a cover letter, and how to knock your interview out of the park, by coming to our workshops or stopping by Walk in Advising hours Monday- Thursday 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Network – with Networking and Career Events, Information Sessions, Career Fairs, On Campus Recruiting
Search – for jobs in specific industries and Schedule to meet with our advisors to determine which job is a good fit for you. Also search for employers and recruiters who are part of that company so you can speak with them about their experiences. It’s your turn to conduct the interview in order to find out if this is the potential career you wish to build for yourself.
Follow up – Don’t just apply and wait twiddling your thumbs. Follow up with a cover letter and/or email to the HR department. If you can, call and let them know you applied, and if you still haven’t heard back after a week or two, check the status of your application.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Opening Doors to Success

by Pallavi Pal

“It’s not about you; it’s about those who go before you and those who come after.”

This was our daily mantra for the twelve week internship program that I took part in this past summer. Being a part of SEO, a well-respected and highly esteemed internship program, was an experience that I wasn’t sure if I would be ready for.

Let’s back track to Fall 2010. At that time Toppel hosted an SEO recruiter for the first time. One of the advisors kept encouraging me to attend the information session; however, I felt that I was under qualified. After a few weeks, I changed my mind and thought it wouldn’t hurt to apply. So apply I did.

Three interviews and many stressful weeks later, I received a congratulatory letter from SEO. I was thrilled and, honestly, quite shocked. Reading about their low acceptance rate (3% this past summer) and hearing about the prestige these three letters, SEO, is associated with made me feel uncertain as to whether or not I really was qualified for the position.

Amongst their many partners, I was given the opportunity to intern at Moody’s Corporation, the credit-rating agency. After getting my acceptance into Moody’s, I had to complete eight more interviews for placement within Moody’s. Not only were the eight interviews mandatory, but also the several online training sessions that in total equaled around fifty hours prior to the start of the internship were necessary to complete.

After jumping through so many hoops, I was nervous and scared to start my internship program. By no means was the in-person training a walk in the park, but I came to realize how much SEO has invested in me and how much I was receiving from the program. The internship not only improved my professional persona but also helped me mature and grow as a person. There was a renewed sense of self-motivation and confidence that I garnered through the internship experience.

Without SEO I would not have received all the tools needed to succeed in the Moody’s internship that I was placed in and I would not have been able to secure a job offer in this uncertain economy. I have much to be grateful for and the quote still rings in my ears: “It’s not about you; it’s about those who go before you and those who come after.”

It really isn’t about me but rather all those who have come before me to ensure that the program grows and all those that I help to come after me. This was a once in a life-time opportunity and I have SEO to thank for believing in me enough to give me a chance.

For those of you interested, there are two upcoming information sessions to meet the SEO recruiter and learn more about the internship process: Tuesday, September 20 at 6:30 pm in the UC Flamingo Ballroom as well as Wednesday, September 21 at 3:00 pm in the Toppel Library. We hope to see you there!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Good Things Come to Those Who Apply

Written By Marlo Wyant

Everyone has been discouraged by an application at some point in their lives. Often times it is far too easy to fall into the mindset of “I’ll never get it anyway, so why should I bother taking the time to apply?” It is true that many applications may seem daunting and that the prospect of being selected seems almost far-fetched. However, the odds of the application coming to fruition may not be as unlikely as you think. This past year, I have learned, first-hand, the value of taking the time to apply for unlikely awards and contests.

It started when one of the career advisers at the University of Miami Toppel Career Center sent me an encouraging e-mail to apply to be the next “Mechanical Engineering Student of the Year,” sponsored by Vestas, and Universum. I thought that, while flattering to be considered to apply, I would never win an award like that on a national scale. I was not yet convinced that I should apply. However, after quite a bit of nagging from my adviser, I gave in and submitted the requisite 600-word cover letter accompanied by my resume. Upon application, I got an automatically-generated confirmation e-mail and assumed I would never hear back.

Before I get into what happened in the months following the student of the year application, I will now segue into what turned into unlikely application number two.

Approximately three weeks after I submitted the Student of the Year application, I received another e-mail from a Universum employee encouraging me to enter a new contest called Go Green in the City. Upon further reading, I learned that Go Green in the City is an international business case competition for engineering and business university students to present energy efficient implementation plans for their respective cities. The participating countries were Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Russia, Turkey, and the United States. The prize: an all-expenses paid trip to Paris, France.

The application seemed simple enough: the team members’ resumes paired with either a 300-word summary or a 60-second video of what the green idea is. The top 100 teams would be selected to work in greater detail on the project and write a longer paper. Finally, if the team made it to the top 25 in the final round of the competition, they would be sent to Paris, France to present the ideas to upper management of Schneider Electric. The only catch with the application was that the deadline was just one week away from notification e-mail. Despite, the short time frame, I managed to secure a teammate and the two of us filmed our 60-second video on Key Biscayne and edited it in a single day.

One month later, my teammate and I learned that we had been selected as one of the top 100 teams internationally. I was ecstatic. This meant that my teammate and I were one step closer to making it to Paris! As part of the second round of the competition, we were assigned a Schneider Electric mentor in the United Arab Emirates to assist us in the preparation of the report. Our mentor met with us via teleconferencing and sometimes stayed up as late as midnight in her time zone to give us guidance on improving our application.

After several weeks of continuous improvement, my teammate and I had our polished version of the report and submitted it to the online application.

The spring semester progressed into its end with the advent of finals week. I had just walked out of my last final exam for the semester and saw that I had missed a call from an unknown New York number and had a voicemail. When I listened to what the mysterious caller had to say, I found out that I had been selected to be the Mechanical Engineering Student of the Year. Universum wanted to fly me to New York in two days time to personally accept the award at the Universum Awards hosted at the New York Times building in Manhattan. The news left me in absolute shock. I had never won any sort of award before, unless you count the certificate they give you for making Dean’s list every year. I then thought about it and realized that I had not exactly applied for too much before, either. The award taught me, first-hand, the benefits of applying for contests and awards.

As if the day could not get any better, I received another e-mail later that afternoon informing my Go Green in the City teammate and I that we had been chosen to present our green idea to the Schneider Electric executives in Paris, France as one of the top 25 teams in the world! It was a surreal day for me. I could not believe that I (and my teammate) had won two contests in a single day.

The award for the student of the year resulted in additional traveling opportunities. Not only did I get to receive the award in front of dozens of human resources professionals from companies from around the country, but there was an additional perk to be awarded. The prize was a trip to Denmark to visit the Research and Development Technology Center for Vestas Wind. This center is the largest wind turbine test facility in the world. I traveled in August 2011 and was able to meet with wind turbine engineers and tour the facility. In addition to the visit to the technology center, I was able to have a great time touring the cities of Copenhagen and Aarhus, Denmark and Oslo, Norway.

Marlo Wyant with her parents after accepting the Vestas Mechanical Engineering Student of the Year Award
The trip to Paris, France also went very well. The Go Green in the City event allowed my teammate and I to network with students and professionals from 12 different countries, present our ideas to a formal executive panel, interview on an international level for an internship at Schneider Electric, and attend informative workshops on innovation, diversity, and globalization. Additionally, my teammate and I were also able to sightsee in Paris and visit several iconic attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Seine River. The trip did not cost us a cent.

Daniel Castillo and Marlo Wyant after presenting at Go Green in the City to Schneider Electric in Paris, France
What can you learn from my experiences? If you see an award or competition that you may qualify for, you should always take the time to apply for it. You never know—it may result in two free trips to Europe or, at least, something worthwhile.

Marlo Wyant enjoying the scenery of Paris, France

For more information on go Green in the City Click Here.

For more information on the Student of the Year Click Here