Monday, April 30, 2012

Three Ways to Avoid Stress

By Thien Van Tran

You know, sometimes when life gets hard, I just wish I could be a dog and not have to worry about anything. I’d even be great at it, licking and scratching myself in front of company, and pooping everywhere except outside. The usual. But since that’s not really an option, I’ve had to find other clever ways of dealing with stress, which I have generously shared below. I know it’s finals week, so I promise this is a short read.

3. Breathe Deeply

This may sound like the stupidest thing you’ve ever heard silly, but deep breathing has been shown to be the cornerstone of many relaxation techniques. But according to WebMD, there’s a proper way to do it. Sit up straight, inhale only through your nose (very important), and exhale through your mouth while pushing out as much air as possible by contracting your abdominal muscles. Your stomach should move while breathing, but your chest and shoulders should remain still. If this is difficult at first in your sitting position, it is recommended that you lie down and breathe. Who knew breathing could be so involved? Apparently this is supposed send a message demonstrating that not many people know how to breathe effectively, and allow stress to make their breathing more shallow and strained. I just thought it was about how only air should go in your nose, not your finger. Both equally powerful messages.

2. Choose the Right Surroundings

Most people would consider Richter Library to be a productive and peaceful environment in which to study. However, unless you want to play musical chairs at 2AM, I would strongly advise you find another location. Seriously, people steal and stash chairs as though Armageddon is going to happen any second and the new world will be one in which chairs are the new form of currency. But hey I know finals are important and sometimes people get desperate, so I’m not here to judge. I’m here to point fingers. This has happened to me personally, and although I may have looked calm, in my head I’ve killed them three times. So, find a quiet place that is not your bed, and hunker down.


No matter how stressed you may be, looking at cute little animals will always make it better. Just take this one for example.

Come on now, he is an emoticon (^.^).

Feeling better now? Feel free to browse through the rest of the “D’AWWWWWWW!!!1” that I have placed below.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Freshmen Tip 3: False Resume Info

 As the year winds down, the pressure from parents and from yourself comes to apply for summer internships. And around this time, we start updating our resume to add all the things we did this year, and get rid of the items from high school. And for some, there comes that time when you look at your resume, and it’s only about ¾ of a page, definitely not long enough, and you’re struggling to think of things to add. Of course my thought process during that time was, “Hey, remember CaneFest? I’m pretty sure I signed my name up to about 4 clubs email list… Can’t I just put those down?” When you’re desperate for just a few more things to put on your resume (you only need 3 more lines!), it’s easy to think that it isn’t a big deal to maybe fib just a tiny bit and put down a club that you only attended one meeting for before class work got all consuming. Or put that you have working knowledge of Spanish, when the last Spanish class you took was in the 8th grade, and the only phrase you remember is, “Donde esta mi pantalones!”?
                The simple fact of the matter is this: any small lie is still a lie. On a resume, that little lie can get you in a lot of trouble. On the legal side, putting something that isn’t necessarily true is a simple matter of fraudulent information and misrepresentation which could have serious repercussion. Now, you’re most likely thinking about how a company would be able to prove that you were not, in fact, a member of the Scuba Club? Why would they really ask you, or even care if you mentioned that you were proficient in Microsoft Excel, and actually had only made one pie chart at a summer job once? If you don’t really care about the legal aspect (I’m required to say this: YOU SHOULD!), think about the awkward situations it could get you in. Imagine your interviewer, before being an HR recruiter, was an avid scuba diver and wants to talk about your favorite dives with you, but you only went to the info session before you decided it was too expensive. You’re left with nothing to say except, “Yeah… fish are pretty.” Or even worse, you do get the job, and then when you get there, they say to you, “Hey we need you to make 30 pie charts written in all Spanish because we have a big presentation with the CEO of our Spain branch.” How awkward is it going to be when you have to tell them that you don’t know how to do either of those things, even though on your resume it says that you have conversational knowledge of Spanish, and are an expert at all things Microsoft Office?
                It might seem like it isn’t a big deal to fib a little bit on your resume, but doing that can get you into some awkward situations. If an employer catches you in a lie, it will not only ruin their impression of you, but also force them to question everything else on your resume, and question everything that you say, now believing you to be a liar. It’s so tempting to try to beef up your resume with little things that don’t seem important to try to make yourself seem a little bit more impressive, but you simply cannot risk it. My rule of thumb for clubs on a resume is asking myself if asked about the club, would I be able to say at least 3 sentences about what I did there and have them be true. When it comes to languages and computer skills you just need the right word. Basic knowledge, working knowledge, proficient in, advanced knowledge, conversational, fluent, etc. The most important thing is to be properly representing your abilities, but not selling yourself short. The easiest thing to do, is if you have to question whether or not you should put something on your resume, don’t. If you aren’t sure, then chances are it shouldn’t be there.  If you still need ideas on how to make your resume longer, you can look at our resume guide, pages 3 and 4, or come in for walk-in advising, Mon-Thurs 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Toppel Stars - Pallavi Pal

By: Robert Vanisko

Pallavi Pal is a recent graduate of UM about to begin her career for Moody’s Corporation in New York.  Our most recent Toppel Star has been hired as a financial analyst for Moody’s, a prominent credit rating agency. Pallavi had previously interned for the corporation this past summer and had a great experience working there.

Prior to her internship at Moody’s, she had interned in four other companies and agencies, including working in the accounting department of Weston Resorts and interning for the chief counsel of the FDA.  Pallavi secured the internship at Moody’s through SEO, Sponsors for Educational Opportunity.  SEO is a great program for training students interested in finance.  After Pallavi applied and was accepted into the program, she was given the opportunity to interview with several firms, including Moody’s.

The internship this past summer at Moody’s was an invaluable asset towards helping her to secure a full-time position there coming out of college.  Upon completing her internship, she was extended the opportunity for eight interviews with various managers at Moody’s.  Following the series of interviews she was offered a job.

Pallavi believes the most important aspect about finding a job coming out of college is having internship and work experience.  She believes that students should start looking and applying for internships early in their college careers not only for the work experience, but also for the invaluable future contacts.  “Having previous internships is very important because that’s how you know what you want and how to act in a job,” said Pallavi.  She hopes that University of Miami students will continue to take advantage of internship opportunities in the future.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Top 3 Reasons Why Engineers Don't Get Involved in Extracurriculars

By Thien Van Tran

Where the grub at?

The college life of an engineer is very similar to that of a caterpillar. We enjoy a relatively stress-free life consisting of stuffing our faces exclusively with whatever we want and unadulterated amounts of doing absolutely nothing, prior to college. Upon entering college, we are content with temporarily giving up all that previous nonsensical frolicking in order to focus on becoming engineers. However, while a caterpillar spends approximately two weeks inside the cocoon, we spend four years.

Nowhere is it written that you can only have a single passion in life. Now unless you’re Squidward, there’s a good chance that you don't completely hate having fun. So why don’t we actually devote some time to these things that make us happy? I know that some of you are reading this and thinking, “But I am involved!” Well the only thing I have to say to that is, Cool story bro “Keep up the good work!” Anyway, here are the top three reasons.

3. “My Major is Too Difficult”

We’ve all heard this one before. Engineers seem to think their major is the toughest, and that they can’t be as active as everyone else since they need to devote more time to studying. For the most part this is, without a doubt, absolutely false. Difficulty is relative, and something that one individual may find difficult may in fact seem very simple to another individual. Sure some of our classes may require a bit more work, but it is definitely possible to make time for activities outside of school. You just need to manage your time wisely. Some helpful tips regarding time management can be found in a previous Toppel blog post, imaginatively titled, Time Management by Oleg Ignatenko.

2. "I’m an Engineer, so People Expect Me to be Anti-Social"

Engineers are known to be weird, quirky, photogenic, awkward, and often difficult to connect with on any sort of level. Trying to talk to an engineer can be a socially unpleasant experience, like walking over hot coals or any type of butt surgery. Listening to someone use big and possibly made-up words like “derivative” and “zirconium” is like trying to understand someone with a thick southern accent layer of peanut butter stuck to the roof of his/her mouth. It's an entirely different language. I'M TALKIN' STRAIGHT UP JAPANESE HERE FOLKS. But it’s okay, since all engineers are expected to act this way, right? Well first of all, it’s okay to be peculiar, but one should still be able to communicate effectively. Second of all, no.

Networking is the best way to land a job. There is a statistic somewhere from a highly trusted source (read: the internet) that says most candidates are hired through networking rather than online job postings. And in order to network, you need to have the soft skills that are not taught in the classrooms. Recently, companies are moving towards more behavioral-based interviews. These operate on the premise that an individual’s past performance indicates future performance. Therefore, having good social and interpersonal skills are necessary to communicate your experiences to your interviewer, or potential employers.

1. "I Should Focus All My Attention on Academics, Since That’s All Employers Care About"

Yes academics and grades are important, but so are the things you are passionate about. Employers will consider your academic performance, but what really sets you apart from the pack is your involvement. It doesn’t matter if the clubs or sports you participate in are unrelated to your desired career field. There are specific qualities that are transferable to almost any situation, like teamwork, leadership, and communication skills.

So if you’ve read this and decided to make an effort to becoming more involved, what’s next? Well, if you happen to be an engineer, then I would suggest you start with the multitude of engineering organizations on campus, such as Society of Women Engineers, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, etc. These organizations attend annual conferences where you can meet and network with professional engineers and companies, as well as fellow students across the country. In addition to these professional groups, make an effort to try a new club or sport, like wakeboarding, beach volleyball, or fencing. You never know where it may take you.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

UCAN get an internship too

by Oleg Ignatenko

The spring semester is coming to a close. This is the perfect time to prepare yourself to make sure that your summer won’t go to waste and what better way to do that than with UCAN. University Career Action Network is a shared database listing thousands of domestic and international internships, making it one of the most comprehensive internship resources on the Internet. Unlike searching for jobs on, UCAN is specifically utilized for finding internships. This database is shared among 22 universities and fortunately University of Miami is one of them.

So for many students the question is, should I try to find an internship this summer or should I just get a job at a local store and sleep in most days for the next few months. Let’s assume that we are all mature, dedicated students who want to take that next step into the professional world by choosing the first option. There is an incredible amount of benefits that come with having an internship. You get to experience what it’s like to work in an environment that is specified to the major that you are studying as well as getting an inside perspective of the processes of the company. Many employers will be much more interested in hiring you later based on the fact that you already have experience in the field. You will have a great opportunity to network with other employees who have been at the company and build strong relationships with those people who might later on be included in your references list. Even though many students might be concerned that they won’t make any money during an internship, remember that there are plenty of paid internship out there as well. Plus, many of the unpaid internships could be used to acquire credits that would go towards your major. But in my opinion the most important benefit of an internship would have to be being able to find out if this is the right career choice for you. There is no better way to find out if this would be something that you would enjoy doing for the rest of your life or if it’s a job that you think you would hate or get bored at. That’s why it’s essential to try and acquire at least one internship throughout you tenure at college.

Hopefully, you are now convinced that an internship is the right thing for you and you are eager to start looking for one as soon as possible. Here is a link to UCAN. If you are still unsure on exactly what type of internship would suit you or have any other questions, feel free to stop by the Toppel Career Center and make an advising appointment. You can also come to Toppel for walk-in advising with an Internships advisor: Mondays 2:00-4:00 and Thursdays 10:00-12:00.

Good Luck!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Advice from a Career Advisor: Tip 2

 Written by Megan Garber

Always have someone look over your resume!

A resume is a marketing document, and it is more than a summary of your education, experiences, and skills. Most resumes are only one or two pages, and those pages need to be perfect! A typo or inconsistency in format can get your resume thrown in the trash. Why?! You might be a qualified applicant, but a typo or inconsistency can be a sign that you have poor attention to detail or simply that you did not thoroughly review your document before you sent it to the employer. Yes, we are all human and we all make mistakes. However, you do not need to review your resume all by yourself. The Toppel Career Center staff can review it, as well as your family and friends. Small mistakes happen to all of us, and you want to make sure you have someone else review your resume so any mistake is caught before you send your resume to an employer. I have been reviewing hundreds of resumes a year for almost seven years, and even I make mistakes on my own resume, mostly because I am so familiar with it that I over look my mistakes. I once had a colleague at the Toppel Career Center review my resume and he quickly noticed that I had written “trail” instead of “train.”

Bottom line: have at least one set of eyes other than your own review your resume any time you make an edit!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Freshman Year Tip 2: Professional Voicemail

by Marissa Bell

Today’s tip requires an anecdote to start it off, otherwise the tip itself will make no sense.

There I was, a naïve 18 year old, innocent to the cruelties of the real world (who am I kidding, I still am), and applying for summer jobs. I had sent out many an application, and when people called me and followed up, I was available and picked up my phone. However, there was one time when I was in class, saw an unknown number calling me, and sent it straight to voicemail, without another thought. An hour later, I listened to the voicemail that had been left and this is what I heard:

“Oh, Hi. This is *Carly* from *Insert Company Name of Choice Here*… Uh. Just wanted to let you know that the position has been filled. Thank you for your application.”

*Names have been changed

But something wasn’t right. The person on the phone sounded bizarre, like telling me I wasn’t going to be receiving an interview wasn’t the original plan. I was left confused, but later forgot about it. Until the exact same thing happened again 2 days later. A prospective job called, I was in class, let it roll to voicemail, and then when I listened to the voicemail, the same confused voice telling me that a position had been filled. I was perplexed. I mean, not to toot my own horn, but they were simple retail positions that I had been being denied for; I didn’t understand why I wasn’t a good candidate?

And then it hit me. I remembered a Friday night 2 months ago that I thought it would be hilarious if I made my voicemail a 2 minute long pseudo-Public Service Announcement about a fabled war going on in Alaska between Narwhals and Unicorns, urging anyone who listened to donate millions of dollars to the cause. Yeah, your reaction is probably about the same as mine when I realized what was chasing those potential employers away.

And so, the clear moral of the story is: Professional Voicemails are your FRIENDS. It’s something no one ever thinks about when they’re applying for jobs. They change their names on Facebook to make sure employers can’t find them, erase their 4th grade embarrassing email address and replace it with a new one, and yet the voicemail is something that just slips people’s mind because it seems so unimportant. A professional voicemail can be as simple as, “Hi, this is *insert your name here*, sorry I can’t come to the phone right now, but leave me a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks!”

Yes. It’s not as fun as you and your friends’ rendition of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” sung in falsetto, but the second you start applying for jobs, just know that even if you look like the perfect candidate on paper, even the slightest things that make you look unprofessional could make the difference between getting that interview, and having to hear those dreaded words, “The position has been filled”.