Thursday, May 31, 2012

LinkedIn advice from the Crowe Careers Blog

We typically write our own articles, but this article on LinkedIn etiquette from the Crowe Careers Blog is too good not to share.

Who are you and why should we connect? LinkedIn Invitation Etiquette  By: Michele Porfilio  | May 21, 2012

On the Crowe Careers Blog

To view the Crowe Careers Blog, click here

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Networking for your Lifestyle

By Megan Garber
Many college students and young professionals view networking as a scary and unpleasant activity, and one that can be prohibitively expensive.  As a student or recent graduate starting your career, you want to make networking part of your lifestyle.  We all know that the best way to find a job is through your contacts, and networking is a way to build your contacts so that you have them when you need them.  Career fairs and company information sessions are a great way to network, but once you have a job you probably stop attending career fairs and similar events.  You need to find a way to network that fits with your interests, comfort zone, and budget.

When you hear the work networking, what comes to mind?  If you think of a room of professionals exchanging business cards and trying to sell themselves and their company and product, you are only partly correct.  That image is only a small piece of networking, and many of us find that kind of setting uncomfortable and intimidating. 

I am not encouraging you to avoid professional association networking events, but national professional association conferences are typically held once a year and they can be expensive if your employer does not sponsor your attendance.  If you have an opportunity to attend a national, regional, or local professional association meeting, I strongly encourage you to take that opportunity.  Volunteer to help the association by serving on a committee, assisting new members, or assisting with the event to make the most of your experience and stay involved throughout the year. 

The goal is to make networking something you do on a regular basis; not just when you need a job or when the annual conference rolls around.  To make networking a part of your lifestyle, you need to find events you enjoy attending and where you find people who have similar interests.  Ask yourself these questions:
  • What activities and events do I enjoy?
  • If I moved to a new city and didn’t know anyone, how would I make friends?
  • What kind of people do I want to meet?  What is our shared interest?
You also want to find networking opportunities that match your budget.  Many young professionals have a limited amount of personal funds to dedicate toward networking and professional development.  If you are employed, you may want to have a discussion with your boss about your professional development goals and see if he or she is willing to support you financially in your efforts. 

Don’t limit yourself to strictly professional types of networking.  Networking put simply is meeting new people and developing mutually beneficial relationships with them.  Networking can be done in any setting, and you may find social, athletic, community service, religious or professional development events or groups a good fit for you.

If you enjoy team sports, consider joining a kickball or softball team or a running group.  Here’s a link to an article in the Miami Herald about how young adults in Miami are networking through kickball.  If you’re shy, convince a friend to join with you.  Even if you create a whole team of your friends, you’ll still have a chance to network with other teams’ members after the game.

If you enjoy watching sports more than playing, look for alumni game watches.  The University of Miami Alumni Association has alumni clubs across the country, and you can find a club near you on their website.
If you prefer professional sports teams, go to a sports bar or restaurant to watch the games.  You can connect with other fans and you never know whom you will meet.

Community service is a great way to give back to the community and meet new people.  If you’re interested in healthcare, volunteer in a hospital, clinic, or health education fair.  If you’re interested in law or social work, look for volunteer programs like the Florida Guardian ad LitemProgram where you advocate for abused, neglected, and at-risk children. 

Whatever your interest, you can find an organization for which to volunteer.  If you live in Miami, UM’s Butler Center for Service and Leadership has a searchable databaseof volunteer agencies in the community. If you’re a student at UM, the Butler Center organizes multiple days of service for UM students and they oversee many student organizations with a community service mission. 

If you were involved in community service in college and have since graduated, there are ways to continue to be involved in your community.  Check out VolunteerMatch to find opportunities in your area.  Many volunteer opportunities have no cost attached to them, so if you are on a very small budget, volunteering may be the way to go. 

Professional Development Nonprofit Organizations
Joining a nonprofit organization can be a great way to meet new people with shared interests and become a part of your community.  Here are organizations you may want to look into:
JCI International, a membership-based nonprofit organization for young people ages 18 to 40,
Junior League, a nonprofit organization of women, developed as civic leaders, creating demonstrable community impact. Toastmasters International, join a local club to improve your leadership and speaking skills.  Joining an organization will cost you some money, but it can be worth it for the networking and professional development opportunities. 

Religious and Spiritual Organizations
If you enjoy going to church, mass, temple, or any type of religious service, consider joining a local group.  Many religious and spiritual organizations have smaller groups for young adults and they also offer community service opportunities.  Volunteer to help the organization and you will meet other volunteers with similar values. 

Community Classes
Many community colleges offer community education courses such as dance, cooking, and art classes.  If you have always wanted to learn another language, consider enrolling in a language course.  Sites like Groupon and Living Social sometimes have deals like cooking classes, wine tastings, local tours, and yoga classes.  If you find a deal that sounds interesting, buy it and try to talk to at least one new person during your experience. 

Toppel Career Center Events
The Toppel Career Center provides many networking events such as career development programs, the annual Student and Alumni Career Symposium, and career fairs and expos for University of Miami students and alumni.  For UM alumni, Toppel offers monthly networking events called Tuesdays with Toppel in the Coral Gables and Miami where UM alumni can network with each other and with employers.  Each event is only $10 and you get one free drink and appetizers.

Student & Alumni Career Symposium, Networking Reception
While it can be uncomfortable to step outside of your comfort zone and talk to someone you don’t know, it can be incredibly rewarding.  If you already have a shared interest with someone, it is easier to strike up a conversation about that shared interest.  You never know where that conversation can lead.  Find events or activities that match your interests and where you will feel comfortable.  Recruit a friend or colleague to go with you so you feel more comfortable.  Once you have made a connection, remember to stay in touch with that person.  It’s about building relationships over time, not just giving out business cards.  

What networking activities or events have worked for you?  Please share your advice in the Comments section!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Toppel Stars - Cristine Befanis

Meet Cristine Befanis, author of the blog post Interview Tips. Cristine is a May 2012 University of Miami graduate who majored in Marketing and minored in Accounting.  She is interested in fashion and is about to begin two internships: Photography Intern with Mega Models and Retail Sales Intern with Nordstrom. We interviewed her to learn more about her internship search and how she became successful. 

Why did you choose the University of Miami and your major in marketing?
I transferred to UM my junior year after two years at another university. I was originally premed, and after doing research and taking upper level classes, I realized I preferred the business track. Fashion had
always been a passion of mine, but I thought it was more of a hobby. I began to realize that I wanted to pursue it as my career, so I transferred back home to Florida where a better business program was offered. I transferred to UM and have loved it ever since.

 How did you find out about the internships at Mega Models and Nordstrom?
I actively used the resources offered at Toppel to research jobs. I knew that I wanted an internship after graduation, so I met with my advisor to explore research tools. I first used to search for internships which was where I originally found the Mega Models internship. I continued to apply to other internships and updated my LinkedIn account where I also began searching for jobs. I found the Nordstrom position through LinkedIn and immediately applied.

What other jobs and internships did you have before applying for these internships?
I was working as a Sales Lead Manager at Ann Taylor LOFT at the time of my internship search, but I was prepared to leave the company should any internship offers arise. I was also working (and still am) as a volunteer intern at Dress For Success but planned to continue working a couple hours a week. I applied for all of my internships within the same time frame and was offered the Mega Models internship originally. I accepted and was offered the Nordstrom internship shortly after. Fortunately, it worked out in my schedule to accept both positions. 

What was the interview and recruitment process like?
For the Mega Models internship, I submitted my resume and cover letter through I was contacted within two days via email about setting up an interview. I responded back, and we set up an interview for the following week. When I came into the office, the interview was very informal, and the interviewer used the time to tell me about the position and asked me what I could bring to the position. I was there for about 20 minutes, and he told me to email him my availability upon leaving and that he would let me know. I emailed him right away, and the next week, I was told I got the position via email.
For the Nordstrom internship, I applied through the company's main website after being referred to it from LinkedIn. I received a call back the next day and scheduled an interview for the following week. I originally interviewed with an HR coordinator, and after the interview, she asked me to interview the next day with the Store Manager which was a good sign. The next interview went really well and I was told I got the position on the spot.

What made you choose the company?  
I am very interested in the Fashion industry and knew I wanted to work for a large company selling upscale merchandise, including a major designer or department store. When I saw the model internship, I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn more about the modeling and photography industry. I was also happy when I saw the Nordstrom internship because that is one of my favorite department stores. 

If you could give one piece of advice to other job seekers, what would it be? 
I would tell other job seekers not to get discouraged in their job searches and always keep your head up high. There are so many opportunities out there as long as you are active with your job search. Don't let one rejection discourage you.