Friday, November 22, 2013


By: Emmy Petit-Frere, Toppel Peer Advisor

As Thanksgiving approaches I figured it is only fitting to take some time and reflect on some things that I am thankful for. Here’s my top five:

  1. I am thankful for my health.
  2. I am thankful for a loving family that pushes me for more than I what I think I can accomplish.
  3. I am thankful to be able to spend Thanksgiving with my 94yr. old grandfather who has traveled from Haiti to visit.
  4. I am thankful to have spent my college career at the University of Miami, which has continued to push me in striving for greatness and has allowed me to meet a community of great people.
  5. I am thankful to have spent this past semester working at Toppel, where I have been able to help my peers develop and I in turn.

What are you thankful for? Tweet us @ToppelPeers with the following hashtags #Thankful #HireACane. We want to know! Enjoy your thanksgiving with those you love and let them know how thankful you are to have them in your life!! J (Did I mention how thankful I am to have A WHOLE WEEK OFF FOR THANKSGIVING BREAK?!?! Haha) Enjoy Thankful Canes!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Work on Vacation Not to Vacation

By Alysha Gomes, Toppel Peer Advisor

The time comes again when many other UM students and I are forced to pick classes to fulfill credits toward our majors. Around this time, I am reminded how stressful it is to pick a career path that I will be inevitably following for the rest of my life. Torn between what my parents wants, what society deems as respectable, what I believe will pay enough to support the life I hope to have, and what I enjoy, the decision is more complicated then most make it out to be. However, the best advice I have been given it to find a happy medium.

There are so many quizzes, questionnaires, and surveys that claim to tell you the best job fit, but the decision is ultimately left up to you. When picking a job there are three major factors (at least for me):

1. What am I good at?

People who stick to this and run often end up in jobs where they only go through the motions. Everyday, they get up, go to work, perform, and go home to the life that their work has made possible, but instead of ruling their own life, they fall victim to routine and hardly ever experience excitement.

2. What makes money?

This is the big debate question. Does my job fit my personality or do I do this because it makes me a ton of money which I can spend after I get off work? People who decide their job based on this question work to pay for the weekends in which they enjoy their life. It is lifestyle they let rule their life. 

3. What do I love doing?

This is the thing that everyone insists should be the deciding factor. We forever hear in our heads, “Do what you what to do, not what people think you should do!” However, this is not the only thing to consider. If you only think about what you love then you forget to consider what you want your life to be like. Yes, many people who give up everything and just roll with their talent do end up on the top of society’s ladder, look at Einstein, but that involves luck and, if you're like me, luck isn’t always on your side.

When picking a career, you should consider not one, but all three of these questions. What are you good at doing that makes enough money to support the life you want that you would love waking up to do? That question will lead you to live a very healthy life in which you do not have to wait till your next vacation to enjoy yourself.

It is estimated that 70% of employees are dissatisfied or disengaged in their careers. So please take some time to reflect on who you actually are. Forget what your parents want, what the top 10 most paying jobs are, and what your rich movie star idol does, and ask yourself what do you want. You don’t have to decide now, but remember that if you don’t pursue your own desires, then your just adding to the 70% who wish they did things different.

Goal : Best put by Dr. Seuss

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Message to My Fashionistas

By Kayla Lott, Toppel Ambassador

When I heard the words “business professional,” I used to hyperventilate.  One of the ways that I—as well as many others—express myself is through my style, and dressing business professional takes away from that completely…or so I used to think. 

Stereotypically, when people think business professional, they think all black, all basic and all boring, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  There are ways that we can express ourselves through our clothing that don’t have to be distracting or take away from our aptitude as young professionals.

So how exactly do we do that? 

For men, feel free to experiment with ties!  That doesn’t mean to wear your new Miami Dolphins tie; however, don’t shy away from patterns and colors (other than red and blue).  Also, experiment with different styles of ties.  The typically worn tie (aka the four-in-hand) is great, but there is also the bow tie that many don’t venture off to do, and there are other alternative ways to tie a tie (like the trinity or eldredge knot) that would give you a unique style as well.

Furthermore, take advantage of this great accessory called the vest.  It’s a nice change from the jacket, and the vest is something that generally looks good on all men.  A sweater, like the vest, is another great deviation from the norm.   Color is another thing that not enough men take advantage of.  The colors of the American flag aren’t the only colors that you can wear to the office, and pink—as well as purple—isn’t just a “girl color.”  Haven’t you heard that real men wear pink?

For women, there’s a lot that we can do.  High-waisted pants and skirts are in right now.  Feel free to wear them as long as the length is appropriate (at least knee-length).  Plus, it’ll give you more of an hourglass look.  Moreover, play around with accessories.  It’s okay to wear more than the pair of go-to studs you have sitting next to your business suit.  Pearls are a great accessory to enhance your outfit while also making you look elegant, as long as you wear them in moderation.  Don’t be afraid of earrings that dangle, just make sure they say business but fashionable not I’m going to the club after work.  Less is more is definitely a foundation to live by on wearing accessories in the work place, but think of less as modest not as sparing.

On the topic of the club, be careful of the heels you wear.  Many advise to keep heels to a half an inch, but this is 2013, and we’re fashion-forward young ladies.  Most of us probably don’t own a pair of heels that are less than three inches.  As long as they’re not too strappy, too high (five to six inches, four may be pushing it) and preferably close-toed, feel free to strut your stuff.  Lastly, lack of color isn’t just an issue for the men.  It’s okay for us to wear color too.  Wear that magenta colored skirt or the gold flats or both.  Fashion-forward isn’t just for the fashion merchandising majors.  It can be for us too.

So the next time you hear “business professional,” keep calm and style on because style is something that gives you the freedom to be who you are even when you are part of a unit.  When everyone else looks the same, it helps us to define ourselves as someone who is different, unique and divergent.  It’s something that can go from being a conversation starter to getting us a job, so don’t be afraid to wear that argyle tie or that chunky gold necklace.  It may be the very catalyst to get you your next connection.

Monday, November 11, 2013

National Career Development Month

By Monique Beaupre, Toppel Peer Advisor

November is National Career Development Month! What better way to ring in the holiday season than with career related activities? Since 1966, the National Career Development Association (NCDA) has inspired Americans to celebrate career development through this very special month. 

What can you do to further develop your career this month?

Put your poetic/poster-making abilities to the test.

The NCDA sponsors an Annual Poetry & Poster Contest in honor of National Career Development Month. This year’s topic is "Charting the Course for the Second Century". Get contest details at

Visit the Mecca of Career Development (a.k.a. Toppel Career Center at UM).

At the Toppel Career Center, we celebrate every month like it’s National Career Development Month. Before the end of November, an extensive lineup of companies and organizations – varying from Google to the U.S. Department of State – will be hosting information sessions. Check out our official calendar at to find details on all upcoming events. 

The little things count, too!
Updating your resume frequently is a great habit to get into. If you haven’t done so in a while, National Career Development month is the perfect opportunity to make sure your resume is up to date.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Secret Networking Weapon: Informational Interviews

By Amy L. Strachota, Toppel Practicum Student

Attending past networking events, you probably approached the process in a predominately low key manner; in other words, you spent your time introducing yourself, gathering business cards, and sending a follow-up email. Although such practices can be beneficial, proactive networking will put you in a better position to obtain your dream position. 

One way of being proactive in the networking is by conducting what’s most commonly known as an informational interview. An informational interview is a strategic way of gaining valuable information about a certain profession, while networking with employers. 

The first step is to make a hit list of potential companies you wish to work for and use your student status to your advantage when contacting these professionals. Practice your elevator pitch as you get a hold of a professional within the targeted organization. If you choose to send an email, you should include your name, educational background and reason for wishing to conduct an interview. For example: “Hi, my name is Amy Strachota; I am currently working on my Bachelor of Science degree in Human Resource Management at the University of Miami. I’m very interested in gaining more information about the field. Would it be possible to sit down with you to discuss your role within the marketing company and trends in the field as a whole?” 

Before you arrive for the informational interview, fully research the company and its mission statement. Ask questions to give you a better idea of a typical work day in that field, as well as to gain valuable job search advice. This process will provide you an avenue to have a conversation with someone who can relate to your career journey. At the conclusion of the informational interview, express your appreciation for the time the professional took out of his or her busy day to meet with you. Then, ask if you may leave your professional documents, so that the employer many contact you if any type of opportunity were to become available. Even if a position isn’t open during the time of your interview or you’re not ready to begin your career, that may change someday. Leaving your resume, cover letter and/or contact information opens the door to future possibilities — especially since you’ve already networked with that company. 

An informational interview can help you to network with professionals. This can also help focus your internship or job search strategy and clarify your career goals. And, at the very least, it can give you a new LinkedIn connection to increase your professional network.