Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Art of Interviewing, from a Career Advisor’s point of view…

By Ali Rodriguez, Director, Employer Relations

Over the years, I have interviewed many candidates for full time jobs, student internships, and professional positions. While working in higher education. I've learned a few things about what works, behaviors to avoid, and how to make a lasting positive impression.

Step 1: The initial contact
When the recruiter calls you to offer an interview, make sure you have your list of applications close-by. I’m always surprised when a candidate doesn’t remember applying to the job I am calling about. Also, demonstrate enthusiasm. I'm not implying you want to scream with joy over the phone, but be thankful and let that person know you are looking forward to the opportunity. If the organization reaches out by email, this can be more challenging, but it’s nice when a candidate is excited about an opportunity and shows it.

Step 2: The interview prep
If the interview is longer than an hour, ask for an itinerary. This will allow you to see who you'll meet with and plan accordingly. Research every person you will meet with, as you may discover helpful information. Prepare different questions for each person you meet with, and show specific interest in his/her job and background. I'm always impressed when a candidate knows where I went to college or specifics about my job. This shows that time and effort went into preparing for the big day.

Step 3: The interview is here
You've probably read about behavioral based interviewing, which interviewers use to determine how your past behaviors indicate future performance. What’s the best way to get a handle on these questions? Preparing examples in advance is important, and you should have many scenarios to discuss at the top of your head. Most importantly, you also want to research how recruiters in your field conduct interviews. Will there be a case study? What are some of those brain teasers? Should you bring a portfolio?

This goes without saying, but be professional. Dressing the part is easy, but how you interact with team members is critical to a successful interview. With that being said, don't get too comfortable during the interview. If you get a sense that the office culture is warm and welcoming, that’s wonderful; remember you are still auditioning for the part. Don’t act like you’re a part of the team just yet, but demonstrate that you are a good fit and would work well with others.

Step 4: The follow-up
Please, write a thank you note.  This seems so basic, yet so many candidates don't do it. Sending an email is fine, and it's important to demonstrate why you are the best fit for the job and reiterate what skills you bring to the table. I've had candidates interview with a group of 3-4 people, and then follow up with a group thank you email. This doesn't allow you to personalize the note in any way.  Take the time to connect with each person and that really will go a a long way.

Step 4: The offer

We all know that it’s a candidate’s market right now. Don’t take advantage of this. Be polite, follow up on all requests to interview, and evaluate all opportunities fairly. In an ideal world, you will have multiple offers (this is a whole different blog).  Negotiating the process can be tricky, and I highly recommend you talk to an advisor at the Toppel Career Center about the process. We are here to help as you secure that job or internship and have valuable resources as you work to achieve your career goals.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Marine Corps Educator Workshop

By Betty Zambrano, Assistant Director, Career Events

This week I had the absolute honor to spend a week in Marine Corps Headquarters for the Educator and Key Leader Workshop. Located in beautiful Quantico, VA, about 45 minutes south of DC, Marine Corps Headquarters is the training ground for the future leaders of America's elite fighting forces.

As part of an effort to educate others on the challenges and rewards of joining a military, the U.S. Marine Corps invited groups of educators from around the country to participate in lectures, listen to panels and even perform training exercises!

The U.S. Marine Corps recruit students who embody the virtues and values of great soldiers and great citizens. Those interested in joining the ranks as an officer have several options to serve, either through the Platoon Leaders Course (undergraduate students) or the Officer Candidates Course (college graduates). Each option gives candidates the opportunity to prove their mental agility, physical fitness and above all, their ability to lead in times of uncertainty.

This is done through a combination of physical training, mental preparation and studying the logistics and techniques that govern a specialized arm of the military. As a guest of the USMC workshop, I had the opportunity to simulate some of the physical activities like the Leadership Reaction Course and a brief session at the Martial Arts Center for Excellence. We were also treated to a once-in-a-lifetime helicopter ride with HMX-1 pilots (those who pilot the POTUS helicopter) and a simulated infantry patrolling mission. As a civilian, I felt honored and inspired by the sense of purpose displayed by each and every one of our Marine escorts.

To learn more about the benefits of a career in the U.S. Marine Corps, please reach out to our University of Miami Officer Recruitment Officer, Capt. Cipriano Rivera. He is reachable at or at Fall Career Expo on Friday, September 18th! 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Bilingual Advantage

By Betty Zambrano, Assistant Director, Career Events

Living in South Florida is a constant reminder of how crucial it is to be open to other cultures and especially other languages.  Miami serves as the most important commercial and cultural link to Latin America and as a UM student, all you have to do is walk down to the local bakery or make your way to the beach to hear a flurry of foreign languages.  If you were not able to learn or practice another language in your childhood, living in Miami during your college career is the perfect place to pick up at least the basics of Spanish, Portuguese, French, etc.
The advantage of knowing the basics of a foreign language stretches far beyond cultural appreciation.  In fact, this could have a significant effect on the rest of your career. In an increasingly interconnected global market, this skill could be the spark that catapults you above the rest.  Check out some of the added benefits of sticking to your Mandarin minor!

1. Makes you a more marketable candidate:  Bilingual employees are widely sought after by every industry, from engineering to communications.  And not only in major cities like Miami, but across the U.S. and abroad!  I remember a friend who did Peace Corps in Tanzania found a job in Kansas working with African refugees in the area.  You can bet that his resume was at the top of the list when the employer realized he was fluent in Swahili!

2. You can negotiate higher pay:  Not only will you be more qualified to land a job in a highly competitive job market, but you can leverage your knowledge to negotiate an increase in pay.  As a bilingual employee, you are able to offer not only language skills, but often times a cultural competency that other candidates are not equipped with.  The right employer will recognize, value and be willing to offer higher compensation for that.

3. More employment opportunities.  Depending on your proficiency, you can use your language skills to take on a second job or create your own freelance business.  If you are a college student looking for extra cash, what better way than charging for tutoring and translation services?  These non-traditional options can help you make money while giving you the freedom to create a schedule around your classes and activities. 

Taking on a second language can be time-consuming and require concentrated effort on your part, but it is one of the most valuable skills you can offer over the course of your career.  Take advantage of living in a multicultural city and explore the world of languages available through UM or community classes!

Have you ever been in a situation where you were grateful to be bilingual? Share your experiences in the comments!