Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Interviews Are Two-Way Streets!

By Trish Vega, Toppel Peer Advisor

Interviews can be nerve-wracking. There can be so many things to keep in mind in order to help sell yourself to your interviewer:  Am I sitting up straight? I gotta make sure I’m not using too many “ums”! Am I talking too fast?

But we can chill a little bit and take some pressure off. In a way, you are an interviewer too! Interviews are a great way to figure out if a company or position is a great fit for you and your professional development. Here’s how to make sure your potential opportunity can be a place for you to thrive.

It’s a Conversation, Not an Interrogation

Often, an interview can turn out to be a rattling off of questions and answers. Take this opportunity to make your interview time more of a conversation! For example, if your interviewer asks about your experience with writing blog posts, don’t be afraid to follow up with a question about what the company’s goals and aspirations are in terms of audience engagement. This will help you in a few ways: it would give you an insight to the company and how they work so you can discern if it is an environment for you, and it would also show that you have an interest in the company, making you more appealing to the employer. Additionally, this can help establish a rapport between you and your interviewer and leave a good impression.

Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

As your interview progresses, be on the lookout for any tidbits of information that signal what the work environment of the company is like. Do they mention travel? Overtime? Opportunities for advancement? If so, see if you can ask a question to get more information on those topics! With that in mind, here are some other questions we recommend asking to get a feel for whether a company is the right fit for you.

What qualities are you seeking in a candidate?
How would you describe the organization culture?
What are the best things about the job and the most challenging parts of this position?
What opportunities are there for me to develop?
What does a day in the office look like?
What goals do you have for the person who will serve this job?

Happy interviewing!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Time to Apply for the Summer Internship

By Melissa Wyatt, Toppel Peer Advisor

It’s that time of year again – time to apply for a summer internship. With many application deadlines fast approaching, here’s a quick checklist of how to perfect your applications and find an internship.

1. Visit the Toppel Branding Lab

You can visit the Toppel Branding Lab Monday – Friday, 9 AM – 4:30 PM to help perfect your resume and cover letter. You don’t need an appointment, and can solidify your application materials by critiquing them with a Peer Advisor. When applying for a competitive internship program, you need your application to stand out.

2. Ask for letters of recommendation and references now – don’t wait!

Ask for letters of recommendation today! You won’t be able to get a great recommendation if you wait until the last minute. Whether your application is due December 1st or February 1st, reach out to former employers and professors now about writing you letters of recommendation. Even if an application doesn’t ask for recommendations or references in the first application round, still reach out to potential references now. Stay in touch with them throughout your internship search, and ask their permission to use them as a reference if needed.

3. Practice your interview skills with a practice interview

You can schedule a full practice interview with Toppel’s professional staff at (305) 284-5451. In just one hour, you can have a practice interview specifically tailored to your field, and you will receive detailed feedback about your interview performance. If you’re pressed for time, drop in for a 20-minute mini mock interview and assessment with Toppel’s Peer Advisors. Both options will help you learn how to answer the tricky questions interviewers might ask, and will teach you how to sell yourself to an employers.

4. Use Handshake to look for an internship

Last but not least, log onto Handshake and use Toppel’s job search feature at miami.joinhandshake.com. Through your Handshake account, you have access to the 2,000+ jobs and internships that employers advertise through Toppel. Once your online resume is uploaded and critiqued by our staff (3-5 business days), you can even apply for an internship directly through Handshake.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Why you should take an Introduction Business Technology Class

By Madison Bowden, Toppel Peer Advisor

Business Technology is expanding and dominating not only the business world but also playing a role in almost every work field. Learning the basics to hardware infrastructure and network infrastructure is almost a necessity in this day and age. An introduction to Business Technology class allows you to use technology to your benefit. With an introductory background in Business Technology one can access and create information that is vital in this world.

Albert Einstein once said, “ It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” So why not become knowledgeable in one of the dominating forces of today’s society when it comes to news, media, and ethical standards. Technology allows you to express yourself in a way that could be a selling point for employers. Nowadays, technology can be used to create a personal show and tell of skills by creating your own personal website, personal LinkedIn Page, or even creating a new tool such as an application on your smart phone!

However, without the knowledge of how to make your digital footprint it is hard to make a very big impact. The power of search engines and other technological parts of computer software play a big role in how you can display yourself in an efficient, innovative manner. I encourage everyone to take a Business Technology class to expand their horizons.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Do You Belong?

By Marian Li, Toppel Peer Advisor

Each company is defined by it, but not many know it by name and many don’t even know it exists! An important attribute when considering future employment options is the company culture, the DNA, if you will of the organization.

A company’s culture is the only truly unique identifier. Products and strategies can always be duplicated. Your company culture defines the way in which your organization interacts with one another and how the team interacts with the outside world. It’s the formula that guides the team, as well as inspires and motivates employees. When companies are going through the recruitment process, they’re not only looking for qualified individuals, but also individuals they want to work with in the future.

It’s not uncommon for job seekers to enter organizations without understanding the culture and come away disappointed. When considering a new prospect, be sure to investigate the institution’s culture! Consider these questions to guide you:

What should I learn? – Understand the organization’s purpose – not just what they said they’re doing, but how their purpose leads to decisions and what makes them proud. Learn how the organization operates. Different purposes and different organizational features can be more or less appealing to different people, and that’s okay! No two people in the job market are the same. When you understand how the potential employer operates, you’ll need to consider how well that matches your goal. Your target organizational culture is an important part of your aspirations.

How should I learn? – Read everything you can about the institution, but read with a critical eye. Read in between the lines, all the formal vision statements are filled with buzz words, but what do they mean? Discuss culture with people in the organization; see what it means to them. You’ll talk to people in the interviewing process. But you may learn different things if you meet others there that aren’t involved in your recruiting process. Their different experience with the institution will affect their views, so ask about situations where they’ve seen the culture in action.

When should I learn? – It’s hard to learn about culture at such an early stage in your search, but your impressions can guide to you your ideal workplace. Culture may come up in job interviews, although it may be complicated to do much investigation when you’re trying to sell yourself. People sometimes worry that discussing culture might make people uncomfortable and put a job offer at risk. The culture topic isn’t entirely off base and it’s necessary to know for future growth in the company.

If this culture concept is hard to grasp, just think back to the time when you were considering which college to attend. Why UM? The strong athletic department? The diversity that defines our campus? The love for the alma mater during this Homecoming season is a good time to reflect on our own school culture so Go Canes and get some soul searching done!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The World is Your Oyster: Deciding Where to Study Abroad

By Monique Beaupre, Toppel Peer Advisor

If you thought deciding where to go to college was fun, then choosing where to study abroad is going to be even more exciting! …More likely, choosing a school was stressful and overwhelming. Given a literal globe of possibilities of study abroad programs, the selection process may be daunting. Here are some things to consider when picking a foreign city to live and study in:

* Are you fascinated by a particular culture?
+ Have you yearned to see Roman ruins? Or are you looking to experience something totally different from the Western world?
+ Can’t decide? Consider a program that takes you around the world, like Semester at Sea (http://www.semesteratsea.org/). There are other multi-city immersion programs to choose from, especially summer programs.

* Where have you traveled before?
+Could you imagine calling one of those places home for a month, semester, or year?
+Do you want something totally different from anything you’ve already experienced?

* How large or small of a city interests you?
+Look at the size of the area you grew up in, or where you go to college. Is that comfortable? Are you looking for something different?

* Do you have foreign language skills? Do you want some new ones? Does that even matter?

* What is your budget?
+Although you can’t put a price on the value of cultural enrichment, some cities cost much more to live in.
+Look into currency exchange rates and cost of living – finding a cheap city to live in could
A) save you money,
B) allow you to ball out a little more than you’re used to, or
C) leave you with money for weekend trips!

* Are there any study abroad programs specific to your major or minor?
+Some programs through UM allow you to complete a minor or take courses specifically for your major. How convenient.

Studying abroad is a potentially life-changing experience. It’s an opportunity to reinvent yourself in a world disconnected from your past. You might find yourself learning new languages. It’s the chance to travel to places you wouldn’t usually have access to on the weekends, and return to your new home base for classes Monday-Friday. You can make friends from places you’ve never heard of, and easily keep in touch for years to come, thanks to Facebook and WhatsApp.

Deciding where to go takes some careful thought, but the experience is more than worth it.