Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Phone Interview Preparation

By Vinessa Burnett, Toppel Peer Advisor

For most people, phone interviews can be a huge source of angst and awkwardness –and rightfully so. It can be hard talking to a stranger over the phone while trying to portray your best self. Somehow you have to say all the right things without using eye contact or a smile to help get your message across.

While phone interviews can certainly be difficult, there are definitely ways to prepare beforehand that can make them a little less stressful. Here are several tips that you’ll be able to use to your advantage next time you have a phone interview!

Useful Phone Interview Tips:

Relax and be yourself 
This is by far the most important tip! Before you answer the phone call take a couple of deep breaths and tell yourself, “I got this!” Once you’re on the phone, speak how you would normally speak and stay true to who you are when answering each question. Even through a phone line, if you relax and be yourself, your awesome personality will still come across!

Print out everything you need
The best part about a phone interview is that (unlike an in-person interview) you can have all the documents that you need right in front of you! Be sure to print out the following documents beforehand and have them visible so that you can refer to them throughout the interview:

• Print out your resume
• Print out the job description
• Print out any documents that you submitted as part of your application (ex: essays, cover letters, supplemental activities etc.)

Look up the company on Glassdoor.com and read what questions other people who interviewed for the position were asked. Copy these questions and type out your answer to them before the interview. When asked one of those questions, all you have to do is look on the page and your response is already there!

Take notes
Have a sheet of paper and a pen to take notes throughout the interview. Be sure to write down the interviewer(s) name(s) so that you can mention them towards the end. You never know what useful information your interviewer might have for you, such as important dates and next steps! Also, if you take notes as the interview progresses, you may be able to refer back to something that was previously stated.

Close it the right way
Remember that a phone interview is also a chance for you to get to know the company. Always ask your interviewer(s) at least two to three questions at the end of the interview. These closing questions can be related to the position, the company, or the timeline of when you can expect to hear back. Lastly, make sure the interviewer hangs up first – do not hang up or say goodbye before they do!

Next time you have a phone interview… don’t freak out! Stay calm, cool, and collected by referring to the above tips. Best of luck!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

How Recharging Your Batteries Can Jumpstart Success

By Alexis Musick, Toppel Peer Advisor

Many students don’t realize that finding time to relax is just as important as putting time into your schoolwork and career development. College students are known for being incredibly busy – not only do we have class to attend, but we have hundreds of pages of reading, what seems like nonstop testing, heavy organizational involvements, and (for some of us) jobs and internships. With no sleep and tiring days, we pump ourselves with coffee and energy drinks and cross our fingers that this artificial energy will keep us going. 

So, when we get the opportunity to breathe, we need to take it. While it might seem wise to continue pulling all-nighters and having heavy study sessions over our upcoming Spring Break, it’s even wiser to give your brain a rest. We cannot forget that studies have shown that sleep boosts exam scores and enhances cognitive performance while relaxation techniques can help improve academic achievement. The benefits are numerous – and not heeding the advice can be deadly both physically and mentally. Poor examination scores result in poor grades which, in turn, put your academic status in the University at risk and threaten any progress you may have made in career development. 

With Spring Break less than a month away, here a few techniques and considerations to help manage stress and relax during our week off: 

  1. Leave your cell phone at home or tucked away in a bag more often.
  2. Cut back on the caffeine. That great little drug increases heart rate and blood pressure, increases lactic acid in the muscles resulting in stiffness, and triggers insomnia.
  3. Make a schedule for physical exercise! It can neutralize those stress hormones and can do wonders for restoring the mind to a calmer, more relaxed state. 
  4. Journal. Some people find it helpful to keep a daily journal, writing for a few minutes first thing in the morning or at night before turning out the light. If that’s too much work, consider just keeping a gratitude journal, naming the things that made you happy in a day. Getting in the habit of noticing the small things we often take for granted can make a big difference in our attitude about life in general. 
  5. Go outside and get moving. Physical activity can be a major help when productivity is low. 
  6. Read on your own accord. Find something that might inspire you or interest you or let your mind wander. If you’re one of those students who always has school on the forefront (or if it’s just on the back-burner), reading can help you find new ideas and topics for assignments or essays you’re working on.
  7. Try to do something fun. Whether that means a night out with your friends or a night in watching Netflix, make sure you reward yourself for all that work you’ve put in (or will put in come finals) this school year.
  8. Schedule time for relaxation.
  9. Sleep! Staying up all night, as tempting as it may be, creates more problems than benefits. Allow yourself to get as much sleep as you need to (be it six or eight hours) so that you can perform better consistently throughout the week, instead of on just one assignment.
  10. Seek the support of friends and family when you need to vent. But think about things that are going well and try setting a specific goal for yourself that will improve your mood and help you reduce stress. 
  11. Avoid procrastination. Putting off assignments or responsibilities until the last minute can create more mental and physical stress than staying on top of them. Procrastination can affect many aspects of daily life, such as the quality of your work and your mood.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Basics of a CV

By Melissa Wyatt, Toppel Peer Advisor

Many times in the Branding Lab, we’ll be asked the same question: “What makes a CV different from a resume?”

A resume is a concise and easy-to-scan document of your skills and career highlights. You would use a resume to market your skills to an employer in private sector, public sector and non-profit jobs.

A CV (curriculum vitae) is a guide to everywhere you have been academically and professionally – all relevant experiences should be included. A CV, unlike a resume, can be as long as is necessary. You can use a CV to apply to graduate school, fellowships, academic or research-based positions, and careers abroad. 

Here’s a list of topics commonly covered in a CV:
-       Educational background
-       Relevant Coursework
-       Research
-       Teaching/field experience
-       Skills
-       Publications
-       Presentations
-       Certifications
-       Professional affiliations
-       Honors and awards
-       …And more! 

Does a CV sound like it suits your needs? Read on!

While there is not one specific way to write a CV, it is important that yours is carefully edited. Even though a CV doesn’t have a length limit, it should not contain any fluff. Your experiences should be relevant.

Similarly to a resume, position descriptions should start with action verbs and be tailored to what you’re applying for. Use the formula “What I Did + Skills I Used = Results I Got” to further develop each statement. Also, be sure to use bullet points – this makes the document easier to read.
One last pointer: consistent, easy-to-read formatting is crucial. Be sure that your sections are well organized and ordered logically. 

If you have any more questions or need assistance with your CV, you can stop by the Toppel Career Center for walk-in advising anytime from Monday-Friday, 9AM-4:30PM or schedule an appointment for one-on-one assistance. Good luck!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Keeping New Years Resolutions

By Madison Bowden, Toppel Peer Advisor

It is about that time in the year now where everything starts picking up, classes become harder, and all your activities on and off campus begin to come at you full blast. However, not so long ago we made New Years resolutions. Except now they seem so unrealistic and hard to obtain with exams, clubs, or Greek life. It is important now more than ever that we remember those resolutions to reinvigorate our motivation before the semester takes a heavy toll on us students. 

I myself have found five ways that can improve my chances of keeping those New Years Resolutions of straight A’s, staying active in campus activities, and exercising daily. Here are some tips I recommend:

1. Log the activities you want to accomplish a day in advance in either a journal or agenda
2. Keep a Journal of your Daily Activities to show your progress
3. Have a motivator- Mom, Dad, Friends, etc. 
4. Follow a blog, social media page, or download an app that can motivate you daily
5. Most importantly, if you fall behind a day don’t give up just start fresh the next day 

Remember, it is not about necessarily achieving all your resolutions but keeping the motivation you set for yourself in the beginning of year. So don’t beat yourself up for missing a few days or even a week on your goals just stay motivated and don’t save those New Years Resolutions for next year.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Picking the Right Major

By Beverly Asante

Adam Kotsko once said, “We ask 18 year olds to make huge decisions about their career and financial future, when a month ago they had to ask to go to the bathroom.” How many of you can relate? As college students we are pressured to pick a major, plan our lives, and figure out the career path destined for us, all while simultaneously trying to transition from childhood to adulthood. Indeed, being 18 in the Western world is a big deal and picking the right major is an even bigger one. Scary right? It doesn’t have to be. Here are some things to consider when deciding the right major.

You are not alone
It is statistically proven that many college students change their major at least three times. Although that may not necessarily be the case for you, it is a bit comforting knowing that you’re not the only one confused. In fact, there are many people going through the same thing you are. There are even more people who have gone through it and survived. Not knowing your major at the moment may be extremely stressful. It may even feel like the end of the world, but it isn’t. It’s a start of an adventure, a new experience in which you get to get the know and understand the most awesome person in the world. You! So take a deep breath, and relax. Each and every single day that passes gives you another opportunity to grow and become one step closer to figuring out your unique pathway to success.

Talk to your advisor
Your advisor is your best friend. Get to know him or her. They are willing to help. Express to them what truly makes you happy. Ask them questions. Explain to them any concerns you may have. By listening to what you have to say, they can recommend the best classes for you. It is the best feeling to know that there is someone who is in your corner and willing to guide you every step of the way. Don’t be alarmed if you feel like your schedule is all over the place. It’s okay if you are taking classes that represent a little bit of everything. In fact, it’s a good thing, that way you can test the waters and see what your likes and dislikes are. How else would you be able to come up with a final paper, if you don’t have a first draft? 

Trust yourself
You have the key to success. No matter how much your mom wants you to be Pre-med, or an engineer, the decision is ultimately up to you. You cannot live your life in the eyes of others. It will come a time where you will realize that although your parents love you, they cannot live through you. You are given one life and you need to live the best life for yourself. Follow your dreams, whether it is becoming a chef or an actress. Never forget to trust yourself and know that even if you fail, you failed because you tried and not because you were too scared to try.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Career Myths Debunked!

By Peer Advisor: Trish Vega

Ever thought about your future career and felt a tiny bit (or a lot-a-bit)... well… exasperated? I think we’ve all been there at one point or another. But worry not, perhaps I can help ease some anxiety. In this post, I will debunk three common career misconceptions in order to help you look at your future career not with nervousness, but with excitement!

Myth #1: My major dictates what kind of jobs I will get.
Contrary to popular belief, what you major in does not necessarily lock you into a specific industry. In fact, (with the exception of careers that require highly technical skills and knowledge such as engineering or medicine) it is possible for almost any major to find a fulfilling career in any industry! I actually know of a family friend who happily works as a Marketing Analyst at AAA, and he graduated with a music degree. The fact of the matter is, your skills and what you learn from your experiences are more valuable than your specific major. Focus on those, and you’ll be surprised at the multitude of opportunities that open themselves to you!

Myth #2: I have to know it all to get the job.
Most employers don’t expect you know you every single aspect and duty of a given job when considering hiring you. This is why it’s very important to take into account transferable skills. These skills are qualities such as creativity, good decision making, positive energy, and confidence. You can take these skills with you wherever you are in your career journey, and they will help you be adaptable and open to learning on the job, which is very valuable to employers.

Myth #3: I need to find the one perfect job for me.
Your perfect job is going to look different depending on where you are in your career journey. What might be piquing your interest now as a college student may be wildly different as you gain more experiences under your belt. It is also possible to explore multiple avenues at the same time. I have another friend who travels the country as a speaker, but also has taken time in her career to write for blogs, do service work, and record a jazz album! Another great example is entrepreneur, video blogger, entertainer, educator, writer, philanthropist, and musician Hank Green. He is another highly successful, real-world example of how you can succeed in having your career being made up of multiple paths. The possibilities are endless!

Hopefully some of these demystified misconceptions can ease your view of the career world. The world is your oyster, and here at Toppel we aspire to help you explore your future with optimism and excitement!