Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Graduating Senior’s Reflection on Toppel

By Vinessa Burnett, Toppel Peer Advisor

As a senior who will be graduating in less than two weeks, I’ve been spending a great deal of time reflecting on all that I have been able to accomplish during my four years at the University of Miami. In particular, I’ve given much thought to the wonderful opportunities and the multitude of resources that have come my way since being here and how these will affect me in my post-grad life.
Of course, I’d be totally fooling myself if I didn’t acknowledge the impact that the Toppel Career Center has had on me, not only during my time here at UM, but will probably have on me for the rest of my career.

Let’s take it from the beginning shall we…

When I first arrived at UM I knew absolutely nothing about resumes. In fact, I remember uploading a five page resume, complete with photos and silly anecdotes about my high school experiences, to the HireACane website during my first semester. I was shocked a few days later when I received a resume critique notifying me that I would have to re-do my resume and then re-submit it, because the original one was not acceptable.

Although it was a simple critique, it felt like a big fat rejection letter. I took it personally, and because of that, I worked twice as hard to get my resume in tip-top shape. Not only did I revise my resume over and over again, but I also began to apply for summer internships. My friends, and even professors, offered mixed advice, suggesting to me that it would be nearly impossible to land an internship as a freshman. However, I was determined.

Through I learned about Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) internship program and attended an on-campus information session. It wasn’t long after the info session that I applied online through HireACane and was selected for an on-campus interview. While in the interview, the interviewer commented that I was the only freshman who had applied. And to make a long story short, I received an offer and interned as a Quality Assurance Analyst Intern for the summer of 2013 in FPL’s Feeder Reliability Department.

Since then I have been fortunate to intern with great companies, such as Teach For America as an Operations Coordinator and Goldman Sachs as a Summer Analyst. These internships were very rewarding and provided me with a ton of insight and “real world” experience in fields that interested me. It comes as no surprise that I found out about both of these internships through the Toppel Career Center as well and was able to apply directly through the website.

Aside from the internship experiences that Toppel has helped me receive, Toppel has also allowed me to gain exposure to different companies and resources that have greatly benefitted me. I’ve practiced my networking skills at events such as the Fall and Spring Career Expo as well as at the Global Careers Meet-Up. I’ve also been able to perfect my writing skills by participating in the “Writing the Personal Statement” event that was hosted in the fall of 2015.

My love for the Toppel Career Center led me to apply to become a Toppel Ambassador during my junior year. In this role I was able to represent Toppel by tabling regularly in the UC Breezeway and assisting with outreach events. Now as a senior, I am proud to say that I work as a Peer Advisor at Toppel, a role in which I am able to reciprocate all of the help that has been given to me unto my peers in the form of walk-in resume, cover letter, and personal statement critiques (P.S. I love my job!).

While I am excited about graduating and starting a new chapter in my life, I am sad that I will be leaving behind the wealth of resources, services, and inspiring mentors at Toppel that have gotten me to where I am today.  I am forever grateful for the Toppel Career Center and look forward to utilizing the skills that I have learned from it, both as a student and employee, as I move forward in my career.

Vinessa Burnett will be graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Communication with a major in Communication Studies and minors in Mathematics and Management in May 2016. She has accepted a summer internship with Southwest Airlines’ Human Resources division after graduation and will attend The Ohio State University in the fall of 2016 to pursue a Masters in Human Resource Management.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Maximize Your Summer Vacation

By Alexis Musick, Toppel Peer Advisor

With finals only one week away, career development is the last thing on any college student’s mind. Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel: summer vacation. While the ever-anticipated break is more often a source of fun and relaxation, it too can be a period of productivity. Summer break is the perfect time to develop new skills, take part in interesting experiences to build your resume, and further your personal and professional development. Here are four tips on how to make the most of your summer vacation.

1. Find a summer job relating to your career goals. Taking part in a part- or full-time job over the summer is almost always a rewarding experience. Not only does it give you an opportunity to pay off loans, afford rent, or stash a little cash in your back pocket for personal spending, but it also is an excellent way to start forging valuable connections as you gain experience in your field of interest. There are thousands of possibilities: Biology major? Check out field technician positions with an environmental company like Clarke. Plan to go into Computer Science? Don’t be afraid to embrace what you may consider a “lower-tier” job like Best Buy’s Geek Squad or a customer service position at a local tech score. A quick Google search can help reveal all of the possibilities.

2. Get an internship. Generally, while internships feature less (or no pay) compared to a regular job, they offer a more hands-on experience where you are able to work in a more technical, specific, or higher-level setting. Visit Handshake, Toppel’s career management system, which contains a database of internships that you can apply for directly on the system. Once you log in (with the same UM log-in information you use everywhere else), take a look at the lefthand column and click the section that says “Internships.” You can filter the hundreds and hundreds of results by things like location or employment type and find the internship you’ve been looking for!

3. Volunteer. Volunteering is an excellent opportunity to develop new skills that you can use in a job or internship. For instance, a student studying political science might benefit from volunteering with a legal clinic or community health center. The knowledge you accumulate and your demonstrated commitment to community service may give you a leg up when compared to other applicants who may have focused only on “professional” involvements.

4. Start networking and building connections. One way to get your name out there within your field of interest is by creating a LinkedIn profile (or polishing it up if you already have one). If you meet professionals at a career fair or during an interview, you can invite them to connect with you. Having recruiters or individuals within a company recognize your name upon application is a huge benefit; alternatively, the people you connect with might be the ones who can recommend you for a position elsewhere. Stop by Toppel from 9:00am to 5:00pm to meet with a Peer Advisor and have your LinkedIn profile critiqued!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Building a Professional Wardrobe

By Lindsey Shanck, Toppel Peer Advisor

When a student lands their first internship or job, it can be extremely stressful building a professional wardrobe. It is hard knowing where to start and it can also be costly; however, with the right approach, it doesn’t have to be! With the right pieces, it should be easy to dress professionally every day.

1. Stick to basic colors.

In the picture above, there is a common theme. Blue, black and white are colors that go with everything and can be mixed and matched with other patterns and colors, saving money. When choosing blazers, pants, and button downs, make sure you have these staples before venturing to other colors.

2. Invest in two pairs of good shoes.

Play it safe with shoes, and find a nice pair of black pumps and beige pumps for women and black and brown leather loafers for men.

3. Make sure you match!

The basic rule is to pair black with black, and beige and brown with blue. Grey can be mixed with both, but will look better with black, unless the grey has brown undertones like the man’s pants seen above.

4. Accessorize. But keep it to a minimum!

It can be hard to show your personality through professional dress, but a few accessories go a long way. A necklace and fun purse and a watch a nice briefcase are all you need.

5. Looking professional is more than the clothes you are wearing.

It is important to make sure your hair is groomed, your clothes are clean, and it doesn’t look like you just rolled out of bed! While you should take it easy on cologne or perfume, make sure you look presentable!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Why Everyone Needs to Apply for the UShadow Program

By Madison Bowden, Toppel Peer Advisor

This semester I was accepted into the UShadow Program, a very unique program offered at the Toppel Career Center. This program matches you with a professional in a field of work that you are interested in. The great part about this program is that there is no pressure that comes with an interview but you have the capability of getting to know the professional on a level of an interview and ask as many questions as you want! I got to spend the day at the office of Klique, a new application on the market. I spent the day learning from the CEO, Matt Crown and Marketing Director, Derek Du Chesne about all the ins and outs of creating such a complex application. I was also able to help brainstorm Marketing campaigns and how they are handling their launch coming in a month. This experience taught me how to address a professional setting and learn about pursuing my Marketing Career. Klique is also an innovative application that allows you to meet new people with friends by your side. Klique is one of the first apps that allows for group-to-group social networking. The wonderful Klique team had me acquainted with the app and using it the day of our meet up. I am so grateful about all I learned through the meet up and UShadow Program. Be sure to check out this app and download it! It is a great platform for socializing in groups!
Check it out:

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Get Involved, it’s important!

By Beverly Asante, Toppel Peer Advisor

This last weekend, I got the opportunity to go to Jamaica to compete in the Pan American Universities Debating Championship. Essentially, I spent five days in a beautiful Island debating.  How you ask? I got involved. I took advantage of the opportunities provided by this amazing University. I joined an organization where I felt I belonged, filled with individuals who share the same passion I do. Joining a club or a student organization is one of the best things you can do while you’re in college. Below is a few reasons why.

It looks good on your resume

Of course employers look at your grades. They matter. Of course they look at where you got your undergraduate degree, that also matters. However, a lot of students forget that employers come across countless numbers of job applicants of students who went to these amazing colleges and got these amazing grades. The point is, they see so many qualified applicants that good grades and a good college isn’t enough to get hired. It’s not even the bare minimum. What sets your application apart is your activities section. This is the section where you can include any volunteer work as well as any clubs or organizations you are involved in. Having this on your resume shows employers that you can multitask. Not only can you handle a rigorous course load but you’re also a leader outside of the classroom. Anyone can say they got good grades, but not everyone can say that they got good grades while being an intercollegiate debater, or the head of the economics club. These are the type of things that personalizes your application and gives employers a better understanding of who you are and what you like.

It becomes your second family

Everyone who knows me knows that I love to sing.  One of the biggest things I wanted to do when I first arrived on campus was join a singing group. I did and it was one of the best decisions I made. I did much more than sing. I grew a bond with these people. I was a lost freshman in August and I didn’t have many friends. The thing about clubs is that they force you to make relationships. They force you to meet new people and experience different things. What you do with those people is at your discretion. In my case, these student organization served as a great networking tool. Thus opening the door for friendships I can see myself having even after I graduate. I was surrounded by individuals who made me want to sing better, who made me think critically. Individuals who motivated me to be better. Joining a club made being in a different state away from my family bearable. It fostered a sense of community that I definitely needed at this fragile time in my life. I grew to love my fellow choristers, we connected with our voices and my heart soared knowing that there were people just like me who shared my love. Music.

If you take anything away from this post, please let it be that joining a club is a wise decision. It can be the start of friendships, it can be a great networking tool, it can even be the reason you get hired. Who knows, maybe you might share a few extracurricular activities in common with your employer.  Or the president of one your clubs might know someone who is hiring in your desired field. The point is, you will never know what opportunities lie ahead unless you actually get out and get involved.