Monday, August 29, 2016

The Toppel Peers Blog Has Moved

Hello Followers,

The Toppel Peers are excited to announce that today we have officially launched a new blog! has all the posts you've read and enjoyed from over the years and will continue to bring you the thoughts and reflections on all things career from our very own Toppel Peer Advisors. 

Read, enjoy, and let us know what you want to hear about next.

The Toppel Peers

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Increase in Employers Offering Benefits to Interns

By Devin Rogan, Assistant Director, On-campus Recruiting 

Over the past decade, we at the career center, as well as university professors and staff have shared with students the increasing importance of obtaining an internship during their college tenure. Internships help students develop valuable skills and provides them with real world experience that they will need to have once they enter the workforce after college. As imperative it has become for students to gain this experience, employers have also noticed the benefits that internships have for their organization and it has had a direct effect on the way they recruit and attract the best candidates to their internship offerings.

According to NACE’s 2016 Guide to Compensation for Interns and Co-ops, “employers have bolstered the slate of benefits they have offered to their interns… with medical and dental insurance now offered by a significant portion of respondents.” Not only have employers increased their healthcare offerings, but 401(k) plan options, vacation time, and paid holidays have drastically increased as well. Please see the chart below that shows the increase in these benefits from 2007 to present.  

Figure 1: Employee Benefits Offered to Interns, 2007-16
% of responses
Planned social activities
Paid holidays
401(k) plan
Medical insurance
Dental insurance
Service time
Vacation time
Tuition reimbursement

So what does this all mean? Well, internships can no longer be viewed as a time period where students complete all of the “busy work” that full time employees don’t want to spend time doing, such as getting coffee for the office and running errands. Employers realize that undergraduate and graduate students can be valuable assets to their organization and can contribute on a day-to-day basis, and as a result should be rewarded for their efforts. 
This changing trend can also show that the competition to find the best talent is steadily increasing. With mostly all organizations offering some sort of internship program, students now have options to choose from and they want to join an organization where they feel valued. This can be in the form of pay or benefits, but may also include professional development, training, mentorship programs, and established goals that the student should be motivated to meet throughout the duration of the internship.

Lastly, employers are planning for the future. All of these extra benefits come at a cost, and that includes the time spent interviewing, selecting, and onboarding the students into their internship. Employers hope that the students excel in their positions, but more employers are using this time period as a “try before they buy” and planning to potentially hire this student as a full time employee after their internship. However, even if hiring isn’t in the employer’s plans, but the student has a great experience with that organization, then the employers brand recognition will increase on campus making their recruiting efforts that much easier.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

5 Ways to Make the Most of the End of your Summer Internship

By Anna Kenney, Assistant Director, Internships

Can you believe that we are just over one month away from the fall semester beginning? It seems like the summer flew by! For many of you, summer brought with it internship opportunities. This is a great way to test the career “waters”, if you’ll forgive the pun. 

With your internship coming to an end, there are some things you may want to consider doing to maximize the rest of your time there. 

1. Update your resume!
You should always have an up-to-date resume, but what better time than while you are still in your internship. The experience will still be fresh in your mind, so hopefully you won’t forget to include things. You’ll also have the opportunity to ask your supervisor and/or colleagues/peers to review it for you and provide feedback. Who better but the experts in their fields?

2. Review your resume!
Once it’s updated, peruse your resume. Identify the main skills you possess and start to look for any gaps. According to the National Association of Colleges & Employers most recent report, the top job candidate skills/abilities are:

Do you feel like your resume can effectively articulate these skills/abilities?

3. Seek out new experiences/projects!
If you answered no to the previous question, then it’s time to make some moves! Sit down and come up with a list of ideas of ways that you think you could work to develop some of those top skills/abilities. Set a meeting with your supervisor and come up with a specific action plan as to how you will work on that during the remaining time in your internship. 
Or, start thinking of ways that you can develop these skills during the school year. Maybe there is a class you can take, student organization you can join or future internship to pursue. 

4. “Document” your experience!
Journaling during your internship experience can be a really helpful tool for decision making down the line. Have you ever experienced frustration with a person and thought, “Ugh, they always do this!” Then 20 minutes later, peace exists and your completely forget until the next time. Journaling about things that you enjoy as well as things you do not enjoy can help you identify the right questions to ask in future interviews. 
If there are tangible pieces from your internship experience, and you are able to share these externally, they can be used as a portfolio of sorts. This can be really beneficial, so that in a future interview, instead of just telling them about the amazing infographic you created, you are able to show them. 

5. Utilize Toppel!
Each advisor at Toppel is highly trained to assist you no matter which stage of your career development you are at. We also each work with different schools and colleges, so we can be a great resource as not every industry or major recruits in the same way. If you want to get a head start, reach out and schedule an appointment now, we are here for you during the summer just like during the regular school year. To schedule an appointment, log-in to Handshake and request your appointment. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Top 5 Podcasts for Career Development On-The-Go

If you’re anything like me, summer means fireworks, fresh cherries, and weekends by the pool, but it also means lots of time sitting in moving vehicles. Whether you’re on a train commuting to your summer internship or in the backseat of a car on a road-trip, listening to podcasts can be a great way to pass the time – and get a leg up on your career development journey. Here are my top five picks:

For the ‘Cane who’s on the hunt for the right career path:

Each episode of Half Hour Intern or Working gives you an engaging thirty(ish)-minute peak into the life of someone with a different career. Some of them are unusual, like “Pet Detective” or “Coffee Chemist,” while others highlight more familiar roles like “Retail Manager” or “Psychotherapist.”
If an episode piques your interest, take advantage of Toppel programs to explore further! Earn course credit for a Toppel Internship in the field, arrange an informational interview, or shadow a professional through the UShadow program.

For the ‘Cane seeking industry inspiration: 

So you’ve discovered an industry that sparks your interest – now what? Industry-specific podcasts like award-winning On The Media (about – you guessed it – the media industry) and The Business (all about the entertainment “biz”) give you a chance to delve deeper. If “traumedy” films and data journalism aren’t your thing, a quick Google search is all it take to find the top podcasts in your area of interest.

For the ‘Cane who’s landed the job (or internship):

Now that you have the position, are you prepared to rock it? Every week, The Accidental Creative brings you advice and inspiration for making the most out of your time on the job. Conversations with expert guests cover everything from game-changing morning rituals to dealing with criticism. Challenge yourself to implement one tip each week and discover what works for you!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

5 Reasons You Should NOT Apply To Graduate School

By Esther Lamarre, Assistant Director, Graduate Student & Alumni Career Programs

The question of when is it time to consider graduate school is a popular topic for many graduating seniors and alumni. Often it is the result of a frustrating experience navigating a job search process that has yielded few leads and zero offers. Many alumni tend to question their bachelor’s level education and view an advanced degree as the only choice that will provide employment security.  
It’s not. 

Do NOT apply to graduate level programs if this is the reason you’re applying: 

1. I want a guaranteed job.
While this reasoning makes perfect sense in an ideal world, today’s job market is not an ideal world. Therefore, a master’s degree (or even a PhD) will not guarantee you a job.  In fact, there are many people who change career paths after securing an advanced degree because they are unable to land a job in their field of choice.  Job security is not based on whether or not you have another degree. Job security includes many different variables such as job demand, the economy, your background and experiences, where you live (or want to live), etc. Make sure you are exploring all factors before assuming a graduate degree will provide a blanket safety net for a future job.

2. I can easily finish a program in 1-2 years.
Timing certainly plays a critical role when it comes to deciding whether or not a graduate degree is the right choice. However, just because you can easily completely a short 1-2 year program doesn’t necessarily mean you should – especially if you’re paying for it. It is more important to know how this degree will complement or enhance your current experiences, education, or future goals.  For instance, if you have a bachelor’s degree in sociology and your goal is to manage a nonprofit organization, how will a one year chemistry master’s degree help you to achieve that goal?  You may have the time (and even resources) to quickly complete a program but if does not align with your future goals, you are wasting time, energy, and money.

3. I have no idea what I want to do next. 
If you have no idea where your career is headed, a graduate program isn’t going to help you figure that out any faster.  In fact, you will likely waste time, energy, and money pursuing a degree you later realize you never wanted and/or needed.  Instead, it would be a better of use of your time to spend some time identifying your interests and passions and related careers.

4. I will be more marketable with a graduate degree.
Marketability comes from how you talk about your experiences and education.  In some instances, a recent graduate with a bachelor’s degree can be more marketable than a seasoned professional with an MBA because the recent graduate is better at showcasing related experiences and knows how to sell those experiences.  A graduate degree will not automatically make you marketable if you cannot articulate the connection for future employers. A graduate degree does not equal marketable.

5. I’m not ready to start paying back my student loans. 
Eventually everyone has to pay back student loans.  Piling on more debt simply because you want to hold on to that forbearance option is probably the worst financial decision ever. Just don’t do it. Being a lifelong student is great – when the financial responsibility will not eventually haunt you. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Company Culture is Something Not to Overlook During your Interview Process

By Edward Cruz, Director, Career Education

Earlier this month, my colleague discussed the ACC’s of interviewing (Adaptability, Communication and Critical Thinking Skills). I believe the points made are valuable, and you should read his blog to get more information. However, I wanted to take a moment to provide some additional thoughts to consider as you begin your search and go through the interview process.

In addition to the ACCs of interviewing, when searching for your position you also need to strongly consider company culture. At times, determining an organization’s culture can be difficult until you are further along in the search process. Let’s say you applied for a position that seems like a good fit and you went through the first round screening interview. A week or two passes and you receive the call you have been waiting for. You were moved onto round two! Congratulations! You made it! They STILL like you. That means the ACCs worked!

Now that you are preparing yourself for the office interview, you can expect to meet with one to two people or an entire department; it just depends on the organization’s interviewing method (tip: it could also reflect their culture so pay attention). Before you arrive for your interview you should take some time out to prepare your questions and do your homework on the organization. At the end of your interview, you will have an opportunity to ask questions of the interviewer. This is your chance, go for it! Learn about their culture by asking specific questions similar to these:

1.    Can you define your culture in 3 - 5 words?
2.    Can you explain how conflicts are handled within the team/office?
3.    How are accomplishments recognized by the department/organization?
4.    What is the leadership style of supervisors/managers at the organization?

Another thing you would what to key in on during your time at the organization is its values, both spoken and unspoken. Meaning, is what they are saying matching with what they are doing? Are these spoken values being reflected in your interactions with all levels of staff? Questions to consider when evaluating the organization’s values are:

1.    Are the values clearly stated or visible? Do not be afraid to ask them what their values are.
2.    How are staff interacting with each other?
3.    Are there undertones to the questions being asked by the interviewers or in the way they are responding to your questions?
4.    At the conclusion of the process, think about what the experience was like and how were you treated and made to feel.

In many instances, culture is often times overlooked. With this misstep you can find yourself in an environment that does not gel with your values and causes a great deal of dissonance. Do your homework ahead of time, be observant, and do not discredit your gut feelings during the entire interview process. In many cases, culture is not considered until well after the candidate accepted the position and has spent some time in the new role/organization. With this blog entry, you now you have some food for thought and can prepare yourself to make a well informed decision not only by the offered salary or job title, but something that may mean more to you in the long run and that’s the CULTURE. Good luck on finding your fit!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Upcoming Interview? Think ACC

By Richard Combs, Assistant Director, Business Consultant

“Knowledge is a commodity and is free. The world and employers do not care about what you know.  They care about what you can do with what you know. ”
- Tony Wagner
In a typical interview process, it is common for an organization to receive hundreds of applicants, phone screen 10-20 individuals, and hold face-to-face interviews with upwards of 5 candidates.  On-campus interviewing can provide even greater numbers as companies will often interview 10+ candidates per interviewer.  With these numbers, how does one stand out from the crowd?  Be memorable.

So what can you do to distinguish yourself in an interview?

Here are 3 key skills (ACC) that you should demonstrate in your story to help you be memorable:

1. ADAPTABILITY – ability to “roll with the punches” and adapt to change

The world of work is changing.  Many of the jobs most desired now did not even exist 5 years ago.  The ability to adapt is critical for all employees as it demonstrates flexibility and brings added value to the employer.

2. COMMUNICATION SKILLS – ability to organize and articulate thoughts effectively, good listening skills

Despite all the changes in technology, communication skills are still highly valued.  In addition to written and verbal communication skills, the ability to listen is important.  

3. CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS – ability to use logic and reasoning to identify strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems

Your story during the interview must demonstrate your critical thinking skills.  How do you accomplish this?  Reflect on your experiences and demonstrate how you improved a situation.  People are hired to solve problems.  Your job is to make your boss’s job easier.  In order to do this, you fix problems.  

Remember that an interview is a two way street.  The employer is interviewing you, but you are also interviewing the employer.  Also to become more skillful at interviewing it takes practice, practice, and more practice.  Take advantage of the opportunity to participate in mock interviews at the Toppel Career Center and sign up for the EPIC program once you return to campus in the fall.