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 you 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.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

My UShadow Experience at Univision

By Tiffany Kerr, UShadow Participant

This semester I was accepted into the UShadow Program which is a very unique program that matches you with a professional in the career of your interest. I was very excited when I got accepted, because I am interested in many different things and wasn’t sure if it was even possible to match me. I am currently a junior at University of Miami studying Advertising with a minor in Latin American Studies and Entrepreneurship. In the future I plan to go to grad school to get an MBA. When I received the email that I was paired up with Silvina, the manager of programming research at Univision, I was very surprised that I was given the opportunity to shadow a professional at a location that was related to all my interests.

I was introduced to Leidys, the senior programming research specialist at Univision, who coordinated the time and date for my visit to Univision. Leidys stayed in touch with me through email until it was the day of my visit. I could immediately sense I was going to love my experience at Univision before I even visited. The day of my visit to Univision, the first person I met was Leidys. I walked through that glass door and entered a world I could not imagine. The first floor was lightly dimmed and there were televisions everywhere and people working at their stations. Programming research was on the second floor and from there I was introduced to Michael, the programming research specialist, and Silvina.

My day started with Michael showing me a PowerPoint about what programming research is and what they do. I asked a lot of questions and learned something new. The company uses Nielsen, which I have heard a lot about while studying Advertising, and Michael showed me examples of what Nielsen does for programming research. After the PowerPoint session, I sat in on a meeting and the programming research team discussed ratings. Then, I was given a tour of Univision and visited different departments such as Advertising, Radio, and Fusion. I was introduced to a University of Miami alum that worked at Fusion and he joined us for lunch later on as well.

During lunch we all sat together and I got to know everyone a little more. Silvina went to the University of Miami for a semester for the study abroad program and is from Argentina. I mentioned to her how I love to travel and told her about my experience with doing a service trip to Guatemala with the University of Miami. She was very familiar with that trip and we ended up talking about the next places we would both love to visit. Michael, the University alum, and I talked about finals, video games, and they gave me advice on what classes I should take next semester that would help me in the job market. Leidys and I talked about her career and how she loves her job.  I mentioned how I was still trying to find my career path but my experience here is giving me ideas of what I would like to pursue.

After lunch I was introduced to producers in a conference room and sat in on their meeting. They talked about shows and what can be done to improve them. I met with the advertising team who showed me a new view on how advertising works. The team is very innovative and the content they create is unique. I learned about different ways to create ads and that when advertising to a certain demographic, the right spokesperson is important. I met a professional who helps create and designs the apps and I got a chance to look at some new work in development. My day ended with exchanging contact information with everyone and an invite back for another shadow day. I had a wonderful time at Univision and I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity. I learned a lot and the experience was incredible.

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 HireACane.com 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 HireACane.com 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: