Career Development

Quick Links: Life After Graduation

A few days ago, I discovered a wonderful website called Good.Co that’s geared towards psychological development & the workforce. Since I’m a big fan of personality theory & career development, I figured I’d check it out. While I was most certainly not a psychology major and thus can’t really quantify how valid all of the information on the site is, I really enjoyed some of the key features of the sites, such as the free personality test that you can take when you sign up.

Essentially, it helps you to discover your workplace personality and style through a simple questionnaire. My result split me into the three categories of the Dreamer, Idealist, and Innovator which gave a full listing on what other types of personalities I would or wouldn’t get along with alongside recommendations for workplace habits and careers. They also come with famous people as the avatars for each description – sadly I don’t think Beyonce is on there. Maybe I’ll send that in as a future recommendation.

Though my favorite resource so far is the blog, but there’s no surprises there. For recent grads who are searching or lucky enough to be employed, Good.Co has a Life After Graduation resource list for the Class of 2014. My favorite posts are on career development for Gen Y employees  (once again, no surprises) but I really do love that they focus on personal branding and workplace happiness. So many post-college resources are dedicated to the grind of getting a job that they fail to explain what happens afterwards. For those who are still searching for a job or want to brush up on their workplace skills – I definitely recommend checking out this site.

Are there any other career blogs you’d like to recommend?

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What’s your take on the future of Higher Education?

What’s your take on the future of Higher Education?

Happy Friday everyone!

This article comes at such a convenient time for me – I had the pleasure of meeting Lafayette’s newest President yesterday, and she had so many fascinating things to say about the future of higher education and the resulting discussion on whether our degrees/education/experience/etc. has any form of quantitative market value. Additionally, she brought up the need to integrate new technologies with higher education models – using MOOCs as the obvious example. 

And that got me thinking – is that really what I want from my college? I can sincerely attest to the awesome nature of MOOCs – Coursera is one of my favorite websites, and I’ve been using Lynda.com to revisit some software models that I’m gotten rusty with. But at the same time, I think that there’s a lot to be gained from in-person discussion experiences. It’s one of the greatest things about my college in that perspective. 

I think that there are a lot of different takes on higher education models and whether some degrees are more useful over others – but ultimately that perspective leads to a damaging derailment of what college is. Yes, we all want degrees that provide market value and can further our careers. At the same time it’s important to remember that college should teach us more than that. Most of my greatest college experiences were outside the classroom experiences – through clubs, committees, and most often jobs. And this is probably the liberal arts student speaking to me, but I also think that the mentoring relationships that I’ve gained in college are equally as important as my other experiences. 

But I absolutely agree with Selingo’s point that some parts of the college experience are taken for granted. There should be a significant focus on career development, financial management, civic engagement, and even skills that should be general – language learning, computer and information literacy, and public speaking – that colleges should refocus into their curriculum. Students should be allowed to structure their college experiences, but it would be helpful if there were a set of base skills that they all had to learn. 

I think there will be a lot more revisiting in the future, but the ‘future of higher education’ isn’t quite what I’m worried about anymore – I honestly believe that many colleges are actively working to change their perspectives on what they can offer students. Unfortunately, we may be a risk for colleges being used as a substitute for the convoluted – and ultimately destructive – nature of the entire U.S. education system. Fixing one element of the problem may be a temporary fix, but it doesn’t get into some of the bigger problems – but I’ll tackle those in another post!

What are your suggestions for working/improving the world of higher education?

After College: 24 Things You Need To Know Before Turning 24

After College: 24 Things You Need To Know Before Turning 24

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of anything related to your 20’s, as I’ve written a whole post about positive things that 20 years old can do in the past. But I came across this post from After College a few days ago, and I just had to share it. Anyone in their 20’s should definitely check this out, as it’s a great guideline for how being in your 20’s is truly a case a trial-and-error for most of us. 

Did I wear purple lipstick to a job interview?

Alternatively known as my reflections on 2013.

As your typical college student going through an existential crisis, I decided to reflect on how 2013 has gone for me. After listing out things, I’ve come to realize that 2013 was pretty rough. Lots of family and personal crises, and the first semester I was consumed by my fear of almost failing a class ( I didn’t, but that’s not the point. It’s the thought that matters). Also I still don’t have a job yet. Lame.

But, I absolutely loved 2013 and everything it brought to me. Because 2013 has been such as quintessential year of growth for me, that I feel so inspired from it. And that kind of made me re-think all of the career related lessons I’ve learned. And naturally, I want to share them all with you.

1. Never be afraid to take an unconventional path

This summer, I discovered that my grandfather had dementia. At the same time, my grandmother was going through cancer treatments. It hurt me unimaginably, and I ended up resigning from a paid internship in NY to care for him and help her. To compensate I took a virtual internship with a company that I didn’t necessarily feel connected to, and left that early due to the stress of dealing with family issues. It was incredibly stressful and chaotic, and I didn’t have any control over my life at the time. So I did what 95% of college students would do: I started a blog. I volunteered at my local library. I networked with some pretty interested and powerful contacts. I started learning Chinese vocab. I practiced coding HTML and Python on Codecademy.

And I had one of the most fulfilling summers of my life. I gained tons of skills, experience, and learned more about my personality and self. I learned that I actually kind of liked this whole programming thing. And that I love working with people more than I thought. These experiences helped me to become a more well-rounded person, and may even become influential as I fill out even more job applications.

2. Desperation is not the new black.

As mentioned in my earlier example, I’ve become a bit more comfortable with chaos. A lot more comfortable. Even though I’m not a big fan of it. Yet that level of chaos has helped me to become a lot more flexible with my attitude and opinions. And when conducting my job search, it’s helped me to be more open-ended and targeted. To elaborate, it’s allowed me to realize that my skills can transfer over to many fields, instead of pigeonholing myself while also realizing that I can’t apply to everything and hope that it sticks. I did that earlier in the semester, and surprisingly only heard back from one or two places (who would hire a financial analyst who looks miserable at the thought of working for their company? I wouldn’t).

Be segmented in your job search. Yes you can do many things, but do you want to? Allow for some chaos, but don’t rush to find just anything in the hopes that it’ll lead to a job.

3. At the same time, come up with a money making backup plan.

I wish following your dreams made money, but not always. One of my friends graduated the top of her class, but tried to find a decent writing position in NY. It took her a year, as she tirelessly interned until she found a paid position. At the same time, she could afford to stay with her family and work for no pay for over a year until she located a job. Many of us can’t. So if you’re in the latter category, figure out a backup plan for making a living until you get a substantial job. Mine is to work as a temp accountant. No joke.  Until I decide whether I want to go to grad school for econ or accounting, I have to make money at some point.

Don’t wait until the last minute for these decisions. Even if your plans are ‘become an entry-level barista at Starbucks’, good for you. Do what will further your long-term plans. I wish interning for free was an option for the masses, but until that happens, I recommend finding a decent wage and using the off hours for the job search.

4. You’ll make mistakes during your job search. Cry it out and move on.

This semester I went into an interview with a major company, walked out later on, and realized 5 hours later that one of my job descriptions had a typo. I knew that I hadn’t gotten the job anyway, but I spent three days mourning over my mistake. And it sucked. Because even though I wish I had done better, I didn’t. And sometimes you have to suck it up, prep for the next time and move on.

5. Networking is (can be) fun. Play to your strengths.

I’m a pretty introverted and shy person, so I’d rather write to a person over talk to them. But that’s not really how life works. It involves talking to a lot of people, and I’m sure we all have heard that networking is the only true way to get a job, 95% of jobs aren’t posted online, etc. I honestly have little clue whether these facts are 100% correct, but I do know that I have learned a lot from networking, and it really depends on how you approach it. I like to think of networking as writing a biography or industry profile: I’m writing a story about a person or industry, so I need to learn everything that they have to share. Approach people with a wide sense of interest and respect, and you’d be surprised on what you’ll find.

6. Take a break. Remind yourself why you are amazing.

I would’ve never gotten through the job search process if it wasn’t for my friends and family. Having people that I can sit back and talk to when things get crazy is an undeniable resource. I have to pull through for many reasons, but the strength of those I’ve surrounded myself with has helped immensely.

7. Gather all of the career-related materials you have. Learn. Study. Practice.

I’m currently reading Can I wear my nose ring to the interview? by Ellen Gordon Reeves,  Resume 101 by Quentin J. Schultze, many other career books, and perusing TIME Magazine, the Economist, and the Wall Street Journal. Why? Because there’s always room for improvement (though that may be a typical INFP thing. Not sure). It’s not that I think reading these materials will give me any incredible insight, but you never know what might come up in a job interview, networking session, or a chance meeting. When I eventually do get hired, I want to give my company my all.

Well that, and I just like reading.

What are your tips for job searching?

The Minority Millennial: Intern Extraordinaire, Part II

The conclusion to the Intern Extraordinaire series has finally arrived. Here are some more tips for navigating the internship waters. The first post is located here.

Internships.com

My favorite website (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Try virtual internships!

For some reason, this always gets lost within the internship debate. Not that all virtual internships are unpaid – or even should be – but it’s a great and easy way to get around the unpaid hurdle. If you’re in the interests of saving costs, and want to work on building an online presence, I think the virtual route is the way to go. Unfortunately, it is true that unlike physical interns you may not get the same training and day-to-day company experience, but if the company is involved with their interns you’ll have active participation in the company through Skype, Google, or other virtual mediums. I’ll admit, it involves some major time management skills and the willpower to complete your work at home, but if you’re willing to try it I would definitely recommend participating in a virtual internship. I would recommend being absolutely sure of the company’s online presence though. If you’re doing a virtual internship, you want to make sure that you’re with a company that you feel is moving forward within the internet sphere.

Unfortunately the deadline has already passed for this year, but if you’re interested the U.S. government has a virtual internship program as well. 

Look for “In-House” positions

One of my best friends is an English major, and managed to find an internship with our college’s communications department. Our career services department also offers an internship to help out with some of the career development programs. I know not all colleges have them, but it never hurts to look around and see what kind of opportunities your college has. You might even be able to talk a professor into taking you on as a research assistant, which can still lead to a lot of benefits, especially if you want to work in academia!

Don’t forget about campus ambassador/brand ambassador programs

Many people consider campus ambassadors to be a great way to gain experience with a company without actually being an intern. I personally don’t have much experience with them, but I know that companies such as Apple, Coca Cola, and Adobe (one example is listed here) have ambassador programs. It’s a great position for budding entrepreneurs and social media lovers who want to have both a larger online presence, and gain some essential sales experience.

The Financially Impossible Situation

Lastly, we come to those who realize that ultimately, working for free is not a task they can undertake. And even though thousands of articles have been written about how that may be the end of the world for you, I’m here to say that it’s OK if you can’t take on an unpaid situation. Stick to your FT, PT, or Work Study job, look into potential on campus jobs that relate to your career path, and emphasize your skills in the career that you’re shooting for. While working at the college gym may not relate to your career in journalism, emphasize that you’re diligent, hard working, and willing to still to a schedule and can manage large groups of people. Show that you’re a dedicated person despite not having internships. You may not start out at the corporation of your dreams, but many students haven’t been able to do that at the moment as it is. Stick to what works best for you.

And if you’re a paid intern, take advantage of you opportunity to network as much as possible. Enjoy the experience, but make the most of it.

Hope that this article helped you get on the right track for navigating the intern world. Please feel free to respond with any more points or questions about the unpaid and paid intern life.