Career Advising Series: Master’s students: What are your plans for after Northwestern?

Tags

, , , , ,

By Brett Boettcher, NCA associate director of professional program strategy & management, serving students in the School of Professional Studies and master’s students in The Graduate School.

BrettBeginning and completing a master’s degree at Northwestern can be an exciting, yet extremely challenging endeavor. You’ll spend many hours learning highly focused, specific information and special skills that will make you ready for the working world.

The question is then, when and how do you find the time to reflect upon and take action toward your first steps beyond Northwestern?

The answer to that question is not always an easy one. There are many variables that can make committing time to your career next steps challenging, including managing a busy class schedule and program. Another variable could be that your master’s program is relatively short in duration. Shorter master’s programs can put you in the situation of job searching closer to the start of your program. You might even have family commitments that require your attention.

The intention of this blog is to assist you in taking the first steps toward beginning career reflection and taking action steps toward whatever direction you intend to pursue after Northwestern.

Northwestern Career Advancement (NCA) is a great place to start. We are here to support and coach you through this, sometimes, overwhelming process.

NCA will guide you in crafting a timeline and plan customized to you and your situation. Within this plan we can assist you in translating your degree experience for employers. If you are seeking an internship or a job, we can help you to understand how your industry of choice can impact your timeline. We can work on skill development like writing your resume & cover letter, LinkedIn presence, networking, interviewing, and even negotiating job offers. You may visit our website to learn more about NCA’s services to graduate students.

There is no special secret to beginning your career planning and action steps, you just have to begin. NCA’s skilled counselors and advisers are available to assist you with your career needs. We’ve got you covered.

To schedule an appointment with an adviser or counselor, just log-on to CareerCat and follow the “request a counseling appointment” link. You’ll need your NetID and password if you’ve never logged-on to CareerCat previously.

Career Advising Series: Using LinkedIn for Networking and Finding a Job or Internship: Does it Really Help? (Yes)

Tags

, , , , , ,

By Matt Formica, NCA Assistant Director of Student Career Advising, serving the following populations: Medill, IMC certificate, Weinberg undeclared

matt-formica

Matt works with students in Medill, IMC & Weinberg.

When I ask students whether they’re on LinkedIn, they often say something like: “Yeah, I created an account but haven’t filled out too much information and I don’t really know how to use it. Can it actually help me get a job?” The short answer to this question is “yes”-LinkedIn can absolutely help with your career development. One of the main ways in which LinkedIn can be useful when looking for a job/internship or exploring careers is by giving you access to over 100,000 Northwestern alumni, otherwise known as the “Northwestern network.”

You might’ve heard the popular phrase “Northwestern network” tossed around in conversations with parents, professors, or advisers. But what does that really mean? How do you access the network? And how can you leverage it to facilitate networking and increase your success when looking for a job/internship? These are all questions that LinkedIn’s Find Alumni tool (My Network>Find Alumni) helps to address.

The Find Alumni tool turns the “Northwestern network” into a concrete, searchable database of 100,000+ Northwestern alumni to connect with and learn from. With the simple click of a button, you can identify alumni working in industries and at companies you’re interested in. You can also search alumni by where they live, what their major was, what their skills are, and keywords within their profiles.

For example, looking to connect with a Northwestern alum who works for Google (358 results), PwC (170), ESPN (56) or AbbVie (221)? LinkedIn’s got you covered. Regardless of your career interests, chances are there’s an alum who shares those interests and would be willing to speak with you. Northwestern alumni are generally eager to “pay it forward” and connect with students for informational interviews. Don’t be shy about reaching out to alumni you find using LinkedIn (remember to send a personalized and professional message-not the generic connection request). Talking to alumni about their jobs and career paths and hearing their advice can help you form an effective job/internship search strategy and build relationships with people who can let you know about opportunities and vouch for you in the future.

If you’d like help optimizing your LinkedIn profile and using it to network and find jobs/internships, feel free to schedule an appointment with your career adviser!

SIGP makes it possible for students to pursue unpaid internships

Tags

, , , , , ,

SIGP Orientation #4

Some of last year’s SIGP recipients at orientation in May 2015

For students who want to get valuable experience from an unpaid internship but need financial support, NCA’s Summer Internship Grant Program (SIGP) can help. Since 2007, SIGP has offered grants to NU undergraduate students to pursue summer experiences in fields that do not typically offer paid internships, ranging from $2000 in its first year to now more than $3000. A record-breaking 255 students received grants in 2015. Currently, NCA is accepting applications for its 10th SIGP class through April 5, 2016.

Past SIGP recipients have interned at media companies such as NPR and the Nancy Yost Literary Agency, nonprofit organizations such as the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and GirlForward, and government institutions such as the White House and the Department of Education. (See photos of some of the SIGP 2015 experiences from our #ThankYouSIGP contest.)

SIGP helps students delve further into their fields of interest. “If it wasn’t for SIGP, I would not have been able to have this incredible opportunity to fall in love with magazine journalism and learn more about the industry,” a 2015 SIGP recipient and Medill student said.

SIGP students are also required to engage in career development through informational interviews, networking, donor appreciation, and more. Funding for summer experiences not only helps recipients gain career experience, but also fosters personal growth.

“My views expanded a lot this summer, and I got to work at my dream not-for-profit organization while having the financial means to do so,” a SIGP 2015 recipient and School of Communication first-year said.

Students selected to receive grants will be notified by May 9. Students are not required to have an internship secured in order to apply, but must secure an opportunity by May 30 if offered a grant. Previous SIGP recipients may reapply.

So, what kinds of applications get funded? When applying, students should reflect on their learning goals for their internships and connect their academic and personal experiences to the career field they want to pursue.

Upcoming (optional) information sessions are March 15 and March 29 from 5-6 p.m. at 620 Lincoln St. The presentation is also available to listen to and watch remotely.

Career Advising Series: Don’t plan for the rest of your life

Tags

, , , , , ,

By Christina Siders, NCA senior assistant director, serving students in McCormick, Medill, SESP & The Graduate School.

christinaNot sure what you want to be when you grow up? Don’t worry about it. You heard me right. One of the top 5 things students stress about involves this hypothetical commitment to identifying a ‘forever career.’ Yes, some students have been on track to their dream job since they were little. However, the vast majority of students don’t even know how to identify their ‘dream job.’ The concept of a dream job is a lofty one, considering there are countless occupations in the world. Will you enjoy some jobs more than others? Of course. Does that mean that you have to find the 1 perfect job right after graduation? Of course not. Finding a career is a lifelong journey, and one that is defined by both successes and failures. For example, Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor b/c ‘he lacked imagination.’ JK Rowling was on welfare before becoming one of the richest people alive. Steve Jobs was fired from his own company at the age of 30, and it took almost 20 years for James Dyson to sell his first patent for his highly successful vacuum designs. The point is, it takes time to find work that drives you toward success. All you need to define right now is where you want to start.

Here are some practical strategies to get you one step closer:

1. Conduct informational interviews and job shadow as much as you can. The more people you can talk to, the more ‘aha’ moments you will have. Plus, you can learn from other people’s mistakes rather than making them yourself.
2. Do a career assessment. While it won’t identify your one perfect job, it’s a great starting point. A career counselor at NCA can help you figure out the rest.
3. Change the question. Instead of asking ‘What do I want to do with the rest of my life?’ ask instead ‘What do I want to try first?’ Then seek out an internship, a job, or volunteer in a relevant role.

Need help connecting the dots? Make an appointment in CareerCat with a Career Counselor. We look forward to meeting you!

Take the NEXT step: Job shadow a Northwestern alum this spring

Tags

, , , ,

WinstonStrawn-2015Do you want to experience a day in the life of your dream job or even just explore a new career path? Participate in the Northwestern Externship Program (NEXT) 2016, where you’ll match with a Northwestern alum and shadow them on the job for a one-day “externship” this spring. You could connect with an NPR web developer, a Justice Department attorney, or a music librarian with the San Francisco Ballet (and much more)! Approximately 600 Northwestern alums at organizations in a range of industries and job functions across the U.S. and the world will participate in the program, co-sponsored by Northwestern Career Advancement and the Northwestern Alumni Association.

NationalGeographicHere’s how it works: Submit a resume and personal statement to hosts you would like to shadow on the NAA website by February 7, 2016. You’ll be notified if you are matched with an alumni host by early March, and then you and your host will set up a date for your externship that works for both of you sometime in the spring (generally between March 21 and April 22, 2016). You may complete one externship per year, and will need to provide your own travel and accommodations. At your externship you might take tours, sit in on meetings, help with projects, or conduct informational interviews with different company members. Current Northwestern undergraduate and graduate students are eligible.

Here’s what students have said about their past NEXT experiences:

“[My host] introduced me to so many people and really got me involved in the work that an engineer will do. It was an experience I will never forget!” – McCormick student, who spent the day with a Northwestern alumnus and product engineer at OXO.

“NEXT gave me the exclusive opportunity to see what a day in my life as a full-time employee might be like a few short months later. More than that, my alumni host impressed upon me the importance of having a meaningful life and career.” – WCAS & TGS recent graduate, who, during her time at NU, shadowed Northwestern alumnus and owner of Nieman, Inc. in Wilmette, Ill., a company that specializes in curriculum development for educational publishers.

“As a graduate student in neuroscience looking to explore options outside of academia, this was a unique opportunity to see the inner workings of a completely different industry.” – TGS student, who spent the day with Northwestern alumna and co-founder of Blaze Pizza.

“The NEXT program connected me with someone who was not just a mentor for a day, but someone who also became a great friend. We’ve continued to stay in touch and even worked together to launch a startup that was awarded over $60,000 and multiple entrepreneurship awards. My NEXT host helped to shape my professional career and prepare for life after school.” – SESP student, who spent the day with a Northwestern alumna from Deloitte Human Capital.

To learn more about NEXT, check out photos from our 2015 program or read some blog posts from past externships. View the list of FAQs and send any questions to next.student@northwestern.edu. Plus: See the complete list of year-round programs from NCA and the NAA designed to connect Northwestern students and alumni for professional development.

Career Advising Series: Five reasons to visit NCA during your first year

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

By Jeff Jenkins, NCA senior assistant director and career counselor, serving students in the School of Communication, Weinberg, Bienen and School of Professional Studies.

JeffYour first year at NU is a time filled with new experiences. Some first time experiences may include: Your first NU football game; your first quarter classes and finals; and your first meeting with an academic advisor to talk about questions you may have about your major. As you settle in on campus, make career planning one of those first experiences.

Why would you come to an office called Northwestern Career Advancement (NCA)? Isn’t NCA just for students far along in their college career? Here are five reasons why you should visit us during your first year on campus.

First, many students come to campus undecided about what major to choose. Even if you have declared something upon admission, once you’ve taken classes, you may wonder if the major is “right” for you. This can be a good time to assess and consider what options are open to you. Meeting with a career counselor will help guide you to better understand your interests, values and skills and help you ask yourself important questions to start your journey.

A second reason to meet with NCA is to help you explore your options. Now that you’ve learned more about yourself, explore by taking different classes in diverse majors and minors. You may discover new academic areas you had not considered. Furthering your exploration may lead to questions about careers. A career counselor may suggest exploring your interests through student organizations, on-campus work or volunteering. Not only will you be exploring interests but you will be gaining new skills. This may lead to another question, what to do this summer?

Through working with an NCA (counselor/adviser) we can help you decide what will be a good first step for your summer. This is the third reason to engage with NCA. Maybe you are exploring options such as research, study abroad, part-time work, or an internship. NCA can help clarify your options and create a plan.

Now that you have created a plan, a fourth reason to engage with NCA is to act on your decision to gain experience.  There is a continuum of experience and most students are familiar with only internships. However, you can gain experience through a variety of opportunities.  Some examples include informational interviewing and job shadowing. Informational interviewing involves locating professionals in an area of career interest and asking questions related to various aspects of their experience. Job shadow experiences (like NEXT), allow you to make arrangements to observe and interact with a professional in a field of interest for a specified amount of time. NCA can provide you with a list of questions to ask, as well as help connect you with alumni.

Finally, a fifth reason to visit NCA, is for guidance on how to convert your H.S. resume to a college resume, as well as to receive feedback regarding your on-line profile(s). Reflect on the classes you’ve taken. Think about involvement in student organizations, volunteering, Dance Marathon, and so forth. All of these activities are examples of what you can include on your resume.

NCA will help you create a plan as you move forward during your time at NU and beyond. We welcome you to make an appointment to meet your career counselor or adviser and get started.

Career Advising Series: Marketing leadership experiences to employers

Tags

, , , , ,

By Maggie Smith, NCA assistant director of student career advising, serving students in Weinberg.

MaggieDo you ever find yourself wondering whether you should include your leadership experiences and campus involvement on your resume? Maybe you don’t think it is relevant to the internship or job that you’re seeking or maybe you worry that it isn’t “real-world” experience…

The answer is YES, you should include it!

What do employers tell us?

Employers across many industries tell us that campus leadership shows that an applicant takes an active role, is well-rounded, involved, dedicated, respected and trusted by their peers, and able to grow within an organization.

Leadership experiences can be some of the best skill-building opportunities, and they are not any less important than a job or internship. In fact, sometimes, you can learn more in a leadership position!

You might be wondering, what is leadership?

You don’t have to be the founder or president of an organization to be a leader. You might be an active member, and that can still be leadership. Do you feel that you’ve contributed to your organization or to the Northwestern community? If yes, then you’re a leader!

Leadership experiences might include being a member of an advisory board, Peer Adviser, Family Ambassador, Resident Assistant, fraternity or sorority member, treasurer for an organization, committee member, student-athlete, or volunteer.

How do you market your leadership experiences to a potential employer?

Focus on transferrable skills!

What is a transferrable skill?

A transferrable skill is a skill developed in one situation which can be transferred to another situation. You often develop these skills in a student organization or a leadership position, and they are easily transferred to a professional setting. Transferrable skills are common qualifications for any internship or job across many industries.

Common transferrable skills include:

  • Analytical skills
  • Communication (written and verbal)
  • Critical thinking
  • Initiative/self-starter
  • Leadership
  • Project management/organization
  • Technical and design
  • Research and development
  • Team or group work
  • Multicultural competence

Think about what the specific skill would mean to an employer: What does it mean to have strong communication skills or to be a strong team or group member?

Once you’ve defined the skill, begin connecting the skills to your leadership experiences. Think about situations where you may have demonstrated these skills: What situations did you encounter as a Peer Adviser that demonstrated your analytical skills? How did you contribute to a team or group as a member of your school’s advisory board? How did you demonstrate communication skills as a student-athlete? How did you develop organizational skills as a committee member for Dance Marathon?

Now that you have identified your transferrable skills, the final step is articulating them in a professional way. When describing your experiences on your resume, keep the formula ATR in mind for developing strong bullet points: Action, Task, Result.

  • Address the transferrable skill by selecting strong action verbs that convey the skill to the employer
  • Be specific
  • Focus on outcomes and results: What did you accomplish?
  • Focus on the purpose of your work: How did it contribute to the organization or Northwestern?

Let’s see the difference that a strong bullet point can make in marketing your leadership experiences to a potential employer:

Option A:

  • Worked on a team to plan events.

Option B:

  • Collaborated with a team of 6 people to coordinate quarterly campus-wide events that connect Northwestern alumni with undergraduate students.

Option B tells the employer that you know how to work on a team, you’re able to coordinate events, and your work has a positive impact on the Northwestern community.

Identifying what you’ve accomplished and what you have to offer is a critical element of networking and interviewing for internships and jobs. There is something to be gained from every experience. Be proud and confident about your leadership experiences and their relevance to your future!

How to go abroad for free: Securing and funding an unpaid internship abroad

Tags

, , , , ,

Written by Emery Weinstein, a WCAS senior studying health policy and sociology, and a 2015 Summer Internship Grant Program recipient, during her summer in Paris.

I am currently spending the summer in Paris, France working on a paper for the Health Division of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Here, I can meet people from all over the world, learn a new language, and, most importantly, eat “fromage.” Snagging an experience like this is within reach; however, finding a summer internship in another country is difficult and travelling abroad for an unpaid internship is expensive. Here are some tips for securing that summer internship in the city of your dreams.

  1. Do proactive research

Figuring out your summer plans is difficult so it is important to do some research to figure out what you want to do.  Brainstorm your personal interests, professional goals, and workplaces of interest with everyone you know. Try to think of people you admire professionally and go to the office hours of the Northwestern University professors whose classes interest you. I think the best “networking events” come from meeting people organically through attending speaker events or club meetings related to an area of interest that you both share. This will automatically demonstrate a sincere interest in this field and will give you something to connect through. Do research on the internet to find out what kinds of jobs exist in an industry of your choice. Talk to your college advisor, your grandparents, past coworkers, with your professors in order to get more ideas about what others have done and do. Think about what your strengths are and your past experiences so that you can consider how this might lead to other opportunities. This will help give you confidence in figuring out your summer plans. From this research you can begin to think of the kinds of opportunities out there.

  1. Be bold and reach out to people

Connecting with people is a great way to learn about new opportunities. However, it is always important to do so with grace. Ask for an informational interview. An informational interview is held in order to find out more information about a company, industry or position. Reach out to people for informational interviews to learn more about what they do and their professional background. (Tip: Do this whenever you meet someone interesting. When you are looking for jobs in the future it will come in handy to have established a relationship with these people or at least to be able to refer to a past conversation you have had.) You can attach your resume to this e-mail request to provide some background information on yourself. Talk to people who are doing interesting things and prepare questions. If you have worked on a project recently in their field, bring it up during this conversation. If you read a paper that they wrote that interested you, also bring that up. You can tell people what you are interested in and ask them if they know anyone else who might be able to talk to you and give you another perspective.  Also, if they do interesting work, ask if you can help out somehow. You may be able to work for them either formally through the company or organization they work for or informally through the creation of an independent research project or shadowing. Do not be afraid to tell people if you have an idea that could use their help and the resources available, that I will discuss next, through your university to make it happen. Remember that you have plenty to offer and plenty to learn.

  1. Find partners

There are organizations out there who have similar goals to yours and who fulfill their own mission by helping you. Work with them to create a win-win situation! These organizations may help you find your summer plans and can help provide financial support for your travel budget. Some helpful resources for finding internships and fellowships abroad are the Office of Fellowships and Northwestern Career Advancement (NCA). NCA offers the Summer Internship Grant Program (SIGP) which may support anything from a research project in Argentina, an internship in London, or your dream of filming a documentary in Turkey. Northwestern departments related to international topics are the International Program Development (IPD) and the Buffett Institute. Also, Undergraduate Research Grants are available through many departments. You can turn virtually any research question into an independent research project for the summer. I know of people who have used these to do anything from researching health care coverage in France to the impact of rap music. Talking to professors in any department in the field of your interest can help you narrow your focus. Talking to librarians at University Library can help you find background research for your grant proposal and research paper. Talking to research advisors in the Office of Undergraduate Research can help guide you and help perfect your grant proposal. These grants can help financially support your summer of research abroad. These organizations are available to help you find and fund your internship abroad.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

You are a student and people like to help students. Our university has many resources available. If you reach out to an organization and share with them your summer plans and your qualms, you may get the help you need. If something does not work out the first time: try and try again. If you come across a barrier think of the different departments that are staffed with professionals available to help you. An organization that helps connect students with international programs may not outright say on their website that they offer funding for internships abroad but you should reach out to them for this sort of support. In your request make sure to be a valuable asset to them in return.  You may offer to blog for them, take photos for their website, and promote the mission of their organization through your work in return for some financial support for your budget. Be creative, helpful, open and flexible in your request. There are many resources out there that are willing to help you have the best summer of your life.

SIGP Views from the Cube: The Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Linnea Hodge (WCAS ’17) is an Art History student pursuing a minor in Theatre. Thanks to a SIGP 2015 grant, she spent this summer interning at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University. She hopes to work in arts administration, ideally in the museum field.  

Staffing the sign-in table for the Block Museum’s Community Organizations Open House

Linnea (WCAS ’17) staffs the sign-in table for the Block Museum’s Community Organizations Open House.

First off, I appreciated how short and sweet my internship search was! I had become familiar with and fond of the Block Museum after taking a class on museology from three of its directors, so I thought I would explore this avenue of gaining valuable museum experience. After a few meetings with the Engagement Manager at the Block Museum my summer plans were confirmed. So don’t discount opportunities on campus, ‘cats.

The Engagement Department (where I worked) is concerned with community outreach and programming geared to on- and off-campus audiences. For most of the summer the museum showed an exhibition called The Last Supper: 600 Plates Illustrating Final Meals of U.S. Death Row Inmates. This exhibition was fascinating in terms of community engagement because the death penalty can be a polarizing issue. I got to see first-hand how the Block’s programming serves as a community forum for productive discussion of complex issues.

On a day-to-day level I managed the museum’s tour program, because the Engagement Coordinator had recently returned to graduate school. I acted fairly independently as liaison between docents and tour groups to schedule visits; I even had a chance to plan a lesson for high school aged students from Barcelona. I was happy to feel I was fulfilling a need in the organization as I covered various duties of the Engagement Coordinator.

I also had several long-term projects, including building an outreach list for the next exhibition and coordinating the production of promotional posters for the Block. However, my favorite project was planning a Wildcat Welcome event for new students. The Engagement staff was interested in my input as a student, so I proposed an idea for the event. They loved it, so from then on I was working independently to make it happen. I had worked at Block outreach events before, but planning one was still new to me and very exciting. I learned to develop a marketing scheme, articulate staffing needs, and organize all other aspects of this event. I also had a chance to select Warhol works from the museum’s collection for a small exhibition.

I’m looking forward to hearing about how the event goes, as I’ll be studying abroad when it happens. It’s an honor to be able to introduce new students to great visual art and campus resources simultaneously. Completing the project really fortified my belief that providing access to art is a public service. It felt great to be trusted with this kind of project, and this experience taught me that you should share with your coworkers if you have an idea you are excited about. Others might like it as well, but you’ll never know if you don’t speak up.

Career Advising Series: The art of the thank you note

Tags

, , , , ,

By Rachel Garson Taylor, NCA assistant director of student career advising, serving students in Kellogg Certificate Program for Undergraduates.

RachelWhen was the last time you received a thank you note?  I am not surprised if you are struggling to remember!  This is quickly becoming a lost art.  Multiple resources have uncovered that approximately 20% of candidates follow-up with a thank you note, by email and/or handwritten.

Interestingly, according to Business News Daily, 75% of hiring managers report that receiving a thank you note affects their decision making. CareerBuilder has identified that 22% of hiring managers are less likely to hire a candidate that does not send a thank you note after an interview.

Statistically speaking, writing a thank you message enhances your consideration in the selection process! This is all good, but does the quality of the thank you note have impact?  Perhaps I am reading too closely into the Business News Daily statistic which does not specify if that “affect” on decision making is positive or negative.  I personally believe it could go in either direction depending on the quality of the thank you note.

In my opinion, there are two types of notes that you could potentially send: the “thank you note” vs the “thanks a lot” note.  The former has a meaningful message and the latter is that of obligation.  To further discriminate between the two, just say them aloud.  It is hard to make “thank you” sound anything but positive and genuine; whereas, “thanks a lot” can convey different things based on your intonation.

My thought is that anything worth doing is worth doing well – your thank you note is no exception.   Use the thank you note as an opportunity to strengthen your connection to the interviewer.  The best way to accomplish this is to start each note from scratch and write it for the individual.  Be specific, genuine, and professional in what you’re writing.  This will help to demonstrate that you value the interviewer, what he/she shared, and his/her consideration of your candidacy.

I know you are tired after engaging in the whole career planning and job search process, but don’t let all your efforts get lost by not following through on this final step.

Find examples of post-interview thank you notes on the NCA website.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,220 other followers