What To Do If You Don’t Know What You Want To Do by Katrina Schmitt

What do you want to be when you grow up? Ask any 10 year old that question, and they’ll give you an answer immediately. A fireman, a teacher, a princess. Ask me the same question, and I’ll smile and tell you I have no idea. But I’m a senior in college, I’m looking for jobs, I’m interviewing and deciding my future plans; shouldn’t I have this all figured out by now? The answer is no. For some reason, we’re made to believe that we’re supposed to know exactly what we want to do when we’re 18. A recent article from boston.com summarized an ACT study that said most high school seniors are not ready to pick their majors. So how do you decide what you want to do for the rest of your life?

When I first came to Villanova, I wanted to be a teacher. Now, I’m a senior Computer Engineer. I’ve switched majors three times, and I would probably switch again if there was still time. I went from undecided to Math to Computer Science, and finally settled with Computer Engineering. I love each of those subjects, but in every one I was bored. I wanted something more. Computer Engineering satisfied me for a few years, but the boredom set in with that too.

It was last March. I had a big project due at midnight, and I had been working on it for ten hours. I still hadn’t finished, it was 11pm, and I was borderline having a mental breakdown. The next day I talked to a few of my classmates about it. “Yeah, that was hard,” they said, “It took me three hours.” Three hours?? I had spent 11 and had handed in something incomplete. That’s when it hit me: I did not want to be programming for a living. It was too hard and too overwhelming for me. But what else could I do with my degree?

I decided on becoming a Technical Analyst – a “translator” between the business side of a company and the technical side. I wouldn’t have to program, but I would still be able to incorporate my engineering knowledge. I got an internship at a financial company as a Technical Analyst, and for a month I was excited and happy. I thought I had found the perfect job. Then one day, after all of the excitement of starting my internship had worn off, I was walking home and I suddenly realized that this was not what I wanted to do. I was bored again. I didn’t feel fulfilled. I felt useless and unneeded. If I had that job full time, I probably would’ve gone insane. Strike two for Katrina. Or should we say strike five? I was bored with math, I was bored with computer science, I was bored and overwhelmed with programming, and now I was bored with being a Technical Analyst. What options did I have left?

Luckily, we have an amazing Career Center at Villanova. I scheduled a meeting with a Career Counselor the first week back at school, and I took the Strong Interest Inventory – usually taken by freshman and sophomores to help them figure out their major. The results came back, and – surprise, surprise – all the jobs related to Computer Engineering were at the bottom of my list. What was in the top ten? High school teacher, middle school teacher, elementary school teacher, special education teacher… A teacher?! But I had said no to education my freshman year, when I decided instead to become a math major! I figured I should probably reconsider the idea.

The Career Counselor I went over my results with helped me a lot. He gave me some great advice – do research, consider any job that looks even mildly interesting to me, and apply, apply, apply. Apply to anything I thought I might like. Going through the application and interview process would help me narrow down my options. I would only be passionate about some, and I’d be able to eliminate all the others.

Thanks to the Career Center and its many resources, I’ve finally figured out a career plan: work for a few years, then go back to graduate school and get a Psychology degree. With my track record though, this plan will probably change. But I’m not worried, because I know I will eventually find the job I love. It’s better to be constantly searching than settling for something that I know isn’t the best.

So what do you do if you don’t know what to do? Relax! Don’t panic. You can go to the Career Center, talk to a Career Counselor, and maybe take the Strong Interest Inventory. Keep an open mind. It’s ok if your major changes, and it’s ok if you end up with a major you don’t love. It took me a while to realize that, but thanks to the Career Center, I am confident that one day, sooner rather than later, I will be where I want to be.

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The 3 Minute Interview Crash Course – Setting Yourself Up For Success by Danny George

It’s that time of year again. Am I referring to the holiday season?! No. Even better: job and internship recruiting season is in full swing. Cheers to the nights of pulling your hair out because your resume indentations are not aligned, writing and rewriting cover letters, and anxiously waiting by your phone for your dream employer to give you a call with good news. We have all been there, or will be in the next few years.

However, while finding a job that actually makes you want to get out of bed in the morning is stressful enough, the interview process adds extra pressure on all of us. While my parents always promoted having a strong handshake and asking relevant and engaging questions at the end of each interview, I knew I needed a bit more guidance if I was going to walk away from an interview not only with a smile on my face, but an offer in my hand. After four years of preparing, networking, interviewing, and interning, I have picked up a few tips I want to pass forward. They may seem basic, but boy do they help.

  • Set up a mock interview in the career center
  • Own your resume – You are the only expert on yourself
  • Be real, be creative, be interesting
  • Always attend the pre-interview networking event

One of the best things I have done to set myself up for success in the business world is completing a mock interview in the career center. Let’s be real for a second: it is hard pointing out our own flaws. I know I am not good at it, and I would bet most people feel the same way. Not only did I have the opportunity to conduct a mock interview that was recorded on camera, but then I analyzed my responses and mannerisms with a professional staff member. I received constructive feedback that I began applying right away. Comments ranged from ways to better answer common interview questions, to the fact I speak at a rate of 1,000 words per minute and nod my head way too aggressively when attempting to look like I am listening. The following week I walked into my interview and applied what I had learned and badda-bing, badda-boom, I received an internship offer! #success

The second two bullet points go hand in hand. Your resume should be a complete and accurate representation of yourself, condensed down to a single piece of paper. Be proud of that paper, and be an advocate for yourself. As impressive as the words are, you as a person are far more impressive, but you need to prove it! Going into an interview, you are a salesman, and the product you are trying to make the employer interested in is YOU! Don’t say things you think the interviewer wants to hear, talk from your past experiences and be genuine. Personally, I have a list of 5-7 stories that I can use to answer any situational question that is thrown at me.  Preparation really is key.

Finally, if the employer you are interviewing with is hosting a pre-interview networking event, make sure you attend. While they are not mandatory, you often have a chance to network with many people from the firm, and can ask them questions in a more informal setting. Face time does not go unnoticed. More than once, I even met who was interviewing me the next day, and that made the interview more conversational, and much less stressful. My rule of thumb? Don’t leave the reception until you feel confident that you will be remembered the following day by the recruiter, and the employees you networked with. Being proactive with networking is beyond important. I will leave you with one more thought. I now live by the EY motto that “your network is your net worth”. Put yourself out there, make connections, and by the time your interview comes around, you won’t have a single butterfly in your stomach.

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Five Tips for a Successful Internship by Robert Malta

The summer internship process is a rite of passage for business students around the world. Young professionals invade the workplaces of bankers, consultants, and the like for a few months in order to see whether or not they’re fit for the industry. On top of exploring the job, interns are focused on getting a job offer at the end of the summer. With all of that, the summer might feel like one long test, but there are a few tips that will help any intern earn an invitation back.

1. Say “Yes” to Coffee

During the summer, your coworkers and boss will more than likely ask you if you want to go on a quick coffee run with them. The answer should always be yes. If you don’t drink coffee, have a water or juice, but take the walk with them.

The personal interactions you have with people are just as important as the work that you do. A huge aspect of the decision process for managers is whether or not they can see themselves working with you in the future. Finding out that you have a favorite sports team in common or similar hobbies will certainly help you make a good impression and come across as a likable person.

2. Be Known for Something

One of the best pieces of advice I received during my internship was from a director in my group. He explained that one of the keys to being successful in the workplace is making sure you’re known for something. Obviously, you want to be known for something helpful, not the fact that you play solitaire at your desk.

Try to find a task that you’re better at than others and do it whenever it is necessary. If you make great PowerPoints, try to help people out with their decks. Your employees and fellow interns will look to you when they are working on it for help and it will make you an invaluable resource to them.

3. Help People Learn

Nearly every company stresses their culture of fostering growth in others; you feel it more than anything when you’re an intern, but many times there is still a silent rivalry between you and your peers. This is to be expected, but it shouldn’t be something that comes in the way of work.

Be sure to help your fellow interns with the skills that you know well; they’ll do the same when you need help. Other employees will see you helping each other and take note. Everyone is from a different background and has different strengths and weaknesses, so sharing information will help both parties develop.

4. Be Prepared

Leaving reading until the last minute may work for you in school, but it won’t work in business. When you’re given information on a company that you will be working on, be sure to read it as soon as possible. If you don’t, you’ll be going in unprepared.

Even as an intern, you’ll find yourself listening in on various phone calls and meetings. Understanding what they’re talking about will help you to be attentive and understand what is going on. More than likely, they will call on you to present the status of what you’re working on, so you should be familiar with where you and your team are on a project.

5. “Talk the talk, walk the walk.”

Another excellent piece of advice for the business world, let alone internships, was given to me by Professor James Mullen, a well-respected veteran in the sales industry. He told our classes more than once that, “When you go into the field, be sure you can talk the talk and walk the walk.”

You’ve heard this phrase before, but it really matters in the office. An intern should present himself as though he is a full time employee both times. Keeping up to date with general industry and business news is essential and will help you to converse with your coworkers. Be sure to look the part as well and always act professionally.

 

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How Google Can Make or Break Your Job Search by John Hartunian

Have you ever Googled yourself?

Your employer has.

Last year, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about a company called BrandYourself.com.  They are an online reputation management firm; essentially they manage what shows up when someone Google’s, for example, “John Hartunian.”  I thought they sounded interesting, so I did a search on my name.

What I found wasn’t pretty.  My Facebook and Twitter pages were the first things that showed up, and while they weren’t total career-killers, they weren’t exactly the things I wanted representing myself to potential employers.

So I started looking into BrandYourself, and the numbers were pretty scary.  In the United States, 75% of human resource departments are required to do an online search of job applicants.  And of that group, 70% say they solidify their decisions not to hire if an applicant has poor results.

In other words, employers are searching your name online, and they’re judging you based on what they see.

I followed BrandYourself on twitter and caught a message they sent about interns.  I tweeted back a link to my resume and told them I was interested.  I was invited to New York for an interview and I’ve now been working with them for 9 months.

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BrandYourself.com helped me clean up my online reputation.

But it wasn’t until I learned about how they got started that I really grasped the significance of online reputations.  One of their founders, a guy named Pete Kistler, was applying for internships his junior year at Syracuse University.  His interviews went well and he was a qualified guy with a superb resume, so when he struck out at several different firms, he did some digging.

Sure enough, a Google search revealed that he shared his first page of results with other “Pete Kistlers,” one of which was a lifelong criminal.  A Google search of his name made employers think he was a convict!

It’s not all about the negatives, however.  I’ve also seen firsthand how strong results can give you a professional boost.

After I woke up to my online identity, I built a website, started writing a blog, and studied search engine optimization (SEO).  Before long, I had filled the first page under “John Hartunian,” with professional, presentable links.

And it paid off.

A few weeks ago I had an interview with Johnson and Johnson, and one of the interviewers had a printout of my website right there in front of him.  They asked me what inspired me to make the site, so I got to tell them all about BrandYourself… and I got the job!

The biggest point I can stress is marketing yourself in today’s professional environment consists of more than a smile and a firm handshake.  Run a Google search on your name, see what turns up… Because what you find might make or break you when it comes time for the job hunt.

– John Hartunian

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5 Professional Development Tools You Should be Utilizing

With the summer coming to a close and internships wrapping up, it’s easy to lose sight of your professional agenda during the school year. The job search, however, is not only open in February. There are a number of resources on campus the Career Center offers to help you stay professionally acclimated throughout the year. Here are the top 5 things you should do during the school year to stay on top of your professional development:

  1. Sign up for a professional development class. 1-credit Professional Development classes are offered in an array of topics including Networking, Professional Writing, and Professional Communication. Sign up to explore your options and continue to think more seriously about your future – it could be the most valuable class you take at VU!
  2. Go to the Career Fairs! The Career Center offers career fairs for all majors and all opportunity types. For example, in the Fall semester alone students can attend the general Fall Career Fair, Nursing Career Fair, and Post-Graduation Year of Service Fair.  Whether you are a freshman or a senior, these events can give you great practice in networking and help you along your way in finding the perfect job or internship for you. Take note – the fall career fair this year is scheduled for September 11th!
  3. Update your resume. Religiously. Your resume is the most important thing to have up to date when applying to jobs or internships. Make sure you are always updating the information on it so you feel confident passing it along to employers at a moment’s notice. Visit the Career Center in Garey Hall either by appointment (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.) or during walk-in hours (11 a.m. – 3 p.m.) Monday- Friday for help editing your resumes and cover letters.
  4. Reach out to alumni – they want to help. One of the greatest things about going to Villanova is the amazing alumni network that is always willing to help. Reach out to alumni through groups on LinkedIn or the Nova Network. You can never be too informed and, given the plethora of professionals at your fingertips, there is no reason you shouldn’t take advantage of all they have to offer. Meet up with someone for an informational interview or shadow an executive for the day. You’ll be glad you did when looking more seriously into jobs and internships later in the year.
  5. Talk to a career counselor. Wouldn’t you love to have a best friend who was educated to advise you on all your professional endeavors? Well, lucky for you, that’s what career counselors are for. The career counselors at the Career Center meet with students on a daily basis about everything from exploring career fields to details on an application. You can set up a practice interview in preparation for an upcoming job interview or simply talk about exploring your options for finding an internship through GoNova Jobs. The possibilities are endless and the counselors are here and willing to help – so take advantage of them!

If you keep up with these five simple tasks over the course of the year, by the time application deadlines roll around you will be ready and qualified to take on the interview with confidence and professionalism. So don’t forget to visit the Career Center and take advantage of all the services they offer!

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Career Fairs

Over 150 Organizations will be attending the career fair this fall. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to meet with employers who are willing to talk to you about opportunities within their organizations.

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