Just Trying to Fit In

One of the biggest stressors when going through a job search is determining if you will be a good fit within a company- will you get along well with your coworkers and supervisor, will the environment be one where you can succeed, and is your personality one that will help you get the job done.  Although many interview preparation tips suggest asking questions when given the opportunity during the interview, it can be very hard to frame a question that will help you gauge whether you and the company will mesh well.  Adrian Granzella Larssen of The Muse wrote an insightful article to help job seekers determine what to ask.  In the article, Larssen suggests doing some research not only on the company but also on yourself- what is your personality and what skills do you want to really highlight during your work experience? Write these qualities down to stay focused. Then, during the interview, ask two key questions:

  1. What are the traits of people who succeed and advance in this organization/company or in this role?
  2. What are the traits of people who don’t?

Then, using their feedback, review the list you made and see how well you match what they are- and are not- looking for. Remember it’s better to know up front that you will not mesh well and continue your job search than to accept a job, feel miserable, and start your search all over again.

For more about this idea, check out Larssens’ article here: https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-2-questions-you-need-to-ask-to-figure-out-if-a-companys-right-for-your-career

Alyssa Reimenschneider, Study Abroad – London, England

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I have no idea what to do with my life.

Correction: I have no idea what to do as a career.

The problem is, society equivocates the two.

I know who I am. I love art and literature, film and foreign languages, nature and animals, culture and cooking. I want to travel and learn, create and discover, explore my potential, make a difference, make something lasting. There are so many things I’m interested in, so much I want to do. How can I squeeze all of my goals, all of my hopes, all of myself into one specific career path or job description?

Answer: I can’t.

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It’s not like I haven’t tried. I began my search for the perfect career very early. In kindergarten, the plan was to be a zoologist. In first grade, it shifted to a veterinarian. Then in second grade, I changed my mind again and set my sights on being an astronomer. Then an artist. A novelist. An animator. A Japanese translator. A graphic designer. An editor. A professor. Finally, I just had to admit the most difficult thing. What do I want to be? I don’t know.

It’s hard to take a different path from everyone else. It’s hard to be a creative arts major when the people championing “the real world” would prefer to hear that you’re pursuing something with an immediate, specific outcome. It’s even harder, when those people ask smugly what your plan is, to realize you’re not sure. And the world makes it that way. Society induces that pressure. Before you’re out of high school, you’re expected to have chosen a professional pathway, and during college, you’re supposed to be sure – or change your mind completely and find your passion in something else. Either way, you feel obligated to have a ready answer whenever anyone asks that dreaded, used-up question: “what will you do with that?”

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But in my experience, there is no “aha” moment. No epiphany. No certainty. Even if there was, I don’t know if I’d be any happier, because I just can’t see myself, my whole life, as a job title.

So when I heard that CAPA had an internship placement program that could provide you with work experience in an industry of your choosing, I honestly didn’t think it was for me. The serious professional world, and those that enthusiastically sought to become part of it, had always made me feel closed in, and I didn’t know if I could find a placement where I’d fit, an experience that would be relevant to my interests. But I thought about it, and I decided to take a chance. So what if I didn’t know exactly what I wanted out of my career? Maybe this would help me figure that out.

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I asked for an internship related to books, writing or art, and the internships team placed me with a small, independent publishing house, which – to my surprise – seemed like the perfect fit. And while I haven’t been editing manuscripts or choosing new titles or designing book jackets, I have gained a lot of knowledge about the publishing industry even through the little tasks. I’ve learned how books are marketed and sold, what advance information means, the differences between British and American publishing, and I’ve picked up a lot of bonus knowledge about art, music, history, nature and culture through the subject matter of the titles being released.

And I’ve gained more than just industry knowledge. It’s been a cultural experience too – I’ve learned about office culture in a way I never could from any part-time job I’ll have in college, and I’ve learned about British culture in a way I couldn’t just by observing it on the streets. And even though I haven’t had that “aha” moment yet, haven’t found a specific niche, I’ve felt an opening of the avenues of possibility, and I think I’ve grown.

Do I know exactly what I want to do with my life? No. But I know that when I decide, I can do anything I want.

 

Alyssa Reimenschneider, Study Abroad – London, England

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From the safe, cozy, first-world comfort of your bedroom or couch or college dorm, it’s easy to gaze dreamily out the window and fantasize about everything out there in the world – all the places you want to see and the things you want to do and the memories you want to make.

You imagine yourself brave, courageous, fiercely independent, boarding a waiting plane and breathing a sigh of relief as you leave your cares behind you on the ground, toting what little you need in a weightless carry-on, clutching in your hand a round-trip ticket to everywhere.

You think of what it will be like to be on your way to big places, unencumbered by responsibility, unburdened by doubt, unchained by parameters, free at last.

You are ready to take on the wide, wild world, whatever comes, all on your own.

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You take another sip of coffee and sink back happily into your cushions. The dream is alive, and from where you’re sitting, it seems like anything is possible.

Don’t be embarrassed. I did it too. I think it’s safe to say that everyone who’s young and vaguely inexperienced has entertained similar flawless imaginings of adventure. And they’re not just passing delusions, either – you really can go all those places and do all those things you’ve been dreaming of. But there’s a flip side to the sightseeing and mountain-climbing and strolls down sun-dappled, Mediterranean streets.

You’ll have to get there somehow, and you’ll have to pay for it.

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My three-day jaunt to Italy was a gorgeous, romantic vision colored by over-exposure to movies like Under the Tuscan Sun, Eat Pray Love and Letters to Juliet. I was going to spend this portion of my break basking in the warm light that bounced off the red-and-orange hued houses dotting the mountains by the sea, sipping cappuccinos and savoring gelato, hiking the green trails that connected the five villages of the Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera.

And that did happen, in a way. But not everything went according to plan. In fact, almost nothing did.

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Being inexperienced in the art of traveling, I booked my flight to Pisa much too late, which resulted in paying nearly double what I could have for the ticket. Although it was difficult for me to justify shelling out unnecessary money that I had been working for and saving for the past two years, I tried to comfort myself with the thought of how much I would enjoy the experience once I stepped off the plane. My flight in was at 8:30am on Tuesday, and my flight back to London wasn’t until 5:20pm on Thursday. I would have parts of three days to relax, explore and absorb the delicious culture and scenery of Italy.

My journey began at 4am on Tuesday, when I woke up to begrudgingly get dressed, get ready, add a few essentials to my carry-on and trek down the street in the pitch-black to wait for a bus that apparently wasn’t coming, or had already come and was the only one of its kind. I then proceeded to wait fifteen minutes for the tube to open so that I could wait fifteen more minutes for a train to come and fifteen more minutes when I changed lines to take me to Tottenham Hale, where I waited for an overground train to take me the forty minutes to Stansted. When I had made it through check-in and security and finally boarded the plane minutes before its scheduled departure, I thought the hardest part was behind me.

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Unfortunately, the transportation from the airport in Pisa to the hostel in Manarola was just as complicated, time-consuming and harrowing as the England leg of the trip, if not more. There was a shuttle from the airport to the train station, a connection between destinations that included an hour wait at La Spezia Centrale, and a long hike up a very steep hill, bags in tow, before I finally arrived at my Italian accommodation with my travel mates. By the time we made it to our room, it was 4pm and had begun to rain.

The rain continued, interspersed with periods of clouds and fog, for the rest of our stay, but even though the dazzling sun of my fantasies wouldn’t play a part in my trip, my friends and I made the most of our time in Italy. With the soggy conditions, hiking seemed out of the question, but we took the train around the Cinque Terre, from village to village, exploring the cobbled streets, admiring the colorful houses nestled in clusters on the tiered hills, staring out at the wide teal sea, and eating as much gelato as we could find. It was short, tiring, and full of anxieties about train times and tickets, but it was sweet. We managed to make it to all five villages, sample authentic Italian panini, spaghetti, seafood and coffee, make friends with the local stray cats, pick up passable Italian accents, and stand on the edges of the towns over the sea, staring at scenery that took our breath away. Despite all the hassle we suffered on the trip in, the full day and two halves we spent in the Cinque Terre were worth our troubles.

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The return journey, fewer than 48 hours later, should have been easier, considering we had just experienced it in reverse and were supposedly prepared, but it unfortunately proved to be a comedy of errors. On our way out, in the pouring rain again, we missed our stop in the last village when the train doors didn’t open, and at the next stop, sprinting up the stairs with our bags over our shoulders, we missed the reverse train by a matter of seconds. We made the decision to wait another hour at La Spezia Centrale before hopping on a train backwards so that we could climb up the streets of the beautiful Riomaggiore, grab a speedy lunch, and run back to the train station, now that the sun had finally appeared, so that we wouldn’t miss our connection to Pisa. Back at the airport a couple of hours later, we ran into multiple problems with our bags and the airline regulations, and when we finally landed in London, we boarded the wrong train from Gatwick to Victoria and were forced to pay extra at the gate. Afterwards, there were severe delays on the Piccadilly line, and I made it back to my homestay at about 9:30pm, twelve hours after we’d boarded the train out from Manarola.

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At this point, I don’t even want to think about how much I spent on trains and planes and buses and shuttles.

I would say that the moral of the story is plan ahead, but even when you do, there will always be surprises and mishaps and difficulties, because travel isn’t just a breezy fairy tale. Like anything else worthwhile, it requires time and work and money. But if you let yourself miss those trains and feel that panic and let go of those hard-earned summer work checks, then later, when you’re gazing out a plane window onto the patchwork land below, or standing on the edge of a precipice over the sea, or looking back at colorful memories of even one day spent in Italy, you’ll realize that even though it wasn’t easy, it was possible.

And you’ve done it.

I’m Possible!

Im Possible

As our students prepare to take their finals next week, we want to take a moment to wish everyone good luck! Although they may seem overwhelming and impossible, know that they ARE possible and you WILL do great! We’re sending good vibes to everyone!

Be Thankful… For The Interview!

Many students are concerned about what they should do BEFORE an interview. They go through mock interviews, pick out the perfect professional outfit, research the company and use Google Maps for directions.

Then there is a step in the interview process that some forget, and it is just as important as arriving early! AFTER the interview, not many candidates take the time to write a thank you note, and because this has become rare, it is a wonderful way for students to stand out. Be sure to collect business cards of everyone you meet throughout your interview.

So what should a thank you note say? First and foremost, thank the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you. Mention something you particularly enjoyed, for example, “I appreciate that you took me on a tour of the building and introduced me to the other members of the Graphic Design team; it’s so wonderful to be able to put faces with names!” Use another sentence or two to remind them of your skills and why you are a perfect fit for the position. Finally, emphasize that you are truly interested in the position and thank them again.

Make sure to send a thank you e-mail within 24 hours, to each individual with whom you interviewed. Also, send a handwritten thank you card to each individual. A thank you email is rare, but a handwritten thank you is even more rare! This will help you stand out as a polite, considerate candidate.

For more insight from Human Resources professionals regarding thank you notes, check out this link from our friends at Jobipedia: http://www.jobipedia.org/Questions/Conversation/What-should-I-say-in-a-thank-you-note-that-Im-sending-to-the-people-I-just-interviewed-with

Alyssa Reimenschneider, Study Abroad – London, England

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As a nature-lover and beauty-seeker born on the east coast of the United States, I have a special place in my heart for the scenery of North America. I love the fields and forests of Pennsylvania, the marshes of Delaware, the pines of Maryland, the rocky shores of Maine, the wide skies of Carolina and the palm trees of Florida.

But never in my life have I experienced such beauty and wonder as I found in the rise and fall of the Scottish Highlands.

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For the first part of my fall break, I decided to take a short trip that included Edinburgh and a coach journey up and down the Highlands, making stops at landmarks and in villages along the way. Trying to choose where to go during my break was a complicated and frustrating process, because I felt overwhelmed by the prospects of what seemed like a hundred countries surrounding me, the pressure to visit them all, the impossibility of doing so, the careful planning and expense that was involved in visiting any, and the ticking of the clock as the weeks drew closer to my break while I continued to deliberate. To be honest, although I had been back and forth in considering it, I almost didn’t book that trip to Scotland. It was three days before the departure date when I finally told myself it was now or never and decided to just do it.

It may have just been one of the best choices I’ve ever made.

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My night in Edinburgh was magical and exciting. It was invigorating to explore another city, one that felt mysterious and ancient, like an elven fortress carved into a mountainside. I saw rugged castles and spindly turrets, walked the Royal Mile, watched men in traditional kilts play bagpipes in the streets, and tried Haggis (I had to – just once). I saw the café where J.K. Rowling dreamed up Harry Potter, stepped inside a candlelit cathedral, absorbed the rich sound of Scottish accents, and climbed to the top of a windblown hill to see the spread of city lights under the night sky.

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But the most magic, the kind that comes only from the powerful forces of nature, lay still north, where the rolling green hills gave way to jutting mountains and slopes in vivid shades of purple and orange. From the top of Stirling Castle on my second morning, I could see them rising in the distance, but the sight was nothing compared to what I would witness among them, deep in the Highlands.

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The two-day bus ride through the mountains, from Glencoe to Ranach Moor, past Loch Ness and other bodies of water, to Inverness and Cairngorm Mountain and back down, was a spiritual, ethereal experience. The mountains swept so majestically from the ground, plummeted so high into the clouds. The terrain was so raw and rugged and wild, the heather so overgrown, the contrast of natural shades so stark. The wind ripped through the long grasses and over the jagged mountains and sloping valleys so freely. Sheep clung to the precipitous edges of cliffs, houses stood isolated on the banks of wide lochs, and trees grew thick in all varieties and colors, emulating the rough terrain of what could have been California or Canada or Montana but was even more. A double rainbow appeared over the expanse of a saltwater loch as the weather changed from stormy to sunny and back again.

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Autumn was made to dress the wilds of Scotland, and it was absolutely breathtaking.

Words and photographs cannot come close to describing the sheer beauty I witnessed in the Highlands or the way I felt as I stood at the base of the Three Sisters or at the top of Cairngorm Mountain, surrounded by miles of untouched wilderness and buffeted by the unrelenting, unrestrained force of the wind. I had never felt more small, more alone, more mortal than I did in the face of something so vast and powerful and raw. I had never felt more alive.

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I screamed and laughed and fell into the wind, and it held me up from the highest point of the Highlands.

 

An Energy Boost for Introverts

Many people define themselves as “introverted” or “extraverted.” Extraverts are those who draw energy from being around other people- they feel antsy and lonely when they don’t have others to talk with. Introverts tend to feel drained after interacting with many people, and need time alone to recharge. Even the most introvert-friendly careers and workplaces may have days that require an introvert to get in touch with their extravert side, so here are some tips to help an introvert prepare for those times.

1. Prepare. Whether it’s rehearsing your presentation for 200 people, or developing your talking points for an important agenda item at the team meeting, or brainstorming ideas to share with a client- you’ll feel more confident knowing you’ve been though these points before. Additionally, rehearsing can help you work out verbal kinks such as using “um” every other word.
2. Use Your Schedule. Think about what events or meetings will zap your energy, and what tasks will help you focus and rebuild your energy. Try to coordinate these events and plan effectively so that you have time to build up your energy before and after the Big Energy Zapping Thing.
3. Warm Up. Say your boss calls an emergency meeting and you aren’t ready for it. Force yourself to make small talk with someone you don’t normally talk to, just to get yourself out of your shell and more in “conversation mode.”
4. Create Your “Public Persona.” How do you act when you are at your most confident level? Are you more outgoing, poised, and in control of your words? Figure out how to tap into that persona on demand. Maybe hearing a particular song to get you boosted up, or a favorite shirt or pair of shoes- whatever helps you get that confidence going.
5. Enjoy Your Day. Determine what little pleasures will help keep you happy- taking a walk during a lunch break, or getting a grande coffee instead of just a tall. Do little things to give you joy, and things to look forward to as rewards for doing an awesome job in the brainstorming session with a client or during your 45 minute presentation.

These are just some of the tips that Kara Andersen shared in her article on The Muse. You can read the entire article here: https://www.themuse.com/advice/5-strategies-introverts-can-use-to-boost-their-energy-levels-when-they-need-it-most?ref=recently-published-0

Be A Grammar Nerd!

Jim Schreier recently posted an article on Careerealism about the 5 grammar mistakes everyone should avoid having on their resumes. Many job seekers would argue “why is it such a big deal if I use ‘there’ or ‘their’? Who cares if I use the wrong ‘to’? It’s all just typos!” More and more, hiring managers are using typos and grammar errors to eliminate possible candidates- errors show carelessness and inattention to detail. Here are Schreiers’ big 5 grammar mistakes everyone should avoid:

  1. Impact, Affects, and Effects- This is a huge mistake because they’re vital to your accomplishment statements. “Affects” is used as a verb. “Effects” and “Impacts” are both verbs.
  2. There, They’re, and Their- This is a common mistake. If you aren’t sure which form to use, don’t hesitate to ask someone to read over and make sure for you. “There” refers to a place. “They’re” is a contraction for “They are.” “Their” is a possessive.
  3. Too, To, and Two- All too often, this is played off as a typo. Don’t be careless here! “Two” references the number. “Too” is used in place of “as well” or to include something else.
  4. It’s and its- This is another frequent typo, but can make a big difference it what you are conveying. “Its” is possessive. “It’s” is a contraction for “it is” or “it has.”
  5. You’re and Your- An all too common mistake that can change the meaning of your sentence. “You’re” is a short form for “you are,” while “your” is another possessive.

Schreier makes other good points and provides much more detail in his full article, which you can read here: http://www.careerealism.com/resume-grammar-mistakes/

Casey Ayers- Carpenter Technology

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I have been given more and more responsibility since I have been at Carpenter. I am now being trusted with more and more things when it comes to purchase orders and other things. I have been getting quotes from different vendors for products that we are wishing to purchase. I also am creating a dashboard for the entire procurement department that highlights our statistics like average days to pay, amount spent, inventory, etc. Class projects that have helped me with challenges in my position are big research projects I had to do for Econometrics and Religion. These have helped me because a lot of times I am given something with not much direction or knowledge about and have to figure it out on my own. The experience of searching through academic databases and talking to librarians has helped me tackle these challenges. Carpenter has a pretty casual and easy going culture so being a professional here is not as important of a feature as it was at Merrill Lynch. With my experience at Merrill, I would give the advice to always look and act professional because nobody will respect you, and a lot of your business comes from being a professional. Nobody wants to do business with somebody who conducts themselves in a nonprofessional way. My advice of buying professional attire on a college budget would be look at the sales at Kohl’s. They always have excellent sales on shirts and sweaters. Also, I would look at the thrift shop for suit jackets because they have some really nice stuff for cheap.

New To LinkedIn? Don’t Make These Rookie Mistakes!

LinkedIn is a wonderful resource for anyone who is looking to expand their professional network. Because it is easy to set up and reflects a resume, many of our students find it to be user-friendly and a helpful tool. But just as there are ways to look like a rookie on any social media platform, there are ways to look like a rookie on LinkedIn.  In his article on Careerealism, Don Goodman outlines 4 mistakes that will need to be avoided in order to really make your LinkedIn account shine.

  1. You connect with everyone – When establishing a LinkedIn account, it’s easy to go crazy and want to connect with anyone you can think of.  But remember LinkedIn is for networking purposes, so make sure the people you connect with are going to be a positive reflection of you – and that you are a positive reflection for them!
  2. Your profile picture isn’t great (or nonexistent!) – Your picture is many times the first impression a fellow LinkedIn user may have of you, so make sure it is clear, professional, and shows how approachable you are. Also keep in mind that many times, if a profile doesn’t have a picture, people will be less likely to accept the connection.
  3. Your sub-header doesn’t reflect how awesome you are – Your sub-header shows up in search results, along with your name and picture. Why have something bland, like “Marketing Specialist” when you could be “Marketing Specialist for Non-Profit Organizations With 5 Years Experience”? This conveys much more detail!
  4. You didn’t establish how private you want to be – This is especially important for anyone who may be job searching. Tweaking some of your privacy settings can limit how much of your information is shared with others (or not shared with your current employer!)

You can read the full article here: http://www.careerealism.com/linkedin-mistakes-rookie-avoid/

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