Can Your Cover Letter REALLY Make Someone Smile?

We’ve discussed in previous posts about how cover letters can be TOUGH.  It’s hard to explain why you’re a perfect fit in a concise, personable manner- but still make sure it doesn’t come across as bragging. Moreover, it’s hard to make sure your cover letter stands out from the sea of dozens of other cover letters. To help you out, Jenny Foss of TheMuse explains what she looks for in a cover letter from a recruiter standpoint. By knowing what recruiters are looking for, it will be easier for you to make sure your cover letter will rise to the top of the pile!

  1. Give the company a specific reason why you are interested in them.  Everyone wants to feel special, and a representative of your dream company is no different. Like that they have a day of service each quarter? Let them know! Appreciate the outstanding service you’ve received from them? Tell them!
  2. Tell them exactly what you can deliver. Focus on key points of their candidate requirements, and explain how you have those qualifications. Let them know how you have used them in a professional setting.
  3. Make it personal by telling your story.  Add in a fun fact about yourself that may contribute to your career choice, or interest in that particular position or company.
  4. Address it to a real person. Yes, it’s tedious and can be hard to find exactly who will be reading your letter.  Let Google and LinkedIn be your friend and try to find the head of the department your position would be with, or at least someone related to hiring within HR.

It goes without saying that your cover letter should be well formatted, and free of grammar and spelling mistakes. It should be in formal language with no slang, text talk, or emojis. But most importantly, it should be a good representation of who you are- not a stuffy, overly-professional version of you. To get more insight from Ms. Foss, check out her entire article here: https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-cover-letters-that-make-hiring-managers-smile-then-call-you-1

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Today is Your Day!

Welcome back, students! The campus was quiet without you. We are so excited to help you this semester as you choose your majors, write your resumes, apply to study abroad, and prepare for life beyond graduation.

It can be hard to get back into the swing of things as you come back from a long break.  Over the past few weeks, you were probably able to sleep in, or stay up late.  You didn’t have to prepare for exams or read chapters of a textbook. You weren’t juggling your time between class, club meetings, or athletic practices. It’s a tough transition! It may seem frustrating and overwhelming, but it IS worth it.  This semester is going to be the best semester yet- we can feel it!  Study hard, but also remember not to pull all-nighters. Be involved, but also remember to take time for yourself. Focus on being present, but also remember to think ahead to where you want your life to be in one year, five years, ten years. You can do it!

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Looking Forward to 2017!

We wish for all of our students: a safe trip home, a happy holiday season, and plenty of time to sleep and relax over interim! We can’t wait to see you in 2017!

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Introvert Networking 101

When faced with a networking opportunity, many introverts tend to be filled with fear. Introverts know that people can be a drain on their energy, and they may be overshadowed by their extroverted peers.  Interviews also seem terrifying, because introverts know they have to be in Super Duper People Mode. The Muse recently posted an article to help introverts conquer networking events and interviews by preparing effectively.  Here’s a quick overview of their five steps:

  1. Plan out your time – Give yourself some buffer time before and after the interview or event.  This will build up your energy beforehand, and help you regroup and process information afterwards.
  2. Embrace the chitchat – Understand that small talk is part of the process. Remember that this is a way to establish a relationship, and prepare “get to know you” questions in advance, such as “did you see the Cubs win the World Series last night?”
  3. Really shine at the beginning and the end – Remember to have an awesome introduction to make a great first impression.  Having a confident, friendly closing will leave a good impression, too.
  4. Mirror the interviewer – Make sure you don’t revert to your introverted ways during the conversation.  Make it a point to match what the interviewer is doing, either in body language or tone of voice. If the employer is being unprofessional, such as slouching or using negative body language, don’t feel concerned! Instead, take a deep breath and make a point to use good eye contact and more open body language.
  5. Make your introversion a positive – If the point is to develop a rapport, it may be beneficial to keep in mind that the interviewer could be an introvert, too.  Find ways to highlight your qualities as an introvert.

The Muse has all kinds of good suggestions and points in their article, which you can read here: https://www.themuse.com/advice/5-survival-tricks-every-introvert-needs-to-know-before-going-on-an-interview .  Other helpful tips for introverts that the ELCDC recommends are doing your research so you feel more prepared, and set achievable goals, like “meet with three employers, and then take a five minute break to get water.”  What other suggestions do you have?

Considering Your Major

When you’re a college student, the first thing you’re asked is always a variation of “so what major are you?”  This can be pretty uncomfortable if you haven’t selected a major, or have a major but aren’t sure if you like it.  If you’re in “major limbo,” it’s absolutely ok! Research has shown that, nationwide, over 75% of college students either come into college undecided or change their major at least once. To help you make your decision, the ELCDC has many resources available.  Here are some tips to get you started.

  1. Remember that even though you’re choosing your major, you aren’t choosing your career.  It’s important to take ALL of the skills you learn from your major and determine how you want to apply them to life after graduation.  You could be a History major that goes into technical writing.  You could be a Theatre student that goes into Human Resources.  You could be a Marketing major that goes into travel and tourism.  There are so many opportunities out there that will be a perfect match for you no matter what your major is.
  2. Consider your skills, values, personality, and interests.  It’s always important to know who you are and what you want to contribute to the working world. There are many assessments to help you determine these areas and help you self-reflect.
  3. Eliminate what you know won’t work.  Yes, it’s important to keep an open mind, but you also don’t want to spend 4 years studying in a major you know you won’t enjoy.  Don’t like math? You can eliminate accounting.  Don’t like biology? You can probably also take out anything medical related.  Life is too short to devote your college tenure to a major where you dread going to class!

Choosing a major can be a stressful process with a lot of hard decisions.  Keep in mind that you can always talk about your options with your friends, family, professors, and career counselors.

Put Your Best Email Forward

Email has become the most efficient way to communicate in the real world.  It’s instantaneous, available worldwide, and accessible on a computer, tablet, phone, and watch. However, just because it is efficient doesn’t mean it’s ok for it to look like it took two seconds to type.  There’s still important things to consider as you build professional relationships over email.

 

  1. The Exclamation Point.  People want to be liked, and since it’s hard to interpret tone in email, it seems common sense to add an exclamation point so we seem friendly and outgoing- Hi Joe! So good to hear from you! On the other hand, it’s important to remember that you’re building a professional relationship, not a personal/friendly one, so hold back on the “!!!!!” whenever you can.
  2. The “They Said WHAT?” Sometimes you will get an email that you don’t want to read. It’s mean, or demanding, or demeaning.  Before you respond, first take a deep breath. Remember from our point above that tone can’t be interpreted solely from words.  Then, respond back with a focus on “we.” “Let’s work together so we can provide the best plan possible for our clients.”
  3. The Follow Up. No one ever wants to seem pushy. But sometimes you just have to send a reminder. Keep it short and friendly, and specific. “Hi Sam, I wanted to know if a date had been set for our fundraiser in the spring. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you. I’m looking forward to working with you on this.”

 

Career Contessa has other wonderful, helpful professional email tips.  You can read them here: http://www.careercontessa.com/conversations/quit-the-bad-emailing/  What other email suggestions do you have?

More Than A Vacation: Benefits of Study Abroad

This semester, many students have expressed an interest in participating in at least one study abroad opportunity. We’re setting up new exchanges and finding new scholarships to make this a reality for our students, and we’re excited about their excitement!  One thing we hope our students recognize is just how much they will get out of their time abroad.  Not only will they grow academically, but also personally and professionally. InternationalStudent shares 10 benefits of study abroad, and here are five of them:

  1. Take In A New Culture- You will have the opportunity to try new foods, hear new music, participate in new holidays and traditions, and get a feeling for a new history.
  2. Developing A New Language- Although the language barrier is often a fear for students, it can be a great opportunity to hone and new skill and break out of your comfort zone.  Even if you are going to an English-speaking country, there may be new dialects that you can learn.
  3. Personal Development- Study abroad provides an infinite number of possibilities to strengthen your professional skills. Through study abroad, you will gain an understanding of how culture impacts work life, the importance of communication, critical thinking skills, and remaining calm even when an experience is overwhelming.  These skills will be incredibly beneficial for you in the world of work.
  4. Education- Teaching styles and class structures vary from country to country, so you will have to learn to adapt and how to balance your time between doing well in classes and allowing time to explore your new host country.
  5. See New Worlds- Depending on the location of your study abroad experience, or even the program that coordinates the experience, you may have the opportunity to explore not just one country, but many!

To see the many other reasons why you should consider taking part in a study abroad experience, check out InternationalStudent at: http://www.internationalstudent.com/study-abroad/guide/ten-benefits-to-studying-abroad/ . What are other benefits of study abroad that you think should make the list?

Top Five Tips for Seniors

It can be tough to be a college senior.  You’re in limbo between enjoying the last bit of the college experience and preparing yourself for the real world that lies ahead. The ELCDC is always happy to help our seniors figure out what should come next! Here are five tips to help ease the anxiety of life after graduation.

  1. If you haven’t started your resume already, start it now. Yes, it’s only the second week of classes, but it’s better to start it before it gets lost in the shuffle of papers for class and events on campus. Then you’ll have it whenever you need it.
  2. Use your resources. Talk with the career counselors, your academic advisor(s), alumni, family, and friends to see what opportunities may lie ahead.  You can also utilize helpful websites like onetonline.org to research different job options, and find open positions through Purple Briefcase and CareerShift.
  3. Make time for ELCDC events. We frequently host job fairs that are by industry rather than by major.  We also host networking events with alumni and local professionals.  There’s a Graduate School Day every fall, and in the spring we not only take part in the Lehigh Valley Collegiate Career Expo but also Teacher Recruitment Day.
  4. Brush up on your skills. Networking events and interviews can be tough, especially if you don’t practice those skills often. Come to our networking events to strengthen your elevator speech.  Take part in a mock interview with our office to learn how to answer the questions employers may ask you.
  5. Feel all the feels.  It’s absolutely normal to feel excited and nervous throughout your senior year. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to our office so we can help you feel less stressed. Let us know when you hear good news about a job or graduate school acceptance. We’re here to support you however we can!

Mykala Harris: Federal Diversity Intern at the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (New Orleans, LA)

Post-Internship BluesImage result for sadness

After a readjustment to the humid and sweltering weather, New Orleans is now another place on the world map that I can call home. The past ten weeks has been phenomenal and I could not have picked a better place for my internship. The people I have met during the course of my internship are irreplaceable and hold a special place in my heart. The food in New Orleans is nothing short of delicious and my diet was definitely struggling! However, with any experience, it is the memories that I take back home with me that matters most.

Being a life long learner has always been a top priority for me. Whether it it learning a new professional skill or learning a few more phrases in Spanish, I always take every opportunity to add more to my knowledge base. Over the course of my internship I have learned new technical and personable skills that I will be able to apply to my career after graduation. I have made friends from all over the USA and will be sure to visit them when I have the chance. I am always open to a new adventure with some good friends.
 Whether it is stopping in Puerto Rico or visiting California, you can never have too flight miles.

My mentor and the many staff members within the Department of Veterans Affairs are going to be within my extended network. When it was time for me to depart, everyone was sad to see me go. It always feels good when you know that you will be missed. It shows that you have positively impacted the surrounding environment. Furthermore, my mentor and supervisor extended an invitation for my return to the office and to just hang out in New Orleans. Of course I took them up on their offer and I will, hopefully, be heading back down in March 2017!

 

Mykala Harris: Federal Diversity Intern at the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (New Orleans, LA)

Two Week Countdown!

New Orleans has been a home away from home. I still have a few items on my bucket list before heading back to my original home, Philadelphia, PA. My roommates and I have compiled a list of places we would like to visit and things we would like to do before we part ways. The list is below:

  1. Go on a Swamp Tourgator
  2. Visit a Restaurant featured on the Food Network
  3. Pay a visit to the WWII Museum
  4. Walk through Audubon Park
  5. Eat more Snowballs!

 

Though I am going to miss NOLA, I would be lying if I said I did not miss home. I cannot wait to eat a Cheesesteak, visit the beach, and spend time with my family. I miss them most of all! I have two weeks until the semester starts when I return home. Therefore, I will try to make the most out of my last two weeks of a “no work” summer. beach umb

As for my internship, I will miss everyone in the office. I have met some great women and men while interning at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The women in my office have become my long-distant aunts, though we still have a very professional relationship. They have offered me both professional and personal advice. They have believed in my abilities to kick-start projects, lead teams, and present information at large orientations. For my mid-term assessment, I received straight “Excellent” in all fields of the selected criteria. My mentor and supervisor sat down with me and expressed that I have been the best intern they have ever had! (I was delighted and humbled.) Due to previous experiences with interns, they were skeptical about selecting an intern for this summer. Thus, they took a risk and stated they were happy to be comfortable in my abilities to go above and beyond.

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