What’s On Your Winter Break Bucket List?

By Lori Smith

December not only marks the beginning of winter but also the holiday season. Although this is certainly a happy time for most people it can also be a very stressful time as well. It is crunch time for students to complete class projects, assignments and final exams. In anticipation of the winter break many students create a bucket list of things to do such as relaxing, catching up with friends and traveling. It is important to take time to slow down and partake in relaxing activities to rejuvenate. While this is true, it doesn’t mean that you should only focus on “fun” activities. Take advantage of this time off to also advance your career development. Consider adding some of the following to your bucket list:

Resume
Update your resume. Review your accomplishments, add courses completed, activities, internships, volunteer experiences, and GPA. Your resume is a living document and will always need to be updated. It is easiest if you keep it as current as possible so that it will be ready whenever an opportunity arises.

Social Media
LinkedIn is a valuable tool for networking and the job search. Take this time to update your account or to create a LinkedIn account if you don’t already have one. Upload a professional picture of yourself; create a professional summary, list positions you have held, and your achievements. LinkedIn provides many tutorials to assist you.

Make Connections
Winter break provides many opportunities to network: parties, family gatherings, meeting up with old friends and making new acquaintances. Sharing your career goals and asking others about theirs is a great beginning. Networking is all about making connections and seeing how you can help one another.

Volunteer
Not only is volunteering a much needed community service, it will make you feel good about yourself and help others in the process. Many companies are looking for well-rounded candidates. Be sure to include any volunteerism on your resume.

Job Shadowing/Informational Interviews
Job Shadowing and informational interviews are a great way to find out more about a position that you feel may be of interest to you. Use your network to identify and reach out to someone you may be interested in shadowing or interviewing. Many people would be flattered and welcome the opportunity to give back to others. Chances are that someone helped them along the way.
Having a well-balanced bucket list will allow for you to make the most out of your winter break. It is never too early to begin preparing for your career. Taking some steps along your career path will allow you to return spring semester feeling refreshed and self-confident.

Julia Hartley, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)

By Jillian Stadig

Imagine being a young child, living in a dirty, dingy apartment with little to no furniture and even less parental supervision. Nichols student, Julia Hartley, discovered first-hand through a summer internship with CASA that this is the unfortunate way some children are forced to live. Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a nationwide program that trains and recruits volunteers to represent the interests of neglected children newborn to 18 years of age. The program is largely federally funded and has a network of 933 programs. Julia worked with the program in Providence, Rhode Island.

Originally, Julia had wanted to pursue an internship with the Department of Children, Youth, and Familes, however they do not offer an internship program. She learned about the CASA program opportunity through a family friend. Julia applied for the internship and was invited in for an interview. Julia utilized all of the skills and knowledge that the Professional Development Seminar Program taught her, which led to a successful interview and an internship offer. She went into the interview having done her research on the program, knowing that she shared many of the same values and goals that they have when it comes to helping children. Julia is a Criminal Justice Major, and when asked why she chose to do an internship in social work she responded, “I know I want to help children because they can’t really help themselves.” During her time with CASA, Julia learned just how much help some children need.

Julia worked closely with social workers and attorneys attending family court and drug court, meeting with judges and magistrates and making home visits to neglected children. “My experience was more show and tell than sitting behind a desk.” Julia also attended meetings at the Harmony Hill School, which provides treatment and education for children and teens in a safe and predictable environment. Julia remembers one particular rewarding experience of helping a teen at the Harmony Hill School. The student was a 17 year old transgender male, transitioning into a female. Both of his parents had committed suicide and he was approaching the age of 18 where he would no longer be eligible to be included in the program. Julia said, “We had to decide what the next step would be for him. He wouldn’t fit in with most foster family situations comfortably.” It was decided that he would be placed with a same sex couple looking to be foster parents. “It was so rewarding to know that we helped him find a place where he would be happy”, Julia added.

She also recalls the emotional experience of attending family court. The most memorable cases were those in which parents had their parental rights terminated. One such case involved a woman who had 13 children with nine different fathers. She did not have custody of any of her children at the time and was in jail for beating her husband. “She was telling the judge she cared about her children. How can you say that when you’ve lost custody of all 13 of them? Julia questioned. The woman ended up having her parental rights terminated for all of the children and was brought back to finish her jail sentence. Not exactly the happy ending the woman was hoping for, but the court does what’s in the best interests of the children.

Julia called her experience as a Court Appointed Special Advocate “eye opening.” She is undecided if she will pursue a job in social work after graduation, but she knows that she wants to do something that will help the children who need it the most. Julia learned just how difficult it is to go into the apartments and housing situations some children live in and how emotional and angering family court can be. What did she get out of this experience? “I had to be an adult. I had to get up early, be there on time, and do the jobs assigned to me every day. It’s different than getting up and going to class all week,” Julia responded. Like other students who have completed internships, Julia didn’t forget to mention the valuable networking opportunities she gained through the CASA program.

May I Have Your Attention Please? The Key to Proper Networking

By Cassandra Rudd

Our last post discussed the importance of the elevator speech when creating connections with a possible employer or contact. This week, we will be featuring the importance of networking. At some point in your college or professional career you will be required to network. You may be at a career fair, a conference or even a dinner party. No matter where you are, these tips and tricks to networking will help you make a good impression with the right person.

The first step to successful networking is, of course, starting up a conversation. It sounds easy, but in the moment one can be a little nervous about meeting such important people. However, this could be a once in a lifetime opportunity and you should be prepared. So what do you do? First up is always an introduction, as they say you never get a second chance to make a first impression! Always introduce yourself and shake his/her hand, and be sure to state your name clearly so that there is no confusion later on. This would be a great time to give your elevator pitch! Need some help with the perfect elevator pitch? You will want to form a connection with the person such as finding a common interest, like the weather, current events, or even sports. This would also be a great opportunity for you to ask some questions about the person with whom you are speaking or about the event. This shows that you are interested in what they have to say.

Which leads to the second step: keeping the conversation going. This can be difficult to do at first, however, with a few simple questions you can get a plethora of important information in a short amount of time. Some ways to keep the conversation going would be to discuss the event you are attending and even ask about their career, company or industry. By keeping the conversation professional and focused on the person you are networking with, you will keep them engaged and show them that you are interested.

The third and final step can be the trickiest: how to end the conversation. Remember you are there to mix and mingle – don’t attach yourself to one person all night. It can be difficult to bring a conversation to an end without coming off as being rude or disinterested. If you’d like to exit a conversation, try some of these suggestions:

  • Try introducing them to other people at the event or changing the subject to a topic that allows you the opportunity to bring the conversation to a quick close and to step away.
  • I’m going to get some food now that the line is shorter. It was great meeting you!
  • Say that it’s time for you to leave. It has been nice talking to you. Or, I would love to talk with you again, though. May I have your business card?

Another important skill to learn is how to work a room at an event to make the most of networking opportunities. There are a few pointers you should always remember when going to an event where you could be networking with several important people.

  • Be sure to research the event you are attending, know who will be there and the focus of the event.
  • In terms of your appearance, make sure that you are dressed professionally but that you stand out in some way from the crowd of other professionals, but not in a way that is offensive. Your overall appearance, body language and clothing should portray confidence. Be sure to smile, uncross your arms and appear interested.
  • A great place to meet and quickly start up a conversation is the food or drink station. People are more accessible and more comfortable talking over a meal or a drink.
  • Next you want to scan the crowd to see if you recognize anyone and if there is anyone in particular you would like to speak with.
  • Try to meet the most important people first, such as keynote speakers, before they get too busy toward the end of the event.
  • Keep an eye out for important people who may be alone, this gives you the opportunity to speak with them.
  • Offer the person your business card. This gives you the opportunity to obtain theirs as well.

“How To Work A Room” nd http://effectivenetworking.com/content/effectivenetworking/loader.html
For more on how to work a room, please check out Diane Darling’s networking tips.

Learning how to network in any setting is important for forging connections with people who may be able to help you achieve your professional goals. So learn these skills now so that you can have them ready to go when the moment is right and make those key connections that just might land you a dream job or internship.

Red Sox Win The 2013 World Series! Victorino Opens the Floodgates With His Hit Out Of The Park!

By Lori Smith

The city of Boston is rocking as the Red Sox clinch the 2013 World Series! Shane Victorino was the big hitter in game six of the World Series. There were many memorable moments in this series, but for me the most impressive was when Big Papi gave his impromptu pep talk to the team in game 4. This was a pivotal moment which set the team on fire. Big Papi is an MVP both on and off the field!

You too can be an MVP by taking charge of your career. Set your goal to “hit it out of the park” when networking at events. One way to do this is to have an elevator pitch. What is an elevator pitch you ask? An elevator pitch is a short speech that sells YOU, it promotes your strengths and tells an employer or networking contact what you can offer. It answers the question, “why should I hire you?” You need to be able to say who you are, what you have done and what you are interested in doing. People will want to help you but they cannot if they don’t know this information. It would be like asking for directions without knowing where you are trying to get to.

In order to convince others of your value you first need to reflect on your strengths, problems you solved and your achievements. You will need to convey what you bring to the table and how it will help a prospective contact or employer. Be sure to include some specific examples that demonstrate your strengths.

It is also important to know your audience. You will be much more likely to succeed if your elevator pitch is clearly targeted to the individuals/organization you are speaking to. Often times you can just modify your speech to various situations. For instance, you are attending a Career Fair and will be talking to many different organizations. You would want to find out which organizations are attending the fair and then research those you are interested in speaking with.

Writing an outline for your elevator pitch may be helpful. Start with the key points you want to make. Utilize the Rule of 3, what are the 3 most important ideas about yourself that you want to convey. Once you have your outline you can begin filling in the blanks so that it will flow naturally. Finally, you will want to practice your elevator pitch before using it to network. Practice reciting it out loud. If it doesn’t flow as you would like, or you feel uncomfortable with it, change it! Also, try timing your elevator pitch. People often speak faster when they are nervous. Take your time and remember to breathe and SMILE! Keep repeating this process until you have an elevator pitch you are confident in.

Now that you have a great elevator pitch you are ready to begin networking! Be sure to read our next blog which will prepare you to network effectively.

Ever wonder what advice a recruiter would offer to job seekers? Hear what Ryan Soldo of Alexander, Aronson and Finning has to say.

By Jillian Stadig

Nichols offers on-campus recruiting to students and alumni in both the fall and spring semesters. Employers who are seeking fresh talent schedule interviews on-campus. Recruiting schedules, job postings and career events are all posted on Road to Success, our online recruitment database. This is a great opportunity that many take advantage of.

Often times, job seekers leave an interview wondering what impression they left on the interviewer. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could gain some advice from them prior to the interview? Here’s your chance to hear what advice Ryan Soldo, Recruiting Director for Alexander, Aronson and Finning shared with Jillian Stadig during a recent interview.

It’s not every day you get the chance to sit on the other side of the table and interview a recruiter, but it’s an opportunity you should take advantage of if you can. On Friday, October 4, I got the chance to sit down and talk one-on-one with Ryan Soldo, Recruiting Director for Alexander, Aronson and Finning, a certified public accounting and business advising firm located in the greater Boston area. They were on campus recruiting for a staff accountant position. Ryan has previously recruited Nichols graduates and hired four Nichols graduates in 2013. They continue to return to campus each year looking for talent and professionalism.

Nichols students have opportunities that students at other schools do not offer, through both Career Services and the PDS program. Ryan’s advice, use these services to the fullest. “I can always tell the difference between the students who have made the most of these services and those who haven’t.” As a recruiting director, one of the first impressions Ryan gets of a job applicant is their resume. So what makes one’s resume stand out to him? “Format and uniformity is important to me. Make sure your spacing and margins are all equal, if not it can look unprofessional.” He also stresses that unless you are looking to go into a creative career field, such as graphic design, keep it simple, no borders, pictures, thumbnails, or colors. Format is important but it’s not the most important thing recruiters’ look at. “I want to see a GPA. If you don’t feel confident enough in your GPA to put it on your resume then make sure you make up for it by having a good list of soft skills, activities and experience.” Overall, Ryan wants an applicant’s resume to show that they are organized, involved and able to multi-task. “If you did extracurricular activities or held a job while in college it shows you are organized and able to multi-task, and that is a critical part of being successful in this field, comments Ryan.”

As we have learned through PDS, Ryan stresses that appearance and hygiene are key when going into an interview. “I interviewed someone at a college a few years back who hadn’t shaved. He was a good candidate, but that was it, he lost the interview right there.” Body language is also important. Sit up straight, but not too straight. Ryan’s words of advice, “Try to mimic the posture of the person who is interviewing you, if they’re leaning back a bit you can lean back a bit.” It is important to gauge the atmosphere in an interview and always be aware of your surroundings. The last interview tactic Ryan touched upon was preparedness. We all know how important it is to do our research beforehand. “Know a little bit about our company,” Ryan says. You don’t have to know the whole company history, but you do need to understand what it is they do. He also stresses the importance of having a list of questions prepared. “If you don’t have any questions, it makes you look uninterested in the position. Everyone has questions.”

RJ Travisano: Mohegan Sun Casino Internal Security

By: Jillian Stadig

There is a lot that goes on behind the haze of second hand smoke at the casino. Nichols College senior RJ Travisano was given the opportunity to see the workings of the Casino from a new perspective through his summer 2013 internship with Internal Security at Mohegan Sun. Throughout the summer, RJ learned not only about what it takes to run a casino safely but also how the security team works together to ensure the safety of both themselves and patrons.

How does a college student find an internship opportunity like this one? In RJ’s case, networking worked in his favor. After telling Professor Charbonneau, head of the Nichols College Criminal Justice Program, that he did not want to do a “normal” police department internship, she made a call to someone in her network that works at Mohegan Sun. One successful interview later, RJ was offered the internship position as part of the internal security team. Although the position was unpaid the amount of knowledge and networking opportunities RJ gained was well worth it. Some events RJ experienced through his internship included detaining a panhandler, seeing a person ejected for stealing a tip cup, and recognizing counterfeit money.

Working with the internal security team at Mohegan Sun RJ learned the ins and outs of the casino. An important part of his job was “learning the language and codes the officers used in their daily routines,” as well as learning the different locations and zones around the casino and their importance. Throughout the summer RJ shadowed a number of different members of the security team, many of them being either ex-military or ex-police force. One of the more exciting things RJ had the opportunity to do was work the “swing shift” meaning he was on duty until midnight, the busy hours for the casino. Considering most special events occur at night, this is an important time where a variety of different things could happen. RJ worked the swing shift on a night that a Glo event was going on. Glo is a popular event among young adults that, in this case, involved a pool party with brightly lit colors. On the same night there was also a popular concert and the regular Mist dance party occurring. Because there was so much going on in one night RJ experienced how important it was to tighten up security. Celebrity appearances at the Glo party required extra security, crowd control was necessary for the concert, and of course, the table games needed the necessary protection as well.

One of the most “interesting” times RJ had over the summer was the night that he worked the grave shift. For this shift he worked with dispatch, which in a sense controls the way the casino works. Almost everything security does must first go through dispatch. Access to many different areas of the casino must be given by dispatch. RJ learned that it is essentially the job of dispatch to make sure security and the casino itself runs smoothly.

Working with the Mohegan Sun internal security team gave RJ the experience of working with a security team that handles a number of different tasks, all with high levels of importance. Depending on the day of the week the security team consisted of anywhere from around 30 to 60 officers and supervisors dispersed around the casino areas. He worked closely with supervisors and investigators on cases of cheating, counterfeit money and drug trafficking. RJ learned that some drug traffickers use the casino as a way to trade “dirty” money for “clean” money. Working with internal security gave him a greater understanding of the Criminal Justice field.   There are many jobs other than police work that many students are not aware of. RJ’s tip for other students looking to do an internship, “make sure you’re doing something you want to do and always make sure you’re having fun with it.”

The Smell of Fall is in the Air. Fall Festivities Have Begun.

By Lori Smith

Summer season is quickly winding down. Fall is fast approaching. The days are getting shorter; nights are getting colder; and the leaves are changing colors. There are many fall activities to choose from – whether it be apple picking, fall foliage outings, pumpkin carving and scare crow contests, and fall festivals. Career Fairs are also hosted in the fall. Fall is the prime recruiting season for accounting positions. Here are some tips on how to prepare:

Fall Cleaning

Review your resume. Make updates and revisions as needed. Did you change positions since it was last revised? Were you promoted at work or given additional responsibilities? Have you completed a project where you can quantify the outcome?

Review your draft cover letter. Be sure to tweak your cover letter for every position you are applying for. Be sure to highlight skills and achievements that are pertinent to the position. Try to incorporate some key terms that will catch the recruiter’s attention.

Prepare your interview outfit. Men should be sure to have a clean pressed suit so that you will be ready on short notice for an interview. Women may want to select a couple of interview pant suits or dress/skirts and jackets so that you will be prepared for an interview no matter the weather. It is important for interviewees to look the part. It is much better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. Pay attention to details such as shined shoes, matching socks, nylons without runs, limited jewelry for women, no earrings for men and light perfume or cologne (if any).

Practice your elevator pitch. Place yourself in the recruiter’s shoes. Based on your resume and the job description, what would you ask if you were the interviewer. Prepare answers to possible questions. Many interviewers will ask behavior questions, such as “Can you tell me about a time when . . . ” Think about projects you have worked on or things you have encountered in your personal and professional life which address the situation presented to you.

Find and Attend Career Fairs

There are many places in which you can find out about Career Fairs happening in your area. Local newspapers, internet, college websites, Workforce Central offices, and Road to Success, the NC online recruitment data base, are all great resources. The following are two upcoming Career Fairs:

Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013
2:00 – 4:00 p.m.

MSCPA Accounting Career Fair/Graduate School Expo.
Sheraton Hotel (Copley Place)
Grand Ballroom 2nd Floor
39 Dalton Street, Boston, MA

Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013
1:30 – 4:00 p.m.

Westfield State Career Fair – Open to all majors
Woodward Center
Westfield State University

*For a list of attending agencies, visit www.westfield.ma.edu/careercenter

Available Resources

Road to Success has many resources available all in one site! Students can access Road to Success from their Nichols portal. Just click on in the bookmark section located in the lower right hand side of your home page. Alumni can access Road to Success at: www.myinterfase.com/nichols/alumni.
There are tabs to search for jobs (both on Road to Success and Indeed.com), career events, on-campus recruiting, employers, and also a resource library tab on the left hand side of your homepage which provides materials to assist with resumes, cover letters, portfolios, etc.

Optimal Resume is a great resource when creating and/or updating your resume, cover letter, or writing professional letters. There are many different templates to select from. In addition, you will have access to tips and advice, from keywords to sample wording, based on the criteria you select. Optimal Resume can be accessed from the Career Services page.

Take Action

Attend a career fair or networking event. Have confidence in yourself, smile, and go for it!

Set Goals; Relish Your Achievements and Gain Confidence

By Lori Smith

You don’t have to be a CEO of a company to set goals.  Goals are important to all of us whether it is for our careers, personal or financial objectives.  Goals are a roadmap to where you want to be or achieving what you want to accomplish.  Establishing long and short term goals is a good way to turn decisions you make into a reality.  “A Goal Without A Plan Is Just A Wish.” (Larry Elder)

Simply stated, goal setting is merely being organized in your personal planning process.  The best way to achieve your goal is to make sure it is a S.M.A.R.T. goal:

Specific
A specific goal is much more likely to be realized than a general goal.  Clearly articulate what it is you hope to achieve.  To make goals specific, they must outline exactly what is expected, why is it important, who’s involved, where is it going to happen and which attributes are important.

An example of a general goal would be to “Save money for a trip to Disney.”  But a specific goal would be, “Cut down on discretional spending.  Set aside $50.00 per week for one year in order to save $2,600.00 for a trip to Disney.”

Measurable
Identify concrete criteria to measure your progress towards achieving your goal.  A measurable goal will usually answer, “How much?”; “How many?”; and “How will I know when it is accomplished?”  This will help you to stay on track, reach your target dates and ultimately reach your goal!

Achievable
Set goals that are reasonable and that can be attained through time and energy.  While your goal may be stretch, it should not be unrealistic.  When working towards a goal that is important to you, you will find ways to achieve it.  You will have the confidence to make it come true and will begin to develop the attitude, ability and skills necessary to make it a reality.  An achievable goal will usually answer the question, “How can this goal be accomplished?”

Realistic
A realistic goal will be something you are both willing and able to work towards.  Only you can decide how high your goal should be.  Often times a high goal is easier to achieve than a low goal because you will be motivated to work harder towards it.   A realistic goal will usually answer, “Is this goal reasonable and within your reach?”; and  “Are you willing to commit to your goal?”

Timely
Grounding your goals within a timeframe is an important aspect of reaching your goal.  Without a timeframe it is easy to lose focus or become overtaken by other daily responsibilities.  A timely goal will usually answer, “When?”; “What can I do today?”; “What can I do four weeks from today?”; and  “What can I do four months from today?”

“Perhaps one of the most immediate effects of goal setting is the gratification you feel when you set a goal, stick to a plan and achieve it.  Once you begin to make goals and achieve them you will gain confidence in yourself and gain a better understanding of your strengths!” (Quintessential Careers)