Kim Whalen: Intern for the Bolton Police Department

by Jillian Stadig

High speed car chases, drug busts and bloody crime scenes are what the mass media has led us to believe life is like in a day on the police force. Over the summer of 2013, Nichols College sophomore Kim Whalen was given the opportunity to see that, in smaller cities, the life of a police officer is not quite so dramatic. Kim spent a large part of her summer interning with the Bolton Police Department, earning credits toward her degree in Criminal Justice Management.

Kim, who also held two other summer jobs, one in retail and one as a bank teller, said that she landed her internship simply by “being in the right place at the right time.” While sitting in the office of the Criminal Justice Management Program Chair, Professor Charbonneau, they noticed an internship opportunity with the Bolton Police Department. The College has worked closely with the Bolton Police Department on internships over the years. Kim decided to apply for the position and got her internship done prior to her junior year.

Interning with the police department gave Kim the opportunity to job shadow both officers and the chief of police regularly. She spent the majority of her time shadowing the chief, both in the office and going out on calls. Even in a small town like Bolton, there is never a lack of work for the officers, especially the chief. Through this experience Kim learned that the chief of police is responsible for many serious, sometimes tedious tasks, such as creating budgets, administrative paperwork, as well as planning and attending town meetings.

The most exciting part of Kim’s experience was shadowing officers on different calls, from routine traffic stops to car accidents and a possible suicide case. One traffic accident that stuck out in Kim’s mind was a hit and run that involved a tractor trailer truck. She was also tested with the case of a possible suicide. Once at the scene, which happened to be on a very narrow road, Kim was responsible for directing traffic in order to allow the emergency vehicles to get through. It was when one of the officers told Kim that she may have to enter the house and talk to the suicidal woman, because she was the only other female on the scene that Kim began to get nervous.  Fortunately, the woman decided to cooperate with the officers and left the house unharmed.

One case Kim remembers as being “something you would see on TV” was a visit with a man who was a hoarder. One of the first things Kim noticed was the smell, “When we got out of the car, I could smell the house from a distance.” She recalls counting seven cats in the man’s yard, as well as a dog that had fleas and was missing patches of fur. Perhaps, in part, this experience has given Kim the desire to work for the humane society in the future. “This internship has definitely given me a positive view of the field. I love animals, so I would love to work with a K-9 unit or the humane society one day.” Interning with the Bolton Police Department gave Kim the hands-on opportunity to work in the field she someday hopes to be a part of something she would not have gotten simply from attending college classes. When asked if she has any tips for other students Kim said, “Try and get your internship done a year early, and do as many as you can.” The more internship opportunities you take during your college career, the easier it will be to narrow down what you really want to do after graduation. Who knows, maybe someday we’ll see Kim starring on and episode of Animal Cops.

‘Tis the Season for Career Fairs

by Cassandra Rudd

As a student in high school, I remember the annual career fair as a place to get free pens, stickers, key chains and stacks of pamphlets. Definitely not a place to think about your future prospects in the real world. However, now that I have reached my college years, I have developed a more realistic view of what the real world entails as far as the job market is concerned. With that being said, a Career Fair now has a new level of importance to me. Through the college research process, speaking with the Career Services staff and in my PDS class, I have learned that getting internships and setting up a job before finishing college are the keys to a successful life from the point of graduation forward.

On February 25th, from 1:00-3:30 p.m., Nichols College will be hosting its annual Career and Internship Fair in the Athletic Center. There are over 70 companies coming to this year’s Career Fair including Devereux, State Street Corporation, Unibank, The Hanover Insurance Group, Mohegan Sun, and the FBI’s Boston division among many others. To see a full list of companies and the jobs and internships they have to offer visit Road to Success on your MyNichols Portal. This is a great opportunity for college students, but also alumni and local community members, to gain insight concerning possible employers, internships and positions. A Career Fair like the one that Nichols College is hosting is a great place to network and present yourself to important people who may very well be interviewing you in a few months or years for a job or internship.

Although attending an event such as this as a freshman can be a bit intimidating, I think that it is a good experience to have; to prepare for what comes ahead in the job and internship search. The idea that there are over 70 companies seeking students just like you and me for internships and jobs is, to me, encouraging. We are constantly being told that because of the economy, our generation of students will have a difficult time finding work after we graduate. However, to see the number of companies eager and excited to meet students and share their available jobs and internships creates a feeling of optimism about what lies ahead after you earn your degree.

Nichols College is not the only school holding Career Fairs this time of year. Clark University, Westfield State University and Assumption College will all be hosting Career Fairs within the next month. These events, just like the one here at Nichols College, are open to the public. For more information about all of the Career Fairs visit Road to Success in your MyNichols Portal.

New Year: Time for Change!

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By Lori Smith

It is a long-held tradition to celebrate with family and friends to ring in the New Year and to make New Year’s resolutions. Each year people hope for a better year than the one before, a new year that encompasses health and happiness. While we are not certain about what exactly the year ahead has in store for us, we can be relatively sure that it will involve change. This is a perfect opportunity to reassess your career planning. To get started, conduct a Personal SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) on your current position.

Strengths/Weaknesses: Identify your strengths. Think about your values, interests and skills. What differentiates you from the competition? How can these help you obtain a position or advance in your current position? Next, identify your weaknesses. What are some things that you could do better or need to learn? Do these impede your ability to advance in your career? Do you need to further your education, obtain certifications, or complete an internship to meet your goals? These are things that ARE under your control.

Opportunities/Threats: Recognize and search out opportunities which can propel your career. Is there a position opening that you would like to apply for? Do you have an opportunity to make a connection which can help you in your career? Take advantage of these chances by taking action and making the necessary change or commitment. Detect any threats that are out there which can stand in the way of your career goals. Is the outlook for your field bleak? Is there a large amount of competition? What can you do to avoid these threats? Although opportunities and threats are both things that ARE NOT under your control, how you react to them is.

Now that you have a better understanding of your current position, you are ready to make necessary changes and strengthen your strategic career plan. Work on your personal branding to make sure it highlights your strengths and is in line with your career goals. Last year, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet and listen to Nacie Carson, CEO of Working Life Media, LLC. Nacie also is the author of, The Finch Effect, a book about personal branding and making the most out of opportunities. I would highly recommend this as a resource in your strategic career planning.

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.