Tips To Master The Phone Interview


By Saleha Ashfaq

Phone interviews have gained a lot of popularity in recent years by many organizations looking to screen candidates during the initial stages of the recruitment process. Many people consider the phone interview more intimidating than an actual face-to-face interview. However, just like an actual interview, appropriate preparation and presentation are required to effectively pass this phase. Here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when you are preparing for an upcoming phone interview:

1. Be Prepared: Research the company and the job you are applying for. Make sure you are aware of what type of candidate the company is seeking and then highlight those skills on your resume. Also, prepare some questions to ask at the end of the interview that show your interest and knowledge about the organization.
2. Reserve a Quiet Spot: Make sure you are in a quiet place with good phone service to conduct your phone interview. Also, it is recommended that you have a place to neatly hold all your documents that you may need during the interview. You can now reserve an interview room in the Office of Career Services that provides an ideal setting for the interview.
3. Listen Carefully: Do not answer the question until you fully understand what is being asked. If you know what the question is, you are more likely to provide a clear and concise response.
4. Pay Attention to Your Tone: People cannot see your body language; all they hear is the tone of your voice. Speak naturally, like you would in a conversation. You do not want to speak in an overly excited manner because it might make you seem eager. However, you also do not want to speak in a monotone as it can make you seem uninterested.  Sit up straight, remember to smile, and dress the part.  This will put you in the right frame of mind for a successful interview.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice: Anticipate the questions that will be asked of you and rehearse the answers. For example: a common question in most interviews is “tell me about yourself?” Practice what you want the employer to know. The more you practice, the more prepared and confident you will be during the interview.

Here are a few resources that will further help you prepare for your upcoming phone interview.

Career Services is also a great resource. Feel free to contact us to schedule a time to meet to discuss the interview process, set-up a mock interview or to reserve an interview room. You can contact us at 508-213-2489 or

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!


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:

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.

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
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.”