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July 2013 Archives

Exploration blog posting picture 7.26.13.jpg

With the job market gradually improving but still very tight, "any port in a storm" can seem like a useful motto for job seekers.  However, with most full-time jobs taking up half or more of your waking hours each week, that "just-for-now" job can quickly turn into a "will it ever end" nightmare.  

Boston.com recently posted a photo essay listing the "worst" companies to work for, according to research done by the business news website 24/7 Wall St using the employer-review website Glassdoor.  Frequently cited in this article are companies that have lousy supervisors, no respect for work-life balance, and senior management that just doesn't get it.  At one of these companies, and others too, there may be a soul-sucking, head-on-a-desk-pounding job waiting for you!

But avoiding a terrible job and finding one that is a great fit, at a company that wants you there and that you want to be at, is as easy as doing a little research. This research is the essence of the 2nd step in the Career Education Center's career development plan: Exploration.

The tools you can to use to sidestep a career morass include:

  • Internet Research (the Beatley Library Online Career Guides are an excellent source of information)
  • Networking & Informational Interviewing (including interviewing alumnae/i of Simmons and professionals working at companies you are interested in)
  • Internships
  • Volunteering
  • Attending Career Fairs and Employer Events
  • Job Shadowing
  • Joining a Professional Association

To find out more about these tools to find a job you love (and not one you loathe), check out our webpage on exploring majors and careers, and to determine how to use them in a way that works for you, set up an appointment to meet with one of our career coaches.  We want to work with you to not just find a job, but the job and career path that's right for you!

Photo Source: Business Chicks

employers looking for.jpgHave you thought about what employers are looking for in job candidates?  Internships are golden--do as many as you can during your college career!  But there's much more!  Take action on those things that will position you to effectively market yourself upon graduation. Several career professionals reflect on four of these key elements in How to Market Yourself After College: 

1) In a competitive job market pay attention to selling your brand, inotherwords, be expert at telling your own story.  

2) Bulid your network through informational interviews and LinkedIn

3) Find a mentor; be taken seriously in your field.  

4) Understand how employers make hiring decisions

Hopefully, the following won't come as a surprise.  Employers responding to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Job Outlook 2013 survey indicate that relevant work experience and GPA are important, but that it's clearly the "soft skills" that make a candidate stand out.  There's a wealth of opportunity during your college career to develop the Top10 Skills for Job Candidates that employers want! In a nutshell, employers look for "good communicators who can make decisions and solve problems while working effectively as part of a team."

It's a great idea to make a roadmap of how you will leverage your college experience to gain the experience and skills that you will in the near future market to employers.  It is never too early to meet with a CEC career coach, who can assist you in creating a step by step career plan to help you prepare for graduation and attain your goals.

 

HRS_Temp_Register_Baked_Beans_website_rdax_300x423.jpgRecent news about employment describes what might be seen as a disturbing trend.  While new jobs are being created, the area where most new job growth is occurring is in the temporary employment sector.  Companies are increasingly turning to temps, contract workers and freelance employees to meet their business needs in what continues to be an uncertain economy.  When it comes to finding a job nowadays,  "The future is not quite what it used to be." (Paul Valery, French poet)   The negatives of an increasingly temporary workforce are obvious, but the challenge of an uncertain future must be met to succeed in the present.  As a former client who had a successful career as a freelancer once told me, "We're all temporary workers, but I admit to it."

Are there any advantages to temporary employment for new or recent grads? 

Here are four you might consider:

  1. Learn more about a field and explore possible career options.  A temporary assignment can confirm that you want to work in this industry, or not.
  2. Gain valuable experience as you develop your current skills and learn new ones.  Additional training may be available through the temporary agency, or on the job at your assignment, as you take on additional responsibilities.
  3. Meet new people to add to your network, and develop relationships with employers that could lead to a permanent job offer.  Many temporary assignments are now "temp to perm" in nature.  Some employers purposely hire employees on a temporary basis, which serves as a probation period, before committing to full time employment.
  4. Earn a paycheck!   Let's be practical - You need to have an income sooner rather than later.

Taking a temporary assignment does not mean giving up on the possibility of full time regular employment.  You can continue your search for a full time position, while employed as a temp.  At the same time, you are developing your career adaptability and resilience - two competencies needed in times of economic uncertainty. 

Learn more about temporary employment, recruitment agencies and placement agencies by checking out the Job Hunting Online Career Guide.  Find additional resources for your job search in the Career Toolkit.

 

 

Photo: Courtesy Portsmouth City Council

 

 

 

Interns and internships seem to be everywhere these days.

Summer Interns-Group Photo.jpgAbout this time every summer I start to see a number of new faces on my daily commute into Boston on the train. The change is welcome - the faces are young and eager, and I know why they are here: they are part of the annual influx of summer interns, many of them back home from college and adding to the region's workforce for the next several weeks.      

Meanwhile the funny guy duo of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson is back on the big screen for their take on the topic in "The Internship" in which they try out their talents at Google. Haven't seen it yet but a major studio release about internships means the topic is definitely making it into the national zeitgeist.  

Internship Movie-Photo-1.jpg

But the internship news of most interest to those of us in college career offices is the recent court decision concerning compensation for interns. As the article "Court ruling stirs debate over intern pay" from last week's Boston Globe notes, the New York State case which found against Fox Searchlight Pictures for not paying its interns may have "no legal jurisdiction in Massachusetts. It did, however, spark a new -- and some say long overdue -- debate over an old employment practice that straddles the line of educational work experience and indentured servitude."

Much ink and many pixels have been spilled about this since the ruling came out in the last two weeks. On the one hand, not paying student interns for their work contribution can be an unfair labor practice and one which employers can benefit mightily from, if abused. It can be seen as exploitive and in the best interests of the organization, not the student, for whom it is intended to be an educational experience. Unpaid internships can also self-select those who can afford to put in the hours without compensation, making it discriminatory against those of lesser means who need the income.

On the other hand, many students who have undertaken unapid internships will cite the value of the experience gained which might not otherwise have been available to them. The experience can then be added to the student's resume (and possibly portfolio) and therefore can be a big career boost. A recent NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) study found that nearly half of all college interns work unpaid, so they clearly see value in these opportunities.

Many of the key points and relevant citations on both sides of the debate can be found in the summary article "Are unpaid internships worth it?" from the website Opportunity Nation.

Of course if an employer pays an intern he or she will be far more pleased. It makes them feel respected and valued and part of the organization. Here at Simmons, where internships are a big part of the curriculum and over 80% of students fulfill their Independent Learning Requirement by undertaking one or more workplace-based educational experiences, we do not turn away unpaid internships from our listings or counsel students against taking an unpaid position. However, we strongly encourage our employer partners to provide compensation to interns, whenever possible. Both parties benefit from the arrangement for the reasons cited above, both for the short- and longer-term (ie, for potential intern-to-full-time-hire conversions).     

Stay tuned for newly published internship guidelines for employers, forthcoming on the CEC website. In the interim, go see Vince and Owen at the movies and let us know in the "Comments" section below your thoughts on this summer's hot employment topic.

 

Photos: Courtesy Mississippi State Personnel Board, Yahoo.com