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Top ten career tips

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Recently I was a guest at the School of Management Spring Networking Dinner. Along with the other faculty and staff present I was asked to stand up and offer a career tip, one piece of advice to the assembled undergraduates, of whom there were probably 75 or so.

I offered my comments but it got me thinking afterward. I was not really prepared to offer just one piece of advice, and I realized I had never really stopped to condense my thinking in response to this question. Next time, I said to myself, I'll be ready.  
 
So what follows here, after a bit of reflection, are my "Top Ten" career tips: 

Know thyself - There is much wisdom in this ancient Greek aphorism, often attributed to Socrates. A true knowledge of self is the necessary foundation upon which one's career lies. If you are not aware of what you are good at, what you like and don't like, your strengths and your weakeness, you can be pulled in any number of directions, which can lead to less than optimal work experiences. In the CEC you will hear us talk about VIPS - your Values, Interests, Personality, and Skills. Knowing these, knowing yourself, can act as a sure compass to help guide you in the right direction "out there" in the real world. 

Do what you love (with caveats) - Be honest with yourself about your talent level and whether the market will pay you for what you have to offer. Many of us may know what we love to do, but do we have the ability for it? How painful is it to watch those candidates on American Idol who love to sing and desperately want to be a star, but, sadly, have no singing talent? Even if you do have the ability, ask yourself if there is a market for it. Can you do this work and live in the manner you would like? If you are not sure, do more research, ask questions, and find out.
 
Experience is the best teacher - A phrase not written by me but oh so true. The more experience you have -- the more jobs, volunteer work, and different activities you engage in in and out of school -- the more you will come to know about yourself and the opportunities available to you out there. Listen to the feedback the world gives you and come to know what you like and where you can potentially thrive. A corollary here is that even a bad experience can have a positive outcome. If life deals you a lemon, make lemonade: "That internship was horrible! Now I know I don't want to do that for the rest of my life!"

You are the product - In my role at Simmons, representing the college to the world of employment, Simmons is my brand, the five schools and academic majors are my product lines, and each and every individual student is my product. In the world of work, this is how you need to see yourself, and if you are the product, then you need to learn how to market yourself. In your elevator pitch, resume, portfolio, personal presentation -- these are all components of your self-markering mix. And remember to sell your total package, not just your major and GPA but all your experiences outside the classroom as well, leadership, service, study abroad, travel, summer experiences - all provide transferable skills and demonstrate qualities that appeal to those who will want to bring you on board in the workplace.

We all have two jobs now - In the pre-industrial era eveyone had a defined job. You started out as an apprentice, worked your way up, and stuck at the same work your entire life. In the industrial era and later in the 20th century corporate era, large organizations emerged and were more likely to hire you on and manage your career across your entire working life, till retirement, a handshake, and the gold watch. Those days are pretty much gone. The workplace has changed. Today's workers can expect a lifetime of transitions in their work, much more the norm than before, not just between jobs but between careers as well. While it may seem daunting, it is also liberating -- now you are in charge, the master of your own fate. You can go where you want and do what you want to do. But only you can manage yourself. Only you can look out for #1. Thus, we all have two jobs now: the job you are currently in, and managing your career.  

Be open to opportunities - While you can have a career plan and a path in mind, unexpected things (aka, life) happen. You meet somebody on a train and they wind up offering you a job (true story). Be open to opportunities as they arise. Then, with your evolving knowledge of self and base of experience, evaluate each one. Is it a good fit for me? Think two steps ahead: where can I go after that? Does it lead where I want to go? Career theorist John Krumboltz calls these opportunities "happenstance", the unexpected twists and turns that can have a profound impact not just on your work but your life. Be ready for them.   

Go where you are celebrated, not tolerated - This remark was delivered by a keynote speaker at a large HR conference I attended a number of years ago, and it has stuck with me ever since. Despite your best efforts and hard work, despite their having hired you in the first place, you may find that after some time in an organization you are seen only for what you are doing, not what you could do. You become part of the woodwork, taken for granted, not recognized any longer nor your true value appreciated. But you want to grow and prove that you can offer more, have ideas, have energy that is not being tapped. Then you have to do something about it, create or find a better siutation. Explore both internal and external opportunities. Helen Keller phrased it this way: "One can never consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar".

Maintain your network - When you are first starting out in your career, networking may seem like a foreign and daunting concept - how do I do "networking" and do I even have a network? You will also think of networking as something that benefits you, a tool that can help lead to job and internship possibliites, or provide a connection in a new city if you decide to relocate. But as you spend more time in the workforce, you will realize that you become part of other people's networks, too, and that you can be just as valuable to them. The message here is that networking is a two-way street: yes, you can be helped, and you always want to be sure to show your appreciation and keep your network informed and up to date. But you can also reciprocate, be an aid to others, and then you are a member of a truly valuable network.  

Seek a higher purpose - I will echo the evening's keynote speaker, Mary Finlay, Professor of Practice in the SOM and former Partners Healthcare CIO. While there is a necessity to manage your own career and meet certain financial and other personal exigencies, if your work is solely for yourself you will burn out and become disillusioned very quickly. Simmons' core purpose of "Transformative learning that links passion with lifelong purpose" is not a hollow phrase. Working for a larger purpose, something that provides lasting benefits and is of value to others, provides a deeper and sustaining motivation. Being engaged in something larger than yourself can get you up in the morning and keep you going, not just for days and weeks but months and years. Taking an even broader view, the world faces many complex challenges in multiple arenas, some on a truly massive scale and of an unprecedented nature. We need all the dedicated talent we can get to face these challenges.    

It's a marathon, not a sprint - For most, the first several years out of college are a time of continued exploration and learning, albeit in the worplace versus the classroom. You will try on different occupational roles and see what fits (see "Know thyself" and "Experience is the best teacher"). Some of your peers may seem to have it all together (usually they don't) and some may actually have a clear and defined path early on, what I call the "lucky few." But most use the defining decade of the twenties to sort things out before eventually finding their path. You do not have to have everything figured out all at once. Be patient. Let things unfold, and learn as you go. As American poet Walt Whitman said: "All truths wait in all things / They neither hasten their own delivery nor resist it."

Your job is not your life - While income and how you spend your working hours are clearly central, and Gallup studies show that career well-being is the most reliable predictor of overall well-being, don't freight your job with fulfilling every aspect of your life. Other dimensions of your life  -- personal, family, physical fitness, involvement in community, activities of interest (music, rock collecting, reading, travel, whatever) -- are also important and should not be neglected. Whitman again: "Of course I contradict myself - I contain multitudes." Embrace the multitudes and pay attention to those aspects of yourself too. Or, put another way, "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy" (or Jill a dull girl).

Sometimes you need help - Have you ever seen a boxing match? When the bell rings to end the round the boxer goes back to his corner, slumps onto his stool, and gets attended to by his trainer and manager. That's what a career coach can do for you. They are in your corner. They help you take a break, step back from the action, work out a strategy, and get refreshed before you head back into the ring. While a lawyer attends to your legal needs and a doctor to your medical needs, a career advisor can help with your career needs. While at Simmons and as an alum, you can make us of the career coaching expertise on staff in the CEC.     
 
Be mindful of retirement - The "R" word may mean little or nothing to you now, but at some point, way out there on the horizon, your everyday working life will come to an end. And as the current run of Prudential TV ads is reminding us, many of us will be living far longer than previous generations, into our 90's and beyond, so we better be prepared not to outlive our retirement income. Plan now, save now, and you will thank yourself later.  

My final word on this is that there is no final word. While the foregoing are deeply held beliefs I might add another one here or there over time. And OK, for those counting there are more than ten tips here, which is the point. A career is a complex, organic, growing and evolving thing, and you can't boil it down to just ten immutable pearls of wisdom. It is an ongoing challenge, but one that Simmons grads are both prepared for and up to.

So what was the one tip I gave at the Networking Dinner? "Eisenhart's Theorem": We all have two jobs now.

reference-check.jpgHave you started your job search?  If so, you'll want to start thinking about your references.  Who are the people who can best attest to your skills, experience, knowledge and personal strengths? Be sure that your references can speak to all the qualities that your potential employer is looking for in a new hire.  

Possible references include supervisors and colleagues from former jobs, internships and volunteer work, as well as professors and coaches.  While it's time to compile this list of references, you won't provide this information to employers unless specifically requested to do so.  Most employers ask for references during the interview process if you are a finalist for a position.
 
The way employers check references for potential hires has changed over the years.  Once, letters of recommendation were the requested norm; now, with the exception of certain industries like Education, employers usually ask for a list of references and their contact information. 

Some employers will call your references and personally ask a series of questions to determine your abilities, motivation and personal "fit" for a position.  Others, especially larger organizations, have opted for an automated approach, and use customized software to ask these same questions about how you match with the success factors for the job.  In the latter, your references are emailed a link to a comprehensive survey with multiple choice questions customized for that particular position/organization.   References are asked to rank you on a scale of low to high in such areas as professional competence, interpersonal and problem solving skills, and adaptability.  Just like in telephone inquiries, there are opened ended questions as well.  These typically include questions about your strengths and an area in which you could improve.   References are also usually asked, "Would you hire or work with this person again?"
 
Now that you know the process, how can you best manage your references?
Follow these three steps:
1. Ask
     Always ask your contacts if they are willing to provide you with a good a reference.   If a contact expresses any reservations at all, politely express your understanding of the situation, and then ask someone else.

2. Prepare
     Prepare your references in advance.   Offer to provide any information they might find helpful in fulfilling this role.  Send an email to thank them for agreeing to be a reference and let them know the type of positions and organizations you are targeting in your job search.  Explain why you're interested in pursuing these opportunities and the strengths and experience you have that make you a good candidate.   Attach a copy of your resume for their information.

Some references, especially instructors who are asked to write references by many students, may ask you to complete a form or provide other information that can help them in their reference role.  Respond promptly if you are asked to do this.

3. Keep in Touch
     Keep your references informed of your job search progress.  Let them know immediately if an employer has asked you for your references, and provide information about the job and organization where you're now a serious candidate.

If your area of interest changes, let your references know.  If a reference is prepared to extol your enthusiasm for pediatric nursing, she may be caught unaware by a reference request for position working with substance abuse patients.

Be sure to let your references know when you do land a position and thank them for their help.

     For more information about references, check out the CEC's References: Guides and Format.
About.com also has some helpful information about references as well. 

 

Photo compliments of culprit.com

AW-Cropped Head Shot.jpgI recently had the opportunity with the support of our Provost to participate in an accreditation program on Emotional Intelligence sponsored by the Hay Group and designed by world expert, Daniel Goleman. The training program was for coaching professionals to help their clients become more effective as leaders by using the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory tool.

I first learned about EI after being inspired by Daniel Goleman's ground breaking booked called "Working with Emotional Intelligence," which provides case examples that link success in business leadership with emotional intelligence.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Goleman defines Emotional Intelligence as:

" Recognizing our own feelings and those of others, motivating ourselves, managing emotions well in ourselves and our relationships."

Although many people thought this was a management fad, EI has endured because the qualities to help strengthen leadership effectiveness are even more important for today's changing workplace.

Daniel Goleman together with Richard Boyatsis conducted decades of global research on what differentiates outstanding performance.  Because they found that 80-90% of the characteristics were emotional and social in nature, they developed the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory (ESCI).  Their view was that while abilities and personality traits are fairly fixed, that behavioral competencies can be developed to improve personal effectiveness, develop leaders and create more effective organizations.

They defined a competency as a measurable characteristic beyond knowledge and skills that is necessary for top performance. It included the following:

4 Competency Clusters:

Self-awareness: Recognizing and understanding our own emotions, abilities, strengths and weaknesses

Self-management: Effectively managing ourselves: emotional self-control, motivating ourselves

Social-awareness: Recognizing and understanding the emotions of others: empathy, organizational awareness

Relationship-management: Applying emotional understanding in our dealings with others: influence, inspirational leadership, coach and mentor, conflict management, teamwork


In my work as Director of the Career Education Center and as a career management coach, assessment is a critical first step in the coaching process.  In the CEC, Assessment is the first step in our developmental model and includes identifying a student's values, interests, personality and strengths with use tools such as the MBTI and Career Driver to uncover strengths and ingredients of a good career fit. In our academic programs at Simmons, we know that students develop knowledge and skills in the classroom with opportunities to apply them through experiential learning opportunities.  Yet, we also know that employers today are seeking even more-- academics plus.  Many are the behavioral competencies of Emotional Intelligence that can make a difference in a person's career and leadership success.

Can EI be learned?

Yes, these behavioral competencies can be taught and developed over time with self-awareness as the core foundation of personal development and effectiveness.  Students can learn how to recognize, evaluate, and improve their behaviors by incorporating feedback and through continued practice.  By increasing self-awareness, students can better manage their independent and group learning, and ultimately their employability.

With a focus on leadership, I believe that Simmons can build on its inherent strengths and to teach and be known for developing knowledge, skills and the EI competencies for successful personal, career and leadership development.

Andrea Wolf is Director of the Simmons Career Education Center.

skype3.jpgAccording to research conducted by the Aberdeen Group, a market research company, 32 percent of companies used video interviews for recruiting last year.  Given their increased use by employers, your chances of having a video interview are greater than ever before.  While this technology has provided the expected convenience and cost savings for companies, video conferencing for job interviews has been shown to have negative consequences for both the candidate and employer.  A study from McMaster University De Groote School of Business reported that job applicants are viewed as less likeable by interviewers,  and interviewers are seen as less competent by candidates, when this technology is used .

Willie Weisener, associate professor, Human Resources, at DeGroote, and co-author of the study says, "These findings suggest that using video conferencing can adversely affect both applicant reactions and interviewer judgments.  Video conferencing places technological barriers between applicants and interviewers."   Consequently, the researchers recommend that video conferencing be used only for preliminary screening interviews.

So what do you do if you have a Skype interview with a potential employer?  How can you minimize the negative effect of that technological barrier?

First, remember that a Skype interview is still an interview.  Prepare for a Skype interview the same way you would prepare for an interview conducted in-person:

  • Research the organization, the job and the interviewer.
  • Prepare to answer typical interview questions and prepare questions to ask.
  • Analyze the job description so you can speak to how your skills and experience are a good match. For example, if the job requirements mention criteria like "organizational skills" or "collaboration with team members", be ready to give examples of how you have demonstrated these behaviors in the past.
  • Practice aloud the answers to interview questions as you would for any interview.

Then review these ten additional tips to help you prepare and overcome the technological barrier that the Skype interview presents:

  1. Create a professional Skype profile.  The first thing the interviewer will see is your Skype username and picture.

  2. Be sure your technology is working perfectly. Check the audio to be sure you can hear and be heard. Close other windows and programs on your computer.

  3. Secure a quiet private space where you'll have no interruptions and be sure your surroundings are neutral. Remove anything distracting behind you so you will be the focal point.

  4. Test the lightening in the room to ensure it doesn't appear harsh or cast a shadow on your face.

  5. Do a Skype run through with a friend who will be able to give you feedback about both technical and presentation issues.

  6.  Dress professionally as you would for an in-person interview.  It's expected, even if you feel awkward all dressed up and talking to a computer.   

  7. Look at the camera not at the screen image or you will be looking away from your interviewer.                                                                                                                                                                         

  8. Position yourself correctly so that your screen image is of your face and upper shoulders.  

  9. If you find the small image of yourself on screen distracting, cover it with a post-it note.

  10. Watch your body language: sit up straight and remember to smile appropriately to demonstrate your enthusiasm and interest. 

For more information about interviewing and a list of typical questions, check out the CEC's Prepare to Interview webpage.  Then get ready for your close up by viewing this TIME video, How to Ace a Job Interview on Skype

 

 

 

Photo compliments of usatodayeducate.com

 

 

 

 

When you first matriculate as a college student you are usually somewhere between the ages of 17 and 19 years old. These years are defined by exploration and growth, a growing knowledge of yourself and the world of opportunities around you.

When you graduate -- in most cases, we hope, four years later -- you're in your early twenties. And that's what The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of them Now, is all about. Slate.com said of the book: "Any recent college grad. . .dazed by the freedom of post-collegiate existence should consider it required reading."

The author's view  

The author, Meg Jay, is a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Virginia. She also has a private practice and focuses her practice, research, and writing on adult development and twentysomethings.


Meg Jay-author.jpgJay sees several trends for today's twentysomethings -- entry-level jobs going overseas; many out of work, working part-time, or underemployed; earnings lower than those of the previous generation; debt racked up in the college years; many moving back home.

But, Jay says, despite these and other pressures on this age group, the twenties are the critical foundational period for one's later adult life. "With about 80 percent of life's most significant events taking place by age thirty-five," she writes, "as thirtysomethings and beyond we largely either continue with, or correct for, the moves we made during our twentysomething years."

In separate sections titled "Work," "Love," and "The Brain and the Body" the author addresses the critical tasks facing individuals in their twenties, deftly interwoven with actual case studies of clients from her practice that resonate with authenticity.    

Book Jacket-Defining Decade.png

Identity capital

The author also introduces a new concept in her section on work: identity capital, which she defines as follows:
 
"Identity capital is our collection of personal assets. It is the repertoire of individual resources we assemble over time. These are the investments we make in ourselves, the things we do well enough, or long enough, that they become a part of who we are. Some identity capital goes on a resume, such as degrees, jobs, test scores, and clubs. Other identity capital is more personal, such as how we speak, where we are from, how we solve problems, how we look. Identity capital is how we build ourselves -- bit by bit, over time. Most important, identity capital is what we bring to the adult marketplace. It is the currency we use to metaphorically purchase jobs and relationships and other things we want."  

For Jay, identity capital is largely positive, a way to value one's attributes and experiences and look at them as the glass half full, not empty, and as a platform for moving forward.

Implications for college students 

The twenties will always be a time of further exploration, of trying on occupational and personal roles and relationships, of learning more about oneself and one's place in the world. 

You can perceive the twenties as a time of continued learning in a real-world setting, a setting that your years in college have prepared you for. The variety of experiences you have had both in and out of the classroom have supplied you with your own identity capital, to review, assess, and present to the world as you take your own next steps.

For more information

This is just a brief glimpse into Jay's work, a well-researched, well-written, and compelling case for continuing to explore and move forward with one's life, not to wait, during one's twenties. For Jay, thirty is definitely not the new twenty - far from it, as her book makes abundantly clear.    

To learn more about The Defining Decade (now available in paperback) and author Jay and her work, visit her website. You can also screen her 15 min. TED talk, "Why 30 is Not the New 20." 

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It's an exciting time with graduation approaching, but don't forget to set aside some time to start gearing up for your job search! You will soon encounter many challenges as you begin seeking job opportunities and there's so much to be mindful of---your strategy, networking, resume, interviewing, leads, and an elevator speech, the list goes on and on!  It can be a difficult road to travel alone, so why not get resourceful and find a job search buddy to make the process a little easier? 

Why a job search buddy?  The benefits are many:    

  •  Built in accountability.  Someone who will check in regularly to report out on progress, help set goals and plan action steps.  
  •  New perspectives and ideas.  Put your heads together to solve problems that come up. Brainstorm and evaluate possible solutions to create a plan of action. Use your buddy as a sounding  board. They won't hand you solutions to your challenges, but a buddy can broaden your thinking.
  •  Spotting new opportunities.  Keep each other in mind as you make new discoveries and meet new people. Share any opportunities you uncover.
  •  Support!  Just being connected with someone who cares about your progress, shares in your successes, listens to you vent, and gets you moving again when you are stuck, can make the  job hunting process so much easier 

 Tips on structuring a buddy system relationship to help you reach your goals:  

  • Set up regular check-in times in person, by phone or email, perhaps on a weekly basis.
  • Define a set length of time to converse, such as half an hour. 
  • Always commit to next steps by documenting what you and your buddy will accomplish before your next meeting. 
  • Keep the relationship reciprocal. When collaborating, make sure each of you gets a similar amount of time. 

In the shortrun, it is very likely that pairing up with a buddy will make the job search seem more manageable and in the longrun actually result in a more focused effective job campaign.

For additions resources and services to assist with seeking employment, review Manage Your Job Search in the CEC Career Toolkit, and set an appointment with a career coach.

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I attended a fall Career Symposium at Babson College on "What Employers Want From College Graduates" and want to share what I learned and highlight some key points.

The first speaker, Abigail Davenport, VP of Hart Research spoke of a survey her organization had conducted with 318 executives at private sector and non-profit organizations. Following were the key findings:

  • Innovation is a priority. Critical thinking, and a broad skill set are viewed as key for meeting the complex challenges of the workplace
  • Employers recognize the importance of a liberal arts education.  More than half agree that long-term career success requires BOTH specific knowledge AND a broad range of skills (aka, "academics plus")
  • Employers endorse education practices that involve students in the application of knowledge and skills to real-world settings such as internships and field placement

The second speaker, Debra Humphreys, VP of Policy and Public Engagement at the Association of American Colleges and Universities spoke on the topic of "Preparing Liberally Educated Professionals for Success in the Global Economy."  She asked critical questions on the topic of professional success and how students define post-graduate success.

The reasons that students give for pursuing a college degree:

  1. Get a better job
  2. Learn more about things of interest
  3. Train for a specific career
  4. Gain a general education and appreciation of ideas

Debra also addressed the topic of seeking long-term success and sited the Gallup Organization's research on well-being.  Over the past fifty years, Gallup has conducted research where they have uncovered five common elements of well-being that go beyond country and culture that include career, social, financial, physical, and community well-being.  They found that career well-being is the most important predictor of overall well-being.  Their research raises questions of how to measure longer term outcomes that go beyond salary as the measure of "success' to the value of helping students explore and discover what they like and do best, and of course, find a good job.  Career well-being is already central to our work in the CEC as our 5 Step Career Development Plan is a start in providing students with the knowledge, skills and resources to discover what they like and do best in order to make informed, effective decisions for lifelong career management.

Other key points that struck me:

"The premium of lifelong learning just keeps going up...the world is changing even faster.  Learning how to love learning is becoming more important - and the importance of static knowledge is going down... Students have to have knowledge and how to use it- know AND do. All learning should revolve around projects."   -- David Rattray, Sr. Director, Education and Workforce Development, LA Chamber of Commerce

Employers place more weight on experience, particularly internships and employment during school vs. academic credential and college major when evaluating candidates.   -- The Role of Higher Education in Career Development: Employer Perceptions (Marketplace and Chronicle of Higher Education, December, 2012)

Employers endorse the following high-impact educational practices with potential to help graduates succeed:

  • Research and evidence-based analysis
  • Senior projects
  • Internships and community-based work
  • Collaborative research

The good news is that Simmons has much of what employers want with a need to connect current best practices and build new ones as our differentiator in higher education.  We know that the value of a liberal arts education includes the skills employers seek today and also the skills for success in life.  We know that we have strong departmentally based experiential learning opportunities built into the Independent Learning requirement with internships, field experience and practice-based research and through Service Learning and Study Abroad.  We know that we are a student-centered professional learning community that reaches students early through the First-Year Experience and through integration of career preparation within departments and offices and through alumni mentoring programs.  We also know that professional preparation is an integral part of our liberal arts education and is central to the Simmons history, mission and strategy.

What students face today is to become career-ready in a rapidly changing work world.  This means that they need to be more actively engaged in their career development from day one.  Ultimately, they need to learn how to translate the meaning of their education.  This includes articulating the skills and value they can bring to an employer as they begin their career, and later as they manage and advance their career over the course of a lifetime.

Andrea Wolf is Director of the Simmons Career Education Center.

 

Learn to market yourself

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hireme.jpgLearn to market yourself? That's a traditional piece of job search advice that students are apt to hear, but what exactly does it mean?  And how do you go about doing that?

When you hear the words "market yourself" in regards to a job search, the words "self-promotion" or "selling" may initially come to mind, along with a feeling of dread about having to do it.  But a better marketing approach can be found in the words of Peter Drucker, the legendary management consultant who said, "The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself." 

How do you apply this definition of marketing to a job search?  By understanding your customer well - determining what skills and experience employers (your customers) want.  Then, let those skills and desired experience "sell themselves" in the intentional writing of your resume and cover letter, and the thoughtful discussion of yourself in networking meetings and interviews.

How do you determine what skills and experience employers want in new hires?  Fortunately, they like to tell you.

According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities LEAP study (Liberal Education and America's Promise) employers value candidates who can think critically, communicate clearly and solve complex problems, as well as demonstrate ethical judgement and intercultural skills.  They also endorse student involvement in "active, effortful work" -  practices including internships, senior projects and community engagement.  In addition, NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) publishes an annual survey of 10 skills job seekers need, outlined in an earlier blog, that include such skills as the ability to work on a team, problem solving and organizational abilities.

Happily most students have had these experiences and developed these skills through their academics, extracurricular activities, internships, fieldwork, volunteering, jobs, sports and study abroad.   However, just listing your degree, coursework, activities and job responsibilities on your resume will not market you.  That approach will not give you the credit you need.  You need a strategy to effectively present the skills you have acquired through your college experience in your resume and cover letters, and discuss them in interviews. 

Want to learn how to translate your total college experience to effectively market yourself?  Watch Back to Basics, Marketing Your Total College Experience to Today's Employers, a webinar taught by Don Asher, America's job search guru, and one of the many resources on the CEC's Career Toolkit.

 

 

Photo: Courtesy of The Motherhood.com


 

Simmons Grad in Workplace- Jacqueline Doherty '11.JPGGood news for Simmons grads on the job front: things are looking up!

For the first time since 2008, new Simmons bachelor's graduates are faring better in the employment market than the class before them.   

Key results

The results for the Class of 2012 Employment Survey, released by the CEC in September, show that 86% of new grads were employed full-time or in graduate school full-time (or both) within one year of graduation, a dramatic increase from last year's 79% full-time rate.   

And there is more good news from this year's report. A solid 90% of those graduates employed full-time are in a field related or somewhat related to their major. Also encouraging is that the average reported salary is $45,800, well up from last year's $41,530 and exceeding the national average for all 2012 graduates of $44,259 as reported by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.            

Where do they work?

With Nursing and Biology the top two undergraduate majors, it comes as no surprise that the largest field of employment for new Simmons graduates is health care, attracting 47% of the class. Another 8% went into Business & Finance as well as into Education, 7% into Government, 6% into Communications, and 4% each into Human & Social Services, Sciences, and Technology.   

Top employers, defined as those employing more than one Simmons graduate full-time from the class, include Brigham & Women's Hospital, Boston Children's Hospital, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, among others. Other employers include Digitas, EMC, Forrester Research, Google, Horizons for Homeless Children, MIT, Travelers Insurance, WGBH, and many more, clear evidence that Simmons grads can go in any direction with their newly minted degrees.

Networking remained the most effective method for new graduates to find a job, with 40% landing their first position in this fashion. While Internet job sites helped 27% get their first jobs, this year 20% of new grads reported obtaining their first position via an internship or clinical placement, up significantly from previous years.      

Like those before them, these new Simmons grads like to stick close to their alma mater. Eighty-three percent of those working full-time are employed in New England, with over two-thirds (70%) remaining in Massachusetts.

Further education

As for those enrolling directly in graduate programs -- 22% of the class  -- top school choices were Simmons, Bentley, and BU, with Brandeis, Columbia, Cornell (veterinary medicine), Emerson, Morehouse (medicine), New England School of Law, NYU, Suffolk (law), Tufts (dental) and many others also represented. 

The survey, conducted annually by the CEC with the May cohort of BA/BS graduates, garnered a 63 percent response rate this past spring. A copy of the Summary Results along with those from previous years is posted on the CEC website.

The take-away

So what does all this mean for current Simmons students? It means that as a Simmons grad you can pretty much do anything and go anywhere! But the key to success is to use your time at Simmons wisely to prepare yourself for the transition from college to career. You want to have a clear picture of your skills, your abilities, and your interests and be able to professionally present them to employers. You also want to explore the options available to you in the workplace and, through research and internships and other experiences, do your best to define where you might best fit. Our four-year STEPS plan can help guide you along this path.

Remember, along with your faculty advisor and others at Simmons, the CEC is here to help - that's what we do! To learn more about what we have to offer, spend a little time here on the CEC website. If you want to take it a step further, you can always set up a time to meet with a career coach.

Then, one day soon, you and your classmates will be joining the proud Simmons graduates who have gone before you and reporting your own success in the workplace! 

 

Photo: Simmons alum Jacqueline Doherty '11  at Hill Holliday

AW-Cropped Head Shot.jpgWhat a loaded topic with so many definitions including both external, cultural  definitions and internal, personal definitions.  I recently attended the Color of Success program sponsored by the Mulitcultural Affairs and Office of Student Life where Lisa Smith-McQueenie, Associate Dean, asked a panel of students for their definiton of success. I was impressed with their responses:

 

  • "Accomplishing what feels right or what you feel good about involving self-reflection and growth"
  • "Collective work"
  • "Hard work and stepping out of your comfort zone"
  • "Your own definition based on experience, learning and empowering yourself and others"
  • "Confidence in your work, goal setting, and accomplishments for something bigger and greater"

To achieve success, you must find your own personal definition like these students.  What is your defintion?

The author, Anna Quindlen says, "If success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all." I came across another author who defined success as having a positive impact on the lives of other people. I strongly resonate with that.

There is no one answer to what success is as we create our own personal definitions that have meaning to us.  This can drive our career and life choices and serve as our anchor point in making meaningful decisions throughout our lifetime.

I was struck by a recent Gallup Business Journal article and their international research on well-being that targets "career well-being" as the most important predictor of overall well-being. Their research looks at the longer term outcomes beyond salary as a measure of "success" and speaks to the value of helping students explore and discover what they like and do best in finding a good job.

In the Career Education Center, we are here to contribute to your success and encourage you to utilize our STEPS Career Development Plan. STEPS = Steps To Explore, Prepare, Succeed

CEC Logo.jpg

STEPS Career Development Plan here.

You  can make it your own personal action plan to guide you along your 4- year path at Simmons. Take advantage of the career coaching support, skill-building workshops, website resources and employer opportunities in front of you.

I invite you to visit the CEC and discuss what success means to you!

Andrea Wolf is the Director of the Simmons Career Education Center.