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All Aboard: Using Social Media to Advance Your Career

–Adam Miller ’12

What’s on your mind? Compose new Tweet. Share an update. These simple statements prompt us to share information with our friends, colleagues, and even complete strangers. Although learning how to effectively use social media can be an overwhelming at times, the benefits far outweigh the simple growing pains.  I’ve experienced firsthand how social media can have a tremendous impact on someone’s career aspirations, because Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have all played a role in helping me gain valuable experience which is setting me up for an exciting career path.

My sophomore year was the first time I realized the power of social media. Working for career services as a peer advisor I was given the task of finding a speaker to bring to campus. Having no idea where to begin looking I stumbled upon LinkedIn and began searching for interesting people to connect with.  After a couple days of looking at countless profiles I ran across a person’s profile by the name of Lewis Howes.  Lewis had just written a book about using LinkedIn to find a job, growing a business, and connecting with industry leaders through social media.  Long story short, Lewis eventually came to campus and gave a presentation about the benefits of using social media to aid in career exploration. Ever since that presentation I have kept in contact with Lewis and he has continuously provided priceless advice and mentorship.

This past fall I was browsing Twitter and discovered an author and public speaker named Kelsey Timmerman.  Knowing that I was going to be planning the Wabash College Entrepreneur Summit in a few months, I sent him a direct message and started a conversation about the possibility of him coming speak at the Summit.  Fast forward a few months and Kelsey was presenting in front of over 150 attendees at the 2nd Annual Entrepreneur Summit.  My final experience with social media for career progression actually happened entirely by chance.  While I was studying for my comprehensive examination I took a five minute break and checked my Twitter feed and saw a tweet for the Young Entrepreneur Council for a social media internship. I immediately applied and two days later was interviewed and offered the position.

Social media is jam packed with potential. I know it can be a daunting task to understand the implications of it fully, but if you stick with it and challenge yourself to produce engaging content then the opportunities are endless. I encourage everyone to take the first step and sign up for Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn and begin using these services for the sake of career advancement. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone because you fear rejection, just put your fingers to the keys and keep at it. Oh, and don’t forget to follow me: @AdamDeVonMiller.

 

Filming on Vocation: Julie Olsen

SYNOPSIS

Learn about Julie Olsen’s work as both Registrar and Associate Dean of the College. Hear advice for branching out trying something off-the-wall during your time at Wabash.

SELECTED TRANSCRIPT

Julie Olsen: Associate Dean of the College

0:30 Julie Olsen: I am the Registrar of the college, which entails the normal record keeping part of the academic world. I am also the Associate Dean of the college, where I deal with hiring, safety issues, and legal compliance cases as well.

2:20 When are we going digital with class registration?

There is nothing on the table at this point. I suspect at some point that it will happen.  Right now it is actually more convenient for students to be coming through our office because we do a lot of assisting and advising when people come through our office.  When students come through our office and they are not able to get the classes that they want, we are able to help them find other courses that they need.

3:20 What are some of the skills and talents you have to draw on?

I am an administrator and what that means to me is facilitating processes and making things go, trying to keep them smooth, efficient, and effective for  people.  That means you are always looking ahead and trying to understand how things could work and how they could work better.  I also figure out how to work with people and different kinds of people and what it would take to help them do their jobs better.

4:20 How did you end up in your dual role that you are in now?

Julie Olsen: I was a chemist by training and I had taught off and on at the college.  In the mid 1990’s when Don Herring became Dean of the College he came over and asked if I would work with him as an assistant to the dean of the college.  There had not been any support staff in that office before and we initially agreed that I could do that.  Our initial agreement was that I could resign from the position after a year or he could ask me to the leave the position after a year, but we never got to that point.  I went to the Dean’s office in 1993.  One of my first jobs was to put in place a monitoring report and assessment plan and to get it passed for accreditation.  Another big task I took on during that time was beginning to co-chair the safety committee, which I still do.  I looked at a lot of issues like dealing with blood borne pathogens, organizing chemical hygiene plans, and emergency plans.  The college is legally required to have a number of safety plans in place, so I have gone about establishing a lot.  I also began to assist the dean with the budgeting process.  Under the dean of the college there are several hundred budgets  and we worked our way through organizing those.  We also set hiring procedures in place for hiring faculty.  There had not been any written guidelines up to that point and we put those in place. I became registrar in 1998 after the current registrar retired, so that was kind of added to my mix of responsibilities.

6:55 What do you miss about teaching?

Julie Olsen: I have found that I have liked the administration much more.  I had never imagined I would do that kind of work.  It wasn’t something that occurred to me that I would enjoy.  But there is a lot of the same kind of figuring how to do things and making things work that is also involved in teaching. Up until 5 or 6 years ago I still had a research lab going and had students working for me, so I wasn’t completely removed from teaching either.

8:12 What advice do you have for current students?

Julie Olsen: Find something you really like and imagine that you could see yourself doing for a long time.  Life is too short to put yourself in a position to have to do things you don’t like.  Find something that really appeals to you and is intellectually satisfying to you. While you are here in college this is probably your last chance to do some unusual things, either activities or course work that you are never really going to have an opportunity to access again, so go find some of that strange stuff and do it.  You can make the most of your time here by looking broadly at what’s available and sampling it.

9:10 What advice do you have for students who want to end up in administrative work?

Julie Olsen:  A student interested in administrative work will probably have to earn a PHD.  People interested in a Dean’s position will typically have earned their PHD, taught for a while, and gradually worked their way over to administrative positions.  On the registrars side you see two types of people in those positions.  Some have come through an academic/ faculty role into the registrar’s position.  While, others that have come up by working their way through a registrar’s office and have eventually come up to being a registrar.

12:20 When there is more bad than good what is your inspiration?

In the long run, being able to facilitate things and make things happen for the good.  You work your way through difficult times and you figure out how to straighten things out and working with people to do that is satisfying.  That’s a good thing to be doing.

13:12 What inspires you?

I don’t know if there is something that really inspires me, but sometimes when I watch old Star Treks and think about command structure, I think I would like to be Captain Kirk.

14:06 What’s one thing every Wabash student should do?

Pick one really off the wall course that you really wouldn’t imagine yourself normally doing and go in and try it.

 

Filming on Vocation — Joe Haklin [CS]

SYNOPSIS

Watch the inimitable Joe Haklin talk about his work, his development, and how Wabash men can build a body of experience useful for their entire lives.

Joe Haklin Highlights

0:20 Joe Haklin: It’s my charge to administer 10 intercollegiate varsity sports programs here at Wabash in addition to being the chair of the wellness committee here, the director of campus wellness, I would say that 75% of my time is spent on the athletics side and 25% on the wellness side, but we’ll see how that plays itself out over the years. So far in my first seven months here, that’s the way it’s gone. All the athletic teams, their coaching staffs, the athletic training staff, the athletic support staff such as the equipment manager and our administrative assistant report to the athletic director here and I’ve got to sort of lead the way to make sure that we’re moving in the right direction in all those sports and serving the student athletes of Wabash in a positive way so that their experience here is both educational and enjoyable.

3:35 JH: In preparation for athletic administration, work on your communication skills. The written skills are very important to put down on paper, via a simple email, or memos, or reports to be able to get across an idea or an argument in a concise, clearly stated manner in a skill that is really going to do you well.

7:10 JH: Don’t sit in your dorm room and expect that you’re getting yourself ready to be an athletic administrator. You’ve got to get out there and gain some experience leading people.

7:53JH: You’ve got to plan. If you don’t plan your weeks, your days, your months, you get in a bind. You get behind on things.

8:38 JH: Establish healthy routines in your life, so that you know you’re getting your academic of life taken care of, as well as meeting your athletic goals.

9:32 JH: Put yourself in leadership roles as much as you can. Try to rise to the level of a leadership role. It’s just like anything else.  How do you get to be a better baseball player? How do you get to be a better rower? A runner? It’s by doing it over and over and over again and trying to learn from your past experiences. If you don’t have a body of past experiences, then you get into your adult life, and you don’t have much to fall back on.

 

THE BETTER LETTER

Stephen Batchelder

Writing Better Cover Letters

Over the course of this year I have dished out a considerable number of resume reviews and I hope that the feedback has proven constructive and beneficial. In comparison to how many questions I have fielded regarding resumes, I have been asked significantly fewer questions about cover letters.  This has puzzled me as a young peer career advisor.  If the resume is really the only thing that matters, then why are cover letters important?  For this blog I would like to turn my attention to the first article that most all employers will see, the Cover Letter.

Signing the Cover Letter

The truth is that the cover letter is often an overlooked marketing tool.  In a competitive job market a strong cover letter can significantly improve your status as an applicant.  The cover letter laid out in our Job/ Internship/ Gradate School Search Guide is very good for helping us Wabash Men get the gist of the basic cover letter format, but my aim is to help point out some finer details that will help you write a “Better Cover Letter.”

The first piece of advice; you need to research the company you are applying to.  It is not enough to have a generic cover letter that you simply change the address on.  An employer will often see hundreds of cover letters that are not tailored specifically to the company that you are applying to.  Especially if you have a connection to someone within the company or you demonstrate a good knowledge and interest in the company, you can prove that you are interested in the position and your resume more often than not will receive more careful consideration.  However, it is important not to simply demonstrate your acquaintance with an employee with the company, but state something like “I learned about this position through a recent conversation with John Doe.”  Depending on the size of the company you are applying to it may be necessary to state your contact’s connection/ position with the company.

Secondly, in your body paragraph you are making an argument for why you should be hired. So it is important to include concrete evidence.  It is much more interesting to read about your involvement in a local juggling club and how that has given you the ability to respond quickly to adversity, they to simply say “I have am able to learn quickly and have the ability to overcome adversity.”   It is also important to remember that your selling points should be tailored to the position the cover letter is addressing.  If the position advertises that they are looking for candidates with “strong interpersonal communication skills,” you will want to show how you have demonstrated strong interpersonal communication skills.  This could be a skill developed from a leadership position in you fraternity or on an immersion trip to work with disadvantaged families in Peru.  Where ever you have you have demonstrated these qualities, you should discuss those in depth rather than just writing, “I have strong interpersonal communication skills.” Be Concrete.

My final piece of advice is to remember that the focus of the cover letter is to convince the reader to look at your resume. With this in mind your cover letter says a lot about your resume.  If your cover letter is generic and you are unable to highlight specifics of your resume that make you an ideal candidate for the position, then why would an employer feel inclined to look at your resume?  On the other hand if you write an outstanding cover letter, but neglect to include that information on your resume, that is equally as problematic.   It will seem contradictory to an employer to see an experience described in your cover letter absent from your resume.  This tells the employer that perhaps you felt the experience not significant enough to include on your resume and therefore the wonderful argument you made in your cover letter is disregarded.  To use your resume and cover letter to your best possible advantage the experience or experiences discussed in your cover letter should reflect what will be seen on your resume.  Yet, it is important to remember that the resume and cover letter are not meant to be repetitive.  Rather, the cover letter provides a coherent, argumentative account linking and developing the experiences presented on the resume.

In closing I leave five pieces of advice to remember when writing cover letters.

  1. Take Your Time- Do not wait to write a cover until just days before the application is due.  Think carefully about how you can present yourself in the best possible way to an employer through your cover letter.
  2. Research the Company- Never send a generic cover letter.  Tailor your cover letter like your resume for each position you apply for. Always remember to write to your audience and address their concerns, expectations, and requirements.
  3. Be Specific- Explain a specific experience in depth.  Refrain from using phrases like, “I have a wide range of experiences” or “I have made numerous contributions to a variety of organizations.”  It is not the diversity of your experiences that will get you an interview, but the diversity of your skills.
  4. Convince the Reader- You are making an argument for yourself in your cover letter.  Why would the employer want to hire you?  Just like any paper state a thesis and support it.
  5. Proof Read. Proof Read. Proof Read.

Here are a few cover letter samples that demonstrate the points I have discussed.

http://www.docstoc.com/docs/41475301/SAMPLE-COVER-LETTER-VIA-EMAIL

http://www.docstoc.com/docs/41475209/SAMPLE-COVER-LETTER-FOR-AN-INTERNSHIP

 

Lessons from the Interview Front

-Austin Weaver

From beginning to the follow up, what I’ve learned through the interview process.

Over the past couple of years, I have been involved in several interviews—on both sides of the table, and even on the phone as well.  I have learned what to do and what not to do.  Mistakes have been made by myself, and I have witnessed others make mistakes as well.  Here is what I have learned so far:

Before you even land an internship, you must always show the employer that you are interested and reliable.  This is most obvious in two cases:  the time in which you apply, and how you respond to them contacting you regarding an interview.  Never wait until the application deadline to apply—I have made that mistake and learned the hard way.  Don’t apply the exact day the internship is posted, but definitely don’t wait until the final day of the posting.  Following that, if an employer contacts you regarding an interview, be prompt in your response to their email.  Addressing the employer with Mr. and Ms. can never hurt either.

For those who are interviewing with an employer over the phone, these can surprisingly be much more difficult than in person.  During an in-person interview, you often get a read on when the interviewer is satisfied with your answer and ready to move on.  This doesn’t happen on the phone.  Therefore, answer the question, and when your thought is over, stop talking and wait for the interviewer’s response.  Also, if you are one who doesn’t have a very exciting voice, make sure you don’t fall into the monotone voice during the interview.  Always sound interested—standing up and walking around while talking can help.

Once landing the personal interview, people have often made the mistake of not being appropriately dressed.  At this level of interviews, a suit with a white dress shirt and tie is usually always a safe call.

Before the interview begins, be sure to shake the hand of everyone who is interviewing you.  Be prepared for the interview as well.  A standard interview is going to be conducted by the employer stating “Tell me about a time when…,” usually regarding a time when you showcased your leadership, ability to deal with ambiguity, or other attributes relevant to the job you are applying to.  Also, every employer ends the interview by saying “Do you have any questions for us?”  Spend time researching the company and the position prior to the interview, and come up with 3 questions or so to show that you truly are interested in the position.

Finally, follow up every single interview with a “thank you” email sent to each person who interviewed you—I was offered a position and told that a key difference was that I was the only one who followed up with a “thank you” email.

If you have any questions or need to improve your interviewing skills, the Career Services office here at Wabash often runs Mock Interview sessions for students.

 

 

Dating your Career Search

–Mark Osnowitz ’12

When you think about it, dating and finding a job are rather similar. Let’s say your friend tells you about his female friend he thinks you would like. First thing you do is go on Facebook and check her out. At the same time, you may have a tab open on your computer for glassdoor.com. Your other buddy talks about a job he is interviewing for and that he thinks you should apply as well. When you are done creeping on the girl, you tab over to Glass Door and look up the company he is interviewing with.

In both cases you are doing a cursory search before you invest more time in the process, either having your friend introduce you to the girl or applying on the company’s website. So those same tactics that help you to find your dream date should help you get the job you want.

1) Do your homework. Since completely blind dates were all but ruined by Google, by the same token you should not apply to a job you know nothing about. The internet is your friend. Check out the company’s home page, websites like glassdoor.com and look at the company profile on LinkedIn.

2) Dress the part. Many Wabash men undergo somewhat of a metamorphosis from Wednesday to Thursday. Suddenly, the bearded faces and sweat pants are replaced with clean shaven men and jeans, perhaps even topped off with something called cologne. In the same manner, when you get the interview you need to dress professionally. Know the industry you are applying to! Even if the company dresses more casually day to day, they will most likely expect a suit and tie for the interview. If you need to borrow a suit or have questions, stop by Career Services.

3) Have something to talk about. There are many guides out there on how to ace interviews with employers, but the fastest way to derail your interview is to not have any questions for them at the end. Taking it back to dating, think how it would go if you only talked about yourself the entire time and showed no interest in learning about the other person. And just how you should ask about the stuff that isn’t posted on Facebook, you should ask employers questions you can’t get answers to on their website.

4) Follow up. Here is where my analogy starts to break a bit. There is no three day rule with employers. Some people still advocate for the hand written letter, but in today’s world they may already make the decision by the time they receive it. The day of the interview send a nice follow up email. Our guidebook actually has a section on follow up letters.

5) Play the field. I would never recommend leading multiple girls on at a time. You may end up like this Hardees commercial. Breaking the analogy again, you need to play the field with your job search process. Employers expect that you will be applying for multiple jobs. If for some reason they ask, you should be honest. Just like you should be when you’re dating! By the same token, when you accept a job, your search is over and you should let all of your other potential employers know. If you end things cordially you may even stay friends, I mean, have a valuable future contact.

So there it is. Five ways in which your dating and job search are similar and the way to do them right. If there is any interest, I may do a follow up entry on how dating and networking are similar, but that is for another day!