Juniors

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Can career counselors wave magic wands?

Envision the following scenario:
Person X wakes up full of hope. While brushing their teeth, an internal dialogue goes something like this….“ah, today’s my appointment with that career counselor. Finally. It took me three weeks to get in. But by the end of the day I’ll know (choose one) a) what I should major in
b) which career I should choose c) where there’s a decent job opening.” That kind of internal monolgue would bring a smile to anyone’s face, right?

As much as I would like to, however, I cannot do any of the above. I would love to know which major/career is perfect for every person and have a pocket full of job openings waiting to be filled. But I don’t. And sometimes people leave without the 100% clarity on the next step they were wishing for.

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 11/02 at 09:10 AM
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Friday, October 28, 2005

Cover letters: sample introductory paragraphs

Yesterday’s blog on cover letter guidelines—helpful in a general sense, right? But you may still be puzzling over ways to jump into that first paragraph. How do you start when you don’t know what to say?

To answer that question, I’ve included a number of alternative first paragraphs excerpted from
Cover Letter Magic, hopefully enough to get you started.

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 10/28 at 10:35 AM
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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Cover letter tips

Though most of my appointments of late have been freshmen and sophomores seeking a suitable major, walk in traffic has been more concerned with the job search. And what stumps most people is the process of writing a cover letter.

Most cover letters follow a 3-4 paragraph format, but there are ways to make sure those brief paragraphs flow with fascinating text.

Cover Letter Magic, one of my favorites on the topic, lists the following Top 5 Cover Letter Writing Tips especially for new grads:

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 10/26 at 08:10 AM
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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

‘60’s flashback

What to do after graduation.  A topic I’ve covered a few times in the past. But today’s New York Times nails what I’ve observed in my office as well, grads seeking a Fanciful Detour before the real career begins.

The author profiles a few grads working at what looks like non-traditional post-grad jobs, everything from driving a bus across country to leading tour groups to applying to the Peace Corps. The kind of thing people in the 60’s did under the rubric of expanding our life experience.

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 10/25 at 11:58 AM
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Friday, October 21, 2005

Another resource for choosing a major

I met with a student today who was shying away from a major she loves because she didn’t think it could lead to any careers in the future. Yes, what does one do with a philosophy major?

Well, there’s a link on our Career Development web site just chock full of that sort of information.  In fact, most students react with that eye brow raising look of surprise when we visit it together.

So, check it out. And, if you’re a student here, be sure to follow up with a visit to your local career counselor so that we can develop a plan that’s right for you.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 10/21 at 01:18 PM
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Friday, October 14, 2005

Tips on working a job fair—to the max

The first time I walked through an in-progress job fair was the spring before I started my job as a career counselor. The event was held right here on campus and I was employed, so there was no reason for my fright & flight response. What was I afraid of? A room full of strangers? Not knowing what to say? Looking foolish? Probably. Anyway, I just about ran out of the room…in a professional sort of way, of course.

I later found out that I’m not the only participant with the jitters. Which is why I’m recommending this great web site—collegegrad.com—to help stave off some of the anxiety these events can produce. It took a bit of exploring but I finally found their golden resources on what to do while at the job fair.

And here’s one more tip I commonly pass along. As you enter the room, look for the lone and lonely booth. The one where the recruiter is standing all by him/herself and looking longingly at the other booths with long lines. That’s the place to start. Break the conversational ice with someone who’ll be genuinely glad you stopped by. Make their day and build your confidence at the same time.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 10/14 at 08:42 AM
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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Treasure hunting at your local job fair

Tis the season. Yes, even news paper columnists are commenting premature retail Christmas ornaments lining store isles.

But the season I’m thinking of is the annual round of college job fairs. Here at Calvin we run ours cooperatively with a consortium of colleges and universities, drawing a sizable crowd of employers.

So you may be thinking…what’s the deal with the treasure hunt subject line?

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 10/13 at 08:16 AM
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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The nitty gritty of choosing a major

With the verdict still out on how relevant specific majors are to final careers (aside from pre-professional program, that is), the point remains. Sooner or later you have to choose. So how do you go about doing that?

The following are selected tips I typically share with undecided students.

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 09/28 at 03:12 PM
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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Top liberal arts skills

For those students looking ahead or those grads seeking to market your liberal arts background, the National Association of Colleges and Employers includes these skills and qualities in their description of the Perfect Candidate…

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 09/14 at 11:43 AM
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Friday, September 09, 2005

How to talk to anyone: ice breaker tip #1

Seems like a good topic for a weekend when social opportunities usually pile up. Though I love meeting new people, I occasionally find myself freezing before an event. It’s usually the room full of strangers that does it.

So, I collect tips on how to break the ice.

Here’s one from How To Talk To Anyone which I plan to use myself.

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 09/09 at 01:56 PM
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Friday, August 26, 2005

Informational Interviews at your fingertips

How do you find out—before you get there—what your dream job is really like?

I’ve met with a number of people who never did check things out ahead to time and, low and behold, 15 years later and they hate (should be a capital H there) what they’re doing. Worse yet, might be making a lot of money doing it, thus exacerbating the stuck feeling. A few lawyers I met with years ago always come to mind.

Anyway, one low risk way to get the facts is to do informational interviews, i.e. line up what amounts to advice time with a professional and get them to basically tell their story.

Sound too daunting? Well, jump to http://www.roadtripnation.com and click on Interviews for real life tips from people in a variety of fields.

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 08/26 at 01:49 PM
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Monday, August 22, 2005

Think you can’t get there from here?

Cross roads. Life choices. Which way to go…

I did a late-night in the dorms last year where I talked about my own career story. What struck me was how often I’d made decisions in the dark. You know, that place where you don’t know which way to go but your back’s up against the wall and you have to choose something.

Iíve been in that spot many times. But over the weekend I thought of yet one more incident. Again, I didn’t know what I was doing but somehow ended up in an entirely different spotóthe place I was designed for—because of the changed direction.

Here’s the story…

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 08/22 at 10:11 AM
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Friday, August 19, 2005

What do you talk about with a career counselor?

So you’ve seen the office space—-or at least gotten a glimpse in the last posting because I admit that the pic is a bit on the tiny side. Now the next hurdle. What do you talk about with a career counselor?

Many people come in with pretty specific questions—like, how does my resume look or how do I write a cover letter?

But, what if you’re one of those people with no specific concerns, someone who just thinks it would be a good idea to visit a career counselor? Or maybe, worse yet, your parents have been bugging you to come in and you’re worried about not having anything to say. How awkward would that be!

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Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 08/19 at 02:19 PM
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