Thursday, October 20, 2005

Upper class-person advice on first year stress

Comment of the day today comes from ChiChi, a female student who’s weathered the academic storms for a few years now. Here’s her advice worth reading:

... I just want to tell the freshmen and sophomores (especially those who feel like they have it all planned out, or that they need to), it is OK to not know what the next semester is going to look like. Some people are probably freaking out cos they started the semester thinking, ďXYZ is going to be my major, and I am going to do ABC with it and become a successful EFGĒ, but now that they are taking the classes required for that major, they have realized that they donít really like it as much as they thought they would.

Well, donít get all stressed about it. Honestly, I will tell you (and this is out of my own personal experience), you may not be 100% sure about what you want to major in until your junior year. My AER has changed about 5 times up until now. I am not saying slack off and donít decide what you are going to do with your life, but donít freak out if you donít. It will all work out eventually.

As always, I’d love to hear from others who have changed their majors. If you’re new to this process, just click on the comments link to add your thoughts.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 10/20 at 12:59 PM
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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Freshmen advice

It doesn’t take an astute observer to notice increased stress on everyone’s faces. A typical reply to the generic “how’re you doing?” invariably runs something like…“great but really busy.”

Given that context, is it any wonder that I’m seeing so many freshmen with worried expressions on their faces? Add up their composite stressors—leaving home, adjusting to a room mate, coping with loads of homework, fitting in a social life, adding a job, juggling relationship issues—and it’s a wonder that there are still so many smiles.

So today’s blog is really along the lines of “auntie” advice. To any and every freshman reading this….get through your first semester and, as much as possible, postpone the big major-choosing and life-long-career decisions for another semester at least. Unless you’re decisions revolve around pre-professional programs with their more restricted course selections, give yourself some time to explore the plethora of core courses. What you love and what you hate within those offerings will be part of the open and closed doors along the way.

So, listen to your Aunt Bonnie and take 10 minutes today to head outside, let the wind blow through your hair, smell the fall in the air and catch a glimpse of the turning leaves on the trees. Catch the glory of the Lord in the moment.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 10/19 at 08:29 AM
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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——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?


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 10/13 at 08:16 AM
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Friday, October 07, 2005

The internet and your job search

Blogs are subjective. There’s no way to get around that fact. But sometimes they’re more obviously and blatantly biased, as you’ll find with today’s topic. I have OPINIONS on doing an internet job search.

On the positive side, the internet offers speed and possibilities. At your fingertips. Personally, I love it. It’s the first place I go to research most things.

And, on the good side, I actually know people who’ve gotten jobs, good enough to actually be referred to as professional positions, and they found them on the internet. E.g. just as I was about to trash a major job posting board, my very own nephew, who limited his search to that self same job board and, contrary to my advice, used nothing else in his job search, found a job through that service. Well, shut my mouth. I tempered my critical remarks after that, at least for a while.


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 10/07 at 09:50 AM
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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Moving into new territory: differentiating resume writing from academic prose

New ground indeed. Don’t mean to make the title sound scary for risk-adverse people but, for seniors, moving to “resume style” takes a bit of getting used to. The same style which has guaranteed success with your profs will prove to be a turn off with employers.

So, here are some tips to earn employer commendations in the best form possible, namely an interview:


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 10/05 at 09:44 AM
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Monday, October 03, 2005

Freshman advice from a sophomore who survived the the first year

If you’ve been reading any of my blog entries, you’ll know that most of my good ideas come from the people I meet. Life would be boring without the constant stream of interesting people who cross my door.

So, I decided today to ask my friend/student worker/consultant-on-real-student-life for ideas on today’s blog. She promptly came up with a list of student, especially freshmen, related comments. Some of them fun and some serious.

Here are Jamie’s Top Four Tips: (Or “What’s Good Enough to Sound Like it Came from
a Parent but is Straight from a Student’s Mouth”)


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 10/03 at 09:53 AM
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Friday, September 30, 2005

Where it starts: career research

I met with a student yesterday who had plans to head towards the same career as his father and older brother. Trouble is, he’s not either of the two. His interests, passions, and gifts are distinct and not typical of others happily employed in that field.

But, the student didn’t know much about other career options, which resulted in his very valid question: how do people find out what’s out there?

That’s an excellent question indeed. How do you go about locating career possibilities? Especially when new options arise, seemingly overnight. 


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 09/30 at 10:33 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.


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 09/28 at 03:12 PM
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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Who cares about a college major?

Though most of my freshman appointments of late have revolved around their first year experience course, aka Prelude, self assessment assignment, the second most commonly raised issue is—-

What Should I Major In? I met with one person this week who had changed his major within the first week. Quick thinking on his part.

But the fact is with varying degrees of angst, as you may know from reading my posting advice from a senior, around 70% of all freshmen change their major that first year.

Before getting to the nitty gritty of selecting a major, some people wonder if it even matters what major you choose. 


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 09/22 at 11:56 AM
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Monday, September 19, 2005

Keeping the “same-old same-old” interesting

Yes, another blogging break last week while I struggled to keep my head above water. A very busy week. Nuts might be too strong a word but somewhere between Nuts and Very Busy would work.

And it was a week characterized by doing a lot of the same thing. Hour after hour. So it dawned on me this morning that other people might find themselves in the same boat, asking that age old question: how am I going to keep this interesting?


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 09/19 at 10:01 AM
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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…


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.


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 09/09 at 01:56 PM
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Job seaching over the long haul—reader’s comment

In response to my post on carrying on an extended job search, a reader wrote the following:

“I am in the Fred situation right now.  Iíve been searching, on and off, for about 3 months now.  I tend to check the listings when the mood strikes me but I donít even hear back when I submit a resume.  The lack of response has lowered my hopes of moving out of my current job.”

Another case of searching in a very discouraging vacuum. And it’s true, many companies now have cut costs by not bothering to reply to the plethora of resumes they receive, thus extending the wait time until an applicant finally gives up on yet another attempt. 

So….what to do.


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 09/09 at 01:26 PM
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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Advice to Freshmen from a Senior

Half way through the second day of classes seems like a good time to welcome incoming freshmen to the hallowed halls of academia, especially if those hallowed halls anywhere near my office. Personally, I’m always delighted to see the campus abuzz with activity.

On top of mastering details like where to get computer support or where to find your classes—short term survival skills—there looms at the back of some students’ minds vague questions, like where am I headed with this college thing. Or, more specifically, what am I majoring in??

Maybe not surprisingly, 70% of all in coming freshmen switch their initial major during that first year. And that’s where this advice to freshmen from a senior comes in….


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 09/07 at 01:23 PM
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