Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Key liberal arts skill hits media coverage

Key Liberal Arts Skill Rates Major Media Coverage. Well, that’s not exactly the intended point of today’s NY Times article on gaming design and academia but it certainly illustrates a crucial point, namely how liberal arts skills build fascile minds, ready to meet present and future challenges over a wide spectrum of issues. Of particular interest to today’s blog—critical thinking skills.

Note the following quote by Bob Kerrey, better known as the former Nebraska senator, who now finds himself in the role of academic president:
“...if you just look at the surface of people playing games, you are missing the point, which is that games are all about managing and manipulating information,” Mr. Kerrey said. “A lot of students that come out of this program may not go to work for Electronic Arts. They may go to Wall Street. Because to me, there is no significant difference - except for clothing preference - between people who are making games and people who are manipulating huge database systems to try to figure out where the markets are headed. It’s largely the same skill set, the critical thinking. Games are becoming a major part of our lives, and there is actually good news in that.”

There you have it. Critical thinking skills. Add that to the rest of what’s mastered at Calvin and you end up with a skill set for life.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 11/22 at 04:39 PM
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Friday, November 18, 2005

Alternative careers for teachers

I presented on this topic a few years ago at a conference for student teachers. The room was so packed that I had students floor-sitting the parameter of the room. In Michigan, at least, teaching jobs are in short supply. And, let’s face it, the average number of years spent in teaching nationwide averages out to just 5 years. Five years and then people are out looking for the next career. 

So, what can you do with a teaching certificate—other than teach?


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 11/18 at 04:34 PM
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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Reader’s question on resumes

Sue from Stevensville, MI wrote:
I visited a local bookstore recently looking for a decent book on resumes—only to find about 15 of them. I couldn’t figure out which one to buy and they all seemed to say something different. How do I go about sorting out what seems to be conflicting advise?

Aunt Bonnie suggests:
Sue, I can understand your confusion. What one author states with authority, another contradicts. So, regardless of whether your resume runs one or two pages, uses Arial or Helvetica, includes GPA or omits it—choose a format which best highlights your skills and accomplishments. This is just a document to get your foot in the door to that interview seat.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 11/17 at 03:15 PM
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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Recruiting Trends survey released

Citing a cautiously optimistic outlook for this year’s college grads, Michian State’s 35th annual Recruiting Trends survey adds that employers are looking beyond accounting, engineering and nursing. Of interest to polled employers are liberal arts grads with a proven ability to do research. Not a bad thing for bogged-down students to keep in mind on a snowy afternoon.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 11/16 at 04:24 PM
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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

What to do when the interview goes sour

Envision the following scenario: one lonely self and four interviewers,“interview gloves” off, seated around a table.  The questions become more probing; you squirm. With no opportunity to check your watch, sweat running down your back, you wonder just how long you’re to be interrogated about your perceived lack of experience.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 11/15 at 01:32 PM
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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Readers’ questions on interviewing

A recent e-newsletter published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers made the following observation: out of all the hoops job seekers jump through, they tend to make the most mistakes during the interviewing process. More than on resumes, cover letters or sceening phone calls.

So with that backdrop, I thought I’d move to some readers’ questions on the subject.


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 11/10 at 03:23 PM
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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Both sides of the fence: real life interview tips from an experienced student

Today’s advice comes from someone who’s sat in both chairs—that of the interviewee and the interviewer. After being selected from a pool of internship candidates, Helga was then assigned to travel the state and search for new employees, quickly throwing her into the role of an interviewer herself—even though she’d not yet finished college. Based on her summer experiences, here’s what she has to say…..


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 11/08 at 11:50 AM
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Friday, November 04, 2005

Crucial conversations

Whether it’s an intimate conversation at home or high stakes discussion at work, everyone eventually needs a bit of advice on handling heated conversations. And that’s what I came across this week in my search for conflict management material, a nifty little web site on
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High.

You can, of course, purchase the book through this site. But they also offer free material, stuff to launch your self assessment boat as you explore your (conversational) Style Under Stress or fill in a second questionaire designed to help determine how well your family, team, and organization handle crucial confrontations.

In summary, let me close with one of the following maxims. Or rather you can close with the phrase of your own choosing (hey, it’s Friday afternoon when one cannot expect profundity or maybe even lucidity):
—a stitch in time saves nine
—to be forewarned is to be forearmed
—bad choice makers end up as wrong road takers (a rather homey aphorism I just made up upon exiting today’s blog).
Happy weekend!

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 11/04 at 03:09 PM
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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Employer comment on choosing a major….

With input too lengthy for the comment section, a local employer emailed me directly with her perspective on choosing a major. Read on for her sage advice….


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 11/03 at 04:26 PM
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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.


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

The not-by-sight journey

In the few spare minutes I’ve had today between appointments, my mind’s been wandering in a few directions which, after more thought, seem to be related.

One part of me is still relishing an appointment with a student I got to know a few years ago, not long after her near fatal accident which left her with significant brain damage. I could rightly nickname her “Smile Girl” because that’s all I’ve ever seen on her face, despite the pain, set backs and struggles she’s gone through. And she’s put that smile to good use when she’s gone back to the hospital to encourage and mentor other accident victims. “College? Sure!” she tells them. “It just might take a little bit longer.” Who would have thought that Smile Girl herself would now be a senior looking towards graduation?


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 10/28 at 12:09 PM
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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.


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:


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.


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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