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Building your career, One degree at a time
Building your career, One degree at a time


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How to Land the Perfect #Internship

You’re looking for an internship but don’t know where to start. Finding the right internship for you can be as stressful as finding a job but also just as rewarding if you’re in the right program. It’s important to do your research and treat the process as if you were looking for actual long-term employment. Below are some tips for choosing the best internship for you and don’t forget to ask teachers, peers, and advisors for advice!

1. The first question you should ask yourself is “What is my objective?” Knowing what you want to get out of an internship can help you not only narrow your initial search but also when it comes time to choose an actual program if you are accepted into more than one.
2. Decide if you want to intern at a large or small company. Each have their own pros and cons. A big company might offer more intern positions and have recognition but smaller firms might have more intensive or hands-on programs.
3. Some internships are very competitive so if you are able, attend any networking events that the company you want to intern at is attending. This will give you an opportunity to meet executives and other company representatives. Who knows, maybe they will even put in a good word for you or move your application to the top of the pile when the times comes.
4. Don’t let money be the primary factor in choosing your internship. Of course you want to be paid for the work you do but sometimes the experience alone is payment enough. If you are accepted into a prestigious program that doesn’t pay and a paid program with some no name company you might want to seriously consider your options and take the financial hit. The contacts and experience you gain at the unpaid internship could be way more valuable down the road than the minimum wage paycheck from the other guys.
5. Consider your time commitment and make sure that you don’t take on more than you can handle. If you’re in school and have a job you’ll want to look for a part-time internship with flexible hours. If you’re looking for a summer internship try going for a full-time program.
6. Look for a program that will help you build the essential skills needed for the field you are pursuing. You want to try and build the perfect package for a future employer so focus on learning skills that will make you indispensable in your field.
7. Last but certainly not least, determine if there is structure in place for the internship. Having a structured internship probably means that the company has a tried and true program that use on a regular basis. Hopefully, this means that you’ll be getting a well-rounded hands on experience. It could also mean that the program is somewhat stale and boring depending on how often they update their methods. On the other hand, a non-structured internship might lend itself well to your field and you might be involved in projects that come up on the fly. The drawback to unstructured might also mean it’s unorganized. Be sure to ask a lot of questions about the structure of the program during your interview.

So now that you’ve chosen the internship you want how do you get into the program?

1. Check over your resume multiple times. Have a friend or family member check it. Have a teacher or complete stranger look at it. Your resume is often the first impression a potential employer will have of you and you want it to be as close to perfect as possible. Needless to say, spelling and grammar mistakes should be seen as unacceptable when it comes to your resume.
2. A deadline is a deadline and oftentimes employers won’t even look at a resume or application if it arrives after the listed date. Get that application in on time, or even earlier if you can, so you don’t have to worry about it at the last second.
3. Do your research on the company and any products and services they offer. Pretend that your interview is a pop quiz about the company. You want to make sure you have the right answer to any possible question the interviewer might ask. Interviewers often ask “Do you have any questions for me?” and you’ll likely get major bonus points if you ask questions that show you’ve done your homework.
4. Emphasize your flexibility in terms of time and job duties. If your work or school schedule is a bit unconventional spin it positively and say that you are available for different shifts to learn how the business operates at different times of the day and week. Don’t limit yourself with what you want to learn or by saying you don’t want to do certain tasks. You might not want to be in the mailroom or doing data entry for a few weeks but everyone needs to put in their dues at some point. Look at it as a learning opportunity and a stepping stone. You might actually end up liking something you didn’t think you would!

There you have it! Sure it looks like a lot but don’t get discouraged. Finding a perfect match when it comes to an internship (or even a job) isn’t easy but if you put in the effort someone will notice and possibly give you the opportunity of a lifetime. And even if you end up in a program that doesn’t turn out to be the right one for you try to make the best of it and learn what you can. You never know what skills will give you the leg up you need to achieve your goals in the future.

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Transition from Retail to Admin in 12 Weeks!

Thinking of a Career Transition?

Jessica’s sick of standing all day, scanning barcodes, and stocking shelves. While her girlfriends enjoy Friday night cocktails, she’s working the closing shift (again).

Working in retail wasn’t what Jessica had in mind when she declared her college major: philosophy. But, the job market is tough for millennials with non-technical degrees. Bad news, Jessica. You’re stuck unless you go back to college.

Right? Wrong.

Jessica is probably qualified for a number of positions that pay more and offer a more comfortable work environment. One of these is administrative assistant.

Administrative assistants are essential to keeping offices running, serving as clearinghouses for their departments. AAs are in charge of written communications, schedule coordination, and presentation prep. Most AAs work for teams, such as Human Resources and Marketing, but sometimes work for individual executives.

Let’s look at the numbers.

In her retail position, Jessica is probably earning in the neighborhood of $9-13 per hour. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median full-time salary for retail salespeople in the USA is $22,186. Meanwhile, the median full-time salary for administrative assistants and secretaries is $39,624.

Now, none of that means much without taking into account federal income tax, social security contributions, and all of those acronyms on our pay stubs. If we account for all of that plus a 5% state income tax, the annual salaries look more like this:

Retail Salesperson: $18,126
Administrative Assistant: $27,426

That’s a net (real life) difference of $9300. Nearly ten thousand dollars Jessica could put toward travel, paying off your her student loans, buying a car or saving for a house, or finally moving into her own apartment.

So, with nothing but retail experience and a liberal arts degree, how can Jessica get her resume past online and HR screeners to be considered for an administrative assistant position? It’ll take more than just reworking her resume, but it’s totally doable in 12 weeks.

Week 1: Upskill

Check this list of typical skills and duties of an administrative and executive assistant.
Which of these skills and programs can you add to your resume right now?

Google Calendars
Google Docs
Google Sheets
Google Slides
Microsoft Excel
Microsoft Outlook
Microsoft Powerpoint
Microsoft Word
Typing Speed of 60+ WPM

A retail sales job doesn’t often involve much spreadsheet and calendar maintenance, so if you aren’t skilled in Outlook and Excel don’t worry. There are tons of online tutorials and courses to choose from. Some of them are even free!

Week 3: Project

Now that you’ve learned these skills, offer to tackle projects outside your regular duties. Let your supervisor know you want to practice using these programs, and ask if she’d mind if you took on an additional responsibility--and promise you won’t let any of your current responsibilities slide. If she’s sane, she’ll say yes!

Practice using Microsoft Excel or Google Docs by offering to help out with shift scheduling. Offer to create a Powerpoint or Google Slides presentation for the next product rollout. Replace displays and documents that contain proofreading errors, instead of laughing about them with your coworkers.

Your supervisor won’t play ball? Find ways to use these new applications and skills outside of work! Use spreadsheets to create beautiful charts to analyze your household spending habits and make better shopping choices. Try using Google Calendar or Outlook to maintain your work schedule, to-do lists, and appointments.

Week 9: Research

First, Jessica needs to take a good, hard look at her career and think about the skills that she’s developed and curated over the years. Those are her transferable skills, and that’s her ticket to writing the perfect, career-changing resume. As she makes a list of the skill set she’s gained, she should also start doing research on her new field. What are some of the keywords and key skills the hiring managers are looking for? Many AAs are required to be excellent communicators – both in written form and verbally—have strong experience in editing, up-to-date social media skills, and creative thinking skills.

With that research about her new field, and the transferable skills she’s identified that make her a perfect match, it’s time for her to think about other experiences that will benefit her on her new resume.

Week 10: Craft a Killer Resume

Updating and reworking your resume may seem the best step at this stage. But before you embark on that task, first do some introspective thinking in terms of your career. A career inventory of sorts. One way to do this is to use your resume as a guide for reflection. Pull out your current resume, review your current or past positions and for each ponder these five questions:

Why did I choose to work in this position?
What did I enjoy most about this job?
What was I really good at while working here?
Why did I leave this position?
What did I learn from having this position?

Just as you are revamping your career, your resume deserves a revamp too. As a career changer, you need to give some thought to the type of resume that will work best for your situation.  A chronological resume featuring your work history accomplishments in chronological order may work for you.  A functional resume may help recruiters to focus on your accomplishments and transferable skills, rather than employment history. Leading with your strengths may mean you have a combination resume with a summary of skills and talents listed at the top.

The thoughts you collected doing the above exercise, will help you to rework and rebuild your resume that is future focused and pointed toward your new career goals. Structure your new resume to target the new opportunities you are seeking. Emphasize your transferable skills, relevant achievements and key qualifications that support your new objectives. Depending on how big of a career change you are making, study up on the new field, or new kind of position you are pursuing.

One of the best ways to kick-start your resume reinvention is to understand what hiring managers want from workers in the field or role you are pursuing. Check out online job portals to find jobs you’d love. Review job postings for your targeted position or industry.  Take note of the experience they seek, keywords in the ad, required skills and expertise. Keep these words in mind as you build your new resume.

Now that you’ve proven your new skills--and initiative--make sure to update your resume. Remember, on you can update your resume at any time.

Likewise, make sure to edit your resume for each job. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) screen out 50% or more of job seekers, which means if you don’t take five minutes to tailor your resume to the job description you might as well not apply at all. Check out #MyCareer360 blog post on getting past the scanning system of hiring manager for tips.

Week 12: Interview

If you’ve been continuously applying using the strategies above, you’ve probably had your first interview by now. Congratulations! Show ‘em what you’ve got.

Interested in a different career path? Explore job descriptions and upskill yourself without going back to school! Although some career changes may take more than twelve weeks, use the strategies outlined above to upskill and market yourself for a shiny new job.

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How NOT to be a Resume buzz-killer!

A Resume is the first form of interaction a candidate has with a recruiter. But unfortunately most of them lie at the bottom of a pile, because they are boring and look the same. It has been found that recruiters can spend as less as 6 seconds to make a decision by looking at a resume! So all you’ve got is those 6 seconds, so make them count with these tips:

• Use descriptive functional titles for job roles for example: instead of just saying “Architectural Intern”, use a title that suggests what kind of work was done and under whom. A better title would be, “Architectural Apprentice to Project Manager”.

• The resume should convey how your background is well suited for the position you are applying. This means that though you may have won a number of art contests in your college but when applying for a technical job, list down only those experiences that might help you get the job.

• References are a great way to authenticate anything you put under the resume but it is suggested that you use actual names of people, instead of "References available upon request"

• The fact that a recruiter will glance through a resume in about 6 seconds cannot be overstated. So put your accomplishments, and key skills right on the first page where the recruiter can easily see them.

• Optimizing your resume by using keywords that are descriptive and precisely portray your background. A reason to do that is because recruiters search for a job position with particular keywords (many of which are specific skills). Think of how a recruiter could find you for the job you want to apply and optimize your resume using those words.

• Be explicit on showcasing your marketable skills. These are the skills that are of value to an employer and are in high demand. These include both job-specific skills (proficient in Graphic design using software like Adobe Photoshop) and behavioral skills (Initiative taker, Analytical problem solver).

• Be as specific as possible about the employment position you’re looking for and how you can benefit the employer. If you put clarity in your resume, the recruiter will be at a better position to understand how you will be a great fit for the job.

• Show accomplishments utilizing your key skills. In doing so, not only are you highlighting your accomplishments but also skills that will make you successful at your job, thereby authenticating your statements.

• Finally, do not forget to include a brief cover letter, explaining why you are applying for this job. A resume sent without a cover letter is deemed incomplete. So don’t let the recruiter think you’re not interested.

Ready to take on the job market?

Build a Winning Resume That Will Get You Noticed!

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