Employer Advice: Resume & Cover Letter

We’ve interviewed employers in various situations over the past several years (career fairs, employer panels, 1:1) and while we’ve published that advice already, we decided compile the information by theme. Here are employer tips in relation to resumes and cover letters.

Image: jar of colorful markers next to open notebook on wood table
Text: Employer Advice: Resume & Cover Letter

Simplicity is key

  • Refine your experience section. Try not to use a fancy template, as this will distract from your content. Recruiters want to be able to easily see your information. Employers shared that most companies use an Applicant Tracking System for resumes. Layout your resume in an organized chronological manner. Make your major clear on your resume. Include your GPA.
  • Simple coloring. Try to stick to black and white. Occasionally it is okay to have one key color to use for headings. Many colors are typically distracting to the employer.
  • In-depth bullet points. Employers pointed out the more detail that you can give with a bullet point, the better. Give an accurate description of what you were doing for a role. Add numbers to the description. Highlight your accomplishments on your resume. Go beyond just listing what you did at a job. This means so much more than a vague statement. 
  • Integrate skills. Whether you are making a specific skill set section, or you are integrating skills in your bullet points, it is important to include them in some shape or form. Take a look at the job description and pull skills from it you have. Look at all of your past experiences and find ways to align those skills with the position you’re applying for. 

Highlight involvement

  • Demonstrate what you did. When it comes to resumes, one employer’s biggest piece of advice is “try to not show just the tasks, but the strategic involvement and accomplishments they have had.” They also mentioned the importance of including keywords in your resume that match the job description. This way, you will meet the criteria when the Applicant Tracking System goes through and selects resumes. 
  • Recruiters aren’t just looking for a good student. They are looking for a well-rounded individual. Showing that you participate in other activities tells them a lot about you. A recruiter would rather see a student with a 3.5 GPA and some extracurricular activities than a student with a 4.0 GPA who only went to class. Be involved in your community (campus and the greater community) and show those experiences on your resume. Include activities outside of your classes and major. It helps to demonstrate that you have initiative and hands-on experience.

Have your resume reviewed
Ask multiple sources to review your resume so changes are made from a holistic perspective. Start with Career & Internship Services to build a foundation. The more eyes you get on your resume, the better. 

Of Possible Interest:
Resume & Cover Letter – all our blog posts on the topic
Ace the Job Search & Internships – our Pinterest boards

Photo source: Unsplash | Jessica Lewis

Wrap-up: Projects, Learning, & More

By: Amanda

During the Fall of my sophomore year, I began my position as a Peer Educator in UMD’s Career & Internship Services (C&IS). I knew quickly after stepping foot on campus I wanted to work for C&IS. It was tricky to get hired at this time since they had just completed their first wave of student staff hiring. I think a few people in the office would tell you I pursued the Peer Educator role with persistence (numerous emails to the staff, calling the front desk, and even coming into the office at one point). Throughout my 3 years at C&IS, I have had the opportunity to shift from a Peer Educator to a Communication Student Assistant. Throughout this time I have networked with hundreds of employers, attended over 16 job and internship fairs, and helped countless students shape their resumes. Today I will break down for you what I did, what I learned, and what I am doing next.

2 female college students standing next to each other at job & internship fair
Amanda & Kendra getting ready to cover the 2020 UMN Job & Internship Fair

What I did
One of my favorite things is talking with others and hearing their stories. Working as a Peer Educator fueled this passion of mine. Students would visit C&IS and talk with me primarily to get help with their resumes. What I found the most powerful were the conversations I had with students beyond their resumes. I was able to encourage students to dream big when it comes to their futures. I learned countless lessons from these individuals and it was a pleasure to be able to help them navigate their career journey. 

Towards the end of my sophomore year, my supervisor, Ellen, and I began to craft a new role for myself within C&IS as a Communication Student Assistant. It was rather serendipitous that I was in the office during this time that they needed help with communications. During this time I gave a presentation to the entire office, wrote a proposal to implement a letter board for social media, was stretched outside of my comfort zone, and pushed to think differently and add value. 

Between my junior and senior year, I spent creating content for Instagram, creating videos for C&IS, attending and covering job and internship fairs, editing the office website, and aiding in overall communications planning for the office. Each year in this office provided a new layer of growth and opportunity.

female college student filming job & internship fair from platform above the fair
Amanda shooting video at the 2020 STEM Job & Internship Fair

A few of my favorite projects
One thing that I love about my communications role is that no two days are ever the same. Here are a few of my favorite projects.

  • Going to Glensheen and Canal Park for content photoshoots.
  • Talking with employers (such as Northwestern Mutual and TTi), gaining advice from them, and then sharing it through blog posts and social media.
  • Putting together the Graduate Follow-up Report By Major section of our new website.
  • Chatting with employers at every job and internship fair. Specifically, running back and forth from the Civil Engineering building to the ballroom during the STEM fair.
female college student holding Career Handbook with Glensheen Mansion in background
Amanda at Glensheen Mansion

What I learned 
I learned countless lessons while working for C&IS. If I attempted to list them all, we would be here all day. See the bite-sized bullet points below for a peek at what I learned.

  • Do your research when talking to employers. Read that again. Do your research!!! 99.9% of employers told me throughout the 16+ fairs I attended that students they chat with are not typically bringing unique questions to the table. This is one simple thing you can do to stand out. Start on a company’s website, then look towards their social media pages when crafting questions. If you can bring 3-5 unique questions to the table, you’re already one step ahead of other candidates. 
  • You might consider lots of different career paths, that’s okay. As I talked to students and employers, I often considered many different career paths. Anyone in the office would tell you that they have heard me consider being anything from a talk show host and a psychologist to a DJ over the past couple of years. Students who visited the office were often having the same crisis as myself. The point is, it is normal to consider many paths and have a wide breadth of interests. 
  • Lean on your coworkers and find a vibrant culture. While this may not be at the top of everyone’s priority list, I found while working in the office that it is crucial for me. I can’t count the number of times I spent laughing and learning from other student employees. I also spent an incredible amount of time talking with the professional staff and gaining wisdom and advice from them. Figure out what’s important to you in a place of work and don’t stop trying until you find the right fit.
female college student standing in front of college campus office door holding letterboard.
Letterboard text: Hired before graduation. Customer Insights Analyst.
Amanda in front of the C&IS office

What I am doing next
At the beginning of June, I will begin working at Land O’ Lakes as a Foodservice Customer Insights and Analytics Analyst. I am thankful to have found the culture at Land O’ Lakes that I very much value in C&IS. As I launch my career, I am grateful to have the foundational support from C&IS. 

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo source: UMD Career & Internship Services

Lessons Learned

By: Rachel

There’s a bit of a tradition among the C&IS blog contributors to write a farewell reflection post as they near graduation. My path hasn’t exactly been typical: after graduating a year ago with my undergraduate degrees, I made the difficult decision to leave my role at C&IS as a Peer Educator to accept a full-time position while I finish a graduate program, but I have greatly appreciated the opportunity to continue sharing, learning, and growing with you all as I contribute to this blog. While I won’t technically graduate until the end of this July, I thought it might be a good time to reflect on some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through my time in college, and maybe, along the way, they impact your journey too.

Have an open mind. 
This was a lesson I was learning before I even stepped foot into college. Long story short, I never thought I’d end up in Duluth. Even after I came over that hill and saw the view of the whole city that stopped me in my tracks, I didn’t think UMD would be the school I attended. But, here we are four years later, and there have been so many times I’ve thought to myself “I can’t imagine having gone anywhere else”. The people I’ve met, the opportunities I’ve had, and the things I’ve learned have time and time again reminded me I ended up right where I needed to be by having an open mind.

3 young women standing together at dress for success event.
Paying, Rachel, & Stephanie at Dress for Success

You’re capable of more than you think. 
I simply never expected to take on the things I have over these past few years, whether that was a heavy workload of school and work, a class that was way outside my comfort zone, or a new hobby I never thought I’d like. Until recently, I never acknowledged all the unspoken barriers I had put on myself: beliefs that I couldn’t do something well, or maybe most of all, that I wasn’t up to the challenges I’d face. I’m extremely fortunate to have had a very positive college experience, but like anyone, there have been some difficult chapters too, and by walking through them, I’m moving into the next season of my life with the knowledge that I’m stronger than I’ve even realized.

Rachel (in profile) sitting in yellow hand chair.
Rachel working as a Peer Educator in the office while sitting in the hand chair we got from Handshake.

But, that doesn’t mean you should do it all. 
The previous lesson has also come with the recognition that just because I can achieve more than I thought doesn’t necessarily mean I always should. The word “balance” has circled around me for years. I may not always perfectly understand what balance looks like in my life, but this time has helped me develop a clearer vision of it, and I know balance is something we all have to practice throughout the rest of our lives. My time in college has led me to learn the value of working hard and resting, of accepting help when I need it and serving others as much as possible, of investing in the many different areas of life that are important to me in order to build one I find most fulfilling.

Collage of photos from an internship experience.
Student Takeover Rachel did at her internship Summer 2019

There are connections to be found and lessons to be learned in everything. 
The more I’m exposed to, the more I believe this really is a fairly small world. I came from a town of 400 people and was prepared to feel overwhelmed on campus. Never did I think I’d have the chance to connect with people from so many different parts of our UMD campus. The more people I met, the more connections I realized we all have, and that’s what made this place feel like a community. With that has come the realization we all have so much to learn from each other. From every person I shared the halls of campus with, every class I took, every work and volunteer experience I had, every play I attended or trail I hiked, every success and every mishap, my life has been filled with opportunities to learn, and that’s a perspective I don’t intend to lose.

Rachel sitting on stairs in LSBE holding letterboard
Text: Hired before graduation. Training Specialist.
Rachel was hired before graduation from her MBA as a Training Specialist

“Goodbyes” are what you make them. 
Sometimes, goodbyes are necessary. Sometimes, saying goodbye is the healthiest thing we can do for ourselves or another. But, I also think goodbyes aren’t always as inevitable as we think. Sometimes, we create more stress for ourselves by building up this pressure that there needs to be a goodbye. As I write this, two days from now, I will walk the halls of UMD for the last time as a student. Everyone is different, but personally, I start to put a lot of pressure on these “last” moments. I’ve learned though, that while some things are out of our control and there are no guarantees on the future, life is unexpected and you never know what it will bring. Who’s to say I’ll never end up back at UMD? Or coworkers with a fellow student I never thought I’d see again? Life is what you make it, and while I may feel a building pressure around all these “lasts”, I can choose to stay in touch with those I grew close to these past four years, I can revisit the places that are important to me, and I can strive to enjoy the present moment as best I can, and I’d encourage you to do the same.

To those of you who read this blog or who I had the chance to work with during my time at C&IS, thank you for being such an important part of my journey these past four years and for letting me be a part of yours! 

All the best,

Read Rachel’s other posts

Job & Internship Fair Key Takeaways

By: Kiara

This spring semester I attended the UMN Job & Internship Fair and the STEM Fair for the first time and I had some great conversations with employers. Today I’m sharing some of my key takeaways to help you with attending your next job & internship fair.

After speaking with recruiters, they suggested making yourself stand out by being prepared to speak to them about your relevant experiences. In particular, have some ideas in advance of how you can tie your experiences into your responses. For example, if you are applying for a lab position, employers recommend highlighting any lab related experience, even if it is just upper-level STEM courses. Recruiters also mentioned that they appreciate when students do some research about the company before talking with them. For instance, try checking out the company’s website before the fair and mention something you found interesting to the employer to start your conversation.

What’s your advice for younger students looking for their first internship?
Internships are an awesome way for students to gain experience without the major commitment of a full-time job. They are also a great opportunity to get a glimpse into what a professional in the field does on a daily basis and to connect with others in the industry. When speaking to employers, they suggested that students explore their options within different areas of study as well as different career paths. This can hopefully help you to view each opportunity with an open mind, instead of limiting yourself to only one route. For example, in one of the group sessions I attended, the presenter spoke about how they became a special agent in the FBI, even though they were set on a different career path earlier on in their life.

Image: green daily planner and 3 markers laying on white background
Text: Employer advice from job & internship fairs

What skills are employers looking for in the ideal candidate?

  • Strong communication skills to build relationships
  • Ability to build rapport
  • Self-motivated and driven
  • Ability to understand people from different backgrounds/cultures
  • Resilience 
  • Ability to recognize internal biases
  • Willingness to learn
  • Ability to take constructive criticism well
  • Teamwork/leadership skills 
  • Ability to work well under pressure

Overall, while attending job and internship fairs, keep in mind that employers are looking for well-rounded and proficient individuals. Recruiters shared that they love talking to students about what they do and about their company so don’t be afraid to ask questions and reach out to them on LinkedIn. They stressed the importance of networking since the more people you know the better! For a final tip, employers recommended students to be willing to put themselves out there and initiate the conversation. Hopefully you can take some of these key insights and apply them to your preparation for job fairs next year!

Of Possible Interest:
Job Fairs – all our blog posts on the topic
Mastering the Career Fair – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Kiara’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Savannah Wakefield

Tips for Starting a New Position

By: Rachel

While starting a new role can certainly be exciting, there’s always a little bit of nervousness too, at least if you’re anything like me! Especially when starting a position, we often feel pressure to make sure we’re doing everything right and setting the best first impressions, which can be hard when there are so many unknowns about your job and the organization you’re becoming a part of. Now that I’ve been in my current role for nearly two years, there are many things I take for granted that I didn’t know starting out, so I wanted to share with you some of the questions and topics I’m glad I asked about when I was beginning in my role, as well as some things I wish I’d known sooner!

Dress Code
While external appearances aren’t all that matter, they certainly play a role in setting first impressions and helping you feel your best. Make sure you wear outfits you’re comfortable in, especially when it comes to footwear. Depending on your role, you might be touring buildings or engaging in activities, so at least until you have a feel for your typical day, it’s a good idea to plan to wear pieces you can move around in. Once you’ve accepted an offer and set a start date, be sure to talk to the recruiter you’ve been working with or your supervisor about dress code expectations and what you should plan to wear for your first day. At some organizations, you might be expected to dress a bit more formally the first day for an employee ID photo. In some companies, employees dress more casually on Fridays, so it’s good to have an idea of what is generally acceptable to wear and which items should be avoided.

Image: mostly sky for sunrise, with parked cars along bottom of photo
Text: Tips for starting a new position

Ask Questions
While your supervisor will likely have a role in your initial training, it’s a good idea to find out where or who you can go to when you have questions, as they’re bound to pop up particularly within your first few weeks. In some cases, your supervisor might want you to work directly with them, but often they will have other obligations that mean they aren’t always available. So, it can be a good idea to establish where you will go when you’re unsure of something. Sometimes in new roles, we feel pressure to perform, so you might feel like you have to figure something out on your own or you can’t ask a question. From my experience, it’s far better to reach out when a situation like this arises to learn quickly and get on the right track, rather than trying to work it out alone, which usually takes more time and creates more stress on your part. This also helps you build relationships with your peers as well as possibly provide opportunities to learn and problem solve together.

Food Situation & Breaks
While this might seem minor in the grand scheme of what you’ve been hired to do, taking care of your physical needs is essential to performing at your best. Similar to dress code topics, you might want to ask your recruiter or supervisor once you’ve accepted an offer about food options. Sometimes lunch will be provided on your first day, or some businesses have cafeterias where you can purchase meals, while other roles will require you to bring your own meals. Some jobs require long hours in remote locations where you’ll need to bring all the water you’ll need throughout the day, so it’s important to iron out these details. When starting a new role, there’s a lot to learn and process, so it’s important to make sure your body is properly fueled. Additionally, make sure you have an understanding of the expectations around breaks. How often are breaks typically taken, and for how long? Is there a certain time limit to your lunches, or is it up to your personal discretion? Additionally, if you have any specific dietary concerns, be sure these and any other needs are communicated with your supervisor and/or HR representative.

Learn the Norms
Many of the points we’ve covered here have to do with norms, or the typical practices within any given organization. But, beyond what to wear and how long you’ll have to eat, there are going to be countless other norms you’ll pick up on throughout your integration into a new company. Some of these you might be able to ask about right away, but recognize some of them will come with time. Do people normally communicate through email, phone, or in person? Are there specific hours of the day you’re expected to work? What are the norms surrounding working over the weekend? When you can, reach out to others and ask questions. Working with your supervisor will help you identify the key contacts who can give you the appropriate answers, rather than risking misinformation from a random coworker. The key here is to do whatever it is you need to do to acclimate yourself with the organization and feel comfortable in your new role. Rather than take it on yourself and wonder if you’re on the right track, reach out, ask questions, and seek feedback. Connect with your supervisors, coworkers, and the people in roles to support you as an employee, such as Human Resources. Doing so shows you care about filling your role to the best of your ability and will set you on the path to success in whatever position you find yourself in.

Best, Rachel 

Of Possible Interest:
Checklist for Relocating
The Desk Essentials
#BulldogOnTheJob – Bri: emphasis on managing mental health while working
Tips on Transitioning from College to the Working World
On the Job – all our blog posts on the topic
Now that You’re on the Job – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo source: UMD Career & Internship Services

Tips on Transitioning from College to the Working World

By: Amanda

Throughout college, I have always been a hyper-involved student. Whether it be the Professional Sales Club and the Entrepreneurship Conference, or Phi Sigma Sigma and Student Services Fee Committee – I am always finding ways both inside and outside of my major to get involved. 

Most recently I accepted a Customer Insights & Analytics role with a corporate company which I will start after graduation. With less than 5 weeks until graduation – I am taking time to prepare for this next phase of life. Today, I am going to share with you tangible tips on preparing for post-graduation from the perspective of a “hyper-involved” college student. I sincerely hope that if you are in a similar situation to myself, you are able to take a few of these tips and apply them to your life.

Image: full coffee cup, 2 notebooks, and pen sitting on wood tabletop
Text: Tips on transitioning from college to the working world

First of all, I am planning the logistics behind a physical relocation from Duluth to Minneapolis. Here are a few thoughts that are going into this process:

  • Budgeting: I am currently mapping out the expenses I will need to account for after college and how they will line up with my salary. 
  • Apartment hunting: Based on my budget, as well as location preferences, I have begun the apartment search. The basis of my search has been reading articles online, as well as looking for recommendations from friends and family who live in the area.
  • Community: For me, community is a priority. I have started connecting with friends who I know will be living near me. This will make the transition easier. 
  • Attractions: Being the “busy-bee” personality I mentioned, I have created a list of attractions (restaurants, museums, shops, events, etc.) I plan to visit once I relocate. This gives me something to look forward to as I anticipate the move.

Throughout all 4 years of college, time is spent continuously learning and being involved. It would be a shame for the learning to come to a halt after graduation. Here are a few ways I am planning for development after graduation:

  • Networking: I could not be more excited about the opportunity to be exposed to an entirely new professional community. I plan to reach out to professionals in the field of marketing and sales through UMD alumni, as well as alumni from my sorority. 
  • Personal development: Co-workers and friends have sent me book and podcast recommendations. Currently, I am compiling a list of development ideas for when I have more capacity after graduation. 
  • Volunteering: There are numerous volunteer opportunities in the Twin Cities area. I am currently scouting out options and ways to stay connecting with the community.

As I look to prepare for my transition to my full-time role, here are 3 core elements I am considering. 

  • Connecting: First, I am connecting with individuals inside the organization on LinkedIn. I am learning about different career paths within the organization.
  • Organization: Now it is more important than ever to implement organizational systems before the role starts. Think about how you will file notes and documents.
  • Development: Finally, I am reading up on the organization. This can be anything from current news articles, to the company website. Additionally, I am polishing up on skills that I know will help me excel in my role.

All in all, the transition from college to the working world may seem daunting. I encourage you to take time to plan for your transition and do research far in advance, this will help make the transition more manageable. Good luck!

Of Possible Interest:
On the Job – all our blog posts on the topic
Now that You’re on the Job – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources
Checklist for Relocating

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | Freddy Castro

Top 5 Employer Tips to be Successful at Job Fairs

By: Kiara

Have you ever wondered how you can stand out to employers in a sea full of students at job & internship fairs?  Check out these five simple tips from employers!

Be personable & engaging
It’s important to make a positive first impression when meeting with employers and this may look a bit different in a virtual job fair setting. Just like at an in person job fair, try to maintain eye contact and be an active listener. For instance, nodding your head occasionally shows that you are interested and care about what they are saying. It’s also crucial to limit distractions such as phone notifications so you are able to give the employers your full attention and stay engaged throughout the conversation.

Be prepared to give examples during interviews/one on one sessions
Being able to speak about any of your prior experiences listed on your resume is an essential part of the interview since it helps employers to get a better idea of who you are. Here is your chance to demonstrate how you have used your skills and knowledge to successfully complete a task or project! Sample questions employers may ask include: “Give an example of when you were part of a high-performing team?” or “Tell me about a time when you provided excellent customer service?” Use your experiences to illustrate your points for situational or behavioral questions.

Image: open notebook on wood desktop
Text: Top 5 employer tips to be successful at job fairs.

Ask at least 1-2 meaningful questions
When I personally attend job fairs, I like to write a list of questions in advance and list them in order of priority. Here are some examples of questions to ask: “What’s the company and team culture like? Are there opportunities for advancement or professional development? What is the balance between teamwork and individual work in this position?” Asking meaningful questions demonstrates that you’re interested in the position and the company. Now, when employers ask you, “What questions do you have for me?” during an interview, you will be ready!

Be able to converse in a professional manner
Oftentimes employers lead with the question, “Tell me about yourself” and in this situation it is important to answer this question in a more formal manner than if you were talking to friends or family members. Focus on your relevant experience to the position you are interested in and try to avoid telling employers your whole life story in detail.  

Have short & long term career goals
By no means do you have to have your entire life planned out before talking to an employer, but it is beneficial to have a general idea of what your future goals are. For instance, during an interview an employer may ask: “Where do you see yourself in the next 1-3 years?” Here is a sample response: “I would like to be able to grow in my field and obtain a position with more responsibility within the company.” This shows that you have a plan and are motivated to accomplish your goals.

If you feel a bit nervous or even overwhelmed while attending job & internship fairs, preparing for them in advance can help alleviate some of the stress. Taking the time to organize your thoughts and intentions while speaking to employers is well worth it since you will be able to make the most out of your time and feel confident. Overall, these tips can help you leave a good impression with the employer and may lead to new opportunities!

Of Possible Interest:
Job Fairs – all our blog posts on the topic
Mastering the Career Fair – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Kiara’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | Kelly Sikkema

Making the Most of Your College Education

By: Rachel

I’ve written before about the value I see in lifelong learning, and while I believe that extends far beyond the classroom, we also have to recognize the education we’re pursuing in college is one of the most critical learning opportunities we’ll have. So often, I think it’s easy to slip into the mindset that college is something to check off, a means to an end of hopefully getting a job, or something we just have to stick out for a few years. We hope our classes won’t be too hard and our professors will go easy on us so we can pass through to graduation; I’ve certainly been guilty of this at times, especially when under stress.

Being in grad school has reminded me this education is my experience to have, and it is what I make it. I know it seems obvious, but we are the ones paying for and working towards this education, so I’ve heard it said we’re almost like customers in a sense. Most of the time if we’re purchasing something, we want to make the most of that experience. Don’t get me wrong, we all probably love a day off of class from time to time, but usually you wouldn’t pay to go to a water park and only go on one of the rides. With that, I wanted to share a few realizations that have helped me shift my perspective and engage in my education, even when the going gets tough.

Image: empty college lecture hall
Text: Making the most of your college education

You’re here to learn. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that learning means you don’t know it already. School can feel like a big test where your performance is constantly being measured through exams, assignments, and projects. There are cases where a certain level of performance is expected, but remember that learning is about progress. It really comes down to gaining knowledge you didn’t have before. You’re working at things you don’t know yet, so it’s expected you will make mistakes. If you weren’t, there might not be a lot of value in attending college. It’s learning from these and improving that sets you up for success. Maybe rather than focusing on the grade you ended up with, it’s helpful to consider what skills or knowledge you gained through a class to evaluate how you’ve grown.

Don’t be afraid of challenges. In your pursuit of a degree, there can be a temptation to take the path of least resistance — register for the classes that will be easiest, and avoid the professors who you’ve heard grade harshly. But sometimes, these experiences are the ones that teach you the most about both the topic and yourself. Having the perspective that you’re here to learn and you only have access to these opportunities for a limited time gives you more freedom to step into situations you might not be the most successful at, but might lead you to even greater growth. A side benefit is you gain skills in taking on difficult things, which something you will face throughout the rest of your life, regardless of the path you take.

You get out what you put in. I know this is such a cliché, but it really is true. While there are always things out of our control, you are the one who decides what much of your college experience will be. I have to remember that every day, I go to school with thousands of other people studying every topic imaginable along with professors and staff who have spent decades gaining experience in these areas, and we all have the opportunity to learn together. That’s not something I will always be able to say. So engage with your classmates, ask questions of your professors, make use of the resources available to you so that rather than merely survive your time in college, you can thrive. 

Best, Rachel

Of Possible Interest:
Learning Without Limits
Ideas for Lifelong Learning
Learning Outside the Classroom
Boost Your Career in College & Turn Your Major Into a Career – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash.com | Changbok Ko

Navigating Job Offers

By: Amanda

This past summer I had an internship opportunity that led to a job offer. Oftentimes, junior year internships can lead to job offers with organizations. When I received this offer, I was extremely grateful and excited, but I also knew it was a daunting process to approach. Thankfully, I had my background at Career & Internship Services to help me navigate the process. Today, I will help you prepare for navigating your next job offer by breaking down a few core steps to take, as well as resources to refer to. Please note, that the steps vary on a person-to-person basis, this is simply what worked best for my scenario. Scheduling an appointment with a Career Counselor is often optimal when weighing your options.

Step 1: Before the offer – conduct research. If you have an inkling that you will be receiving a job offer. Begin to do research in advance. 

  • Reference our Graduate Follow-Up Reports, where you can see what recent grads with your major are making for a salary. 
  • Another step is to do a simple Google search for salaries in the type of role/industry you are potentially being offered. 
  • Finally, Glassdoor is FREE to all UMD students. This is another source to find salary and benefit information, as well as overall company information.

Step 2: Before the offer – define 3 core areas. After conducting your research, make sure to define 3 buckets:

  • A high-level offer. This is an offer that you will take and run with if it is put on the table. You probably won’t negotiate. 
  • A medium-level offer. This is a ballpark range that is pretty average for the industry. If you are offered this, you may take some time to think, but at the end of the day, you know it is a solid offer. You may negotiate if you want, but there’s also a solid chance you won’t.
  • A low-level offer. This is an offer you would not be very willing to accept. Typically, this type of offer requires some negotiation.

Step 3: When you receive the offer – Say thank you. When you are offered a job, it can be a bit shocking at first. Make sure to express gratitude and thank them for the offer.

Step 4: When you receive the offer – Ask for more time. 99% of the time, it is best to take time to think after receiving a job offer. This is a big deal. Managers expect potential hires to ask for more time. Do not be afraid to do so. 

Step 5: Ask questions and make your decision. The rest of the steps in this process vary depending on the type of offer you receive. After you receive your offer, take time to use your resources and make a long-term plan of what accepting the offer could look like. Here are a few topics to consider when thinking about your offer:

  • The role
  • Salary and benefits
  • Company culture
  • The team 
  • Career development
  • The offer
Image: Black male hand holding fountain pen signing a contract on a desk.
Text: Steps to navigate a job offer

When considering a job offer, there are often many other aspects to consider beyond the initial offer itself. Here are a few to keep in mind. 

  • Geographic location: What does the cost of living look like in the area you would be working? Will you be relocating? Will there be costs associated with that process? 
  • Support system: Think about who will be nearby to support you. For many, it is important to have friends and family in the vicinity given the big transition it can be. 
  • Long-term vision: Take time to consider how the role you are being offered will support future career goals. It is important to find alignment between the role you accept and your 5 year, 10 year, etc plan. 
  • Future of the industry: Do some research on where the industry is going and what your future will look like.

Career Counseling appointments at UMD Career & Internship Services
Glassdoor (free through UMD)
Start Smart Salary Negotiation Workshops (offered periodically through UMD)
Mentors, friends, and family

All in all, approaching a job offer can be daunting, but with proper preparation and resources, you are all set to succeed. Never hesitate to reach out to Career and Internship Services with any questions.

Of Possible Interest:
The Basics of Salary Negotiation
How to Turn Down a Job Offer
Checklist for Relocating
You Got a Job Offer! Now What?

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | Cytonn Photography

How to Gain Additional Experience and Stand Out in Education

By: Meghan, guest author – you can follow her journey to becoming a teacher at @journalofafutureteacher

Within the field education, almost everyone shares the same passion for children and teaching. When training to work in an educational setting, it is imperative to have leadership experience and hands-on experience working with students. Most interviewees approaching job interviews, especially as a teacher, may have the same backbone to their resume: college education, student teaching experience, and leadership skills. 

So, how can you stand out in the crowd of passionate, hard-working future educators? To put it simply, you must create a resume that reflects you and your experiences as an educator. 

That being said, there are a few other specific steps you can take to stand out in the field of education.

Gain Additional Experience
The foundation of any great educator is experience. In fact, there is a saying within the field of education that teachers are always learning, even if they’ve taught for ten years. So, if you are thinking about working in education, start looking for experiences now! As long as you are working with students or children, your experience will help you in the pursuit towards your career. 

That being said, it is best to search for opportunities that fall under your desired field. For example, if you wish to work as a high school science teacher, work as a tutor in an after school program; if you want to be an elementary special education teacher, search for jobs as a paraprofessional in that field. If you are unable to find specific opportunities such as these, any experience working with children or students will be beneficial. 

For reference, I have worked as an assistant camp counselor and as a paraprofessional in both general and special education settings.

In addition to experience working with students and children, it is also imperative to build leadership skills. Although most positions in an educational setting will teach you these skills, there are other leadership positions available, especially on college campuses. Some examples include club board member positions; internships; mentorships; and any volunteer positions. I am currently on the board of S.E.R.V.E. (Students Engaged in Rewarding Volunteer Experiences) and am a mentor for the University Honors Program. I have also volunteered in several positions both on- and off-campus. 

If you are interested in leadership positions in Duluth, click on the links below:

Image: wood table top with yellow pencils lined up on top of the image
Text: How to stand out in the Education field. (additional tips are shared that are also in text of article)

Identify Your Specified Field
The field of education is very diverse. There are several subsects of education that can be characterized by targeted age group, demographic, needs, and placement. Along with general leadership skills and experiences working in education, it is also important to gain experience in your specified field. Not only will this specification narrow your job search, but it will also individualize your experiences, thereby helping you stand out in the crowd of future educators.

If you are starting your journey as a future education as a college student, explore possible majors and minors in education! UMD has one of the most diverse education programs in the state, with eight majors and four minors. Here are the education majors and minors offered by UMD. Under “Filter by Department,” scroll to “Education.”

Individualize Your Experiences 
If possible, take on opportunities that reflect your individual interests and passions. Ideally, you want to approach an interview or position with what you bring to the table. Education is also a field that encourages individualization. I have worked with current teachers who are either currently working on their masters or doctoral degrees or have several certifications that support their individual career goals. However, as students, there are other paths to individualizing your experiences and resume.

First, diversify your studies! Try taking on a minor or major in a field you are interested in. You never know how the content could apply to your future career. For example, I am minoring in Spanish Studies along with majoring in Unified Early Childhood Studies.

Second, explore unique avenues of expressing your passions! Start a blog or YouTube channel; write book reviews; create a podcast; make a public Instagram or Facebook page about your passions! Use your unique skills and strengths to your advantage. You can explore my blog, Journal of a Future Teacher, as an example.

Third, search for other unique opportunities that meet your other interests. These could overlap with education or could simply be leadership opportunities! The more well-rounded your experiences are, the better! For example, I am currently a Spanish intern with Outreach360, through which I teach one hour English lessons and Spanish discussions through Zoom.

In sum, there are countless opportunities in the field of education. When selecting opportunities, decide which ones best represent you and which will support you in your future career.

Best of luck to you!

Of Possible Interest:
• 5 Ways to Make Your First Teaching Resume Stand Out
10 School Teacher Resume Writing Tips to Ensure You Show Your Value
Education – all our blog posts on the topic
Building Your Resume – all our blog posts on the topic
Boost Your Career in College, Turn Your Major Into a Career – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources

Photo source: Unsplash | Kelly Sikkema