Navigating the Curveballs

By: Amanda

Sometimes life throws you curveballs. As a student or a working professional, whether it is through illness, injury, or essentially anytime you need to take time off, it is crucial to know what your options are in both school and work life. Here are a few areas to look into:

Meet with your Academic Advisor
Academic Advisors are a wealth of knowledge just waiting to be tapped into. They can help to understand options when going through sticky situations. Their job is literally to aid in keeping students on path towards graduation. Take advantage of your assigned advisor, after all it is a free resource built in to your tuition. 🙂 No matter what the situation, you can count on your advisor to have the answer to your question, or be able to direct you to where you can find the answer. Depending upon the situation, they may suggest a medical withdrawal. As daunting as this process may seem, open communication with your academic advisor will help all run seamlessly.

Image: looking down on colorful pens in a jar on a grey background
Text: Navigating life's curveballs

Medical Withdrawal
With proper approval, a medical withdrawal on a student transcript is not something that will make or break a student’s academic career. There are three main steps that go into a medical withdrawal. First, a petition must be made. Through a petition on the OneStop website you can cancel all classes or individual classes, depending on the situation. Keep in mind, that if only one class is canceled, there should be a brief explanation why one class is being canceled and not others. On the last page, you can have your advisor recommended the withdrawal. Second, there must be a medical supplement form submitted. This is simply a form filled out by a Medical Professional with specific dates and information. Finally, keep in mind a tuition refund. Adjusting credit load can alter tuition, as well as financial aid. This is the most complex part of the process and if not done right could potentially make a student owe money. Make sure to set up an appointment with OneStop to work out the fine details.

Family and Medical Leave Act
FMLA requires employers to provide job secured unpaid leave for all excusable medical and family reasons. In order to be eligible for FMLA the employee must be at the business for at least 12 months and work at a company that employs 50 or more employees in a 75 mile radius. As college students who will be soon entering the workforce, it is important to have knowledge in this area and be fully versed in all rights.

Counseling Sessions
Remember that through UMD each semester you get 10 FREE counseling sessions with your tuition. This is almost one counseling session per week. No matter what you are going through, know that you are not alone and there is always someone here to talk. Once you’re out working, your company may also have an Employee Assistance Program the provides consultation and referral services in counseling and a number of other areas. Here’s what is available to UMD employees, as an example.

Life throws difficult curveballs and situations our way often and it is important to know how to deal with them. These resources are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to resources offered. The first step is to meet with an advisor or your supervisor and see what is available for you!

Of Possible Interest:
Disabilities in the Workplace – all our blog posts on the topic
Productivity & Wellness – all our blog posts on the topic

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Jessica Lewis

Tools for Choosing Your Major & Career

By: Rachel

The path to choosing a major is one that looks different for everyone. It seems we’re asked countless times over the years, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Some of us are sticking with the same answer we gave in 1st grade, while others have new ideas every day. Before we get to that career, many of us have to decide which major to pursue first.

To share a brief summary of my own experience, I decided what fields I wanted to study in college the summer before my senior year of high school. I had a few different ideas over the years, but they were slowly weeded out as I came to know more about myself. I always had a love for the written word, but I didn’t really want to go into creative writing, and I wasn’t sure what options that left for me. Out of nowhere, grant writing started to come up in conversations with my aunts and uncles, teachers, and other professionals. While I didn’t know a whole lot about it, it sounded like the type of writing I was interested in.

I had a friend who majored in Professional Writing, and one day the idea came to me to pursue a similar major along with a general background in business. I thought this would lend me a wide scope of occupational opportunities while still being areas I was excited to learn about and work in. My pairing was both strategic and driven by my passions; you can read more about that here.

After this idea came to me, I did more research into job outlook and what I could expect. I took a career class spring of my senior year of high school that forced me to conduct informational interviews and research through sources like O*NET OnLine and the Occupational Outlook Handbook provided through the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). I remained open to the fact that I might decide to change my majors once I got into college, but the things I learned through my research affirmed my decision. I want to take a moment to highlight the sources I found particularly helpful as well as a few others offered through our office.

Image: open notebook on wood desktop with pens
Text: Tools for choosing your major and career
  • Your network: I never would have even known grant writing existed if it weren’t for the people in my life. Reach out to those around you, especially professionals. It’s important to keep in mind that one person’s opinion/view is just that: one person’s view, but those working in the field have a unique perspective on opportunities that exist and may be able to offer ideas of where your talents and abilities could be used best.
  • Informational interviews & Job shadowing: Informational interviews and job shadowing are additional ways to connect with professionals in a field of interest.  They can provide tips on steps you should take at this point in your life to set yourself up for success in the future, and doing an interview/job shadow can be a great way to add valuable contacts to your network.
  • What Can I Do With a Major In (all majors): There are so many different online resources out there, and I’d recommend not just relying on one. It’s a good idea to cross-reference your data, and different sites provide slightly different types of data. This resource through the University of North Carolina Wilmington is a great one for college students, because it links a major with a bunch of connected job titles as well as related major skills. This provides you with occupation titles you might not have ever heard of that you can plug into other career outlook sites for more information. The related major skills can be super helpful in determining what minor or additional major would be particularly beneficial to you in that field.
  • What Can I Do With This Major? (via University of Tennessee’s Center for Career Development): Somewhat similarly, this site takes majors and breaks them down into more specific areas. Within each area, there are bullet points of typical job duties. Reading through these might pique your interest or turn you away, thus narrowing your search. Each area also includes examples of specific employers and strategies for success in the field. These are helpful tips of steps to pursue in your education, activities, job experiences, etc. in order to build a solid foundation for that specific area.
  • BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook: Once you have pinpointed a specific job title you’d like to look into, you can use BLS to find a quick summary of median pay, typical education level expected, and job outlook, among other statistics. Across the top, you’ll find additional tabs with information on job responsibilities, how to become one, and similar job titles. One of the tabs I use most is the one that provides state/regionally specific data.
  • O*NET OnLine: One last website I’d like to highlight is O*NET, which is like the BLS Handbook in that it is organized by occupation. It is easy to use, and a quick search will provide you with a summary of tasks, skills, and knowledge commonly used on the job, as well as personality characteristics and values that lend themselves well to the field.
  • Graduate Follow-up Report: This report provides much of same information provided through these sites, such as job titles within each major, specific employers, and median salary, but it is specific to students who have graduated from UMD! We put this together every year with information from students who have graduated in the last 6 months to 1 year.
  • Assessments: Another potential source of information that will help you determine your major/career are career assessments. There are 3 major ones offered through our office as well as a few you can take for free online. These will provide information on your personality, interests, and skills which you can then match up with compatible fields. Setting up an appointment to discuss your results with a career counselor can provide further clarification.

This might seem like a lot of information to navigate, but this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the different routes determining your career might take. If you find yourself trying to answer the question of “What do I want to do when I grow up?”, my core advice would be to stay open. The inspiration for what direction to head could come from just about anywhere: your hobbies, your dreams as a child, your skillset, your heritage, a class you took, or information you found from a website. I’d encourage you to make this decision based on what you learn from a variety of sources: testimonies from professionals, statistics, and your personal attributes. More than anything, recognize that the answer to the question will never totally be finalized, and that’s part of the beauty of career development.

Best, Rachel

Of Possible Interest
Choosing a Major – all our blog posts on the topic
Career Planning – all our blog posts on the topic
Turn Your Major into a Career – our Pinterest board filled with resources & articles

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Mike Tinnion

Library Resources That Will ROCK Your Career Search

By: Heidi

So you’ve begun the job search process. First, congratulations on making it this far! It’s exciting being able to think of all the possibilities of where you could end up next, but can be daunting for some not knowing where to start or what to even be thinking about in the job search process. I recently spent some time at the Library learning about resources available to us as a UMD students and I’m here to share what I found.

Reference USA
Ever feel like a company’s About Me page just isn’t enough? Reference USA can be a great tool for learning more about an industry by searching specific companies you’re interested in. This site will give you the scoop of demographics of a business, their current management, and business size history by sales volume as well as employees. This can be useful information for you to understand if a specific company is experiencing growth and can be a way for you to frame your interview questions.

Image: wall of books shelves filled with books
Text: Library resources that will ROCkKyour career search

Occupational Outlook Handbook
This resource is a great starting point for understanding what type of salary you can expect in the industry you’ll be going into. You can select different occupational groups and from there select the specific occupation you’re pursuing. After that, information is broken down into what that job does, the typical work environment, pay, job outlook, and similar occupations. What I think is the coolest part of this site is the “important qualities” information which can be found underneath the “how to become one” tab. For example, I’m looking at an Advertising Sales Agent role which highlights having communication skills, initiative, organization, and self-confidence, all of which I would strategically highlight how I have these skills if I were to go into an interview for this position.

Learning Express Library
Is passing an entry exam for an occupation/job or the GRE on your mind? This site is going to be your go to spot for all resources for preparing for all different tests you can imagine and actual practice exams. Different tests range from nursing, real estate, social work, EMT services, and law enforcement. Along with assessments, the Learning Express Library also offers different ways for you to build your skills with writing, speaking, and grammar which are all crucial when it comes to building your resume and communicating your skills and accomplishments in a job interview.

Interview Books
Congratulations on being at this step in the process! It’s exciting to finally being able to get your face in front of a company and highlight all of your hard work and what you’ve been doing as a student. If you’re new to this or just looking to brush up your skills, the library has TONS of books to help set you up for success to stand out in the process. Follow this link to browse different titles for all your interview needs.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to a resource librarian to answer any of your questions or further assist you in finding resources for the direction you’re going!

Of Possible Interest:
Job Search – all our blog posts on the topic
UMD Specific Resources – all our blog posts on the topic
Ace the Job Search – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Heidi’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Stanislav Kondratiev

Strong Interest Inventory Assessment: Does it Really Help?

By: Paying

Like many others, I’ve always had in mind what I wanted to be and once I hit college I became very confused on what would really be best for me. Yes, everyone is super willing to give advice and try to lead you in the ‘right’ direction. However, the advice can be so broad that it doesn’t change anything: “Do what you love,” and even, “Maybe you should go talk to someone in the field you’re interested in.” Don’t get me wrong, I definitely agree with this advice but it wasn’t until my personal experience in the Career & Internship Services Office that I truly started to think about my career path.

Weather vane; Do career assessments really help?

In my senior year of high school, I was set on the idea of being an English teacher abroad. However, I felt as if I was not social or outgoing enough which led me to go into college undeclared. After my first year here at UMD, I declared an English major because I loved to help my friends edit their papers and thought to myself, “If I love editing so much, why don’t I just make it a career?” So that’s what I picked. I’m glad I’ll be doing something I like but, I still wasn’t 100% confident.

Fast forward to now, my junior year of college when I decided to take the Strong Interest Inventory Assessment. It looked like every other assessment I’ve taken before and I honestly did not expect much out of it. I went into the appointment with a career counselor ready to hear what I usually hear, and I got so much more out that one-hour appointment than I did in most of my life.

During my appointment, the career counselor I was with asked me, “So tell me, why did you choose this editing path?” After I explained my story of how it felt nice to help edit my friend’s papers, she questioned, “Do you enjoy editing or do you enjoy helping your friends?” That simple question left me speechless and I did not know how to react. This whole time I thought I enjoyed editing. In reality, after I dug deeper into it, maybe it was the satisfying feeling of helping others instead.

This appointment has sparked something in me I can’t quite explain. I do enjoy editing and I’m not going to stop pursuing it. At the same time, I feel like there’s more I can do while being in an editing career. I plan on reaching out to different editors to see where they got their start and what an average day looks like. I’ll also look for other careers that an English major will be useful in such as Teaching English as a Second Language abroad. Strong Interest Inventory assessment showed me I enjoy helping others, and it also showed me I’ve changed since high school. Nothing is concrete or certain and it’s okay to change things up.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Paying’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Jordan Ladikos

A Guide for Alumni

By: PJay

I would like to write this post for the UMD alumni. Last year, most of my friends and peers who I looked up to graduated. Some have jobs, some went to graduate or professional school, and some are still discovering what they want to do with their unique majors. For those of you who feel like you have no idea what you are doing, you’ve come to the right place! This post is going to give you some goodies about our office and tips for you to rediscover your passion.

UMD Commencement overhead view

After graduation, you can still use all of the services in our office for FREE!!!
We are literally one phone call away. Whether you have questions about jobs, resume, personality assessments, graduate school, please contact us. Being an alumnus does not mean we forget about you. We want you to succeed. We love helping people and want you to get on the right path for you.

We offer phone and Google Hangout or Skype appointments.
The reality is that after we graduate, we will probably be relocating somewhere else. Even if you can’t make it physically to our office, we will still do our best to help you in other ways. By using the beauty of technology, the career counselors can still meet with you one-on-one to make sure your appointments are accessible wherever you are.

If you are a recent graduate, can still attend the U of M job fairs.
Being a “recent graduate” means that you have graduated within the past three years. Take advantage of this! These job fairs are some of the most life-changing events. Not only do you meet your potential employers, you also meet new people to find new opportunities.

Push yourself to ask for help.
I understand you may feel embarrassed to ask for assistance to find a job, but trust me, we get phone calls about this more than you would think. The world is a competitive place to live in, so do not feel ashamed if you don’t get your dream job right away. But in the meantime, don’t be afraid to practice for that career. It might just be that your resume needs a little more tweaking, or that you need should set up a mock interview for more practice. Whatever it is, our office is here for you.

Lastly, remember to not compare yourself to others.
It may seem like all your friends have their life together. But the honest truth is everyone faces adversity. Some of us are just better at hiding it than others. Also, take life at your own pace. Your life story is perfectly and uniquely written for you. Your opportunities are just not here yet, but with time, everything will come together.

I know you may be questioning: “why haven’t I found a job yet?” or “did I make the right decisions in college?” or other questions about your worth. But know that you are worth something to someone. Take this time to reflect on what you can be doing to change the way you feel, rather than doubting yourself. I know you are more special than you think you are. You survived some of the biggest changes and challenges in your life, your college years. Therefore I know you can do anything you want. Just put your mind into it and everything will fall into place.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read PJay’s other posts

Photo Source: UMD

Job Search Tips – Part 2

By: Ellen (Career Counselor & guest blogger)

Here’s part two of the job search tips we sent out during the summer on our Twitter account. I should explain this briefly. We frequently send out job search related content on our Twitter account. This was a concentrated effort (with a hashtag & everything) to share a #JobSearchTip every day that we were sending out content on Twitter. If you haven’t checked out part 1 yet, do so.

Job Search Tips

I thought it would be helpful to have all those tips in one (or two) places. Today, I’m sharing all of the job search tips that we tweeted out during July. Even if it’s not July, these tips can be helpful for whenever you’re conducting a job search.

Bullet Journal Job Search Habit Tracker

There you have it. So many job search tips in one place. Go forth and conquer the job search process!

Of Possible Interest: 

Start on the Right Foot

The school year has started! Woo! We’ve put together a mini to-do list for career-related items that ought to be completed by the end of the September (or earlier). Here’s a full breakdown of career-related items you can be working on during each year of your college career.

Start the school year off right

Freshmen:

  • Come find us! We’re located in Solon Campus Center 22 (aka: The Wedge). You can also find us online at any, and all, of these locations: websiteFacebookTwitter, InstagramLinkedIn, and Pinterest. I’d list our blog, too, but if you’re reading this, you’ve already found our blog. Kudos to you!
  • Get involved on-campus – in something. This could be a student organization, your residence hall, working on-campus, and much more.
  • Start your resume…even if it just has your HS involvement, the fact that you’re now a UMD student, and any jobs you may have had up until now.

Sophomores:

  • Research careers related to your major. Check out the Follow-up of Majors, from our Graduate Follow-up Report, to see where recent UMD grads have landed jobs right out of college (with YOUR major!).
  • If you haven’t decided or declared your major yet, you can take one of our career assessments (Strong Interest Inventory, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and CliftonStrengths for Students).
  • Get involved in something on-campus. Build your resume so you’re ready for whatever opportunities may come your way in future years. If you’re already involved in something, see how you can increase your involvement. This could be a leadership role, more responsibility, etc.

Juniors:

  • Update and polish your resume.
  • Prep for upcoming job & internship fairs (E-Fest for Engineering, Computer Science, & Science is Sept 12, Head of the Lakes Job & Internship Fair is Oct 4, and the Government & Non-Profit Career Fair is Oct 19).
  • Consider possible internship sites.

Seniors:

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