Corporate Company Deep Dive – Tips & Tricks

By: Amanda

Last week I sat down with Kari Dagel, a Senior Recruiter at Post Consumer Brands in Lakeville, MN. With 15+ years of recruiting experience under her belt, Kari was able to break down tips and tricks for young professionals looking to work for a corporate company. She broke down her core advice into 5 categories: networking, resumes, job & internship fairs, interviews, and during the internship. Follow along below to learn Kari’s step-by-step advice for securing your next job or internship. 

Research Companies Via LinkedIn. Kari shared with me that it is always important to network, even if you are not actively searching for a role. Make a list of what you are looking for in a role and company. Then get out on LinkedIn and constantly search for organizations that may be a good fit for you. Follow them on LinkedIn and engage as much as possible. At the end of the day, Kari suggests if you “show up and show interest,” you will be at the top of the employer’s mind as they look to recruit talent. 

Keep Your LinkedIn Updated And Professional. Kari advises students to “make sure your LinkedIn profile is as complete as possible.” Try to include experiences, professional organizations, or things you have done on campus. She went on to share that “a lot of times I think students or younger individuals do not know how to translate their experience into a professional environment.” 

Reach Out. Find individuals on LinkedIn who are working at a company or in a role you aspire to work in. Send them a customized message asking to set up a time to learn more about what they do. Kari commented on this stating, “I would tell you that if a student would reach out via LinkedIn, it would show initiative to me. It would show that someone really wants to learn about the opportunity or the company.” 

Image text: Corporate company deep dive - tips & tricks for applying jobs & internships
Image: aisle with chairs at cubicles on either side

Demonstrate what you did. When it comes to resumes, Kari’s biggest piece of advice is “try to not show just the tasks, but the strategic involvement and accomplishments they have had.”  She 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. 

Internship canceled due to COVID-19? If you had a summer internship that was canceled due to COVID-19, Kari advises adding a line to your resume noting this. Consider saying something along the lines of “Awarded internship with (insert company name) as a (insert role name) for summer 2020. Canceled due to COVID-19.”  

Conversations are a two-way interview. Kari advises thinking of conversations at a job & internship fair as a two-way interview. She went on to state, “as much as we’re interviewing them, they are interviewing us.” Find comfort and ease your nerves knowing that it is equal give and take for both parties. 

Be comfortable and confident. Research the company before talking with them at the fair. Jot down 2-3 questions or topics you hope to learn more about. By being prepared and doing adequate research, you can feel comfortable and confident approaching employers at the fair. 

Assess your strengths. Spend time thinking about your strengths and what assets you would bring to the role. Find ways to showcase these strengths when talking with employers.

First impressions matter. In a pre-COVID-19 era, a strong handshake was always the best way to make a first impression. Now, simple things, such as a smile, confidence, and eye contact through the camera are great ways to begin the interview. Be confident in your strengths and what you bring to the table. This type of energy is contagious, even through a virtual interview. 

Prepare, prepare, prepare. Kari encourages candidates to do research through multiple avenues before an interview. Look at social media and read articles. Learn information about the organization that would not be apparent from simply looking at their website. 

Review your resume. Review your resume and experiences before the interview. Think through how you will use your experiences to answer the questions asked. 

Situational interview questions. Oftentimes in interviews, you will get a few questions that say “tell me about a time when …”. Kari advises approaching these questions by first jotting down a few notes of what was originally asked so you make sure to actually answer the question. Then, approach the question with the STAR method: situation, task, action, and result/response. 

Ask questions. At the end of the interview, make sure to ask questions. Kari shared that the type of questions asked typically show how engaged the candidate was during the interview. Try to pull questions from specific information mentioned by the interviewer. Kari’s final core piece of advice for questions is, “Come prepared with questions that are important to you – this will showcase a lot about you as a person. Do not just ask questions just to ask them.”

Send a thank you note after the interview. Kari advises students to send a thank you note after the interview. Stand out by including key points that were discussed in the interview and what you can bring to the organization. 

Here are a few tips to consider for once you actually secure the internship.

Take initiative. Kari shared that some of her best interns are the ones who take initiative with projects and ideas. She stated, “our strongest interns push themselves, as well as others, to produce the best work possible.” 

Ask questions. The Post Consumer Brands interns had an on-site visit last January. During this visit, their CEO advised them to always ask questions. Kari echoed this when speaking with me. She wants interns to “constantly ask questions and not be afraid to.” She empathizes with the interns stating, “We are all learning from each other. We get it. We were once in your shoes.” 

Be flexible. Especially during virtual internships, Kari encourages interns to be flexible and understand conditions may change. We are all navigating uncharted territory. Bring an open mind to everything you do. 

Kari did a phenomenal job breaking down the entire cycle of searching and securing an internship with a corporate company. Hopefully moving forward, you are able to use this post as a roadmap to securing your dream job or internship.

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Kate Sade

Creating Comebacks Through Setbacks

By: Paying

One month ago, I wrote a blog post on how excited I was to complete my Career Planning Process. I was excited to use all I have learned in the past four years at my new summer internship that would start in June. Another opportunity I looked forward to was a Publishing Internship Fair that would have multiple employers seeking future interns for their programs which I wanted for the following fall and spring after my summer internship. Once Summer 2021 comes along, my goal was to apply for and get accepted into Penguin Random House’s Editorial Internship Position which would help segway into a career there. This was my plan after graduation in May 2020.

image: snowy mountain peak with blue sky above 
text: creating comebacks through setbacks

Two weeks ago, the Publishing Internship Fair was cancelled. I lost the chance to speak with the employers there who were seeking interns. I lost the opportunity to introduce myself and share my interest in their companies and my career goal of becoming an editor.

Three days ago, I received an email from my supervisor at the summer internship, it had been cancelled. Although the reasonings behind it were very understandable, I still felt discouraged and soon began to have doubts about my career plan with so many lost opportunities and chances at gaining experience.

‘What am I supposed to do now?’

‘I shared the news of my acceptance with everyone so how am I going to be able to say I’m no longer going to be an editorial intern?’

‘I don’t want to go back to square one, can I just give up?’

The uncertainty of my future worried me and I couldn’t gather my thoughts well enough to respond to the email I just received. 

‘Should I reply?’

‘What would I say?’

‘What could I say?’

I could still thank them for the opportunity. I could reply in a positive way because it must’ve been a tough decision. I could turn this setback into a comeback.

After a few hours having a meltdown, I came back to my senses and realized all the opportunities I lost were still in reach. I can still email the employers who were listed to attend the fair and ask about open positions/internships. I can still apply to various positions already posted online. I can still keep my connection with my summer internship employer and mention that I am still interested in future opportunities. 

After those realizations, I came to a conclusion that this year of delays could instead be a year of preparation and connecting, which may benefit my future in the long run.

After receiving a reply to my email, I felt like I had started my comeback already. During a tough time in one’s life along with everything going on in the world, it’s important to stick together and try to seek the good things in all the bad. 

When something doesn’t go your way and causes setbacks as well as doubts, it’s up to you to decide how you’re going to use that to create another version of your planned future. Will you let these obstacles affect your motivation and drive negatively or will you use this to move you forward in a new direction to the same goal? 

Robert Cheeke once said, “Sometimes small setbacks are just blessings in disguise. They enhance your determination and whole-hearted dedication to achieving your goals.”

Of Possible Interest:
Internships; Job Search – all our blog posts on the topics
Ace the Job Search; Turn Your Major Into a Career – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources

Read Paying’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Mads Schmidt Rassmussen

Tips for Attending Your First Job Fair – After the Fair

By: Kendra

Here’s part 3 of my tips for attending your first job fair (if you haven’t yet, check out Prepare & At the Fair). Just before spring break, I attended the Spring Head of the Lakes Job & Internship Fair, my very first fair I attended where I spoke to employers for my own personal reasons (instead of just working at it).

I want to preface by saying that I did not attend the fair with the goal of scoring a job or internship. Rather, I was looking to learn more about accounting internships and firms in the area. My goal was to learn, which I definitely achieved!

Image: young woman in suit jacket talking to people
Text: Tips for attending your first job fair - after the fair

Here are my tips for what to do after you’ve the job fair.

Connect with employers.
This is something that I did not know before attending the fair. Employers I spoke with asked me to connect with them on LinkedIn, so of course I did. This is another way for employers to contact you later if they wish to. You can also connect with employers you spoke with by emailing them. Almost everyone I spoke with gave me their business card, so I used that to email them. Because I wasn’t seeking a position, I just thanked the recruiters for speaking with me and gave them my contact information for the future. 

Collect your thoughts.
Job fairs can be overwhelming! Talking to recruiters all day and learning so much about several different companies is a lot, so I spent some time reflecting after the fair. I had notes from talking with each employer and I later elaborated on my notes. I wrote what I learned, what I liked/disliked about each company I spoke with, and any specific information they gave me such as how to apply for their internships, etc. I have these papers saved so that I can reference them in the future when I actually need an internship. 

As a student who attended a fair strictly to learn more, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to start going to job fairs before you are actively seeking a position. By going earlier, you familiarize yourself with the atmosphere and with talking to employers. You also get super valuable information by just putting yourself out there and speaking with people. 

I know that job fair season has come to an end for the year, but I still hope this gives you some advice that you can use to prepare for fairs in the future. A lot of preparation and thought goes into attending a job fair, so hopefully this helps you feel a little bit less overwhelmed when job fair season comes back around. As always, Career & Internship Services is more than happy to answer any further questions that you might have!

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

Read Kendra’s other posts

Photo Source: UMD Career & Internship Services

Tips for Attending Your First Job Fair – At the Fair

By: Kendra

Thanks for coming back! Check out my tips for preparing to attend your first job fair. Here’s a quick recap about my situation. Just before spring break, I attended the Spring Head of the Lakes Job & Internship Fair, which was hosted at UWS. As you might know, my job in Career & Internship Services is employer relations, so I do a great deal of behind the scenes work for our job fairs. So, yes, I have been to job fairs before, but I was always working at them — never actually speaking to employers for my own personal reasons. Just a few weeks ago was my first experience doing this, so I figured I would share what I learned!

I want to preface by saying that I did not attend the fair with the goal of scoring a job or internship. Rather, I was looking to learn more about accounting internships and firms in the area. My goal was to learn, which I definitely achieved!

Image: young woman in suit jacket talking to people
Text: Tips for attending your first job fair - at the fair

Here are my tips for when you’re at the fair.

Get a map.
Checking out the map of the fair should be one of the first things you do after you’ve gotten to the fair and checked in. Take a walk through the fair space to get a feel for it. Then, find somewhere to sit and locate the employers you want to speak with on the map. I did this at the fair I attended and it helped me feel less overwhelmed and lost in the space. 

Review your notes.
Before speaking to an employer, review your notes on that specific company. This will refresh your memory of what it is they do, as well as the questions you have for them. 

Be confident!
When approaching employers, just be yourself and be confident. If there is one thing I have learned by working in employer relations, it’s that recruiters are people just like you and I. They have been in our shoes before, so they know how nerve-wracking it can be to attend a job fair. They are there to help, so don’t be afraid! Remember to give the recruiter you’re speaking with a good handshake and make eye contact with them throughout the conversation. Be engaged and be yourself and you’ll do great! 

Offer your resume to employers.
You brought them for a reason, might as well hand them out! Giving an employer your resume helps them remember you and gives them the availability to contact you if they wish to. This interaction completely depends on the employer. Some will ask for your resume, but you’ll need to offer it to other employers. I found that resumes came up in conversation with many of the employers I spoke with, so that was when I offered mine. With that being said, some employers do not accept resumes at fairs. Don’t be offended by this — it’s not you, it’s just what their company does.

Check out the next part of this series – After the Fair

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

Read Kendra’s other posts

Photo Source: UMD Career & Internship Services

Tips for Attending Your First Job Fair – Prepare

By: Kendra

Just before spring break, I attended the Spring Head of the Lakes Job & Internship Fair, which was hosted at UWS. As you might know, my job in Career & Internship Services is employer relations, so I do a great deal of behind the scenes work for our job fairs. So, yes, I have been to job fairs before, but I was always working at them — never actually speaking to employers for my own personal reasons. Just a few weeks ago was my first experience doing this, so I figured I would share what I learned!

I want to preface by saying that I did not attend the fair with the goal of scoring a job or internship. Rather, I was looking to learn more about accounting internships and firms in the area. My goal was to learn, which I definitely achieved!

Image: Young woman in suit jacket talking people
Text: Tips for attending your first job fair - prepare

Here are my tips to help you PREPARE for attending your first job fair.

Identify your purpose.
Going to a job and internship fair to learn more and connect with people is different than going to secure a position for the summer or following year. Before you go to the fair, you should know what your purpose in attending is, as that will help you best prepare for it. 

Research the fair to get a feel for the types of employers that will be in attendance.
Oftentimes, fairs are designed to attract certain students. For example, at UMD, we host E-Fest and STEM that are centered around science, technology, engineering, and mathematics students. Head of the Lakes (both fall and spring) are much more general — there is something for everyone!

Research specific employers you want to talk to.
Know a few things about each employer you might speak with, such as their industry, their location, and the general nature of their work. You do not need to know everything — that is what questions are for! I made a Google document with my notes compiled about the companies I was interested in speaking with. I had bullet points with very basic information about each company and then I also included a question or two I wanted to ask each specific employer. It doesn’t have to be super detailed. 

Know what you are going to say when approaching employers.
Some people call this an elevator speech, but I find that term rather intimidating. Just think of it as an introduction of yourself. You want to show the employer who you are in a really short amount of time, so it is important to prepare for this. In my case, I was just looking to learn more about companies and their internship programs for accounting majors, so my introduction went something like this: 

“Hi! My name is Kendra and I am a sophomore at UMD. I recently changed my major to accounting and am looking to learn more about potential accounting internships for the future. I noticed _(company)_ has _(title of the program)__ internship, could you tell me a little bit more about that?” 

It is important to practice what you are going to say when approaching employers, but it is also critical that you not sound scripted. Try not to put so much pressure on this — just be yourself! 

Update your resume.
You will want to bring copies of your resume to the fair to give to employers even if you are not actively seeking a position, so updating it is a great idea. I had one of the Peer Educators in our office help me update mine to best suit the type of employers I would be speaking with at the fair. 

Dress professionally!
This does not mean you need to be uncomfortable or go on a shopping spree. Try to find something that you feel confident and comfortable in, as this will help you feel your best on the day of the fair. If you are in need of professional attire, check out Champ’s Closet at 245 Kirby Plaza. 

Come prepared!
Be sure you have everything you need when you are heading to a job fair. I recommend getting a padfolio to use at the fair. This will hold your resumes, a pen, and your notes about the companies, as well as serve as a place for you to write notes about the companies you speak with. I would also be sure to bring your UCard, as they are typically needed for registration.

Check out the next parts of this series: At the Fair & After the Fair

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

Read Kendra’s other posts

Photo Source: UMD Career & Internship Services

Inside Recruiter Advice from Techtronic Industries (TTi)

By: Amanda

Recently, we had Techtronic Industries (TTi) visit Career and Internship Services. I sat down with Hailey Franklin to learn more about the company, as well as what they look for in interviews and at job fairs. Hailey graduated from the Labovitz School of Business and Economics at UMD in the spring of 2019 with a major in Management Information Systems and a minor in Communication. She also has a variety of marketing experiences. Since graduation, Hailey has been working for TTi as a Territory Manager and a Field Sales Rep. 

Image: wood desk top with gray lamp
Text: Insider tips from a recruiter

At this point, you might be wondering who TTi is and what they do. TTi is an electronic tool distributor company. They primarily distribute through Home Depot, owning brands such as Milwaukee Electric Tool, Hoover, and Dirt Devil. TTi recently partnered with Walmart to launch a new brand. TTi plans to hire 700 December and May graduates, as well as 150 interns. Hailey shared that any area of study can apply for roles with the company. A few main areas include sales, management, marketing, product management, and supply chain.

Hailey’s top piece of advice when it comes to an elevator pitch is to keep it simple. “Make sure it goes full circle,” she advised. Essentially, she is looking for three things in your elevator pitch: What can you bring to the company, what you are looking for, and any questions you may have for the recruiter. An easy tip she had was to read the company bio over in Handshake. 

Woman and man standing together in front of a table.
Hailey and her fellow TTi recruiter at the recent Head of the Lakes Job & Internship Fair at UW-Superior.

Hailey shared that some of the best resumes she sees are ones with quantitative bullet points in the experience section. Additionally, make sure to deep dive into your experiences and illustrate skills from each you will bring to the position you are applying for. All in all, this is what Hailey had to say “Everything on your resume should help you stand out and highlight your wins. Be able to talk in-depth about every line on your resume in an interview and you will be fine!”

“Confidence is key, if you do not have confidence, any interviewer is going to see it.” Hailey shared when asked her top interview tip. She went on to expand upon this further, stating “Have high energy. High energy and positive energy individuals will almost always get a second-round interview.” Make sure to focus on what you are doing well right now to get yourself to the next position. Highlight your areas of opportunity. Hailey advises interviewees use the STAR method when answering questions. 

S – Situation: Explain the experience and your role in it. 
T – Task: What specifically were you trying to accomplish? 
A – Action: What did you do and why? What key skills or competencies were used? 
R – Result: Explain the impact of your actions, use quantitative results if possible. 

She added that at TTi they use STAR-LA. Here is what the additional letters stand for. 

L – Learned: Explain what you learned from the experience.
A – Apply: Describe how you will apply these results and learning in the future.

We learned a lot sitting down and talking with Hailey. We hope you did as well! Take this opportunity to learn from a recruiter’s perspective. 

Of Possible Interest:
Internships; Interviewing; Job Search – all our blog posts on these topics
Interview Like a Pro; Ace the Job Search – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo sources: Unsplash|Andrej Lisakov; UMD Career & Internship Services

What I Have Learned From a Year of Talking with Recruiters

By: Amanda

As some of you may know, I work for Career & Internship Services as the Communication Student Assistant. For the past year, I have attended over 8 job and internship fairs. Throughout these fairs I have connected with over 50 recruiters, asking them the burning questions that fair-goers are thinking, but are not able to ask. Today I will compile the top tips I have learned. 

Young woman standing on a platform.
Amanda working at the STEM Job & Internship Fair.

Ask employers about themselves. Numerous recruiters have shared that some of the best questions students ask are variations of “Can you tell me about your story and career path?” 

Make it an “elevator conversation,” rather than “elevator pitch.”  Avoid a long, drawn-out introduction. Instead, keep it conversational and light the entire time. Make sure to include your name, major, and year. Then go into what interests you most about the company and ask a question. There’s no need to ramble any further than this. 

Understand the roles the company is hiring for. One of the best things you can do before the fair is to research the positions your desired company is hiring for. Ask them if they have any tips for the application process. Ask specific questions about the role. Display a forward-thinking mindset and ask where career paths from the role can lead.

Start with the Handshake description. Oftentimes, GoldPASS powered by Handshake has a description of the company. This is a good starting place for doing research.

Go beyond the company website. Check out the company’s social media pages. Look for volunteer work or philanthropy they are doing. This is one way to show recruiters you are willing to go above and beyond!

back of young woman's head and she's holding a phone. you see on the screen what she's taking a picture of.
Amanda working at the UMN Job & Internship Fair.

Make your graduation year prominent on your resume. This will help the recruiter be able to easily see what opportunities they have available that best fit your needs. 

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. 

If the company is interviewing the day of or day after, talk to them early. Many recruiters at the fair have told us that they fill their interview slots within the first half of the fair. If you know a company is interviewing on-campus the day of or day after, go chat with them right away.

Look up company leaders. Look online to learn about senior leadership within the company. Try to see how they got to their current role in the company. 

Follow up. Take a business card when you are at the fair and make sure to follow up afterward. Send a quick note on LinkedIn or an email. Include a few details on your conversation, as well as any questions you might have for them. Thank them for their time at the fair. Maybe, if you are interested in learning more about their role, try to set up a time for an informational interview.

All and all, one of the most important keys to attending a fair is to be yourself. As cliche as it is, when you let your personality shine through, you are able to have a genuine conversation with an employer. I hope these 10 tips can help you navigate your next fair!

Of Possible Interest:
How to Navigate Job Fair “Dead Ends”
What Now?! A Simple Guide for After the Job Fair
Job Fairs – all our blog posts on the topic
Mastering the Career Fair – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo sources: UMD Career & Internship Services

Insider Tips from a Recruiter

By: Amanda

Last week we sat down with Amanda Goodman, Director of Talent Strategy at Northwestern Mutual in Duluth, and she cued us in on a few insider tips. Amanda graduated from the Labovitz School of Business and Economics at UMD in 2016 with a major in Organizational Management. Her experience in the field includes recruiting anywhere from seasoned adults to fresh graduates. Most recently, she began her role with Northwestern Mutual and has prominent on the UMD campus ever since. 

Just a few years ago, she was in the same shoes as us students: navigating fairs and trying to figure out what exactly she wanted to do after graduation. She broke down her advice into three main areas: interviews, resumes, and job fairs. 

Image: Amanda Headshot
Amanda Goodman, Northwestern Mutual


  • Dress up for your interview. This is your opportunity to make a good first impression. Plan your outfit the night before your interview so you are not scrambling. Make sure there are not any stains or wrinkles on your clothing.
  • Your interaction with the front desk receptionist matters. Arrive at your interview early. Once you arrive, be kind to the front desk receptionist. Oftentimes, the managers or people conducting the interview will ask the front desk receptionist what their impression of the candidate was. This simple interaction could make or break your interview, so be sure to be tactful and kind, no matter how nervous you feel.
  • Do your homework on the organization. Amanda said, for lack of a better phrase, “you need to creep on the company”. She went on to explain that “nowadays, looking at their job description is not enough”. Many companies post on their website who their senior leadership is. Take a look at that. Find out about events they hold, what their philanthropy looks like, and dig into their social media. Come into the interview showing that you fully understand the company, what they stand for, and what their vision is. In addition, prepare a few questions based on your findings. This will show that you care and help you to stand out from other candidates. 
  • Review your resume content. Amanda pointed out that some candidates will fill their resume to make them look more qualified than they actually are. This is something to never do. Be able to speak in-depth about every experience, bullet point, and position on your resume. Any experience on your resume is fair game for a recruiter to ask about, even if it happened several years ago. 
  • Do homework on yourself. Additionally, do some thinking about yourself before you go into the interview. Companies are more interested in who you are as a person than ever before. They want a taste of your personality. Be able to speak to what you like to do for fun. 
  • Be able to articulate what you want out of a company. One of Amanda’s favorite questions to ask is, “Put titles and industries aside if you could create the perfect internship, what does the culture look like?”. Think about aspects such as:
    • Future leadership opportunities
    • Philanthropy events
    • Whether you will work independently or on a team 
    • Is there paid time off to volunteer
    • Professional development opportunities 
  • Say thank you. As basic as this may sound, a simple thank you email or card can go a long way. Amanda mentioned that students who send a thoughtful thank you are almost always at the top of her list. 
Image: wooden desk with gray lamp
Text: Insider tips from a recruiter


  • The Elevator Pitch. Before you attend the fair, prep yourself. Do not think of the elevator pitch as a speech or presentation. Try to be conversational about it. Know the main ideas you want to get across and go from there. 
  • Formulate a few questions to ask them as well. Do research and ask about things you have found on the website to help yourself stand out. All and all Amanda wants you to know that “At the end of the day we are all people and we were all in your shoes before. The more you can be yourself and be authentic, the better you will feel. You are talking about you, make it fun!”


  • Simple Format. Amanda shared that most companies use an Applicant Tracking System for resumes. When you submit your resume online, the system tries to correct it so it is easier to read for the recruiter. Amanda suggested that you minimize the number of lines you have on your page, specifically columns. She said that oftentimes these resumes will come through the system so messy looking that they are barely able to read them. 
  • 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. She 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. This means so much more than a vague statement. 
  • Integrate skills. Whether you are making a specific skillset 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. 
  • Have your resume reviewed. Ask multiple sources to review your resume so changes are made from a holistic perspective. Start with a Career Counselor at Career & Internship Services to build a foundation. Then, ask a professor or advisor. From there, go to an industry professional in the area you aspire to work in. The more eyes you get on your resume, the better. 

Sitting down with Amanda Goodman was a great reminder for us that from job and internship fairs, to on a resume, to in the actual interview process, it is important to thoroughly prepare and evaluates your skillset. Amanda is more than willing to talk with students in the future about their career path, as well as Northwestern Mutual. Her email is She encourages students to reach out with any questions. 

Of Possible Interest:
Interviewing; Job Fairs, Resumes – all our blog posts on the topics
Ace the Job Search; Interview Like a Pro; Mastering the Career Fair – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo sources: Unsplash | Andrej Lisakov; Amanda Goodman

How to Navigate Job Fair “Dead Ends”

By: Rachel

You’ve polished up your resume, put on a professional outfit, and braved a job fair. You did your research, asked a few questions, and had what you thought was a good conversation. Sometimes a recruiter will say something that makes it seem you’ve run into a dead end.  In this post, we’ll talk about some of the most common ones, and how you can navigate them.

They won’t accept your resume.
Sometimes you’ll hear an employer say they won’t or can’t take your resume. This might make you feel like they aren’t interested in you as an applicant, or you’re already weeded out of a future applicant pool. It’s important to recognize just because an employer can’t take your resume doesn’t mean they don’t want to. Many companies aren’t able to accept resumes; this might be because of government funding agreements, HR processes, or security reasons. So if an employer says they can’t take a resume, don’t feel offended or disappointed! They might direct you to apply for a position online, and be sure to ask if you can take a business card so you can stay in touch. Following up by connecting with the employer on LinkedIn or sending an email can be a great way to continue the relationship.

Image: two female college students talking with employers at job fair table
Text: Navigating job fair "dead ends"

They just direct you to apply online.
It can be frustrating to some fairgoers when employers all seem to direct you to apply online for positions. Part of the point of the job fair is to make an impression on the recruiters, but if they don’t take your resume and make you apply online, how will they remember you out of all the applicants? First off, don’t underestimate the impact of putting a face to the name for an employer. Recruiters are paying money to be present at this event, so when it comes time to evaluate the applicant pool, they are going to be looking for those who have made a positive impression. Again, this is where continuing the relationship with a connection through LinkedIn or email can be helpful. When you do apply online, you can reference the event and the specific recruiter you talked to in your cover letter.

The employer doesn’t have any positions I can apply for at this time.
You might run into this for a variety of reasons. Maybe you don’t currently meet their requirements, the timing doesn’t line up, or there aren’t current opportunities that align with your major.  When you run into these situations, keep in mind connections are never wasted. Don’t overlook the opportunity to forge a relationship that could bring a lot of value in the future. Try your best to share information of where you’re at in terms of major, timing, etc., as well as expressing your interest and the skills you have to make an impression on the representative. Also gather as much information as possible about positions that might open up in the future, skills to develop that would make you a stronger candidate, timelines to be aware of, and if there are any other colleagues you should contact for more information. Keeping in touch with the company is especially key if you run into this situation. Maintain relationships, and eventually the right time to join the organization might come along!

Hopefully this addresses some of the challenges you might encounter at a job fair. Keep in mind that what may seem like a dead end is usually an opportunity in disguise. When you’ve put in the work to prepare for a job fair, take advantage of all it has to offer!

Best, Rachel

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

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo Source: UMD Career & Internship Services

Connecting Experiences for the Interview

By: Amanda

A common concern I hear from students when they visit the career office is that they do not have enough experience for the role they want to apply for. This is a valid concern. Maybe you are a freshman who has not yet had the opportunity to join student groups or gain work experience. In this case, you should make a plan to assess what skills you want to develop and from there get involved. Most of the time, inexperience is not the issue – the inability to frame experience in the context of an application and interview is. In this post, I will break down simple action steps to showcase your best self to potential employers in an interview setting. 

Before you go to an interview it is important to do a thorough run-through of the experiences and skills you have. Here is a break down of the steps you can take to analyze these skills.

  • List out past experiences. Make a list of all of the past job, volunteer, and student organization experiences you have had and what you have done in those roles. Include all the tasks and skills learned.
  • Even think about entry-level roles. There are many transferable skills (communication, leadership, teamwork, etc.) that can be applied to the position you’re applying for. 
  • Connect experiences to the desired role. Once you have a list compiled, print out the job posting for the role that you are interviewing for. Go through and connect your experiences and skills to specific lines on the job description. 
  • Practice speaking out loud. Find a space where you are alone. Take time to actually practice how you will speak about your experiences. Practice is the key to sounding confident in your interview!
  • Go over common interview questions. Many interview questions start with the phrase, “tell me about a time when…”. Find a few questions like this online and be able to answer them while pulling in your experiences and qualifications. 
Image: wood desk top with green plant, blue typewriter, and brown notebook.
Text: connecting experiences for the interview

During the interview, put everything you have practiced to good use. If you put in time and effort to synthesize your experiences, you’ll be better prepared to handle whatever questions come your way. 

  • Be familiar with your resume. I have walked into numerous interviews where they have marked my resume up with tons of questions beforehand. Be able to speak about every point on your resume. In addition, be able to add more detail and tell the stories behind the points on your resume. You want to paint a picture in the interviewer’s head of what you were actually doing. 
  • Feel confident and know you are qualified. Given you prepared as we discussed in the previous section, you should feel confident about the experience you bring to the table. Sit tall and confident. Speak in a confident manner. Smile while you speak. These simple actions can go a long way. Amy Cuddy gave a great TED Talk about the importance of body language and we highly recommend it.
  • Talk about a variety of experiences. Be aware of the tendency to continue to elaborate on the same experience. Try to show diversity with the experiences you talk about, rather than highlighting the same couple experiences the entire time. This can showcase how you use different skills in a variety of environments.
  • Experiences not on resume. Resumes are often limited to one page. There might be class projects, volunteer work, or even job experiences that are not featured. It is okay to pull these into an interview. This gives the interviewer a full picture of your experience beyond your resume. 

After the interview, it is important to send a follow-up email or note. Here is are a few tips for tying in your skills.

  • Highlight something you did not get a chance to discuss. If you leave the interview and realize you did not mention something in your interview that would be important for their decision, add one or two lines in your thank you. 
  • The “3 things” rule. One of my personal strategies is to have one sentence where I say something along the lines of, “If you remember anything about me, I hope you can remember these three points: (insert points here).” It is human psychology that people are more likely to remember things in groups of threes, so this really does the trick. 
  • Keep it short and concise. All and all, you want to keep your thank you short. Say enough to get your point across, but do not let yourself ramble.

Before, during and after and interview are all critical times to tie in previous experiences. By thoroughly preparing, and then being able to execute and follow up, you can be sure to do well in your next application process.

Of Possible Interest:
• You can schedule a mock interview with a career counselor in SCC 22.
Interviewing – all our blog posts on the topic
Interview Like a Pro – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources
Learning Outside the Classroom posts

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Annie Spratt