You Got a Job Offer! Now What?

By: Logan

We all know how long and grueling the job searching process is. You spend hours rewriting resumes and cover letters, reviewing multiple job posting websites nonstop, sending credentials out to potential employers, and attending interview after interview. But if you do it correctly, you will receive an offer. Congratulations! You better hurry and accept it right away before the offer is revoked, right? Wrong. There are still a few things to keep in mind even after you have been given an offer, and I will discuss these in this post.

After you receive a job offer you are allowed to have a little sigh of relief. It feels good to receive the offer, but there are still some things to consider. You may have gotten the job, but is it the right job for you? Be sure to remember you don’t have to accept the first offer you are given! Also, keep in mind you have been offered the job, but there are still some tests you must complete. These include things like reference checks, background checks, and drug tests. This is where it is crucial that you have reached out to your references and informed them they may receive a call from your potential employer. It will reflect on you poorly if your new employer calls one of your listed references and the person you wrote down is not expecting it at all. If the person is warned in advance they have the chance to think of things to say about you. It is also a common courtesy to inform them so they aren’t blindsided by the call. It would probably be a good idea to do this even before you are offered a job.

You got a job offer! Now what?

So you got the job offer, but is this the right fit? There are quite a few things to consider when deciding on a position. In my experience, I was offered four positions so I was forced to evaluate each job in every single detail. One thing to think about would be location. Do you prefer a large city or a smaller town? Do you want to live close to home or do you want to have some distance? Would you be willing to relocate across the country? These are all things I’m sure were considered while applying for the position, but it is a very important part of your final decision. Right fit can also mean company culture, training provided, and opportunity for advancement.

There are also many things to consider as far as compensation. When I was offered my positions I had an understanding of the salary and how the pay worked, but I knew little to nothing about insurance and benefits. So I decided to have my mom review all of the jobs’ benefits packages and insurance. She then broke it down for me and explained which job had the best overall compensation. This is where it is important to reach out to someone you trust if you don’t know a lot about the subject. If I didn’t ask around I could have made a poor decision based on compensation. If you don’t have a close adult or friend who knows a lot about these policies you can reach out to the UMD’s Career and Internship Services office, or your local career office. The counselors would be happy to review the information for you and provide you with thoughtful, unbiased information.

There are many things to keep in mind while deciding on a position and it is important to put them all into consideration. Be sure to reach out to trusted friends and family for assistance when needed, but overall it is your own decision to make. Review all of your options and go with the position you think you would be the happiest and most successful in.

Of Possible Interest

Read Logan’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | Breather

Proper Email Etiquette

By: McKenzie

The official form of communication between students and the University of Minnesota Duluth is email. The emails that you sent in high school to your teachers and peers may not cut it here because in the professional world email etiquette is essential.

Make the subject line clear and concise
Anyone receiving your email is going to judge it by the subject line. A lengthy, cluttered subject line has already lost the attention of the recipient before they have even begun reading your email. Keep it short and sweet.

Address the email recipient
When you directly address the email recipient they will know the email was intended for them. Doing this also engages their attention because they know you expect a response from them personally and prompts them to respond more hastily.

Keep it short
Generally speaking, most people don’t have a lot of time in their days. Keeping emails short allows you to quickly engage them before their mind wanders to the other tasks they need to complete. A lengthy email will likely get skimmed and disregarded.

Proper email etiquette

Appropriate salutations
Always consider your recipient. While your friend may expect you to end the email with your typical, “Peace out,” your employer may expect something more formal. There are very few office environments where you wouldn’t speak to your boss professionally, and even in those environments it may still be best to end the email formally.

Include a signature
At the end of an email you should include your signature. While some prefer to write this out, yours may be too long to write out every time. Luckily through your email provider you can program and save a signature that will automatically appear at the end of an email. Not only will this save you time, but you’ll also keep peace of mind knowing that all your information is correct.

Maintain formality
It never hurts to be too formal. Regardless of who the email recipient is, it is always better to be overly formal instead of informal because the email shapes the way the recipient perceives you. If the recipient responds and tells you that you can be more relaxed that is better than being told that you aren’t taking the conversation seriously.

Bonus tip
Don’t respond to an email while angry. If a situation is upsetting to you, take a few moments (or a day) before you respond. Stepping away from your email allows you to process the situation and formulate a more emotionally even response. Having someone else read your response before you send it can also help you keep emotions in check. Communicating in writing is very different than in-person and we don’t want you to inadvertently burn any bridges.

Read McKenzie’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | Alex Knight

How to Sound as Smart as You Are

By: Willow

Dear Blog Post Reader,

You are an incredibly smart and capable human being. You rock. You can do anything you set your mind to.

Keep calm and remember you are doing a great job.

Even though I know you’re super duper, sometimes it can be hard to make sure other people see that too, especially when they see you though a resume or application, so here are a few tips to help show everyone how wonderful you are.

Never say the word stuff.
Stuff doesn’t sound intelligent. There are so many other far better words that sound better; things, items, inventory, material, etc.

Don’t overuse the word like.
Leave the overuse of like in the, like, 90’s where it, like, belongs, like. Got it?

Use your resources.
There are a lot of good places you can go on campus to help you. Come to Career & Internship Services to make sure your resume highlights how smart you are, and to have a practice interview so you can articulate to employers how qualified you are. Go to the Writer’s Workshop at the Academic Writing & Learning Center and get help with your writing. Strong writing skills are essential to sounding your best. Have your friends or family read though things you write or look at projects you do, it always helps to get a second or third set of eyes on something to help catch mistakes you may have missed. You’re smart but you’re not perfect, you will make mistakes sometimes. Grammarly is a great resource to have installed on your computer and in your internet browser. It helps catch mistakes in email and other places you write.

If you’re going to use cliches or sayings, use them correctly.
People have differing opinions on cliches but personally, I love them if you use them correctly. I was recently having a conversation with a few people, during the approximately three minutes of conversation, one of the people used about five cliches, all incorrectly. It drove me crazy. She could have been telling me about the groundbreaking research she has been doing for years on cancer cells and all I would be able to think about is how she used old cliches incorrectly.

Sometimes it’s ok to not talk.
I struggle with this, I like to talk. But, sometimes it is better to listen, you might learn more and become even smarter.

You don’t have to use big words to sound intelligent.
Although it’s always fun to sprinkle in the occasional ubiquitously stupendous verb into the lexicon, there is no need to overdo it. Keep it simple. If you’re really set on using a big word, I recommend pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, the longest word in the English language, go big or go home my friends. (Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is “a pneumoconiosis caused by inhalation of very fine silicate or quartz dust, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, so if you are going to use it, use it correctly!) But really, only using massive words doesn’t automatically make you sound awesome, and often can make you sound pretentious.

Remember these tips, and be your best self! Good luck out there folks!

Read Willow’s other posts

The Benefit of On-Campus Jobs

By: Cassie

Jobs are such an important thing to have in college. They allow you to meet people with similar interests, they allow you to network, they teach you the value of work, and they pay you. These are all super important things for every college student. As you probably know, there are a million types of jobs out there, but I’m going to tell you why working on-campus is so beneficial to me.

I currently hold two jobs on campus in the Career and Internship Services office and at the Kirby Welcome Desk. Both of my jobs are front desk jobs so it is essential for me to be able to communicate, provide excellent customer service, and really know what’s going on around campus. I am super busy all the time but I love both of my on-campus positions and here is why!

Cassie at CIS Front Desk

The People
Working on campus has allowed me to meet so many people. These are people with similar goals, similar work ethics, and they are there to talk to for whatever I might need. These people are also a huge resource when it comes to things like advice, networking help, or just picking you up on a bad day. It is also helpful to have these people for things like clubs and getting involved in events on-campus.

The Environment
Working on campus is a great way to stay involved in campus life. I really know the ins and outs of what is going on most of the time. I also have been able to take advantage of the many resources campus has to offer because I am involved in most of them. I know so much more about my campus and show so much more pride in my school because I am so involved in it.

The Experience
Working on-campus has opened so many doors for me. It has taught me about who I really am and what my strengths are. It also has taught me the value of hard work and of taking pride in what you do. On top of these, it has also brought about so many networking opportunities and of course, I have great things to put on my resume.

What I’m trying to say is, take a look at working on-campus. You may think that you don’t qualify or that you won’t get the job but that isn’t always true. Take a shot and apply for some on-campus positions, because trust me they are so worth your time!

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Cassie’s other posts

5 Things I Learned “Off the Beaten Path”

By: Whitney

“Know that you can start late, look different, be uncertain and still succeed”
Misty Copeland

“What’s your major?” “What do you want to do with that?” “What year in school are you?” The age-old college questions asked by everyone. And if you are not tired of them yet, you might be by the end of your college career. Then there is the typical college advice about getting involved and resume builders. Even with all that, it can still be tough deciding what to do for majors/careers. During my senior year of high school I decided to scrap my life plan, which was to be an elementary school teacher. This threw me into serious uncertainty about seemingly everything. What was I going to do now, and how did I know it was a good decision? After I ran out of generals to take I still wasn’t sure. I ended up taking time off before transferring to UMD, as a psychology/communication double major. Recently, I read a 2014 post from Business Insider titled, “The Best Advice College Students Never Hear”, written by Maggie Zhang and it got me thinking about some of the more “obscure” things I’ve learned so far during college and the unconventional path I took.

Path in Forest

FOLLOW WHAT YOU’RE INTERESTED IN
If you are interested in a gazillion things like me this may be a tougher one. But if you are interested in something you do not need to put off learning about it. One of my roommates is a chemistry major with a theater minor. That may seem like a ‘weird’ combination to the outside observer, but they are both things she enjoys.

This idea also applies to decisions outside of choosing a major to choosing jobs and activities; in her post, Zhang also talks about building you, not your resume. I look at it like this, it’s important to build your resume (and get help constructing it), but a resume is also a document about you as a person. Are YOU excited to talk about what is on your resume? Gaining experience JUST because it looks good on a resume may not pay off in the end. Employers can tell when you are enthusiastic about what you have done and that speaks volumes in an interview.

MAKE THE MOST OF WHERE YOU ARE AT
Making the most of where you are at does not mean having to “do it all”. Like all seasons of life, college is a unique experience. By taking time off, I realized that college may be one of the last times traditional undergrads may be around people their age frequently. Zhang’s advice was to spend more time on your relationships than on your studies. While I do not know if I agree with that, I do agree that studies are equally as important as having quality relationships and experiences with friends. While this is a continual process, now is a great time to start figuring out a work-life balance that you can be satisfied with.

USE YOUR RESOURCES
This is one of the most important ones. Ask questions. Ask for help. If you don’t know something, say you don’t. There are so many resources available to us on a college campus to meet many diverse needs, why not use them. Don’t know what you want to major in? Talk to a career counselor, take a career and major exploration class. Unsure about entering the workforce? Get help writing your resume and/or practice interviewing. Advocating for yourself is a great skill to have at any part of life, and it’s a skill that can be built now. My best friend’s mom told me to ask myself “who has the information I need?” and go talk to them. If you are not sure, start with the best place you know to start.

GET TO KNOW YOURSELF
This applies to so many areas of life. The first time I remember realizing I didn’t know myself very well, was when I took an art class my senior year of high school. I was like a fish out of water and only would have considered myself an artist if drawing stick figures counted. By the end of the semester I discovered I was good at drawing and watercolor painting! So try new things even if you are not sure how it will go. One of the things I wish I would have done more is taken a range of diverse classes when completing my generals instead of sticking just to what I felt comfortable with.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT TO MOVE FORWARD
At the outset, I had never planned on studying psychology or communication. I hadn’t planned on interning for Career and Internship Services. I thought I wanted to work with kids all day every day. But I knew I enjoyed psychology and communication, and then I got the opportunity to peer mentor for transfer students, where I found I really liked helping students figure college out—now I’m the C&IS intern. In college and out, life unfolds from a series of smaller decisions. You don’t have to know everything to make a good decision. You know enough and it’s probably more than you think.

Above all:
know that you can start late, look different, be uncertain and still succeed
– Misty Copeland

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Whitney’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | Paul Jarvis

Mental Health Conditions and Workplace Accommodations

By: Alissa (Disability Specialist & Guest Author)

Editor’s Note: Today’s post continues the year-long collaboration we are doing with the Disability Resources office on the UMD Campus.

Today on the blog, we are going to talk about three more common mental health conditions and what might be some reasonable workplace accommodations for each of those. Did you know that approximately 61.5 million Americans, one in four adults, experience a mental health impairment in a given year (National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2013)? One in seventeen individuals lives with a serious mental health impairment, such as schizophrenia, major depression, or bipolar disorder (National Institute of Mental Health, 2013). We see many different kinds of mental health conditions working in disability and higher education, but a majority of the conditions we primarily work with would be students with anxiety, depression, and/or different mood disorders.

There are a number of different functional areas that these conditions can impact such as concentration, attendance, focus, organization, memory, sleep, stress, handling emotions, fatigue, and coworker interactions just to name a few. The next few pieces of information are found on the Job Accommodation Network website and include many of those different areas that people with mental health conditions could be impacted in and what accommodations would help to reduce those barriers if need be.

Mental Health Reasonable Accommodation Ideas:

Concentration:

  • Reduce distractions in the work area:
    • Provide space enclosures, sound absorption panels, or a private office
    • Allow for use of white noise or environmental sound machines
    • Allow the employee to listen to soothing music
    • Plan for uninterrupted work time
  • Increase natural lighting or provide full spectrum lighting
  • Allow flexible work environment:
    • Flexible scheduling
    • Modified break schedule
    • Work from home/Flexi-place
  • Divide large assignments into smaller tasks and goals

Memory:

  • Provide written as well as verbal instructions
  • Provide written checklists
  • Use a wall calendar
  • Use a daily or weekly task list
  • Provide verbal prompts and reminders
  • Use electronic organizers, handheld devices, and /or apps
  • Provide a mentor for daily guidance
  • Provide reminders of important deadlines via e-mails, memos, and weekly supervision

Organization:

  • Use daily, weekly, and monthly task lists
  • Use calendar with automated reminders to highlight meetings and deadlines
  • Use electronic organizers, mobile devices, and/or apps
  • Divide large assignments into smaller tasks and goals

Time Management / Completing Tasks:

  • Make daily TO-DO lists and check items off as they are completed
  • Provide organizational tools such as electronic schedulers, recorders, software organizers, calendars, watches, and apps
  • Divide large assignments into smaller tasks and steps
  • Schedule weekly meetings with supervisor, manager, or mentor to determine if goals are being met

Stress / Emotions:

  • Encourage use of stress management techniques to deal with frustration
  • Allow the presence of a support animal
  • Allow telephone calls during work hours to doctors and others for needed support
  • Use a mentor or supervisor to alert the employee when his/her behavior is becoming unprofessional or inappropriate
  • Assign a supervisor, manager, or mentor to answer the employee’s questions
  • Restructure job to include only essential functions during times of stress
  • Refer to counseling, employee assistance programs (EAP)
  • Provide backup coverage for when the employee needs to take breaks
  • Allow flexible work environment

Panic Attacks:

  • Allow the employee to take a break and go to a place where s/he feels comfortable to use relaxation techniques or contact a support person
  • Identify and remove environmental triggers such as particular smells or noises
  • Allow the presence of a support animal

Sleep Disturbances:

  • Allow for a flexible start time
  • Combine regularly scheduled short breaks into one longer break
  • Provide a place for the employee to sleep during break
  • Allow the employee to work one consistent schedule
  • Provide a device such as a Doze Alert or other alarms to keep the employee alert
  • Increase natural lighting or provide full spectrum lighting

Fatigue:

  • Allow flexible work environment:
  • Provide a goal-oriented workload
  • Reduce or eliminate physical exertion and workplace stress
  • Implement ergonomic workstation design

Attendance:

  • Allow flexible work environment:
  • Provide straight shift or permanent schedule
  • Allow the employee to make up the time missed
  • Modify attendance policy
    • Example: count one occurrence for all PTSD-related absences

Coworker Interaction:

  • Encourage the employee to walk away from frustrating situations and confrontations
  • Allow the employee to work from home part-time
  • Provide partitions or closed doors to allow for privacy
  • Provide disability awareness training to coworkers and supervisors

All in all, it is good rule of thumb to remember that people with mental health conditions or disabilities are just as capable of completing  tasks and doing an amazing job at whatever they may be working on – as there sometimes is stigma around these conditions due to lack of understanding, judgment, and being uneducated on the topic of mental health. If you are curious about learning more there are many great resources available to you on the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) website and Active Minds website about mental health conditions. Education, awareness, and understanding are key. We must not be afraid to talk openly about these conditions and encourage others to share their awesome stories. We all have something to say, so don’t be afraid to just simply listen.

Also read: #BulldogOnTheJob: Bri (she talks about experience with depression and anxiety and the impact those illnesses have on her professional life)

Read our other Disabilites in the Workplace posts.

First Time Experience at the Job Fair

By: Kimberly

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Time is ticking and every time the hand on my watch moved it seemed more surreal that in just a few minutes I would be at the job fair. In my right hand, I had a folder with twenty resumes I prepared to distribute to as many recruiters as possible and in my left hand, I held tightly onto hope. Hope for a variety of reasons; hopefully, I am successful today, hopefully, I land an internship, hopefully, I am different from the hundreds of other students and hope because I need it.

As I entered the building and quickly got myself signed-in, I made my name badge and wore it trying to contain the cold chills running through my hands. I had thousands of thoughts running through my mind such as, “What if I’m not as good as anyone else here?”, “What if I forget my elevator speech?”, “Don’t make a fool out of yourself!”, and it continued. Despite these thoughts, I managed to remind myself that like any other obstacles I had faced in life, I will conquer.

Immediately you could hear tons of voices from conversations between students and recruiters or students socializing among themselves. I quickly took a second to negotiate a deal with myself; I promised to stop stalling time after a quick tour of the entire job fair. During this tour, most of the of the recruiters I walked past were waving to students and welcoming them with a “hello,” and some even tried to engage in a conversation with you to attract you towards their booth. Students were offering their resumes and portraying emotions of excitement, eagerness, and confidence. Towards the end of my tour, I realized many of these recruiters weren’t so scary after all and it was time to take initiative. I also recalled a great tip I received to help burn off my nerves, speak with an organization that I wasn’t interested in yet, I wouldn’t be nearly as disappointed if I failed miserably.

Overall, after several conversations, I learned that many recruiters were eager to speak with students and were most likely going to be alumni from yours or another familiar university/college. They were immensely interested in hearing about what I was currently involved in, where my passion was, and the reasons why I pursue what I do. In addition to recruiters sharing with me about their position and what they do for the organization, they were sharing great pieces of advice. For example, when to look out for internships within my area, who I could reach out to specifically, and what they had in store for students with my major.

Kimberly & Crew UMJF 17
Kimberly (2nd from left) and fellow UMD students at the University of Minnesota Job & Internship Fair.

After meeting with every organization on my list I ended my day at the fair by heading to the student lounge area for a brief evaluation of everything I accomplished. I reflected on each of the conversations I had while actively jotting down notes. Although it was hard to believe, I was quite surprised at how fast the day went by and at the number of recruiters I spoke with. It was a great feeling knowing I made some awesome connections with a few recruiters. I couldn’t wait to add them on LinkedIn or send them a follow-up email, sometime on Monday.

Now, let me remind you that I attended workshops to develop a good elevator speech/pitch, spent days working on improving my resume by getting it reviewed by others, and researched the organizations’ backgrounds prior to the job fair day. All this effort I put in prior to the fair prepared me with the skills and knowledge to engage in these conversations. If I had not spent that amount of effort and time into preparing I know my first-time experience at the fair would have been disappointing. I strongly recommend to anyone who is attending a job fair whether it’s your first time or not – you need to put in effort preparing yourself before going. Like the saying, “You only get out what you put in.”, although cliché it is very true. The second piece of advice I would offer is, speak with passion. Besides telling them what is already on your resume, give them something that showcases the “why” behind everything on your resume. Lastly, enjoy your time at the fair, it is a great way to also network with other students.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Kimberly’s other posts