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

Career Advice for College Graduates

By: McKenzie

How exciting! You’ve made it through your college education and while you may be continuing into a graduate program you are still wondering, “what should I do now?” Here is some simple advice for navigating the waters of entering your career field.

Stay Positive
Entering the workforce can be a very intimidating experience and if you aren’t finding jobs right off the bat that’s okay! Many students struggle to enter a job within their chosen career path when they first start looking. It may not be easy entering this next stage in life so maintaining a positive outlook can help carry you through the mucky experience.

Know What You Want
Graduating college can be a very stressful experience for anyone who is unsure what they are looking for in a job. During interviews and at job fairs potential employers are looking for candidates with an idea of their direction in their field. Think to yourself, “where would I like to be in 5 years?” and start looking for work that will get you there.

Career Advice for College Graduates

Reach Out
Now is a great time to start contacting people within your networks and seeing what opportunities are available. If you do not know anyone within your field, then it’s time to do some research. There are a lot of professionals who are willing to talk about themselves, so try reaching out and asking if they would be interested in an informational interview. Your connections can take you far.

Get Involved & Stay Involved
Were you involved in college? Keep that going! If you were not, then now is a great time to start. Our passions can help show employers there is more to us than meets the eye. Being involved is a great resume and network booster! You never know who could be your next reference.

Research Before Interviews
Companies like candidates who are interested in them. Often times applicants lose themselves in the process of applying for a job and they are not prepared for their interviews. If you do not know anything about a company hiring you then how would you know they are the right fit? The company may not align with your values. You also might not be ready when they ask you a question you could have known the answer to with quick Google search.

Of Possible Interest:

Read McKenzie’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Joshua Sortino


Peering Into the Crystal Ball, Part 1

By: David

As I finish up my final year of undergrad, there are many things that I wish I could have done differently. Though I do not regret a thing, if I had the opportunity to redo parts of my undergraduate experience, I definitely would.  So come hither thy crystal ball and peek into my moments (excuse my random instant of Old English). Anyways, with each experience that I relive I will also follow up with ideas on moving forward so that these instances don’t become long-lived regrets (hopefully!). Also, in shortening the post I have decided to split this topic into two different posts. Enjoy!


Like many students that I’ve interacted with or know, the biggest thing I wish I could redo are my academics. Rewinding back to my younger years I had an abundance of fun indeed, but now as a senior looking into graduate school I wish would have at least tried a little harder. Granted, my academics aren’t in the hole, but of course, they can always be better. Whether it’s studying a little harder for an exam, putting the extra work for extra credit, taking less naps in between papers, or skipping out on hangouts with friends to work on an assignment, I do look back and wish I would have made productive decisions to benefit me now.

Despite not being happy with my grades in my early years of undergrad, I still have some time to make up for it. Moving forward, I am committed as ever to bring my GPA up for grad school purposes. Two semesters does not seem like a lot of room, but in the end it’s better to finish with a bang and leave UMD satisfied. And that’s what I intend to do through precise prioritizing and time management (which have never been my greatest strengths). In the long-run, this will be something that I will come back to should I restart on my academics (graduate school).

Declaring A Different Major  

Reflecting back, if I could declare my second major I would do so differently. Currently, I am a double major in Communication and Psychology, but if I could, I would have declared in Communication and Sociology. By all means, I appreciate and still love my Psych degree, but through my experiences being a student leader I have grown a lot in being politically and socially aware of topics and issues facing our society. It wasn’t until my senior year where I became invested in topics related to social justice, equality, and equity. I believe I would have gotten to the point where I wanted to be mentally and intellectually (which is now) a lot sooner had I taken more courses related to race, society, and identity.

Moving forward, though I didn’t get the chance to educate myself more on social topics and issues in the classroom I know there will always be opportunities to do this: reading books, attending conferences/workshops, undergo training, etc. Ultimately, whatever career path I take I would like to incorporate these aspects into my career.


This sums up the first half of my insights and reflection of what I wish I could have done differently throughout my undergrad. Come back and check out the second half of my “crystal ball” moments soon in the future. Until then, stay warm, stay safe, and stay gold!

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#BulldogOnTheJob: Jennie

Editor’s Note: We’re trying something new this year. We are interviewing various UMD Alumni about how their experiences at UMD have impacted their professional lives. They will also be giving their advice for being successful out there in the real world.

Name: Jennie Lennick
Major: BFA in Studio Art with Drawing, Painting, and Printmaking Emphasis
Minors: Photography and Art History
Grad Date: 2009

Organization: Jenny Lemons
Title: Owner, Designer, and Maker
Brief synopsis of what you do: I design and sew hand made, block printed, and hand painted women’s clothing and home goods that feature repetitive food motifs. All of my products are made from natural and organic fabrics. I sell my goods online, in stores, and at craft fairs. I also teach fiber art workshops all over the Bay Area [San Francisco, CA].


What were the jobs, opportunities, and/or classes you had that led to your current role?
When I was at UMD, I took a costume construction course through the Theatre department that really honed in my sewing skills. All of my print and painting classes taught me necessary techniques to make high quality images.

My teachers in the fine art department at UMD helped prepare me for graduate school at the San Francisco Art Institute. While at SFA, I was a teacher’s assistant for traditional and fiber-based sculpture classes. I graduated with a master’s degree in painting in 2012. Immediately upon graduation, I accepted a two and a half year residency at Root Division, a non-profit arts education institution which provides a subsidized studio in exchange for teaching art classes to adults and children.

All the while, I continued to show my artwork in galleries in San Francisco and Portland. During one art show I made a women’s top as an art piece and I got such positive feedback that I decided to make a small collection of women’s clothing. I showed my collection under the name Jenny Lemons at Renegade Craft Fair in 2015 and had great success.

In January this year, I took an intensive business-planning course through Renaissance Center for Entrepreneurship in San Francisco to develop Jenny Lemons further. The course helped me write a business plan and figure out my finances. Since then my business has been growing exponentially!

Jenny Lemons Portrait

What were some of the lessons you learned while on-campus at UMD you’ve incorporated into your professional life?
When I was at UMD, I worked at KUMD as the music director for college radio and was active in the Art Guild. These two organizations taught me leadership roles and how to work as a team. I also learned the importance of community, networking, and being friendly. People want to work with nice, thoughtful people!

What do you know now that you wish you’d known prior to entering your role/field?
I see myself as a seamstress and an artist, not a fashion designer. I wish I took a few fashion design or business classes in college to speed up my learning curve. My network helps fill in the gap in my industry knowledge.


What career advice do you have for students wishing to enter your field?
Figure out what your vision is and what makes it different than anyone else. If you don’t understand something about your field, take a course or find someone who can help you! Your networks and colleagues will help. Get an internship at a business similar to the one you want to work at.

Anything else you want to add about your time at UMD, or since, that greatly impacted where you are now?
I loved UMD! While I was there, I took advantage of every opportunity I could.

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Photo Source: Jennie Lennick

#BulldogOnTheJob: Lauren

Editor’s Note: We’re trying something new this year. We are interviewing various UMD Alumni about how their experiences at UMD have impacted their professional lives. They will also be giving their advice for being successful out there in the real world.

Name: Lauren Atkinson
Major: Mathematics
Minor: English
Grad Date: May 2011

Organization: Anoka-Ramsey Community College
Title: Academic Support Center Coordinator
What you do: I coordinate all of the tutoring services for our largest tutoring center. This position provides leadership, direction, coordination, and supervision of daily operations within the Academic Support Center. I focus on developing and coordinating a peer tutoring/supplemental instruction program and provide support for academic disciplines.  I recruit, hire, train, oversee, and evaluate student tutors. My position supports the efforts to educate and advocate for diverse populations and create an environment of inclusiveness and respect for all people.

Atkinson Alumi Photo

What were the jobs, opportunities, and/or classes you had that led to your current role? 
I worked in the UMD Tutoring Center for three years as both a math and writing tutor. This opportunity gave me the skills to earn the Master Tutor Certificate from the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA) which helped me land my first position as a Professional Math Tutor after college. I also completed the Kirby Leadership Certificate while attending UMD which allowed me to see the value in leadership and learn the skills to be an effective leader.

What were some of the lessons you learned while on-campus at UMD you’ve incorporated into your professional life?
Everyone has a story and has fought just as hard to be where they are as you have. I learned empathy through various roles at UMD and try and incorporate empathy into my role each day. The student workers I supervise need to feel supported, especially some of those students who have overcome a lot of barriers to even attend college. Through empathy, I can support my student workers, which in turn can help them support the students who visit our center for tutoring.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known prior to entering your role/field?
While GPA might matter for certain majors/career paths, for some of the more broad degrees, it matters much more to have experience on your resume (thankfully, I worked and volunteered while attending college, so I had experience to add to my resume)! Gain experience any way that you can. Work part-time, intern, volunteer, and then use these experiences to show a future employer what additional skills you learned outside of the classroom. Some of the best experiences might not have a direct correlation to your degree or career path, but can teach you additional leadership, management, or “soft” skills that you will need to showcase during an interview to help you stand out as a candidate for a job.

What career advice do you have for students wishing to enter your field?
Higher education is full of passion, but can be exhausting. There are many functional areas that require long hours, do not pay all that well, and make it hard to find a work-life balance. While exhausting, it is also very rewarding. If you are thinking of working in higher education, start thinking of obtaining an advanced degree. Many of our entry-level positions do not list an advanced degree, but with heavy competition to get into our field, you must have a Master’s degree or even a Ph.D. or Ed.D. to be granted an interview. Thankfully many advanced degree programs offer courses or entire programs online so you can try and get a foot in the door with an institution, while also working on an advanced degree.

Anything else you want to add about your time at UMD, or since, that greatly impacted where you are now?
Since leaving UMD I have obtained my Master of Science in Education degree from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with an emphasis in Student Affairs Administration. While I was able to obtain my entry level position because of my background in math and tutoring experience, in order to move up within the higher education system, I was forced to get an advanced degree to help my resume stand out. This is not always the case, but due to heavy competition, I was forced back to school. I am so thankful for the broad skills that UMD gave me because it did make a strong foundation when I started my Masters program. UMD also showed me that a career in higher education/student affairs was something that I actually wanted to do!

Read other #BulldogOnTheJob posts

Interested in Anoka-Ramsey Community College? You can check out their employment page for more information.

#BulldogOnTheJob: Cassie

Editor’s Note: We’re trying something new this year. We are interviewing various UMD Alumni about how their experiences at UMD have impacted their professional lives. They will also be giving their advice for being successful out there in the real world.

Name: Cassie Thielen
Major: Mathematics
Minor: Retail Marketing Analytics
Grad Year: December 2015

Cassie at the HanesBrands HQ in North Carolina.

Organization: HanesBrands, Inc
Title: Analytics Technologist I
What you do: In my role I pull data, clean it, and analyze seasonality/trends for the purpose of analyzing our promotional activity and its effectiveness.

What were the jobs, opportunities, and/or classes you had that led to your current role?
Being a part of the Retail Marketing Analytics Program (ReMAP) helped me get my current job. We completed several case studies in that program that really prepared me to be able to present effectively and analyze large sets of data in a smart way and not to be overwhelmed by it.

What were some of the lessons you learned while on-campus at UMD you’ve incorporated into your professional life?
I worked a lot with the Office for Students in Transition during my time at UMD and brought a lot of what I learned working in that office to my current position. I would teach incoming students about their transition from high school to college. Moving from college to the professional world is a different transition, but still an overall large transition. Since this is a transition you will go through some tough times before you really get settled into your role. I’ve learned to give everything more time in my position before I judge if I like it or not.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known prior to entering your role/field?
TIMELINES! I have the hardest time creating timelines for my projects because in college a timeline was GIVEN to you. A project in college had its check points with the professor and there was even a due date! So practice making your own timelines when you get the chance.

Cassie Quote

What career advice do you have for students wishing to enter your field?
There is a lot of data in my field. And that data isn’t going to be right all the time and there will be times where you will have to spend time investigating data and where it’s coming from. Double check your data before you really dive into an analysis! I didn’t do that once and I was RUSHING to get my analysis completed by the time I had to present it.

You also are new at this, it’s okay if you make mistakes. BUT learn from them!

Anything else you want to add about your time at UMD, or since, that greatly impacted where you are now?
My time at UMD was not solely focused on my studies. I was a good student but I also saw the benefit of making connections with staff and faculty. I made connections at UMD that have traveled into my professional career. I graduated UMD with a handful of strong mentors who I can ask all sorts of questions about my career, as well as my personal life. Grades are important but connections you make during your time at UMD also have a great impact.

Interested in HanesBrands? Check out their career page for opportunities.

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Whitney’s Farewell Advice

By: Whitney

Hello everyone! This is my final blog post for this amazing office! Unlike many others who are writing farewell posts, I am not quite to graduation yet. I still have one more eventful year of student teaching in front of me, and I am sure that 1st grade will keep me busy! Duluth has treated me well over the past four years and while I am very excited to continue my journey in other places, I am also a little sad. I am especially sad when I begin to think of leaving my family here at Career & Internship Services.

I came to this office as a nervous freshman interviewing for a job that I never thought I would get, and I am leaving a confident, well-rounded individual. Without this office, I am not totally positive I would have made it through college. I felt really lost when I went to change my major and was on the verge of giving up. Although I still don’t know that I have my future path totally together, I know that it’s going to be okay and that things will turn out just fine. Thanks to the support I found in this office, I got into a study strategies class that I eventually became a teaching assistant for, switched my major, discovered my strengths, and explored new career opportunities.

As far as advice goes, there is so much advice I want to give but so much you need to just experience on your own. Here are a few tips that have helped me get through.

Find a support system. College is hard. There are going to be times where you want to throw in the towel and you wonder if all of this is ever going to be worth it. Finding a support system whether it is a solid group of friends, a significant other, family, or co-workers can make the ride a lot easier, not to mention way more enjoyable! Having someone to share the hard times with makes the workload bearable, but having someone to share the happy times with makes even small accomplishments feel like you can do anything!

Take time for yourself. I know it can be hard to find time for yourself when you have classes, papers, exams, and work, but finding that time is essential. The money will work itself out and somehow everything eventually gets done (even if you aren’t really sure how). Taking time for yourself can help you feel rejuvenated, more productive, and happier. When you are happy you will produce better work. I do not regret not getting a better grade in chemistry or not doing as well on a paper as planned, but I do regret not taking more time to have fun and taking time for myself.

My final piece of advice is start building your resume as soon as possible. It is NEVER too early! Having experience in the end is what will help you get noticed by employers. Even simply joining a club in your field and being involved in that club can help connect you with people in the field and gain experience. Even if you don’t get experience in your field, having experiences that build on transferrable skills can be huge when it comes to finding a job.

As I end this post I can only think to share this quote from Mandy Hale: “You don’t always need a plan. Sometimes you just need to breathe, trust, let go and see what happens.”

Good luck in all of your future endeavors and farewell!

Read Whitney’s other posts

10 Pieces of Advice for the Class of 2014

By: Ashlee

A few weekends ago was a bittersweet reminder that a mere three years ago, it was me walking across the commencement stage at AMSOIL Arena, shaking Chancellor’s hand, accepting my “diploma”, and putting a final bookend on my years as an undergrad at UMD.

A lot has changed since then.

This class was especially hard for me to watch graduate. Many students graduating from the Class of 2014 theater program had been freshman when I was in my final year. They, my friends and cast mates, have grown up, and it was great watching them celebrate their latest accomplishment.

Graduation Mickey

Most of all, it reminded me of how exhilarating and terrifying this thing called “the real world” was. No more set schedule. No more assignments and tests. No more textbooks where I could look up a correct answer. Since then, I’ve learned a few things that I wish someone had whispered into my ear shortly before the anxiety of life after college set in.

While I can’t whisper in every one’s ear, I can share them here with you:

  1. Don’t be in a rush. Right out of college is the time to fulfill those crazy dreams that will be 100x harder once you’re married, have a family, or settle into a dedicated company position. Always wanted to work on a ranch in Wyoming or help third-world farmers in Peru? Do it now.
  2. Travel, travel, travel! Pick a destination, save up a few bucks, and go! Once you’re working a full-time job, it takes time to accrue paid time off. It’s harder to pick up and leave for even a two-day trip when you’re expected back in the office Monday morning right at 8 a.m. Don’t forget those friendly student loan payments that will soon be knocking on your front door!
  3. Use your Student ID when and where you still can. A discount is still a discount. Five cents off per gallon at the gas station? Five dollar movie tickets on Thursday’s? It still feels great, college student or not.
  4. Pick up a newspaper. More accurately, scan the main headlines on your phone in the morning before heading out the door. Knowing current events and other big news items comes in handy when meeting new people, both at work and in social settings.
  5. Keep in contact with college connections. Remember that internship you held the summer after sophomore year? Your favorite college professor? They might be able to help you in your job search. Shoot’em an email, give’em a quick call. Let them know what you’ve been up to and the type of work you’re looking into with your job search. They have connections and networks, too.
  6. Revisit favorite Duluth places. Whether you’re moving three days after graduation or plan to hang around for a bit, revisit those favorite places you’ve discovered over the past 4 years. Enger Tower, the Lakewalk, your “spot” on Park Point beach…Duluth is a pretty special place and is one-of-a-kind.
  7. Push to keep learning. You may have the degree, but that doesn’t mean your skill sets and knowledge should stop growing. Love graphic design, but didn’t have the time for it in college? Look into community college classes. Dreams of opening your own business? Research MBA programs. Don’t become complacent. Keep reaching higher!
  8. Hobbies outside of work are a GOOD thing. Find groups, clubs, anything that matches your interests and dive on in. Audition for the next community theater production; join the gym’s running club. Whatever it is, do it. Life after college shouldn’t be all work and no play.
  9. Call mom and dad. You might not live under their roof or under their rules anymore, but they still want to hear what you’re up to. Give’em a call and let them know you’re doing okay.
  10. Faced with a tough decision? Make the choice that will make a better story.

Congratulations to the Class of 2014. Whatever you pursue, it’s going to be great. Times will be tough, but you’ll make it. College was great, and what lies ahead is going to be even better.

Read Ashlee’s other posts

Finding the Best Advice

By: Taylor

In a recent blog post, I talked about a channel I follow on LinkedIn. Recently, I have found another page that I highly recommend for a daily dose of inspiration: Best Advice. The page consists of many professionals writing a short column with their most sought after advice. Each writer comes from a different company, a different part of the world, and also has gathered their knowledge from a vast amount of places. Here are some of recent articles posted to the page:

  • Removing Toxic People From Your Life
  • Will a Closed Mind Destroy Your Future?
  • The Most Important Ingredient for Success
  • Where Confidence Comes From
  • Best Advice: You Can’t Be Everything to Everybody

These are just a few of the many articles available. Good advice can take you a long ways and it is always good to get a diverse viewpoint on what can help you be successful. The link for this page is here.

If you are interested in pages like these there are many more out there. LinkedIn has channels for every type of professional and topic issue. Some examples include: Finance and Banking, Leadership & Management, My Startup Story, and The Book That Changed Me. You can never gather enough advice or stop learning and this is a convenient way to get great information!

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