We Only Part to Meet Again

By: Cody

The quote by John Gay as my title for this blog says it all. It finally happened, I finally graduated. I was even one of the fortunate ones to do it in four years. You would think with all the homework, tests, presentations and group work that these past four years would have seemed like an eternity. However, it’s quite the opposite.

These past four years have flown by fast. I even catch myself talking to friends about something like it happened just last semester but it actually happened two years ago. It all feels like one big blur and don’t get me wrong, it was a lot of work, but it was the best time of my life. This is why saying goodbye to UMD and Duluth was a bittersweet goodbye. It was where I met many of my best friends and got to work at one of the coolest places ever, Career Services! It was hard to say goodbye to UMD and Duluth but I am excited for the next chapter of my life to see where it brings me. I’m just along for the ride now.

For my last post I thought about telling sentimental stories about college. But then I thought that would make me sound like an old man remembering his glory days and 22 is just too young to be old. So instead I am going to leave you all with tips/tidbits/facts/words of wisdom that I have learned throughout my time at UMD. Hopefully you find some of them useful.

Tips/Tidbits/Facts/Words of Wisdom (in no particular order)

  • Don’t take your liberal education credits too lightly; they help build your GPA more than you think.
  • Live in the dorms for at least one year; it’s an experience that everyone needs
  • Join an intramural sport; curling was always my favorite! Even if you don’t do well, you get to spend time with friends and meet new people.
  • No matter how hard you try to stop your habit of procrastination, it will never go away. There will always be those late nights finishing a project that’s due the next day, it is part of the college experience.
  • Join a student organization.
  • Get an internship; they help you in your job search once you graduate.
  • Go swimming in Lake Superior, it is right there, so why not?
  • Eat at Burrito Union, especially after 9pm they have 2 tacos and a beer for $5!
  • Complaining about homework doesn’t actually get your homework done.
  • “Don’t let you major decide your career” – a piece of advice given to me by the Vice President of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage
  • Graduating in four years can be done!
  • No matter what the school tells you; having a car your freshman year has its benefits.
  • Don’t make teachers mad; they hold the power.
  • Find something you love to do and find a career doing that. Doing something you love makes the job much more enjoyable.
  • Sometimes living with your best friend is not the best idea.
  • Don’t get discouraged when applying to jobs if you keep getting rejected. Keep a positive attitude, something will come along.
  • Finally, visit Career Services! They are a great resource and are there to help!

These are just a few of the hundreds of tips/tidbits/facts/words of wisdom that I learned throughout my time at UMD and in Duluth.

So there it is, my final post. I hope you all have enjoyed my posts and good luck to everyone in their current or future careers!

Goodbye UMD and Duluth, I will be back, and, I have to say it, Go Bulldogs!

Read Cody’s other posts

Non-Competes (Employment Agreements)

By: Cody

Many of us seniors who are graduating next week are eager to find a job, including me. Most of us are so eager that we will take the first job that lands in our lap, without any real consideration. For an entry level job this usually is just fine. However, some jobs may require more consideration before accepting them.

A good example of this is when a job has a “non-compete.” A non-compete is an agreement between an employer and an employee. The agreement stops an employee from going to work with the employer’s customers, potential customers and competitors. This helps the employer protect their proprietary information and knowledge from being given to other companies. The non-compete has a specified time period. This time period is generally one year after the date that the employee leaves the company.

Non-competes

If an employee breaks a non-compete agreement, both the employee and their new employer can be sued for breach of contract. This can end up costing thousands to tens of thousands of dollars, so it is definitely something that you want to pay attention to. An employer can also threaten to stop working with your new employer until they fire you. So non-competes are serious business.

Some companies have buyout options for non-competes. This would require you to pay your employer a certain sum of money in order to “buy” your way out of the contract. However, these buyouts are often too expensive to afford or simply aren’t offered by the employer.

Most of you may not feel like an entry level position would require a non-compete. While it is true that most do not, I just so happened to interview with a job last week that would require a non-compete. I am taking this non-compete into great consideration before I make a decision about whether to work there or not (assuming I am offered the job, fingers crossed!). This company has a large market share of my career field. So if I do work for them, I would not be able to work with 60% of the companies in my field, if I decided to change jobs. So I have definitely been taking this into consideration while thinking about making my decision about the company.

This post is meant to get you to ask questions during your interviews to see if the prospective employer requires a non-compete. You can do this by asking if they have non-compete agreements, or employment agreements as they are sometimes called. If they do, make sure to get a copy of it before you accept the job and thoroughly read it and make an educated decision based off that. No one wants to be out of work for a year just because they didn’t review the non-compete before they signed it.

If you have any questions about non-competes stop by our office and talk to Mary. She may have the answer or can point you in the right direction to get your questions answered.

Read Cody’s other posts

Photo By: Filipo

Traveling for Work

By: Cody

With school ending in 5 short weeks I feel the pressure to find a job mounting with each passing day. However, I also feel the school work piling on as we move closer to finals week, but I have still been able to use what free time I have to apply for various jobs. One trend I am noticing, at least for the type of job that I am seeking, is that companies are requiring travel for work.

traveling for work

As a person who is eager to find a job, I have thought about and accepted these travel requirements and applied to the jobs. However, I think that most recent graduates do not think long enough about their willingness to travel before they apply and possibly even take a job that requires travel.

When thinking about travel requirements you must think about the amount of time that you are willing to spend away from your home. Most companies will list 50% travel, 75% travel, etc. This will give you a good idea of what percentage they require you to travel. However, in an interview it is also good to ask again and get some clarification. Ask such questions as: Is this travel overnight? How does the travel work? Am I gone every other week, or a few days each week? Where will I be traveling? How will I be traveling, car, plane, company car? Does the company reimburse me for the travel?

Asking these questions will help you get a sense of what the travel will be like. Once you have a good feel for what the travel is like you can determine if you are willing to do it. It may be something you might like but only for a few years and so you may need to see if you are able to advance in the company and stay in one location.

Another thing to consider besides the amount of time you will spend traveling is your family. You have to consider any family obligations or even pet obligations that might hinder you from traveling overnight or for long periods of time. It is better to think about these now, rather than when you are out on the job and unable to come home to care for your dog, who happens to be enjoying your shoes as a nice meal while you are gone for a few days.

The important thing is to make a decision before you are hired and preferably before you are interviewed about your feelings on travel. This way you will know what you want and won’t waste your or the companies time. You also won’t end up in a job that you end up hating and wanting to quit.

While travel may be good for some, it may be bad for others so weigh your decision carefully and make the right decision for yourself.

Read Cody’s other posts

Photo source

Dressing Up for Phone Interviews

By: Cody

With graduation just around the corner I have begun to start to apply for various jobs. It’s a lot of work but so far I am enjoying the process. One thing that I am finding is that companies prefer to do phone interviews first as an initial screen of applicants before bringing them in for real interviews. It helps save them time and money by doing this “pre-screen” first.

I applied to a job last week and they want me to take an aptitude test and if I score high enough they want to do a phone interview, which could lead to an onsite interview. I am very excited about this opportunity. However, the more I thought about the phone interview, the more I felt like it would be very easy to sound too causal and unprofessional. This is why I plan to dress in a suit and tie for the phone interview (if I get it).

Dressing in a suit and tie makes you look very professional, but what does that matter in a phone interview?

men's suit

Well, it all boils down to confidence and a professional manner. Whenever you put on a suit and tie, or something similar for the ladies, you automatically start to act more professional. You feel the need to be professional because normally whenever you are in a suit, you are required to be professional and act as such. A suit also gives you that feeling of confidence that makes you think you are well prepared and can do whatever you set your mind to. Suits just tend to have that empowering feel, at least for me. By wearing a suit you increase your confidence and act in a professional manner, which is something you definitely want in a phone interview. You want to sound like you know what you are doing and are a well suited candidate for the position you are applying for. A suit will help you be more prepared mentally, than say wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt for a phone interview. Sweatpants and sweatshirts will make you more relaxed and you will talk to the person on the phone like they are your friend and you won’t be professional, something you don’t want in an interview. No one wants to answer a phone interview call with “Sup bro?” This is why you should be like me and choose to wear a suit and tie for all interviews, including phone interviews.

Ladies dress outfit

By choosing to wear a suit for a phone interview you set yourself up to be more confident and professional, which will help you land that dream job you have always wanted. It may sound weird, but try it, it just might work!

Read Cody’s other posts

Photo sources: men’s & women’s

How To: Negotiate Your Salary

By: Cody

If you are like me, you might assume that most entry-level positions have a set pay for the job, and that’s what you will receive. This is probably true for most companies, however through my job search, I have found more and more companies that don’t have a set pay. Instead, they are open for discussion to decide on a fair pay. This is especially true in the business field, as I have noticed more and more entry level positions in the field are turning from hourly to salaried pay. With this change comes the increased need to know how to negotiate a salary, something very few college students know how to do.

Money

The first thing to do with salary negotiations is PREPARE! There is nothing worse than answering, “What salary would be acceptable to you?” with “Umm”. This is why it is important to be prepared when negotiating a salary. You must have a salary goal in mind, but it is also a good idea to find the market value for the position and area you are applying too. One of the easiest ways to do this is by doing some research online at a website like Salary.com. Or, if you want specific salary information regarding UMD students, visit our Graduate Follow-Up Report. This will give you a basic understanding of what the current pay scale is like for people in this position. It will also help you to not over- or underestimate your salary, which will make you look unprepared. When answering salary questions, it is important to state what you feel would be an acceptable salary, but you must also remain flexible. Without flexibility, an employer may move on to another candidate who is more open to working with the employer to find a reasonable salary for both parties. Finally, it is also good to prepare a list of reasons of why you deserve the salary you are asking for. These reasons can be based on a combination of the research you have done as well as your skills and qualities that you can bring to the position.

The next thing to do with salary negotiations in PRACTICE! Practice with a friend, family member, or even a Career Counselor. This will help you work out the best ways of asking for your salary and defending the price you have named. It will also help you get rid of those dreaded “umms” and “ahhs”. This will make you sound much more confident in what you are saying.

Next comes Execution and Evaluation. Execution is when you are actually negotiating your salary with the employer. Remember your research, be confident in your skills and abilities, and be flexible. Then comes evaluation; this is when you evaluate how well your negotiation went. This is a crucial part because it shows you the areas that worked and, more importantly, shows you the areas that you need to improve on. Knowing what you need to improve on can help you work on those skills so that the next time you need to negotiate your salary, you can hopefully get the salary you want.

Salary negotiation is an important skill that not many students are taught. This is intended to be a very basic outline of how to negotiate a salary, and if you want more help, stop by Career Services and we would be more than willing to help you!

Remember: Prepare, Practice, Execute, and Evaluate!

Of Possible Interest:

Read Cody’s other posts

Photo source: Cooperweb

How to Find Your References

By: Cody

It’s that time of year again when everyone starts to look for summer jobs and internships. Or, if you are like me, you have to start looking for a ‘real world’ job. An important step in this job or internship search is to find good references. When looking for references you must do two basic things; find the right people to be your references and then ask them.

Business people

Finding the Right References
When looking for references it is important to keep in mind you should have at least three different references. It is also important to have a variety of references. You don’t want to have three references from the same job or internship, try to shake it up a little bit.

Now on to the important part, where do you look for references? The best place to start looking is at any jobs or internships you have had. Your managers from these jobs can provide a good reference of you and your work ethic. If you have never had a job before, or even if you have, you can also ask academic professors to be a reference for you. Professors can provide testament to your work ethic and academic ability. Employers will enjoy hearing from professors because they can see your ability to learn new things. Past jobs, internships, and professors are the main three places most college students look for references. However, you can also look for references from: volunteer opportunities you have been involved in, advisors, coaches, colleagues, customers, clients, and any number of people who can attest to either your professional or personal attributes.

One last thing to mention about finding the right person; make sure they will give you a positive reference! You don’t want to ask someone to be a reference if you know they could give you a negative review. Instead, find someone else to ask who will be able to give you a positive review. If you must put down someone who will give you a negative review, be honest with the employer and tell them. Explain to them that the review might not be great and give reasons why the review might not be stellar. This will help to alleviate the shock of the negative review for the employer.

Asking for References
After you find the right references you must remember to ask them to be your references. This is an important step, ASK! There is nothing worse than putting someone down as a reference and they don’t know they have been listed as a reference. When the employer calls that person the conversation will be awkward and it can possibly turn the employer and your reference off. So remember to ask your reference first.

When asking someone to be your reference it is best to do it in person. This is more personal and you receive your answer right away. If asking them in person isn’t an option try to call them or email them to get permission. When you ask for a reference remember to be direct and thankful. Even if they don’t agree to be your reference, remember to thank them for their time. If they do agree it may also be helpful to explain the job you are applying for and the skills or qualities they are looking for. By doing this your reference can tailor their review to those specific skills and qualities. Also, ask the person if they need anything from you in order to be a reference (such as a copy of your resume).

Need Help?
These are the very basics of asking for references. If you need more help on where to go or how to ask for a reference visit our handbook on our website or stop in SCC 22 to talk to a career counselor.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Cody’s other posts

Photo source: Victor1558

Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)

By: Cody

The other day I was in class doing an activity where we reviewed the resumes of our partners. My partner looked at my resume and noticed a ‘Research’ section, under which I had my Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) project listed. My partner then said, “What is this? You don’t need this on here.” For those of you, like my partner, who do not know what a UROP is, it is a program through University of Minnesota system that awards grants to students to perform research projects with the guidance of a professor. And for those of you, like my partner, who think this is not something you want to put on your resume, you may want to think again.

Research

A UROP project is a great addition to your resume as it shows you have a number of different skills including: grant proposal writing skills, research skills, and analytical skills.

Grant proposal writing skills will mostly be beneficial for people who are looking for jobs in research labs or companies. However, even if you are not going into research, having this skill shows you are a superior writer and have the skills to effectively communicate your ideas to others.

Research skills are very broad and can encompass many things such as: writing surveys, conducting interviews, facilitating focus groups, planning a project, meeting deadlines, and countless other skills. The important thing with research skills is to highlight the individual skills you used either in a cover letter or during your interview so the employer knows what you actually did. It is especially important to highlight the skills the employer is seeking. For example, if an employer is seeking an employee with good communication skills you may want to highlight the interviewing or writing skills you gained from completing your UROP.

By doing a UROP you will also gain analytical skills by analyzing the information you collect from your project and making sense of it all. In almost every field, employers are looking for people who are able to analyze problems and come up with solutions to solve those problems. I am a business major and have been looking for a job. I haven’t come across a job listing yet that doesn’t have ‘analytical skills’ listed as a qualification. Having a UROP shows a prospective employer you practice finding problems and analyzing the data around you to come up with a solution or have proposed a solution for the problem.

A UROP will also provide you with a final paper or project. You can bring this along to your interviews and show it to prospective companies as an example of your work. Most people only bring a resume, cover letter, and possibly a few letters of recommendation to an interview. Having this final project as an example of your work will make you more memorable in the eyes of the interviewer and hopefully will land you that job or internship.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Cody’s other posts

Photo Source

Being an Includer

By: Cody [Achiever|Futuristic|Includer|Adaptability|Restorative]

So you have Includer as one of your strengths from the CliftonStrengths for Students, and you may be thinking what is it?

First off, it’s not a real word ha-ha, but its root word “include” is a real word and is the essence of what this strength is. Includer means you always want to include everyone in the things you do, and you do not want to leave anyone out. You are an accepting person and you cast very few, if any, judgments on people. Being an Includer shows you are a compassionate person and do not want anyone to be left out.

List of Strengths; includer in green

How do you apply this Includer strength to your career path?

You can use Includer in your career path whenever you work in groups. Group work in the workplace is very common and is used to accomplish many different tasks. The benefit you have as an Includer is that you like to include everyone in the group and get them involved. This can be very beneficial for you, especially when you are working on particularly hard tasks. Inviting more people into your group gives you the advantage of having more points of view and a diverse set of skills. The more people you have, the more creative ideas you may come up with that may have never crossed your mind if it was just you working on the project. Your project will then become even better than it was before by using these creative ideas. You can also split the workload up more by having more people in your group, which makes it so that one person doesn’t end up doing most of the work and getting burned-out. So being an Includer can help you increase your efficiency and effectiveness of group projects that you have to do throughout your career.

I have had a personal experience using my Includer strength and inviting someone into a group project. It was during this past semester in my Healthcare Information Technology class. The group project was to design and implement a simple electronic health record. In my group, there were four Healthcare Management Majors so we knew exactly what needed to be in the electronic health record and how to implement it, but we had no idea how to design it. Then one day I noticed someone who was without a group and so I asked him if they wanted to join our group. He agreed and it turns out he was a Management Information Technology major and knew exactly how to design the electronic health record but had no idea how to do the other stuff. So it worked out perfectly that he knew how to do what we didn’t know and vice-versa. By using my Includer strength and inviting this person into our group, we created a better project than any of us could have created, separately.

This is just one example of how the Includer strength can help you along your career path, trust me, there are many more. If you want to discuss more ways you can use your Includer strength, come to Career & Internship Services (SCC 22) and make an appointment with a Career Counselor, they would be more than happy to help you!

Read about the 33 other Strengths

Read Cody’s other posts

Asking Questions in Interviews

Good questions

By: Cody

When preparing for interviews most people worry about five things: their resume, cover letter, how they will dress, researching the company they are interviewing with, and preparing to answer the various questions they will be asked. These are all important things you should definitely do when preparing for an interview, but you should also prepare a list of 3-5 questions to ask the interviewer.

Most interviews will have a time for you to ask questions, and if you do not have any questions prepared it may be difficult to think of any off the top of your head. You may then end up sitting there in an awkward silence until you either think of something to ask or you simply give up and say you have no questions. Both of those are scenarios that you don’t want to end up in because it looks more professional when you have at least some questions to ask. This is why it is important to bring well prepared and thoughtful questions to the interview that shows the interviewer that you came prepared and did your research, especially if you ask questions directly about something you found when researching the company you are interviewing with. Asking questions will also keep the conversation between you and the interviewer going, which will give you more time to make a good impression on the interviewer.

Good questions to ask in an interview:

  • What are the typical duties of this position?
  • How many people work in the department or company?
  • Is there travel required for this position, if yes, how much?
  • When can I expect to hear from you?

Here is a great article that has a list of good and bad questions to ask at an interview. Use this resource as a guide and try to come up with your own creative questions to ask. If you are having problems thinking of questions or preparing for an interview you can also look at the Career Handbook or make an appointment with a Career Counselor and we can help you!

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Cody’s other posts

Going Above and Beyond

By: Cody

You have finally landed an entry-level job at the company you have always wanted to work for. You think that as long as you keep your head down and do your job and do it well, you will eventually get promoted. These promotions will hopefully lead you to getting your dream job. This plan should work perfectly, right?

No!

In today’s competitive workplace it is not enough to simply do your job and do it exceptionally well. You also need to seek out other opportunities and challenges your job or organization has to offer. It may be easier to just do your job and only your job, which I admit I have been guilty of at times, but taking the easier route does not always lead to the promotions you want. Instead, to land those promotions, you need to take on those projects and challenges no one else wants to do. Taking the initiative to do the projects and challenges no one wants shows you are a hard worker and willing to go above and beyond what is asked of you. By doing this, when it comes time for the next promotion opportunity your boss will think of you above all the others because you have shown you are a dedicated worker with a good work ethic.

Seek out problems

Not only does taking on extra projects and challenges at work give you an edge when it comes to promotions, it helps you diversify your skill set. Doing extra projects can help you learn and perfect certain skills you didn’t have before. You can then apply these skills to your own job duties or your future job duties once you get promoted. Having a vast skill set allows you to become more marketable in the workforce which can lead you to getting promoted faster, or allow you to move on to bigger and better things.

Now you may not want to take a 21-year-old kid’s advice on how to do your job, which is understandable, but this isn’t coming from just me. It’s coming from the many managers I have had the opportunity to work with over the past few years. Almost every manager I have ever talked to has said the same thing “seek out problems, and solve them.” They said they really do notice these things, and they tend to promote those people faster. In fact, some of them said that is how they obtained the job they currently have. They also mentioned that increasing your knowledge of various skills is invaluable and you should take every chance you have to learn a new skill because you never know when it will come in handy.

Some of the managers who have given me this advice include; the Vice President of Quality Assurance at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, the Vice President of Support Services at St. Luke’s Hospital, the Director of Human Resources at a large group home facility in the Twin Cities and many other managers at the various places I have worked.

If all of these managers are giving the same advice and feel that’s how they got where they are, it must be good advice. So I would encourage you all to go to work, do your job, and find some challenging project and take it on. It will be worth it in the long run, plus you will feel a sense of pride once it’s completed!

Of Possible Interest: 

Read other posts by Cody