What to do with Morocco?

By: Tori

Read all about Tori’s experience in Morocco

Now what? I’ve lived independently abroad, taken a deep-dive into an ocean of unfamiliar culture, and gone through a few challenges that have shaped my world-view. So, now what? What can I do to highlight this experience? HOW do I highlight this experience?

It may seem like an impossible feat to narrow your study abroad experience down into a tangible, easy to comprehend package, but it actually isn’t that hard!

The first step is the hardest – and takes the most time, but is necessary in order to process your thoughts, feelings, etc.

You need to REFLECT on your experience.

Some questions that may be useful to help you reflect are:

  • What are the top three lessons you learned while abroad?
  • What surprised you most while abroad?
  • What was your favorite memory?
  • What was something that was hard, different, or challenging?

Once you have reflected on your overall experience, consider how study abroad grew your skills, leadership, and career-related attributes.

Consider specific examples from your time abroad in which you expanded upon these skills:

  • Assertiveness, adaptability, critical thinking skills, flexibility, independence or self-reliance, patience, open-mindedness, problem-solving, self-confidence, initiative, perseverance, and time management

Once you’ve done this, it’s easy to narrow down your experience by putting it on your resume. This is a great way to highlight your abroad experience in a quick, accessible way. For example, you can list the institution where you studied and a few courses or projects you worked on underneath your education section:

Study Abroad in Resume Education Section Example

The final step is to connect the dots by directly applying your study abroad experience to your potential career opportunities during an interview.

Q: What experience do you have working with people from backgrounds different than your own, and how do you think those experiences relate to the workplace?

Q: Can you tell me about a time you took a risk and it paid off?

These are two common questions individuals are asked during an interview that can relate to your study abroad experience. Make sure you find a way to talk about your study abroad and highlight it for others to see. Not only does this help you stand out as an applicant but it also helps others understand people and places who are different.

Of Possible Interest: 

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My Internship Story

By: Heidi

After recently finding out and accepting my first internship offer, I thought I would share my story of the whole process. It all starts with how I found out about the company. When I heard about Andersen Corporation for the first time, it was when they came to my organizational behavior management class to talk about the company and internship opportunities for the next summer. I knew with it being junior year, it was time to get down to business with internships. I listened to what the speakers had to say about their experience and enjoyment of the company, and by the end of class, I decided I would go to the table in LSBE (our business school) and talk more with the recruiters about setting up an interview.

"Since I went in with this 'nothing to lose' mentality, I told myself I was going to be the most honest version of myself in this interview, allowing myself the opportunity to make a genuine connection."

I approached the table and spoke with one of the recruiters. I introduced myself with my name and saying I was a student who was in the class they just spoke in. Looking at the interview sign up sheet it was a little intimidating knowing I had a long day ahead of me next. Although I am not much of a morning person, I signed up for the first interview at 8 am the next day.

I went home that night knowing I was going to need to update my resume, scrape up a new cover letter specific to this interview, and do more research on the company. By the time I finished my resume and cover letter it was a little too late in the night to email it to the interviewer in my opinion, so naturally, I printed off three copies of each just in case. I did my research on the company from their website on the variety of information offered, taking notes so I could really get the information in my head. The following morning I woke up early getting dressed in an outfit I had previously laid out the night before to prevent last-minute scrambling, packed a lunch, along with extra clothes for the night because I knew I was going to be on campus until about 8 pm due to sorority recruitment we had going on that week.

Internship Interview Tips

I went into my interview with the mindset that I had “nothing to lose” with this being my first internship interview ever, and also at the beginning of my junior year. Since I went in with this “nothing to lose” mentality, I told myself I was going to be the most honest version of myself in this interview, allowing myself the opportunity to make a genuine connection. At the end of the interview, I asked questions that were important to me such as how she felt being represented as a female in her company as well as her experience being an intern and moving up in the company into a full-time role. The next day I followed up the interview with a personalized email touching on things we talked about in the interview as well as thanking her for her time.

I believe the most important thing when it comes to interviewing is to be your most genuine and authentic self. It allows you to really make a connection with an employer to see if you would both be a good fit for each other. Professionally speaking when it comes to the interview process, my advice would be to always do your research on the company, give it a chance, and set yourself up for success.  

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo Source: Usplash | Vincent Versluis & Takemaru Hirai

Know How to Use the Tools in the Toolbox

By: Tori

We’ve all been told the tips and tricks for interviews from peers, teachers, and family members. You understand the importance of knowing your strengths and weaknesses, reading over those dreaded situational-based questions, practicing your smile and wave, and making sure you brush your teeth and shower beforehand.

If you’re like me, you still get confused on how to use these tips to help you prepare for an interview. It’s as if you have all the tools in the toolbox, but no idea what any of them are for.

The last time I prepared for an interview it was like studying for a test. Not just your nice, easy 10 point vocabulary quiz. No, it was like those 40% of your grade midterm exams. Do I regret the effort and time I put into this? Absolutely not. It was completely worth it. I firmly believe it is how I landed my internship at Hormel Foods– I got an A on the exam.

I decided to use the tips, or tools, I had heard numerous times before and actually take the initiative to practice them. I think more often than not this is where many people fail when it comes to interviews. You have to practice for them. It’s like writing a speech for class. You don’t practice it once before you speak in front of 30 people; you practice it a bajillion times, still hoping you won’t embarrass yourself when you go up and do the real thing.

One of the most successful ways I prepare for interviews is by making an Experience-Task-Growth Chart. I make three columns and write the role, what I did, and how I grew down on a piece of paper. This allows me to visualize my skills and abilities without having to think too hard. It also makes practicing those dreaded situational-based questions much easier because I can literally see my role, what I did, and how I grew or accomplished a goal, right on the piece of paper in front of me.

Here is an example of my Experience-Task-Growth Chart:

Experience: My role Task: What did I did Growth: How I grew
Sassy Strawberry Cashier Counted Tills

 

Assisted Customers

Cleaned the Shop

Managed stock

Held accountable for money and store upkeep

Was a positive influence on the business with my enthusiastic personality and attention to the customers

Problem solved based on customer situation, for example coupons failing
Did what I felt was best; was able to make quick decisions
Followed procedures and safety regulations

Austin Country Club Lifeguard Regulated pool

and safety of patrons

Developed relationships with members

 

Undivided attention and full alertness to patrons and members

Confidence in my ability and certification in CPR and First Aid

Remained personable toward members

 

Class Title Teaching Assistant Held one-on-one meetings

Met with professor weekly

Spoke in front of the class weekly

Graded assignments

Adapted to different personalities in order to fulfill criteria

Developed relationships with students and helped them transition into a new environment- I did this by relating to their experiences

Responsible for fair and valued work

Sacrificed my own time to be there for students in a difficult transition

Cru Summer Mission Participant Spent 4 weeks with college students all over the US in Crested Butte, CO.

Experiential learning; hiking, biking, backpacking, whitewater rafting

Grew in relationships with others, community, and leadership

Understood diversity; lived with 10 other girls who were previously strangers

Learned how to be vulnerable in new situations

Cru Leadership Team Member Attended weekly meetings to plan and prepare our large group meeting for 70+ students

Met one-on-one with freshman members

Marketed the organization and conferences

Utilized time management and collaboration skills

Creative; learn to think outside of the box

Problem solving- students were not as involved and their was a change in our organization. I had to use my creative and critical thinking to develop ways for students to be more engaged and apply a different approach

 

Another thing that helps me while I am being interviewed is bringing a copy of my resume. Usually I just set it to the side, but if I need to answer a question and can’t think of a great example I reference my resume. While many people may think this is distracting, it actually shows you are prepared and provides you with more opportunities to relate your experiences in unique ways.

Now that you know how to use a few of those tips, or tools in your toolbox, you’ll be better prepared for your next interview.

Good luck, and remember to be authentic!

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Tori’s other posts

Control Your Interview

By: Kirsi

Nauseation of when your home team squanders a playoff game is equivalent to the sick to your stomach feeling of bombing an interview. As a freshman electrical engineer, I failed a technical interview for a computer aided design company. They challenged me to write a recursive programming method, describe how the inside of a motor works, and explain the forces and stress points on a stop light pole in ten minutes. Unsalvageable as your interview may seem, there is hope to take control of your interview! An interview gone wrong can be saved by expanding on questions you are asked, transforming negative responses into positive ones, and amending a closing statement.

control-interview

Expand on Questions
Although human resources has the almighty power to hire and fire, they can not read your mind. When you answer interview questions keep in mind that your interviewers did not share your experience with you. Illustrate your experience with goals, problem solving, results and quantities. Instead of saying “I practiced leadership when I was a manager at Taco Bell” say; “My leadership skills were put to use when I was a manager at Taco Bell leading a team of 10 individuals per shift. I vetted five perspective workers per month, learned each position, and ensured each employee completed their training.” Do not be afraid to expand on your experience. You are not bragging! You are clarifying and explaining your experiences. Sometimes interviewers are specifically instructed NOT to ask the interviewee to elaborate. The interviewer wants to see how you communicate your qualifications.

Thinking on Your Feet
Interviewers will purposefully throw curve-ball questions that catch you off guard. Not just to watch you squirm –  to see how handle the unexpected. When asked “What is your greatest weakness?” Do not leave your answer at “I have problems waking up in the morning.” Explain your improvements and focus on the positives. “I am working on getting to my 8:00am class by setting earlier alarms, keeping a regular sleeping schedule and cooking a great breakfast. I have been improving and getting to school early to get a good seat.” Typical curve-ball questions include…

  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • What is the hardest decision you have ever made?
  • What was your greatest failure?
  • Why should I hire you?

unsplash_tim_gouw

Powerful Closing Statement
At the end of your interview, especially if you feel the interview did not go well, end with a closing statement summarizing qualifications. Typically an interview will conclude with “Do you have any questions?” You can then appropriately add, “I don’t have any questions at this moment. However, I would like to end with why I am the most qualified candidate for this position…(key narratives that make you most qualified).” I have actually used this strategy in interviews gone wrong and have gotten job offers as a result. Again, interviewers may be specifically instructed NOT to ask more questions than the handful supplied so each candidate gets the same chance. Interviewers may not ask questions that naturally invoke the best answer from you. You can still take control of the interview by amending a powerful closing statement that best shares your strengths.

Other Preparation Tools
Some interviews will focus solely on “soft skills” –  how you interact with coworkers. Interview Stream is a good resource for interviewing practice. You can listen to your answers, count your “umms,” and check for idiosyncrasies. Depending on how technical your major is you may be asked to perform a technical interview as I described in the introduction. Ask recruiters, professors, acquaintances who work for that organization, tech club members, LinkedIn/ online communities, and friends about what you could expect from that organization’s technical interview. There are plethora of free technical interview practice sites.

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo Source: Unsplash

The Art of the Skype Interview

By: Katie

I had my first experience with a Skype interview when I interviewed for a grad program recently. Skype interviews can be very convenient – they can be done wherever you want, and you don’t have to worry so much about wearing the right pants and shoes or making sure you put in a breath mint beforehand. With these different conditions, though, comes a set of factors unique to video interviewing that need to be considered. Here are a few tips I learned to prepare for Skype interviews.

Skype Interview

Set the stage.

A big part of preparing for a Skype interview is determining where it will take place. Find a quiet area where you won’t be interrupted (no barking dogs or roommates barging in!). Make sure your interviewing spot has a simple background for you to be in front of – no distracting patterns, colors, or items on the wall. The lighting also should be considered. It needs to be bright enough for you to be seen, but not overwhelmingly so. Seeing what your outfit, hair, and any jewelry will look like is also important. Something that may look good in-person might not look good on camera. Finally, determine how the camera will be set up in relation to you. Set it up so your upper body is showing (not just your face) – it should mimic what you would look like to an interviewer sitting across from you in person. Try different chair positions and stacking your camera up on books or other props to find the best set up.

Make eye contact.

When you Skype or video call someone, do you look at their face on the computer screen? Most people probably do, but it’s not the best in an interview setting. Eye contact is important, and if you’re looking at the interviewers’ faces, to them it will look like your gaze is slightly downward. Looking directly into the webcam is the best way to mimic actual eye contact in a video call. To break the habit of looking at the screen, you can practice saying your answers to common interview questions while looking into your webcam (practicing questions and making eye contact at once!).

Have helpful materials nearby.

The benefit of interviewing via Skype is that you can have extra items around you that the interviewer can’t see. This could be your resume, which you could have printed off on the table or pulled up on your computer screen so you can easily refer to it. Another item I found useful was having post-it notes on my computer screen with words of inspiration on them. Interviewing is stressful for many people (like me), and having that extra bit of motivation or your resume for backup can be very comforting!

Practice and troubleshoot.

Interviewing by video is different than in person for several reasons, but one big one is that there are more things that could go wrong. You could have your Skype set up so your video or your interviewer’s video doesn’t show, or the sound on your computer might not work correctly, or the internet connection could be bad, and so on. To make sure you won’t experience any of these Skype interview faux pas, practice making a Skype call before your actual interview. This will give you the time to troubleshoot any problems that come up, and simply make you more comfortable with what the interview will be like.

Besides these tips, there are several other ways to prepare for interviewing in general. Check out the interviewing-related posts on our blog, do a mock interview with one of our Career Counselors, or stop into our office and we’ll help you prepare!

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Luke Chesser

5 Tips for Answering Tough Interview Questions

By: Lexi

Do you have an interview coming up? Do you not have a lot of interview experience? Interviews are tough and nerve-racking to go into. Calm your nerves down by reading these simple tips to help you get through the interview. Especially the tough questions that you just cannot think of an answer to. These tips will help you figure out your answer while easing your mind and still making you look professional. If you follow these tips, there is no way that you will not ace your interview and get that job. Good luck!

Tough Interview Qs

Breathe & Calm Down
This is the most important thing. Take a deep breath and do not sweat it. If you are calm, the answer will come out easier. If you are freaking out, you will not be able to think clearly. It will make you and the interviewer more comfortable.

Don’t show the confusion in your face
Try your best to not let your confusion and/or fear come across in your facial expressions. This will make yourself less stressed and the whole thing less awkward. It will also make you seem not as confident to your interviewer. Try to keep a calm face on with a smile!

Ask them to repeat the question
Asking your interviewer to repeat the question will buy you time to come up with an answer. It might also help you think of what to say if you hear the question one more time. Try not to do this multiple times though, that will make you seem as if you are not listening to what they have to say.

Tell your interviewer what you do know
Sometimes you will simply just not know the answer to the question or maybe you have some knowledge of the question. Whatever it is, try explaining the steps and processes you would take to figure out the answer. Speaking it out loud might help you come up with a better answer and it will show the interviewer your thought process. Interviewers ask you tough questions on purpose to see how you react and if you can work through it. Show them what you got!

Prepare and practice before the interview
Make sure that you prepare answers to possible interview questions before hand. Whether it is to the mirror or with a friend, this will calm you down during the interview and allow you to answer questions quicker, which will also eliminate unnecessary “umms..” Here are some example questions to practice before the big, stressful day, practice these and it will be sure to ease your mind.

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • How do you deal with conflict?
  • What are your steps to problem-solving?
  • Give me an example of a time when you succeeded.
  • What would our company gain from hiring you?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What would your coworkers say about you?
  • Are you a team player? Give us an example.
  • How do you work under pressure or time restraints?

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo source: Unsplash | Markus Spiske

A College Student’s Guide to Interviews: Part 1

By: Willow

Interviews can be scary, but they are a big part of life. Interviews are the best way for employers to see if you fit with their companies and for you to see if jobs are the right fit for you. This blog post is the first in a series of posts with simple steps to help you feel confident and rock job interviews.

Interviewing 1

Step 1: Do research. If you are applying for a job, you should know what it’s about, no matter how well known the company is. If you are applying for a job at a newspaper you should know big stories they’ve told, know who their reporters are, and know basic history of the paper. If you’re applying for a job at Express you should know who their shoppers are, know their products, and like them. You should never go into a job interview blindly, and should at the very least spend a some time on the company’s website.

Step 2: Practice. There are many great ways to practice interviews, personally I interview myself on long car trips. I know it sounds crazy but it’s a great way to get comfortable talking about yourself is to do it. If you don’t have a long car trip to practice on, practice in the shower, or in front of the mirror. It is so much better to actually talk out loud rather than just go over it in your head. You can also do a practice interview at the Career & Internship Services office. There are a lot of resources online to help you prepare for an interview. One good website to take a look at is Business News Daily, here is link to a really helpful article: 50 Most Common Job Interview Questions.

These are a couple simple starting steps to help you feel more comfortable in job interviews. Stay tuned for my next blog post with more specific tools to help you land the jobs you want.

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo source: Unsplash|Bino Storyteller