How to Have a Productive Winter Break

By: Lexi

You are finally done with your Fall semester and finals, hooray! It’s now time to relax, but do not forget to stay on top of things and use your time to stay productive. Spring semester will be here before you know it and you do not want to be behind!

Use time for reflection on the semester & set goals for the upcoming semester
Take a little bit of time to think about the semester you just finished. Think about what you did and didn’t do well. Use that information to make some goals and identify priorities for yourself for the next semester.

Build and expand professional networks
Reach out to people or companies you have been wanting to contact, but haven’t yet. Expand your horizons, you never know how it could develop your professional profile. This could be done online through email, LinkedIn, a phone call, or you could even ask if they would like to get coffee. Remember to thank them and ask if they have any suggestions of who else you could reach out to.

productive-winter-break

Conduct informational interviews or job shadow
Informational interviews and job shadows are a great way to see if the profession you are thinking about is the right one for you. Most students do not have time to conduct these during the semester, so now that you are not in classes, take advantage of this time. This could also help you with career advice or confirm important classes that you should plan on taking.

Work more and save up
Rack up the hours at your job, if it’s possible! Winter break is a great time to save up to keep you on budget for the spring semester.

Apply for scholarships and internships for the summer
Many scholarships and internships are posted during this time, so start looking! It is better to start searching for these opportunities earlier rather than later, your chances will most likely be greater. If you need help with this, you can visit Career and Internship Services (we are open during winter break, except Dec 23rd-Jan 2nd).

Get volunteer hours in
Whether you need volunteer hours or you just want to give back to your community, the holiday season is one of the best times to do this! Use your free time to put some smiles on the faces of your fellow city residents.

Create a portfolio, LinkedIn profile, and/or revamp your resume
Now that you finished another semester, you probably have new projects, jobs, skills, and experiences you can add to your portfolio, LinkedIn, and resume. Take the time to update all of these so they are ready for when you start searching for a job or internship, then you will not have to frantically put all of these together at the last minute.

Hopefully, you will take advantage of this time when school is not crazy and do at least one of these suggestions. But do not forget to relax and enjoy your time off during the holidays, drink some hot chocolate, eat some cookies, and enjoy the twinkle lights with your family or friends. Happy Holidays!

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Photo source: Unsplash|Aaron Wilson

Not a Typical Internship

By: Kirsi

The word “Internship” may invoke an image of a flustered undergrad fetching coffee and copying documents with the goal to endure an unpaid summer stint. In reality internships and other career building opportunities come in all shapes and sizes – and are often paid. Continue reading for enlightenment about alternative career building opportunities.

career-building-opportunities-decision-tree

Full Year Internships
In my previous post I compared internships and Co-Ops describing an internship as a single semester opportunity. However, there are, in fact, year-long renewable internships out there! For example, some private companies contracted by NASA Johnson work all year long. These year-round interns work full time in the summer, and part time during school. Some full year interns have the same benefits as Co-ops, but with an opportunity work part time during school. On the government side, year long opportunities are currently being offered by NASA for 2017. October is not to early to apply for full year position at your desired company or organization.

robotics_arm

Built by UMD Senior in Electrical Engineering.

UROP
The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) is a unique way to get a taste of academia, conduct research in a team and  work on projects related to your major. Often these opportunities are funded so you will have money for materials and a paycheck. University of Minnesota Duluth has a collection of unique UROP opportunities and world class research projects. One effort in particular that stands out is Dr. Desineni Subbaram Naidu and his research team’s robotic prosthetic arm. Undergraduates, master students, and PhD candidates have all worked on the prosthetic arm team, there is even a TEDx Minneapolis talk about the research. Each semester there is a window open when students can propose an idea for a UROP for funding or join an existing UROP group.

team_nick_karvounis_denmark_unsplash

Photo Source: Unsplash | Nick Karvounis

Job Shadowing
If you are not yet prepared for an internship or not certain about your major, job shadowing can be a good tool for building confidence in you career choices. Asking a desired organization about job shadowing is a low risk way to quickly find out if you are interested in a discipline of work. Before confirming I wanted to study computer science I job shadowed at Park Nicollet for a day to see how information technology applied to the healthcare realm. I thought the challenges of personal information security, big data, and merging of databases was interesting and kept my major. When approaching an organization about job shadowing they may suggest you take a tour of the company building instead which may expose you to jobs of many disciplines. While job shadowing and touring are not paid they may open doors to paid career opportunities.

Do not fret if you do not fit the summer internship mold, there are plenty of alternative career building opportunities that fit with your lifestyle and life goals.

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Benefits of Job Shadowing

By: Ashley

You hear so much about internships, part-time jobs, and volunteering as ways to learn the skills you need to further yourself in the world of full-time employment after graduation. A less talked about option is that of the job shadow. You might be thinking that job shadowing is like bring your child to work day stuff, but it is so much more. Job shadowing helps provide the answers to the big questions like “can I see myself doing this as my career?” or “what does it really take to make it in this field?” It helps give a realistic view into all the things involved in the job you’re shadowing. You can observe the job characteristics, responsibilities, and environment and see how they match up with your personality and your ideals. You get to learn firsthand what it takes to make it in the field from the people who know it best, working professionals. I chose to write about this topic because I had the wonderful opportunity this past summer to job shadow in the St. Mary’s Pathology Lab. I gained insight and learned so much that I thought I would share my process of getting my position. My situation started out as a want to volunteer and grew into something so much better.

job shadowing

As many students know, you can volunteer at St. Mary’s Medical Center to get some hands-on experience. This is why I went to their volunteer services and sat down with Joy Miller to discuss where in the hospital would be the most beneficial for me to volunteer. It became apparent, to Joy, early on in our discussion I wanted to work in a lab and that volunteering in the lab would be the best fit; unfortunately they didn’t have volunteer positions in the laboratory. I told Joy I would be content volunteering anywhere in the hospital but I expressed how amazing it would be to see the inner workings of the lab at St. Mary’s. Seeing how invaluable it would be to get experience in the lab Joy went out of her way to set up a meeting with the lab director and before I knew it I was job shadowing in each department of the lab over the course of the summer. I gained insight into the environment of the lab and I also got to experience the types of test that are run. I got to see the process of how the sample goes from patient to lab to doctor. It really enforced my dream of becoming a medical laboratory scientist. I also met and connected with some wonderful professionals in the healthcare field and even acquired a recommendation out of it that I think was essential to my acceptance into my post-certificate program at Mayo.

As you can see, job shadowing has many perks alongside gaining experience. So now you may be wondering how you too can get involved in job shadowing. I think a key step in the job shadowing process is conducting an informational interview with the employer, like what I did with Joy. I think the informational interview is essential because it allows you to get to know the employers in a low stress atmosphere and build on your ever growing network of contacts who could help you get a job in the future. Of course in order to arrange an informational interview with a contact you need contacts and that is where networking comes into play. Ask your fellow peers about places where they have shadowed and networking events they’ve attended. If you are interested in finding and setting up a job shadowing position I suggest setting up an appointment with a career counselor to discuss and explore your options and to look at our career handbook where there are helpful sections on both networking and informational interviews.

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What to Wear for Different Career Events

By: Zach

When it comes to dressing for success, what does it mean to look the part? If you are meeting with a professional to do an informational interview, going to a job shadow, or are doing a Skype video interview, what is the best dress? In this brief blog post, I am going to break down the appropriate dress code for a variety of professional settings with the exception of normal job interviews. You can check out Ashlee’s post from yesterday for a break down of how to dress for interviews.

What to Wear Career Events

Job Shadow

Picking the right clothes for a job shadow should be pretty straightforward. Who are you meeting with? What industry are they in? What is their job? Answering these simple questions will give you an answer. If you joining Donald Trump and Co. for a board meeting at 3:00pm, you may want your suit to be designer made and custom fit to you. However, if you are instead meeting your Uncle Ned at the local insurance agency he owns, simple slacks or khakis with a button-down shirt will most likely suffice. Ultimately, know the person and know the day. If you are meeting with an executive and can assume you will be following them to some meetings, you will want to be in professional attire, whereas, a casual day at the office may allow for business casual attire. If you still don’t know for sure. Just ask. The nice thing about most job shadows is that you are supposed to ask questions! Let the first question be to your host… “What is the best business attire to wear?”

Informational Interview

Most often we can think of informational interviews as being a formal event. Just like a normal interview, it is important to dress to impress. Though the format of the interview is for you to ask questions and learn more about their job, they will be taking note of you as well. In most instances, it is best to dress as if you were going for a normal job interview. Gentleman should be wearing suits and ties, and the ladies have a little bit more variety with blouses, blazers, skirts, and pants. Remember to be genuine and sincere in your questions! Show that you have interest in their career and that you appreciate their time. When they see your professional dress and energetic personality, you should be a shoe-in for that open intern position this summer!

Job Fair

What to wear to the job fair, that is the question! And the answer is easy, as you should always plan to dress business professional. By the time you reach your junior and senior year and you are seeking internships and full-time employment, it is important to look your best as you chat with prospective employers. Job fairs are the first interaction you have with many of the people within an organization you may be interested at, and remember that first impressions are very important. Suit and tie for gentleman, and blazer and blouse work best for ladies. Now, if you are a freshman or sophomore and attending a job fair, you may have more interest in just meeting different professionals, learning more about industry, or even getting a feel for different companies that are out there. For you, it may be appropriate to be wearing a button down shirt and tie as a male, or a button down shirt or blouse for females. Ultimately, remember to put your best foot forward at job fairs, and I promise that looking the part is a big key to succeeding.

Video Interview

There may be a variety of reasons your are asked to do a Skype or video interview via your computer, but no matter the context of how you are meeting the interviewer, it is still important to look the part. Video interviews are the same professional dress code as any other in person interview, with the exception that pants are optional… I’m kidding, I’m kidding! Please wear nice pants even though the camera will only show waist up. It may be funny to tell you friends that you have been to an interview in your briefs before, but I just can’t imagine anything good happening from that! Anyway, not only remember to dress professionally, but take note of your background. What is behind you? Is it a window, a plant, a television, a wall, your childhood bunk beds? No matter the location of where you are at, make sure you are in a private room with no other people to distract you. Public places like coffee shops and malls will not do. Find a good neutral background like a wall, and make sure to test lighting and sound before the interview begins. Once your computer is set up, you look as sharp as a tack, and you are ready to meet, you are on your way to success and hopefully a second, in-person interview.

Networking Event

Networking events, though similar to job fairs with large populations of people, are not always the same for dress code. Depending on the status of the networking event, it may be okay to throw on a blazer and slacks with no tie, or possibly a collared shirt with a sweater. Overall, a networking event may prove to be a bit more casual as many of them happen outside of business hours. They could be over the weekend, or over happy hour, but most often you will want to balance being comfortable and looking professional. My suggestion for these events is to be classy, but be you. Add a bit of personality with your clothes by wearing fun seasonal colors, patterns, and textures. As a gentleman myself, I am a fan of a textured grey sports coat with colored stripped shirt, and comfortable slacks. If you stick with these rules, you are guaranteed a mission success!

Hopefully this quick talk on professional dress answered some of your questions! If you want to get any more information on any of these types of professional settings, remember to skip on down to Career & Internship Services where a Peer Educator or Career Counselor is ready to help! Thanks again for tuning in, and talk you soon.

Cheers, Zach

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Make the Most of Your Winter Break

By: Justine

Winter break is coming up in about two and a half weeks… Eek! Time is going fast but my list of things to do keeps getting longer and time is going a little too quick if you ask me.  With finals and end of term project deadlines creeping closer and closer many of us are looking forward to a nice four week break to fill our schedules full of quality lazy time spent on the couch.  However appealing a month long movie marathon might seem, perhaps mixing up your schedule between a few movies and some planning for your future career, could be the perfect balance. More specifically, I’m talking about using your winter break from school in order to accomplish tasks that you normally wouldn’t have time for during the school semester.

Winter Break

My winter break will be spent back working at the same location as my summer internship and gaining some more experience, but here are some ideas for making the most out of your winter break:

  • Job Shadow– If you are interested in a particular field and want to learn more about a career than what can be found from researching on the internet, consider reaching out to a professional that you could job shadow over winter break. Professionals that are happily employed in their career field are usually more than willing to have a student to come into work with them for a day or two.  This is a great opportunity to get a feel for a potential career and gain some of the best resources for career planning and other information about the career field.
  • Network– Another great idea to build your contact lists is to start networking with professionals. Holiday parties can be a great way to do this over break because you never know who a family member, or family friend, might be connected to. Networking contacts are a great way to learn about inside jobs or opportunities that you wouldn’t have otherwise known about. If you want to go the extra mile, create professional business cards to hand out to your new networking contacts (or to your grandma to hang on the fridge)!
  • Conduct an Informational Interview– If there is a professional who you look up to or just want to know more about consider asking them for an informational interview. An informational interview is also a great way to network and can provide you with a lot of useful information about a position or inner-workings of a company. When inviting a professional to an informational interview, ask if they would be able to meet at their office or perhaps at a local coffee shop. If you do schedule an informational interview, do come prepared! Research as much as you can about your interviewee and their company from what you can find from LinkedIn or the company website. If you aren’t confident in your LinkedIn skills, come to our LinkedIn/GoldPASS drop in hours from 2-4 on Thursday afternoons. Once you have a basic understanding of what they are about you can ask questions to fill in the blanks.
  • Search for Opportunities– Your winter break time can also be used to search for jobs, internships, or graduate school opportunities. Take the ample amount of time you have during your four week vacation from school to type as many Google searches as you please. Also consult the Career & Internship Services webpage for online resources:

By all means I’m not suggesting that you cut out all TV and movie marathon time, but do use your time with purpose. The productive measures you take during this winter break will be very much appreciated when you don’t have to try to squeeze them in with your spring semester. For the next few weeks before break, I wish you luck, and then may you all have a well-deserved relaxing and productive break!

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4 Ways to Get a Reality Check

By: Justine

Have you ever felt not so certain about your current career path? I think we have all felt it at some point along the track at UMD or elsewhere. The reality of a college degree is that you can teach all the book smarts in college but it can be daunting to try and figure out how to apply those strategies and concepts to the real world. In order to best prepare yourself for what the world beyond UMD will be like, there are 4 things that you can do.

Join a club:
There are many pre-professional or major-related clubs at UMD (see all the different opportunities) for students to get involved in. Many times clubs will have events to get to know others in your major, speakers that are professionals within the field, or other activities. By joining a club of other students in your major, you can connect with older students who can give you advice on what classes to take and what opportunities they are finding with their major.

Job shadow:
Job shadowing, whether it’s for credit or not, is a great way to understand the inner-workings of your respective career field. For me, job shadowing came in the form of many hours observing and assisting physical therapists and their patients. Since none of my exercise science courses specifically covered aspects of Physical Therapy, I was able to fill in the gaps with hands-on experience in order to actually be able to picture myself in that career some day. Perhaps it’s because I’m a more visual and tactile learner, but I definitely broadened my grasp on the field when I was the one actually learning as I was doing. Job shadowing is a great way to work side by side with professionals.

Network:
I cannot emphasize enough how important networking can be when you find yourself knee deep in your job search. If you have ever heard the phrase, “it’s not what you know but who you know,” then this is a perfect place to apply those words. Networking opens a whole other world of opportunities that you might not even have known existed before. Word of mouth is fast and not taking advantage of it would be a shame. To start networking, consider striking up a conversation with someone that you have already job shadowed or think about creating or improving your LinkedIn account to connect online with other professionals. Professionals in the field can give you first hand advice or stories of how to become successful and how they have gotten to where they are at today. Not only that, but networking can also open doors that lead to jobs that you might not have found during your latest online job search.

Stay Up to Date:
Keep up with current trends by researching current events and findings in your field of interest. Being knowledgeable about the world around you is a great way to impress a future employer and gives you something to talk about when networking with other professionals. Additionally, consider researching companies using social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.  Following them is a great way to learn more about a company and gain insight to their inner-workings.

To really decide if you’re on the right career path follow these 4 guidelines to really entrench yourself into that field. If you like what you’ve learned after searching through these tips, you’re well on your way to success!

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