Learning Without Limits

By: Rachel

Maybe you’ve caught on that our last few posts have been about experiences some of our student employees have had learning outside the classroom, and how we’ve pieced it all together in ways that have advanced not only our professional lives but our personal lives too. Well, I’m here to lend my two cents on the same topic.

I’ve always been a big believer in the value of education, and I think it’s something most of us take for granted. I also believe learning is even more important than education. Lifelong learning is something we’ve talked about before, but in this post, I want to share a bit about how learning can extend beyond the limits of education.

Image: empty road going towards horizon of mountains
Text: learning without limits

When I started college, I was coming off a senior year of high school where I was heavily involved in academics, multiple jobs, my community, extracurriculars, etc. To be honest, I was looking forward to the opportunity to start over and have a break from all the activities. I spent my first few months trying things out and being very conscientious about what I said “yes” to. I was intentional in the things I pursued: I knew I wanted to be involved in a faith community, so I sought that out right away. I took a job at Career & Internship Services because I was very interested in the ways they supported students. I was asked to serve on a few committees within my school and agreed, because I thought I could lend some perspective on what matters to my fellow classmates.

I never could have guessed the outcomes of the things I signed on to be a part of. I’ve learned so much about management and writing, how to craft a resume and how a school stays accredited. More importantly, I’ve learned the stories of a wide variety of people and forged relationships I never expected. I grew closer to professors who exposed me to careers I didn’t know existed. I developed skills that allowed me to land positions I truly enjoy. I’ve taken on challenges I really didn’t think I was capable of facing and surprised myself along the way.  This probably all sounds cliché, but part of the point is I learned who I am through what I was learning.

So, if I could give you a tip or two, here’s what I’d share:

  • Seek out opportunities to learn, no matter where you are. (This might be especially true right now as we all are facing many changes in our daily lives due to the coronavirus.)
  • Be intentional about what you say yes (and no!) to.
  • Search for the meaning and lesson to be learned in every experience.

If I’m being honest, now, three years into college, I’m probably more involved than I was even in high school.  But as I live and learn, I’ve realized busy isn’t always a bad thing when you’re busy with the right things. The experiences you build up during college can help you land an awesome job, but they also offer you the opportunity to learn about and shape the person behind that future professional.

Best, Rachel

Of Possible Interest:
Building Your Resume – all our blog posts on the topic
Boost Your Career in College – our Pinterest board filled with articles and resources

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Matteo Paganelli

Weaving Together a Variety of Experiences

By: Paying

Coming into college in 2016, I knew I wanted to be involved but I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do. If there was an organization or anything related to editing, I would’ve signed up right away. Throughout the next four years of college, I gained a lot of different experiences here at UMD: Secretary of Hmong Living in Unity and Balance, Peer Educator at Career and Internship Services, International Student Services Orientation Leader, Student Intern at the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and an editor and reporter for The Bark. Outside of UMD, I also completed a summer internship as the Hmong Outreach Intern at The Arc Minnesota. 

With these six experiences that are very different from not only each other but also a career in editing, I struggled to put them all onto one resume and sell myself during an interview for an Editorial Assistant internship. Spoiler alert: I eventually succeeded and was offered the position.

Image: weaving loom with colorful yarn.
Text: weaving together a variety of experiences

In this blog post, I will be sharing my tips on how I weaved together my various experiences to benefit me in a field that didn’t directly relate.

My supervisors, and those I worked with, helped me to shape my experiences so I could have similar responsibilities to editing (editing resumes, editing translations, editing articles, etc). Having a talk with them one on one allowed me to still complete my usual tasks while also picking up extra things around the office.

Another very helpful tip I learned was to focus on the tasks and qualifications on the job posting. That way, you know what you should focus more on and which you can risk leaving out on your resume, either for an individual experience or the tasks you’ve had done. Since you only have a few bullet points you can use to describe what you’ve done, this tip will help filter out would be most valuable to the company and its mission. 

In order to know what to showcase, you need to know what you can showcase. 

Although it might be more work, having a master resume is one of the most helpful things you can do for yourself. On your master resume, you have every possible piece of information that could go on a resume: experiences, bullet point descriptions, projects/researches, skills, activities, etc. This way, when you know what the employer is looking for, you can search through your master resume for those that apply.

Not all employers will be the same and not all resumes will be the same. With these tips, hopefully you can start weaving together your own resume and find the puzzle pieces that fit to make it the best it can be for different employers and for you!

Of Possible Interest:
Resume & Cover Letter – all our blog posts on the topic
Ace the Job Search – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources

Read Paying’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Sergio Gonzalez

Learning Outside the Classroom

By: Kendra

We are all in college for an obvious reason — to learn. We attend lectures, labs, and study sessions each day in order to do so. While being a student is like a full-time job itself, many of us have other activities that consume our time; examples include sports, clubs, work, hobbies, etc. While attending classes and learning material is important, the opportunities for learning that present themselves in these other activities are of great importance, too. Today I am going to share my experience in learning outside the classroom.

First, I’ll give a little bit of background information. I came to UMD as an Integrated Elementary and Special Education major. I had spent 2 summers working with children with disabilities, so becoming a special education teacher was what I thought I wanted to do. I was also working on getting a job at school. As a freshman, I was granted work study so I needed to find an on-campus job … and here I am working in Career & Internship Services. I was initially hired to work at the front desk in our office, which I did all of last year and enjoyed a lot!

Image: desks in classroom
Text: Learning outside the classroom

I was working and learning all there is to know about our career office and its resources. Meanwhile, in my classes, I was not enjoying the learning I was doing. I found myself feeling bored and uninterested in my schoolwork, so I knew I needed to make a change. What I didn’t know, though, was what change to make. I had a job that allowed me to work with great people, as well as interact with and help students each day — two things I really enjoyed and knew I wanted in a future job. With the help of our career counselors, I decided to switch my major to psychology and added a minor in early childhood studies. I felt great about this decision because I knew I would be able to do things I enjoy — work with and help people. 

This past fall semester, I made the transition to working as the employer relations student assistant in Career & Internship Services. Within this role, the work I do has changed pretty dramatically. I still work with great people and have the ability to help them, but I interact with students much less. Now, most of my interaction is with my colleagues and supervisors. I help plan/execute our job fairs and other recruiting events, analyze data, assist employers, manage GoldPASS powered by Handshake, and more. In this role, I have to pay attention to detail, be very organized, and spend a great deal of time on a computer — all things I have come to enjoy. 

female student talking to recruiter
Kendra working at a job fair

In having this new role at work, I again started to question what I wanted to do post-grad. I didn’t specifically know what I wanted to do with my psychology degree when I initially changed. In working in employer relations, though, I grew to enjoy a more business-oriented role, so I wanted to somehow implement that in what I was doing academically. To do so, I decided to add a minor in management. I was thinking this addition would give me the tools I needed to find a job after graduation, which was both people-oriented and business-oriented. 

That leads me to this semester. Since I just added the management minor, I had to enroll in an LSBE-heavy course load in order to be able to take the upper division classes for my minor. I was super nervous about this; I entered an academic realm I had never really explored before — taking classes such as accounting, economics, and information technology. Much to my surprise, I began to LOVE the classes I am in — especially accounting. I began to learn more about accounting when my professor would share his previous experiences working in the field, which caught my interest. I found myself thinking psychology still was not the right fit.

And that brings us to today. I am now an accounting major. I enjoy the business-oriented aspects of my job so much, I knew I wanted to alter what I was doing academically. What I did not know was how much I would enjoy business classes. I am the type of person who finds it extremely difficult to be engaged in a class when I am uninterested, but this semester I have found myself being more engaged and interested in classes than I ever have before. This is still a very new switch for me, but I feel great about it and am incredibly excited. 

I have learned a great deal in my different roles within Career & Internship Services and have gained many skills — both hard and soft. I can confidently say that if it weren’t for being offered the employer relations role, I would have never dreamt of dabbling into the business world, which would have never led me to accounting. Throughout all of this major-switching, minor-adding madness I have experienced the past few semesters, I have learned a lot. My biggest piece of advice is to not be afraid of trying new things. Like me, you might try something completely out of your comfort zone and find out that you really like it. Our time spent in college is about learning, of course, but sometimes the learning we do when we are not in class can be more valuable. For me, this is true in that the learning I have done outside the classroom has completely changed the learning I do in the classroom!

Of Possible Interest:
Learning Outside the Classroom posts
Building Your Resume – all our blog posts on the topic
Boost Your Career in College – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Kendra’s other posts

Photo Sources: Unsplash | Ruben Rodriguez; UMD C&IS

Connecting Experiences for the Interview

By: Amanda

A common concern I hear from students when they visit the career office is that they do not have enough experience for the role they want to apply for. This is a valid concern. Maybe you are a freshman who has not yet had the opportunity to join student groups or gain work experience. In this case, you should make a plan to assess what skills you want to develop and from there get involved. Most of the time, inexperience is not the issue – the inability to frame experience in the context of an application and interview is. In this post, I will break down simple action steps to showcase your best self to potential employers in an interview setting. 

Before you go to an interview it is important to do a thorough run-through of the experiences and skills you have. Here is a break down of the steps you can take to analyze these skills.

  • List out past experiences. Make a list of all of the past job, volunteer, and student organization experiences you have had and what you have done in those roles. Include all the tasks and skills learned.
  • Even think about entry-level roles. There are many transferable skills (communication, leadership, teamwork, etc.) that can be applied to the position you’re applying for. 
  • Connect experiences to the desired role. Once you have a list compiled, print out the job posting for the role that you are interviewing for. Go through and connect your experiences and skills to specific lines on the job description. 
  • Practice speaking out loud. Find a space where you are alone. Take time to actually practice how you will speak about your experiences. Practice is the key to sounding confident in your interview!
  • Go over common interview questions. Many interview questions start with the phrase, “tell me about a time when…”. Find a few questions like this online and be able to answer them while pulling in your experiences and qualifications. 
Image: wood desk top with green plant, blue typewriter, and brown notebook.
Text: connecting experiences for the interview

During the interview, put everything you have practiced to good use. If you put in time and effort to synthesize your experiences, you’ll be better prepared to handle whatever questions come your way. 

  • Be familiar with your resume. I have walked into numerous interviews where they have marked my resume up with tons of questions beforehand. Be able to speak about every point on your resume. In addition, be able to add more detail and tell the stories behind the points on your resume. You want to paint a picture in the interviewer’s head of what you were actually doing. 
  • Feel confident and know you are qualified. Given you prepared as we discussed in the previous section, you should feel confident about the experience you bring to the table. Sit tall and confident. Speak in a confident manner. Smile while you speak. These simple actions can go a long way. Amy Cuddy gave a great TED Talk about the importance of body language and we highly recommend it.
  • Talk about a variety of experiences. Be aware of the tendency to continue to elaborate on the same experience. Try to show diversity with the experiences you talk about, rather than highlighting the same couple experiences the entire time. This can showcase how you use different skills in a variety of environments.
  • Experiences not on resume. Resumes are often limited to one page. There might be class projects, volunteer work, or even job experiences that are not featured. It is okay to pull these into an interview. This gives the interviewer a full picture of your experience beyond your resume. 

After the interview, it is important to send a follow-up email or note. Here is are a few tips for tying in your skills.

  • Highlight something you did not get a chance to discuss. If you leave the interview and realize you did not mention something in your interview that would be important for their decision, add one or two lines in your thank you. 
  • The “3 things” rule. One of my personal strategies is to have one sentence where I say something along the lines of, “If you remember anything about me, I hope you can remember these three points: (insert points here).” It is human psychology that people are more likely to remember things in groups of threes, so this really does the trick. 
  • Keep it short and concise. All and all, you want to keep your thank you short. Say enough to get your point across, but do not let yourself ramble.

Before, during and after and interview are all critical times to tie in previous experiences. By thoroughly preparing, and then being able to execute and follow up, you can be sure to do well in your next application process.

Of Possible Interest:
• You can schedule a mock interview with a career counselor in SCC 22.
Interviewing – all our blog posts on the topic
Interview Like a Pro – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources
Learning Outside the Classroom posts

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Annie Spratt