Career Coaching Notes: A Sunday Well Spent

Rayna AndersonRayna A. Anderson, Career Adviser at Elon University
Twitter: @Rayna_Anderson
LinkedIn: www.LinkedIn.com/in/RaynaA
Blog: RaynaAnderson.wordpress.com

I write this post as the newest member of this fantastic blog team – an exciting opportunity but a bit of an overwhelming one as well.  The semester is winding down and the holiday season is upon us but I am committed to balancing work, professional blogging, and a personal life.

My current state of existence is nothing that the average higher education professional is unfamiliar with. The truth is that we love what we do, but we do a lot and everyone knows that too much of anything can be harmful. Somehow, being in a helping profession has come to mean neglecting the self and endlessly serving others. But our work ethic should not be measured by the number of meals we are forced to skip or who functions the best on three hours of sleep. Burnout is real, so I dare you – dedicated, superhuman, career advising professional – to set aside one day a week to help yourself. And since it’s much easier to prepare for the storm before it hits than it is to respond in the midst of it, I suggest making Sunday your self-care day.

Here are a few things that’ll help you stay afloat:

Get in touch: Whether it’s at a church, mosque, synagogue, or a sacred space in your own home, take some time to tap in to your inner self. No work week will be perfect, so let this quiet time serve as a point of reference that will re-center you when you feel like you’re losing control.

Get ahead: Fill up the gas tank, do the laundry, pick out your outfits for the next couple of days, pack your work bag, and prepare tomorrow’s breakfast or lunch. If you’re like me, rushing or running late in the morning will make you feel as if the day is getting progressively worse. Knocking out some of these menial tasks will minimize the distractions that disrupt your flow. Also, by doing some of these things ahead of time you’ll feel a little less guilty should you want to get a few more minutes of sleep!

Get organized: It’ll be much easier to navigate through your week if your space is de-cluttered. Don’t let old receipts, meeting agendas, and to-do lists pile up. Everything has a place: either in a folder or in the trashcan. Taking just a few moments to tidy up your surroundings will help alleviate some anxiety.

Get lost: Stay balanced by plunging into your favorite hobby and losing track of time. There’s more to you than what you do for a living, no matter how awesome your job is. Doing things unrelated to work will help you maintain a healthy work/life balance.

Get moving: Take a walk, go to the gym for a few minutes, or do those sit-ups right there in your living room. Obviously you’ll feel healthier, but the extra activity will also help you sleep well. Exercise helps control the random flip flop between bursts of energy and fatigue. And speaking of sleep…

Get some rest: I say “rest” because that doesn’t always mean sleeping. Sometimes sitting around and doing nothing can be just as energizing as taking a nap. Prepare for bed by beginning to relax at least one hour earlier than you plan to fall asleep. This means silencing your phone, dimming the lights, lowering the television volume, and not checking emails.

“A Sunday well spent brings a week of content.” You’re no good to the people you help if you don’t take time to help yourself. Your students and colleagues will appreciate the happier, reenergized you!

Tweet With Dan Black on NACE Black Friday

Chaim ShapiroChaim Shapiro
Website: http://chaimshapiro.com/
Twitter: @chaimshapiro
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/chaimshapiro

It is the last week in November and Thanksgiving is on everyone’s mind.  This really is the quintessential American holiday.  My wife is already busy cooking up a storm for all of our guests for our first Thanksgiving in our new house.  I have assumed my usual role – staying out of the way and trying not ruin (or eat) any of the food (if Charlie Brown needs a meal, I CAN make some VERY good air-popped popcorn).

Black Friday IS famous for it opportunities to get those things you have always wanted, from HDTV’s to fancy clothes hangers (also known as exercise machines).

There is a lot of talk this year about the creeping “Black Friday.”  As I understand it some people seem very upset that retailers are opening early and conflicting with the ancient rituals of the day-like NFL football.  

Fear not, NACE is going to have a Black Friday of its own this year. Fortunately, you won’t have to run out in the cold, or leave the Thanksgiving Dinner cleanup to someone else to participate  You see, NACE Black Friday is a Twitter Chat on Friday, December 6th from 2-4 PM ET with the aptly named President of NACE, Dan Black at #NACEBlackFriday.

If there is anything you have wanted to know about NACE, but were afraid to ask, this is your chance! I can personally attest that NACE is very receptive to member feedback, and Dan has made member engagement a high priority for the year. So please, come with your questions and your suggestions.  This is your chance to become more active and take whatever is on your mind straight to the top!

So grab whatever iteration of turkey leftovers you may still have (how come there is never pumpkin pie leftover?) and join #NACEBlackFriday.  No. You won’t get an HDTV, but your $.02 will never go further to help chart the future of NACE. Perhaps you can even start with a suggestion as to what to call this event next year when President-Elect Sam Ratcliffe is in charge!

All kidding aside and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I do want to express my thanks to the NACE staff.  It has been a true honor for me to take a more active role in NACE the last couple of years, and  have been fortunate enough to see the dedication and professionalism of the NACE staff first hand.  Their hard work makes all of the things we take for granted from NACE come to fruition.  Everyone in our profession owes them our sincere thanks!

Ask All Your Questions on Black Friday

If you want the answer to a question about NACE or would like to make a suggestion for a new program or benefit, who should you talk to? Well, the easiest thing to do is buttonhole Dan Black, NACE President, 2013-14.

On Friday, December 6, Black, the eponymous spokesman of @NACEBlackFriday, will answer questions and take suggestions in a Twitter chat. Anyone who wants to pose a tweet should use the hashtag #NACE BlackFriday to get his attention.

Ask him about the new membership model. Get his thoughts on the direction NACE is going. Make suggestions for new programs.

Here’s how to participate:

Log into your Twitter account. If you don’t have a Twitter account, go to twitter.com and register—it’s free.

Open a window for your tweet by clicking in the box with the quill pen at the upper right corner of your screen. Using 140 characters or less, ask your question or post a comment. Be sure to include #NACEBlackFriday in your tweet.

Here’s an example:

My #NACEBlackFriday question is: How can I get on a NACE committee?

Click on the little “Tweet” button in the bottom right corner of the tweet box.

If you want to follow the full conversation, search for #NACEBlackFriday. You’ll see the questions asked, the answers, and comments from your colleagues.

The Assessment Diaries Poll: Does your office actively seek candidates with assessment-related skills?

Desalina Allen

Desalina Allen, Senior Assistant Director at NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development
Twitter: @DesalinaAllen
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/desalina

Today, I’m taking a break from sharing my assessment experience and looking to the NACE community for some feedback. I’ve already alluded to some of the skills that are important to develop when working with assessment but have included more details here.

Assessment-Related Skills/Competencies:

  • Familiarity with assessment design, including writing learning goals

  • Experience conducting qualitative research via focus groups , interviews or benchmarking

  • Knowledge of survey methodology and survey software

  • Ability to analyze quantitative information using Microsoft Excel or other statistical software such as SPSS, STATA

  • Comfortable summarizing and reporting qualitative and quantitative research findings to audiences with various backgrounds

These skills and competencies can definitely be learned (I’m still working on them myself) but my guess is that they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Which leads me to my question: Does your office actively seek candidates with assessment-related skills?  This could mean including them in a job description, creating a position with official assessment responsibilities, or screening for these skills via the resume review process.

Please respond and include any comments below:

P.S. I found this really thorough overview of assessment skills via ACPA

When Does “X” Mark the Spot?

Chaim ShapiroChaim Shapiro
Website: http://chaimshapiro.com/
Twitter: @chaimshapiro
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/chaimshapiro

It is simply untrue, I remember thinking in my graduate school class—more years ago than I care to admit (Jim Leyritz hit a HUGE Home Run for the Yankees in the World Series that year).  All that talk about Generation X and all those things that allegedly described me.

Yes. I did like Speed Racer, but I was convinced that was because Speed’s little brother Spritle and their pet chimp wore, what I thought were yarmulkes. However, just about everything else that was presented as fact about Gen X, simply did not resemble me in any way.

I was at a NACE FACE2FACE in New York a couple of years ago and we were discussing the concept of “Millennials” when a Millennial at my table turned to me and said that he felt like he had just been stereotyped. I told him to mention that to the larger group, but he declined. (So much for the need to be heard!)

Why has the very basic idea of viewing people as individuals, based on his/her own merits and demerits become so hard to understand? People often respond that “theory” is not meant to apply to individuals, and the purpose of generational theory is to provide context to a large group of people.

Of course marketing companies apply “theory” all of the time. (If you want an example Google “Thanksgivikkua.”)  Creating recruitment campaigns and designing programs based on a model does make sense in theory, although it is important to note that placing people into arbitrary groups has not worked out very well over the course of human history.

The real danger is applying generalities to any particular individual.  As much as we like to say we know that theory doesn’t apply to individuals, it becomes hard to see people for who they are whenever we have convenient labels.  It is just too easy to miss the person for the preconceived notion.

We also have to wonder, in a practical sense, how we view that one person who doesn’t fit into our Millennial-based programming? I fear that we may see something wrong with him/her even though their skill set is exactly what we would have wanted if we had applied a different generational label.

To paraphrase Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, I would like a society where people are NOT judged by the era of their birth (I was born in the early 1970’s—just LOOK at the clothes I grew up wearing), but by the content of their character.

I know this perspective is not particularly popular, but I am a risk taker, after all, I DID send my penny to Columbia House for 11 cassette tapes…

Personal Mission Statement: A GPS for Your Career

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A post by NACE Guest Blogger, Pamela Weinberg
Website: www.pamelaweinberg.com
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/pamelaweinberg/
Twitter: @pamelaweinberg

Most of us have seen corporate mission statements when we have researched employers and industries. Typically corporate mission statements encompass the values of a company; their goals, and their future plans for growth.

Not many of us have seen or created a “Personal Mission Statement,” however, but we all should, as should our students. How helpful to have a short paragraph to guide us in our careers; keep us moving forward and on track. A mission statement not only states your goals, but also lays out the steps needed to reach those goals.

A personal mission statement should be brief. Three to five sentences are sufficient. Tack it up on your computer; save it on your Iphone, stick on your refrigerator. Your mission statement is meant to guide you in your day-to-day activities and help you stay on track to meet your short-term and long-term goals. A mission statement is as useful for job seekers as it is for those who are happily employed. Some tips to keep in mind when creating one:

  • Make sure your mission statement is personal; it should sound like “you” and be authentic.
  • Include skills, character traits, and knowledge that you consider important and would want a potential employer or client to know about you.
  • Describe what you want to focus on and who/what you want to become in this stage of your career.

Sample Mission Statement

Brian W, Graduate Student, Engineering

“To have a successful career at a software engineering company which will utilize my technology skills, leadership abilities and provide a platform for my continued career growth. I will do this by continuing my education in technology; attending conferences in my field to network; and by obtaining a research position at my university within the next year.”

A personal mission statement is not meant to be stagnant. It is meant to change and grow as you do. Once goals are met and milestones are reached, your mission statement should be revised to included new goals. Your statement should help propel you forward in your job search or career.

Let’s Be Real

sue-keever-wattsSue Keever Watts, owner, The Keever Group
Blog: http://keevergroup.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/sue-keever-watts/0/aa/b60
Twitter: @SueKeever

I began my career in public relations and learned the fine art of “packaging” content. My friends still tease me about my ability to take negative information and turn it into a tidy, if not murky, message. “I hit your car” turns into “While the circumstances of our meeting are less than ideal, I’m so glad we had the opportunity to share our contact information.”

I got out of PR as quickly as I could, but I still recognize BS (business-speak) when I hear it. Unfortunately, most companies still use business-speak on their websites, in presentations, and even during one-on-one discussions with students.  It’s the number one reason why candidates look outside an organization to find out what’s really going on inside of it.

Recently a new radio station was launched in the Dallas area. It was named the best radio station in the city and when I tuned in, found that the reception was a little dicey. I turn it on occasionally and when I tuned in yesterday, I heard the announcer say, “KHYI – if you can’t hear us, then move!” No apologies, no BS – just the truth, but in a humorous way.

A few years ago, I worked with a company that was in the middle of fall recruiting when their CEO announced that the company was being bought. Recruiters wanted to know if they should discuss the merger and how to respond to student questions. The answer was simple. Yes. Bring it up to students, professors, career services and all of your campus contacts because I can assure you that your competitors will be using it to their advantage. Be honest. Avoid using packaged responses. Tell them what you know and admit what you don’t. Showing a canned video from the CEO about the merger won’t cut it. The best way to deliver difficult information is in person.

Keep in mind that you still need to give students a compelling reason to join your organization. Part of that involves giving them the language they need to explain why they accepted an offer with an organization in transition to their parents and friends.  You’ll also need to be prepared to answer the following questions:

  1. What will change and what will stay the same?
  2. Will there be a shakeup of leadership?
  3. Why did the organization decide to merge?
  4. What’s the upside of joining the organization now?
  5. If I join the organization, is there a chance I’ll be laid off after the merger?
  6. Will you be able to keep your job?
  7. Is there a chance that my position, reporting structure or responsibilities will change after the merger?
  8. Will my benefits package, compensation and training/development be impacted (negatively or positively)?

Feel free to use humor or to speak candidly about why you’re staying with the organization. But, whatever you do, leave the BS out of it.

The Assessment Diaries: Beyond Satisfaction

Desalina Allen

A post by NACE Guest Blogger, Desalina Allen, Senior Assistant Director at NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development
Twitter: @DesalinaAllen
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/desalina

I almost waited to write this post until my assessment of our recent Dining for Success (DFS) etiquette dinner was complete.  Almost. I wanted to write about the learning demonstrated via our pre- and post-assessment after I was sure they actually demonstrated students learned something. Then I realized that I promised to provide a realistic overview of what it’s like to work with assessment day-to-day.

You know how sometimes when you start something new, more experienced people say things like “it’s not so scary” or “you’ll get the hang of it in no time”?  I may be guilty of saying these exact things when introducing assessment to others.  But I have a confession: The assessment of this event is scaring me.

Our DFS program has always been a hit with employers and students.  How do we know they like it?  We give out a post event survey that basically measures satisfaction with the event (and allows students to rate their overall learning):

The truth is, how could you not like an event like this? They get a great (oftentimes free) meal at a popular local restaurant, a chance to network, and tons of dining and interview tips. This is why moving away from a satisfaction survey is so scary – students are generally satisfied with our events and it’s rewarding (and easy) to share a summary of these surveys (95% of students reported that they would recommend this event to friends!).   

The problem is that, as educators, satisfaction isn’t all that we care about.  We want students to walk away having learned something from our events and learning can be challenging to measure. So, in an effort to make sure students were actually walking away with new information we prioritized topics of importance, introduced more structured activities to teach these topics, and provided enhanced training for our employers and staff.  

In assessment lingo: we set learning goals!  Here they are:

Students will be able to….

  • Identify the proper table arrangements at a formal dinner (including placement of silverware, bread plate, water and wine glass)

  • List two guidelines regarding what to order during a mealtime interview

  • List three appropriate discussion topics for a networking event

  • List three topics to avoid discussing during a networking event

  • List appropriate ways to follow up with professionals after events

To evaluate these goals, we measured students’ current level of knowledge with a pre event survey sent out with registration confirmations: you can view it here. Then at the end of the event, we had students fill out a nearly identical paper survey and encouraged input from employers and career services staff.  We also asked them ONE satisfaction question (because, hey, satisfaction is also important).

We are still tabulating the students’ responses and it’s nerve wracking.  I’m hoping I can share some really great improvements in their knowledge but there is always a risk that this doesn’t show up clearly in the survey results.  

Being that this is the first time we’ve approached the assessment of this event with pre and post surveys I’m sure there will be changes we need to make to the process.  I’ll be sharing the results and what we learned from this process in a follow up post but would love readers to share their experience setting and evaluating learning goals.  Has it worked for you? Have you evaluated programs this way? Any tips for pre and post surveys? What were the results? Any feedback on the learning goals or survey?

NACE Flash Poll – Internships

kevin grubbA post by NACE Ambassador Kevin Grubb
Assistant Director at Villanova University’s Career Center.
Twitter: @kevincgrubb
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kevingrubb
Blog: “social @ edu”.

An issue that’s making national headlines this year is that of internships. In fact, it hit the news recently again: Conde Nast announced that they are discontinuing their internship program for 2014 after two former interns filed a lawsuit over issues of pay.

So, I’m curious: NACE blog readers, what do you think about internships? Vote in the flash poll below and share your thoughts in the comments! (Note: flash poll votes are anonymous)

For more on internships, read NACE’s Position Statements on US Internships and 15 Best Practices for Internship Programs.