Career Advising for Introverts: Should It Be Different?

Janet LongJanet R. Long
Founder, Integrity Search Inc.
career counselor, Widener University
Twitter: @IntegritySearch
Blogs from Janet Long.

NACE blog team member Chris Carlson wrote eloquently about networking for introverts earlier this year. His piece inspired me to think more deeply about the role of introversion in higher education career services. As both an introvert and the career liaison for the liberal arts student population at my university, I recently began to include material on introversion and extroversion in the semester-length career exploration series I facilitate, The Seekers. To my surprise, student feedback about these sessions has been nothing short of profound. For many students, there is a powerful sense of self-recognition accompanied by relief that they don’t need to reinvent themselves to enter and thrive in the world of work. I began to consider the implications for career advising overall, given that up to 50 percent of the general population describe themselves as introverts.

It often helps to start by defining terms. It can be easy to take for granted my Myers-Briggs training and decades to make peace with my own introversion. In informal polling I have found that most students still associate introversion with shyness or social awkwardness rather than with primary energy source. More disturbingly, they may view introversion as a flaw or deficit that warrants correction.

I like to start with basic MBTI definitions and then pose a classic question that can help students differentiate their preferred style. For example, “If you had an unexpectedly free weekend, would you rather attend several parties or catch up with a couple of friends individually?” I like this question because it challenges the false dichotomy of alone versus with people. Introverts may also prefer to spend time alone (as do extroverts at times). The difference lies in where they gain their main source of energy and how they prefer to recharge.

Our career services office, like many others, offers career fairs, speed networking events, and practice interviews for jobs or internships. With the best of intentions, we teach students to “put themselves out there,” to navigate cocktail/mocktail conversation, to develop compelling 30-second elevator talks, and to formulate responses to both hardball and softball interview questions. This is all helpful and necessary. But the nagging question remains, are there different and potentially more effective ways to broach these topics with students who identify as introverts? Do I as a counselor—albeit an introverted one—jump too quickly to tactics without first acknowledging and exploring how students feel about these processes and their perceptions of what society expects of them? I think that too often we treat introversion as something to be overcome rather than celebrated for its potential contributions.

As one example, last semester in The Seekers, I conducted a mock interview clinic in which we practiced responses in five common question areas. Halfway through the session, one brave student interjected that while she appreciated the tactical advice, none of it helped with trembling hands during actual interviews. Another student, who projected as poised and self-assured throughout the semester, jumped in and offered that the responses made her feel phony. Their comments led to a lively and connected conversation during which the students listened to and coached each other about how to reconcile internal feelings with external expectations. While their concerns were perhaps not unique to introverts, they created an important “aha” for me: that I needed to create more space within the group to be reflective and introspective about professional skills development.

I have recently started to draw on Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution research on introversion, showing excerpts from her TED talk on The Power of Introverts where she laments external pressures to “pass” as an extrovert and helpfully differentiates introversion from shyness. One of my favorite lines is that “the key to maximizing our talents is to put ourselves in the settings that are right for us,” an exhortation to consider work environment and career choices through the lens of temperament as well as talent.

Ms. Cain’s poise and presence in a public speaking situation tends to surprise students and can start conversations about how introverts not only function but thrive in visible and influential positions. Similarly, Wharton professor Adam Grant’s research on effective leadership, The Hidden Advantages of Quiet Bosses, includes the finding that introverted leaders are more likely to engage their teams by encouraging individuals to develop their own ideas. I have found it useful to offer examples of well-recognized role models from all walks of life, from sports to business, who describe themselves as introverts, from Bill Gates, Mahatma Gandhi, and Rosa Parks, to Michael Jordan, Christine Aguilera, and Julia Roberts .

These are some additional strategies that I have found effective in provoking both reflection and discussion:

  • Combining personalized career assessments to give students more self-insight. I have found that StrengthsQuest and MBTI play well together. For example, a student who shows a preference for introversion on the MBTI may also hold “individualization” as a top strength. Integrating a “strengths” perspective into an introversion/extroversion discussion encourages students to move away from a deficit mindset.
  • Designing more intimate networking forums. This semester our office will pilot a home-based gathering for a limited number of students and alumni in selected fields to interact over a leisurely meal. Our hope is that such forums can complement the larger speed-networking formats and that each will each hold appeal for different types of students.
  • Scheduling one-on-one follow-up appointments. While this may sound like a no-brainer, students are typically more inclined to make appointments keyed to specific deliverables rather than more open-ended discussion about areas of discomfort. While not every student needs or wants this type of support, I think it is important to remind students that the suite of career counseling tools available to them goes beyond resume tweaks.

NACE career advisers, are you having these conversations in your offices? It would be interesting to learn more about employer perspectives as well.


You Want Me to Go Where? Coping on my Longest Site Visit

Laura CraigLaura Craig, Assistant Director, Internships and Experiential Education, Temple University Career Center
Twitter: @BuckeyeVirginia

We tell our students to be open to opportunity in many guises, and that it won’t always come when we expect it.  This past summer, I put that advice into practice by joining a group of colleagues to visit Temple University’s campus in Tokyo, Japan. (TUJ)  I had one and a half weeks to prepare for a 6,000 mile trip to a place I NEVER expected to visit!

The purpose of the opportunity was experiencing every facet of TUJ’s operation, in order to effectively encourage students to study abroad here.  TUJ has been in operation since 1982, and currently enrolls more than 3,300 students at the undergraduate and graduate level. They also have a sizable academic English program, continuing education opportunities, and a large credit-bearing internship program for all students.

While this was a tremendous opportunity, it didn’t come without nerves.  I’m relatively new at Temple, and didn’t know any of the other participants in my group.  The group consisted of me and academic advisers from our athletics program, school of business, school of tourism and hospitality management, honors program, school of art, and college of liberal arts.  Our work is definitely related, but we hadn’t connected yet in person. I was also nervous about navigating life in a very different culture.  I’ve traveled internationally before, but never to Asia, and also never in such a large group.  Here’s what helped make it a great trip for me:

  • Have an orientation beforehand, even if it’s not required.
    • You don’t want to meet at the airport for the first time.  An orientation, or even meeting for coffee, can help you establish rapport, ensure that your goals are complimentary, and alleviate worries about communication and emergencies.  We were going to a very unfamiliar place, so an orientation helped our group to know the basics about our host and destination, and allowed us to figure out how we would all convene at the airport.
  • Ensure everyone’s technology is up to speed.
    • When traveling and operating as a group in a foreign country, it’s vital to stay in touch.  We need to be concerned with:
      • International data and texting
      • WhatsApp
      • Staying in tune with our flights and transit
      • Using our corporate travel system’s mobile app
      • Keeping everyone’s devices powered up so that we could stay in touch
  • Don’t be afraid to take on a leadership role, but let it flow naturally.
    • When everyone is out of their element, help everyone get settled by choosing a place to eat, helping others change money, figuring out transit options, etc.
  • Share resources among the group and help people attend to basic needs on a long trip.
    • If your institution has a complex reimbursement process, put your heads together to figure out reimbursements in a foreign country and general travel policy knowledge.
  • Embrace new experiences as a group! We had two opportunities for flexible sightseeing in the company of TUJ faculty/staff, and they were the highlights of the trip. Not only did these organized outings save us time and money, they also helped give us genuine insight into the kinds of experiences our students would have at TUJ-exactly the point of our trip!

What’s the farthest business trip you’ve taken with colleagues? Have you spent time in Japan or at Japanese universities?

Developing Career Goals Holistically

Melanie BufordMelanie Buford, Program Coordinator/Adjunct Instructor, Career Development Center, University of Cincinnati

Dan Blank, a career coach who works primarily with creative professionals, offers the following advice in his webinar “Take Back Your Creative Life.”

“Career goals should not be formed in isolation. You must take into account all of your responsibilities (personal and professional), and be sure to account for your own well-being. This includes physical and mental health.” Blank encourages his clients to integrate their career and personal goals in order to set themselves up for success.

Many undergraduate students start their career decision-making process by selecting a major based on the subjects they enjoyed in high school. Students interested in majoring in one of the applied sciences tend to follow this pattern. Several students I’ve worked with tell me they’ve chosen to major in engineering because they were “smart” in high school or strong in math and science, but they don’t know much about the field itself. Time and again, these students arrive at the career development center wondering why they’re not more interested in the engineering coursework and field experiences.

The problem isn’t engineering. The problem is that these students formed career goals in isolation. They didn’t consider the environment they’d be working in, the physical location of their organization, the skills they enjoy developing and want to build on, or the ways they hope to grow as people and as professionals. Fortunately, the University of Cincinnati provides a co-op program that allows engineering students to get full-time work experience before graduation.

Career goals, increasingly, need to be formed holistically. Gone are the days when choosing a career was simply a matter of matching your best school subject to an industry. The market is volatile; new opportunities are being created and other avenues are becoming less viable. A law career isn’t the safe choice it once was, and the nonprofit world has expanded to include diverse organizations tackling new social issues. It’s more common that professionals will relocate to a new city for a job opportunity, and more workers than ever are changing jobs and moving to new sectors over the course of their careers.

We are facing the so-called “paradox of choice.” Research has demonstrated that if we are presented with more opportunities, decision-making becomes more difficult and satisfaction less likely.

When a student steps into a career development office today, they’re faced with a much broader set of options than they would have been 30 years ago. They could go to medical school in their hometown or they could spend two years in the Peace Corps and teach grade school students in Lithuania. They could go to graduate school for computer science or launch a start-up with friends based on their ideas for a new app.

In order to make these decisions, students have to consider not only what talents they have, but what kind of life they want to lead.

It is critical, therefore, that students take a holistic approach to developing their career goals. We encourage them to apply this lens both to themselves and to the field they’re considering. Here are a few questions students should consider during the career exploration process:

What skills do I have and want to develop?

What type of work environment might best fit my temperament?

What type of diversity do I hope to have in my work environment?

How is the industry I’m considering expected to evolve in the next few decades?

What city, state, or country might I want to live in?

What have my career goals been and how have they changed?

What role would I like technology to play in my career?

How important is stability to me and how willing am I to take risks?

Each of these questions will take time to answer as students develop more clarity on their identities and values. Is it any wonder career goals formed at age 18 often feel premature? These are questions we wrestle with throughout our lives.

To me, this only underscores the importance of committing to a continuous career development process, not just for students, but for graduates. Attempting to build your life looking only through a narrow lens of career is bound to work against your happiness. We must support students around this process by acknowledging its complexity and encouraging them to consider the multiple implications of a potential career path.

NACE members can pick up a student-directed version of this blog, Develop Your Career Goals Holistically, in Grab & Go.


Blank, Dan. (2015). Take Back Your Creative Life Webinar. We Grow Media.

Cole, Marine. (2014). U.S. Job Market Has Changed Dramatically in 15 Year. The Fiscal Times.

Hedges, Kristi. (2012). The Surprising Poverty of Too Many Choices. Forbes.


Is Career Fair Networking Really So Hard? Four Tips for Students

Kathy DouglasKathy Douglas, Associate Director Career Development Office, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
Twitter: @fescdo

If you are in a Google group, are a member of a family, or met someone at your college or university orientation who is still your friend, you already know how to network. We meet, form bonds, text, and call our friends to share good news. As a species, we are natural networkers—our survival depends on it.

Schmoozing at career fairs and events is what most people think of when defining networking—standing out in a crowd or making a lasting impression that will land you a job or internship. The reality for most mortals is, however, that although it is important to practice small talk and have good interpersonal skills, most of us do not exude extraordinarily magnetic personalities.

Working magic in a crowd, in fact, is not the most important part of networking.

Great networkers know what any career fair recruiter will tell you: At the end of the day, recruiters’ feet hurt, their voices are raw, and aside from a few exceptional interactions, they have spoken with so many individuals they don’t remember who they spoke with about what.

This is why the real art of job-search networking comes in after the actual fair—in the follow up.

When advising students on strategies for two major annual career fairs (one for 1,300+ students from eight universities; one for 250 students from two universities), I emphasize four things:

  1. Strategically select top employers to visit: Quick Internet research provides information to help determine which employers align best with your career goals. Arrive early and visit your top choices while you (and the recruiters) are fresh.
  2. Ask good questions: Advanced research will help you prepare smart questions. After a quick introduction, ask a question about recruiting level or specific practice areas to be sure you are not wasting your time or theirs—Are you hiring at the masters level? Are you interviewing for your renewables practice? If you already know what they are recruiting for, start there—“I’d like to learn more about the project areas for the policy internships.”
  3. After discussions, find a place to stop and take notes: Notes don’t have to be extensive. I use business cards and/or a small notebook to write the reason I want to follow up, contact information, and content of conversation.
  4. Follow up within a few days: Decide which leads are of interest and follow up with an e-mail that picks up where the discussion left off. If you have been directed to an online application, complete it, send the recruiter a thank you and let them know you applied. If you connected personally with a recruiter, but there is no immediate opportunity for you, send them a thank you note and a LinkedIn request. There is no need to follow up on every single contact. It’s okay to be strategic.

If you have taken good notes after a productive conversation, it is easy to follow up. And most often you are doing the recruiter a favor. The work you put in to making the recruiter’s job easier, whether it results in an immediate outcome for you or not, is a positive and generous act.

And you never know where follow-up will lead. Through courteous follow up and strategic networking, job seekers get interviews, discover the hidden job market, and learn the inside scoop on organizations.

NACE members can pick up a free student-directed copy of this blog for use online or in publications.

#NACE15: What Did You Do?

Busy days. Keynotes. Concurrent sessions. Expo Hall. Refreshment breaks. Innovation Labs and Campfire Conversations. Meet ups. Insight Labs. Reunions with friends and colleagues. Networking. International attendees.

Here are some of the highlights from the NACE 2015 Conference & Expo in Anaheim, California.

nace15-first timerMore than 500 wear the first-time attendees ribbon.





nace15-jerry housernace15-trudyJerry Houser, associate dean/director Career Services at Willamette University, wins the Chevron Award. Trudy Steinfeld, assistant vice president and executive director of Career Development at New York University, is named to the NACE Academy of Fellows.

The conference opens on Tuesday with a drumbeat. Then, keynote Maulik Pancholy shares his personal journey to embrace his heritage.

nace15-drumskeynote pancholy







Lindsey speaksLindsey Pollak, keynote speaker and Millennial workplace consultant, draws a standing-room-only crowd on Wednesday.






nace15-jamienne Studley

Deputy Under Secretary of Education Jamienne Studley addresses critical issues in higher education in the Thursday keynote for another standing-room-only crowd.






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Keynote Bradley Snyder, military vet and Paralympian, shares insights into meeting challenges on Friday.





New for 2015: Innovation Labs, Campfire Conversations, Insight Labs draw crowds of attendees for extended dialog on professional topics and issues. (Click on pictures to make them bigger.)





Highlights from the First-Destination Survey of the Class of 2014 results were delivered by Edwin Koc, NACE director of research, public policy, and legislative affairs, and Manny Contomanolis, chair NACE’s First-Destination Survey Team. (You can read the final results on NACEWeb.)









Professionals in career services and university recruiting share tips, trends, and best practices in 80 concurrent sessions over two-and-a-half days. (Handouts are available to full conference registrants through MyNACE.)

psul flower emory career ctfuture of professioncampfire 2




gender gapnace15 sessionunemployment disabilities





The Expo Hall attracted attendees looking for the latest information, products, and services for career services and recruiting professionals.

nace15-expo hall glassesnace15-expo drawingnace15-3nace15-4





nace15-picture green screennace15-gapingvoid nace15-expo hall 3


Kate Brooks, executive director, Office of Personal and Career Development, Wake Forest University, and Alastair Dawe, head of U.S. operations for Explore Horizons, check on their offices between sessions.










The Thursday night “Surf City USA” celebration featured music, dancing, and refreshments.









Awards were announced throughout the week with an Innovation Showcase on Thursday featuring winners and finalists with their top-notch programs and best practices.


Award Winners:

Mentor of the Year Award: Brian Guerrero, University of California – Los Angeles
Volunteer Meritorious Service Award: Chaim Shapiro, Touro College 
Member’s Choice Award: Denise Hopkins,  Kathryn Hutchinson, Michelle Kyriakides, Joni O’Hagan, and the Career Services Team at SJU
NACE/DirectEmployers Catalyst Award:
Jill Miller, Novo Nordisk Inc. 
NACE/Spelman Johnson Group Rising Star Award Winner: Kevin Grubb, Villanova University

See you in 2016 in Chicago, June 7 – 10, 2016!

nace15-expo hall 2



Be Gentle When Networking With Introverts

Chris Carlson

Christopher Carlson, Director of Talent Acquisition and Diversity, Tennessee Valley Authority
Twitter: @cciCarlson
Blogs from Christopher Carlson

The 2015 NACE Conference is just around the corner and we all know what that means—networking, best practices, learning, and fun. To prepare last year, I wrote a blog about survival tips for the introverts attending the conference. Another introvert appreciated my comments and asked me to present in a peer-to-peer session on introverts. I had to say yes to support my fellow introverts—remember, we can still be outgoing and friendly.

This year, in preparation for the conference, I wanted to share tips on how extroverts can get the most out of us methodical, introspective, and often brilliant introverts (you know I’m smiling as I write this). So here are some networking tips for our extrovert friends:

  • Pauses are not responses: Don’t assume that when an introvert pauses in the conversation that he/she has nothing to say. We like to marinate on a topic and formulate a response in our heads before speaking. Extroverts are known to “think out loud.” Allow an introvert a moment to process a response internally.
  • Approach “gently:” If you have ever driven through Maryland, the state welcomes you on their sign with a nice slogan of “Please drive gently.” In a similar fashion, approach introverts gently with a simple “Hello, how are you?” This approach is a great way to allow an introvert to become comfortable. Don’t jump right in and pretend to be his or her best friend. We introverts do warm up, but it takes us a minute to get comfortable and to feel safe. Once comfortable, you can’t get some of us to stop talking—trust me, I have friends that would pay someone to shut me up at times.
  • Don’t take offense: If you ever see an introvert, a true introvert, in a large crowd of people where everyone is networking, you will notice one of two scenarios: The introvert is probably drinking to help become comfortable with all the noise and people, or the introvert will become exhausted quickly and will want to run out of the room.

If we seem to be distant or look like we want to run away as fast as we can, trust me, we like you and we want to spend time talking to you, but we’re overwhelmed by the surroundings. Try walking with us to a quieter spot or move the conversation to where there are fewer people. You will see that we are going to be more inclined to engage when not surrounded. (When I lived in Los Angeles, my friends would invite me to all sorts of parties. They had a bet to see who could get me to actually show up. It was rare, but I did show up to a few gatherings.)

These are just three tips for you extroverts out there on how to optimize your networking with us. Suzanne Helbig from UC, Irvine and I will be sharing more about the great insights you can gain from introverts at the conference, I hope you join us in a peer-to-peer session on Wednesday, June 3.

Who to Meet at NACE15

Marc Goldman, Executive Director, Career Center, Yeshiva UniversityMarc Goldman, Executive Director, Career Center, Yeshiva University
Twitter: @MarcGoldmanNYC
Blogs from Marc Goldman

Hello, intrepid NACE Blog readers. It’s been quite a busy academic year for me, but after some friendly reminding on the part of Claudia Allen, I’m back and ready to write or, more appropriately noted, type. I cannot believe it’s been almost a year since our last NACE conference in San Antonio, TX. Yee haw! I am still having trouble getting the hayDan Black and Fred Burke, NACE14 and sawdust out of my boots. And the vivid memory of Fred Burke and Dan Black all cowboy-like lingers, for better or worse. It is now time to turn our attention to the West Coast and our return to Anaheim. I recall celebrating NACE’s big 50th anniversary the last time we met in Anaheim. Members dressed to the nines in tuxes and gowns for the red carpet soiree, and much fun was had by all. Once again, we will find ourselves facing the moral dilemma of attending another training or information session versus “networking” poolside in the California sun. Regardless of how you spend your time at the conference, it is always important to keep in mind whom you should try to meet while there. Feel free to reference my blog post from last year regarding this topic. But if you prefer only to look toward the future and not relive the past, then read on here about the key people to find and connect with at NACE15!

One of your awesome conference co-chairs is a great friend and colleague of mine, Brian Guerrero, currently at UCLA. I have known him since he was a wee lad of 12 or Brian Guererroso, when he applied to be a career counselor at the NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development. Brian is one of the classiest cats around, quite informed and educated in our field and genuinely caring and supportive toward others in his circle and Caroline Cunninghambeyond. I know if his clarity of vision and infectious enthusiasm are involved in this year’s conference, then we are in for a treat. Say hi to him, thank him, and have him introduce you to his co-chair, Caroline Cunningham, and members of the conference committee!

When you first arrive at the conference center, you will be greeted by many wonderful NACE staffers, sporting polos in one color or another. Which one will it be when you get there? Only the fates can decide! Anyway, if you ever have thought to yourself, “Self, I Cecelia Naderreally want to volunteer my time and be more involved in NACE,” then you need to track down Cecelia Nader! Cecelia is the volunteer guru, as I like to call her, and can certainly steer you in various directions toward using your strengths and taking on exciting challenges, all in the name of good will for the professional association. And don’t worry, you will never be a bother. If she can put up with me, she can handle most people with ease.

Atrudy wonderful Marriott employee should be on your go-to list. How many Marriotts have I stayed in due to NACE conferences? Man, I should have become a Marriott Rewards member years ago! How great have these stays been? Of course, they have varied from location to location, but mostly, the staffs have handled our throngs and accompanying needs, whims, and complaints incredibly well. You might even learn something about the hospitality industry or make a new connection for your school or recruiting staff. The possibilities are…to quote the “Chief” herself, Trudy Steinfeld…limitless!

O. Ray AngleWhether you are a NACE newbie yourself or a member of the Academy of Fellows (That’s you now, O. Ray Angle Shawn VanDerzieland Shawn VanDerziel!), please welcome and embrace first-time conference attendees. The annual conference can be overwhelming and confusing at times. There are so many names and faces, and people try their best to avoid that awkward squinting and staring at the print on name badges to acquaint themselves. Be the good Samaritan, introduce yourself, and offer a helping hand to the rookies.

Marc Goldman, Executive Director, Career Center, Yeshiva University

Me! Yes, you can read my blog post from last year to learn about me, but I will once again offer up my openness to meeting new colleagues. Feel free to say hi, ask about my work with the Leadership Advancement Program committee this year, or note how I have chilled a bit on my ribbon obsession! I look forward to seeing you all in Anaheim in June! Oh yeah, make sure to encourage me to keep the blogging momentum going. Claudia Allen would really appreciate it. (Editor’s note: Yes, she would.)