Dear Students, Don’t “Hey” Me

Smedstad-HeadshotShannon Smedstad, Employment Brand Director, Global Communications & Engagement Team, CEB
Twitter: @shannonsmedstad
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/shannonsmedstad
Blogs from Shannon Smedstad.

I can recall my mother telling me, “Don’t ‘hey’ me,” when I was a teenager. This was her go-to response after I would start a statement or question with “Hey, Mom.” To her, it was too casual. “Hey” was something you said to your friends, not to your parents. Or it was something horses eat.

Many years later, I find myself thinking the same thing when college students begin job-related messages using the word “Hey.” During my time as a campus recruiter, I recall receiving too many e-mails beginning with “Hey, Shannon.” Now, in my work in employment branding and social media, I still receive the occasional, “Hey.” Recently, I received and responded to a direct message via Facebook that read:

“Hey. I’m an undergraduate management student. Looking for summer internship. How do I approach it?”

What I wanted to say was, “Let’s start the conversation by being a bit more professional, as this will help you greatly during the job-search and interview process.” But alas, I didn’t.

Are students too casual when writing to or engaging with recruiters? Is it OK to be casual or is this a pet peeve that we can collectively nip in the bud? My hope is for the latter. My simple request is that career center staff (and professors and parents) will coach their students not to address company representatives or people with corporate social media using “Hey.”

Job Seeker Tip! Don’t address your e-mails and cover letters with “Hey, Recruiter.” Be more professional. Up your game. #careeradvice

Job Search Tip of the Day: Do not begin e-mails, cover letters, and conversations with recruiters or hiring managers using “Hey.” It’s way too casual. Throughout your job search strive to be friendly, conversational, and professional.

Maybe this bit of advice is something that is shared during Job-Search 101 sessions or mock-interview days. Or, maybe I’m just getting old.

What do you think? Is it OK to address a recruiter with “Hey?” Share your thoughts in the comments.

Five Books Every Student Should Read

Lakeisha Mathews

Lakeisha M. Mathews, Director, Career and Professional Development Center, University of Baltimore
Twitter: @RightResumes_CC
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/lakeishamathews/
Blogs from Lakeisha Matthews.

A few months ago I wrote about 10 must-read books for career professionals. Now I would like to draw attention to a few must-read books for any student who aspires to be successful, a leader, or simply to be ready for the world of work.

With information always at their fingertips, students can access tips, samples, and information on career and professional development in a split second on Google, YouTube, Pinterest, and so forth. However, many professionals can attest to the book that changed our lives, or the author that helped us mature and think differently about ourselves. Our students should be encouraged to have the same encounters with books that help them grow and mature professionally. Whether it’s a hard back, soft cover, or e-book, books are beneficial to help students grow professionally and we should be recommending them.

Lifehack.org, a website dedicated to providing tips for productivity, features an article entitled “10 Benefits of Reading: Why You Should Read Every Day.” The author asserts that reading increases knowledge, improves your ability to articulate, strengthens analytical thinking skills, and has a positive effect on writing skills. Another website, Persistence Unlimited, offers 26 benefits to reading in an article, “The 26 Major Advantages to Reading More Books.” And, “Why 3 in 4 People Are Being Shut Out of Success” explores improving creativity, making more money, improving reasoning skills, and building expertise as benefits of reading. What do you know? Surprisingly, many of the benefits of reading are a direct match to the skills and qualities employers want from candidates. As noted, in the 2015 Job Outlook, employers seek candidates who are strong in communication, analysis, problem-solving, and creativity skills.

It’s safe to say that reading books can have a positive impact on students’ professional and career development. For that reason, I recommend providing students with suggested reading materials as a “career task” to address skill gaps, expand industry expertise, and help make informed career decisions. At the University of Baltimore, we have begun recommending books to help students write resumes and cover letters, learn about the federal hiring process, effectively use social media, build a professional brand, and increase understanding of career planning in general. And, to our surprise, students have embraced our recommendations.

Below are a few books, in no particular order, which had an enormous impact on my professional development as a college student and entry-level professional.

  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
  •  Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace by Daniel Goleman
  • My Reality Check Bounced by Jason Dorsey
  • Peaks and Valleys by Spencer Johnson
  • Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson

Of course books are not the sole format to recommend to students. Periodicals (in print and online) such as newspapers, professional journals, and business magazines are other sources for rich reading material that will help students grow professionally.

Dr. Seuss wrote in I Can Read With My Eyes Shut, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

If you had to identify five books that had a positive impact on your professional development or success what would be on your list?

Once More a Student: Will an Ed.D. Make Me a Better Counselor?

Janet R. LongJanet R. Long
Founder, Integrity Search Inc.
Career counselor, Widener University
Blog: http://inyourownvoice.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/janetrlong/
Twitter: @IntegritySearch
Blogs from Janet Long.

When I made the transition from executive search to higher-ed career counseling a year ago, I felt pretty sure that my mid-life master’s degree in higher-ed student services completed my formal education. Gaining a foundation in a dozen counseling theories and learning about challenges such as lack of access for underrepresented groups provided important context for my role at an institution that serves many first-generation students. Graduate internships at very different types of institutions—one a religiously affiliated private university, the other of a large regional community college— offered invaluable opportunities for applied learning.

As I continued to apply this learning in my first formal higher-ed role, I realized there was still more to learn and integrate. In a moment of suspended sanity, I applied and was accepted to the higher ed doctoral program at my own institution, a continuation of the master’s degree I earned two years earlier. No one pressured me to do this or suggested that it might make me a better counselor, especially since the program’s focus is on leadership and administration. And yet, here I am a student once again, steeping in the literature, relearning APA-ese, and regaining my appreciation for nighttime caffeine. I can compare notes with my students on writing end-of-term papers, mastering SPSS, and keeping a complicated life in balance.

The past year, I feel like I won the lottery. As my institution’s career liaison to undergraduate liberal arts majors—from history to astronomy to anthropology— I’ve melded pure exploration with hands-on skills development and pulled out my back-in-the-day undergraduate English major when it underscored a point. I’ve also been humbled by how truly difficult it is to be a student today, how different it is from my previous experience when internships were a “nice-to-have” and a decent entry-level job for a hardworking English major was reasonably assured.

Most of my students compete for multiple internships—nearly always unpaid—while juggling at least one “gritty” part-time job, student research, significant community service, half a dozen extracurriculars, and full course loads.  As a group, they are inspiring, appreciative, exhausted—and fearful about the future. In short, they are like so many of the students that we support at our NACE member institutions. As their counselor, I celebrate every milestone with them—a sought-after interview, an offer, a grad program acceptance—and empathize with every disappointment.

In my alternative universe as a student, while two years away from formally starting my dissertation, I have begun to shape a research agenda around the career applications—and implications—of earning a liberal arts degree outside of a small liberal arts college. In this light, the dreaded advanced statistics courses become an avenue to discovering knowledge with the potential to make a difference for both my students and the organizations that might employ them. Will this make me a better counselor?  I certainly hope so.

 

Manage Your Time – Don’t Let It Manage You

Jason Bauer-Clapp

Jason Bauer-Clapp, associate director of Internships & Programs, Smith College, Lazarus Center for Career Development
Twitter: @jason_bc
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jbauerclapp

Whether we’re helping students manage competing priorities and deadlines, or supporting ourselves and our colleagues’ efforts to stay on track with current responsibilities and new projects, most career services professionals are drawn to approaches that enable us to accomplish work more efficiently and effectively.

In this post I’ll share a few of my favorite workflow “hacks”—productivity practices that promote action rather than reaction, which can lead to checking items off our to-do lists more smoothly. This is a topic I have long been curious about, but it wasn’t until a few years ago (coinciding with becoming a parent) that I began actively exploring, practicing, and sharing these strategies.

Effective approaches to managing time—or, more precisely, how we focus our energy and effort during that time—will vary by individual, and I suspect many of these ideas will be familiar for readers. Here are my favorite tips:

Break projects into small action steps. With a large-scale undertaking, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the project’s scope, complexity, and how far it is to the finish line, all of which create resistance. Bypass this reaction by deconstructing a project into micro-steps, each of which will bring us a little closer towards our goal and create momentum. Use action verbs to define each step, and strive to make each action one that can be accomplished in a single sitting.

Externalize to-dos. As amazing as our brains are, they are relatively poor at remembering tasks and lists. By offloading the responsibility of remembering to-dos to a reliable, accessible, and external source (paper or digital), we free up cognitive resources for addressing the tasks. Choose a method that is simple to implement and easily accessed virtually anywhere: You want to be able to capture ideas quickly and have your list close at hand for regular review. I recommend using one integrated list rather than separate lists for home, school, work, and so forth.

Do your most complex work when you’re at your best. What time of day do you tend to be most alert and engaged? Each of us differs: for many it is early- to mid-morning, for others it is late at night. To the extent that is practical for you, reserve this time for your most mentally demanding work, those creative, strategic, or problem-solving tasks that benefit the most from your sustained focus.

Minimize “always on” e-mail. Do you find it difficult to resist checking your inbox when you know new messages are waiting? Few people enjoy being interrupted when immersed in a project or conversation, yet we do this to ourselves when e-mail inboxes are kept open throughout our work days, encouraging a state of constant vigilance and dispersed focus dubbed “continuous partial attention” by researcher Linda Stone. Set aside dedicated times throughout your day to review and respond to e-mail messages; outside of those times, close your e-mail client or inbox tab so you can focus on other tasks.

The list of individuals exploring and offering advice on productivity and time management is lengthy. Some I’ve found particularly helpful (and whose work inspired this post) include Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, author of The Distraction Addiction; time management expert Elizabeth Grace Saunders; writer and researcher Daniel Goleman; David Allen, creator of Getting Things Done; and Scott Belsky, founder of 99U and author of Making Ideas Happen.

What practices or approaches help you stay productive? What’s missing from this list that you’d like others to know about?

 

Submit Your Accomplishments for a NACE Award Today!

Brian ProzellerBrian Prozeller, Manager, Campus Recruitment, Liberty Mutual Insurance
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/brian-prozeller/8/796/12b

In the dynamic fast-paced world of campus recruiting, it is hard to slow down, breathe, and take a look back. As I reflect on the topic of honors and awards, I remember how much was accomplished at Liberty Mutual Insurance in a short year.

Insurance is a bottom line business, and sometimes we are forced to answer the question, “What have you (the employee) done for me (the company) lately?” The answer is A LOT! But, do we take the time catalog, reflect, and recognize that work? Not always.

Great institutions understand the importance of regularly recognizing staff. Regular, genuine recognition strengthens relationships, creates a positive work environment, and motivates teams and individuals to innovate, take risks, and perform well.

Much like the blogger extraordinaire before me, Marc Goldman, I never thought the fields of career services and campus recruiting would have its own awards program, but we do. NACE understands the power of recognizing teams, individuals, and organizations. It culminates in the Honors and Awards ceremony during the annual NACE 2015 Conference in Anaheim!).

As a proud member of this year’s Honors and Awards committee, I encourage NACE members to take a minute and think about all you have accomplished. The process of submitting for an award may take time, but it might also help you recognize a tremendous team effort, an individual success, or a simple WIN, and who doesn’t like wins? At Liberty Mutual, we’ve tried to make submitting for an award an annual occurrence, and regardless of the result, it always brings us together.

Celebrate accomplishments with us and submit for an award before the January 31 deadline. Visit the NACE website (http://www.naceweb.org/about-us/awards.aspx) today!

Special thanks to this year’s Honors and Awards Committee and to our fearless leaders, Megan Murden and Leslie Stevenson.

NACE and the Power of Engagement

Dan Black

Dan Black, Americas Director of Recruiting, EY
Twitter: @DanBlack_EY
LinkedIn: Dan Black

“I’m engaged!!” I can still remember my (now) wife uttering that phrase over and over the night that I proposed to her more than 15 years ago. It was a wonderful feeling: listening to the excitement in her voice as she spoke to what seemed to be everyone she knew—and maybe even a few people she didn’t—to share the happy news. I, too, was caught up in the euphoria of the moment, recounting the story and reflecting on our joyous new relationship status and the promise of wonderful things to come. It’s an experience and a feeling that I will never forget.

As I reflect back on my year as NACE President, I’m once again finding myself in awe of the power of engagement, and the bright future that it is securing for our association. NACE Board service provides a unique purview into many aspects of the organization: the strategic planning, the tireless work of the NACE staff, and the focus on innovation, to name a few. But above all, it gave me a new appreciation for the variety of opportunities available to our members to make a real, tangible impact on our organization and the profession; the chance to be truly engaged. One of my fellow past presidents and colleagues, Andy Ceperley, describes engagement as “feeling the commitment, believing that our contributions are important, and caring deeply about advancing a cause or a body of work.” I think that’s the perfect definition, and gets to the heart of what I experienced and observed: the most engaged members were those who found ways to make their involvement personal. For some, that means serving in leadership roles on the Board, committees, or task forces. But for many others, it means contributing in ways that may seem less “official” on the surface, but are every bit as critical to the success of the association. Countless members advance our mission by hosting events, imparting valuable leading practices, delivering content, or sharing their NACE experience.

Other members reached out to me, personally, to provide input in the form of innovative suggestions, real time feedback on NACE offerings, and offers to assist with new initiatives. The creation of the new NACE Ambassador program at the end of my term provided the opportunity for members to truly customize their involvement while assisting with member outreach and inclusion. Together, these opportunities provide a powerful platform for engagement. And, it’s taught me to appreciate the fact that when individual members feel empowered to contribute in a variety of ways, the membership as a whole truly reaps the benefits.

Before I close, let me draw one last parallel. NACE engagement, like any serious personal commitment, requires a conscious and deliberate effort on behalf of the individual. I would encourage each of you to actively seek out ways to make a contribution in a way that is meaningful to you. I can tell you from experience that there are countless ways to get involved and that the rewards—much like those I’ve enjoyed ever since I said “I Do”—are immeasurable.

A Career Counselor’s Story: Law and Order, a Documentary, Three States, Four Coffee Shops, Two Record Stores, and 10 Years Is All it Takes.

Ross WadeRoss Wade, assistant director, Duke University Career Center
Personal blog: http://mrrosswade.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn URL: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosswade
Twitter: @rrwade
Blogs from Ross Wade.

I’m a ham. I admit it. I always have been. Remember the kid in high school that sat in the back of the class, cracked jokes, and mimicked the teacher for laughs? That was me. From an early age I was told I was funny and clever and that I should be an actor. That became my identity, and most of my decisions regarding college and career were based on that identity. In college I had seven different majors, but most of my time I spent in the theater department. My sophomore year I auditioned, and got into, the B.F.A. acting program, and for about three years, I spent almost every day with the same 11 students (who are now dear friends). I loved it. My senior year, I got cold feet after hearing “What kind of ‘real job’ are you going to get with a B.F.A. in acting?” too many times to count. My solution? I changed my major, one final time, to communications, with a “media performance” concentration. Almost all of my theater classes transferred over, and I only had to take five communications classes my senior year to graduate with a B.S. in communications.

My first “real job” after graduation? Working at the downtown coffee shop…walking distance from the theatre department. I had no idea what to do with my life. One day a friend visited the coffee shop and asked me if I wanted to move to Chicago. I said, “Sure.”

A week later we were packed in her brother’s van heading to the Windy City. My first job in Chicago? Working at a coffee shop. When not slinging coffee or working at a record and video store (I needed two jobs to pay the rent) I was trying to act in student films. While I enjoyed Chicago as best I could, I was mostly lonely and anxious. Friends were hard to make, and I was in bit of an existential crisis trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. After a year in Chicago, a friend in New York City called and asked if I wanted to move to NYC to sublet his room for a year. I said, “Sure.”

In NYC, I was able to get an internship with a documentary filmmaker and her crew. We spent the summer of 2001 in a small Rhode Island town shooting a film about a wealthy, highly educated, family that learns their wealth came from the slave trade. The film documented the family’s journey from Rhode Island, to Cuba, to Ghana, traveling the route of the slaves their family members bought generations before. I became close to this family and the crew, I loved the tight-knit feeling of working on a small project for a big cause and becoming a part of a community. I liked documentary more than acting, it certainly felt more meaningful to me, but still, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend so much time on location (traveling and away from home) and spending hours and hours researching grants for funding.

I was in Tribeca, about 11 blocks north from the World Trade Center, when the city was attacked on 9/11. I, and thankfully my friends, was uninjured…just terrified, heartbroken, and confused. Most filming in the city was shut down, and in order to make ends meet, I started waiting tables at the World Wrestling Federation restaurant in Times Square (that experience could be its own blog post – ha!). Later I was able to do some freelance work as a production assistant with the show Law and Order, but really, after such a tough year, I wanted to be home with my friends and family. So, that’s what I did. I landed a job back home working in digital media as a production assistant (and then producer) for a small company. We worked very hard, and many long hours, and as a result became extremely close. One day, an intern I worked with told me I should consider being a college career counselor.

“Colleges have career counselors?” As an undergrad, my world was theater 24/7 and I had no idea there were student affairs professionals, like career counselors, that got paid to help students. Crazy! I did some research on careers in student affairs, decided to pursue career counseling, earned my graduate degree, and then landed my first career counseling gig for a school of communications. Finally, I found a job that satisfies my desire for building meaningful relationships, provides community, allows me to help others every day, AND I get to perform (and be a big ole ham!) doing workshops and presentations. It only took me three states, four coffee shops, three record stores, one documentary, a television show, and 10 years to get here!

So you are probably asking yourself by now, “Why is Ross telling this long story. What is the point?” Good questions. I shared my story to highlight a few points that may be helpful to you as you work with your students as they consider “What should I do with my life?”

Identity – it’s about you, not other’s perceptions of you.

Feedback is important, but I frequently tell students not let anyone tell them who they are or what they should do with their lives. Many students get feedback from friends and (especially) family on what to do career wise. Feedback from these folks, while well intentioned, can be based on issues about themselves and their own experiences…not necessarily about the student. I normally ask students to investigate common denominators from past experiences that can shed light on possible career options. For me, though, I love to perform—community and a sense of helping others—is most important in my career. I found evidence of this time and time again as I reflected on why I love theatre, film, and the arts. The art part is fun, but I most valued working hard, as part of a community, towards a common goal.

Just say “sure” and trust your gut – it’s leading you someplace good.

I find myself saying this to students a lot—“If you don’t know what to do, just do something, anything, and that will inform the next thing.” Every time I tell someone my career story, they say “Wow, you’ve landed the perfect job for yourself!” And as I look back, I agree with them. At the time it seemed that my career was chaotic and directionless. But if I had not made that drive to Chicago, then taken that room in New York, and then come back home, I never would be enjoying my job as a career adviser for media, arts, and entertainment students. I was building an incredible resume and didn’t even know it!

Share your story.

Your students need to hear your career story. Pursuing a career is daunting no matter what industry or major. Disclosing some of your accomplishments and failures (yes, I used the “F” word) normalizes fears and confusion, and provides insight students can use as they pursue their goals. When I tell my students I had seven majors, or took a risk and moved to a big city where I really didn’t know anyone, or had to work at a wrestling themed restaurant to pay the bills until I landed another film or TV gig, and was still able to mange to find a career I love it gives them hope (and ideas!). A couple of summers ago, at the career center where I work, the staff did audio recordings of stories reflecting that in which they believe. These personally told career stories are posted on our “staff” web page and available for students to listen to. Our students love this! I’ve had quite a few students make appointments with me specifically because of the story I share about my career journey.

What is your career story? Leave a comment and let me know – I’d love to read it (and I bet others would too)!