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.


Organize Your Workflow and Save Paper

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

Happy summer semester everyone! Before you can get to the end of the summer, though, do you feel like you can get to your desk? Building on James Marable’s earlier post for the NACE 2015 Conference, I wanted to take a deeper dive into one of the apps he mentioned, Evernote.

Evernote bills itself as “the modern workspace that enables you to be your most productive.” It’s a cloud-based service that allows you to create text, photo, and audio notes across a range of interfaces, combine multiple forms of media into one note that you can share with others, and organize everything in a meaningful way for later use. It has radically changed how I look at productivity, and I hope it can do the same for you!

Here are three ideas from my workflow to help you make the most of Evernote:

Banish a blizzard of paper from your desk: Before Evernote, I planned everything out on paper and gathered more paper for handouts. Then I created physical file folders for all that paper and filed them away. My computer monitor was decorated with a wide array of Post-Its and other scraps of paper that were vitally important, but lacked a permanent home.

Not anymore!

Now, I create a new note with my ideas, and attach any ideas for handouts to that same note so I don’t have to hunt for them in multiple places. I organize individual notes into topical notebooks and tag categories across notebooks. The screenshot below shows you an example of note organization. You see my “Program Planning” notebook with historical/current data around past programs and supporting content I’d like to use for future programs. I’ve highlighted my tag list in yellow. This list allows me to group items by category across notebooks.

craig evernote desktop

I may have notes about how to use the Symplicity Counseling Module within this notebook, but I use the Counseling Module tag, highlighted in orange, to categorize everything I have about it in Evernote. 

To-do lists are also far more dynamic within Evernote. Instead of a list of static items, I can add additional information, updates, and next steps to accomplish each item. Once I complete an item, I don’t have to get rid of it if I don’t want to, making it easy to use it as a recurring to-do list.

Free your inbox from “reference” items: Raise your hand if your inbox contains hundreds or even thousands of items “for reference.” One of the best features of Evernote is that you can e-mail documents into your account and sort them into individual notebooks from the e-mail message. In the screenshot below, you’ll see that I’m sending a meeting agenda into my Temple University notebook, and the note will be tagged “communications.” It won’t get lost once you send it to Evernote because anything that’s in your account is searchable, so give your inbox a break!

craig evernote emailSlay the paper monster: I remember at my first job having folder upon folder of articles and ideas that I wanted to share with students. Did I ever do that? No—I never saw that paper again after I carefully filed it away. Two additional Evernote add-ons have really helped me cut down on the amount of physical paper I retain, making it more likely that I’ll use the paper I have.

Scannable App: This free iOS app allows you to capture high quality scans of any document and share directly into your Evernote account, as well as through other channels. I would call this a must have app to lighten your load!

Doxie Scanner: If you’ve got a bigger paper monster to slay, consider investing in a Doxie Scanner. These scanners are small, easy to use, and have great Evernote integration. The small size makes it easy to use for home and work, and you could also take this to #NACE16. I’ve probably scanned more than 2,000 pieces of paper with my Doxie, so they are quite durable.

Do you already use Evernote? What’s your favorite feature? What organizational project are you tackling at work this summer? Share your ideas in the comments.


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.


Redefining Professional Development for Career Advisers

Ross WadeRoss Wade, Assistant Director, Duke University Career Center
Personal blog:
LinkedIn URL:
Twitter: @rrwade
Blogs from Ross Wade.

Does professional development for career services staff need an update? Is the model of “go to a conference or do an assessment training” still as relevant as career services is changing so much and so quickly? What can we do to grow as professionals, connect more with employers and alumni, and gain credibility with our students and other stakeholders? I think it is time to consider redefining what professional development for career services staff means, and how it is done. I’m not talking about ditching annual conferences, they are of great value, what I’m saying is I think it is time to add a few more options.

In July of 2014, Farouk Dey and Christine Y. Cruzvergara, co-authored an article called “10 Future Trends in College Career Services.” Number 10 in their inspiring and thought provoking piece, “New Breed of Professionals,” resonated with me—especially the statement, “To be successful, career center staff must become agile content experts and network catalysts who will lead communities and develop meaningful connections among their constituents.” In my experience, in order to gain credibility with students, having experience in the field in which I advise (media, arts, and entertainment) is very important. When I tell students that I’ve worked in documentary and digital media, and know of some great companies that could be a good fit for them (based on my personal experience) I get student buy-in very quickly.

My ideas for tweaking career services staff professional development options involve creating opportunities for gaining industry experience; generating and growing relationships with employers, alumni, faculty, and staff; and serve as a means for staff to gain some “street cred” (with students, employers, and faculty).

The concept of career staff having the option to do some form of industry internship during the summer is very exciting to me. The internship doesn’t have to be full-time; it could be eight to 10 hours a week over four to six weeks. The internship could be hands-on, or more observational and include informational interviews. Regardless of the specifics, this experience would give staff a chance to understand industry skills and trends as well as positions and roles within specific industries and companies, and the chance to connect with experts and HR professionals.

For example, there is a wonderful art start-up in my area connecting artists to consumers via social media and storytelling—I’d love to intern there, creating content, connecting with artists, and growing the art scene in my community. Think of all the connections I’d make and skills I’d learn. My improved knowledge of this industry and number of contacts in art I’d make would generate credibility with faculty and students.

Approaching employers with the idea of hiring an “adult”/career staff intern may at first raise some eyebrows, but just as we tell our students, if one creates a pitch and plan (with a timeline, tasks, and goals), that is brand new or a modified version of an existing internship program, what could we lose? Don’t want to intern at company? Try an internship at another office at your institution.

For example, it would be a great opportunity to intern with the communications office at my home institution, or in the multicultural center. Think of the new connections to be made and opportunities to find points for future collaboration! Is research your thing? Approach a faculty member focused on an industry or topic of relevance to career development, and pitch a research idea. Spend 10 or so hours a week during the summer researching and writing. Career staff doing research with faculty – whaaaat?! It may sound crazy, but I think it is a wonderful idea, and I bet it is already happening at institutions across the country.

Other benefits include staff cross training opportunities after the internship or research is completed, heightened staff engagement and excitement, and great content (e.g. photos, blog posts, interviews with professionals) to share across campus via social media to generate interest in career services. What ideas do you have? I’d love to get employer thoughts on this. How would you redefine professional development for career services staff?

#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.






bradleysnyder 2

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



Presentation Skills for Aspiring Leaders—Step 3: Takeaways

Sue Keever WattsSue Keever Watts
Senior Director at ROI Communication
Twitter: @SueKeever
Blogs from Sue Keever Watts.

The third element in any presentation is “your story.” Your story is your message. Whether you’re giving a PowerPoint presentation or presenting without any props or aids at all, think of your message as a coherent story.

You want the audience to keep their eyes on you (not on your slides or props). Because we read from left to right, stand to the left (audience’s left) of the screen. Your slides simply keep you on track. The shorter the better.  Too much data and your audience will get overloaded and ultimately disconnect. Don’t anticipate your next slide. Look at the slide as though you’re seeing it for the first time along with the audience. Slides exist to queue you. They’re not the storyteller. You are. Use your voice to drive home your point.

Don’t read your slides verbatim. Reading puts people to sleep and completely kills all interest in your topic. It undermines your credibility and is the fastest way to drive people from the room.

If presenting a quote, look at the slide together and say something like, “Read the words of a great leader.” If you’re presenting findings or statistics, don’t try to fit everything into one slide. Select one statistic per slide and be creative. For example, instead of showing a bar chart of your intern conversion rates over the past five years, show one slide that says “Conversion rates up 75 percent.”

End with a quote, a story, a challenge, or a call to action. If you want to keep people’s attention, make eye contact. If you want to make your story relevant, then use the word “you.” Incorporate statements such as “Have you ever” or “I believe you’ll find” or “What do you think about?”  Your presentation isn’t all about you—it’s all about your audience.

Remember, if your body language or your voice gets in the way of your overall message, you’ll lose your audience. Delivery can make or break your presentation, so spend as much time on your voice and your nonverbal communication as you do your slide deck.

Sue Keever Watts will deliver Presentation Skills for Aspiring Leaders on Wednesday, June 3, at NACE15. She has been helping leaders develop their presentation skills for more than 25 years.

If you missed part 1 or part 2, you can read them on the NACE Blog.

Presentation Skills for Aspiring Leaders—Step 2: Delivery

Sue Keever WattsSue Keever Watts
Senior Director at ROI Communication
Twitter: @SueKeever
Blogs from Sue Keever Watts.

There are three things that matter when you’re presenting. Here’s a hint—one of the three is not your PowerPoint deck. The three things include your nonverbal communication, your voice, and your message. Your body language (nonverbal communication) and voice dramatically impact whether your audience believes what you have to say. Simply put, the way you deliver your message is what people use to judge your level of expertise, intelligence, and trustworthiness. We’ve all watched presentations where we couldn’t get past the speaker’s irritating voice, her pacing, or his lack of eye contact.

Let’s start with the most important of the three, which is nonverbal communication. By this I mean your posture, your body language, and your overall presence. Although difficult, the best way to stand in front of an audience is with your arms at your side. Clasping your hands together is a natural response to fear. In essence, you’re covering or protecting yourself. And, when you clasp your hands, you look nervous (which, of course, you are). When you look nervous, you appear less confident and that impacts your credibility.

You can use your hands to make a point or to point at something, but when not in use, they should be at your side. Also, when you move, move with purpose. Don’t rock back and forth, and don’t wander aimlessly. Walk over to one side of your audience, make eye contact with someone in the audience, make your point, pause, and then walk to another side of the room and do the same thing. Making eye contact with individuals in your audience creates intimacy. Finally, don’t talk at your audience, talk to them. Think of your presentation as a conversation. How would you deliver this information to one person over a cup of coffee? A good presenter is able to close the gap between herself and her audience.

The second most important element in your presentation is your voice. By voice, I mean your cadence, how you punctuate your sentences, and whether or not you pause. Have you ever listened to a presentation and the speaker’s voice never changed? It didn’t speed up or slow down. It didn’t rise or fall. It was flat, it was frenetic, or it was extremely loud throughout the entire presentation. More than likely, you lost interest.

Effective presenters raise their voices to accentuate a point. They lower their voices to almost a whisper to draw in their audience. Pausing is one of the most effective tools in the presenter’s arsenal. Every time you pause, you give the audience time to fully absorb what you’ve said. It is truly the only way that you can effectively get your message across. Oftentimes people give too much information. They give it too quickly. They don’t pause. And, then they wonder why no one was able to remember what they said. Pause often, and pause after you’ve made an important point. Finally, use your voice to punctuate your sentences. Don’t be afraid to demonstrate a little emotion by raising your voice (or lowering your voice), using your arms, or simply pausing to let the full impact of your message reach the audience.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about takeaways. If you have any suggestions or related stories, please e-mail me at

Read Step 1 on the NACE Blog. Also, see Step 3.