Connecting Professionally Through the Mentor Program

maia hanronMaia Hanron, Director of Career and Personal Development, Green Mountain College
LinkedIn:
www.linkedin.com/in/maiahanronsanford
Twitter: @GMCCareers

You could say I am relatively new at the career advising world.  While I am rounding out my eighth year in higher education, I am only in my second year in career cervices, coming from the admissions department at my current institution, Green Mountain College in Vermont.

The transition has been a perfect transferability of skills and one I feel is a lifelong fit! It was this idea of putting “transferability of skills” into action, that I have started to realize many things about the career advising world—one being that you have to practice what you preach! I have never worked within a field where you are constantly encouraged to step back and focus on your own personal and professional development while encouraging others to do so. If I encourage my students to network for various reasons, then I better have a good anecdote on how it has been beneficial in my own life. It’s the same with a concept like mentoring.

The idea of mentorship, while not a new concept to me in general, was definitely a new concept to me professionally. When I heard about NACE’s mentorship program, I didn’t hesitate to sign up. My department is very small, so although I wear the title of director, I undoubtedly have much to learn.

I was inspired to be able to maintain a steady relationship with another professional who might be able to shed some light on areas I either struggle with, think about, am working to improve, or any other off-the cuff matters that come to mind. Marc Goldman, my current mentor, fits the bill!  We have been communicating for about six months on a variety of topics ranging from student engagement, to employer relations, to various resources he has found beneficial over the years. Because of his broad range of experience, I truly value his insight!  He is also very candid to speak with, so it makes the conversation flow nicely. By our 3 p.m. phone calls, I am ready for a little comic relief!

I am glad that I have put myself out there to really try to connect through a mentorship program. Not only is it humbling to interact with professionals with such broad backgrounds, but it is also empowering to see mentoring as a great way to give back to your professional community down the line. I hope someday, I will have equally helpful advice to share with new professionals in the career advising field!

Do you need a mentor? Join the Mentor Program!

Read mentor Marc Goldman’s blog about his experience.

 

Mentoring: Providing Opportunities for Growth

Marc Goldman, Executive Director, Career Center, Yeshiva UniversityMarc Goldman, Executive Director, Career Center, Yeshiva University
Twitter: @MarcGoldmanNYC
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/marcjgoldman

Time and time again, there are discussions on campus and in the press about the need for and importance of mentors. Sure, students can use the career center and all the wonderful resources, services, and programs at their disposal. Many offices provide informational interview, job shadowing, and employers-in-residence options. More recently, broad-based mentoring programs have begun to spring up at colleges and universities, providing industry-specific career advice and shepherding through a job search and/or onboarding by way of a student’s ongoing relationship with an alumnus or professional from a particular field of interest. Both students and mentors tend to report that the relationships are beneficial and rewarding when all things click and both parties are committed to the relationship. The arrival of all of these niche and large-scale mentor programs has caused me to reflect on my own professional experience with mentors and as a mentor myself. I have certainly benefitted greatly, both early in my career and as a career center leader today, from experienced career services professionals in my sphere of influence, circle of friends, pyramid scheme, or what have you.  And I am not ashamed to call them out.

My first mentors were at the University of Maryland at College Park (UMCP), when I was a mere babe in the woods, aka graduate intern.  UMCP Career Center staffers like Linda Gast, Becky Weir, Linda Lenoir, and Cheryl Hiller helped me develop my personal framework of career counseling, provided me wonderful opportunities for growth and to contribute to a department, and encouraged me to stay in the field for the long haul. In my first full-time role at Suffolk County Community College, the ever optimistic and genuine Sylvia Camacho showed me how to run a flat office structure to great effect. Let’s not forget my boss of 13 years at NYU, my “Chief,” Trudy Steinfeld, who saw to it that I understood the Game of Thrones—I mean the politics that can occur in higher ed— modeled the fine art of schmoozing for me, and even rented me an apartment for a time. She is still someone I turn to in times of confusion or the need for advice. Her tag- team partner, Manny Contomanolis, has illuminated for me how best to manage up, has introduced me to the subtler ways and maneuvers of a director, and has always reminded me to stay true to who I am. I even have my very own support group or posse of peer directors who I can always count on for feedback and good humor. Presnell, Fredo, Nate, Lisa, and Jason all know who they are, or at least I hope so!

Having learned so much and come so far in part thanks to the presence of mentors in my professional life, when the chance came to serve as a NACE mentor, I seized the day, leaping up on my desk ala Dead Poets Society. (Sorry, I am known to be a bit theatrical.) I am currently in my fourth year of the NACE Mentor Program, and it has been a rich and rewarding experience for me. It has offered me a chance to meet both aspiring and seasoned professionals locally and throughout the country. I have connected with career services directors from large state colleges, small niche and liberal arts schools, faith-based institutions, and proprietary shops.  While I hope my mentees feel that they have gained from our year-long relationships, I know that I have learned a great deal about challenges faced on different campuses, in different locations, and with different student populations. The questions I am asked and perspectives I get to share help me reflect on my own past experiences and my current work more frequently than I might normally spend time doing. I am occasionally stumped too. Certainly, not every aspect of our business is in my wheelhouse, but I try my best to offer what insights I can from my 20 years in the field and point in the direction of helpful resources if I am at a loss. Wait, that sounds like something a career counselor might do. Funny!

What I like most about the NACE Mentor Program is that there are many colleagues out there who may not have had the luck I did in having mentors through situational and natural circumstances. And every professional can use input, feedback , or someone to vent to at some level. The NACE Mentor Program helps make that happen, and I am proud to be a part of it.

On Thursday, Maia Hanron-Sanford, director of career services at Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont and one of Marc’s mentees, blogs about her experience. Read her blog.

Become a mentor! Information on the Mentor Program is available.

100 Days Until #NACE14!

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

People seem to like even numbers. Logically, there is no reason why people feel a stronger connection to 100 versus 99 or 101, but no matter, because today marks 100 days until the NACE 2014 Conference in San Antonio.  If you are like me, you already have your countdown timer set (see here: http://bit.ly/NACE14_Countdown ) but, if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?

The conference is YOUR opportunity to take an active role in charting the future of our profession.  It is your chance to engage and provide your feedback on all the major issues facing our profession (someone once made a GREAT video about that: http://youtu.be/wT1hxrz64R4).  There is also NO better time to meet your colleagues than at the conference.  It is the BEST networking event of the year. You can look for me, I will be wearing a VERY special hat in honor of my workshop: “Be the Davy Crockett of the LinkedIn Frontier! (My workshop focuses on what you need to know to empower your students to harness the full power of LinkedIn. Learn the inside tricks and tips to identify and engage decision makers who can act as the crucial link to sourcing and employment opportunities for your students.)

You might not want to tell your boss, but having attended numerous conferences, I can also attest that they are a LOT of fun, and there are plenty of opportunities to take in the local sights (although I hope my Chicago Blackhawks will be back in the Stanley Cup Championship, keeping me tethered to the TV at night).

The Early Bird Special ends on March 1.  February is that sneaky month with 28 days, so remember that March 1 is tomorrow!  Remember the Alamo and sign up today! http://naceweb.org/ConferenceExpo/register.htm

The Trouble With Job Postings

Janet R. LongJanet R. Long
Principal, Integrity Search Inc.
Blog: http://inyourownvoice.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/janetrlong/
Twitter: @IntegritySearch

Teaching students to navigate and reply effectively to job postings—whether through internal referral systems or external job sites—is a tenet of most career development curricula. There are valuable skills to teach, from developing pointed, persuasive communication to learning to think from an employer’s perspective.

The question is, do these skills go far enough?  Are we preparing today’s emerging graduates to become tomorrow’s passive and complacent  job seekers? The trouble with job postings is that they represent only a snapshot of potential opportunities out there. What’s more, they drive large volumes of traffic to a relative handful of jobs, creating instant and intense competition for every role.

When working in private practice with mid-career job seekers, I encourage them to use the 80/20  rule when it comes to postings. That is, to spend about 20 percent of search time replying to advertised opportunities, and the remaining  80 percent using these postings as a springboard to inform a more pro-active approach.

It’s not too early to give our students the gift of this perspective.  Beyond first-destination landings, it will empower them to propel their efforts beyond the too-frequent black hole of applicant tracking systems designed to weed out rather than invite in.

Here are three ways to help our students look at and leverage job postings to get ahead of the curve:

1) Target employers of interest. Never mind if there’s not a current posting related to a specific area. If this employer is in hiring mode, more relevant roles may develop at any moment. Encourage your students to follow companies on social media, seeking  informal introductions to  internal recruiters. This helps the recruiter as well, who is often measured on metrics such as “time to fill” open roles. Having a talent pipeline for tomorrow’s openings is a strategic advantage—and it allows for informal dialogue before a cast of thousands applies to a specific posting.

2) Looks at what’s trending. On Twitter and beyond, the advertised portion of the job market is a researcher’s paradise! For instance, your students can look for common job titles and descriptive language, even in areas outside of their target geography. This gives them the right vocabulary to use when seeking out networking connections as well as to suggest potential titles and skill areas on their own resumes and LinkedIn profiles.

3) Go for the bold.  Many students already have a dream company in mind when they come to you for help and guidance. Take a tour together of the company’s website and job listings, Twitter feed, LinkedIn page, etc., and help them learn to identify challenges waiting to be solved by a smart, passionate new graduate. Show them how to put this insight to use with existing institutional resources such as alumni networks as well as their own emerging networks. Sometimes it pays to take a risk and reach out to higher-level individuals—it’s an old hiring tenet that you can get referred down the food chain but rarely up!

Have your students tried these techniques?  What are some success stories?

The One Thing Underlying Really Good Career Advice

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

How many times during any given year do you say something like the following statements?

  • “At the career fair, make the first move and introduce yourself to the company representatives with a smile and strong handshake.”
  • “It’s a good idea to create and manage a great social media presence online: have you made a LinkedIn profile yet?”
  • “Effective networking is one of the most essential elements to a successful job search. You have to put yourself out there.”

The answer is probably “a zillion.”

These pieces of career advice are frequently mentioned around the web and in career centers across the country. For good reason, too—they’re all important messages for any job seeker to hear. In 2013, I started paying attention to them more, and specifically, the resistance felt from the recipients of this advice. What was it that made some people quick to act on these words and others hesitant about it?

There was one theme that struck me most: courage. Courage underlies these pieces of advice. It’s taking action on something even when facing the fear of it.

Take the student whom you know is top notch on paper. You’ve seen her resume: she’s academically stellar with noteworthy experiences in and out of the classroom. But, she’s not one to generate a conversation. Simply advising her to introduce herself to an employer at a career fair might not work. She might need not only the “how to” of proper introductions, but also some time spent building the courage to do it.

Or, how about the student who is interested in journalism? One great piece of advice for him might be to start a blog. Not only would this give him a venue to practice his work, it would also give him the opportunity to invite others to read it. Perhaps it could turn into a portfolio of writing samples for future job applications. Beyond the instructions for setting up a blog and tips on effective posts, it may take some courage building to help him get comfortable with the idea of putting his work out there.

When I’m talking with someone who’s hesitant about following these pieces of advice, I ask them to identify the cause of their nervousness. Once a fear is named, we can create a plan to address it together. Maybe it’s writing a few “blog posts” and e-mailing them only to close family and friends to get experience hearing feedback. It could be setting the goal of initiating one in person introduction per week, even among peers on campus, until things feel comfortable. Experiencing a few small wins can build the momentum to something bigger.

NACE blog readers, what are your thoughts on courage in career conversations?

Everything You Need to Know About NACE’s Advocacy Mashup

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

To say it was interesting would be an understatement. At Friday’s Advocacy Mashup in Washington, DC, NACE and its Advocacy Committee unveiled new standards for first destination surveys, brought in experts on the subject of immigration and internships, and gathered more than 100 career services professionals for discussion on these hottest issues in the field right now. It was a three-pronged, head-spin inducing power meeting that had the room impassioned, empowered and entertained all at once. I was on site, tweeting everything I could to share the action with you. You can check out the full discussion on Twitter with #NACEAdvocacy, and you can also see NACE’s stories from each session on their Storify account.

Here’s my summary from each of the sessions.

First Destination Surveys

We kicked off the day with the unveiling of NACE’s First-Destination Survey Standards and Protocols, led by Manny Contomanolis, Associate Vice President and Director at RIT. The session included lots of time for Q&A and debate, the spirit of which was summed up nicely in this tweet by Kathy Sims from UCLA:

Key themes and noteworthy parts of the standards:

  • New terms: “knowledge rate” (instead of “response rate”) and “career outcome rate” (instead of “placement rate”). You can see more about “knowledge rate” in one of my previous blog posts from the 2013 NACE conference
  • The Standards and Protocols contains a sample survey (emphasis on “sample” cannot be stated enough), and there’s flexibility for institutions to include supplemental questions as deemed fit
  • The recommended minimum knowledge rate for surveys is 65 percent of the graduating class
  • “Full-time employment” would be defined as working 30 hours per week or more (in alignment with provisions in the Affordable Care Act)
  • NACE hopes to see early adopters use these standards with the Class of 2014, followed by wide-spread adoption for surveys of the Class of 2015
  • The target date for gathering survey data would be December 31 of each year, and NACE will request summary data from all institutions to track and share trends in hiring and higher education (participation voluntary)
  • The Standards and Protocols will continue to evolve and feedback is welcome from NACE members

International Students and Immigration Reform

Our two guest speakers for this session were Amy Scott, Associate Vice President for Federal Relations at the Association of American Universities and Heather Stewart, Counsel and Director of Immigration Policy, Public Policy Department at NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Both were subject matter experts on our current immigration policies and the activity & debate happening now in the federal government on immigration reform.

What will happen next with immigration reform, its impact on international students and how that will affect work in career services is not yet clear. There are debates right now on immigration status that focus on the level of degree earned (for instance: should the focus be on those with a Bachelor’s degree or higher?) and on area of study (the STEM fields are in primary focus now). More debate is on the possible revision of OPT hours, green cards and visa status. A major recommendation from all of this: career services professionals should work with government relations officials on campus to communicate how these issues impact students and their employment.

If I could give a “quote of the day” award, it would no doubt go to Heather Stewart. On the issue of the big focus on STEM students, she said, “You need STEM, but you need the flower, too” (referring to all of the other courses of study that lead to many necessary careers). You’ll see that line tweeted plenty of times!

Unpaid Internships

Our final session on an issue almost too hot too touch, unpaid internships, was led by Kathy Sims and featured Ross Eisenbrey, Vice President at the Economic Policy Institute and Steven M. Bloom, Director, Federal Relations, Government and Public Affairs at the American Council on Education. Some elements of NACE research on internships were featured, the Department of Labor’s test for unpaid internships was discussed and the audience was on fire with questions concerning what’s legal, ethical and fair.

Christine Cruzvergara of George Mason University tweeted out a highlight of this session – a quick look at what our speakers told us:

The one thought that stuck with me from this conversation was this: when it comes to internships and fairness, one thing we definitely have to discuss is pay. The other is the experience. What is the intern learning and doing? What is the employer teaching and gaining? It might be too early to tell where the conversation on pay, experience and internships is headed, but it’s clear this is something that NACE members from both sides of the recruiting table will be talking about and watching closely.

So, with a brain full of thoughts, a Twitter feed lit up with questions, and a few new connections made, I say thank you to the NACE team, the Advocacy Committee, and the special guest speakers who helped make the Advocacy Mashup possible. I look forward to hearing from you, NACE blog readers, about what you think on this trifecta of critical college-to-career issues.

Continuing Professional Development: The Key to Success

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

In today’s microwave culture students have been misguided to believe that great careers are built overnight. It’s true, a decade ago a student could find success by merely completing their academic work and showing up in the career center spring of their last semester and still land a great job. However, in today’s competitive, fast-paced world, the labor force evolves rapidly and students need more than their degree and a few job-search tips to obtain lasting career success. Today’s graduates must embrace life-long learning beyond the classroom in order to reap the benefits of their academic work. Knowing how to develop one’s self professionally and identify the best professional development opportunities is the “new” employability skill for graduating seniors.

In some industries, like information technology (IT), employers have made it clear that education alone will not land you a job with their company. Instead, employers are seeking IT candidates with three attributes: experience, education, and professional certifications. Like IT students, all new graduates who want to thrive in their careers will have to identify the attributes employers in their industry are seeking beyond their degree.

Professional development opportunities are plentiful and include: attending conferences, joining professional associations, registering for MOOCs, reading books, receiving mentoring, volunteering, taking assessments, accepting a leadership opportunity, conducting research, etc. Employability skills are not always learned in the classroom. For instance, attending a conference can teach a student how to network and deliver a professional pitch; becoming involved in a professional association can provide an opportunity to build leadership skills; and reading a book about employability skills or biographies of successful individuals can provide examples and testimonies of successful business behaviors.

Students experiencing barriers to employment can also benefit by working with a career adviser or mentor to create an Individual Development Plan (IDP). An IDP is a great goal setting and professional development tool that can supplement academic learning and increase employability skills. By being proactive, students can gain a competitive edge and remain employable throughout their career.