NACE15 Revisited: Putting Learning Into Action

joe hayesJoe Hayes, Assistant Director, Employer Relations & Internships, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Twitter: @_JosephHayes
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/josephhayes1

You know a conference was beneficial when your return flight home is delayed several hours and a 4 a.m. arrival doesn’t feel that bad. Perhaps the long delay was a needed blessing in that it forced reflection on all things learned at NACE15. I’d almost go as far to say “thank you” unidentified airline for the delay, but those would be words uttered by no one ever.

The 2015 NACE Conference provided many nuggets of information that I hope (and some I have already begun) to implement into our work—ultimately benefiting the student-employer relationship.

COPE: Create Once, Publish Everywhere
First, Lindsey Pollak’s keynote was inspiring. There could honestly be an entire blog on this alone. From the Millennial shift from traditional employment to “tours of duty,” and the basic skills that need to be taught (the handshake, how to answer a phone, and interesting items such as “how to fail” and “how to resign.”)—Ms. Pollak was the right speaker at the right time to kick off the first full day at NACE.

A quick takeaway and action item from Ms. Pollak’s talk centered on how to connect with the largest work force in America—Millennials. Here, Ms. Pollak described COPE, “create one, publish everywhere.” This mantra illustrates the importance of connecting with students in a manner that best resonates with them—which to Millennials, can be everything and anything. For example, in career services we often create professional development trainings for students. Following the COPE method, we will continue to host training events, but will look to make it more lasting. This may include not only having the event, but live tweeting from it, streaming the event live, recording and re-using it on our website, pushing it out via audio recording, publishing the text translation, featuring it in a future newsletter, and so forth. In other words, use technology to the fullest to target those that may prefer to get their information in various formats.

Customization
In addition to COPE, and in similar fashion, customization toward the user/student was a central theme of NACE15. In other words, asking your target audience for feedback and customizing it toward them can and will be critical for success.

On my first day back from NACE, our office, the Academic and Career Development Center, was looking to further increase student usage of our office-run job and internship listing system—UNO Career Connect. One suggestion was whether our current branding was customized in messaging to students. We examined the listing system tag line—“UNO Career Connect: Connecting UNO to Career Opportunities” versus a shortened alternative title.

Following the theme of customization, we ran short focus groups around campus—asking students, faculty and staff what best resonated with them. To our surprise, nearly 80 percent of faculty and staff supported the former and nearly 80 percent of students (the intended audience) supported the latter—with feedback from students stating, “Say what it is,” and “Less is more.” This complete opposite feedback is making us rethink how we target to and get buy-in from students, and ensure our services are customized.

NACE15 left a positive impression and provided many lasting takeaways that can easily and effectively be implemented in our daily work. Now if only NACE could help solve airline delays!

Innovation Labs Pull Standing Room Only Crowds

 

image6“Sparking insight and innovation”–the theme for NACE15–came to life at today’s Innovation Labs, a new offering for NACE’s yearly conference.

NACE15 attendees looking for information on recruiting, data collection, salary negotiation, student success, and new technology packed two ballrooms.

Attendees sat in chairs and on the floor, and stood three-rows deep along the walls.

Innovation Labs sparked animated conversations among attendees and with presenters. Attendees had to lean in to hear what everyone was saying because there were so many discussions going on.

Thanks to the interactivity of the labs, presenters and attendees alike shared the excitement and energy.

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Get Ready. Get Set. Get Packing!

Caroline CunninghamCaroline Cunningham, Recruiting Team Lead for Enterprise Hiring at Chevron Corporation and co-chair of the NACE 2015 Conference Committee
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/caroline-miller-cunningham/3/30b/769

I can’t believe NACE 2015 will be my eighth NACE conference! Over the years, I have traveled to some pretty fun places like New Orleans, Orlando, Dallas, and Las Vegas—twice! Between my travels to the NACE conference, and many years of campus and conference recruiting trips, I have learned a few dos and don’ts about packing that I hope will be helpful for you as you get ready to come to Anaheim.

1. When packing your clothes, try these things to keep them from getting creased in your suitcase:

  • Roll Your Clothes: Backpackers swear by this method. Rolling works well with pants, skirts, and sport shirts. Lay the item face down, fold back the sleeves, and roll from the bottom up.
  • Fold Clothes Together: Take two or more garments—for example trousers—and lay half of one pair on top of the other. Fold the one on the bottom over the pair on the top. Then take the other and fold it over the top. This gives each pair some cushion where you’ve folded, so it’s less likely either will crease or wrinkle in the folds.

2. Most hotels provide basic toiletries like shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, and disposable razors. Lighten your load by calling ahead to see what will be provided.

3. Bring clothes in neutral colors that you can mix and match, and only pack shoes that can be worn with multiple outfits. Believe me, a pair of black pants and a pair of black flats go a long way!

4. Check the weather at your destination before you leave and pack accordingly. If the weather deviates significantly from the forecast, you can always buy a sweater or rain poncho and keep it as a souvenir. Temperatures average in the low 80s in June in Anaheim, but the conference rooms can be chilly, so pack a light sweater or wrap.

5. Bring a few laundry pods. These are one of the greatest inventions for travelers. I always pack a few of these in my suitcase in case I spill or need to quickly wash a T-shirt or blouse.

6. Use zipper storage bags. These are great for organizing socks and undergarments or packing individual outfits in your suitcase. I always tuck a few extra in my suitcase as well for a wet bathing suit or those souvenir soaps I want to bring home.

7. If you have a tablet or small laptop, bring it. Last year, I took notes on my iPad during several of the sessions and was so glad to have it with me.

8. Other items you might want to pack include a stretchy exercise band for a quick in-room workout, a baseball hat and flip flops to run down and get coffee first thing before you shower, an umbrella (though in California lately those are rarely used), and a neck or back pillow for the plane.

Lastly, I can’t tell you how worthwhile it has been for me to invest in a really good carry-on size suitcase.  I opted for a lightweight polycarbonate case with four way spinners and an external pocket for my laptop.  This thing is tough as nails and can hold a surprising amount of stuff.  The bonus is not having to check my luggage.

Happy packing and see you in Anaheim!

Career Adviser, Promote Thyself!

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.

Career centers tend to be organizationally flat. Typically, as a career services professional, you will start out as a career adviser or an assistant director, and then you are promoted to associate director, and then director. Maybe later you can become a dean of some kind…but mostly you will be doing the same thing, at the same level, for a long time. This is especially true if you’d like to stay in the same city or state.

For some career development professionals, this is fine (in fact, it is wonderful), as their goals are to “be on the ground” helping students, and not to climb the organizational ladder to the top. Other career professionals value growth in title and responsibility, and may become a frustrated with the pace in which opportunities for promotion arise. So…what is a solution for those of us who love what we do, but are itching for more?

Promote yourself! And after you give yourself a promotion…well…you’ll have to promote it! I’m talking two kinds of promotion. Promotion number one is finding ways to give yourself more responsibility, methods to grow your skills, and opportunities to engage with other professionals—within or outside of your current organization. Promotion number two is, through these new opportunities, sharing the ideas, knowledge, and accomplishments you gain.

Let’s step through it.

Promotion Number One

Give yourself a (pretend) promotion and congratulate yourself—you deserve it! Please control yourself from rolling your eyes, as I know this sounds silly—just hear me out. Think about what you want to learn, and with whom you’d like to connect. Is your self-promotion just for learning or do you want to get paid as well? Many of us have developed incredible writing, editing, and presentation skills from what we do every day. After you’ve given this some thought, write a job description with specific responsibilities, goals, outcomes, populations you’d like to help, desired extra income, etc.

Most of us have secret dreams of becoming writers, professional speakers, or going into private practice—now is your chance to begin working toward those dreams. It is time to move from just thinking about it to creating a plan, with actionable steps, to make it happen! For example, I’ve always wanted to write a book that combines humorous life stories (think David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day) with career development guidance (think Richard Bolles, What Color is Your Parachute?). I gave myself a self-promotion to “writer/blogger/assistant director of career development” and I activated my plan. This included starting my own blog, reaching out to NACE to see if I could blog for them, and began doing informational interviews with writers (outside and inside of the career biz) to learn. My self-promotion is not only pushing me toward learning and growing skills, but it keeps me motivated in the work I do day-to-day.

Promotion Number Two

As you are learning and having new experiences, share it with others. I don’t mean throwing yourself a party or being a braggart, I’m talking about sharing your ideas and work thoughtfully and strategically through social media (e.g., LinkedIn posts, tweets), conferences (e.g., presenting on your passion project), or other avenues.

I talk with students all the time about creating an advisory board for themselves— connecting with professionals they trust, respect, and admire, and connecting (and staying in touch) with them to share their work, get feedback, gain exposure to various fields/industries, and seek advice. You should have an advisory board too!

As you continue to grow and create meaningful work, and share it with others, you open yourself to opportunities you may have never considered. For example, through writing for the NACE blog, I’ve had career advisers from all over the country reach out to me about how to best work with international students—one adviser even asked me to be on a panel at a national conference.

Career adviser, promote thyself!

 

 

“I’m not sure this internship will be a good fit. Should I apply?”

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

Have you met with students reluctant to apply to promising internships because they are unsure that the internship will “look good” or that they’ll be the best candidate? Students who apply only to what they perceive as sure-thing experiences can miss out on a broader set of great opportunities, while those who accept an internship by default (with few or no other opportunities for comparison) may find themselves in unsatisfying roles that turn out to have limited educational value.

It is useful to remind students that while applying for any position requires time and energy, it isn’t a commitment. Rather, it’s an indication of interest, a snapshot of the applicant’s knowledge and skills, and a request for an interview. While I wouldn’t encourage haphazardly applying to any opportunity that comes along, students who set overly stringent standards on what they will consider applying for are essentially ending conversations before they’ve begun.

To help students manage those uncertainties and feel comfortable applying to a broader range of opportunities, I regularly share the following:

Read between (and above and outside) the lines. Organizations that offer internships are increasingly skilled at crafting messages that resonate with potential applicants, and some organizations have the benefit of a long-established brand cachet among students. However, there are still times when a great internship opportunity doesn’t “read” as such in a job posting or in recruiting messages. Look beyond the few paragraphs (if that) in your school’s internship database. Review the organization’s website and consider how it presents itself to clients/constituents/users. Reflect on its mission and how it aligns with your values and interests. Speak with people familiar with the organization’s work.

The best applicant may not be the most qualified. Internships are learning and development experiences, so having little direct experience in a field isn’t necessarily a limiting factor. Show familiarity with and genuine interest in the field and the organization, share ways you’ve already engaged in related topics, use the experiences you’ve had (work, academic, internships, volunteer, extracurricular) to demonstrate your strengths and knowledge, and communicate your excitement to learn.

Make interviews mutual learning opportunities. To prepare for interviews, candidates tend to focus on developing their stories and rehearsing good answers. Preparing thoughtful questions for the interviewer may be a halfhearted afterthought, done only because the candidate “is supposed to ask questions.” Students who report having had truly great internship experiences often mention the high quality relationships they had with supervisors and staff. A person-to-person interview can give internship candidates rich insight on the people and the environment: who the student would be working with, opportunities to interact with organizational staff, and the structure of training, supervision, and evaluation.

I love it when students follow their curiosity and step outside of their comfort zones when seeking experiential education opportunities such as internships. This means moving forward when the end result is uncertain. It is wise to have questions about an internship’s potential, but when there’s a spark of genuine interest and curiosity, it’s often worth applying. Ask for that conversation: you may be surprised to find a great opportunity hidden in plain sight.

Career Development, the U.S. Job Search, and International Students: Confusion and Anxiety Regarding Networking and Building Professional Relationships (Post 3)

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

A couple of days ago I had a career advising session with an international student. He was very anxious and was “losing a lot of sleep” over the fact that he had graduated a month ago, had not found a job, and was worried he would not find anything in the United States by the time his optional practical training (OPT) started in the next few weeks. I had seen this student several times before, and his resume was strong, and he had substantial experience that would make him a strong candidate for various opportunities in environmental engineering. I asked him to tell me about his job search.

“I spend hours looking and applying to jobs online,” he said. “I’ve applied to over 50 jobs in the past month, and I’ve heard nothing back. I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong. Will you look at my resume again?”

I reviewed his resume again. Yep…it still looked good. I asked him if he had done any networking.

“Oh yes, I’ve used LinkedIn and the alumni database to find contacts at companies with open jobs,” he said. “I reach out to them. In my e-mails I introduce myself and ask them to refer me for the position or tell me about any other opportunities.”

I hear this all of the time. In my experience many international students feel very uncomfortable networking for various reasons:

1. They lack confidence in their English language skills;

2. The job search in their home country does not necessitate “networking”—in fact employers may reach out to them to offer positions;

3. They are unaware of resources to use to find alumni or networking leads;

4. They don’t understand the nuts and bolts of networking, and that it is a long-term process with the goal of developing relationships that later lead to jobs. (And this isn’t just an issue with international students; it is an issue for ALL students.)

In order to motivate international students to start networking early (and not view networking as a last-minute, short-term thing), I try to reframe what networking is to them. I tell them that networking is about learning and serving through creating and sustaining professional relationships. I also use a bank analogy that seems to resonate with them. I tell them, “Networking is like creating a bank account, you must make deposits before you can make a withdrawal. Bank accounts, like professional relationships, grow with time and investment.”

Instead of “networking” I use the phrase “information gathering” with students, highlighting how to begin a professional relationship by learning from someone else (e.g., alumni, professionals) via informational interviews. I talk with them about asking the interviewee questions that will create future opportunities to serve them (i.e., sending the interviewee relevant articles or updates on how their feedback has helped).

Now…I know most of you reading this post are, like, “Duh…Ross. I already understand what networking is. Give me some tips I can use!”

I hear ya! Check out some ideas I’ve tried with some success below.

Networking Workshop Activity:

Have students search for a company of interest via an alumni database or LinkedIn, read about the company, find alumni working there, and create a list of questions (not only about the company, but the contact as well) to ask at an informational interview. Then pair the students up, and have them critique each other’s questions.

Next, bring everyone back into a large group and debrief and review some of the questions. Use prompts like: Which questions are the best? Are the questions open-ended, allowing the interviewee to provide plenty of information in her/his response? What questions best create space to serve the interviewee later?

After the question activity, have the students (individually) draft their own informational interview e-mail request. Ask them to pair up and share and critique. Next, bring everyone back into a large group to discuss.

Finally, ask students to create a basic timeline (by month), of when and how to follow up. This will be a very loose timeline as they don’t have an actual “real person” to create the timeline for at this point.

Students will leave feeling more confident now that they have tools, and an action plan to begin networking. I’ve also found adding a small panel of senior international students, that have successfully networked before, answer questions and serve as facilitators during discussions is very helpful (and proves that networking works!).

 Employer Relations Program Idea:

In my experience, most international students really dislike the “cattle call” style career fairs. They don’t feel comfortable with small talk, and feel that talking about themeselves is actually bragging. Overall they feel like they don’t get a chance to really show employers their skills in a meaningful and authentic way. In an effort to help international students connect with employers better (and with incredible support from my manager and colleagues), I tried a different type of employer engagement program, based on the good old science fair (yep—I went old skool, y’all!).

I targeted electrical and computer engineering (ECE) students, and sent them an e-mail about an opportunity to share their most exciting class projects with employers. Students had to sign up, send an abstract about their project, send their resume or LinkedIn URL, and show up the day of the event ready (with their project or poster) to engage with employers and talk about their work.

I also facilitated a networking lunch with the students, employers, faculty, and staff. I scheduled the event, the “Electrical and Computer Engineering Showcase”, the day before the spring career fair to maximize employer attendance. I sent a personal invite to ECE employers (those that had already registered for the career fair AND local companies) to attend this event at no charge to them, and told them to feel free to bring along any alumni working at their company.

The employers loved the idea, and many signed up to attend. The day of the event employers visited every student table to talk about the student projects. I collected feedback from the employers on the students’ conversational skills and projects and asked if, based on the students’ projects, if they’d ever consider hiring one of these new grads (and more than 70 percent said they would!). The employers and students both really enjoyed the event. One student said, “I really had a chance to shine today. We are doing this again next year, right?!”

Share your ideas and strategies for helping international students better understand networking.

This is part three of a series. Don’t miss parts one and two.

Top 10 Reasons to Attend NACE14

Chaim Shapiro

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

Excitement is in the air!  NACE14 is just a couple of weeks away.  If you are going to attend only one conference this year, THIS IS THE ONE.

David Letterman may be retiring but I decided to salute him with a “Top 10 Reasons to Attend NACE14”

10) See if your jeans can make more noise than the band as you dance the night away at the “Diamonds and Denims” celebration.

9) Everything is bigger in Texas—NACE14 is the biggest networking opportunity of the year.

8) Find out for yourself if the Alamo has a basement.

7) Learning is NOT just for college students.  Attend GREAT workshops (including mine on LinkedIn bit.ly/1aoFf3X .)

6) The powerful “keynotes” are not about your ability to sing “Deep in the Heart of Texas”

5) The Expo is so much more than an old mediocre MLB baseball team.

4) Adapt great programs from the “Great Ideas Showcase” and convince your boss that you are a genius.

3) Wake up to the “Early Show with Dan Black” and see if I can get him to laugh.

2) Solve the perplexing NACE14 mystery clues as featured on Twitter.

1) Find out if Dan Black will REALLY wear a ten-gallon cowboy hat.