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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Building a Strong Foundation Through Comprehensive Training

Sarah SteenrodSarah Steenrod, Director, Undergraduate Career Consultation and Programs, Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University
Twitter: @SarahSteenrod

“I really want to build a strong foundation for my students much in the same way you all did for me.”

Recently, I was contacted by a former graduate assistant (GA) who is now a career services professional at another university. She asked if I would be willing to talk with her about our training process since she will be developing a training program for her office’s peer advisers. After my head shrank back to its original size, I spent some time thinking about our training process and why I think it’s so effective in setting a strong foundation for our GAs.

Build a Team

A significant amount of our seven-day training is dedicated to getting to know each other, which helps build relationships and trust. Don’t cringe when I tell you we do at least one icebreaker a day. I must be a genius, right? Here’s the kicker, I think the main reason people dread icebreakers is because they feel put “on the spot.” To avoid this, I let everyone know in advance what the icebreakers will be throughout training, with some even requiring a little advanced preparation. For example, on the first day of training, everyone shares “What I did this summer,” so people share pictures from vacations or talk about their internships. They can think about what they want to say and feel more comfortable when getting to know strangers.

Feed Them

There’s something to be said for sharing a good meal together, and our office definitely appreciates a fine potluck. While we have a very minimal food budget for training, such as a continental breakfast on the first day, we plan lunch outings to places like Chipotle and everyone pays for themselves. On the walk to Chipotle, we give the GAs a campus tour.

Set Expectations

I am a firm believer that setting clear expectations makes life much easier. Whether we are talking about the scheduling process and work-hour requirements or the importance of keeping the recruiter breakroom tidy, I am confident that our GAs know what is expected of them from the very start.

Involve People

I try to involve as many of my colleagues as possible in training because the least effective thing I think I can do is talk too much. I’m not trying to bore these people to death and I have no interest in looking around the room and seeing everyone trying to be polite by not letting out a huge “yaaaaaaawn.” So, for example, when we talk about on-campus recruiting, I bring in our recruiting coordinator to talk about how she works with employers. In addition, my fellow undergraduate full-time staff members are heavily involved with and attend most of the training, so they take the lead on various training topics. Also, our second year GAs play a huge role in serving as mentors for our incoming GAs and they gain a lot of credibility by leading various parts of training and participating in discussions.

Flip the Classroom

A few years ago, I learned about the concept of “flipping the classroom.” According to Wikipedia, “Flipped classroom is an instructional strategy and a type of blended learning that reverses the traditional educational arrangement by delivering instructional content, often online, outside of the classroom and moves activities, including those that may have traditionally been considered homework, into the classroom. In a flipped classroom model, students watch online lectures, collaborate in online discussions, or carry out research at home and engage in concepts in the classroom with the guidance of the instructor.”

I now use Carmen, our course management system, to deliver training materials that I would like the GAs to read in advance (e.g., PowerPoint presentation about resume writing) so we can do more hands-on activities during training, (e.g., more resume critiques and discussions about resumes).

Our GAs begin meeting with students on the first day of school. In order for them to feel confident and get enough experience, we do a lot of hands-on activities during training. One example is preparing them to conduct mock interviews for our Qualified Undergraduate Interview Candidate (QUIC) program. We have developed a training model where we first educate the GAs about the QUIC program and process, and then we give them the opportunity to shadow, co-facilitate, and conduct the mock interviews on their own while being observed by a staff member. This process enables them to build their skills in evaluating students in mock interviews and delivering constructive feedback and they gain confidence in their abilities.

Hands-on activities are also beneficial when training GAs on student appointments. Rather than just talking about the types of student appointments they might encounter, we developed about 20 student appointment scenarios that we use in an activity where we go around the room and each draw a scenario from a hat and discuss how we would handle it. This gives us the opportunity to have open discussion and makes the GAs feel more comfortable going into a situation where “you never know what you’re going to get.”

Develop a Support System

Although we finish training before the start of the semester, we conduct on-going training throughout the academic year in our weekly team meetings and bi-weekly one-on-one meetings. This enables us to discuss questions and concerns and further explore additional topic areas that are introduced in training.

In addition to on-going training, the day-to-day support of our GAs is extremely important. We have an “open door” policy where we encourage GAs to stop by and chat with us if they have any questions or concerns. Fortunately, our GAs all work in the same space, which we affectionately call “cubeland,” so they can often times pop over the wall and bounce an idea off of their teammates.

Developing a comprehensive training program can be a daunting task, but I guarantee the time and attention spent in preparation of and during training will pay off exponentially. We couldn’t do what we do without our GAs and we love watching them grow and develop as professionals in our office.


Leadership Priorities for Career Services

Chaim ShapiroChaim Shapiro, Assistant Director of Career Services at Touro College
Twitter: @chaimshapiro
Blogs from Chaim Shapiro.

The new school year is the time for a new beginning. For that fresh start, I wanted to share my view on the priorities for career services leaders.

Any current statement of leadership priorities in career services has to borrow extensively from two excellent articles on the future of the profession—”Thriving in the Brave New World of Career Services: 10 Essential Strategies” by Manny Contomanolis and Trudy Steinfeld and “10 Future Trends in College Career Services” by Farouk Dey and Christine Y. Cruzvergara.

Career services, as a profession, is in a state of flux. The long term stagnant economy brought the work of career services to the forefront among college administrators, parents, and other stakeholders. There has also been a significant paradigm shift within the profession. While many balked at the word “placement” just a few years ago, it is now accepted that “career outcomes is everybody’s business” (Contomanolis and Steinfeld, 2014).

Demonstrating career outcomes and career services’ role in producing those outcomes is fundamental. Collecting and producing a solid first-destinations report based on the NACE standards is a crucial means to allow career services to tell its story and, in a larger sense, demonstrate institutional success (Dey and Cruzvergara, 2014).

The role of career services must be “elevated” (Dey and Cruzvergara, 2014), so it becomes clear that career services is part and parcel of the mission of the university. Career services leaders are collaborative in attaining that goal, thus creating allies and “buy in” across the institution, especially among senior administrators (Contomanolis and Steinfeld, 2014).

Career services leaders must remain flexible, adapt to rapidly changing realities, and take “thoughtful risks” that lead to innovation and bold new initiatives (Contomanolis and Steinfeld, 2014). They embrace technology (Dey and Cruzvergara, 2014) and seek to incorporate it everywhere it can enhance their services.

Even with the radical changes in career services and the new priorities competing for a professional’s time, it is imperative that an adviser still focus on the students. Career services leaders believe that every student has infinite potential and endeavor to encourage each student to be proactive in achieving it to their fullest, both in the career services realm and beyond.

Times of change are really times of opportunity. True leaders refuse to sit on the sidelines while the career services world reinvents itself. One of the greatest ways to “elevate” career services, demonstrate its foundational value to our institutions, and provide more effective services to students is by being an active part in charting the profession’s future.

Buckle up!


1) Contomanolis, M. and Steinfeld, T. (2014) Thriving in the Brave New World of Career Services: 10 Essential Strategies. (Accessed 7/28/15)

2) Dey, F. and Cruzvergara, C. Y. (2014) 10 Future Trends in College Career Services. (Accessed 7/28/15).

What Do Students Really Want Out of Their Summer Internships?

Jessica KoersJessica Koers, Social Recruiting Strategist, Booz Allen Hamilton
Twitter: @jrkoers

Gabrielle Gaeta

Gabrielle Gaeta

This summer, my team at Booz Allen Hamilton was joined by a summer intern, Gabrielle Gaeta, from the University of Michigan. While she was working with us, I took some time to ask her a few questions about what students are looking for in an internship program and what kind of professional development resources they look for on campus.

Tell me about your internship search and what you were looking for in an internship program.

Searching for an internship is a double edged-sword—it’s exciting to learn about the high-tech products companies are developing or the important causes they’re advocating for, but at the same time, it’s a downright stressful experience since I know how competitive the most desired programs are.

This past year I was able to get some help in my internship search through the University of Michigan’s Public Service Internship Program (PSIP). This is a year-long professional development program run by our career center whose mission is to arm students with the skills they need to get summer internships in Washington, D.C. In the fall, PSIP sent us a spreadsheet listing hundreds of companies in the D.C. metro area, which helped me focus my internship search. This resource is actually how I found out about Booz Allen in the first place!

As I browsed this spreadsheet and various online job boards, there were four main criteria I used to evaluate each company’s internship program: 1) the quality of the work experience, 2) the company’s culture, 3) professional development opportunities, and 4) company benefits.

Above anything else, the quality and value of the experience I’d gain from an internship was the most important thing for me to consider. I wanted to learn as much as possible during the summer, so I didn’t want to spend my time cooped up in an office doing stereotypical intern work—making copies, answering phone calls, filing documents, etc. I wanted to be working on real, meaningful projects that would challenge me and help me develop new skills. At the end of the summer, I wanted to have tangible results that I would be able to share with recruiters in my next round of job interviews.

A company’s culture and work environment were also a huge consideration for me. I was looking for an organization whose employees love coming into the office every day and would be excited to talk to me about the work they’re doing. I was also interested in companies that encourage collaboration; I hoped to work with fellow interns as well as more senior leaders of an organization.

Professional development opportunities were also really important aspects of an internship program. I looked for companies that match their interns with mentors and provide interns with regular feedback from their managers and co-workers. Again, I wanted to learn as much as I could during the summer, so receiving constructive criticism and career advice was a must for me.

Finally, company perks and benefits were important to me. If a company paid their interns, I was much more likely to accept an offer from them.

Why do you think more students don’t use their career services office regularly?

I know a lot of people who have met with career advisers, but didn’t feel like they gained very much from their meetings. They didn’t think the advisers provided adequate guidance to help them make career decisions or to make connections with alumni working in that student’s desired career field. In addition, a lot of my peers and I would rather receive advice directly from employers since the future of our careers lies in their hands.

Also, I think there are a number of students who simply don’t know about all of the resources their career services office provides. We’re told about these services at freshmen orientation, but I’d venture to guess that most of this information is lost on first-year students who can barely even find their way around campus. I think career services offices need to market themselves more effectively throughout the school year—especially to older students—and encourage professors to direct their students to these resources.

What else could career services offices do to increase student involvement?

Bring in the companies! I would use my school’s career center more often if they provided more opportunities to interact directly with employers. I’d love to see recruiters come to campus to do resume reviews and mock interviews. Since these recruiters have the power to determine if you’ll have a future with their company, I think it’s invaluable to receive feedback directly from them on how to improve your professional presentation. I’d also like if my career center hosted industry-specific alumni panels so my peers and I could network with alumni who are established in their career fields while also learning about the various places our degrees can take us after graduation.

What do you think Booz Allen does that all internship programs would benefit from?

Booz Allen makes its senior leaders as accessible as possible to interns, which I’ve found really incredible. Between networking events and panel discussions organized specially for interns, I’ve been able to have one-on-one conversations with leaders who have been with the firm for 20-plus years. I’ve found it really helpful to hear their stories and learn about their journeys from entry-level workers to senior executives. It’s encouraging to know that if you stick with Booz Allen, the company will invest in you and help you create the kind of career you want. If companies value their interns and hope that they will return as full-time employees after graduation, I think it’s important that interns feel recognized and important. Having senior leaders take the time to talk to interns is a great way to show them your company cares.

What has your experience as a Booz Allen intern taught you?

My summer at Booz Allen has really shown me the value in communication. At first, I was a little hesitant to reach out to employees outside of my team, but I quickly learned how eager members of the firm are to help you succeed. Whether it was to provide me with information for a project, to teach me how to use certain technology, or to give me mentoring and career advice, all of the people I’ve connected with at the firm have been more than willing to take time out of their days to talk to me. All I had to do was establish that line of communication with them. Between e-mailing people in various departments, introducing myself to employees at company events, and even starting conversations while waiting for the elevator, I’ve been able to create a Booz Allen network that has guided me throughout my summer here, and will hopefully help me find new and exciting opportunities in the future. If I could give all students one piece of advice based on what I’ve learned, it would be: don’t be afraid to make a connection with employees in your company or professors and alumni from your school. More often than not, they’ll want to give you advice and help you succeed in your endeavors.


Gabrielle Gaeta is a student at the University of Michigan studying computer science and economics. During the summer of 2015, she worked as an intern at Booz Allen Hamilton. During her time with the company, she supported the University and Military Recruiting teams, researching new ways for the firm to engage with STEM students at universities across the country.


Top Three Things Employers Can Do to Hire and Keep the Best Employees

Tom BorgerdingTom Borgerding, President/CEO, Campus Media Group, Inc.
Twitter: @mytasca

I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about the most important things to college students when making a decision about where to work. Let’s step back again and evaluate the challenge most companies face.

When we see stories about the “The Secret Sauce of College Recruiting” or “What Students Want” or “Do You Have What Students Want?”, it can cause discomfort in who we are as representatives of companies.

Do we need to offer more education options, be more inclusive, provide more benefits, add tracks through the company, provide more mentoring, etc.? There are so many recommendations floating around out there these days. There seems to be a top 10 list for just about everything.

What do we do with all of this? We take a deep breath, revisit our company mission, values, and purpose, and look at what’s most important to achieve the goals the company has set. If we don’t know why (mission, values, purpose) we are in business, it can be very hard to determine what’s most important. Before we all jump off the deep end with the “latest and greatest,” let’s become great at what is most important.

Be authentic. Students—and really all of us—want to work for a company and with a group of people who are authentic and focused on the same ultimate goals we are. We understand the reason we work somewhere. It’s not because our company has a cool logo or interesting office design. Ultimately what is going to win and keep people is the direction of the business, leadership, the people we work with, and the work we do.

Help them make an impact. We all want to make an impact in this world. No one wants to be stuck in a dead end job where they don’t feel like they matter in the organization and are known as a number rather than by their name. Let people volunteer, donate, and get involved on teams where they can make an impact on the business in more ways than their job description states. Provide those opportunities.

Listen. Before we go out to add all the new things to the company we are told we need, listen to what our current employees want. If someone comes into an organization being promised one thing and when they arrive they find out it’s not actually what they were promised, they will likely quickly move on to another employer that keeps promises. We need to care about others and what they care about to find success. It’s not about “me,” but about what others are concerned with. The only real way to find out what matters to others is to ask them. Ask the tough “why” questions so that what you do can truly help those around you and your organization succeed.


Closing the Divide by Going Outside

Kelli Smith Director of University Career Services at the Fleish

Kelli K. Smith, Director of University Career Services, Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development, Binghamton University

Recently I read, “3 Reasons Why You Should Take Your Work Outside” by Lea McCloud just after having an outside meeting on a lovely spring day with one of our graduate assistants. We had planned to discuss her work interests for next year but had not planned for it to be outside. Why not? What I found interesting is that a staff member later confided how delighted she was to see my Tweet of this impromptu choice since apparently, for her, it represented a major culture shift for our office. Even more interesting is that this particular graduate student and I had discussed our recent culture shift of “going to the students” over the past year and her work to embrace that change.

Last year in the month I started at Binghamton University our staff had a planning retreat. One of the concepts we all agreed we should focus on was getting out of the office more to connect with students, much as is described by Trudy Steinfeld and Manny Contomanolis in “Thriving in the Brave New World of Career Services: 10 Essential Strategies” published one month earlier. Both Manny and Trudy noted the importance of meeting students in their space and to be less place dependent. More specifically, they wrote:

  1. Meet students and stakeholders in their “space”. Career services are increasingly less “place dependent”. Virtual interviews, coaching appointments and program content delivery are critical in today’s world and there are a rapidly expanding array of technical platforms and tools to support working in this way. Equally important is the need to deliver services where your clients are – in their academic buildings, residence halls, and social places. Flexibility is increasingly vital to effective services delivery.

For us it made natural sense. We knew from our survey data that we were not perceived by campus as the most welcoming, and we also had a tradition of an incredibly packed schedule of pre-planned programs throughout the year, requiring significant time and the student to “come to us” for educational assistance. At the same time, we are presented regularly with examples of talented and high achieving students that share they are (or were) too intimidated or overwhelmed to visit our office not because they see our staff as unkind or unhelpful, but because it meant they were facing reality. One might argue we enable that anxiety of such students with our new approach by not requiring them to enter our physical threshold. But like with anything new or overwhelming for us all, a professional nudge on their turf hopefully allows for a more open mindset to post-diploma thinking, and a familiar face may allow for greater confidence and willingness to visit our Center.

As a result, a few relatively small changes we made have had a significant impact. One of our staff members volunteered to host Friday afternoon office hours in a campus residential communities. It was rare that she did not have back-to-back students meeting with her. We changed our program request form to be more welcoming and “easy” for campus, while slightly and strategically lessening some our pre-planned programs with smaller attendance numbers last year. As a result, we went from 58 total requested programs last academic year to 103 this academic year with a total of 2513 “student touches” through those tailored programs. Perhaps one of my favorite outcomes is how it has truly started to become part of our culture. During a staff meeting this April Lexie – our graduate assistant with whom I recently had an outdoor meeting – announced how she had planned a “Games, S’Mores, & More” program at a residential community fire pit in partnership with one of our academic advising departments. She stated her intent was to connect with students in a casual and convenient way and to demonstrate how approachable we are. As a former campus activities staff member, I have long held the belief that programming after spring break is a serious gamble, so even I was unsure whether any students would show. To my delight, 29 students showed up and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

Late last fall our Director of Residential Life and Housing arranged a meeting with myself and several others involved with our residential communities which adopted the “Oxford Model” in the 1960s. Each of our six residential communities has a Faculty Master that offices in their assigned community. I did not know in advance the meeting was to propose “The Apartments” community, primarily made up of sophomores, juniors, and seniors, should have a Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development staff person office there rather than a traditional faculty master. To my delight what resulted is us gaining a new staff member that will truly work “where the students are” starting this June. There is no doubt in my mind that this would have happened if we as a staff had not committed last June to meeting students in their space.

Perhaps it is time for us to step outside of the comfort zone of our offices and join the students in their “space.” All across the country there are many innovative approaches to meeting our students where they are – physically and developmentally – and being flexible in our educational design. For the benefit of everyone, I encourage you join in the dialogue to share what you are doing on your campus to meet students and stakeholders in their space or be less place dependent. Successes and challenges are all welcome.

What the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Teaches About Career Success

joe hayes

Joe Hayes, Assistant Director, Employer Relations & Internships, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Twitter: @_JosephHayes

Perhaps you were among the 20-plus million Americans that watched the women’s world cup final between the United States and Japan on July 5. It wasn’t very close. While the lopsided final of the tournament’s biggest game was unexpected, the success of the U.S. team throughout the summer was no accident. Instead, the U.S. team came prepared for work—just like students can—and met success.

Capitalize on second chances

Four years ago, the United States was stunned by Japan, losing the World Cup finals in penalty kicks. In a way, that failure provided extra motivation ultimately leading to an Olympic gold medal in 2012. This year the team came out focused and seemingly on a mission to capture the first World Cup in 16 years.

Second chances may not always be as grandiose as a rematch of the World Cup final. For a student, it could be the ability to retake a course and achieve a higher grade that leads to graduation. It could be a second interview or call back from an employer after, admittedly, under-performing at the first interview. It could be getting off an employer’s blacklist from reneging on a job offer. It could be getting a new project as an intern despite the first project not going so well.

This second chance should viewed as such—a chance to right a wrong or missed opportunity—but also, a chance to learn, grow, and improve. In a sense, capitalizing on a second chance can be easy. There may not be a road map for success, but a road map for failure exists and intuitively that can lead to the inverse—success mapping.

Let go of past accomplishments – focus on the future

The U.S. Women’s National Team has been one of the premier teams in the world over the past quarter century, yet only three times have they won the games most coveted prize—the World Cup. Despite constantly contending and putting fear into opponents based on past success, the team needed to do more than simply show up to win more games. Here the U.S. team needed to let go of past accomplishments and focus on how they could accomplish new feats.

Much like the U.S. team, students shouldn’t get complacent during their career or job search. This means that a student can’t and shouldn’t automatically think their degree sets them up for success. The student shouldn’t assume that because they had a high GPA, they will be employable. The student shouldn’t think that because they had an internship or some form of experiential learning in the past that they are guaranteed an opening with that organization the following year. Instead, the same amount of hard work (and perhaps more) that went into accomplishing past goals will be needed to accomplish future goals.

Timing is everything

In soccer—a game that is played with a running 90-minute clock—successful and strategic team substitutions often decide games in key moments. This is especially important when a team is limited to only three substitutes per match (hence the extreme value of putting in the right player at the right time). This was never more evident than in the semifinal match vs # 1-ranked Germany, when the U.S. subbed in Abby Wambach in at 80 minutes and Kelley O’Hara in at 84 minutes. Moments later both played a role in the clinching goal (Ms. Wambach chasing down the ball and Ms. O’Hara scoring the goal) to put the United States up 2-0 and on their way to the World Cup finals.

Much like the key substitution that occurred right as the German squad was getting tired, students and professionals should think in terms of key moments and strategies that put themselves at the greatest advantage for success at the right time. This could be as simple as drafting a handwritten thank-you note moments after any interview while it’s still fresh in the moment. Or it may be networking with current interns at organizations a year before you are intern-ready (so as to make in-roads with companies before the official recruiting cycle begins).

In other words, one should constantly use time to their advantage.