Practice Interviews and Anxiety

Kara BrownKara Brown, Associate Director of Career Development, Gwynedd Mercy University

A key issue that I have noticed with the majority of practice interviews that I conduct with students is anxiety. Often during a practice interview I observe symptoms of anxiety including: pressured speech, agitation of hands and feet, sweating, increased heartrate, nervous laughter, and sometimes crying. I am quickly able to identify these symptoms because in addition to my career counseling background, I also am trained in clinical mental health counseling.

While interview anxiety can be uncomfortable and difficult to address with students, I have found it to be extremely important to discuss. In some cases, anxiety can be linked to fear, lack of self-confidence, and/or lack of experience. It is important to address these issues head on before the student goes into an interview.

What can career counselors/advisers do to help?

Address it. Whenever we are in an uncomfortable situation we tend to want to ignore it. However, ignoring the anxiety that a student is experiencing in regard to interviewing could potentially continue to worsen the anxiety. Therefore, address the issue with, “I notice that you seem anxious. Tell me about that.”

Actively listen. Listen to what the student is telling you. For example, I had a student explain that they did not feel qualified for the position that they were applying to. So I went through each job requirement, and asked the student to give an example of how they met that requirement. The student felt more confident because they were able to verbally reason why they were qualified for the position.

Encourage practice. For some students, continuing to practice for an interview can help boost their confidence and decrease their anxiety.

Provide anxiety reducing techniques. There are several techniques that anyone can use to reduce anxiety. This may require a bit of research to find which one would work best for your students. While working with students with interview anxiety, I typically recommend that they use the technique of “being present.” I explain to them that while they are sitting in the lobby prior to going in for an interview, they take a few slow deep breaths, and notice what is going on around them. For example, what does the room look like? What do you smell? What are you feeling? I find that this process helps to lower a student’s anxiety by refocusing their attention on to something else.

Refer. There may be situations in which a student’s anxiety is so severe that they may require counseling services. It is important to have a referral process in place with your university’s counseling service in case these kinds of situations were to occur.
After you have conducted a practice interview with a student, make sure that you follow up with that student to find out how the interview went for them. Ask these students, “What went well? What did not go well? Did anything surprise you?” This kind of follow up allows the student to self-evaluate, and also helps to maintain their connection with your career development center.

Liberal Arts and STEM: Happily Ever After?



Pamela Weinberg
Twitter: @pamelaweinberg
Blogs from Pamela Weinberg.

A recent New York Times headline stopped me cold. It was entitled: “A Rising Call to Foster STEM Fields, and Decrease Liberal Arts Funding.” The article spoke of a handful of state governors who were suggesting that students majoring in liberal arts would not receive state funding for their education and that only those students “educated in fields seen as important to the economy” would benefit from funding.

As a liberal arts major and a career coach who believes in the value of a liberal arts education, this was stunning. Of course teaching students “hard” skills is important. Nobody would argue that teaching undergraduate students how to code is a bad idea. However, there is much evidence that hard skills alone don’t make for a successful employee. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, a study conducted by USC’s Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism found that “Future leaders must be strong in quantitative, technical, and business skills. But to advance in their careers, they also need to be good strategic thinkers and must have strong social and communications skills.”

The WSJ article made the case for the importance of continuing to offer a liberal arts curriculum to students. The author makes the critical point that liberal arts and STEM needn’t be an “either/or” proposition. A blog speaks of the many smaller college and universities, such as Rochester Institute of Technology, which have created cross-disciplinary or integrated curriculums, that require STEM students to complete a general education program. At the same time, liberal arts schools like Lafayette University are beginning to reform their curriculums to keep them more relevant.

Critics of liberal arts education will make the case that majoring in a liberal arts field doesn’t guarantee a job with high earnings. This is true. No major can guarantee that. However, some of our country’s most successful and well-paid CEOs majored in liberal arts disciplines: Mark Parker, President and CEO of Nike (political science), Howard Schultz, Chairman and CEO of Starbucks (communications) and Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company (television and radio)

One of the tenets of a liberal arts education is practicing critical thinking. According to the WSJ article “Technical and business skills can get graduates in the door, but an ability to think critically and communicate effectively can play an equal, if not larger role in determining success.” It would seem then, that students of all majors would benefit from a mix of courses that are STEM based and liberal arts based.
I would love to hear your opinions on this—please let me know how you are advising your liberal arts majors in their career searches.

Career Readiness: Exploring Leadership

KKathryn Douglasathy Douglas, Senior Associate Director Career Development Office, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
Twitter: @fescdo

The effective leader is someone who can communicate rationally, connecting relationally, manage practically and lead directionally and strategically. The head, the heart, the hands and the feet are all effectively engaged in the leadership process.Australian Leadership Foundation

Leadership: Leverage the strengths of others to achieve common goals, and use interpersonal skills to coach and develop others. The individual is able to assess and manage his/her emotions and those of others; use empathetic skills to guide and motivate; and organize, prioritize, and delegate work.Career Readiness for the New College Graduate, A Definition and Competencies, National Association of Colleges and Employers


Most of us lead in unique ways everyday but can’t articulate how. And most people, when asked to talk about their leadership, default to examples of being the top person in charge of a team, of a club, of a project. Students I work with often get stressed if they have not been the captain of a varsity team, served as a board member or been the treasurer for a social club, stating I don’t have any leadership experience.  The majority of people I counsel on this topic think first of charismatic or natural born leaders—the rare individuals with big personalities who motivate others through inspiration.

Leadership as defined by NACE’s Career Readiness for the New College Graduate goes beyond the “natural born leader” definition by focusing on the interpersonal, on empathy for guiding and motivating, on emotional intelligence, and on the ability to organize, prioritize, and delegate. The Australian Leadership Foundation draws from ancient Greek philosophers and the ontology of the human in naming four essential areas of effective leadership: Praxis, Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. A quick google search will provide another host of leadership definitions, theories and models, including:

  • Transactional
  • Transformational
  • Servant
  • Free-Rein
  • Autocratic
  • Democratic
  • Supportive
  • Situational
  • Participative

For the visual learner, a google image search will also uncover an array of colorful charts, graphs and diagrams depicting many current leadership models, theories and styles—a bounty of choices to consider when thinking about how to frame one’s own leadership preferences and style.

Google leadership models


What kind of leader are you?

While encouraging a student to do the research necessary to develop their own definition of leadership, I usually suggest that they begin with leadership model images that appeal to them. It is relatively easy to then follow the links to read about theories and types of leadership.

Some questions to think about while researching models:

  • Have I held many official leadership positions in my life so far?
  • Do I tend to foster collaboration? How?
  • Do I prefer to do everything myself, or am I able to delegate?
  • Who is my favorite leader?  Why?
  • Can I describe one specific example of my favorite leader’s leadership?
  • Am I the volunteer note-taker who may go unnoticed but who develops an agenda based on group consensus and sends it out by email ten minutes after the meeting?
  • Which of these models resonate with me?
  • Do I insist on my own compelling strategy and sell it?
  • Do I regularly advise and mentor peers?
  • How do I define effective leadership?

The Importance of Team

As team models are integral to leadership models, I also refer students to the Margerison-McCann Team Management Wheel. With its holistic symbol, the circle, it illustrates the varied and equally important roles required in a group to accomplish goals.  And in many leadership models, these team roles are also leadership roles.  The majority of students I work immediately relate to one or more parts of this wheel—Creator/Innovators, Thruster/Organizers, Controller/Inspectors, Linkers, Concluder/Producers—and are quickly able to articulate their unique leadership style.

This model also helps students recognize peers in new ways. They may realize that a group member they are annoyed with who has trailed off at the conclusion of a project was, in fact, extremely active in the idea generation and organizing phase of the project and has already made a vital contribution. They may recognize that a team member who has not made a significant concrete contribution has actually been actively managing group dynamics and keeping communication lines open (The Linkers).  They might newly appreciate the range of roles and types of leadership on their team, including their own.

Recognizing one’s natural leanings and the roles one typically assumes on a team is key to discovering and articulating one’s leadership style. Likewise, understanding the leanings and roles of others is extremely important.  By delving into specifics, by thinking, talking, and writing about them, we unearth a wealth of interesting material for describing leadership.  When we develop our own definition of leadership, we make a frame.  And in that frame, we can see a concrete illustration of our leadership.


NACE16: Finished, But Not Forgotten!

Kathleen Powell

Kathleen Powell, Assistant Vice President, Student Affairs, Executive Director of Career Development, Cohen Career Center, William & Mary
President-Elect, National Association of Colleges and Employers
Twitter: @powellka

NACE16 is over, but you’re just getting started! Remember to rekindle your connections, unpack the sessions you attended and share those with your team, and decide what’s next for you as you engage with your professional association. Whether you were a first-timer to the NACE conference or a seasoned expo goer, I think you will agree that the four days in Chicago were robust, thought-provoking, and quite the return on investment. The keynote speakers hit it out of the park. The content of their information aligned well with the work we all do around career readiness, STEAM, generational issues, and life profit! I think we could all use a bit more life profit.

Whether you collected business cards or connected through MLI alumni meet ups, LAP events, or hospitality opportunities, or grabbed lunch or dinner with old or new colleagues, staying connected will keep the information and conversations shared fresh and top of mind. You might remember President Dawn Carter challenging us to meet 50 new people while at the conference? I would echo her challenge and ask you to consider continuing the charge and connecting with members of our association. Did one of the sessions you couldn’t attend spark your interest, but you couldn’t be two places at once? Not a problem, visit NACEWeb and click on the MyNACE tab. Choose “purchase history” and click on the “Actions” arrow next to the conference. You will get a drop-down menu of options, including “View Handouts.” Find the handout for that session you missed. If you have more questions, contact the presenter/presenters. Our association members are excited about their work and willing to share best practices!

Kathleen Powell sparkles at the closing of the conference.

Kathleen Powell sparkles at the closing of the conference.

NACE16 rolled out the First-Destination Survey Results for the Class of 2015 and it was robust! The Advocacy Committee presented the most up-to-date information on FLSA and OPT changes, and discussed the NACE Position Statement on Diversity and Anti-Discrimination. The Career Readiness Tiger Team shared updates on the Career Readiness Toolkits and there was lively discussion around how institutions and employers are aligning and mapping the seven core competencies around career readiness within their work.

The conference provided Techbyte opportunities, SMARTalks, Innovation Labs, and an Innovation Challenge! Members of our organization were recognized for their dedication to the profession and their outstanding work that moves the needle for our association.

There is no doubt NACE16 was a success. That success is shared as there is so much happening behind the scenes that makes the expo hum. It’s our members, who share their time and talent with all of us, that keeps us nimble, informed, and prepared for what’s next to come in our professional work.

Kathleen Powell sparkles at the closing of the conference.

Kathleen Powell, NACE President 2016-17, speaks to the audience at the NACE16 closing session.

So, you might be thinking, “This is all wonderful, but I didn’t attend the conference.” Don’t fret my pets—(one of my grandmother’s favorite expressions)—you can find the Advocacy issues on! Looking for career readiness information,, looking for first-destination information, Curious about all our association has to offer…!


Yes, the conference has come and gone, but the opportunity to engage with other members is just a website away. Don’t miss the opportunity for outreach to your colleagues, learn first hand what is top of mind for the profession, and don’t think the conference is one and done! I encourage you to find those 50 new people and take advantage of Face2Face, roundtables, training opportunities, and webinars! The possibilities truly are ENDLESS!

Finding Your Professional Voice

Jade PerryJade Perry, Coordinator in the Office of Multicultural Student Success at DePaul University
Twitter: @SAJadePerry1

Many times, the word professionalism conjures thoughts and images of workplace dress, norms, and habits. However, there is yet another consideration for people  who speak more than one language and/or have mastered more than one dialect of English. This includes reconciling notions of professional voice.

Given the various dialects of English and the purpose of this article, I will refrain from calling some “proper English” and others “broken English.” These are value statements that detract from how the English language is actively shaped by both context and community. Yet since navigating language depends on context, we also must think about how students and staff negotiate language in the workplace and/or other professional settings (i.e. student meetings with university staff, interviews and interview prep, presentations, etc.)

For example, one afternoon I was chatting with a student in a dialect form that we both shared. (To be clear, this is not slang, catch-phrases, and/or lazy forms of standard English. By shared dialect, I mean “a systematic, rule-governed (form) of English” that we both could navigate well despite regional variations of said dialect; Jones, 2015, p. 404). We had a long conversation about what was happening on campus, goals for the next year, and more, until I was interrupted by a phone call from a colleague. This colleague happened to be able to navigate the dialect we were speaking. However, because it was a colleague, the conversation moved to include more formal / standard modes of English. The student commented, “You’ve got your work voice on!”

This does not just happen in our colleges and universities. We’ve seen this on the stage of arts and entertainment as well. If at all possible, briefly suspend your understandings of Kanye West’s canon of art and/or personality antics, to take a closer look at how he uses language. In recent interviews, Kanye slips into an extremely different mode of English than in his body of music. In the past, this has prompted strong reactions in news publications and on social media about “Who is Kanye trying to be? Why isn’t he using his real voice? Is this Kanye’s ‘interview voice?’ The choices that we make about language in the workplace often hold implications about who we are AND how we are perceived. It’s important to draw students into conversation about some of those things.

Communication and Career Capital

Dr. Tara Yosso (2005) poses an interesting question in her work, Whose Culture Has Capital? A Critical Race Discussion of Community Cultural Wealth. Quite often, when we think of capital, or various forms of wealth, we have limited views and understandings of what these forms of wealth can be. Many of our students hold a great deal of linguistic capital, defined by Yosso as the “intellectual and social skills attained through communication experiences in more than one language and/or style…Reading, literacy, oral histories, cuentos (stories), dichos (proverbs), sophisticated linguistic code switching (2005, p. 78).” This comes in very handy inside and outside of the workplace, as they navigate the different communities that they hold dear. So, when we talk about our modes of communication in interviews, in the workplace, and for career goals, there may also be opportunities to talk with and learn from our students about their understandings of professional voice.

Each day, our students navigate home dialects and standard English workplace/academic dialects. Thus, navigating multiple languages and dialects of language is a part of career capital: What are we saying? How are we saying it, depending on the context?

My “work voice”  and even the work voices of my colleagues can change, depending on how we need to function in that moment. At any given moment, you may hear standard American English (SAE), Spanish and dialects of Spanish, African-American English (AAE, which encompasses various sets of rules, depending on region), and more as we have conversations about student success, retention, persistence, and career capital. In a meeting with executive leadership, we might slip into more standardized dialects of English, due to context and shared understandings. For students finding their professional voice, it’s important to talk through these contexts, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be difficult to do so.

Learning from Creative Reflection

One of my favorite activities to take students through is an auto-ethnography of how they use language and how they are currently developing their understanding of professional voice. It’s easier to do this activity around written language, since they can access that from their phones and/or e-mail accounts. I ask students to observe and reflect on the language they use in the following contexts:

  • Contacting someone from your professional field (for students, this can be any current supervisors they have, mentors, etc.)
  • Contacting a family member
  • Contacting a peer or a close friend
    (you can also add other categories as appropriate)

It’s best if you can show them an example from your own life, to provide a template for the activity. Students may notice themselves code switching: slipping into and out of various languages, different forms of language, and even the use of imagery as communication, i.e. memes, emojis, emoticons. This prompts conversations about when they choose to use standardized/formal English dialects and when they choose to skillfully use various forms, as well. In many cases, this has also prompted conversations about authenticity in the workplace. (What makes someone authentic? How do we communicate in authentic ways, regardless of context?) This is also an activity that you can do with staff, especially if you are in the early stages of understanding. It’s important to stay away from value statements on how students are using language, but to help students to simply reflect on how they are already using language and how they might make sense of their own linguistic and career capital.

Further Reading:
Jones, Taylor (11/2015). “Toward a Description of African American Vernacular English Dialect Regions Using ‘Black Twitter.’ ” American speech (0003-1283),90 (4), p. 403.

Yosso, T.J. (2005). Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth
Wofram. Sociolinguistics Definition from the Linguistic Society of America.


The Career Services Profession Is for Artists, Too

Tamara ClarksonTamara Clarkson, Career Services Consultant, Purdue University
Twitter: @tamcatcam

In the four years I’ve worked in career services, I’ve consistently heard we must recruit staff with diverse backgrounds and from various fields. I wholeheartedly agree, but that might just be my degree in art talking.

I began college, like many first-generation students, surprised I’d even gotten in. Now I was expected to pick a lifelong career? My freshman year, I studied studio art at a private university, but soon realized I didn’t know what I wanted to do and transferred to a community college closer to home. After a year of community college, I transferred to Texas State University, and when they wouldn’t take “undecided” as my choice for a major—as a junior—I hastily stuck with art. With that decision, I had seemingly selected my path for life. I focused on art education,n but found that the teaching profession did not suit my INFJ-ness. Then I thought, maybe art history could be a fulfilling career.

How many students have you seen that make life-altering decisions like these almost at random? If you’re keeping track, that’s three majors in as many schools and I was completely lost. I didn’t know how to evaluate what I loved or what I needed to feel satisfied in a career.

So I saw a career counselor.

Just kidding!

Like many first generation college students, I had no idea how to navigate the college system or find the resources that could provide direction. When I finally reflected, as a super senior, on what would give me true fulfillment and satisfaction in the workplace, I realized for the first time that what I was skilled at (creating art) did not align with what would bring me professional satisfaction (helping others).

The best professional decision I ever made was applying to the counseling program at Texas State after receiving my B.A. in art history. Luckily, the faculty saw my unique background as an asset. The program made me become who I am today and I’m so thankful to the professors and colleagues who helped shape me. It was there that I learned I needed a career that involved counseling, but also offered opportunities to work on projects and meet deadlines. I conducted several informational interviews with Texas State’s career services professionals and realized career services could provide the balance I was looking for. Four years later, I am a career services consultant at Purdue’s Center for Career Opportunities (CCO). If getting an M.A. in counseling was the best professional decision of my life, joining the CCO is my second.

When I see students struggling to stick with a career path that they have the skillset but not the passion for, or they simply don’t know what they’d be interested in pursuing outside of college, I enjoy telling them that so many others have struggled with the same dilemma. We are all unique, and as we change, so may our professional goals and interests. They don’t have to choose what they want to do for the rest of their lives, all they have to figure out is their first few steps. And I can tell them that diverse interests and a curiosity that exceeds a narrow career path are assets, not liabilities, because I am a career services professional, but I wouldn’t be here if I was not also an artist.

Building Memories

ongDavid Ong, Director, Corporate Recruiting, Maximus, Inc.
Twitter: @dtong2565


Now that #NACE16 is upon us, I found myself reminiscing last night. As part of the NACE Executive Board, I had a number of preconference commitments, and it was during the course of some of these interactions that I realized that this is the 15th anniversary of my very first NACE conference back in 2001 in Las Vegas! After absorbing that fact, I also realized that I was literally having cocktails with the three ladies who helped to make my first conference an experience that I remember vividly to this day.

David with Kathy and Vanessa.

David with Kathy and Vanessa.

I remember feeling very lost at the opening reception. It was a sea of people, almost none of whom I knew. I felt a little intimidated and a bit lonely (or at least as lonely as you can feel in a crowd of 2,000 plus people!). At that moment, someone tapped me on the my shoulder and said “You look like this might be your first time here…”. When I turned around, I was greeted by a woman with a huge smile who introduced herself as Vanessa Strauss (who would soon become the president of NACE). I responded that yes, this was indeed my first conference, and I didn’t have a clue what I was supposed to do next! She laughed, took my arm, and led me over to a group of people surrounding the front podium of the reception area, and she told me that she wanted to introduce me to Kathy Sims from UCLA, the (then) current NACE president. A long conversation ensued where I was welcomed as both a new conference attendee and a relatively new member of NACE. Both Vanessa and Kathy went out of their way to introduce me to several other members over the course of the week, which helped provide me with connections that I value to this day.

Flash forward another decade of so…..Kathy and Vanessa had been urging me for years to volunteer time with NACE, and truth be told, I fought off these overtures for years. They eventually wore me down though (they’re quite an effective tag team!), and I remember getting the call from Vanessa herself that I had been selected to serve on the Board of Directors. How fitting it was that one of the people that helped get me started on my NACE journey was delivering this happy news! And when the news became public, Kathy was one of the first to call with her congratulations, thus completing the circle.

David and Trudy

David and Trudy

Going back to Vegas…..My organization planned a fun university relations event for a small group of career center personnel at a nearby art exhibit. While I knew most of the attendees, this event afforded me some quality time with some particularly influential career center personnel. While there were several such individuals in attendance, I found myself drawn to the team from NYU, which was headed by Trudy Steinfeld. And while she and I talked for a couple of hours, it was amusing to me that we spoke very little about work! We talked baseball, living in NYC, our own college experiences, etc. When the event concluded, we didn’t just do the typical business card exchange; we actually made plans to meet up for happy hour a few weeks later in NYC.

From there, a wonderful friendship has bloomed. Trudy and I (and a large group of mutual friends) have shared cherished memories related to NACE activities, professional development opportunities, overseas trips, etc. When I am looking for professional advice, she is one of the first people I call for counsel, which says a lot.

Now that #NACE16 is ready for launch, I want to urge all of you newcomers out there (over 1,200 strong, at last count) to make the most of this first conference. Try doing these things: 1) Meet as many people as you can at the opening reception. Yes, it can feel pretty crazy, but remember that there a lot of people who have never done this before, so you’re not alone! 2) Attend the newcomer breakfast on Wednesday morning. You’ll get a chance to meet President-Elect Kathleen Powell and other NACE leaders who will be hosting the individual tables. They’ll answer your questions and talk about their experiences with our organization. 3) Don’t eat alone…..Don’t be afraid to sit at a lunch table filled with people you don’t know. Or to organize a group of people to grab dinner at one of Chicago’s many fine eateries.

David Ong

David Ong writing his latest blog while at #NACE16.

Now get out there and network! You’ll be glad you did….