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Recently, while browsing the CUNY SPS Community Blog, I noticed a post by Ms. Shannon Gallo in which she posed the oft-asked question of “What did you do this summer?” Although I have heard this question countless times before, just as I am sure most of us have, it never fails to catch my attention. Therefore, as I sit down to compose my latest post, I find myself searching my memory banks for what really happened throughout the months of June and July.
First off, the year 2012 was huge for me, primarily because I turned eighteen! And, as a result am now considered—at least, age-wise—to be an adult which—in my mind—meant I should begin taking control of my life in a more adult fashion. What better way to do that than by obtaining a job and attempting to exact some amount of control over my own finances? So, having set the objective of obtaining a job as my goal for the summer, I immediately started the long process of drafting cover letters, resumes, and introductory letters to companies everywhere. Yet, having little to no work experience was definitely a black mark against me and I found myself growing discouraged as weeks passed with no return calls. As the months of May, June, and July flew by, I had almost resigned myself to the fact that “Operation Get A Job” was probably not going to be fulfilled—at least not this summer…
So when a relative brought home an application from a community advertisement, I barely glanced at it. Why should I think this company would hire me when so many others had not, but under the gentle prodding of family and friends, I filled it out and sent in a resume. Imagine my surprise when the manager returned my call only a few short days later! And before I knew it, I was interviewing for my very first position and being asked about a start-date. Now approximately, two weeks later, I find that I am increasingly adapting to my work schedule, becoming acquainted with my coworkers, and attaining proficiency in carrying out my responsibilities.
Even better, I find that my position is building on many of the lessons I have learned as a student of City University of New York. For example, having a work schedule which I must adhere to is honing my time management skills—it is critical I prioritize so everything which must be done gets accomplished in the time allotted for that particular task. Further, because I work for and in conjunction with many diverse peoples—all of whom with their own ideas, expectations, and behavioral standards—I must use my knowledge of communication to interact successfully, tactfully, and efficiently with everyone.
As of today, the summer has officially ended for me and yet I remain excited because I am on track to graduate at the end of the Fall 2012 semester. Since I have secured employment, the next logical step(s) on the path I am following is to…prep for a Graduate Program and…buy a car!
Wish me luck as I embark on a journey to fulfill these endeavors and I wish you a Very Successful Fall Semester!
Ricci, I.”Summer.” Image. WordPress Blog. 2012.Web
The Central Dallas Ministries Educational Dept. “The Audacity to Learn.” Image. GoogleBlogs. 2012. Web
I remember, just before returning to school every fall, thinking for weeks and weeks how I would answer that question. Would I tell my classmates about a trip to the beach, or attending sleep-away camp, or a summer job? Since my birthday is at the end of August it was fun talking to my classmates about the cool birthday gift I received or the good time I had at my party. No matter what, I wanted to have an exciting story to tell every year! I also loved hearing about all the interesting things they’d been doing.
So, now, I ask you the question: What did YOU do on your summer vacation? Did you find a new job or internship? Maybe you got a promotion or finished a big project? As July draws to a close and you start preparing for another busy Fall semester, have you been making the most of the break and getting ahead on your job search?
Even though classes start in another month, there is still time. There are a multitude of career services available to you from SPS – so take advantage now! We are committed to helping you reach academic, personal and professional goals and achieve career success. Our career programs are flexible and accessible, utilizing a mix of the latest in technology and traditional methods of advisement to meet your diverse needs. Here’s a quick overview of what is offered:
The Basics: Resumes, Cover Letters, Interviewing and Networking
Job Search: Assessment and Exploration, Career Advisement and Online Tools
Internships: Guidelines and Support
Workshops and Resources: Workshops and Webinars, Online Resource Library
Contact me today and we can get started! I can’t wait to hear about your summer vacation and tell you about mine!
Shannon Gallo is the Manager of Career Services at the CUNY School of Professional Studies and a proud new first time mommy. When she’s not helping others achieve their career dreams, she’s cheering on the West Virginia Mountaineers.
I recently attended an SPS Career Services workshop and networking seminar lead by career expert Arlene Newman. Newman is the President of Career Bound Success and has an extensive background in Human Resources across multiple industries. Newman emphasized the importance of networking in career endeavors and divulged techniques that are useful for successful networking. I will highlight the key points of the seminar and share with you some of the points I think are effective.
Before embarking on your networking journey, it is necessary to devise a clear plan by outlining your objectives, profiling your unique personality, and highlighting your strengths. It is fundamental to ask yourself these questions so you can offer a thorough presentation and give others a clear vision of who you are and what you have to offer. This is also known as an “elevator pitch”– a 30 second to 2 minute clear, concise and carefully planned description that summarizes your personal brand.
From here on, your focus should be on building rapport through the following networks:
• Friends & Family
• Work and Professional Organizations
• Classmates, Alumni Groups and Professors
• Community, Political and Religious Organizations
It is very important to have a positive and enthusiastic attitude in your communication with others. No matter what mood you are in or if you left your last job on a negative circumstance, ensure that your comments are positive. You also must be prepared–this means having a business card ready for all networking events. Your card can display “student” and your major, and if possible, list skills on the back of the card, or even an inspirational quote that is a reflection of your principles. Follow up with every individual through e-mail or a phone call. If there is no answer, always leave a voicemail.
Keep in mind that technology is not 100% reliable, so if you do not get a response the first time, it is okay to send a second e-mail.
Research your field, as well as individuals and organizations pertaining to it. This will prepare you to participate in conversations and become aware of trends and events.
Networking has become an extremely broad concept through our technological evolution, as we now have the tools to increase our networking capabilities. Companies, graduate schools and organizations, are fully aware of this and using online search tools to investigate candidates. Newman stressed the importance of maintaining a professional online presence. To prevent the possibility of a negative image, Google yourself regularly and interact in social networks with your professional image in mind.
Key words for networking:
Authenticity- Be proud of who you are, your background, your skills and your traits. Use this to your advantage- it makes you unique!
Consistency- Your ideologies should remain the same anywhere you are visible
Credibility- Build trust by being honest and upholding integrity with each person that you meet.
Unique – In a competitive job market, it is vital to display what makes you different, in order to distinguish yourself from the rest.
Visibility – In order to network, you must be noticeable to the world – achieved through attending events and sustaining a public online presence.
Following these networking guidelines are a start to building long lasting relationships with individuals that can assist you in building your education and career. With every person you meet, you should treat the interaction as a potential opportunity. You should also incorporate philanthropy in networking by approaching it as a two way street- expect to receive as much as you give out.
Don’t worry if you missed this workshop, you have an opportunity to attend Ask The Expert this Wednesday 11/9 at 6pm. This SPS Career Services program and networking event features a panel of Human Resources professionals answering all your questions about job search and careers. There’s still time to sign up!
Nivia Martinez is a senior undergraduate student at the CUNY School of Professional Studies, majoring in Communications and Culture. Upon graduating, she plans to continue her education by pursuing her Masters in international studies and sociocultural anthropology. In her spare time she enjoys attending cultural events and attending sport events with her 11 year old son, Esteban.
Christy attended a small liberal arts college in Virginia. After graduating with a degree in multidisciplinary studies, and studying arts management and dance, she worked at a local cultural arts center as a receptionist and administrative assistant doing marketing and guest relations. But her heart called her to New York City to pursue a career in arguably the arts center of the world. She was both excited and nervous to make the move but knew that with hard work and bright ideas she could be successful!
She was luckily able to stay with her sister who lived in Manhattan while getting settled and embarking on the job search. One of the first things she did was call and email people with whom she had interacted while in school. She had worked in the school’s performing arts venue and had a few friends from there that had since relocated to NYC. Christy’s former manager at the theatre had also offered to refer her to some of her colleagues in the industry so she pursued those connections too. She also began researching job opportunities online, familiarizing herself with industry trends, and learning about how she might best fit into an organization. Her networking consisted not of asking for “jobs” but of asking for “advice.” She knew that it made sense to approach it that way instead of being too bold and expecting too much from people she barely knew. Soon after meeting and conducting informational interviews with different professionals from multiple facets of the industry, she started to pursue actual job openings. These conversations she had with people who understood her interests and perspective, also helped her narrow her focus to working in a corporate/for-profit environment vs. in-house/non-profit settings and which types of jobs for which she would most likely fit. Before too long, those relationships she formed started to turn into trusted confidantes, and these people started to reach out to her when they learned of openings and she landed some interviews. She didn’t turn down any leads that were remotely related to the field as she knew each person she met was a new connection and that would only help her career.
Finally after just a few short months, Christy got a call about an opening that turned out to be the perfect match for her skills, education, and preferences and accepted the position. It was a Marketing Assistant at a university’s performing arts center in NYC, and her direct supervisor was someone she knew from the similar position she had held in college. This job turned into a successful 5-year tenure marked by multiple promotions and new friends.
It really is true that networking works. Just ask Christy! She gave a lot of effort to her job search and focused on building rapport to create lasting connections that came through for her in a big way. You can make networking work for you too – you just have to commit to it and approach it as a 2-way street. Join SPS Career Services as we welcome a guest presenter, career expert Arlene Newman, at next Wednesday’s “Networking Like a Pro” workshop and get started!
Shannon Gallo is the Manager of Career Services at the CUNY School of Professional Studies. When she’s not helping others achieve their career dreams, she’s cheering on the West Virginia Mountaineers.
Employers are coming around. More and more HR practitioners are realizing that college graduates from online programs, especially those who studied online through a well-known, “brick and mortar” college with a strong reputation, are just as qualified as their counterparts with traditional degrees. According to a SHRM poll released in August 2010, 19% of HR professionals surveyed “strongly agree” and 68% “agree” online degrees are viewed more favorably today than five years ago.
It’s up to students and graduates to show & tell prospective employers how their online credentials add up. Think about these tips when you’re putting together a resume and overcoming objections in a job interview:
1. Talk up the Tech. Explain the format of online courses, and how the necessity of developing and using social media skills makes you ahead of others in areas of emerging technology. By interacting regularly in a virtual context, you’re prepared to connect within today’s global marketplace that may be solely web-based.
2. Diversity and Global Perspective. Since faculty and classmates are many times located outside of your geographical area, you have exposure to a more diverse group of ideas and mindsets. You’re learning and engaging within a global environment, which is a perspective that transfers well to any professional environment.
3. Online does not equal easy. Not everyone can be successful in online classes. Self-discipline, self-motivation and time-management are crucial. Learning how to juggle competing life, family, work and school priorities is very valuable in the professional world. The amount of reading is intense as well, so having the ability to remain focused and proactive with required assignments also develops naturally for an online learner.
4. Communication skills are top-notch. Because so much of online coursework is discussion-based with fellow classmates and instructors, students sharpen and expand written communication skills throughout their program – not just in writing-based courses and research projects.
5. You are CUNY. The School of Professional Studies is part of the nation’s leading public urban institution. It is important to point out the CUNY’s prestigious faculty, excellent scholarly reputation, as well as the full accreditation by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Associations of Colleges and Schools in 2010.
Companies and organizations are becoming more aware of the value of online degrees, and web-based learning is becoming more and more prevalent. It will be up to you – online students & alumni – to properly market these competencies and perform up to those expectations.
Have you heard any objections from employers to your unique online education? I invite you to comment with these challenges. I also hope you’ll share some more ideas about how you think SPS students can articulate your outstanding online qualifications.
Shannon Gallo is the Manager of Career Services at the CUNY School of Professional Studies. When she’s not helping others achieve their career dreams, she’s cheering on the West Virginia Mountaineers.
Having recently been laid off, my world is a different place. Gone are the days of consistently imposed structure, office camaraderie and, most notably, a steady paycheck. My coworkers and I got the bad news right before the holidays; the small graphic design and branding studio we worked for was having trouble bringing in new business and could no longer afford our salaries. After 5 years I cleaned out my desk and said goodbye to people who were like family.
While visiting my actual family in Seattle for the holidays, I got the ball rolling: I applied for unemployment, got a bit of freelance graphic design work, and I volunteered to help a friend with a great startup with which she had begun working as CEO. A good start to staying afloat, making new connections and keeping my skills sharp, but the idea of looking for full time work was sincerely intimidating. For over a year I watched my incredibly qualified, ivy-league educated boyfriend (as well as other friends) struggle to find steady work; how could I possibly expect to find a job?
Even though I had been productive in Seattle, upon returning to NYC I felt disillusioned and disheartened. Usually coming back from visiting my family is a chance to dive back into my life and routine, but this time it felt as though I had neither of those things. The blank slate of my life was staring me in the face, and it was terrifying. I know enough people who have been laid off that everyone understands what I’ve been going through, and with empathy they encourage me to see this time as an opportunity to explore my career and myself. Yes, of course, an opportunity – I was just having a hard time seeing it.
Who do you turn to at a time like this? Luckily my alma mater, CUNY School of Professional Studies, has an excellent Career Services office. Shannon Gallo, the Career Services Director, and I recently met to go over my career objectives and she had some very helpful suggestions. First we explored what type of company I want to work for, what type of work I really want to be doing, and how to approach my job search with those parameters in mind.
It turns out that I want to do more meaningful work. As a marketing and design professional I want to promote a company or product that’s doing some good in the world, or at the very least not actively harming it (see my previous post about fast food marketing). Some people think marketing in and of itself is not a meaningful pursuit, but I always say that even institutions such as non-profits, hospitals and schools need to be marketed. So we decided I would stay in my field but target companies whose values and mission statements align with my own.
Shannon told me about some great job search websites specifically for the non-profit sector such as Idealist.org, NYNP.biz and JustMeans.com. I was concerned that I haven’t worked at non-profit before and that I might lack important experience. Shannon pointed out how in my cover letters I could discuss relevant coursework from my BA in Communications & Culture, to show my interest in and knowledge of issues often dealt with by non-profits such as social and civic reform, the diverse cultures in New York City, and socioeconomic issues in general.
Shannon also gave me some very helpful job search tips, like keeping track of all the jobs I apply for in a spreadsheet and making PDFs of job postings so I can revisit them later if necessary. We discussed improving my LinkedIn profile, becoming more active on the website in groups, and requesting recommendations from people with whom I’m already connected (Shawn Abraham recently wrote a great post about using LinkedIn). We talked about creating a schedule for my days and weeks, making sure I get in enough time to look for paid work to balance out the volunteer work I’m doing, to get out of the house on a regular basis, and even to try and have fun occasionally.
After speaking with Shannon, I feel like the terrifyingly blank slate of my life could in fact be seen as an opportunity to re-imagine a more meaningful and fulfilling career path for myself. Knowing how to better describe myself as a qualified candidate, I now feel more confident applying for jobs that I might actually want. I’m also very thankful that I can send Shannon drafts of cover letters and resumes and she’ll give me honest, informed feedback.
It’s wonderful that as students and alumni of CUNY SPS we have such a great Career Services office. You don’t need to be laid off or out of work to take advantage of this resource. If you’re unhappy in your career path, wondering how to put your SPS degree to use or just curious about your options don’t hesitate to contact Shannon Gallo at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 212.817.7166. My only regret is that I wish I had done it sooner.
Rachel Smith is a marketing and design professional in New York City. She graduated from the SPS BA in Communications and Culture in 2009. Currently she is a founding member of the Alumni Relations Council and By Laws Task Force. Rachel loved the BA program which inspired her to work towards fostering community and collaboration among Alumni at SPS.