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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?Vacation From Work

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.

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.