Come Friday, the 22nd of February, as many as 1000 students will ascend to the West Gym between the hours of 10am and 2pm to meet with employers from a variety of industries looking to hire HSU graduates as well as an impressive collection of non-profits looking to give students top notch volunteer experience. Statistically speaking, 65% of jobs are obtained, not through advertising, but through networking and direct contact with employers which is why the Academic and Career Advising Center on campus is bringing employers directly to you.
We invite you to attend the Career Expo and Volunteer Fair on Friday but also want to give a few helpful hints before the time of the event…
1) Dress as nice as you can. We had a couple students show up in suits last year and it was amazing to hear employers’ talk about those students after the event, they noticed the attention that those students paid to the details of their appearance. A suit may not be possible, but a shirt and a tie, nice dress pants or skirt and a blouse, go for it and you’ll get noticed, guaranteed.
2) Research who is going to be there and make some plans on which employers or volunteer opportunities you want to connect with ahead of time. These events are busy and some preparation ahead of time, determining a handful of hoped for connections can make all the difference. There is a link at the end of this post that will take you to our list.
3) Have some talking points prepared, a brief introduction of yourself, a good handshake and a well-prepared resume. Tuesday and Wednesday prior to the fair the Career Center is having extended walk-in hours, 10am – 1pm on Tuesday the 19th, 10am – 2pm on Tuesday the 20th, all of our staff will be on hand to help you be the most prepared.
Stop by the Career Center Table if you come on Friday, We would love to see you, and Good Luck!!!
My personality and passion for science and the ocean have taken me on an amazing journey around the world. This fall, I will begin a Fisheries PhD program at the University Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). I have received the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship (GRFP) and the UAF Marine Ecosystem Sustainability in the Arctic and Subarctic program (MESAS) fellowship, totaling 150K for living expenses, five years of paid tuition and two years of health insurance! My research experiences and education during my undergrad helped me build the foundation for my eventual step onto a PhD.
Having strong research experiences and professional relationships with internship advisors and mentors made me a competitive candidate for the NSF’s GRFP and MESAS program fellowships. During my tenure at Humboldt State I was awarded three NSF-funded research internships. With the help of career center staff and friends, I polished my resume, cover letter and personal statements for the many internships I applied for. At each internship site, I pushed myself to crawl out of my shell and develop relationships with my mentors by asking questions and advice. These people ended up being strong encouragers and recommenders in subsequent internships and throughout my career. Long after I finished each internship, I would give past mentors yearly updates of what I was up to, reminding them of who I was. I also regularly attended scientific meetings, presenting my work and developing new collaborations and professional relationships with other scientists. One thing that has always stuck with me, and I’ve I heard a dozen times: It is not what you know, it is who you know.
The NSF GRFP is very competitive, with thousands of applicants competing annually, many of which are 2nd or 3rd-time applicants. That said, I gave myself lots of encouragement and TIME to work on my application. I began the writing process about six months before the deadline, writing dozen of drafts and getting the constructive input of at least 10 different reviewers. Two of my reviewers/letter of recommendation writers had been reviewers on the NSF GRFP panel and had the inside scoop of what reviewers were looking for. These two reviews were past mentors that I had impressed and kept in contact with regularly.
There are three components to the application: personal statement, research essay, project proposal. Your personal statement should talk about how your personal experiences have shaped your desire to pursue the kinds of research you are proposing, your commitment to doing research, your commitment to increasing diversity in the sciences, etc. Your research essay should show how you’ve developed your background as a researcher, how your research experience has influenced the focus of your research and how this has helped you build the tools necessary to do your proposed research. Your research proposal should start with a big question. If you don’t start with a broad question of interest to a wide scientific audience, you will lose your audience quickly. If all three essays are interwoven, each supporting the information in the other, you will have a much stronger application. You are not committed to the project you propose, NSF just wants to see that you can write a proposal and that you have the skills and aptitude to do the project.
Broader impacts, broader impacts, broader impacts – This is the major weakness with most applicants and without it you do not have a fighting chance. A large majority of the applicants are smart and have lots of research experience, but this is not enough to be a strong applicant. Why should NSF invest in you? How will that make the world a better place? Elaborate on your involvement in outreach projects. Will you serve as a role model as a graduate student, and later on in your career? For whom and why? Does the research you’ve done make the world a better place? There should be a section devoted to your broader impacts within each of the three parts to your application. Other information to include in your personal statement: Were there any struggles along the way? Are you the first in your family to go to college…follow an academic track? NSF is REALLY big into increasing participation of underrepresented groups.
There are so many internships and volunteer opportunities available to undergraduates and recent graduates. So take advantage of them because the relationships you develop with mentors or colleagues will be useful later on! I was lucky enough to become familiarized early on with the career center services and resources. Very few employers will hire prospective employees with little to no experience. Additionally, many fellowships and grants won’t give you any money if you do not have the skills and experiences to give them reason to invest any money on you. With that said, good luck and take advantage of what’s out there!
I remember clearly my own breaks as a student, it wasn’t too long ago in fact that I was one. I was always ready to not have to worry about deadlines, homework, research and reading. It felt like I had earned the time to relax, to travel, and to visit my family. Now, as a Career Counselor at Humboldt, I am always impressed when I find out that students took a portion of their break looking to make contacts and get information on their grad schools, jobs, and internships for the future.
The purpose of this post, is to help seniors graduating in the Spring with doing just that; using your break to contact employers and professionals in your field of interest. Leveraging this time, a full six months prior to graduation, may seem like a dreaded loss of your break but the payoff is exponential.
A few months after I began working here I had a scheduled phone appointment with a student who had graduated six months earlier. He was in a large Californian city and he was totally distraught in his job search. The first statement out of his mouth over the phone was that he needed to move because there were zero jobs in the city he was in. I asked him if he wanted to move and he immediately said no, his whole family was there but he was convinced that he would not be able to find a job where he lived. I asked him how many jobs he had applied for and he said over a hundred, in fact, about fifty jobs into it he had begun to write them down. As he was from a big city I was not convinced that his city really had zero jobs, in fact even in a tough economy such as ours, there are many great jobs but you just need to find them and “out-market” the competition. I asked to see his resume and his cover letter. He sent them in and I gave some suggestions but they weren’t horrible; they weren’t incredible either. I finally asked him how he was finding the jobs he was applying for, he cited Craigslist, and the newspaper. I asked if all 100 jobs were ones he had found in the advertisements and he said yes, every one. BINGO! As a follow up I asked if he had met any of the employers in person and he said he had only visited one, and the mystery was solved.
According to the Harvard School of Business Review, only 30-35% of jobs ever make it into the advertisements. 65-70% of jobs are taken before the employer even needs to consider posting the job. This students problem was he was only applying for 30-35% of the jobs available and without adding personal contact to his response to the ads. Most job seekers do exactly what he was doing, which means he was competing with the most job seekers for the least amount of jobs. I immediately suggested he continue to respond to ads, but in person, but that the ads should never amount to more than half of his job search, he needed to get out there and talk to people in his field, in business.
Immediately he began to do three types of networking. 1) He found businesses in the local chamber of commerce and began to call them and ask open ended questions about their business and the opportunities in the future. He let them know he was a recent graduate and was looking for a career in the area and he had liked what he had seen and heard about them. He knew they may not be hiring yet but he had some questions about future possibilities and then sent them a resume. 2) He picked a couple city blocks that looked promising and walked in and spoke with all the employers who operated on that block that seemed promising. He had the same conversations as the ones from the phone calls to the Chamber Members. 3) Every single ad he responded to had a personal phone call or a visit and he turned in a targeted cover letter and resume containing information from that conversation. He continued to follow up with the employers he had met from all three of these methods.
He initiated this process 6 months after graduating. We have worked with many students who initiate it 6 months prior to graduating, maybe during their winter break and they walk of the stage with their degree and often straight into a job they are confident and excited to begin. Have fun, enjoy friends and family, and make a few visits or phone calls to get a head start!
One of the key reasons The Jitter Bean Coffee Company has become a local success story is largely due to the amazing employees that we have been able to find, train, and have on our team. Likely because of the flexibility of our business, we have a lot of employees who are college age, which Humboldt County has an enormous resource of thanks to the university and junior college population that constantly feeds local businesses like ours with fresh, young talent. Therefore, competition for fun, flexible, part time jobs can be challenging and often frustrating. Job seekers can be left scratching their heads as to why they weren’t selected for a job – or even asked to come in for an interview. After 15 years of interviewing, hiring, and training some incredible people, as well as observing some often times comical exploits from ill prepared individuals, I decided I might be able to share a few insights from an employer’s perspective that could help change that challenging process of finding a job into a successful job hunt.
1. Applying for the Job: Always remember that the interview process starts the moment you walk in the door to ask for an application or to drop off your resume. Whoever you meet, whether it is the business owner, the manager, or “just” an employee of the company, you are immediately being assessed as to whether you are a fit for the potential job. Your first impression with whoever that individual is likely THE key to whether you get to the next phase of the employment process. If she/he likes you, they are likely to promote your application to the next person in the hiring chain. Be sure to be on your “A game” from this moment forward. Dress appropriately, act professionally, and be courteous and friendly. Make sure your first impression is a good one to any company representative you meet, or your employment opportunity could be doomed before your resume or application gets to the one who makes the hiring decisions.
2. Resume & Communication: Be sure to be accurate and be accessible with any information you provide. It is amazing how many times we have tried to contact someone from a resume only to find that their phone number isn’t correct, or their voice mail box is full, or they simply do not return the phone call in a timely manner (or at all). Communication from the beginning of your potential employer-employee relationship is vital. Follow up is essential.
3. Schedule and Availability: Since you are applying for part time employment, be sure to have an accurate time line ready for when you can and cannot be available to work. If you are only providing small windows of time at random times of the day, that is not likely to be appealing to a potential employer. Ideally, consistent times during the week and larger (4+ hours) windows of availability will be most helpful. Too many changes in your daily schedule can be a nightmare for an employer to fit you into their hiring needs. Additionally, if you prefer a certain day off like the all-coveted weekend days, remember that it is especially important as a part time employee to remain flexible if the business is operational on these days.
4. Interview Preparedness: If you are lucky enough to be invited to an in-person interview, make sure you are prepared in every way. If you are not familiar with the meetings location, be sure to have the address and show up early (or even scout it out a day or two before) just to make sure you are on time (and “on time” always means at least 5 minutes early! Never, ever be late for an interview. You are likely to lose the job opportunity on that one mistake). Be professional. Respect your potential employer by dressing appropriately and as though you genuinely want the job
5. The Interview: During the interview, be sure to be focused. Remove any distractions. Put your phone away. Put your keys away. Do not chew gum. Put your purse on the floor next to you. Do not fidget. Be engaged in the conversation. Do your best to relax and keep eye contact with your interviewer(s) as much as possible. Be sure to respond to questions with enough information to allow the interviewer to get to know you, but do not ramble on and on. If you have questions about the position or the company, be sure to ask those as the conversation allows. You need to know if this job is something that not only fits the employer’s needs, but that it will genuinely be a good fit for what you need too.
At the conclusion of the interview, be sure to thank the interviewer for their time and the opportunity to meet with them. If she/he have not told you what the next step will be, do not hesitate to ask if you should anticipate a call from them or if they would like you to check back. Sending a thank you note to the interviewer can be a nice way to make yourself stand out from other candidates and can serve as a positive reminder to the interviewer of you after having potentially interviewed multiple other candidates. If you do not receive a call from the company within a few days, take the initiative and call them yourself to ask about the status of your resume, letting them know that you are still very interested in the position if it has not been filled.
Hopefully you only have to go through this process once and you are one of the fortunate few who get your much-coveted, part-time, dream job, but it is likely you will be going through this process or a portion thereof many times before you hear “you are hired!” Your perseverance will pay off.
Happy job hunting, and good luck!
Owner and Operator of Jitter Bean Coffee Co.