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Be In The Room

 

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PhotoCredit: StockSnap

By: Ellie Shulman

When college students complete their degrees, the advice that they are repeatedly given is to build their social network. Although this is straightforward advice, networking can often become a daunting task. What can recent graduates do in order to build a strong professional network?

I was recently volunteering at DonorsChoose.org when board member Yvette Nicole Brown was addressing the staff. The advice that she gave her attendees has had an immense impact on how I perceive networking.

Ms. Brown stressed, “There is no door that is going to open for you that is not supposed to open for you. So never doubt why you are in a room. You are in a room because you are supposed to be in a room. That’s just it. Own it”

These words resonated with me tremendously. Since that day, I have been working hard to put myself in ‘the room’ in order to create new experiences for myself and grow my professional network.

So how can college students put themselves in ‘the room’ to build their social networks and achieve success?

One way to do this is through volunteering at a nonprofit that they support.

The reason for this is that volunteering allows individuals to be invited into situations that they would not have been otherwise. Volunteering is also a great way for graduates to meet people from different backgrounds who also support a cause that they care about.

Through this experience, recent graduates have an opportunity to put themselves in ‘the room’ and build a strong professional network.

Never Underestimate the Power of Pink Boxing Gloves

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By: Ellie Shulman

About five years ago, before the UFC made the sport incredibly popular, I stumbled into my first MMA class. Although I had signed up by mistake, I was immediately hooked. Ever since that fateful day, I have made MMA training an integral part of my life.

What I did not realize at the time was that my MMA training would become a crucial part of the development of my professional career.

On average, employers receive one hundred and twelve applicants per job that they post. If you are lucky enough to be one of the twenty percent who actually land an interview, it is crucial that you leave a lasting impression in order to land the job.

MMA has become the way that I ensure I stand out to my interviewer.

When asked the classic interview question, “So tell me about yourself”, I can convey that I have the essential skill set through my past work experience AND my MMA training.

My dedication to MMA represents my commitment to a project that I feel passionately about. As a member of my fight team, I work hard to help all my teammates achieve success. I also have gained leadership skills by now being in a position to train newcomers to the sport.

By conveying my skillset in an atypical way, I have been able to separate myself from the other one hundred and twelve applicants for a position.

What are ways that you use personal interests to stand out from other applicants?

The Value of a Mentor

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By: Ellie Shulman

For many undergraduate students, the feeling can seem overwhelming. It can often appear that every individual in their lives has an opinion about what their next career move should be post-college. This intimidating feeling often follows college students throughout their undergraduate studies.

So what can undergraduates do to help themselves achieve success in their post-college careers?

Although the answer to this question is simple, the execution is harder. College students should seek out a mentor throughout their four-year studies. This strategy is proven to help students succeed post-graduation.

A recent study by Gallup, published by Inside Higher Ed, demonstrated the success of having a mentor during one’s undergraduate studies. It was found that students who had a mentor or professor who showed a personal interest in their success post-college often ended up in careers that they thoroughly enjoyed.

The shocking aspect of this study was that only fourteen percent of recent graduates remembered having such an individual in their lives during their time in college.

So what should current students do in order to help find suitable mentors?

College students should ingratiate themselves with professors who they admire. This often requires students to step outside their comfort zone and interact with their professors outside the classroom. Make an appointment to meet with a professor during their office hours and ask them for guidance about your post-college career. Professors will admire that students are seeking them out and inquiring about their ideas.

In a recent USA Today article, Jonathan Gibralter president of Wells College explained “Although you may feel inundated with advice about what to try in college and tips for success, summoning the courage to open up to a mentor can change your life”

Do you believe in the importance of students seeking out a mentor while completing their undergraduate studies? What attributes do you think are most important in a mentor?

Defining a New Category and Asking “What If?”

‘Project-based learning’ is a method that is becoming increasingly popular in schools. In short, PBL is defined as the act of learning through identifying a real-world problem and developing its solution. The idea is that students learn through completing projects as opposed to memorizing content from a textbook.

‘Project-based hiring’ currently has no definition that can be easily found online. If students can learn from projects, couldn’t CEO’s and HR Directors hire from them too? Of course, not all project-based learning should involve CEO’s and Hiring directors, but why shouldn’t CEO’s and Hiring Directors be involved in select projects if they want to hire for internships or full-time positions?

I propose the following definition for PBH: ‘Project-based hiring’ is the act of hiring through evaluating how candidates solve real-world problems. Project-based hiring would provide companies a clearer picture of a candidate’s skillsets beyond the resume and interview.

Moreover, what if the goal of these projects was to solve real world problems for a worthwhile charity or non-profit? What if these types of social good projects were the norm across the world, from which students could grow their skillsets and companies could hire top talent, all while making the world a better place?

So Tell Me, “How Has College Prepared You For This Career?”

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By: Ellie Shulman

Job interviews for recent college graduates can seem daunting. For many, they have just completed a degree and are confident that they are suited for a career that they have been studying for the last four years. Often this feeling of achievement dissipates as an interviewer asks the first question…

“How has college prepared you for this career?”

Although this may seem unnerving to recent graduates, the interviewer is clearly not looking to hear about that amazing HIST 200 class the interviewee took as an elective last semester. This is the opportunity to talk about the skillset gained through all those college courses and extracurricular activities that graduates had been involved with over the past four years.

With this question, a potential employer is giving their candidate the chance to promote him or herself and to explain their potential worth to the company who they wish to be employed by.

This is the time for college graduates to discuss their skills gained from class and extracurricular activities. Did the applicant develop strong writing skills by working on a specific paper or project? What leadership roles did the applicant have while completing their undergraduate studies? How did they work with other team members and together how did they problem solve in a difficult situation?

Although this is the opportune time for recent college graduates to ‘pitch’ themselves to potential employers it is also important not to oversell yourself. Make sure to think about this question in advance and develop an ‘elevator pitch’ so that your execution is straightforward and concise.

What type of answers do you think employers are seeking when they ask ‘how has college prepared you for your career’? What do you think is the best way to answer this question?

 

Creating Social Good Can Also Advance Your Career

By: Ellie Shulman

When college students are in the midst of completing their degrees they are often confident that their undergraduate studies are preparing them to become successful in their prospective careers. Almost immediately after graduation these views tend to change.

These recent graduates find themselves being told that they are missing the skillset needed for certain careers and after a few weeks on the job-hunt these graduates often agree. Many employers are now telling new applicants that they lack ‘life skills’.

The question can then be asked ‘what can college students do on their own to help gain these ‘life skills’ that employers think they are missing?’.

One way to gain these life skills is through volunteering, and there is a lot of evidence to support this claim . A recent article on Fortune.com highlighted a Deloitte study that explained, “82% of interviewers told Deloitte they prefer applicants with volunteer experience, and 92% say volunteer activities build leadership skills”. It is evident that volunteering can show a potential employer that applicants have the drive and skillset that they seek in a potential employee.

Which cause or nonprofit is worth your time to support? Regardless of which non-profit you choose, one thing is certain – you’ll make others’ lives better, and through the process, develop the “life skills” employers value.

Do You Sit or Do You Stand?

 

Bruce Springsteen played at Metlife stadium this past month.   There were those who sat during the concert, and those who stood and danced.

Several people were uncertain at moments during the concert. Should they sit or should they stand and dance? They asked themselves.

The sitting or standing question is one that is often answered by observing those around you, which can lead to a group of people who secretly want to stand and dance, but sit because everyone around them sits.

The few who decide to go first, to stand up and dance, irrelevant of what those around them do, are invaluable. Without realizing it, they allow many others to have a lot more fun, to do what they really want to do – stand up and dance.

Tinder, Hitchock, and the Feeling of Rejection

Rejection can be a good thing.   Tinder, Bumble, OK Cupid lessen the feeling of rejection though.   You can swipe left or right on Tinder, but do not have to walk straight up to a girl or guy and risk that he or she may not be interested in you.

I noticed when I was in high school or college (before online dating), more people approached someone they desired at the end of spring semester, the time right before the onset of summer would remove many of the negative consequences in their mind if the situation did not work out, since after all, you didn’t have to see that person who rejected you again for 3 to 4 months.

The famous director, Alfred Hitchcock once said, “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” When you swipe left or right, you don’t have time to fully feel the terror in the anticipation that you may be rejected.

However, in many other instances, seeking a job, starting a business, bringing up a tough conversation with a friend, making a presentation, there is no Tinder to remove the rejection.   We are left with Mr. Hitchcock’s words, and it seems that if there is no terror in the bang, the key is to do the thing you fear as quickly as possible because when you do, the anticipation of the event is over.

You are then left with a positive experience or a bang, and according to Mr. Hitchcock, the bang is not scary at all.