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Dear You,

Some college journalism/liberal arts and science students incorrectly assume that Career Centers at their universities can’t help them.

Though, yes, it is true that business and engineering students may have an easier time of finding organizations that fit their interest recruiting at career fairs, with a little research and perserverance, J-school and liberal arts students can have the same success.

I have attended Career Showcase, the CRC’s semesterly career fair, each year I’ve attended UF. Though my experience was more as an observer as a freshman, it has given me good practice interviewing with employers, learning professionalism and navigating the fair, which has made my experience as a senior more fruitful.

With each passing semester, my resume has improved and lengthened, and visits to the CRC for resume critiques, employer mock interviews and discussions with advisers has worked to my advantage. 

For students not sold on a career in the field of journalism or undecided about what to do after graduating, the key to finding something you’ll excel in and selling yourself to employers is transferable skills. They know that you can probably write well or speak well, but how does that help them?

Can you manage content on a Web site? Do you have management experience or professional experience? Can you speak well in front of people? Are you familiar with social networking/new media tools? Are you proficient in Adobe products – InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator? Are you amiable, easy to work with?

What do you bring to the table?

I knew walking on the UF campus that I didn’t want to work in the field of journalism, but I also knew I wanted to apply the technical skills I learned in the College of Journalism and Communications in my career somehow.

To supplement my academic curriculum, I took courses in education, participated in leadership and extracurricular activities and got meaningful, professional experience through part-time employment at the Career Resource Center.

Unlike most part-time jobs  on campus, I got the opportunity to do real work – developing content, organizing campaigns and working directly with full-time staff members. I’ve done a little bit of everything – management, content development, editing and design. 

Over the past three years, I’ve been encouraged to take initiative in my position, increased my responsibilities and been promoted from intern to PR specialist – all while working with professionals who were able to assist me through all phases of the career-decision making process.

And with time, I’ve realized that the skill sets I’ve developed and used in public relations can be applied to management, human resources, community relations and other fields. 

My resume and interviews reflect that and showcase the projects I’ve worked on, technical skills I’ve utilized and skill sets I’ve developed.

I’m not majoring in business, but I have a diverse collegiate experience an unique abilities, which set me apart from my peers.

Don’t be discouraged and think you’re not recruitable if you’re not graduating from a business college. Walk into your career center and learn how to spruce up your resume to best reflect you and what you’re capable of. Take advantage of opportunities to network with employers – ask questions and find out what they’re looking for in their candidates. J-schoolers, you know how to write, so present a flawlessly edited resume and cover letter. Present yourself well.

Career Centers are probably the most untapped resources on college campuses today. Take the time to do a little research, ask questions and invest in your future.

If you don’t, why would anyone else want to?

MissFits.

To view profiles of students of various majors who have had success utilizing the Career Resource Center at the University of Florida, click here.

Dear You,

I came across an interesting blog post noted on Twitter earlier today with recommendations for college grads hoping to enter the workforce.

I thought it would be useful to pass along – from David Griner, a social media strategist for Luckie & Companie. Thanks to Heather Huhuman for the tweet. Check it out, here.

Clean it up!

MissFits

Dear  You,

Kenneth Knight, multimedia coordinator for the Tampa Tribune, spoke to our editing class today about his position and experiences, giving a sobering dose of reality to graduating journalism hopefuls about the economy and the state of the news industry.

Knight, with a background in broadcast media from Alabama, if I remember correctly, worked at the Tribune in varying capacities over the past decade and a half or so, working in print, online and multimedia.

Having a firm handle on writing skills is definitely a must, Knight said, but graduating students should have working knowledge and even specialize in new media tools and social networking, too. With layoffs happening every day – literally, college grads need a skill set that will separate them from the competition, which include recently laid off, seasoned journos.

The economy is pushing news organizations to cut staff left and right, requiring more of those who are employed. This means that you’ve got to be skilled at more than writing out of necessity. News organizations are pooling resources to create a seamless product across various platforms. Pick up that extra multimedia class now while you can. It may make all the difference in what you can offer an employer and what they can offer you.

I guess news isn’t for everyone, though, because when I heard a possible starting salary of $25,000, my jaw dropped. College students in the first or second year – think about the industry you’re entering, and realize that there’s a good chance you probably won’t get rich doing it.

Journalism is one of those things you’ve got to love, and if you do, it’ll be well worth it.

MissFits

Dear You,

Thought this Webinar by Lindsay Olson, a PR and marketing recruiter,  might be helpful, per my last post. It addresses the good and bad of social networking, things to look out for and things to avoid. Check it out here and find out more about how to clean up YourSpace on the Internet.

Doesn’t hurt to take a look.

MissFits

And P.S. – Share with friends. They’ll thank you later.

Dear You,

I wrote about professionalism on the Internet a bit ago – reiterating that it’s important that we, as young professionals, don’t let the marvels of new technology get the best of us. Having Web presence is important and critical in some industries, but it’s important to keep it all in perspective and make sure that we put our best foot, or face, forward.

That being said, I found an interesting article about the good and bad in Facebook, tweeted on Twitter earlier today. Read it here.

This article does a great job of putting social media in perspective. Start thinking about Facebook as an interactive, in-depth resume, that almost anyone can access – your parents, employers, family members, spouses.

Your contact information, people you associate with, organizations you’ve been involved in and pictures of you and those closest to you are visible to anyone who can access your profile. What image do you portray? Are you a professional during the day and a party girl doing keg stands at night?

Think twice when posting information on Facebook. Be aware that once your info is out there – IT’S OUT THERE! Keep tabs on your friends, their notes on your wall, their statuses and pictures you may be tagged in. Facebook is a great utility, but when used inappropriately, it can and will work against you.

Find out how someone lost a job over an innocent tweet here. Discretion, people! Let’s use a little common sense, please. Ladies wouldn’t wear an immodest blouse to dinner with grandparents, so why post pictures on the Internet to the world that you wouldn’t want granny to see?

This post title talks about Facebook, but I’m cautioning you about all types of social media.

Think before you ink!

MissFits

Dear You,

I will admit – I do use Facebook, and I do have a MySpace account, as I’m sure you do, too. Right? They’re both great for keeping in touch with old friends and family members and getting the 411 on people you know, but I am concerned that these social networking tools are getting out of hand and can harm aspiring professionals if they’re not careful. CORRECTION: Aspiring professionals can harm themselves with these social networking tools if they’re not careful.

Yes, there are a few basic rules for safely using the Internet that would, of course, be applied while using these sites, but I think that users are more dangerous to themselves than cybersphere. Most people – I’ll stop using “young” because any and everyone uses these things now, are probably unaware of how many people can access their social network profiles. And we all know that some of the things up on Facebook aren’t things we’d want to pull up in front of our parents or grandparents, let alone let a potential employer . And that’s just it! Employers CAN, DO and WILL see the profiles of potential candidates.

It’s not uncommon for organizations to do research on potential candidates using these social networking sites. I mean, what better way to get to know someone you are considering hiring than by checking out the place they spend a whole bunch of time. Let’s be honest – we all probably spend way too much time on Facebook writing on each others walls from our Blackberrys and letting the world know what we’re doing in our statuses.

It stinks for people who have incriminating pictures and colorful language strewn about their pages, but I must admit, it’s a smart move for employers because it’s 1. cheap, actually FREE 2. anonymous and 3. relatively easy to do.

Honestly, why not err on the side of caution here, people? Or, better yet, why not err at all? We know what the right thing to do is! I don’t know how many classes and seminars I’ve been to that politely remind people to be mindful of the images and persona they portray of themselves on the Internet. When submitting an application for an leadership organization, I was asked to bring a print out of my Facebook profile.

A few rules of thumb for maintaining professionalism on the Internet.
1. If you wouldn’t want your parents/grandparents to see it, don’t post it.
2. Ask, “What would my professor/mentor/etc. think if they saw this picture?”
3. Consider the first impression you’re leaving on people who have never met you before.
4. Be careful of who you “befriend.” There are crazies out there, and spammers, too.
5. Erase friends crazy, inappropriate and offensive comments from your walls, or consider deleting them altogether if it’s too much to manage.
6. Don’t post pictures of you doing illegal activities.
7. Be considerate and do not purposefully offend others with ignorant pictures, posts, etc.

Some of this, to me at least, seems pretty basic to Internet safety, but even more so to social networking safety. I’m not saying you have to be Simple Sally, by any means, express yourself, but do consider what your Internet image says about you as a person and professional. Click here to find out more about how to use Facebook professionally.

It’s a small world after all…

MissFits

Dear You,

What a week!

Monday – No School: MLK Day
Tuesday – Inauguration Day/Day 1 of Career Showcase.
Wednesday –  Day 2 of Career Showcase.

I am tired! I spent all of today and yesterday getting ready for Career Showcase, which is a huge two-day career fair on our campus. I updated my resume, made about 20 copies and read up on the companies attending.

Keep in mind – I had to work this event, too. I am a public relations specialist at the Career Resource Center, which hosts the event, and I was shocked and appalled by some of the things I witnessed these past two days.

Yes, I know, it was freezing outside, which can drastically affect wardrobe choices, but it’s all about layering! Jeans are not OK in a professional setting no matter how cold it is outside.

I am confused. The last I knew, business casual meant modest slacks or skirts, button-down, no-cleavage tops and closed-toe shoes for ladies; and button-down shirts, ties, belts and slacks for guys. I don’t know, it might just be me, but jeans are nowhere in that list!

I thought that most students go to career fairs to network and potentially interview – I could be wrong, though. I mean, the recruiters do have the keys to potential jobs, few as they may be. And yes, people, it was cold, which means that we should be wearing MORE CLOTHES, right? I am just saying that less does not equal more.

Note to selves:

  1. DO research the definition of business casual.
  2. DON’T have social hour with your friends while others are genuinely trying to network and get a job.
  3. DO make copies of your resume before meeting with potential employers.
  4. DO know what you wrote on your resume and be prepared to talk about it.
  5. DO update your resume and make sure that it has your most up-to-date GPA, major and expected graduation date.
  6. DO find out something about the organization/company you want to work for and the representatives it sends to recruit.
  7. DO ask for a business card after speaking with an employer and follow up with them about your status. I mean, you do want the job, right?
  8. DO know which organizations are actually at the career fair.
  9. DO think of your skill sets and know how to market yourself in under 60 seconds.
  10. DON’T wear heels you can’t walk in. Not cute.

Read it. Think about it. Implement it.

Fin.

MissFits

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The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, but by WHO WE ARE and WHOSE WE ARE.

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