March 19, 2013 by Ashleigh Brock
Hey, class of 2013! This week’s post is for you. At the start of the semester, I posed a few questions to the College of William & Mary Alumni Network on LinkedIn: Do you love your job? How did you get it? How did you decide it was right for you? We got a number of responses, but one in particular stood out from Madeline Chessman ’12, Major Gifts Assistant at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts:
Hang in there seniors! I wish I had been told the following my senior year:
1) The job description is not the job.
Don’t be too bummed if you don’t get an interview for that “perfect” job. Job descriptions are rarely 100% complete – that’s why the interview process exists. You get to ask the organization questions, and they get to ask you questions (because resumes, like job descriptions, rarely tell the whole story).
2) Talk to people who have careers that interest you.
Say you see a marketing position open up at a cool organization. You’ve never done marketing before, but you think you might like it. Find someone who has a marketing job, and ask for an informational interview (or phone/email/LinkedIn exchange). Each field is different (e.g. sometimes you have to intern, sometimes you need a master’s degree) and the best way to learn about a field is to talk to people in it.
3) Talk to people at organizations you might like to work for.
Companies aren’t their mission statements or annual reports. They are made of real people, and the only way to learn about those people and their organizational culture is by talking to employees. It’s like the college search process – each college has a personality, where do you “fit in” the best? And like the college search process, I recommend coming up with a prioritized list of potential employers – “reach” companies, “safety” companies, etc.
4) Just pick something!
Your major may or may not translate into an obvious first career step – and even if it does, entry-level positions may be scarce. My film major and business minor did not directly translate into working as a Major Gifts Assistant at the Kennedy Center, but it makes sense and I absolutely love my job. You may have lots of ideas for jobs, or none. That’s okay. But the worst thing to do is wallow in painful soul-searching and indecision. TWAMPs are smart, successful, and have lots of post-grad choices. Being decisive, brave, and making concrete goals for yourself will make your job search much more feasible. You also will receive much better advice when you ask more specific questions.
Thus: just pick something! It is definitely easier to break into your “chosen field” once you’ve chosen something, even if the choice is quasi-arbitrary. You have to start somewhere.
Best of luck, seniors – it gets better!
For help in your job or graduate school, please call 757-221-3231 for an appointment with a career adviser.
March 13, 2013 by Ashleigh Brock
As the coordinator for freshman and sophomore initiatives at the Career Center, I constantly encourage underclassmen to take the leap into the world of internships and experiential learning, and to do so early. My rationale? The earlier you gain career experience, the more information you’ll have when faced with career decisions after graduation. But, don’t take my word for it. Sophomore Akshay Deverakonda, our guest blogger this week, did what few students have done before: he applied to the W&M in Washington D.C. semester program immediately following his freshman year. Through the program, Akshay interned at the Environmental Protection Agency while taking classes in D.C. I hope his story encourages you to take a leap of faith and try a new career experience this year!
Eager for Environmentalism – how an internship changed everything
One of the great aspects of a liberal arts education, especially the one we have here at William & Mary, is that you are exposed to a wide variety of viewpoints. For me, my time in the Sharpe Community Scholars Program during my freshman year helped me discover a passion for all things green. However, I was hesitant about switching my major to environmental science. Moreover, would I want to be in a research lab forever? Or could I actually be the one writing the policy based on the science?
My roommate told me that the upcoming fall theme for the William & Mary in Washington Program was “The Ethics of Sustainability”. It seemed like the perfect opportunity at the perfect time—a chance to explore my new found environmental interests by interning in the nation’s capital for a semester. It would push me outside of my comfort zone—who did a semester away/abroad right after their freshman year? However, I felt that this was a special chance, so I applied and was the only freshman that was accepted to the fall 2012 class.
And this huge leap that I took turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.
During the semester, I interned for the Environmental Protection Agency—my office helps communities manage growth from an interdisciplinary perspective, so I was able to examine sustainability from different viewpoints (environmental, economic, public health, etc.). I also made sure to talk to as many people as possible in my office, at the EPA, and in the federal government at large just to see how people with science backgrounds could do policy work, particularly in environmental areas. It was an amazing and truly humbling experience to hear people’s stories of how they got to where they currently were. My time in D.C. helped me see that my own calling was in science policy—there are not that many scientists who do policy work, and I realized that I wanted to be the one translating the science for the policymakers.
So be sure to keep an eye on the opportunities out there—an internship or a single class can change your life completely, as they did with mine. The staff at the Career Center can help immensely with pointing the way, but it’s up to you to try something new.
Want to learn more about how you can still get an internship or other career experience this summer? Make an appointment with a career adviser today!
February 1, 2013 by Ashleigh Brock
Last week, I had the chance to meet Charlotte Bartter ’11, who represented Green Corps at our Spring Career Fair. Afterward, she wrote to me with a message she hoped to convey to other organizations like hers about why coming to William & Mary is always worth the trip:
Dear Fellow Employers from the world of Non-Profits:
I recently attended the William & Mary Career Fair and I missed seeing you! As a William & Mary alumna I know that there are many students who are looking for opportunities to change or better our world; and, as a member of your professional field, I know that we are looking for just these students.
I am currently the Development Associate and a recruiter for Green Corps.
Green Corps works to recruit and train organizers, provide field support for today’s critical environmental campaigns, and graduate activists who possess the skills, temperament and commitment needed to fight and win tomorrow’s environmental battles. We run a one-year, full-time, paid Field School for Environmental Organizing which includes intensive classroom training, hands-on field experience running urgent environmental campaigns, and career placement in positions with leading environmental groups.
We are looking for bright, dedicated, hard working, and passionate college graduates who want to work to protect our environment and change the world we live in. How do we find them? One way is by dedicating our time and resources (for five years in a row) to find those students at William & Mary. In that time we have recruited 3 people for the program who have gone on to do incredible things – and we’re not about to miss out on the next Tribe member to join Green Corps!
By investing your time recruiting for your job openings at the College – I guarantee you will find not only a plethora of qualified candidates, but also your future employee.
William & Mary class of 2011
Green Corps class of 2012
January 22, 2013 by Ashleigh Brock
Greetings, Tribe family! I’d like to send a special welcome out to our newest members of the Tribe, those who began their first semester on campus last week. We’re glad you’re here and hope to see you in the Career Center soon! Returning students, welcome back. I hope the winter break was restful and rejuvenating, and that you’re feeling ready for what’s to come this semester.
To kick off the year, let’s highlight some of the awesome stuff going on at the Career Center this semester:
Spring Career and Internship Fair: Friday, January 25, from 12-4 p.m. in the Sadler Center you can visit with more than 70 employers who are on the hunt for interns and full-time hires. Job and internship seekers, we recommend dressing in interview attire. If you’re just exploring, business casual attire is recommended. Check out our Pinterest boards for attire ideas and tips!
Local Internship Program (LIP): This semester, 34 employers on campus and around Williamsburg are looking for interns to fill positions. LIP is open to you from your first year through senior year. LIP opportunities vary widely, and extensive experience is NOT required in order to apply. If you have some extra time this semester and are looking to gain work experience prior to summer internship or job applications, LIP is for you! To apply, you must attend a LIP orientation session, upload a resume to TribeCareers, and use the “Jobs –> WM Jobs and Internships” tab to view and submit applications.
The Return of MACE: The Major and Career Exploration series is back this semester, with three sections available to freshmen and sophomores looking to explore their academic and career options. If you are undeclared, confused about how to start your career search, or just looking to learn more about the career development process, MACE can help! Learn more about MACE at an information session next week or on the website, then apply online by Feb. 1 to be considered.
Suits for Scholars: This semester marks the beginning of a new professional attire borrowing program at the Career Center. If you need a suit or blazer for a job, grad school, or internship interview, you may submit an online request to borrow professional attire from the Career Center’s Suits for Scholars closet. Made available through the generous donations of alumni, parents, and current students, the Scholars closet has a variety of sizes and styles available for rent during the school year.
These programs are only the tip of the iceberg. Be sure to check out all the great opportunities available to you this spring at the Career Center on our events calendar.
Oh, and seniors… I know things are getting a bit stressful with the start of your final semester. But know that it’s definitely not too late to start your job search and develop your plan for after graduation. Give the Career Center a call for an appointment to map out your job search strategy, build your professional network, and start applying for post-grad opportunities.
Happy first week of classes, Tribe. I hope this is your best semester yet!
November 2, 2012 by Ashleigh Brock
Planning for your career and future is an important part of the college experience. You will likely struggle over a number of significant decisions: what academic path to choose, whether to study abroad, how to make an unpaid internship feasible, or why go to graduate school. You will draft numerous versions of the perfect resume, curriculum vitae, statements of intent, and cover letters. You will prepare rigorously for interviews and other elements of job and grad school application processes.
During your time at William & Mary, you will decide how much time to devote to this planning process and how hard to work at it. Those decisions will help to shape the “real world” you’ll inhabit after you leave Williamsburg.
In addition to the efforts you’ll make in your own interests, you also have an enormous amount of power to shape the world beyond college, and it lies with your ability to vote.
The issues at stake this election season will undoubtedly shape the world you will step into after walking across the graduation stage. The economy you will encounter as you enter the job market will look different based on the policies enacted by our next President. The quality and availability of healthcare in the “real world” will be affected by this election. College student loan repayment, pell grants, and other federal initiatives concerning how Americans pursue higher education will be affected by this election. These are only a few of the many issues that you must consider this year as you prepare to vote. All of them will impact what the “real world” will look like for you after you graduate.
Last year, a record number of young adults ages 18 – 24 voted in the presidential election. That record, however, meant only 49% of young adults eligible to vote did so. More than half stayed home, didn’t register, forgot to turn in their absentee ballot, or otherwise missed the opportunity to have their voices heard, despite the fact that their futures would be affected by the result.
Whatever your political persuasion, please don’t miss the opportunity to let your voice be heard on Tuesday, November 6. Current college students will inherit a country being shaped by those in positions of power today. By voting, you can show the rest of the country that you understand the implications of this election and care deeply about the “real world” that awaits you after William & Mary.
Hark upon the ballot box, Tribe.
October 19, 2012 by Ashleigh Brock
Welcome back from Fall Break! The pace of life in the Career Center slows a bit during breaks, so I used some of the quiet time on campus to read a very interesting book by Tom Rath and Jim Harter called Well Being: The Five Essential Elements. The book explores a central question: what differentiates a thriving life from one spent suffering? To answer this simple, yet compelling question, Gallup research scientists undertook a comprehensive global study of well being, surveying people from 150 different countries about what “the best possible future” would look like for them.
This research identified five key elements of well being that affected whether those surveyed were thriving, struggling or suffering: financial well being, social well being, community well being, career well being, and physical well being. Career well being rose above the others as the best predictor for people’s overall wellness and their ability to not only survive, but thrive.
Putting career at the top of a hierarchy of things that affect our wellness may seem unusual, especially given that physical and financial well being were also on the list. But more than any other choice you make, your decision about how to spend what amounts to the majority of your waking hours every day vastly outpaces the other factors in terms of overall happiness and satisfaction with life.
I can’t agree more with these assertions. The career path you choose can be either a tremendous blessing or a curse, affecting every other area of your life. This is not to say that your first job needs to be perfect, or fit your passions in every way; only that you have to like it enough to be positive about going to work every day. That positivity trickles down and into every other facet of your experience. If you hate your job, you’re more likely to bring that negativity to your personal life, straining your relationships, mental health, and physical well being. Liking or feeling satisfied with what you do allows you to bring positivity to those other areas instead, which can totally change how you perceive the rest of your world.
The career search is about finding a career path that fits, and that satisfies you. Although asking and answering deep, difficult questions about what’s right for you is daunting in college and much more challenging than just polishing your resume or scanning through job descriptions, it’s totally worth doing. Take time to explore your options and identify those that are best suited to you. You’ll be healthier, happier, and more satisfied in the long run because you did.
October 8, 2012 by Ashleigh Brock
I am a certified LinkedIn addict. I use it every day, multiple times a day in my job to help students and alumni. I do not do so because it’s trendy, or because I think it’s cool to be connected on social media. I use LinkedIn because it’s an easy, practical way to research career and graduate school options, connect with William and Mary alumni and help students harness the power of their networks to find opportunities.
While connections to friends, family and colleagues are one central way to use LinkedIn, I’d like to share a few of my favorite methods of using the site that have nothing to do with accepting that connection request from your roommate. I use LinkedIn every day to:
- show students where a William and Mary degree can take them. Just recently, Linkedin introduced an alumni page that creates an awesome visual using data from LinkedIn users tied to particular institutions. If you went to or currently attend the College, you can go to the alumni tool and see, for example, that 612 W&M alums are on LinkedIn in Chicago, eight of whom work at IBM. Or, of the 3,373 Tribe folks in Richmond, 250 work in finance. Pretty cool, right? The tool also allows users to click on multiple cities, or companies, or fields to do cross-dimensional searches. I use this in a lot of ways, like showing sophomores looking for summer internships in D.C. what companies house the greatest number of alumni.
- help seniors find entry-level jobs. LinkedIn also introduced a tool that pulls out entry-level job postings from the vast pool of opportunities companies post on the site to help college grads find good matches for their skill levels from across a wide array of industries.
- encourage students to do their research. Perhaps the most underused LinkedIn tool available is the Companies tab. There, you can find information about small businesses, universities, non-profit organizations, major corporations, and government agencies, some of which post jobs directly to their company pages.
Finally, I use LinkedIn to empower students to build their network. Sophomore Connor Norton learned about LinkedIn during his Major and Career Exploration seminar at the Career Center his freshman year. He writes:
During the past summer, I interned at AT&T in Northern Virginia, working with a William and Mary alumnus with whom I connected on Linkedin. During the spring semester, I explored and joined as many William and Mary alumni networks as I could. Soon after, I began posting in each of them, soliciting both suggestions for companies to apply to, as well as positions that alumni were actively looking to fill.
I heard back from many alumni, but one in particular showed interest in me. He forwarded my résumé and cover letter to HR, and I applied for the internship on the company website. I interviewed with a member of their team during spring break, and by the end of the semester, I had a valuable internship experience waiting for me in the summer.
The internship proved to be extremely beneficial. I learned many skills and got a better handle for professional environments. On top of that, I gained valuable professional contacts, which should serve me well in the future.
Strong alumni networks are great, but they are worthless if you don’t know how to leverage them. Using Linkedin, attending career fairs and receptions and participating in different workshops and programs offered by the Cohen Career Center are the best ways to get the most out of the fantastic William and Mary Alumni Network.
September 21, 2012 by Ashleigh Brock
Preparing for the world of jobs and internships is quite a job in itself. In particular, being a strong interview candidate takes lots of preparation and practice. We don’t want you to spend that prep time rushing around the mall or breaking your bank account. Choosing an outfit for an interview can be challenging, especially when you are new to professional interviewing. This is only compounded by time constraints and college student budgets. But, dressing for success is of the utmost importance when heading to that internship or job interview. First impressions matter. In fact, research has shown that employers’ immediate reactions to candidates affect hiring decisions.
At the Career Center, we answer lots of questions about what to wear to interviews, but we also see how excitement upon receiving an interview quickly turns to anxiety when students realize their wardrobe may lack professional attire. This is especially evident when the turnaround time between finding out you have an interview and the actual interview may only be a few days.
For the past year, we’ve been working on a solution for those situations. In January, the Career Center will officially begin its Suits for Scholars program, in which students will be able to rent professional wardrobe pieces – full suits, blazers, skirts, slacks, and other accessories – from an inventory of new and gently used items we have collected from generous alumni, faculty, staff, and student donors this year. So far, we have collected 50 professional pieces, including 17 full suits, in a range of sizes for men and women.
We are, however, still hoping to fill some holes in our closet before the program formally commences in the spring. In particular, we need:
- Women’s suits (all sizes welcome, but currently lack size 4 in the inventory) and dress shirts
- Men’s slacks, especially between sizes 30-34
- Accessories, especially belts and dress shoes
If you are interested in donating to Suits for Scholars, or would like more information about the program, please contact Ashleigh Brock. We are eager to get started next spring and thank you sincerely for your donations!
August 24, 2012 by Ashleigh Brock
Outside my window, I see new students and their families moving belongings into residence halls, navigating past the Career Center with their campus maps, meeting other new students, and in general, looking excited. This is by far my favorite part of the year. With new students moving in and classes about to start, there’s a palpable optimism on campus and I think it motivates all of us who work here to make sure this is a great year for William and Mary students.
Two weeks ago, I helped to welcome some of your classmates during the Office of Community Engagement’s 7 Generations pre-orientation program. Elizabeth, our panel moderator, wrapped up the discussion with a question I think you will hear a lot during orientation this week: What is one piece of advice you would give to new students as they begin their first semester?
There are, of course, lots of things we would like for you to do at the Career Center and you have plenty of time to learn about them. So instead, I would offer you something a bit more broad: What you choose to study will not define you.
At some point this week, this semester, or this year, you will experience the following scenario. You will take a class you may not have planned to take, or maybe just didn’t think you would enjoy. The professor, the content, a project, something will spark your interest and maybe ignite a passion you didn’t know you had. You will be excited and you will want to tell someone. You will call your parents, or high school best friend, or partner, someone you know will be so thrilled to hear you’ve found an area of study you really love. And, much to your dismay, they may say something like this: “Why would you ever want to study that? People who are _____ majors don’t get jobs!” This will deflate you and make you question whether that interest you found and that spark you felt was real. You will second guess yourself and wonder whether you’re making a mistake.
These moments – the ones where you realize you’re loving what you’re learning AND the ones where others question it – are what the liberal arts experience is all about. Here, you have the chance to define yourself, to determine your interests and commit to your passions. We want you to experiment with your classes, extracurriculars, and career options. We hope you will choose a course of study that excites and challenges you. But the major you choose will not define your success after college. You will. Your major will be part of a dynamic college experience where you will gain skills and identify strengths you may as of yet not know you have. When graduation approaches, you will have a wealth of knowledge, experiences, strengths, interests, and abilities to draw upon as you plan for what comes next.
So as the year begins, hold onto that optimism you feel today. And when those inevitable questions come about the options you choose here, remember that you are in charge. Success does not fall into the laps of those who pick a certain major—it comes to those who work for it, and who use their time here to figure out who they are and what they want to be. We’re just one of many resources here to help you along the way.
Hope to see you soon, Class of 2016. We’re ready for you!