It’s finally finals week and faculty are feeling gritchy: finals and papers to grade (GRR), grades to calculate (double GRR), too many activities and meetings to attend. And why did I just clear snow off my car???? Will summer ever come?
Then I look from the three half-completed projects on my desk to my gray file cabinet and I know WHY, like most faculty, I make time to write one more recommendation, meet with one more freshman selecting a major and review more resumes for students seeking internships and jobs.
That cabinet holds thank you notes from students that make me want to hug the authors. They tell me that these time consuming tasks make a BIG difference in your lives, the lives we are here to touch.
The Jesuits call it “cura personalis,” or care of the person. I am continually impressed with my colleagues who make students their top priority no matter what other demands they face. Now it’s your turn, especially graduating seniors.
Think about the professor who got you through a meltdown or shared a special joy. Think about the advisor who solved a registration problem for you or the faculty member who tutored you through a rough class.
As you pack up to leave CU, make time to touch their hearts! Write notes or emails telling them what this has meant to you. Write about something specific that changed your life.
Hopefully Creighton will remain in your hearts. If you care for those who cared for you, you’ll remain in theirs.
Happy graduation! Know that someone will miss almost every one of you. Go Jays!
P.S. I hope you’ve found these weekly missives helpful. They’ll resume next fall. Have a great summer!
There! I bet that headline got your attention even when you are as crazy busy as we all are during this allegedly “dead” week.
We hold “Puppies and Brownies” in my department to help students cope with the stress of midterms and finals. Faculty members bring their dogs for the students to play with and I bake brownies – not the healthiest food but who cares? It’s dead week. The smiles in the hallway are worth a little barking and confusion.
In case your department doesn’t offer such tension relief, here are a few suggestions to manage your stress.
- Maintain your regular exercise routine if you have one. Failing to give your body its customary exercise will increase your stress. A good workout will clear your mind, energize you and make your studying more productive.
- Even If you aren’t a regular exerciser, take a walk with a friend from class to discuss material that might be on the final. It’s a healthy and productive way to study.
- Get enough sleep to function well. I see students develop brain freezes on tests because they are wiped out. All nighters make for great stories but also lower grades. Every faculty member can tell of students who have overslept finals because they were so exhausted.
- Don’t overdo the caffeine. When it wears off – say right before that early morning exam—you’ll want to crash.
- Eat breakfast on mornings you have exams to fuel your mind for the ordeal ahead.
- Build breaks into your study schedule. Half an hour of mindless TV might help you focus on biology for the next few hours.
- Work hard but sensibly and you’ll sail.
Now I’d better stop writing and get those brownies in the oven! The puppies are coming. The puppies and the STUDENTS are coming. Good luck in surviving dead week and on into finals.
So you want to be an account exec or a office coordinator or a research technician. But what do those rather vague terms mean? How can you get your application past the initial digital screening that most positions require?
First analyze the buzz words embedded in the job description you found posted online.
- If your resume and cover letter match those key terms, you might advance to the next round.
- If you fail to do this, you’ll end up in the delete queue. It’s doubtful that Einstein could get a job in physics today by typing in “E=mc squared” or expecting the machine to know who he was.
Assume that the human resources computer is programmed to automatically eliminate as many resumes as possible on the grounds that the candidates don’t match the desired profile.
In most cases the all- important buzz words are specific required skills or credentials such as “design web sites” or “two years administrative experience.” Because computers demand exact matches with key requirements, customize your resume, using the precise words in the position description, not synonyms. Highlight your fit with every major word possible.
Since this is more complicated than submitting your “one size fits all” resume, ask a professor or internship supervisor or someone at the Career Center to help translate any jargon in the job description that you don’t understand. Ask someone to help you interpret your background so the computer can understand your fit with the position.
To traditionalists, relying on computerized buzz words to screen candidates may seem a little sinister but that’s irrelevant. They are here to stay. If you study them, they might even help you decide whether you match them well enough to bother applying.
When my department reviewed applications for a job teaching graphic design, we found that some applicants seemingly applied for any position listing “media” in the department name. Although we stated clearly that the position’s primary duty was to teach web design, some candidates showed no evidence of ANY graphics experience. Others lacked the required academic credentials. Why did they even bother to complete the elaborate application?
So accept the fact that buzz words can make you or break you and try to use them to your advantage as you decide whether Job A or B might be right for you.
May the buzz be with you!
The other night I watched students at another university march proudly across stage to pick up their awards at Honors Convocation. Sadly one of the things I will remember about the event is that a fair number of them were wearing jeans, extremely short skirts (some with hiking boots) and skin-tight pants. A few looked just plain odd; their faculty members commented on the strange outfits afterwards.
Since honors season is upon us, here are a few tips on dressing to make yourselves, your families and your professors proud. You want to dress the part of the accomplished students you are.
Awards nights call for wearing at least business casual if not a step or two dressier. You don’t have to be a clone of your grandparents to look appropriate for such important occasions but err on the side of conservatism. Do NOT wear:
- Sweatshirts, T-shirts or tank top
- Guys should wear at least nice khakis and a golf shirt. Shirts with ties are a good step up but not mandatory. Slacks with blazers will make a fine impression.
Women have a harder time because there are so many choices. However here are a few suggestions:
- Wear long skirts or short skirts that fall an inch or two above the knees not upper thighs. Coordinate your skirt with the top and maybe a jacket. Avoid skin-tight tops unless you cover them with a jacket.
- Nice slacks with a coordinated top or jacket can’t be beat. Even if you don’t have the legs of a model, you’ll look great. You can wear this outfit for job interviews so you’ll get your money’s worth.
- Heels are stylish but not mandatory. Other good choices include boots that don’t look they came from an Army surplus store and dressy sandals.
You’ve worked very hard for your honors. Celebrate with outfits that tell your elders you are ready for that next step into the professional world.
An employer is weighing candidates for her sales job. She comes across these two resumes:
“I’m a driven, self-starter who gives 100% to everything I do plus I’m an outstanding team player.”
“I averaged 20% increases over book values on my Creighton phonathon accounts, winning top honors on my team.”
Both candidates are trying to tell the employer the same things – that they can sell. Which would you choose?
This illustrates perhaps THE cardinal rule of effective resume writing: Spell out your achievements precisely; document them with data whenever possible. Never exaggerate or lie. The worst thing that you can do is to falsify or inflate your credentials.
Don’t describe your stellar qualities and awesome personality under “Personal Traits.” Says who? Do employers think you’ll admit to being a prima donna who has a hard time meeting deadlines? Let your references do your bragging.
Here are some other do’s and don’ts:
- Use a standard type font (12 or 14 point) and organize your material in clear categories of information with headings in bold type. Allow enough white space so your resume can be scanned at a glance.
- Don’t cram everything onto one page if you have lots of material but see if there are ways to tighten your information.
- If your duties are obvious from a position title, don’t add explanatory bullets. Ex. if you have been a sales clerk at Target, you don’t need to say, “ I rang up customer purchases.”
- Use simple language, avoiding vague “bureaucratese.”
- List positions in reverse chronological order.
- Think twice about listing activities that some might perceive as controversial. Political activism turns off some employers.
- Proofread! Proofread! Proofread! Have a trusted adult or the Career Center critique your final product.
I think that “objectives” are usually a waste of precious space. Your immediate objective is to get the job you are applying for. Period.
List references on a separate sheet with names, positions, addresses, phone numbers and emails that you can hand an interviewer on request. You must obtain permission from anyone to list him or her as a reference. I normally suggest listing a professor, a previous employer and an adult who knows you through volunteer work.
Get your resume RIGHT. As the old cliché says, you only have one chance to make a first impression.
You’re smart, hardworking and looking hard for that perfect internship or job. So how do you communicate your remarkable qualities to prospective employers in a one or two page resume? It’s tough – so tough that several students a week ask me for help with theirs and most resumes require two sessions. Since that’s the case, I’ll devote this week and next week to resume writing. This week I’ll outline what materials to include while next week I’ll offer some major do’s and don’ts.
Here’s the information most employers are seeking:
- Education: list your major and expected graduation date as well as courses relevant to the job you are applying for. If your grade point average is over a 3.0, state it; if under, omit it or offer a number that puts you in a better light such as your major GPA. List your computer capabilities and other relevant skills such as proficiency in a foreign language. Your high school is irrelevant unless you are applying for a job in your hometown where alumni networks from your old school make it a door opener.
- Experience: compile a list of all your jobs including your awful fast food or telemarketing job in high school. You want to show employers that you know the meaning of hard work. List jobs most recent to least recent with two or three bullet points per job citing accomplishments such as meeting sales goals or managing employees. List co-curricular activities relevant to your field under experience along with those equivalent to a job such as serving as a Greek house manager.
- Co-Curricular Activities/Service Work: list all your Creighton and community activities. Think of everything you have done that shows leadership and organizational skills such as chairing events. Volunteer service can distinguish you from competitors.
- Honors and Awards: think of all the scholarships you have received and don’t forget Dean’s List if you have made it. Awards of all types are impressive including such as things as intramural athletic awards or winning contests.
Show your raw materials to a couple of people to see if you’ve left something important off your draft. Chances are you have because most people do. Don’t arbitrarily decide that something isn’t important to anyone but you. As a friend once told me, this isn’t the time to be modest.
The registration sign up sheets are on my door and my schedule is crazier than usual as my advisees re-connect. We’re taking stock of not only what classes they need to take but, more importantly, who they want to become.
That’s how I urge you to think of your semi-annual trek to your advisor’s office.
A lot of universities view advising as a mechanical process of course selection in which students match requirements with courses that fulfill them. If you do that at Creighton, you’ve wasted part of your tuition.
A good advisor will help you sort out questions such as:
- What major(s) appeal to you and why? Which ones match your gifts based on your performance in core classes? Have you found a new passion that replaces your original pre-med plans? Can you combine your new love of theater or anthropology with pre-med or accounting?
- Do you still want to double major even though it means taking several courses in at least one of your fields that bore you? Should you dial back to a minor so you can do more than one minor or study abroad? As long as you complete the core of one undergrad college and a major, YOU get to decide how to allocate the remaining hours. A good advisor will help you take control and still graduate in four years.
- Do you plan to intern? Can your advisor assist you?
Turn your appointment into a conversation about your FUTURE not just how to fulfill your language requirement.
Finally, try to build a relationship with your advisor that can continue beyond graduation. A good advisor will invest in your success because it reflects on him or her.
“Yes, she was my advisee,” I often brag.
In mind’s eye, I remember when the accomplished media professional whose picture is in the paper was a bewildered sophomore. I glow – I am so proud!
Welcome back from Padre, Arch Madness or just Omaha’s bar scene on St. Paddy’s Day! I hope you had a ball and are ready for this semester’s home stretch then the hunt for a summer internship or your first professional job.
But whatever you did in Padre or St. Louis needs to stay there. DO NOT post your exploits on Facebook . No matter how much fun you had at that crazy party, don’t tell your 500 best friends about it online. Delete or better yet, don’t post any photos you wouldn’t show your grandma.
You aren’t just sharing your pictures of dancing in a bikini waving a bottle of tequila with your sorority sisters. Your potential employers also will see them and won’t find them nearly as hilarious as your cousin in Tampa.
You may believe that Facebook’s privacy settings protect you but alums that interview prospective employees say this is dangerous. Their first step in evaluating job candidates is to research them via social media. They say they can learn just about anything they want so be careful what you post on Facebook, Twitter etc.
It’s also important to verify that you aren’t featured in any questionable photos on your friends’ pages. These can hurt you just as badly as pictures on your own site.
The job market is tough enough when you do everything right. Employers are looking for reasons to eliminate candidates so don’t make it easier for them to discard your application.
One final tip: don’t let a your email address raise any eyebrows. I told one student to get rid of “surfergirl @ gmail.com” if she wanted a job in PR!
A sophomore dropped in to ask about registering for fall classes. Almost as an after thought I asked my standard sophomore question.
“You have declared our major haven’t you?”
The student laughed nervously and admitted that she hadn’t. “I’m just so indecisive. I can’t make up my mind.”
What were her choices? I asked. Happily she was only trying to decide between two majors in our department. Cake! We discussed how she could do either or both and easily graduate in four years. Whew!
“It takes you just minutes to declare a major and if you change your mind, you can declare something else just as easily,” I told her. Half an hour later, her declaration message popped up in my email. She’s officially my new advisee!!!!!
So sophomores heed the message of this little episode. It’s midterm week and you’re frantically busy but if you don’t have a major yet, take the few minutes to declare your current favorite before you head to Arch Madness or Padre. It’s time to get going on A major even if it doesn’t stick. Remember that:
- You can always change your mind.
- You’ll head into break with a huge load off your mind.
- You’ll get an advisor who can give you detailed guidance that should help you decide if this really is the major for you.
I remember changing my own major three times as a sophomore before landing where I belonged. No matter how indecisive you are, take the plunge. You have nothing to lose but your anxiety.
Do yourself and your professors a favor. Give up your thesaurus for Lent.
This advice may sound counter-intuitive. You want to impress your professors but your vocabulary is modest so you use the thesaurus to make yourself sound more erudite (a thesaurus-type word for scholarly). But your attempt is likely to backfire.
The thesaurus offers numerous substitutes for a dictionary’s worth of words but does not define them. Because English words can mean radically different things depending on their context, picking a substitute because it sounds impressive risks choosing one that makes no sense.
Far from being impressed, your professor will wonder if you know what you are talking about. It’s a lot safer to observe the KISS rule of writing: Keep it simple stupid!
I’ve been anti-thesaurus since high school when I saw a classmate using one to change the small words in her paper to big ones. She said she was doing this because she didn’t know many big words. I looked at her paper, cringed at the results and resolved to stick to words I understood.
Now that I teach writing, I demand that my students do the same. Last week after I reviewed a draft of a paper full of such words, I invited the author in for help and asked her what a couple of the words meant. When she couldn’t explain them, I sent her home to rewrite the paper in simple English.
Her final version was wonderful. I’m not sure whose smile was broader when Rachel saw her A. And I bet she never again uses her thesaurus when she writes a paper for me!!!!