Archive for April, 2009

Whether or not you can have wisdom as a twenty-something about to graduate from college is debatable. But if you’re an undergrad counting down until your last final in 2010, I can’t think of anyone better to tell you how to spend your last year of schooling than this year’s graduates. They’re up to t heir tassels in finals, papers, and post-graduation planning right now. That’s exactly where many of you will be soon. Here’s what Bree has to say:

cbbreeThere a few random, insignificant moments throughout my life that I remember quite vividly, one of them being filling out my application for Purdue my senior year of high school. I specifically remember answer the question “Expected Graduation Date:_________” As I filled the blank with “May 2009,” I smiled as it seemed light-years away. It literally feels like maybe one year has gone by since then, when in reality four years have passed as I approach my graduation date. Along the journey, I’ve learned a few things — and not exactly from the classroom — that I wish I would have known back when. So to the class of 2010 and those to follow, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Grades are very important, but not the world. Make sure you get involved, join social clubs, make friends and actually experience college. As musician Tom Petty once said “…the work never ends, but college does.”
  • Internship. Internship. Internship. It is the best thing I did in college. I found out before it was too late that news reporting wasn’t for me. I got the chance to tryout several jobs to see how they fit while gaining experience, learning what I’m good at and figuring out what I loved, and hated.
  • Start job hunting ASAP! Even if you think you already have things all worked out, it is so important to have options because things are always changing. I’ve really had my heart set on a particular internship and as it gets close to graduation time, it might not pan out. I’m scurrying to find other opportunities. I even have peers whose job offers have been revoked due to the economy. Always prepare for the worst and hope for the best when it comes to job hunting.
  • Start creating an on-going portfolio when you get some hands-on experience from internships or upper-level classes. They can be so useful to show an employer what you can really do come interview time.
  • And finally, enjoy your senior year. It without a doubt has been the fastest year of my life and though I’ve enjoyed it, I wish I had an extra month or two to really live it up.

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Dun-dun-dun-dun-da-dun-da-dun-da-dun-dun. <–That’s my “Pomp and Circumstance” transcription.

It’s that time of year when finals are starting and seniors are thinking, “Oooooh, geez, what did I spend the last four years of my life doing?” That’s natural, of course. Don’t we always feel unprepared for big events in our lives? It’s the cold feet before the wedding or the last-minute panic before you become a parent.

Although you’re likely to get a boat load of advice from your parents, extended family, and strangers, we thought you might prefer to hear what graduating seniors are going through. Thus, we asked some CBCampus Ambassadors to share their wisdom as they near the big day. After all, you’re 12 months from being in the exact situation they’re in. Here’s what Natalie wants you to know:

cbnatalieAs graduation looms closer and closer, I can’t help but reflect on my last four years.  And whether you’re ready or not, Class of 2010, soon you’ll be in my shoes asking yourself the same questions I’m asking myself: Why didn’t I get just one more internship? Why isn’t my GPA higher?  Why did I major in this?  How am I going to get a job in this economy?

Well, lucky for you, there’s another year until you graduate and I’d like to offer some advice.  Please note that I’m scared to graduate, too, and have yet to land a job.  However, here goes nothing:

Make your résumé now, even if you don’t need it yet.  The earlier you start, the longer you give yourself to critique it.  Take it to the career center and say “I have one year to make this perfect.  What else do I need to do to make it stand out?”  They might recommend volunteer work, another internship, etc.  Do it now so you’re not trying to do too many things your last quarter.

Don’t be a slacker!  Go to the library. If I had went to the library as much my freshman and sophomore years as I do now, I’d be in much better shape. It’s easy to get burnt out with heavy school loads, but cramming is, always was, and will always be a bad idea. I was always under the impression that GPA doesn’t matter. It does!  It’s an easy way for recruiting managers to discount your résumé right off the bat.

Start taking morning classes. Waking up early is hard, but most post-grad jobs will be in the 8-5 range.  Get used to it now so you’re more productive at work.  (Being more productive may lead to an earlier raise!)

Start researching companies you are interested in working for now.  It’s possible they have a really awesome internship program that you don’t know about.  Get your foot in the door early.  Try contacting their HR person to see what you can do the next year to stand out from their other applicants.  (It might be something that takes time, like learning certain computer software.)

Don’t flip out. Employers may have a sixth sense for desperation.  Make sure you give each company you’re interested in the attention it deserves.  Know everything on their website so you can sound informed and prepared for your interview. Work is a mutual relationship: they need you, but you probably need them even more.  Let them know you’re applying to their company because you could see yourself working there and really making a positive difference, not because you need a job… ANY job.

Relax.  You can always go to grad school.

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On Monday, CBCampus Ambassador Molly talked about her thoughts on starting salaries. Today we continue that discussion with some thoughts from other ambassadors.

kristina-pKristina’s expectations:
Since I’ll be graduating, to enter into an entry-level position, I’m hoping and assuming my salary will be somewhere near $30,000 a year.  Of what I have heard, this is a general amount to be searching for, especially for someone with a communications degree. During the harsh economic times, this is more than I could ask for.

Jessica’s game plan:
jessica-hAs a communication and advertising major with a public relations specialization, I expect to earn $35,000-$45,000 with my educational background.  I would like to work for an advertising agency as a assistant account executive.

This range is dependent on the city I choose to live and work.  However, I expect a slightly higher range if I am lucky enough to live in a major metropolitan city.

Within five years, I would like to earn between $40,000-$75,000.  I plan on my compensation increasing as I move into account executive or management positions.

mike-s1And Mike feels his generation’s been under so much pressure, they’re not unreasonable to expect high salaries:
After working very hard for 4-6 years, you expect that big payout where you can say “All my hard work has paid off.” Now we come to hear from our teachers that “Oh your expectations are unrealistically high.” Personally I think a decent starting salary for me is about $50,000 annually with all the bells and whistles to go along with that and then in five years, I think it should be close to $80,000. You might say that is high but I think that my peers and I would agree that my salary expectations are reasonable given the pressure and stress that we have been put through.

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For most people born into Gen X, Y, or Z(?), Earth Day has been an annual part of our lives. We planted trees, learned about recycling, and learned to turn the water off when we brushed our teeth when we were little grade schoolers. Now, we’re older and environmental issues have become a permanent part of our lexicon. You can’t go a day without hearing “sustainable,” “eco-“, or “green” somethings.

Not only is this good for the environment, but it’s also good for the job market, which is good for you. A new batch of jobs are popping up all the time and although you might not have thought about them when you entered college, they’ll exist once you graduate.

In fact, one-in-ten employers say they have added “green jobs,” otherwise known as environmentally-focused positions, in the last 12 months, according to a new national survey of more than 2,500 hiring managers by CareerBuilder. The survey was conducted between February 20 and March 11, 2009.

Not only are companies showing their commitment to the earth by creating new environmentally friendly positions, but also through “green” programs that get current employees involved. Seventy percent of companies say they have added programs to be more environmentally conscious in the last year. The most popular “green” programs include:

  • Recycling (50 percent)
  • Using less paper (45 percent)
  • Controlling lighting (44 percent)
  • Powering down computers at the end of the day (30 percent)
  • Purchasing office supplies made from recycled materials (27 percent)

“Green jobs have increased in popularity over the last few years as companies take continued action to become more environmentally conscious and reduce their carbon footprints,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder. “The economic stimulus plan is expected to spur an increase in the number of green jobs by creating investments in alternative energies. There are a variety of positions that fall under the green category that could present great new career opportunities for job seekers.”

The following are examples of green job opportunities:

  1. Hydrologist: The median annual income is $64,604.
  2. Environmental Engineer: The median annual income is $63,673.
  3. Pollution Control Technician: The median annual income is $47,403.
  4. Biologist: The median annual income is $53,665.
  5. Science Teacher: The median annual income of kindergarten, elementary, middle and secondary school teachers ranges from $41,400 to $46,991.
  6. Fund-raising Director: The median annual income is $79,762.
  7. Urban Planner: The median annual income is $55,365.
  8. Economist: The median annual income is $82,628.
  9. Forester: The median annual income is $48,110.
  10. Environmental Attorney: The median annual income for attorneys specializing in construction, real estate and land use is $90,146.
  11. Community Affairs Manager: The median annual income is $57,359.
  12. Environmental Health and Safety Technician: The median annual income is $47,403.
  13. Landscape Architect: The median annual income is $53,241.
  14. Waste Disposal Manager: The median annual income is $31,572.
  15. Environmental Chemist: The median annual income is $48,850.

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Choosing a major is a personal process. Each student has his or her own reason to study a particular field. Some people view college as a chance for exploration; others see it as training for a job. Of course there are more reasons, and an endless combination of points of view on the matter.

Regardless of our chief reason for college, somewhere on the list is the notion that you’ll earn back the money you spend. After all, you might love the idea of an education for the experience of it all, but you’re probably not going to shell out a small fortune for medical school if you don’t actually intend to practice medicine and cover your costs. Everyone, I assume, hopes they’ll be able to find a job upon graduation and live on that salary, at least until they get a raise.

We asked CBCampus Ambassadors how much they expect to earn when they land their first job and how it influenced their education. First to offer her thoughts is Molly:

molly-bIn May, I will graduate with a degree in Communications and a specialization in public relations. I am glad I chose to major in these areas. They are something I am interested in. But the only problem: both communications and public relation positions are not at the high end of the salary continuum. After graduation, I expect to find a career where I make $30,000-$35,000 a year. Unfortunately, this number is far lower than some of my friend’s salaries who have already graduated in different areas of concentration. For example, I have a friend who majored in finance and his starting salary was $50,000.

Although an entry-level communications/public relations position has a low starting salary, there is always room for growth. Once experience is gained in these areas, an employee will eventually be promoted and qualified to take on higher positions. It is here where these professionals can make a greater salary – six figures or higher.

So yes – I still plan on achieving my big dreams, but I am going to have to work to get there. Although a starting salary for a communications/public relations position is lower than most other concentrations, I truly enjoy working in these areas. That’s all that counts, right?

How about you all? Did money play a huge role in picking a major? Are you happy with your decision?

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When you’re putting together your application materials for college, you obsess over the essays, SAT verbal scores, and application itself. High school juniors and seniors freak out over writing-related documents–I remember all too vividly. But when we get to job hunting, we often get so wrapped up in interviewing skills and presentation that we neglect writing.  The truth is that all of these components are integral to a successful job hunt.

Kailee’s advice on how to stand out isn’t crazy or outlandish, but it’s useful. She recognizes the value of a well-chosen word and the inclusion (and exclusion) of certain information.

Most college students have a résumé listing their education, experience and activities. It fills up a standard 8 ½” x 11″ piece of paper and tells you nothing about who they are and what they want to do. When applying to jobs, that résumé gets thrown into a pile of hundreds of résumés just like it. So the question is: how do you stand out from the crowd and get your résumé to the top of that pile?

kailee-h1No matter what the position, I always start out by making sure my résumé displays how well-rounded I am. Employers want to see students that have good grades, extracurricular activities, and work experience on their résumé. Someone that has some experience in all these areas is a much better candidate than someone with a 4.0 GPA and no activities or work experience.

For each position or company, it is important to focus in on what makes you right for that particular job. From your entire history of school, activities and work experience, choose only what is most relevant to the job you are applying for. I like to have a different résumé for each type of job, so my experience matches the specific qualifications and responsibilities of that job.

When describing your experience, use action words to describe the responsibilities associated with each position. Also, do not be afraid to list specific accomplishments and awards you have earned – a résumé is the place to proudly display your hard work.

Lastly, your résumé is your first impression on an employer, so do anything you can to jump off the page and show your personality.

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We’re all quite special (or at least we tell ourselves we are), and we want employers to know. The tough part about that is we’re all different, and yet we have to use the same tools to convey our unique personalities to employers. The other day Bree told us what she’s doing to get noticed in a sea of applicants. Now it’s Natalie’s turn to offer up her method:

cbnatalieI’ve been told that a hiring manager will only look at your résumé for 30 seconds before putting it into the “yes” or “no” pile.  I’ve also been told that a hiring manager only looks at your résumé for 10 seconds before making a decision.

Either way, that’s not a lot of time to make an impression.

To help my résumé stand out, I’ve gotten it critiqued by as many people as possible. This list includes my old boss, both of my sisters, three different ladies at three different career centers on campus and my boyfriend. They each offered a slightly different opinion that together helped shape the most recent form of my résumé.

I think one of the most important things I learned was how to write effective bullet points. I was told that it’s more than what your tasks are at work, it’s how those tasks affected the company.

Example: Bullet A represents an impressive task that you may have put on your résumé, while bullet B shows how this bullet point can not only be impressive but it can stand out from the others —

A) Tutored middle school students in reading for two hours daily

B) Tutored middle school students in reading for two hours daily, increasing their average reading level by more than two grade levels

In addition to stating what you task was, you’re also saying why this task was important. This shows that you’re effective at your job and making a difference.

My résumé is constantly changing. I like to stay involved on campus to show that I’m well-rounded and versatile. My résumé is easy to follow,  (hopefully) doesn’t contain grammar mistakes, reflects how my actions made a positive impact for my companies and highlights a wide variety of involvement.

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