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  • Felicia Parks 2:04 pm on December 22, 2014 Permalink
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    Debunking the Myth – Employers Actually Hire During the Holidays 

    You’ve taken your last exam, put the finishing touches on your group project and you’re finally leaving campus for the holidays. But have you applied for a spring 2015 internship or post graduate job?  While many have heard [or were constantly told] that no one reviews your resume, calls you for an interview or offers a job during the holidays – this simply isn’t true for lots of organizations.

    Here are 4 true statements about recruiting during the slower time period of the year 

    1. Not every recruiter is on vacation.  A new year can also equal a new job for candidates that are flexible to interview during the holidays.  While an offer to meet with the employer could interrupt a day or two of your vacation, the December graduate could experience less competition for full-time positions that start at the beginning of the year. Since new clients, projects and business happen throughout the year, employers continuously post in AU CareerWeb, as well as contact the Career Center, about positions they urgently need to fill before the beginning of the new year.
    2. Holidays are for networking.Whether you attend a social gathering with your student organization, are invited to the company party for your seasonal job or feeling like a third wheel at your parent’s corporate celebration, these are great opportunities to network with new individuals as well as update current contacts in a casual and fun environment.  As you connect with people throughout the event, be sure to remember “active listening is key” and grilling any individual with tons of questions may appear desperate.  So bring your business cards, your enthusiasm and possibly add the notepad app to your cell phone so that you can capture individual names, titles, email addresses and phone numbers to follow-up.
    3. An email or postage stamp could lead to a job.  Whether it’s a holiday card, family blog or video that details your year in review, the design could impress the receiver with your skills and lead to a referral for a full-time opportunity.  After you finish designing your holiday greeting, be sure to polish your elevator speech, order your business cards and schedule a few informational interviews.
    4. Remain positive throughout your job search.  While this blogs offers several tips on applying for jobs during the holidays, it can feel overwhelming when family and friends continuously ask about your job search and potential offers. So keep your head up and your nose to the grind stone.

    We hope these tips have been helpful. Happy holidays from your Career Center advising team!

    AU Career Center_2014 Holiday Party

  • emily 4:58 pm on December 2, 2014 Permalink  

    Interviewing in a Winter Wonderland 

    The days are getting shorter and the weather is getting colder. Here at the Career Center we want to help you embrace the winter wonderland as it coincides with your job search. The cold and wet weather can make arriving for an interview or new job a bit of a challenge, but have no fear.

    Here are some tips to make sure you make a good impression from the moment you arrive by looking professional and not like the abominable snowman.

    1) Layer underneath. Instead of piling on the sweaters and jackets, try wearing a warm base-layer. This allows you to look sleek without freezing on the walk to the metro. Long johns and tights/leggings can go underneath pants or you can wear thick tights with boots. Make sure you have a pair of warm socks, and your feet should be good to go. If it is very cold out, try a warm cotton shirt under your button-up or dress.

    2) Avoid frostbite. Packing a change of shoes and wearing boots can be tricky when you do not yet have a desk to stash the boots under. If you cannot store your big winter boots somewhere, then try wearing professional weatherproof boots or investing in weatherproofing spray. You can spray the nice boots you already have to minimize water or snow getting in. If all else fails, pack an extra pair of socks and change into those before the interview. Take care of other extremities as well. Wear gloves, because no one wants to shake hands with an icicle.

    3) Arrive warm, look cool. Some basics – though it may be warmer, avoid wearing any puffy winter sports coats. Instead opt for a pea coat or trench coat that is long enough to cover your suit jacket. Though for some it may be inevitable, try to avoid hat hair. If you are someone whose hair does not easily recover from a hat, wear earmuffs or a headband. Or, if you can bring a comb to straighten up after arriving. An alternative for people with long hair is to wear it pulled back in a way that is not as easy to muss up. Since you are already arriving early for the interview, do one last check in the bathroom to make sure you survived the cold in one piece. As much as you love your cat hat or giant mittens, wear practical but not comical hats, gloves, and scarves.

    Interviewing or starting a new position in the winter does not mean you cannot still look professional, it just may take a little extra work. For more advice on business attire, check out the Career Center’s website or one of the great books in the Career Center library.

  • emily 7:14 pm on November 25, 2014 Permalink
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    Creating the Best Writing Sample 

    Food, family, and a study break-Thanksgiving is not too soon to think about job application writing samples. This may sound daunting, but hear me out.

    The best advice when it comes to writing samples is to get some ready now. Having a variety of samples makes it easier to quickly apply for a job or internship opportunity when it comes. The exact requirements and nature of the writing sample will depend on the field, job details, and the preference of the employer. A research position or a well-cited paper or lab report, a communications position could want a catchy blog piece, and a policy organization could want a concise article.

    To be ready for the writing sample request, take a moment to look at what you have written or are writing now. You do not have to re-create the wheel with each application. Students and recent graduates can use academic papers or other work from college. However, it is less encouraged for alumni further out from their degree to do the same.

    Most of the time the sample will be no longer than two pages, five max. Chances are the best writing you have done for class has been significantly longer than 2 pages. So, how to cut down your favorite work without losing what made it so good?

    First, identify the meat of the paper. Where did you defend your thesis or conclusion the strongest? Where did you really flex your analytical skills? The goal of a writing sample is to measure your ability to write professionally, clearly, and succinctly. Just sending the first two pages of a much longer paper may leave out too much and seem incomplete.

    Second, be ready to edit. Even if you do not yet know the specific organization or job that you will apply for, do some preliminary research. Look at the writing style of some different organizations that you are interested in to edit the sample accordingly. When you do apply, use the style and tone of that particular employer and have the sample address a topic, theme, or issue that you could be required to work on in the position.

    The key is having something ready in your back pocket, or saved on your computer, that you are proud to share with a potential employer. Thanksgiving break is a good time to pick out blogs, academic papers, news articles, or other projects from this or previous semesters. That way when finals hit and you are applying for jobs or internships you do not have to create an entirely new piece. Preparation and a little research now could save you some precious hours of sleep come December.

    For more on writing samples check out the Career Center website.

  • John Nunno 9:30 am on November 6, 2014 Permalink  

    What is Vault Career Insider? 

    You may have seen it on the Career Center’s website. Maybe you saw it on the exit survey after your career advising appointment. Maybe you saw it on your Twitter feed. Any time you see it, I’m sure this question pops into your head: what is Vault Career Insider? I have the answer for you!

    Vault Career Insider is your source of insider information on companies, industry trends, and careers that interest you. Vault has in-depth company and internship rankings so you can identify the place you want to work. It also has in-depth profession and industry breakdowns to help you target your career path. You get full access to all of Vault’s downloadable career guides which are compatible with desktop and tablet devices.

    I know what you’re thinking- that all sounds great, but what are some practical uses for Vault? Let’s say you are interested in chemistry, and you want to explore career options for the field. You should check out Vault’s chemistry section under Industries & Professions. There you will find background on the field, how the field is structured, the outlook for the field, and a list of resources and associations. You can even find an extensive list of professions related to chemistry.

    You want another example? Let’s do it. Let’s say you are interested in working in consulting, but you’re not sure what company fits your interests and needs. Well Vault ranks consulting firms by a variety of criteria. Vault ranks the best firms in specific areas of practice (Defense, Economic, Human Resources, IT Strategy, etc…) and in work place needs (Benefits, Firm Culture, Interaction with Clients, Travel Requirements, Work/Life Balance, etc…). You can use that information to target specific employers to apply to!

    There you have it. An explanation of Vault Career Insider along with two practical uses of the resource. To get your career research started with Vault simply click here to set up your account and sign in. If you want to learn more or have questions you can email me at Check out more of the Career Center’s online resources here!

  • Sue Gordon 3:35 pm on October 28, 2014 Permalink  

    Avoid being scammed! 


    Learn how to tell if a job offer is legitimate

    The Career Center is committed to helping AU students and alumni understand all facets of the job search process. In light of some recent job scams that have come to our attention, we’ve prepared this information to help you identify fraudulent job offers.

    Red flags:

    • Sender’s email address is,,,, etc.
      • Legitimate employer messages will usually come from a .com, .gov, or .org email address rather than a personal email address as listed above
    • Non-specific job opportunity
      • Legitimate employer messages will usually reference a specific job title or description
    • Money transfers not tied to any goods or services
      • Legitimate employers, for the most part, won’t send you a check or money order and ask you to deposit the check and send money back to them.

    (More …)

  • Anna Litman 10:17 pm on October 27, 2014 Permalink
    Tags: , job interviews   

    Anna’s Pondering Question of the Week Series: More on Job Interviews! 

    The Interview topic is in the air! Right after I decided to focus on job interviews for this part of my blog series, I discovered that “My Career Advisor Blog” has two recent blogs on the same topic!  But it won’t stop me! The more interview tips AU students can learn , the better their chances are to get these jobs!  From my perspective, I would like to ponder employer’s expectations and interviewee’s winning attitudes and strategies.

    As a career advisor, I often see students stressing about the best way to study for possible interview questions and the “right” answers as if they are preparing for a school test. But the job interview is not your school test. School tests are all about YOU as they assess your subject-related knowledge and skills.  Job interviews are all about THEM – your prospective employers, who hope to determine whether their organizations/companies can benefit from your abilities and personality traits.  So, job interviews are more about figuring out how you can HELP employers function, grow, and successfully compete (for grants/investments, markets, or influence) rather than judging who you are and what you know.

    My tip #1: Try to develop a helpful attitude towards your prospective employer and show it at your job interview.  To do that:

    • Learn more about the organization and about its needs (as related to its mission, services/product, environment, competitors, etc.)
    • Reflect how your knowledge and experience can be useful to meet these needs
    • Practice explaining your usefulness referring to your knowledge, skills, and experience, and
    • Come to the interview prepared to be engaged in the conversation not only by talking but also LISTENING actively.


    Keep in mind that by inviting you to a job interview, your prospective employer has expressed its satisfaction with the level of your academic preparation, experience, and interest in the position. Now, the employer would like to figure out whether your thinking process and problem solving abilities fit the needs of the organization. The employer may want to give you problems, cases, or scenarios to see if your analytical skills and your logical reasoning are sufficient for the job.  To check this, they would like you to “think out loud.”

    My Tip #2: Practice thinking out loud but also learn how to think to yourself before  “thinking out loud” in order to organize your thoughts.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Asking questions is also part of a good thinking process. The employer would like to see if you are capable of identifying missing information.  Also, don’t be afraid to be creative and thinking out-of-of the box at the job interview.  Most employers welcome creativity and unorthodox approaches.  

    The employer would like to hire a person who will fit the culture of the organization. At the job interview, the employer may ask you to talk about your behavior in situations that could be indicative to certain personal characteristics that represent the cultural fit, or misfit.

    My Tip #3:  Many job descriptions nowadays describe, to some extent, the organization’s culture. Review job descriptions carefully and also research organizations on or, or through social media (following organizations on Twitter and Facebook). Come up with several stories based on your life/school/work experience to illustrate such characteristics.  Also, don’t forget that employers are people and they want to hire likable people. Be nice, respectful, engaged, and smile!  Get Hired!


  • John Nunno 9:45 am on October 17, 2014 Permalink
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    When it Comes to Interviews, Practice Makes Perfect 

    You submitted your application materials and secured an interview for a job or internship. Congrats! Now you need to nail the interview. How do you plan on prepping? Let me make a suggestion: start with InterviewStream! InterviewStream is the Career Center’s online mock interview resource you can use to video yourself and polish your interview skills.

    Follow these steps to get started:

    1) Create an account- Account set up takes approximately 14.9 seconds. All you need to provide is your name, email address, and a password (the password must be at least 6 characters and include a capital letter and a number). Create an account now!

    2) Select an interview to conduct- You can select either a pre-made interview created by the AU Career Center or make your own interview by selecting from thousands of questions InterviewStream provides. If you want to make your own, don’t be intimidated by the number of questions. You can search for questions by keyword or browse them by subject.

    3) Complete the interview- This step is straight forward enough- answer the questions! You need a computer with a webcam for the interview. If you do not have a webcam then please feel free to use an interview room at the Career Center. Call us at (202) 885-1804 to check availability.

    4) Review your interview- After you complete the interview it’s time to critique yourself. Click on “Watch My Interview” on the InterviewStream homepage and select the interview you want to review. Use the comment box to take notes on what you did well and what needs to be improved. You can track how many times you used common fillers like “Umm” and “You Know” by using the counter below the video.

    5) Share your interview- You can share your interview to get feedback from an advisor, mentor, or a friend. Click “Share” under the video and send the interview via email or generate a link to share.

    Using InterviewStream is that simple! You can practice for an interview you have coming up or just to keep your skills sharp. InterviewStream even has a mobile app so you can practice interviewing on the go.

    Click here to learn about the other online resources the Career Center has for you.

  • Marie Spaulding 10:00 am on October 13, 2014 Permalink  

    Take a course for FREE on the AU Campus 

    Have you ever read a job description where the employer asked for skills using SPSS? What about qualifications with Python? How about ArcGIS?

    What do you do if you do not have these skills?

    Did you know that you can take courses in all three of these areas, and many more, at no cost through the Center for Teaching, Research and Learning (CTRL)? The CTRL Lab is in Hurst Hall, Room 202 – they offer courses Mon – Saturday. If you would like to register simply go to

  • Marie Spaulding 5:30 pm on October 8, 2014 Permalink  

    Looking for part-time employment? 

    Whether you are looking for a job on or off campus, it can be challenging to find part-time work. Here are some tips:

    • Take the time to Prepare your application materials
    • Apply by submitting your resume and a cover letter targeted to each specific employer and
    • Follow Up by emailing or calling the person who is reviewing the application materials.

    Make an appointment to meet with your Career Advisor who can help you to develop, or fine-tune, your resume and cover letter. You can also drop by the Career Center and meet with a Peer Advisor in the Career Center Library.

    (More …)

  • emily 4:15 pm on October 6, 2014 Permalink
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    5 Tips to Nail an Interview Presentation 

    You have made it through the first and possibly even the second round of interviews for a job or internship. Congrats! Now you are asked to give a presentation in front of your possible future employers and colleagues. Regardless of your comfort-level speaking in front of groups, here are some important tips to a smooth, professional, and confident presentation.

    1)      Know yourself. You are going to be standing in front of a group of people, so all eyes will be on you. To be your most professional self, it is key to understand how you react to this sort of attention. Do you get very flushed? Wear a shirt with a high neck or collar. You will most likely already be wearing a jacket or blazer, so not to worry about getting warm, the extra layer should cover that. If you tend to fidget during a presentation, make sure you are not wearing rings or a watch/bracelet. Plan to keep you hair away from your face if you have a habit of touching it when nervous. Understanding yourself and how you react will allow you to plan ahead of time to make sure you look smooth and confident. That way you will have an easier time forgetting your nervous habits.

    2)      Know your topic. You will get questions after your presentation. Be prepared to answer them by understanding what you chose as a topic and why. The presentation is an opportunity for the employer to get to know you and how you prepare for assignments, so make sure you have spent enough time picking a great topic and creating a clear presentation with a beginning, middle, and conclusion.

    3)      Practice. Index cards or notes should contain only the briefest outline of your presentation, the rest should be memorized. You are telling the story, making your case, or sharing the facts, the slide is just a visual aid for the information you are providing. Practice the presentation as you will give it, so if you intend to move around and use hand gestures, rehearse them. If you tend to pace or shift, practice standing in one spot.

    4)      Have a backup plan. Technology is notorious for failing at the last minute. So bring at least one backup copy of your presentation on a USB, even if you sent the employer a copy ahead of time. In case of total technology meltdowns, bring paper copies of your notes or index cards.

    5)      Visit the Career Center. From discussing possible topics to practicing in front of others, the Career Center advisors are here to help. You can also reserve a room in the Career Center to record yourself giving the presentation so that you can watch and improve your speed, gestures, and content.

    Each interview and presentation is another opportunity to improve your speaking skills and will help you get one step closer to the right job or internship.


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