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  • Sue Gordon 8:15 pm on October 1, 2015 Permalink  

    The #1 Skill Employers want YOU to have… Oral Communication 

    This is the first in a series of blogs that will highlight the key skills that employers seek. Each month, an AU Career Advisor will share insights into each skill– how do you develop the skill while at AU, how do you demonstrate, and why is it important?  First up: Oral Communication.

    skills wordleMust have strong oral and written communication skills.”

    If you’ve searched for a job or internship, you’ve seen this requirement in one form or another. According to the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), the ability to communicate orally is the number one competency sought by employers. So, what does it mean to have strong oral communication skills, and how does your degree prepare you to use oral communication skills in the workplace?  The good news is that your American University degree and campus experiences do develop this skill- whether you’ve majored in the liberal arts and sciences or business. (More …)

  • Anna Litman 10:19 pm on September 8, 2015 Permalink
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    Anna’s Pondering the Question of the Week Series, Fall 2015: Tweaking a graduate student resume 

    Greetings and welcome to the 2015-2016 academic year! As we all embark on our new academic and professional experiences, I’m resuming my blog series to reflect on most interesting, challenging or typical questions that students ask me during our individual appointments. I hope that this will help those who may have similar questions but haven’t had a chance to visit the Career Center yet. (More …)

  • rsangeorge 3:08 pm on August 21, 2015 Permalink  

    Writing a Knockout Cover Letter 

    The biggest challenge to overcome in landing the job or internship you want is the first level of applicant screening. Often this means getting a very bored, junior person to sit up and pay attention to the cover letter and resume you have sent in. Today we’re going to focus on cover letters.

    Most people will admit they have difficulty writing cover letters; what they usually mean is that they have a lot of trouble starting cover letters. Here’s a formula for overcoming the writer’s block and anxiety of doing cover letters. (More …)

  • John Nunno 1:11 pm on June 8, 2015 Permalink
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    2015 Summer Reading List for Your Career Development 

    Well, it’s finally here. After all of the late night study sessions, group projects, and scrambling to get papers in on time, summer is upon us! It is a time for rest, relaxation, and of course…reading! Everyone likes to read while they’re relaxing at the beach or at the pool after a long week (and it’s nice to be able to pick what YOU want to read instead of what is listed in a syllabus). If you want books that will stimulate your mind during the summer, consider these options found in the Career Center Library:

    Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington

    The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay

    Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style by Carson Tate

    A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas by Warren Berger

    The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success by Nicholas Lore

    You can borrow these books from the Career Center Library for seven days and you can renew online with your MyAladdin account for an additional seven. Swing by the Career Center to check out our full collection or search for books here. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the Career Center Library! You can reach me via email at

  • John Nunno 6:44 pm on May 11, 2015 Permalink
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    Online Resources for AU Alumni 

    Here’s a scenario: You just graduated from AU and are trying to land your first full-time job. You want to search for potential employers and you want to improve your interviewing skills. What do you do?

    Here’s another one: You graduated from AU 5 years ago, and you’re ready for a new job. You live in New York City, but you’re looking to relocate to San Francisco. How do you start the process?

    If you find yourself in one of these, or a similar scenario, then check out the Career Center’s online resources. AU alumni have access to all of the Career Center’s resources including Going Global, InterviewStream, and Vault Career Insider. Here’s how these resources can support your post-college career:

    • Going Global can help you identify opportunities in the US and internationally. Its US city guides(47 including Atlanta, Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, and Seattle) have city-specific job resources including online job sites, staffing agencies, and city career fairs. You can plan financially by using the cost of living information, and you can find professional networking groups. Going Global’s country guides (41 including Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, and the UK) have everything the US city guides have and more including information on work permits and visas, resume/CV guidelines, interviewing tips, and cultural advice.
    • You can use InterviewStream to practice interviewing before a job interview. It’s a helpful resource if you’re looking to improve your skills or looking for an interviewing refresher.
    • Vault Career Insider can help you research companies and industries. It’s helpful if you are exploring new career paths or researching potential employers within your field. You can also access Vault’s blog for news and insights on career topics.

    Learn more about these resources and access them here. If you’d like more information on AU’s career services for alumni click here. Feel free to contact me with any questions you have about Going Global, InterviewStream, and Vault! I can be reached via email at

  • Felicia Parks 4:35 pm on April 16, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: , Phone Interview   

    Interviewing with Employer By Phone? Here’s 9 Tips 

    Phone interview_studentAs the semester winds down, many students are anxiously awaiting a phone interview with an employer. Whether for an internship, part-time or full-time job, many are concerned that the phone eliminates their opportunity to be charismatic and impress the employer with their interpersonal skills. Since recruiters often use phone interviews as the first step to clarify the background of several candidates, those offered a particular day and time to chat should see it as a positive opportunity. While your Career Center Advisors are more than happy to help you prepare, there are several steps to ensure a successful phone interview. A quick summary of Laura DeCarlo’s “9 Keys to Telephone Job Interview Success”  are listed below, however, you can read the full article on Job-Hunt-org.

    1. Know whether you can take the call when it comes, i.e. schedule when you won’t be interrupted or lose service on your cell phone.
    2. Have the documentation you need at your fingertips – this includes the job description, your resume and the application you submitted to the employer
    3. Know answers to the common interview questions. Be sure to tell a complete story and refrain from brief responses
    4. Smile while on the phone! Placing a mirror in front of you is a big help.
    5. If you have a web portfolio or a complete LinkedIn profile, then be sure to direct the interview to it.
    6. Focus on your language and voice – which includes voice intonation and speaking positively
    7. Avoid selfish questions during the interview. Asking about salary is too early at this point
    8. Don’t hang up without asking for the next step plus contact information.  This will reduce anxiety about the next call or email you should receive.
    9. Say thank you, but write a thank you note and either email it or send it through the mail

    American University students and alumni can schedule a mock interview with their Career Advisor through the AppointmentPlus website.  Also consider practicing from the comfort of your room with InterviewStream.

    Congratulations and best of luck!

    Phone interview_employer

  • emily 5:24 pm on March 24, 2015 Permalink
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    Here’s My Card 

    Love it or hate it, there is almost no way to avoid it in DC. The business card. It’s a networking staple and an easy way to stay in contact with people. Having your own is a great way to show initiative and professionalism during your job or internship search.

    How to get started on creating one of your own:

    The essential information to include is your name, email, phone number, and your basic education information. Additional information, like your Twitter handle or other social media account, can be included, but be careful. If your social media account or blog is original and professional (articles, photos, videos, etc.) and you want to showcase your work, then go ahead. But if your accounts are full of selfies and cat videos, better to leave them off.

    For your education information you can include American University, your school, and your class year (ex. Class of 2015). An extra title that indicates your professional interest is a great addition as well, for example “Student Videographer”, “Future Educator”, or “Marketing Professional”.

    Today it is simpler than ever to create your very own business card. Here are some fast and cheap sources:

    DeLong Lithographics – Get the American University business card, logo and all. This is a fast way to get cards with easy instructions. It is also a good option if you want a professional card with the university’s logo front and center.

    UPS AU Campus Location – The UPS store on campus offer business card printing services that include templates with the AU logo. – Prices depend on paper quality and some additional fees, but prices start at $16 for 100 cards. – Another online resource for business cards. Prices start at $19.99 for double-sided cards.

    This is an opportunity to be creative, have fun with creating a professional business card. Are there other resources for business cards that you have used? Share in the comments section below.

  • John Nunno 4:14 pm on March 19, 2015 Permalink
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    Get a Second Chance on these Career Center Library Books of the Week 

    There are over 20 million books written on career related topics. Okay I made that number up, but when you are browsing Amazon it does feel that way. The Career Center does not have 20 million books (it’s more like 400), but the books it does span a wide range of career topics. You can find anything from how to write a cover letter to how to use social media to find jobs. To help you navigate the jungle of career related books, each week the Career Center highlights a “Book of the Week” from its own library.

    Here’s the recap of the Career Center Library’s Book of the Week from the fall semester. Remember, any of these books can be checked out from the Career Center for seven days and renewed for an additional seven. Click the link to the library record to learn more about the book!

    10 Things Employers Want You to Learn in College by Bill Coplin

    The Start-Up of You  by Reid Hoffman (Cofounder of LinkedIn) and Ben Casnocha

    The Defining Decade by Meg Jay

    College Majors Handbook with Real Career Paths  by Neeta Fogg

    The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career  by Nicholas Lore

    Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg (Chief Operating Officer of Facebook)

    Mrs. Moneypenny’s Career Advice for Ambitious Women  by Mrs. Moneypenny with Heather McGregor

    Women Lead: Career Perspectives from Workplace Leaders  edited by Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, Courtney Vien, and Caroline Molina-Ray

    Social Networking for Career Success  by Miriam Salpeter

    101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions  by Ron Fry

    Who’s Got Your Back?  by Keith Ferrazzi

    Power Verbs for Job Seekers  by Michael Lawrence Faulkner and Michelle Faulkner- Lunsford

    I’m in a Job Search, Now What? by Kristen Jacoway

    If you have any career-related books you would like to see added to the Career Center Library then send your suggestion to Follow the Career Center on Twitter (@AUCareerCenter) to see the latest Book of the Week as well as Career Center events and career advice!

  • Anna Litman 10:10 pm on February 20, 2015 Permalink
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    Women In Science Career Night 

    Written by Howlader Nashara, Student Assistant to the CAS Career Advising Team.

    On February 18th, the Women in Science Club and the Career Center co-hosted a career panel with four alumnae who work in various fields, from audio technology to environmental science:

    • Anna Cetina: CAS/MS ’05, Director of the Audio Technology Program at AU
    • Brynne McCord: CAS/BA ’07, Program Manager for Engility Corporation
    • Jamey McEachran: CAS/MS ’11, Marine Resource Specialist for ERT inc., In-House Contractor for NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service
    • Kate Pinkerton: CAS/BS ’10, CAS/MS ’12, Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) Fellow, working on the Hypoxia Team at the Environmental Protection Agency

    The most striking aspect of this panel was that the participants had newly established careers. All have graduated from CAS graduate or undergraduate programs, providing reassurance to current students that a degree, networking, and a little bit of hard work can indeed result in a job. The panelists were asked to provide examples of skills that they look for when hiring. Whether working in policy or research, the panelists placed an emphasis on having a background in science. McCord spoke about how it helps her to understand the depth and difficulty of projects, which in turn allows her to run a much more efficient office because she is able to empathize with her co-workers and their workloads. Pinkerton echoed the need to have a basic science background, and added that writing proficiency and the ability to communicate ideas about scientific concepts, both verbally and in writing, are extremely important. Cetina, the panelist with the longest career, stated that when she is hiring, she looks for someone that is humble about what they do not know and open to learning about those things. The need for flexibility was a sentiment echoed by everyone. This leads to the one concern that every graduating student or recent graduate has: where to find a job and how to plot a career trajectory. McEachran recommends looking at contracting and consulting when starting out, especially if a student is interested in natural resource management. Jobs often intersect with both federal/state governments and also within the non-profit sector, so there is diversity in what someone can learn from their work. Pinkerton recommends looking at federal/state government, the non-profit sector, contracting and consulting, and also research. Pinkerton is currently a fellow at ORISE and advised students to learn more and apply to the program as it is specifically designed for recent graduates.

    It is always interesting to ask people what they think about having a nine-to-five job. Some will say that they love it, and others will say a routine is the most boring thing a person could pursue. Cetina and McCord agreed that very few people truly lead that kind of scheduled life. Working in the audio-technology field, Cetina warned students that hours are often late. Working as the director of AU’s program, her main focus is to be there for students and advise them. However, even when she is on the field for a project, there are days that start early and end late, and then some that start late and end early. Pinkerton advised students to figure out whether they want a nine-to-five job or not; if they do, then maybe working in government is good for them. However, working in the non-profit sector means longer hours but the payoff is that the passion is what drives people to work. The most important piece of advice she provided about this was that students should pursue a work-life balance that is most conducive to their success and happiness in both their professional and personal lives.

    Thus when asked for some final pieces of advice, McCord advised students to really pursue what they love- and figure out what that is as soon as possible. She confessed that had she never taken physics, she would never have known that she wanted a career in science. If there is a class that a student is even vaguely interested in, she said that they should take it! This led to McEachron’s point: participate in campus networking events and practice communicating. Cetina encouraged students to take up internships and explore interests; there is no better way to explore potential jobs and work on skill sets at the same time than through internships. She explained that “when you go down a career path, it gets harder and harder to turn back,” so it is necessary to take advantage of all the opportunities available now.

  • Anna Litman 9:36 pm on February 20, 2015 Permalink
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    Public Health Career Night Panelists’ Perspectives on Career Direction and Job Search 

    Written by Howlader Nashara, Student Assistant to the CAS Career Advising Team.

    On February 11th, The Career Center and the Public Health Program co-hosted a career panel that featured five professionals working in various aspects of the public health field from health promotion, to policy and advocacy, to program development and more:

    • Brian Bowden: Associative Legislative Director at the National Association of Counties (NACo)
    • Evelyn Kelly: CAS ’01, Senior Program Manager at the Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHI)
    • Andy Melendez-Salgado: Senior Advisor for Program Integration and Health at the American Red Cross
    • Kim Smith: CAS ’14, Communication Associate at CommunicateHealth Inc.
    • Alyia Smith-Parker: Senior Associate for Health and Wellness at the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education, and Families

    All brought to the table diverse academic backgrounds, varying career paths, and wisdom and insights on working in the public health sector. Jody Gan, an instructor in the School of Education, Teaching, and Health in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Public Health, was the moderator for the night.

    The panelists were asked about their career paths post-graduation, and then asked to describe what kind of academic paths they saw themselves on prior to graduation. Melendez-Salgado, a graduate of Florida State, talked about his experiences working with migrant farm workers during school, and how seeing their health issues sparked his interest in public health. That interest guided him to change his major, and led to an internship at the Department of Health. Bowden, a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas, was not aware of public health as a field of work, and thus ended double majoring in medical sociology and biology, with the intent of going to a medical school. However, upon discovering that his interests lay elsewhere, Bowden received a Rotary Scholarship to attend University of Liverpool’s School of Tropical Medicine and pursue a master’s degree in Humanitarian Studies. Bowden advised that students should “Feel free to create your own path if it’s not there for you.” Important advice, considering how a common theme among the career paths of many of the panelists reflected change that occurred upon taking initiative in their lives.

    Kelly discussed the importance of taking initiative as well; she received her current position after hearing about the organization at a work conference, and then requesting an information interview with president of the company. Although no positions were open at the time, a few weeks after the interview, Kelly found out that the organization liked her enough to create a position specifically for her. Similarly, Smith-Parker received her current job through her supervisor by communicating openly about her professional interests. Her supervisor was able to point her to a job in the parent organization. The importance of networking and utilizing connections in order to gain employment or explore interests was emphasized by everyone on the panel. Smith, the most recent graduate, talked about how she used her connections at American University and in the D.C. area, including the Career Center, her professors, and contacts from previous internships, to procure her current position directly after graduating.

    The panelists who handle hiring processes at their respective organizations gave the audience advice on what they like to see in candidates. Among those qualities are critical thinking skills, knowledge about the organization the applicant is interviewing with, and the ability to transfer skills from other experiences. Collectively, they also advised applicants to really research organizations and target every cover letter and resume to specific employers. Melendez-Salgado added that students should start volunteering with organizations they are interested in, because even that tiniest bit of experience can turn into an internship or job. At the end of the night, the panelists were asked if they would do anything differently in their lives and offered some thoughts on their personal professional development. Melendez-Saldago expressed that although he speaks two languages, given that he works with an international aid organization, he wished he had learned more languages. Kelly wishes that she had studied abroad. Smith-Parker stated that she wished she had not been so linear in her path, and had taken time to pursue other non-public health related interests in order to be a more well-rounded individual. Bowden, his path was certainly atypical, advised students to follow their passions, be aware of natural talents, and use all of that to strengthen the skill set that they put forth in the professional world.

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