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  • Jennifer Carignan 6:30 pm on April 9, 2014 Permalink
    Tags: , , questions   

    Sample questions for informational interviews 

    A common challenge for students preparing for informational interviews is developing a set of good questions for the person they’re meeting with. With so many possible topics to cover during this conversation, where might you get started?

    From my perspective, your first step in preparing a list of questions should be to determine your objective(s) for the informational interview. What are you hoping to learn from this meeting? Perhaps you’re interested in learning more about the career path of a young professional in a field of interest to you. Or maybe you’re looking to gain some insight into a company you’re interested in working for after graduation. The types of questions you ask during your informational interview should reflect what you’re most curious about and interested in learning.

    After carefully considering your objective, brainstorm some questions that are likely to give you the information you’re looking for. Here are some sample questions to get you started:

    (More …)

  • Jennifer Carignan 9:11 pm on April 3, 2014 Permalink
    Tags: , , organizations   

    Uncovering new employers with Idealist 

    It is widely known that Idealist is far and away the best site for jobseekers interested in career opportunities in nonprofits. But did you know that Idealist also has one of the most comprehensive directories of nonprofits and social enterprise organizations on the web? This is a great resource to help you identify additional employers in your job search. Here’s how it works:

    (More …)

  • Jennifer Carignan 2:19 pm on March 27, 2014 Permalink
    Tags: , , ,   

    Email etiquette tips 

    Yesterday’s Job and Internship Fair attracted more than 130 employers across a wide range of industries and disciplines. For AU students and alumni attending the fair, the chance to speak to a recruiter in person offered a valuable opportunity to ask questions, learn more about jobs and internships, and convey their relevant skills and experiences. Luckily, these interactions don’t have to end in Bender Arena. Following up with a thank you email after the fair is an important way to thank the recruiters for their time and maintain the new relationships formed yesterday afternoon.

    With this in mind, here are some tips about effective email writing that might be useful for follow up messages and future interactions with employers:

    (More …)

  • marcsth 9:42 pm on March 24, 2014 Permalink  

    There’s No Substitute for Good Writing 

    In a recent article by Greg Simpson, Senior Vice President, Career Transition Practice Leader for Lee Hecht Harrison entitled “Write Away: Seven Tips for Improving Basic Writing Skills”, job seekers and hiring officials are in agreement about one thing: basic writing skills are lacking. Recent polls show job seekers feel a lack of confidence in their writing abilities, while employers frequently list effective written communication skills as missing in today’s workforce. To address this unfortunate consensus, Greg provides seven useful tips for improving ones writing. They are:

    1. Consider your audience. Know who’s reading your document and why. Does your audience have a high or low level of expertise? Will the readers understand the terminology you’re using or should you explain in more detail?
    2. Respect the rules. If you’re not sure about how to use punctuation or have a question on grammar, usage or style, visit searchable websites for clarification (Grammar Girl, The Elements of Style, and Guide to Grammar and Writing).
    3. Hit the books. If you think your writing skills are a bit rusty, consider taking a free, online refresher course (e.g. Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade) or enroll in a business writing class at your local community college.
    4. Know where you’re going. Create a short outline delineating your purpose, your supporting paragraphs, and your conclusion. An outline serves as your GPS—guiding you to your destination.
    5. Start journaling. Free-writing your thoughts for just 10 minutes a day will increase your comfort level with written expression.
    6. Break the block. If you’re suffering from writer’s block, pick up a notepad and start jotting down ideas in longhand. Studies show that handwriting engages areas of the brain related to thinking, language and working memory in ways that typing can’t.
    7. Raise the bar. When editing, combine short, choppy sentences into more complex ones; swap out over-used verbs and adjectives with more dynamic and precise options; and insert transitional words or phrases between sentences or paragraphs. These “finishing touches” enhance readability and the logical flow of thoughts.

    As you all transition from student to professional lives, numbers one and two are particularly important to remember. After years spent writing academic papers, adjusting ones writing style to a professional audience can be challenging, but with practice becomes increasingly easier.  However, the rules of grammar remain fairly consistent across industries and it is essential to know them well as you progress through your careers. In age of social media and text messaging, it is important to remember that there is no substitute for good writing regardless of what industry you find yourself working within. Resumes, cover letters, proposals, memos an emails; all of these documents are inevitable tasks of working in a professional environment and are tests of ones writing abilities. So like any upcoming test…study , practice, and repeat.


  • John Charles 4:05 pm on March 24, 2014 Permalink
    Tags: APSIA, , , INGO, international development, , NGO, Peace Corps   

    Are you wondering what it takes to land a job and start a career with an international organization? Recently Hazel Douglas of Oxford HR presented on this topic in a webinar for the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA).

    While most of her comments were directed toward candidates who have several years of experience, she did have advice for people who are starting off their careers in international development.

    Entry-level position ideas:
    –Peace Corps is most obvious
    –Do travel/volunteer work
    –Pursue desk officer/administrator or fundraising/finance positions first, then pursue overseas positions within the company.

    What Ms. Douglas looks for in a candidate:
    –skills/experience set out in the job description, or a near match
    –concise, grammatical, properly spelled applicatoin.

    • Don’t apply on the closing date–sometimes 80-90 apps come in then. Apply as early as you can.

    Q: Should I move to Africa to improve my chances of landing a job?
    A: No, though you should have experience there if applying to organizations doing work there.

    Steep increase in number of jobs that are trade-based supporting the economic structure. Experience in the commercial sector and entrepreneurial skills are important.


    websites: Charity Village, Devex, ReliefWeb, OpportunityNOCS
    indevjobs, Yellow Monday (Sussex U Institute of Development Studies)

    BOND (British Org of NGOS in Development)

  • Anna Litman 7:11 pm on January 14, 2014 Permalink
    Tags: , ,   

    Anna’s Pondering Question of the Week Series: How to Cover The Most Important Points in a Cover Letter 

    Happy New Year and Happy Spring Semester Everyone!

    During the last couple of weeks of the Fall 2013 semester, I reviewed many cover letters prepared by students graduating in December 2013. Some of these letters suffered from similar drawbacks: lack of specific details about relevant experiences; insufficient targeting to the employer’s needs and too many words with not enough detail. I understand that it’s not easy to write a professional letter, which needs to be short but also informative about your intentions and experience. (I struggle with the same issue in writing this blog!) You can find good information on the Career Center website regarding the purpose, content, and format of the cover letter, as well as cover letter samples. Here, I would like to suggest more tips that I have found useful to mention to students.

    (More …)

  • Sue Gordon 9:24 pm on January 7, 2014 Permalink
    Tags: ,   

    Skype Interview? Clean your room, and other tips to succeed 

    messy roomNormally, you don’t need to think about cleaning your room before a job interview.   But with the increase of online live and recorded interviews, you just may want to tidy up a bit

    If you are seeking a job or internship in 2014 and beyond, then it’s likely that at some point you will be asked to conduct an interview via Skype or another online tool.  Online interviews are growing at a rapid pace.   A story in the Wall Street Journal  reported that in 2011, companies increased usage of online videos by as much as 42%.  There are two types of online videos- those that are recorded, a one-way approach in which the interviewee records answers to taped questions, and sends the completed interview to the employer.  Also common are two-way interviews that are live, and are largely used in lieu of phone interviews. Skype interviews also offer a great alternative to in-person interviews when a candidate is geographically far from a perspective job. (More …)

  • Anna Litman 6:00 pm on November 7, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: behavior-based interviews, , , InterviewStream   

    Anna’s Pondering the Question of the Week Series: Go with the STAR(R) to be the Star! 

    Last week I met with several CAS students for mock interviews, which pointed me to the question-of-the-week: how to handle a job/internship interview? When I see a mock interview appointment on my schedule, I get delighted and excited because obviously the student’s job strategy and application materials have served their purpose, which is leading to an interview. When you get an invitation to an interview, congratulate yourself on your progress but don’t get too relaxed. “It’s well begun, but it’s only half done.” Only an interview can give you that job (or internship) that you want to get! Don’t let this chance disappear: practice, practice, and practice for the interview! (More …)

  • Anna Litman 4:40 pm on October 25, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , , selecting a major   

    Undecided About Your Major? Talk to the Faculty! 

    In my blog post last week, I pondered students’ questions about selecting a major and gave an overview of steps to take to make this decision. So, let’s say you’ve narrowed your choices down and now are looking at a few subjects that really interest you. Your next step is to meet with one or more of the faculty teaching the subjects you are considering to gain their perspective on the major. This can be an informative and even enjoyable process if you know what to ask! (More …)

  • Anna Litman 2:51 pm on October 17, 2013 Permalink
    Tags: , , , majors, , self-assessment   

    Anna’s Pondering The Question of the Week Series: Part I 

    The leaves are turning gold, rainy days are becoming more frequent, the demand for ice drinks is going down, and the students’ interest in career- related issues is going up. In my Fall blog series that I am embarking on now with my best intentions to post weekly, I would like to reflect on the students’ most typical question that I had to handle at the appointments last week. I hope this will help those who may have similar questions but haven’t yet had a chance to visit the Career Center.
    And the winning question of the week….DRUM ROLL!… is the question about selecting a major. If this is not your question, skip the rest of the blog, but do check my next week post! (More …)

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