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  • 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.

    Vistaprint.com – Prices depend on paper quality and some additional fees, but prices start at $16 for 100 cards.

    Moo.com – 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.

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  • 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.

     
  • 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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