What the Heck is an Informational Interview?

why are people willing to talk you despite their busy schedule? 1. They're paying it forward. 2. Most people enjoy talking about themselves (and helping of course) Source: usatodayeducate.com

Why are people willing to talk you despite their busy schedule? They’re paying it forward and most people enjoy talking about themselves (and helping of course).
Source: usatodayeducate.com

You’re a Northeastern student, full of vim and vigor and enthusiasm for the future. You’ve got classes and co-ops under your belt, and you feel prepared for the working world. But if you’re like most students, you haven’t discovered one of the most potent secrets of career success. What is this magical secret, you wonder? It’s a little something called “informational interviewing.”

What is Informational Interviewing?

It’s only the most useful career-building tool you’ll encounter. The basic gist is that you will reach out to professionals in the industry and set up interviews with them. Instead of the interviews you’re used to, YOU will be the one asking the questions! It’s the best way to network and gain insider industry knowledge at the same time! And your mom thought you were useless at multitasking! Oh how wrong she was.

The Power of Asking

There are two secrets why informational interviews work.

  • People love to talk about themselves.
  • People love to help college students.

At first, I was skeptical. Who would take time out from their busy schedule to shoot the

source: resumebaking.com

source: resumebaking.com

breeze with a bumbling college student who barely knows what to do with her life after graduation? I reached out to professionals at ten different companies, expecting to bug them a week later in an attempt to set up two or three meetings if I was lucky. Au contraire! To my surprise, almost everyone replied immediately! And they wanted to help me!

You’ve probably heard this statistic before: 80% of job openings are unlisted, and are filled through word of mouth. With those kinds of odds, how can you afford not to network? Informational interviewing is a great way to start. Stay tuned for more blog entries on how I went through the process myself, and I’ll teach you how to do it too!

Amy Annette Henion is a senior communications major with minors in theatre and East Asian studies. She basically lives in the theatre department office on the first floor of Ryder. Follow/tweet her at @amyannette37 and read her blog here.

10 Things I Learned from Sitting on a Hiring Committee

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photo courtesy of Flickr user bearstache.

Back in April, I was part of a hiring committee, and it was our job to hire a new career counselor. Here’s what I learned from my first time on the other side of the table.

  1. A messy resume is a dealbreaker. If you can, send it as a PDF to avoid wonky reformatting.
  2. Don’t say in 40 words what you can say in 10.
  3. Unorganized writing suggests an unorganized candidate.
  4. An interviewee who can tell a story will stand head and shoulders above the rest.
  5. If we can’t clearly tell from your resume where you got your experience, we will investigate. If we still can’t figure it out, we will think you’re hiding something.
  6. For the ladies – if you absolutely must personalize your interview outfit, pick fun and tasteful shoes. Shoes won’t distract during the interview the way bold jewelry might.
  7. Take a breath and relax!
  8. If we learn in the interview that you probably won’t be happy in the position – in terms of culture, fit, and work-life balance – we will do you a favor and let another employer hire you for a job you’d like better.
  9. Be on time!
  10. Always send a thank-you note! Don’t get caught up in the paper vs. email debate. It’s more important that you pick one and do it.

Amy Annette Henion is a senior communications major with minors in theatre and East Asian studies. She basically lives in the theatre department office on the first floor of Ryder. Follow/tweet her at @amyannette37 and read her blog here.

Top Tips for Career Fair Prep

Career Fair

Welcome to the jungle. I’ll be your guide.

The Career Fair is coming up the pike, and fast: October 3rd, to be exact. This past Monday, Career Services held a workshop for students eager to hear recruiter secrets for making the most of a career fair. The university welcomed a panel of three recruiters – Scott Keeler of Liberty Mutual, Brendan Murphy of Constant Contact, and Chris McMahon of Vistaprint - to share their success tips for students.

Didn’t make it to the workshop? Not to worry! Here are the biggest takeaways from the event.

What should students do to prepare?

  • Scott: Know your strengths, and know your resume inside and out! Anything on your resume is fair game for a recruiter to ask you to explain in more detail.
  • Brendan: If you’re interested in different kinds of positions, carry a couple versions of your resume. Having a tailored “software company” resume and an “insurance company” resume, for instance, will help showcase your skills no matter which recruiters you meet.

What can students do that impresses you the most?

  • Chris: It’s great when students have researched the company. The more prepared you are, the more time you have to sell yourself, since the recruiter won’t have to explain what the company does.
  • Brendan: Tell us about your passions. We like to see students who are enthusiastic about the things they do, especially if those passions can help our company grow.

What are some pet peeves that students should avoid?

  • Brendan: It’s annoying when students drop off their resume at the table without saying anything, and then leave immediately. We want to have a conversation and learn more about you!
  • Scott: A lot of employers bring free things to give away. Don’t cut the line and start rifling through the free stuff that the employers will have on the table!

What are the WORST questions a student could ask an employer?

  • Chris: “So who are you?”
  • Scott: “I’ve applied to 35 positions at your company. Why haven’t you hired me yet?”
  • And a bonus from Tina: “Wow me.”

How should students follow up with employers after the career fair?

  • Scott: Write a thank you note to the recruiters you met! Be sure to reference the specifics of your conversation in the note, or else the recruiter might not remember you!
  • Chris: Don’t send a generic thank you note that could apply to any organization! Cater it to that specific recruiter from that company.
  • Brendan: If an employer gives you their business card, this is an open invitation to contact him or her. And be sure to do so!

Here’s one final tip from all three of our recruiter panelists: Be yourself! At the end of the day, recruiters are just fellow humans who aren’t scary at all. Explore new companies, expand your network, and have fun! The more fun you have, the more you’ll get out of the Career Fair!

Amy Annette Henion is a senior communications major with minors in theatre and East Asian studies. She basically lives in the theatre department office on the first floor of Ryder. Follow/tweet her at @amyannette37 and read her blog here.

Your Best Friend Lynda You Haven’t Met Yet

lynda

Spoiler alert: she’s awesome.

There’s someone named Lynda I think you should meet.

I ran into her by accident. While checking out the shiny new version of Blackboard that just rolled out for fall, I noticed a button for “Lynda.com” in the upper right-hand corner of the page. Curious, I clicked on it. A landing page pops up describing Lynda Online Training. A wee text box talks about what this mysterious person has to offer for students:

  • Take tutorials to supplement classwork
  • Learn techniques for your own interests
  • Build tech skills for your resume

…I’m listening.

I signed in with my myNEU credentials, and was whisked away to Lynda.com. Picture tens of thousands of video tutorials and self-teaching tools, with topics ranging from business to design to 3D animation. The lessons include downloadable exercise files so you can learn on your own. And it’s all completely free for NU students, professors, and staff. That’s Lynda.com.

LyndaBlackboard

Here’s how to find Lynda.com through Blackboard.

Mind. Blown.

This means that if you’re like me, and you’ve been meaning to learn how to use InDesign/DSLR cameras/CAD/online SEO/whatever else for the longest time, now you can. To think it was right under your nose, just waiting to be discovered! Like pirate treasure! Or something.

Employers love to see candidates who are tech savvy. Two applicants may be equally qualified on paper, but if one has a resume plush with video editing, graphic design, and web skills, guess who will stand out? Lynda.com is the perfect tool to get a leg up on the competition. Try out a new skill, or hone the skills you already have. At the very least, you’ll know the difference between Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro, and you won’t sound dumb in an interview when you mix them up. So get to it, and start learning!

Oh Lynda, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Amy Annette Henion is a senior communications major with minors in theatre and East Asian studies. She basically lives in the theatre department office on the first floor of Ryder. Follow/tweet her at @amyannette37 and read her blog here.

Amy’s Not-So-Formal Introduction

Amy_Annette_Henion

Here’s a poorly cropped photo of my head. Consider it a gift.

Hello, Northeastern! My name is Amy. I am honored, humbled, and ridiculously excited to be one of the very first NU Career Services student bloggers! I’ll be writing about the inside scoop on how students can use the (free!) Career Services resources (right on campus!) to prepare for post-grad success.

So what have I learned about career development? Well, I’m nearing my ninth month working with Career Services. I finished a six-month co-op as Employer Relations Coordinator in June 2013, and now I’m working as a marketing intern. In my time here so far, I’ve met dozens of employers, learned the ins and outs of working with career advisors, staffed career fairs, and even sat on a hiring committee…you know, the works. Even without all that fun stuff, I’ve learned so much about career building just by breathing the same air as my advising and employer relations colleagues that I say hi to every day.

I’m here to dish out all the tricks I’ve discovered (lucky you)! Stay tuned for more posts from me every other Wednesday!

Amy Annette Henion is a senior communications major with minors in theatre and East Asian studies. She practically lives in the theatre department office on the first floor of Ryder. Follow/tweet her at @amyannette37 and read her blog here.