Missouri State University
Career Center
Suit Yourself

Interviewing: Before, During, and After

Written by Grace Smith, office assistant for the Career Center and graduating creative writing major who’s headed to Loyola Marymount University for MFA Program in Film & Television. 

Michael Scott quoting Wayne Gretzky
Michael Scott of The Office.

So here is the truth: Interviewing is hard. It’s uncomfortable and intimidating, and, let’s be honest, just plain weird. Well, at least it is for me. I am always uncomfortable talking with strangers, and the added pressures of a potentially great job don’t make it any easier. That is why I subscribe to a simple philosophy:

Fake it till you make it.

Really, I use this philosophy for all aspects of my life, but it is especially applicable to the job interview process. When you look at the whole of everything you have to do, it can be overwhelming. But, if you break it down into smaller pieces, everything can seem more manageable. So, without further ado, here are the smaller pieces that can make your interview go much more smoothly:

Before:

Yay! You got an interview! The time of off-brand cereals and gas station coffee is over for you!

Well, not quite yet. You still have to make it through the interview. What do you have to do you ask? Here is a handy list:

  1. Do your research! What exactly is the job title you are interviewing for? Manager of Special Projects and Coffee Runs? What does that mean? At the very least read the job description thoroughly. If you can do more than that, you should.
  2. Research the company, too. Find their mission statement if you can. If you are interviewing for Dunder Mifflin, you should know that they sell paper. If you can, find any recent initiatives or changes the company has made (Were they recently bought by Sabre?). But bare minimum, you have to know what the company does.
  3. Find out where it is. I don’t just mean Google Maps. If you have the time, go and drive there before the day of your interview. See how long it takes to get there. Look for parking places. Find the right door to go in. (Side note, don’t actually go in. That’ll just make it weird for everyone.)
  4. Pick out an appropriate outfit. What is an appropriate outfit you ask? Easy answer is there is no easy answer. What is appropriate at an accounting firm may not be what is appropriate at an elementary school or an art studio or a hospital. So, once again, do your research. If you have a friend working in the field, it’s okay to ask their advice! A couple general rules though: first, wear something comfortable. If your shoes are too tight, you’ll spend the whole time thinking about your bleeding heels instead of the interview question. Second, if you have long hair, it’s a good idea to wear it back. This way you’ll be less likely to play with it. Third, when in doubt, err on the side of more professional.
  5. Make sure you have copies of your resume and cover letter with you. Yes, you already sent it to them, but maybe they are having problems with their printers and they can’t get a physical copy, or maybe their system is down, or maybe an elf stole it. Bring it with you.
  6. Get there around 10 minutes early. If you get there much more than that, wait in your car until 10 minutes before your time. It’ll be more comfortable than waiting in the lobby for half an hour.
  7. Be pleasant to the people in the office you interact with, other than Mr. Scott. It reflects well on you, and who knows, the receptionist eating the mixed berry yogurt could be your future wife.
  8. Now you are sitting in the lobby, and you are told that Mr. Scott is running a little behind so you sit and wait. Take this time to take a few deep breaths. Never underestimate the power of a deep breath. Make sure you are calm before you go in.

During:

  1. Give a firm handshake and smile when you greet them. It’s an easy way to a good first impression.
  2. Probably the first thing Mr. Scott will say to you once you are sitting in his office is “Tell me about yourself.” Don’t talk about your family. Don’t talk about your beet farm. Don’t talk about your new cat, Princess Lady. Talk about your education background, your work experience, etc. Keep it relevant.
  3. Be aware of your body language. A smile goes a long way. Don’t fidget, don’t cross your arms, don’t touch your face. Try to feel comfortable in the space you’re in.
  4. Mr. Scott will probably ask you a “Tell me a time when…” question. When you answer, focus on what you did to improve the situation, and the results of your actions. Don’t overload him with background information.
  5. Every time you go in for an interview, you will be asked what your greatest weaknesses are. Here’s what not to say “I work too hard, I care too much, and sometimes I get too invested in my job.” We all know that’s fake. Instead, give a real weakness you have, and tell Mr. Scott how you are working on it, and how you have grown. (Note: make sure the weakness you tell them is not a skill they require. If you are interviewing to be an accountant, don’t say that you are really bad at math).
  6. Mr. Scott might say something to the effect of “Why should we hire you?” This is your chance to sum up everything you have said so far. Highlight the strengths you have mentioned already and be sure to include anything you may have forgotten. But be careful, you want to be confident. Not cocky.
  7. Probably the last thing Mr. Scott will ask you is “Do you have any questions for me?” Ask him some questions! Do not waste this opportunity. This is a conversation, not an interrogation. Ask question based on the interview, ask them what they like about working there, what they don’t like, etc. If you can’t think of anything specific, here are a few good options: “What qualities are you looking for in a candidate?” “What are the long term goals of the company and how could I help reach those goals in this position?” “How do you, as a mid-market paper company, compete against the big chains?”

After:

  1. Another firm handshake, tell Mr. Scott it was nice to meet him, and try to wait until you get to your car to let out that giant sigh of relief that you got through it.
  2. Send a thank you note within 24 hours. Not only will this make you seem considerate, but you can use it as an opportunity to smooth over any flubs you may have made during the interview. Highlight again why you would be a good candidate and end on a positive note.
  3. Reward yourself with a venti coffee. You’ve earned it.
  4. If you get the job offer, celebrate! You can afford that venti coffee you bought!
  5. If you don’t get the job offer, don’t get too down. Use this as a learning experience, and feel confident in the fact that you will be even more prepared next time. And don’t worry too much—do you really want Michael Scott as your boss?
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Get your résumé reviewed at Résumé Madness

Resume Madness
Stop by the Career Center table at Résumé Madness for a quick and free review of your résumé.

Want some constructive feedback on your resume? Bring a printout of your resume to one of the Career Center’s Resume Madness events to get a free review. Need some tips and handouts to create a resume? You can get that, too.

Resume Madness is organized by college, but all majors and all academic levels may come to any of the following dates and locations:

College of Arts & Letters
Thursday, February 2, 2017
Craig Hall Lobby
11:00 am – 3:00 pm

College of Health & Human Services
Monday, February 6, 2017
Professional Building, 4th Floor Study Area
12:00 pm – 3:00 pm

College of Humanities & Public Affairs
Thursday, February 9, 2017
Strong Hall Atrium
10:00 am – 2:00 pm

College of Business
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
PSU Ballroom West
10:00 am – 3:00 pm

College of Agriculture
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Karls Hall, 1st Floor Lobby
12:00 pm – 3:00 pm

College of Natural & Applied Sciences
Thursday, February 23, 2017
Temple Hall, 1st Floor Study Pit Area
12:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Career Expo 2017 is February 28, so make sure your resume is professional and impressive to employers.

If you can’t make any of the Resume Madness events, the Career Center also has walk-in hours—no appointment necessary.

Save

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A fun summer job AND valuable career experience? Yes, it’s possible!

blog-post-picture
Grace and a coworker watched the sun rise over Lake Michigan on the last day of their summer job.

Written by Grace Smith, junior creative writing major and office assistant for the Career Center

Last November, I was in my junior year of college, in a major that doesn’t have obvious career prospects, and a desire to work in a highly competitive field. That is the life of a creative writing major who wants to work in the film industry. I needed to find ways to build up my résumé, make myself more marketable, and probably most importantly, gain experience in this daunting field.

I needed a job for the summer that was at least somehow related to the film and television industry. Except, here’s the thing. Internships in film and television are not abundant but are highly competitive, especially during the summer. Thousands of students, just like me only more qualified, are applying for probably a grand total of a few dozen internships. I applied for more than 30 internships, mostly at television networks and film studios. I didn’t care if I had to live in Los Angeles for a summer, paying a ton in rent and earning absolutely no money, making copies and getting coffee for semi-important people. I just wanted to do something—anything—related to my field. I did not want to waste another summer doing a job that wouldn’t help me at all in my career.

I was on a mission. Step Number One in that mission: Find Openings. I was an RA, and I had told my residents over and over again to go to the Career Center, and yet I never had. So, that was my first course of action. I left with pages of information, dozens of sites where I could look for internships and sample résumés. I had an action plan.

Step Number Two: Apply Everywhere and Often. Every single day I looked online for internships. I was not very selective. Anything that was remotely related to my field, anything that I had the tiniest amount of experience in, I applied for. I had copies of my résumé and cover letter, not just for each company, but for each individual position I applied for. I had to make a file on my computer to keep them all straight.

Step Number Three: Wait and Hope. This one was probably the hardest for me. I was never a patient person.

Step Number Four: Repeat Step Number Two. It was March now. Most of the positions I applied for were still open, so I had no reason to expect to get a call from any of them, but like I said, I was never a patient person. Finally, I remembered a site that I was told about in my months-before visit to the Career Center, which should have been my obvious first visit: JobTracks. A job searching database specifically for MSU students. Why hadn’t I visited before? I will be honest, though, when I did finally go to JobTracks in late March, it wasn’t with much hope. I figured it would mostly be jobs in and around Springfield, and what is here for people like me (a lot, apparently, but I learned that much later). But, still I looked. I was shocked to see that there were hundreds of jobs listed. Still, I thought to myself, there are probably no jobs for me on here. Still, I looked. And I saw this one job posting. It was for a Resident Assistant/Faculty Assistant at a film camp at Northwestern University, the National High School Institute. It was a job where I’d get to be an RA, which I had been for a year and loved, and I would get to work with a bunch of awesome young filmmakers.

I applied. Less than a week later, on March 31, I got an email asking if I could have a phone interview the next day. The following Tuesday I had a second interview on Skype. On April 15, I received a job offer.

This job ended up giving me one of the best summers of my life. I worked with 80 high school students who were all crazy smart and crazy talented. My coworkers were incredible. I even got to be a faculty assistant in the screenwriting classes. I’m a crier naturally, but the last day, when all the students left, I cried nonstop all day. My last morning, I sat on the beach of Lake Michigan with one of my coworkers and watched the sunrise (there is a picture on my Instagram to prove it), and I knew that summer would be one that I would not soon forget.

The experience that I gained working at NSHI was invaluable. The things I learned, the relationships I formed, the experiences I had. My job this summer was not just a really fun summer job. It was a learning experience. It was an opportunity to work with some really amazing people. And most importantly, it was a really fun summer job that gave me experience for my career, which is pretty much the most anyone can hope for.

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Your career path may be a winding one

pursuing-work-enjoy-kelly-cara
In the debut episode of Joseph Liu’s podcast, CAREER RELAUNCH, MSU alumna shares her perspective of “Pursuing Work You Enjoy.”

Written by Kelly Cara, Co-Founder of V-Life and Missouri State University Alumna

Two years ago, I packed my things and moved to Austin, TX, to attend culinary school. To some, this was not an obvious career decision. From age 3, I thought I wanted to be a doctor, but my experience as a Medical Explorer in high school changed my mind. I decided to try out a business major in college, but I felt out of place and switched to English. That was a better fit and led to work abroad teaching English with the U.S. Peace Corps. Still trying to figure things out, I earned a master’s in experimental psychology, worked in a behavioral health hospital, then taught statistics and became the Assessment Research Coordinator for Missouri State University. At the age of 32, it was apparent my career path was blurry at best.

I always envied people whose career trajectory was a straight shot. When asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” some kids really do know, and they happily become that very thing for life. For others, the path is not so clear or direct. Most of us will have several different careers, and hopefully, we will enjoy all of them. If the enjoyment runs out, though, we have to make a choice.  Stay or go?

To test myself, I asked, “What would I do if I had a million dollars?” If I didn’t have to worry about money today, what would I do with my life? The answer surprised me, but instinctively and immediately I responded, “I’d go to culinary school.” I’d always loved baking but never considered working in the food industry. However, I had considered, very seriously, a career providing people with practical ways to live better, healthier, and happier lives. That was even the focus of my entire graduate school experience. If I was going to culinary school, it would have to be a different kind of school that focused on the healing and nourishing properties of food rather than merely taste and appearance. Luckily, I found the Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts – a health-supportive program in Austin, TX.

Two years later, I have started my own lifestyle wellness education business, V-Life, and everything is coming together:  entrepreneur (business background), marketing materials (English background), motivating clients, data collection, and accounting (psychology and statistics background), and health-supportive food demonstrations (culinary background). Looking back, my winding path seems straighter than I thought.

Listen to Kelly’s conversation with Joseph Liu, subscribe to the Career Relaunch podcast, and learn more about Kelly’s business, V-Life

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Building your professional accomplishments folder

Written by Amie Case, Career Center Communication and Design Assistant, Bachelor of Science, Professional Writing.

Need an easy way to keep track of all your professional and career-related accomplishments?

Student Project
Projects you do for classes or organizations provide strong evidence of accomplishments

It’s easy! Start a brag folder (also called a sunshine folder, I-love-me file, or master list).

A brag folder is a great way to remember details from your experiences for future reference. Although you may think you will never forget the specifics of a challenging and important project, a year from now, the details of that outstanding accomplishment might be difficult for you to recall.

By keeping a record of your accomplishments, both career-related and personal, you will be able to illustrate your experiences more powerfully on your résumé and during interviews. While the résumé includes a summary of the accomplishment, the interview enables you to provide more details by telling the story of that accomplishment.

Where do I start?

Collect your brag folder contents in one location for easy access. Before you develop your folder, ensure that the method you choose will be easy for you to maintain:

Offline: You can use an ordinary handwritten journal, notebook, or a file folder or large envelope to gather clippings, cards, and memos.

Online: You can use a word processor or other electronic documentation method. If you don’t want the hassle of backing up your file (and you need to back it up in multiple locations each time you make an addition), you can just create an email folder and send yourself emails.

What do I include?

Nothing is too great or too small to include in your folder. If you have weekly meetings with your supervisor, and you discuss completing a simple task, jot down the specifics to add to your list. If you did something that you know was a personal challenge for you, make a note of the steps you took to overcome the challenge.

Need help jogging your memory to start your brag file? Here are some examples of material you could include:

  • Situations, challenges, problems, and tasks in which you took action and achieved a successful result
  • Qualifications and talents that add value to your performance
  • Proof that you can successfully perform job functions
  • Current and previous work experience to include summer jobs, work-study, temporary, and volunteer positions of any kind
  • Educational experiences to include internships, group projects, and study-abroad programs
  • Conferences, events, organizations, and societies in which you have participated
  • Interests and extracurricular activities 

What should I write?

Details make your accomplishments believable and convincing. Consider grouping your accomplishments into three categories: STARCAR, or PAR.

Sample STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Results) statement:

Because my department trained new employees by having them shadow and ask questions of other employees, many new hires felt confused by conflicting opinions and unclear expectations (Situation).

My supervisor asked me to create a training manual that would include comprehensive instructions for all of the procedures used in the department (Task).

I made a list of the procedures that needed to be included, wrote instructions for the procedures that I perform, interviewed each employee, resolved conflicting information, and created a training manual complete with a table of contents, clearly divided sections, images of forms used, and an FAQ page addressing the most common concerns and confusions (Action).

Since the training manual enables new employees to learn the procedures more quickly, the employees are able to assume responsibility more quickly and with higher level of confidence. The previous job shadowing method of training often took a couple of weeks before new employees felt comfortable. However, with the documentation, new hires feel comfortable within a couple of days. The manual also resolved conflicts that established employees had with some procedures (Results).

Sample CAR (Challenge, Action, Results) statement:

I was halfway through my internship, and my supervisor still had not given me the images I needed to complete the book I was supposed to design. Not only would this prohibit me from producing a finished project by the end of my internship, but it also significantly reduced the amount of work I was able to do for the company. In short, I was twiddling my thumbs (Challenge).

I did what I could without the images, and then I stayed busy by creating other projects for myself such as designing new marking materials and developing a website (Action).

Although I never received the pictures I had been promised, my supervisor was impressed with the marketing extras I presented and was surprised and very grateful to have a new website. I completed my internship successfully and was praised for my initiative (Results).

Sample PAR (Problem, Action, Results) statement:

The student lounge coffee station was not being monitored, and our donated coffee and supplies were disappearing quickly and randomly. Multiple times, we were not aware that our stock was low until we had run out completely (Problem).

I created and implemented a series of documents to track coffee donations and supplies that were going in and out of the stock room. I trained all student workers on proper documentation procedures (Action).

Coffee supplies remain constant because we know where everything is going, how it is being used, and when we need to replenish inventory (Results).

Strong evidence makes a strong candidate

During the job-search process, we make claims to employers of our expertise, experience, knowledge, and skills. Because the brag folder contains the evidence that support these claims, you’re able to quickly and easily access details you may have forgotten. Using specific examples to support your claims will make you memorable and credible to employers. You will highlight and emphasize your accomplishments and strengths that best suit you for the position you’re applying for.

As an additional advantage, a brag folder also provides a good boost of confidence when you look back and see the accumulation of your achievements, even those that were just class projects.

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Learn and practice networking skills at the Speed Networking Event April 27

NetworkingPic
Learn and practice networking skills at the free Networking Event on Wednesday, April 27.

What does professional networking mean? Many people think it’s only for job seekers, but networking—which basically means developing relationships—is an important skill to learn as we begin developing our professional life. This includes planning and learning about careers, gaining experience in our chosen careers, and searching for permanent positions. People who are most successful in finding jobs tend to use their network to gain more connections and advice.

Those connections we make in the early stages of networking may be the same connections we maintain throughout our careers. Plus, those early connections may lead to more and more connections, and thus our network expands. Therefore, networking is an important skill to use throughout our professional life. Our network contacts may help guide, advise, and mentor us. In turn, we can then help others.

On Wednesday, April 27, Speed Networking EVENT will teach participants how to network, explain the benefits of networking, and give participants the opportunity to practice networking.

Co-sponsored by the Career Center and Alumni Association, the Speed Networking Event enables students and alumni to meet and learn from approximately 50 networking mentors, comprised of alumni and local professionals from a variety of career fields. Along with speed rounds, there will be open networking and free food.

When attending this event or any other networking event, present yourself in a professional manner: dress professionally or, at the very least, wear business casual. This might involve wearing a suit (and tie), or dress slacks with professional shirt, or khakis with a nice polo; women may also wear a professional suit, skirt, or dress.

This event is free, but registration through JobTracks is required. Don’t miss this great opportunity to learn and practice your networking skills.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

4:30 PM – 6:30 PM

Plaster Student Union Ballroom (3rd Floor)

Registration Deadline: Wednesday, April 20

 

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Meet the Career Center’s new graduate assistant

Written by Theresa Lydon-Lorson, career counseling graduate assistant, Career Center

TheresaPhoto

My name is Theresa Lydon-Lorson, and I am a 2014 graduate of Missouri State University. I have my Bachelor of Arts degree in religious studies, and I am currently pursuing my Master of Science degree in secondary school counseling.

I grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis and graduated from Eureka High School in 2010. I was involved in band for most of my educational experience, and I seriously considered pursuing a career in music education. I played bass clarinet from sixth grade until my sophomore year of college. I loved marching band in high school, and I was the drum major during my junior and senior year. My love of band continued through college, and I marched tenor saxophone in MSU’s Pride Band my freshman through junior year.

The time I have spent at Missouri State has been fantastic. In August 2010, I began as an undeclared major, but by the beginning of my sophomore year I had decided on a degree in religious studies. I was drawn to the department because of the professors and their intense knowledge and interest in the field. Whether I was taking a course on Apocalypses, Buddhism, New Religious Movements, or Suffering and Meaning, the professors made it clear that they cared very deeply about what they were teaching. They fostered my interest in world religions, cultural consciousness, and meaning construction/existential thought. This environment made the religious studies department so engaging, and I was very fortunate to have been able to get my bachelor’s degree studying a subject that was so fun, intriguing, and important.

After my time spent in the religious studies department, I knew that I would have to work toward a master’s degree that would aid in my employability. I knew several of my classmates in religious studies had gone on to pursue master’s degrees in counseling, so I looked into the counseling program at MSU and thought that it could be a good fit. What really drew me into counseling was the fact that I never had a great connection with any of my school counselors; for me, many of my teachers during my K-12 experience filled the role of a counselor and were able to help me through the difficulties that young adulthood provides. It is my goal to be a school counselor who is approachable, understanding, and empathic. I am looking forward to doing my school counseling internships next fall and spring and hopefully finding employment in the St. Louis area soon after graduation!

My career experience, up to this point, has included work in data entry, retail, and fast food. Working as a graduate assistant has been a dramatic shift from food service, but I love being able to work with students and not constantly smell like French fries. Doing career counseling at the Career Center is such an amazing experience in which I am becoming incredibly prepared for my future as a high school counselor. I am very excited for all of the things I will learn during my time here, and I know that they will be invaluable in my preparation to become a professional school counselor.

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12 LinkedIn etiquette tips

In-2C-128px-TMWritten by Amie Gant, Career Center Communication and Design Assistant, Bachelor of Science, Professional Writing.

Because having good etiquette on social media can positively impact your professional development, knowing what to do and what not to do on each social media platform is crucial. Actions that are completely acceptable (or unacceptable) on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms might actually be sinking your chances of making the connections you need on LinkedIn for that dream job.

LinkedIn has its own set of rules. Here are 12 you may not be aware of:

  1. It’s not creepy to connect with individuals immediately after only talking to them for 10 minutes at a conference. While normally this might be perceived as being desperate, on LinkedIn you’ll want to send that request instantly so they don’t forget you.
  2. Turn off your activity when you’re updating your profile to avoid bombarding your connections with dozens of updates.
  3. Don’t ignore recruiters even if you’re not searching for a job. Leave that door open for future contact by thanking them for reaching out to you, and let them know you’ll remember them if your situation changes.
  4. Always customize each connection request, and never click on the blue “Connect” button while scrolling through a search or “People You May Know” list. The blue “Connect” button only lets you personalize your message when you are on someone’s profile.
  5. Don’t be afraid to connect with someone who either works at your dream company and or is in a position where you would someday like to be. However, make sure you double-check the person’s contact policy for any messaging requests.
  6. Don’t connect with a hiring manager even if your interview went well. It’s unnecessary and makes you appear overconfident.
  7. Endorse people only for skills you know for sure they have. If you endorse someone just to be nice, when you don’t truly believe the person is skilled in an area, you are reducing the effectiveness of the system.
  8. It’s okay to ask for endorsements from people who have worked closely with you or who have seen your abilities first-hand.
  9. Write awesome recommendation requests, and detail the specific highlights you are looking for.
  10. You’re not obligated to recommend people who are less than deserving. Don’t ignore their recommendation request, but instead, send them a private message such as, “I’m not the right person to give you a recommendation, but I wish you good luck.”
  11. Know when to use the “Remind” and “Withdraw” While it’s okay to “Remind” someone who you know won’t mind a friendly nudge, never “Remind” someone if you only know them professionally or if they are higher ranking than you. In those cases, use the “Withdraw” button after your request has gone unnoticed for a few months.
  12. Feel free to remove recommendations you don’t like, and don’t neglect to thank people who have recommended you.

To read more tips on LinkedIn etiquette, visit TheMuse or contact the Career Center to schedule an appointment with a Career Resources Specialist who can give you a quick review and tips for your LinkedIn profile.

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Everyday tips for the aspiring leader

Written by Amie Gant, Career Center Communication and Design Assistant, Bachelor of Science, Professional Writing.

Students raising hands
Students develop leadership skills simply by taking the initiative in class discussions and projects.

According to Job Outlook 2016 by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), leadership is currently the most desirable attribute that employers look for in potential candidates.

While there are traditional and non-traditional students alike who have acquired years of leadership experience through jobs, volunteer work, and the military, there are many students who have not yet had the opportunity to gain leadership experience.

These students with little or no leadership experience are likely to be overlooked during the hiring process, even if they are viable candidates in other areas. There are many ways to build and strengthen leadership abilities. Here are a few suggestions to start:

  1. Raise your hand. When a professor asks for someone to answer a question in class, or to take charge of a group project, take initiative and snag that leadership position! It may not seem like much, but each time you answer a question or step forward to accept responsibility, you are building foundational leadership skills.
  2. Volunteer your time. A great way to gain valuable experience is to volunteer to a local cause that matters to you. Most volunteer-based organizations are short on paid employees, so don’t shy away from the leadership roles—there will be plenty of them! Learn more about volunteer opportunities through Missouri State’s Community Involvement and Service.
  3. Join an organization. Get involved with an organization you are passionate about, then take on positions within the organization that will push you to stretch your comfort zones. Learning to manage events and delegate tasks to a team are skills that will serve you well in the future. Learn more about campus organizations through the Office of Student Engagement.
  4. Gain potential in sports. Actively participating in sports can accelerate leadership potential. Sports instill hard work and perseverance that can inspire and motivate you as well as providing leadership roles along the way. For information on intramural sports, check out Campus Recreation’s Intramural Sports.
  5. Recognize the leadership qualities you already have. If you have ever planned a family event, babysat a younger sibling, taken care of a neighbor’s home and pets for a weekend, or worked at a summer camp, you already have leadership abilities. Reflect upon other areas in which you were in authority—you might surprise yourself with what you’ve already experienced.
  6. Complete a big project. Commit to a big personal project and see it through from start to finish. By learning to lead yourself, you will become more comfortable in that position and realize what it takes to inspire others.

Some of these recommendations may be outside your comfort zone, but the more you practice leadership activities, the more comfortable you will become. The key is to start small and develop your leadership skills a little at a time. Be a #LeaderBear.

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Why December is a good time to job search

Written by Amie Gant, Career Center Communication and Design Assistant, Bachelor of Science, Professional Writing.

business woman in red dress smiling
image: GraphicStock

If you’re like most of us, the holidays are a time to slow down and take a good, long break from our hectic schedules. However, if you’re currently searching for a job, you might consider letting the holiday season help you kick-start your job search. While the holidays are notorious for their dramatic drop in hiring, don’t let this dissuade you from your search. The majority of job seekers consider the market to be “dead” during the winter festivities. Quite the contrary; December is actually the best time of the year to apply for jobs, and here’s why:

You’ll have less competition.
Because of the numerous job seekers who adopt an inactive, kick-back-and-relax attitude during the holidays, job seekers who remain active in their search will often find an open door with no waiting line. Because fewer people are applying for positions, it will be easier for you to stand out from your peers. The lull in applicants will allow recruiters to spend more time reviewing your résumé, and they will pay special attention to you in longer interviews.

Companies have left-over money in their yearly budgets.
There are open positions. In addition to the positions that naturally need to be filled, many companies have extra money in their budgets that they’re not aware of until the end of the year. This opens new positions and new hiring decisions. Generally, companies will post these new positions at the beginning of the new year, so getting noticed during the holidays will place you way ahead of other candidates.

The holidays provide excellent networking opportunities.
The holidays are an optimum time to network at company and community parties and events. Whether you are meeting new people or reinforcing your existing network, approach the topic of your job search lightly. You might mention the companies you’re targeting and that you would appreciate any thoughts or ideas at a later date, but then swing the conversation back to eggnog, and let it be. If they can help you, they will remember you. A lengthy conversation about your job search will only disrupt the holiday cheer. Be professional, but warm. Remember, although it’s a party, you’re on display, so minimize your alcohol intake and dress conservatively.

Reinforce your current network with holiday cards.

Write a heartfelt and appreciative holiday card to your professional contacts. While e-cards are definitely easier to send, taking the time to handwrite a personal note will make it more meaningful. Sending seasonal cheer to your professional contacts can have career-changing effects that may lead to internships, mentorships, freelancing opportunities, and job offers.

You should send cards to:

  • Current and former supervisors
  • Co-workers
  • Mentors and role models
  • Miscellaneous professional connections

In your card, refer to specific instances when your contact supported you. Don’t use the card as an opportunity to request a favor. Instead, express your gratitude for the positive influence they have had on your career. It will reinforce your relationship, and the next time you reach out for a favor, they will remember that you took the time to wish them happy holidays.

The holidays are a great time to slack off, and if you choose this route, you’re not alone. But if you’re interested in fast-tracking your job search, December is the time to do it. What better way to start the new year than with a new job?

Missouri State University Career Center holiday hours
By appointment only: Dec 14 – 18
Office closed: Dec 19 – Jan 3
By appointment only: Jan 4 – 8
Regular walk-in hours resume Jan 11.

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