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Feel the burn? How to recognize and overcome burnout

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

Burnout image
Burnout can negatively impact your academic performance and work.

Semesters are long and overwhelming. For many students, instructors, and professors, this Thanksgiving

break can’t come fast enough. Exams and large projects are due every week, and there never seems to be a moment to come up for air. Whether you are a first-year undergraduate, or this is your last year as a graduate student, burnout can and may have already happened to you.

Being burnt out can have serious effects on your academic performance, your work, and your personal life. If you’re not on the lookout for the symptoms, it might be too late before burnout hits you at full force, slowing your progress to a crawl, weakening your sense of happiness, and detrimentally affecting your academic and work success.

Burnout is natural and happens to everyone. Do any of the following sound familiar?

  • constant fatigue or always wanting to sleep
  • tired of classes or hating work that previously interested you
  • no longer putting effort into assignments
  • procrastination
  • loss of interest in hobbies
  • never enough time to do anything
  • unorganized
  • difficulty managing stress
  • poor eating habits
  • lack of exercise
  • anger, cynicism, and uncertainty

If you answered yes to one or more, you may be experiencing burnout. Why is this happening? Burnout has numerous causes, but here are a few reasons:

  • an overload of assignments
  • a major life change (moving, starting a new job, getting married, death of a friend or family member)
  • monotony at work
  • constantly hanging around the same people (whether you like or dislike them)
  • doing the same activities repetitively
  • remaining in a high-stress environment for an extended period of time

You can conquer burnout and become focused and feel energized again. It won’t happen overnight, but keep in mind that you didn’t reach this point of exhaustion in one day, or maybe even in one semester. Here are six things you can do to alleviate the feelings of burnout:

  1. Eliminate the source. This doesn’t mean to drop out of college or quit work. Sure, a large portion of your stress may stem from classes and work, but they aren’t the only reasons you’re overwhelmed. Take a step back and really dig deep to figure out the additional stressors weighing you down. Sometimes a change of place is good, but don’t make a hasty decision and walk out in the middle of your shift unless you have a guarantee that doing so won’t create financial hardship or damage your work reputation.
  2. Reverse your routine. Change it up! If you normally rush to open your social media apps every time you’re on break, try drawing or reading a book instead. If you always eat out, find a cool recipe and make it yourself. If you use a tablet or a laptop for the majority of your writing, try writing with pen and paper once in a while. Constantly drive the same way to and from school and work? Find an alternate route. The point is to do something unusual in your daily routine.
  3. Make time for you. If you don’t have time to enjoy anything, try cutting back on your number of commitments. While putting others’ needs before your own is generous, doing it constantly can be exhausting. Being active and involved is wonderful as long as you’re not spreading yourself too thin. If an obligation is not a priority right now, try doing something to alleviate your stress instead, such as exercising or finally working on your long-lost hobby you haven’t picked up all semester.
  4. Prepare your own healthy meals. It’s often difficult to wake up 20 minutes early to pack a healthy lunch, or even to prepare a meal the night before. This may cause you to resort to grab-on-the-go, low-nutrient foods, which in the long run will only increase your fatigue and unhappiness. Eating food with the nutrients your body needs will increase your mental clarity and boost your energy levels to help you power on.
  5. Move, move, move. If you sit for hours in class, or have a job that doesn’t require much physical exertion, try to take frequent breaks. Walk for five minutes. Move! Smell the fresh air! Look up at the sky! If you truly do not have 30 minutes in a day to spare for exercise, try spending five minutes doing pushups or squats. Find something that you like and then do a little bit at a time. The more you move, the more energy you will have throughout the day.
  6. Get organized. Use a planner to write out your deadlines so you don’t have to keep track of everything in your head. Make a prioritized to-do list and cross off the tasks as you complete them. Be careful to keep the list achievable. Do only what you can work on today and schedule the rest for tomorrow. By prioritizing your day, week, and month, you can easily focus on one task at a time, instead of becoming overwhelmed and losing track of 20 different projects.

The semester is almost over! Keep your mind sharp and your attitude positive. It will make an enormous difference in your academic performance, your work environment, and your life as a whole. By learning to recognize when you are getting too exhausted, you will be able to re-strategize your way of life at school and work to prevent future bouts of burnout.

For help and advice for overcoming burnout, visit the Counseling Center.

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Terrified by job interviews? Overcome your fear and boost your interview confidence

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

What can be scarier and more stressful than Halloween’s haunted houses, ghosties, ghouls, and zombies? Job interviews. However, the more you practice and get familiar with the process, the less terrifying interviews may become.nervous interview

Mock interviews provide a constructive way to reduce your stress and anxiety about interviewing. The Missouri State University Career Center offers mock interview sessions to students and alumni. The benefits of these mock interviews are numerous and can dramatically increase your chances of acing your next real-world interview.

All interviews are stressful, and even though it is just a mock interview, it is easy to become nervous. What better way to work out your nervous tics than in a pretend setting? Thankfully, practice really does make perfect. Sign up for mock interviews, and keep practicing until you are comfortable with the interview process. You will be surprised at the enormous difference this will make in your performance. You will do things right, and you will do things wrong. Just take a deep breath, and be yourself. Remember, it is better to make a blundering mistake in a pretend setting than in a real-world interview.

A mock interview will prepare you to answer tough questions, and it will give you pointers on how to present yourself professionally and personally. In a real interview, no one will tell you what you did wrong, and you may be left wondering why you didn’t get the job. At the Career Center, you will receive on-the-spot, constructive feedback. You will learn what you did well and what you need to improve. This is your golden opportunity to ask questions and to fine-tune your interview techniques before the real-deal interview that will make or break your chances of being hired.

At the MSU Career Center, your mock interview will be video recorded and put on a flash drive (please bring your own flash drive) so you can see first-hand how you appear in an interview setting. It’s sometimes painful to watch (who wants to see themselves mess up?), but the video can be an invaluable tool in helping you correct your errors.

You may not have realized that you were waving your hands as you talked, or that you kept touching your face, pushing your hair out of your eyes, making awkward expressions, or doing some other distracting movement. After watching the video, you will be more conscious of what you need to work on, and you will be more likely to succeed.

So, if you cringe at the thought of being recorded, relax. No one has ever died from watching their interview recording, and in the long run, you will be glad you did.

Set up your mock interview by calling the Career Center at 417-836-5636.


You can also practice phone and Skype interviews. To schedule a phone interview, please contact the Career Center. You can access practice Skype interviews via InterviewStream on your free JobTracks account. InterviewStream features virtual mock interviews with expert tips and advice to assist you with your interviewing development.


Mock Interview DayThe Career Center is hosting a Mock Interview Day for all majors on October 23, 2015, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the PSU Ballroom West (3rd floor).

This event is staffed with local employers to provide students with an opportunity to go through a 40-minute mock interview session.

If you plan to participate, make sure you dress professionally and come with your résumé handy.

Register for Mock Interview Day:

Students need to register for Mock Interview Day, but the event is FREE.

For students: To sign up, please upload a copy of your résumé to JobTracks and select a time slot. For more information, please contact the Career Center at 417-836-5636 or CareerCenter@MissouriState.edu.

For employers: To participate, please contact the Career Center at 417-836-5636 or CareerCenter@MissouriState.edu.

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“My internship experience revitalized my motivation”

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

computer-820281_1280This summer I completed my undergraduate internship as an assistant editor and graphic layout artist. I have noticed a positive change in myself after my experience; however, this change did not come easily.

Successful completion of this internship required a minimum of 135 hours of documented work. It was a summer of grueling hours spent sitting in a chair and giving myself migraines from focusing too hard on my laptop screen. My back and shoulders burned with fatigue, and my legs went numb more times than I could count. But, by the end of my internship, it was clear to me that I had learned several things I had not anticipated.

  1. I learned that I am capable of producing quality work on my own with little to no guidance. I have always had an instructor or a professor there to nudge me one way or another if I got stuck on a design, or if I didn’t know what to write. Since the majority of my internship was independent work, I had no one else to rely on but myself. At first, this was very intimidating, because I lacked confidence in my ability to design engaging, professional, and original work. As I pushed through my difficulties, my confidence grew until I was sure that with a little dedication, I could accomplish whatever project my internship supervisor gave me.
  2. I know without a doubt that I am in the correct career field. While I have always had a passion for writing, editing, and designing, there were times during my internship that I became frustrated with my computer and my projects. I was able to persevere through these rough moments until I began to see progress. Seeing this progress was worth every difficult moment. I loved seeing my work come together after long hours of struggle. My internship confirmed that I have made the right career choices. I proved that I am passionate about and capable in my career field.
  3. I proved that I am capable of managing a large project without guidance or encouragement. In my courses at Missouri State University, I have had large semester-long projects of similar difficulty and length as my internship projects. With my internship, the difference was not having my instructors and professors to act as a safety net. In class, my instructors and professors give me a timeline and project deadlines. They are there to encourage and enforce a proper working pace to eliminate procrastination. For my internship, it was all me. It was up to me to determine the rate at which I worked, how long I spent on each project, and how to best prioritize my focus. Without my courses at Missouri State University, I would not have known how to correctly manage my projects.
  4. I utilized every skillset I have learned in my courses at Missouri State University. I am sure this seems like a very bold statement, but it is true. This summer, I used everything I have learned in each of my major classes. This both surprised and encouraged me, for I never knew to what extent the information I learned in class would be used in a real-world situation. This summer, I discovered that even the classes I presumed to be unimportant were essential to my success. I had to muster every bit of wisdom my instructors and professors have instilled in me over the past several years. I am glad I did well in class and that I retained as much as I did. Had I not, I would not have been able to successfully complete my internship.

My internship experience has revitalized my motivation to continue to strive for excellence as I journey into my career field. I have grown and changed as a person and as a student. I have learned to think past my frustrations, to never stop trying until I am 100 percent happy with my work, and I have learned that I am perfectly capable of single-handedly producing professional, elegant designs.

Although I still have much to learn, after my undergraduate internship experience, I feel much more prepared for my future career. I highly encourage all students who are preparing for an internship to pay attention in every class, keep their text books handy, and enjoy their time as an intern because even though it is a fleeting experience, it can make a profound impression upon their personal, academic, and professional lives.

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ur hired—not! lol

Written by Amie Gant, Career Center Communication and Design Assistant, Bachelor of Science, Professional Writing.social media on your phone

Poor grammar and punctuation habits may be harder to break than you think, especially if you are practicing these poor habits daily on a social media site such as Facebook. Some Facebook users take their posts quite seriously, and you probably have at least one or two Facebook friends who fall into this category. These friends’ posts are well-manicured, carefully punctuated, and appropriately capitalized. They proofread everything from the ranting paragraph to the single-word update. Bravo to those Facebook users! Unfortunately, there is another category of Facebook users who are not as attentive; I fall into this category.

If you are like me, I rarely proofread my Facebook posts, and I give a casual la-dee-dah! to grammar and punctuation rules. Want to know the worst thing? I am an English Major. I should be a grammar nerd. All the time. Everywhere. While I do have a great fondness for diagramming sentences, editing, and proofreading, unfortunately, my inner grammar nerd visits me only when I am in an academic or work environment. That’s okay, I’ve always thought, I will pay close attention to my comma usage when I have a serious email to write. I can afford to slack off on Facebook. Wrong!

Correct grammar and punctuation usage requires constant practice even for the nerdiest of grammar nerds. Throughout my college years, I have noticed a decline in my own grammar skills. I have said, “Eh, I’ll worry about it when it’s important,” so many times that I have lost many of the writing skills I once took for granted. This seems terribly ironic, doesn’t it? I am a senior in college, after all! But, think about it. I have convinced myself that Facebook is my space to do with what I will, and while this is certainly true, what is it doing to my professionalism? Typing “ur” does nothing to remind me which “ur” I’m referring to. Is it “your” or “you’re” and how can I distinguish between these with “ur”? I can’t. And normally, I don’t care, because in the back of my mind I assure myself that, when the time comes, I’ll simply remember the correct usage.

Poor grammar habits follow me from the safety of my Facebook page to the academic and professional world. I don’t always capitalize the letter “i”, nor do I always use an apostrophe when it’s needed. Because my eyes have grown accustomed to this on social media, I don’t always catch it when I am emailing my professors (heaven help you if you email an English professor with a message full of “im”, “ive”, and “ill”). How can I expect a professor to recommend me for an internship or a Graduate Assistantship if I cannot maintain my credibility and responsibility through my writing?

Please, tell me I’m not the only one.

The truth is, I don’t always remember the finer points of grammar, and it usually happens in the most unfortunate circumstances. For instance, my office supervisor asked me to spellcheck and proofread the hardcopy of an email, but I did not have a spellchecker nor Google to back me up. My supervisor just stared at me, waiting for me to put pen to paper. This has also happened to me once when I applied for a job. Part of the pre-interview paperwork included a spelling test, a punctuation test, and a word usage test. I didn’t get the job.

How does incorrect grammar and punctuation in a professional environment affect your credibility? Everyone makes mistakes, but if your punctuation is rusty, to an educated eye, your repetitive errors may make you seem careless. Often, we are judged by our ability to write effectively, and whether it is fair or not, careless writing can make us seem unintelligent and irresponsible. Typos happen to the best of us, but whenever I make a mistake at work—it is embarrassing—and all I can think is, “If only I had been practicing all this time.”

I post to Facebook at least once every day. That is a chance to practice my writing skills at least once a day. I can check my spelling and ensure I have used apostrophes correctly. Have I properly used fewer or less? Done or finished? Then or than? If I don’t know the answer, someone else will, and they probably won’t take me seriously. I have also noticed that I do not always write in complete thoughts and sentences anymore. Do I have a subject and verb? Am I working with independent or dependent clauses? How do I punctuate them?

I have often wondered if I would be comfortable friending a future employer on Facebook, and the answer is absolutely not, never in a hundred years, no. Why? Because that employer might scroll back and see my desecration of the English language.

I am not saying don’t relax on your own Facebook page; I am simply offering up my own errors for your consideration. Of course, this can apply to your text messages and other social media outlets just the same. No matter how grammar savvy you may be, nurturing bad habits of carelessness day after day can deteriorate your skills and spread through the different facets of your professional life. Regardless of your career field, you should practice proper grammar and punctuation until you form professional habits that will make you marketable, not laughable. Aristotle said, We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit. Don’t let your writing habits be anything less.

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Looking for a Job in Education? Here are 10 Tips for EDUCATION DAY

If you’re looking for a job in education, then don’t miss Education Day on Tuesday, April 7. An annual career fair for individuals seeking jobs in education, Education Day provides candidates the opportunity to meet with several school districts in one day. Many administrators also plan to conduct interviews during this event, so come prepared.

Education Day photo
One of the representatives at Education Day
9:30 AM — 12:30 PM

Following are 10 tips to help you make Education Day a success. These tips are adapted from the 2015 AAEE Job Search Handbook.

  1. Before Education Day, visit the Career Center’s website to identify registered employers and research your top districts: http://bit.ly/1G8D4UK. Here you’ll see a list of more than 60 school districts and organizations that are registered to attend.

If you click on each employer’s name, you can read more details. You also can access the URL to their website. Give yourself plenty of time to do this research; don’t wait until the day of the event to look at the list and start your research.

  1. Bring several résumés. Even though you need to apply online for teaching positions, market yourself at Education Day by bringing several copies of your résumé. Be prepared to discuss your experiences, skills, and abilities outlined on the résumé.
  1. Bring your portfolio and completed applications. Portfolios provide evidence of your skills and experiences. If you have a portfolio for job interviewing, bring it to Education Day.

If you don’t have a portfolio, the American Association for Employment in Education (AAEE) provides some guidelines for creating one: http://bit.ly/1xySct3. The 2015 AAEE Job Search Handbook also discusses the portfolio. (Copies of the handbook are available in the Career Center in Carrington 309, but supplies are limited.)

Another reason to research the school districts ahead of time is so you can complete their application forms. Some districts may have applications at their table, but completing the form ahead of time and bringing it with you to Education Day will avoid the stress of having to fill out the form in the middle of a career fair.

  1. Introduce yourself and ask questions. Employers come to Education Day to talk to students, so don’t hesitate to initiate the conversation. That can feel intimidating, but if you review the Career Center’s handout on the “30-Second Commercial” http://bit.ly/1xyUUP1, you’ll be ready to approach employers.
  1. Meet with a variety of employers. Even though you may have selected the specific employers you want to meet, be open to learning about those employers who aren’t on your top list.

Every job fair brings at least one story of a student who accepted a job offer or internship from an employer the student hadn’t originally considered. Network. Meet administrators and develop contacts. This can lead to jobs later.

  1. Emphasize your strengths. Come prepared to talk about yourself and experiences. Employers at Education Day want to see your passion and hear about your classroom experiences, teaching strategies, technology you’ve used, differentiated instruction, classroom management, and other relevant knowledge, skills, and experiences.

Show your interest and enthusiasm not only for teaching but also for the district. This is another reason to research the participants ahead of time. After all, how can you show interest if you don’t know anything about the district?

  1. Be prepared to interview. All employers will ask questions similar to interview questions, but many representatives also will be conducting more formal interviews during Education Day.

Be prepared. Practice interview questions ahead of time and do a virtual practice interview with InterviewStream on the Career Center’s website. (Log in to JobTracks at https://www.myinterfase.com/missouristate/Account/LogOn and select InterviewStream at the bottom of the left navigation bar. Then select Conduct an Interview.)

  1. Dress Professionally. Dress as you would for a more formal interview. Many administrators will be wearing business attire, so wear professional attire, too.
  1. Stay Organized. Collect business cards from the employers; keep track of those you meet and take notes about the discussion—application procedures, information about the district, and other information that you want to remember.
  1. Follow up. Send thank-you letters or emails to the employers that most interest you. In addition to thanking them for their time, also express your interest and remind them of your conversation. The majority of candidates fail to send thank-you letters, so writing a thank you will make a positive impression.
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Internship Leads to Full-Time Position

Guest written by Matthew Moore, Project Engineer for The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, Summer 2011 graduate, Bachelor of Science in Construction Management.Matthew Moore

I started working with Whiting-Turner after I graduated from Missouri State the summer of 2011. The Career Center posted an internship opportunity on their website. I had heard about Whiting-Turner through a presentation at Missouri State where Whiting-Turner was showcasing their work at the Wonders of Wildlife Museum. Whiting-Turner hired me for the internship, and by the end of the summer offered me a full-time position as a Project Engineer. 

From the very beginning the company gave me the responsibility of bidding, awarding, and then managing certain construction trades. It’s been a great experience working on the numerous projects at the Bass Pro campus, and I am lucky to have been involved in projects this complicated and original. Missouri State realizes the push for technology in the construction industry, and the curriculum available while I attended Missouri State helped prepare me professionally for my position with Whiting-Turner. 

I started my internship with being responsible for finish trades. Now three years later as a full-time Project Engineer, I am managing the MEP, Fire Protection, and LSS (Life Support Systems for aquatic life) for the Connector project at the Bass Pro campus. This includes coordinating and managing BIM & VDC procedures for these respective trades, something Missouri State first introduced me to. While every day on the jobsite presents a new learning experience, I have no doubt that Missouri State helped prepare me for my transition into the construction industry.

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Doubting Your Career Direction? Let Doubt Motivate You to Clarify Your Goals

Written by Benjamin Thomas, Career Center Graduate Assistant, Master of Science, Industrial/Organizational Psychology.BenjaminThomas

Doubt is an uncomfortable position, but certainty is an absurd one. –Voltaire

Since kindergarten, education for most of us has been a very structured process. Even through high school, where we could pick our courses, electives, and activities, it was always clear what was waiting on the horizon for the next year. Now you’ve made it to college, and you’re finally the independent, grown-up student who makes all of his/her own decisions.

Allow that one to sink in…

While the university has a wide range of criteria and requirements for a degree or other certification, how you choose to meet these goals is up to you. Some students complete a four-year degree in three years, while others change majors and concentrations multiple times. There are so many options for us, the grown-up students, that it may seem hard to steer our efforts in the right direction. When someone else was telling you what to do for your education, maybe you experienced a sensation of restriction and weight. But now, that direction seems reminiscent of a heavy winter blanket: warm, secure, consistent.

I experienced all of these sentiments as an undergraduate, and I am catching a second dose of them as a graduate student. Good news: they’re normal. As hard as it can be to decide, I remind myself that the burden of choice means I can do anything. This encouraging thought of potential provides hope in some of those moments of doubt.

So, how do you sort it out? How do you behave like the independent, grown-up student who makes all of his/her own decisions?

You’re in college, right? What do college students do best? (Not that.)

They gather and synthesize information.

If you want to know what you should do, might it help to find out what you could do?

Talk to People Who Can Give You Career Information

A great place to start gathering information is with a trusted professor, a parent, a coworker or other individuals who could share with you their own experiences or synthesize information about your questions and doubts. These people like talking about themselves (as do most people), and probably like helping humble, young learners find out more about what they can do. These conversations can be informal, or more structured, like an informational interview.

Next, you could come speak to someone in the Career Center at MSU. Believe it or not, we do more than help you write your résumé. Our Career Resources Specialists are specifically trained for questions and choices like the ones you will have to make throughout college.

  • If you came to college without a specific career or major in mind, we can help you generate and understand your choices.
  • If you know you’d love to work in a certain industry or job, but don’t know how to get from here to there, we will help you create a road map for the future.
  • If you aren’t sure about your major, we can talk with you about it and maybe clear things up.

This information, like the opinions and advice of the people you know in your life, is not a prescription. We don’t tell you what to do; we just provide you with information that can guide your decisions. While some people may be certain of what they want to do, our world does not lend itself to certainties. Probabilities, the basis of most of our decisions and process, carry some doubt.

Try to make the best choices based on the information you have, but remember that it’s okay if things don’t turn out exactly like you pictured them. There are many examples of extremely successful people who faced a series of failures and redirections in their path to greatness. Sometimes learning and understanding what you don’t want to do is as helpful as discovering what you do enjoy. Progress in any direction can often, in retrospect, be understood as progress in the ultimate direction.

Keep Things in Perspective

Regardless of your goals and decisions, keep things in perspective as you commit your efforts to the task at hand. “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” but “the journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.” These clichés both support the idea of perspective: short-term goals must be completed to reach long-term goals. When you feel overwhelmed by the length of your degree program, commit to completing the first class, focusing on the steps needed to succeed there. As the homework of a course feels repetitive, visualize those moments you’ll celebrate when you’ve completed your degree: graduation, finding a career, building your life after graduation. Sometimes a change in perspective can be a powerful way to alleviate any doubt in your choices.

While no one can remove all doubt from their world, your time here at MSU does not have to be plagued by uncertainty. It is normal to have doubts. These uncertainties can motivate you to do what is necessary to understand yourself and your goals. The University offers many resources for you to take advantage of as you gain clarity. Gather information, speak to professionals like those in the Career Center, accept the possibility of redirection and failure, and try to keep things in perspective.

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Internship Is a “Game-Changer”

Guest written by Marisa Farris, Marketing Major with emphasis in Advertising and Promotions, Minor in Communications, Graduating May 2015

Public Relations and Media Food Practice Intern at Noble Communications in Springfield, MOProcessed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

Your college undergrad is the perfect time for you to develop yourself into a marketable individual. Be a sponge and absorb as much information as possible so that you can be an asset to your future employer. We all have one thing in common—we want a job when we graduate. Yet, those who take extra steps before graduation are the ones who come out on top. Being proactive in your job search is imperative to finding a job when you graduate.

A job search doesn’t just entail applying for jobs; it requires much more thought and strategy. Utilize your surroundings and make connections. It is imperative to develop relationships with your teachers and network with industry professionals through organizations offered on campus. Getting involved is the best thing I could do for myself. Ultimately, this is how I landed my internship at Noble Communications.

I was seeking an internship to ensure I had agency experience on my résumé. However, my experience at Noble has gone much further than my résumé or LinkedIn page. Noble has been game-changing to my career. I have had the opportunity to work with some of the top Fortune 500 Foodservice companies, such as Smucker’s, Ventura, and MARS. I offer executive support with public relation work, e.g., press releases, event planning, etc., and also media buying, e.g., purchasing ad placements in foodservice magazines, etc. Noble has given me the opportunity to “test-run” my career choice. That has been the greatest thing that I will be able to walk away with—real world experience.

I have noticed, especially with my Noble interview, that recruiters see passion first. I am inspired everyday by the people I work with and the work they create. They are passionate about what they do and genuinely love their jobs. Every day is a new adventure. My internship has only helped in validating my love and desire for the advertising industry. I will be continuing my internship through the school year and hope to stay until I graduate in May 2015.

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If the Shoe Fits . . . Wear It! Finding the Right Job Begins with You.

Written by Todd Euglow, Career Resources Specialist

In today’s economy it’s apparent that navigating the job market has become increasingly more difficult. This is due to a variety of reasons; however, a mistake that many college students make when entering the work force is jumping at the very first job opportunity that is offered to them or simply applying for jobs without having much understanding of the company’s culture, values, or mission. Everyone strives to find that “perfect job,” but the reality is that it may not exist, at least not right away. How do you balance the decision between taking that very first offer or applying to every job with finding the right fit? Too often, individuals do not take the time to educate themselves on the organizations to which they are applying well enough to make an informed decision on whether or not the company is right for them. This mistake could lead you to accept a position in which you will be extremely unhappy, which is never a good way to begin your career!

When you begin applying for positions and accepting interviews, keep this in mind: you are interviewing your potential employer just as much as they are interviewing you. So, how do you determine whether or not an organization is the right fit for you? While conducting your job search, keep these questions in mind:

  • Could I see myself working here long term, more than just one or two years?
  • Are there opportunities for advancement?
  • What types of benefits will I receive? It’s not always about the salary. Does the organization value professional development and promote opportunities for new employees to grow?
  • Could I see myself working with my potential coworkers for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week?
  • Do the organization’s values align with my own?

You’re probably thinking, “I really just want to get paid!” Although it is often easier just to take the first offer you receive, studies have shown that when employees are satisfied with their work environment, they demonstrate increased levels of productivity and experience more success in the work place. You should begin to think about the long-term gain rather than the short-term benefits. Below are some tips and strategies to help you determine if a job or organization is a good fit for you:

  • Do your research beyond what is listed on the company website. Although a website can tell you a lot about the organization, you need to dive deeper. Look at external sites that provide reviews of the company. Websites such as www.glassdoor.com provide reviews by current and past employees of many companies domestically and internationally. You have to remember that you can’t consider every review to be fact. For example, a disgruntled employee may have had some choice words to say about the previous employer from which he or she was just fired for stealing office supplies. You should look for themes and consistencies among the reviews.
  • Are there articles about the company that have been published by a reputable source from which you can draw some information? Is the company launching a new humanitarian effort that aligns with your values?
  • Do you know anyone who currently works or previously worked for the company who can provide you with some insight?
  • Do you truly know yourself? Have you considered taking personality assessments such as the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator to help you better understand your values and personality traits? This service is available at the Missouri State University Career Center.
  • If you already have an interview scheduled, do some research while you’re there. Survey the work environment (Is it messy or organized?), strike up a conversation with the receptionist, monitor how the employees interact with each other, ask questions of your interviewers that help you better understand them and what they value. Obviously I don’t mean asking personal questions, but make them relevant to the company and how it operates; for example a question that you may ask is “Could you describe your company’s management style and the type of employee who fits well with it?”

The job search process can be very stressful. Proper planning and research will help you to not only better understand your goals for your first position, but also provide you with a clearer concept of what you value and how you can contribute to a company. This will ultimately come through to a potential employer and assist you in making the right choice in your search.

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Nii’s Nuggets of Wisdom

Written by Nii Kpakpo Abrahams, Career Center Peer Advisor, Bachelor of Science in Communication—Ethical Leadership, and soon-to-be Graduate Student in Communication

Nelson Mandela once asserted, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Within one week, the pinnacle goal of my life since I was in kindergarten will have been achieved—graduating and receiving a diploma. As I enter into the “real world” with this carefully crafted weapon, it is imperative that I leave behind some imparting nuggets of wisdom to those who are still climbing that mountain.

Don’t Take Your Education for Granted

One of my biggest pet peeves is watching smart people waste this incredible opportunity. According to the Huffington Post, only 6.7% of the entire world has a college degree. Your college experience is training you to be one of the top people that the world has to offer. DON’T WASTE IT. I’ve seen too many of my peers take this amazing opportunity (notice how I didn’t say right) and squander it on partying and sleeping through classes. The educational knowledge you gain, alongside with the life lessons you learn, will make you the best person you can be—but only if you allow it. Engage in class, seek out and listen to mentors, and maximize your gifts and abilities.

Don’t Let People Tell You the Real World Will Eat You Up

One thing that I never understood was the notion that we aren’t living in the “real world.” Granted, our lives are different in college than if we were working 9-5, but we are living in the real world—and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! The real world is the world that we are living in now. So instead of allowing people’s words about the next phase after college scare you, embrace the world you are living in now and learn as much as you can from it. Because let’s be honest: college is HARD. Living on our own for the first time, establishing whole new friendships, completing challenging coursework, worrying about a future career, and of course finding our significant other are enough to make a normal human being cringe. Yet we accept the notion that what we are doing now is nothing compared to after college. Don’t give in to that!

Connections Matter

I was so blessed to receive one of the best internships around working for Cora Scott, the Director of Public Information and Civic Engagement for the city of Springfield. I’ll be working 40 hours a week during the summer, making great money, and doing the things I love the most: being a part of a team, working in a fast-paced environment, and serving people! The crazy part is, I didn’t apply for this internship or look this up on a job website—I just knew people. Without going into too much detail on how I got the position, just know this: people and connections can be your best asset in life. All the jobs I’ve ever had within the University have been because of my connections with people. Now that doesn’t mean view people as commodities, but don’t be afraid to take advantage of the wonderful things people around you are doing! Just as you will have the opportunity to pave the way for someone else to grow, allow others to do the same for you.

As I look back at my four years I’ve been able to do a lot: Resident Assistant, SOAR leader, President of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, Legislative Director in SGA, Homecoming King, and multiple search committees. But at the end of the day, if it weren’t for the good people surrounding me that were willing to keep me grounded and pour great wisdom and advice into me, I wouldn’t be who I am today. My final piece of advice is this: SURROUND YOURSELF WITH GOOD PEOPLE. Your college experience is only as good as the people you choose to surround yourself with make it. It’s been an incredible four years, and I can’t wait for the next two years of graduate school and beyond.

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