Career & Internship Fair Advice

The Internship and Job fairs have reached their end.  The stress of getting your suit pressed and polishing your shoes till you can eat off of them are gone.  You can finally rest because the hard part is finally behind you…..or is it?

You may think that now is a time to breathe easy but the time following these fairs is where the real leg work begins.  If you were well prepared, had a good pitch, and dressed the part, you should be seeing a steady stream of emails and calls starting to flow through your inbox from the employers you spoke with.  Other times, they may be waiting on you to initiate the first contact …sort of like that girl you met at the bar last weekend.

 Career & Internship Fair Advice

"The three day rule doesn’t apply in business"

This brings us to our first point.

Follow Up: It is important to follow up with any company you speak with.  Get representatives business cards!  Those little pieces of paper are your golden ticket.  You no longer have to throw arrows in the dark to move on in the application/interview process because you have a living, breathing person to guide you through it!  Write a handwritten thank you card or email thanking them for their time at the fairs.  It sounds like something my mother used to nag me about but I’ve heard this advice validated time and time again from recruiters.  Remember also to concisely restate your pitch in this note and close by asking what the next step in the process is.  Your attention to detail IS what grabs their attention and it really is the “little things” like this that can make a difference.

Stay Focused:  Don’t throw your suit in a pile on your bedroom floor just because the fairs are over.  Many companies have reserved time on campus for interviews that can take place just weeks after the fairs.  Stay in the mindset you had before/during the fairs and keep that momentum moving you forward.  Take advantage of these opportunities that are given to you.  Even if you’re uncertain of your future with a certain company use your time with them as an opportunity to learn more about the positions they have to offer.  Who knows, that company may have your dream job that you didn’t even know existed yet.  Even if nothing comes of your interview with a certain company, the practice you’ll receive along the way is priceless!

Prepare:  When you begin to schedule interviews with various companies, dig deeper on your research for each one.  They already like what you have to offer but now they want to see if you match their unique brand.  Look into their company culture as well as the descriptions of the positions they offer.  Understand how your skills  match those parameters then prepare and show the employer why YOU ARE the right fit for the job!

Use the STAR approach to sell why you are the best person.  The STAR approach is described in further detail below:

  • Situation- think of a situation that you were faced with that will be relevant in your interview.  An issue at work/school or a project.
  • Task- what did you have to do to find a solution to the situation?  Did you have to work with a team or step into a new role?
  • Action- What things did you personally do to achieve success?  Did you take a leadership role in that team or did you overcome a challenging obstacle?
  • Result- Are there any metrics related to your success?  What good came from you overcoming the situation?  Did your team meet its goals?  Do you have numbers to quantify your result? 2.0out

The World Collegiate Sales Open

The following guest post is written by Senior Marketing Major Abbey Vanderwoude. 

Nicole and Abbey prepping 300x198 The World Collegiate Sales OpenLast weekend was the culmination of a 9-month long sales competition, the World Collegiate Sales Open.  The WCSO was designed by the legendary Dr. Dan Weilbaker himself, and is unlike any other sales competition. Nick Kochetta, Nicole Weldon, and I were deemed finalists who joined the other 17 students from around the world for the final series of events: a voicemail, appointment call, two role plays, two elevator pitches, and reverse job fair.  I have competed in other sales competitions in the past, but the WCSO was an entirely new experience. I was pushed way past my comfort zone with unusual events like the elevator pitch and the reverse job fair. The competition was also unique because it incorporated a series of curve balls to keep us on our toes. While these curve balls made the events more difficult, the effect was that the combined events added up to a realistic portrayal of the sales professional’s journey to earn an account’s business.

Abbey Groza Jerry 300x198 The World Collegiate Sales OpenAmidst the competitions events, we had the chance to mingle with the other contestants and learn about other sales programs around the world. The students each brought their own perspective to sales, and I know I learned a lot from them. When I walked out of my Final Four Role Play, I was down on myself for not “controlling the meeting,” and not running the call the way I planned. I spoke to another finalist at the Awards Banquet, who, interestingly enough, happened to be an accounting major, and his response was this: “It wasn’t your meeting.” He was absolutely right, and I am so glad to have learned that perspective from him. In addition to networking with other contestants, I really enjoyed networking with the competition sponsors and judges. Companies including White Lodging, ADP, McKesson, Bosch, Adobe, and Sure Payroll generously sponsored the WCSO, and all were eager to get to know the students.

Barsema Hall 300x198 The World Collegiate Sales OpenOne of my main takeaways from last weekend is that the NIU Professional Selling Program prepares its students extremely well for sales careers.  Although we were sitting in a room with students from the top sales programs around the world, our skills as NIU students stood out.  Our team was extremely grateful to be coached by the best, Dr. Peterson, and we know we would not have made it to the finals round without his guidance. From our experience in Marketing 350 and Marketing 450, we were able to overcome the curve balls thrown our way and, as Dr. Peterson would say, not let “the wheels come off.” It was an absolute honor to be a part of such an esteemed competition, but even more of an honor to represent the NIU Sales Program and make our peers proud.

Prizes 300x195 The World Collegiate Sales Open

 

Bringing In Your Dream Guest Speaker

Who do you want to see speak at NIU? Google? McDonalds? The Chicago Bears? Anything is truly possible in this day and age and I’ll show you a step-by-step process of how you can use LinkedIn to bring in your dream guest speaker.

But first a few LinkedIn basics I try to follow:

  1. Don’t over-connect with everyone

The reason I don’t connect with everyone who requests to connect is because you want to be comfortable asking favors on LinkedIn. As you’ll see below, I ask my connections to introduce me to a specific person in the Chicago Blackhawks. A good rule of thumb is to connect with someone you’d be comfortable giving your phone number to.

2.  Get a profile picture!

Even if it’s a close-up of you in your “going out shirt” temporarily until you get a professional picture taken (which are always going on in Barsema), get a darn picture! When I see someone I know on LinkedIn with no picture I immediately think they are inactive and therefore don’t respond to them. Get a picture. Now.

3.  Recommend and get recommended

But only from people you have worked with! Trading recommendations with friends not only is a rookie mistake, but also looks really poor when hiring managers see it, and trust me, they do. However, if you’ve worked with peers, in a meaningful way (semester long project, ELC, organization, competition, internship) then by all means, recommend your fellow Huskies and colleagues. Please don’t be the one requesting a recommendation with the same custom template LinkedIn gives you. If you can’t take the time to actually personalize your request, I don’t have the time to write you one.

Okay, now to bring in your dream speaker.

  • Hover over the “people” tab, click and scroll down to select “companies.”

 Bringing In Your Dream Guest Speaker

  • Type in the company you want to bring in (think BIG – Google, Apple, Nike, P&G, etc.)

 Bringing In Your Dream Guest Speaker

  • Click the company’s profile.
  • Under the “How you’re connected” section, select “see all.

 Bringing In Your Dream Guest Speaker

  • Look for 2nd degree connections. These are the people you want to invite! (Make sure they still work at desired company.)
  • Hover over the list icon on the right side of the “connect” logo. Select “Get introduced.”

 Bringing In Your Dream Guest Speaker

  • Select a connection to introduce you and be sure to customize your message.
  • Prosper! Good luck!

By using these 8 steps, I was able to bring in the Senior Director of New Media and Creative Services from the Chicago Blackhawks to speak for the Interactive Marketing Board and the American Marketing Association! If you’re interested in coming out to see Adam Kempenaar speak about social media strategies, branding, media techniques used, you can REGISTER for the April 3rd event for free here.

Cheers!

Mike

ITS Helpdesk: Another Hidden Treasure

My computer is getting older, it’s four years old to be exact, and with age comes inevitable problems.  Programs crash, blue report screens  plague my existence, and slow, buggy processes make finishing assignments a massive undertaking.

slowcomputer ITS Helpdesk: Another Hidden Treasure

"Contrary to popular belief, screaming at the computer DOES NOT make it faster"

People have suggested taking my over-sized paperweight to major tech companies or local computer shops but who wants to pay $100 or more to fix a computer when you could buy a decent NEW one for south of $500?!  Unfortunately I can’t justify purchasing either at the moment because I have other priorities.

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"Priorities? He must mean Toppers and Keystone." -Nick's dog Baci

I thought my situation was hopeless.  My computer bugged out, I couldn’t get wi-fi in my own apartment for indefinite patches of time, the internet was slow, and moderately sized programs would crash all the time.  I even had problems with Internet Explorer!

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"...then again, who doesn't have problems with IE?"

I had used every  “10 ways to fix your computer” article and video that YouTube and Google had to offer.  I was reaching the end of my rope, until a good friend of mine opened my eyes to the NIU Information Technology Services (ITS) Helpdesk.

What’s the ITS Helpdesk you ask?!  Well I’ll tell you.  It’s a magical place where students like you can bring your computers and phones to get them worked on and optimized.   Oh, and did I mention that it’s free!  What the literal…?! O.o  Why did nobody tell me about this earlier!  As soon as I learned about the Helpdesk I brought my computer in the same day.  I dropped it off, got a ticket, and went on my merry way.  It took no more than a day before one of the workers called me back and told me the “operation” was done.  They cleaned it up, added some software, and even uploaded an intranet package so I could access my work emails from home!  So many headaches from the past year and a half could’ve been avoided if only I knew.  So many paper rewrites, system restores, and file backups could be erased from my memory.

the truth about men in black 3 ITS Helpdesk: Another Hidden Treasure

"Now if only I could erase MIB II from memory too"

So now I’m sharing this knowledge with you.  This hidden treasure on NIU’s campus should be shouted from the rooftops because if it can revive my computer, who knows what they can do for you.  Check them out at http://www.its.niu.edu/its/helpdesk/index.shtml and don’t let your computer problems stand between you and a good grade again!  2.0out

Life Lessons Abroad

The following is written by Mike Cahill, an Accounting Graduate Student at the NIU College of Business.

The Social Entrepreneurship Program at NIU is the perfect fit for any business student with aspirations to help make the world a better place. The mission of the Program is to show students how they can apply their business skillset to solve the world’s problems. Participating in the Social Entrepreneurship Program was one of the best choices I made as an Undergraduate in the College of Business because it really helped broaden my horizons. Learning from real world examples is what I like most about the classes in the Program

This past November I enrolled in MGMT 411 – Microfinance as part of the Social Entrepreneurship Program.  The class was very unique in that it was a small group (only about 10 students) and very discussion based. In class we were assigned case studies to develop our knowledge of the topic, and at the end of the semester we participated in a 4 day microfinance study abroad trip to Punta Mita, Mexico.

The trip to Mexico, led by NIU College of Business Instructor Dennis Barsema, was a tremendous experience. As a class, we met over a dozen micro entrepreneurs who were clients of a local Microfinance Institution (MFI) in Punta Mita. An MFI provides loans and other financial services (loans) to the poor, or people who would not otherwise have any access to such services. The loans enable micro entrepreneurs to start businesses in their villages, and the earnings from these businesses allow the entrepreneur to earn a sustainable wage. The experiences interacting with the MFI clients allowed us (the class) to see first-hand the powerful impact that access to capital can have on improving the lives of the poor.

Overall, the trip really brought the class to life. It was inspirational to hear the unique stories of each of the micro entrepreneurs. Every so often I stop to think about the micro entrepreneurs that I met, and about all of the hardships that they face on an everyday basis. It is really humbling and makes me thankful for all of the opportunities I am blessed with as an American. In the future, I hope to use what I have learned in my Social Entrepreneurship classes to help make the world a better place.

 

 

Hidden Treasures: Starved Rock

A lot of you have heard about a nice state park called Starved Rock but many people don’t know a lot of the hidden joys that the park or the surrounding area has to offer.  Starved Rock is mainly a summer hangout for people to visit.  There are miles of trails to hike, numerous canyons to discover and a atmosphere to think, picnic, and to enjoy the company of friends or a significant other in.  You could even take a day for yourself to melt into the colors, sounds and serene landscapes, away from the rush of college.

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"Yeah, kinda like that..."

After a nice summer rain, you will be fortunate enough to catch the water careening off the cliffs from above and your ears will be treated to the sounds of the bubbling brew below.  Once the summer months pass and the cold sets in, people tend to stray away from outdoor activity but some real beautiful scenes occur at the park once the deep freeze comes.  The waterfall becomes a living painting, a powerful rush of water frozen in time against the quiet backdrop of winter.  You may even catch a glimpse of climbers scaling the frozen waterfalls during your early year visit.

 Hidden Treasures: Starved Rock

"I have no words"

For  those that enjoy wildlife viewing as much as I do, Eagles are a common sight from the overlooks at Starved Rock. The bald eagles winter here because even when the river is encased in ice, the churn from the dam leaves a small portal open to the water below.  It is the only place for miles where they can catch a fish.  Because of that, you can see more eagles than you’ve seen in a lifetime in a single day with the right set of binoculars, some really warm clothes, and some good old fashioned patience.