My OUS Story: Michael Bigley

Senior Michael Bigley, from Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, while playing the trumpet for the Villanova Band, has always made sure to take advantage of any opportunity that has crossed his path. 

His love for mathematics, which began in high school, led him to declare a double major in Math and Economics accompanied with a minor in Statistics and a Certificate in Information Technology. He’s noted that many other students do not know about the Certificate program and told me that, “It’s an easy program designed for people of all majors that requires just four classes involved with IT. I decided to get a certificate since it would match well with the rest of my majors and diversify myself for potential employers.” 

Similarly, he commented on the advantages that a Villanova Education has provided him. “Villanova really helps you out in applying your courses to multiple different aspects, so that I was able to look into all the disciplines I wanted to study and manage my time well. Because of this, I have gained a well-rounded curriculum that I love, which will help me achieve the career that I want someday.”  

Michael got a head start when he began at Villanova as a freshman. “When I first came to Villanova, I had the opportunity to move in early with Early Arrival Band Camp. It made my transition to college easier, since I had the chance to make friendships early on with other freshmen who also didn’t know anyone else. Joining the Villanova Band was a great way for me to continue my interest in music, which when I was applying to college, I didn’t really think about. I had been too focused on what I wanted to study, but when I saw the opportunity to be in the band, I had to pursue it to maintain my love of music.”

Now, you can find him during Villanova’s Basketball games playing along with his trumpet to his personal favorite song that they perform, “Birdland.” He also serves as Webmaster and Newsletter Editor for the Band, for which he maintains the website and creates their newsletters.

His internship search began during his first semester of his junior year. Open to any opportunity for a potential internship, he created a Handshake account for himself and spent his semester applying throughout Philadelphia, New York, and near his hometown in New Jersey, knowing that he wanted an internship that involved Math and Economics. 

December 2017 came around, and he decided to make an appointment with OUS’ Kate Szumanski during the very chaotic time of finals. He made this appointment because he was stressed not only about finals, but about the effectiveness of his resume. 

He recalls that “Kate had another meeting at the time. I think she had accidentally overbooked, but she put her other meeting aside to meet with me, a student, during that stressful time. Because of that, I saw the dedication she has to her students and how she will help us no matter her own schedule. She sat down with me, looked at my resume, gave me a few pointers, and boosted my confidence as well by telling me what was great and what I should expand on. She also provided me with comfort, letting me know that I will get an internship, I will get a job someday, and to keep working, but not beat myself up about it.” 

Finally, in April of his junior year, an opportunity arose with Celgene Corporation, a pharmaceutical company whose headquarters are located in Summit, New Jersey. He was hired to work as an intern in the Commercial IT Division in Hematology and Oncology, where he helped with project organization and management for the company’s upcoming 2019 projects. He also worked with other interns in redesigning the knowledge portal website for onboarding employees. 

His biggest takeaway from Celgene was the educational aspect of his position. His manager ensured that he was learning about all the different aspects of the company and its internal functioning. Every week the company would have “Lunch and Learns” where speakers would come in to talk to the interns. 

I asked him if he remembered one significant speaker that left an impression upon him. “Someone in the company talked to us about ‘CAR-T’ which is a rather new innovative immunotherapy for patients with blood cancer that extracts a patient’s T-cells, alters them to make them stronger, and puts them back in their body to fight the cancer. We later had the chance to tour the facility where they conducted this therapy, and it was really eye-opening to see that while we were working in the IT department, the company as a whole is fighting cancer and other diseases. Listening to this talk about the process and going on the tour reminded us of the company’s mission.”

As for his post graduate plans, he is currently applying to receive a Master’s degree here at Villanova in Applied Statistics. Ideally, he would also like to have a full-time position in Philadelphia or the Villanova area while he pursues his Master’s degree. 

He left the interview with a few pieces of advice for anyone else still searching for their career path. “I would say, take advantage of all the opportunities and resources that are at Villanova. Make sure that you’re checking out the Career Center, OUS, and most of all, make an appointment with Kate Szumanski. Really make sure that you’re making the most of your college experience. Get out there, leave the classroom, participate in extracurricular activities, search for your career opportunities, and make sure that you’re always looking ahead.” 

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My OUS Story: Dania Haughton

Senior Dania Haughton from New Haven, Connecticut, though having changed her major at Villanova four times, has never faltered away from her love of sports and sports media. 

Dania said, “When I was applying to school, I told my academic advisor that I wanted a college with good academics that could compete for a national championship in either basketball or football, and I was not joking. Now we’ve won twice during my time here, so I think it’s all been worth it.”

She entered the Business School as a freshman, but sound found that it did not suit her passion for sports media. So, she switched into the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and later declared a communication major with a minor in English. Soon her education led her to her first internship experience after her sophomore year at US Squash.

As a student she found herself always thinking about what comes next for her. “I always think, is what I’m doing now going to help me to where I’m going to go? Because I know where I am, and I know where I want to go, so I’ve always made an effort to do something, even if it wasn’t what I ultimately wanted to do. By taking steps and exploring avenues, I could confirm what I wanted and build up a resume that demonstrated what I am capable of.”

To improve her resume, she took an ASPD Course taught by OUS’s Kate Szumanski on Social Networking her junior year. Recalling this experience, Dania said, “What helped most was meeting with Kate Szumanski individually to build up my LinkedIn profile and to learn how to properly or efficiently format my experiences in a way that was attractive to companies. Overall, it was a valuable experience because nowadays in sports media, your own brand is how people first encounter you.”       

During this course, Kate Szumanski told her about the English Department’s collaboration with Sports Illustrated Magazine that allows Villanova students to have a Co-Op experience at Sports Illustrated in New York City. Disappointed to learn that only English majors could pursue this option, Dania changed her major to English and received the position. She spent the spring semester of her junior year fact checking for the magazine and writing stories for inside.com about the Winter Olympics and March Madness. 

She remembers her co-workers primarily as Michigan Fans. “Everyone else in the office were Michigan fans which was super annoying. We ended up doing commemorative issues for championship teams during March Madness, so we made on for each team in the final four except Villanova, and then Villanova won, so I was like in your face.”

For one of her last assignments during that internship, she was able to attend the WNBA draft in April held at Nike headquarters. There she interviewed all the players that had been drafted. At another event, she was able to interview Diana Taurasi, the league’s all-time leading scorer. As Dania said, “She is a legend.” 

Although she enjoyed her experience, she learned that she did not want to work at a magazine in the future, but that did not stop its value from impacting her life. “I learned as a fact checker that every word matters in journalism. You cannot just throw words in there because it can completely change the meaning of what you’re going to say.”

After the internship, it was difficult adjusting back to her regular routine, and since she had an abundance of Communications credits, she switched her major back to Communications with an English minor on the final day of Add/Drop while pursuing her next internship. 

She found the next one during the summer at ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, a place where she had dreamed of working since high school. There, she worked with the College Sport Group on pre-season college football content. Her supervisor ensured that she learned about all aspects of the company, and due to their guidance, she was able to learn about every facet of sports media. She also shadowed at Sports Center, NFL Live, sat in on a radio broadcast, and attended MLB Allstar Week as a content editor, something she had never imagined would happen.           

This semester, she currently works as a Production Intern at NBC Sports Philadelphia at Wells Fargo, where she logs76ers and Flyers games, assists with stage managing and camera operations, and archives footage for NBC sports programming.

Reflecting on her varied internship experiences, she said, “All of my internships have been different, and I have gotten to see a lot of different aspects to sports media industry which I appreciate because I think I know what I want to do. Just seeing how different networks function, and how they produce and curate content, based on their audience is very compelling. I am happy to have had the opportunity to see it from different perspectives.” 

Though she currently does not have any plans past graduation, she is considering rotational programs in sports media in broadcast or production, or she will potentially seek a master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism. This is an area she feels is the one she has lacked the most experience in, but has always had the most interest in, especially after taking Broadcast Journalism under the tutelage of NBC’s Keith Jones. 

In regard to her Villanova Experience, it has been her passion for sports that has driven her towards contributing to the Villanovan, to VU Hoops, and working as the Basketball Team Manager for the Women’s team. She has also been a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated for two years, for which she performs community serve to promote heart health awareness, especially for black women. 

She left the interview with one last piece of advice for her fellow Villanovans. “I would say don’t do nothing. When you do nothing, nothing happens. If you do nothing, you’ll never get to where you want to go. Try different things. The reason why I’ve been afforded my internships is because I’ve been open to different kinds of experiences, even though they’ve all been in sports media, since I’m pretty determined the only thing I want to do in life is work in sports media. Just trying different things within your industry helps you narrow down what you want to do and helps you become a more agile, well-rounded person when you are going for your dream job.”

My OUS Story: Bethany Ho

Senior Bethany Ho has always known that she has wanted to be a doctor, a want that derived from her childhood experiences growing up in Bernardsville, New Jersey. 

Bethany admits that normally, she has found herself not revealing the true reason as to why she wishes to pursue medicine to others. Instead, she normally answers that her dad is a doctor. She tells me, “That usually suffices, and the conversation moves on. Otherwise, I must dive into a space too heavy for a casual conversation.”

She reveals that the true reason stems from her being born with a health condition. When she was born, her parents were told that she would not live past a year old. But her doctors did not give up on her, so she, with a guardian angel watching over her, reached that one-year mark. That did not mean her fight was over. 

She continued to tell me that, “It was not without a long journey of exhaustion and pain, both physical and emotional. Growing up, I went in and out of hospitals and doctors’ offices due to a health condition. Doctors became a crucial part of my support system as they were encouraging, compassionate, caring, and optimistic. Where the world inflicted pain, the doctors promised respite. For it, I am stronger.”

Now, Bethany continually contemplates how doctors not only save their patient’s lives, but how they change them in the process. She told me about an experience she had when working at a hospital, watching in awe as a surgeon performed a coronary artery bypass graft, ultimately healing the patient’s heart and prompting her further towards her chosen career path. 

She made a promise to herself then. “My doctors were my role models, and I hope to be able to share the same compassion and care to future patients as they did for me.”

In order to pursue this dream, she began her undergraduate career at Villanova, which she decided to attend without even visiting campus; somehow, she knew that this university would become her home. Originally, she entered as a Biology major, since it seemed like the most obvious and straightforward path towards her goal. But then, as a junior, she discovered her passion for sociology after taking Dr. Rory Kramer’s “Race and Ethnic Relations” course, transforming her outlook on society. As a result, she ended up switching her major to sociology under the mentorship of her professor and learned that she could pursue her love for sociology while pursuing her goal of medicine, for she can now address the social inequalities and its implications within healthcare, something now fundamental to her future career. 

She also has a minor in Chinese because her parents used to speak Mandarin as their, as she phrases it, “secret language” at home, and she “always wanted to decode what they said and to become fluent in the future.” 

In order to ensure her success of pursuing her medical school dream, Bethany utilized OUS’ Health Professional Advising Services. She mentioned that “Health Professional Advising through OUS, and working with Dr. Russo and Ann Trail, has guided me on how to reach my dreams by providing me with countless tips and resources. If they did not conduct their seminars on application readiness, evaluation letters, and selecting schools, I would not be as prepared as I am now as I apply to medical school this application cycle.”

As for her extra-curriculars, Bethany currently serves as President of SREHUP (Student Run Emergency Housing Unit of Philadelphia), where she has had the opportunity to work at homeless shelters and confront the social inequalities she studies. She also is a leader in the campus ministry group, Renewal College Fellowship, which has been her home at Villanova. 

Bethany had one main piece of advice. “One thing I would tell my fellow Villanovans is to care for one another and listen to them, because that’s the only way we can truly impact others and make a lasting impression on people’s lives.”

Villanova University Mock Trial Team Participant Earns Top Award 

MTpic2017The Villanova University Mock Trial Team opened the 2017-2018 season in record-breaking fashion at the 2nd Annual Black Squirrel Invitational hosted by Haverford College during the weekend of November 4-5, 2017. Laura Wagner ‘20 CLAS became the first Villanova mock trial participant to earn a perfect score after two days and nearly 12 hours of competition. She was presented the Top Witness Award by tournament officials. The two-day national invitational featured 26 registered teams and nearly 250 individual competitors. The trip was sponsored through the generosity of The James F. and Ann T. Radecki Endowed Fund and supported by the Office for Undergraduate Students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The team returns to action when it competes in the United States Regional Championships in February 2018. Michael J. Pennington, Director for Experiential Education & Pre-Law Advising Services, serves as Head Coach and Advisor.

Meet the BRIDGE Society: Kate Keoghan ’18

Copy of Bridge SocietyExecutive Board

Kate Keoghan (’18) has served as the Secretary of the Bridge Society for two years. As Secretary, Kate keeps the e-mail list updated, sends out event reminders, and brainstorms ideas for Bridge Society with the other Board members. Additionally, Kate helps facilitate the monthly networking events to ensure they run smoothly.

Kate is a political science and economics double major, with a minor in business. On campus, she is a Global Key Ambassador for students looking to study abroad, as well as a member of the Villanvoa Consulting Group and Kappa Delta.

“Bridge is a great opportunity for underclassmen to practice networking and learn more about possible majors,” Kate stated. She feels that networking gets easier with practice and the skills learned at Bridge events can help land internships and even full-time positions.

Kate feels that Liberal Arts and Sciences has many majors and overlapping career paths. Bridge can help students sort through all these opportunities. While the alumni network for the College is large, Bridge provides a unique space for students to meet alumni who are passionate about the same careers as them.

Moving forward, Kate hopes to see the Bridge Society gain more alumni partners in order to expand their events. Bridge can continue to show students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences possible career paths that they had never considered before.

Meet the BRIDGE Society: Ashden Personius ’18

Bridge SocietyExecutive Board

Ashden Personius (’18), President of the Bridge Society, has served on the Executive Board for the past two years. As President, her responsibilities include leading the Executive Board members, communicating with Bridge’s advisor (Kate Szumanski), and continuing to grow the organization in ways that will best serve the students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova.

Ashden is a mathematics and environmental science double major, while also pursuing a minor in statistics. In her free time, Ashden is involved in Music Activities Stage Crew, Villanova Student Theater, Alpha Phi Omega, LEVEL, Villanova Club Running, and the Association for Women in Mathematics.

Her favorite aspect of the Bridge Society is the connections made at every Bridge event. From working with professionals, to meeting alumni, to sharing stories and working with Bridge members, “you meet amazing people everyday,” Ashden commented.

Ashden’s goal is that students gain confidence and connections from Bridge Society events. First, she believes it takes practice to be confident enough to step up and present oneself in a professional setting. “The Bridge Society is here to help with that learning curve,” Ashden added. Second, she describes the connections made at Bridge events as “invaluable.” Students are able to utilize these connections for years after graduation.

There are no other overarching professional development organizations specifically for Liberal Arts and Sciences students, which makes the Bridge Society so unique. Moving forward, Ashden sees the Bridge Society continuing to grow on campus and helping students achieve their professional aspirations.

Homework Over Winter Break? You Got That Right.

Ten Things Students Should Do In Between “Games of Thrones” Episodes
By Kate Szumanski

With finals approaching, now isn’t the best time for students – this means you – to think about your career and professional development is it? There are deadlines to meet, tests to study for, and papers to write.

But during winter break when free time’s a plenty, there is serious homework to be done, only this homework is ungraded and “counts” for much more than a grade on your report card.

There is career and professional development homework to complete, and winter break is the ideal time to focus on this area.

Here are the Top 10 things you should do during your winter break to be best prepared to hit those spring career fairs strong when you return to campus.

(And parents of college students who are reading this, you can help spread the word and encourage your son or daughter to take serious action before a new semester begins.)

  1. Create a killer résumé. It’s true: your résumé is your sales pitch. If written right, it has the power to convincingly “sell” your abilities, experiences, and skills to a future internship supervisor or employer. Review résumé samples. Identify what you like. Build your résumé to represent you.
  1. Memorize your elevator pitch. So we meet at a career fair and after we exchange pleasantries about the weather and if the Philadelphia Phillies will trade Cole Hamels, where does the conversation go? If you are asked about you – your interests, your focus, your mission, your purpose – what do you say? Write and memorize your elevator pitch, the 30-second introduction that will captivate and convince the person on the receiving end that you are a serious student with fascinating interests and tremendous value looking to build a career and contribute in meaningful ways to an organization’s mission.
  1. Google “common interview questions.” It might seem silly, but do it. Research the typical questions hiring managers’ ask during interviews and brainstorm compelling answers. Never be caught off guard again during an interview.
  1. Include an e-mail signature to all outgoing mail. After you sign your e-mail messages, do you include a professional signature line that directs recipient’s to your Twitter handle, Web site, or other relevant contact information? No? Do it moving forward. It’s like including a business card in an e-mail every time you hit “send.”
  1. Get a handle on Twitter. I’m consistently surprised by the low number of students who use Twitter to not only research industries, but also to build their personal brands. Twitter allows you to converse and connect with industry professionals, keep updated on trends in public discourse, and stay current on all things. Contribute to the conversations related to your emerging area of expertise by becoming active on Twitter.
  1. Write a cover letter template. Yes, all cover letters should be customized and tailored to each opportunity for which you apply. But that doesn’t mean you need to start from scratch each time. Build a meaningful cover letter that you can revise quickly.
  1. Create your Linked In profile. Perhaps you already have a Linked In profile, but you haven’t visited it in months. Or maybe you don’t have a Linked in profile yet. Now’s the time to edit it or create it. And with powerful resources like these at your fingertips, there’s no good reason to say you don’t know where to start.
  1. Cleanse your social media presence. Increasingly, employers, hiring managers, and interviewers will google candidates who’ve applied for positions before extending an invitation to meet. What does your public social media presence say about you? Does it convey a powerful image of a creative problem-solver and critical-thinker seeking to grow her professional career and take on the world, or does it convey an image of someone who’s been out too late at one too many parties? Remove inappropriate content. Enable the privacy settings on your Facebook page. Be smart about social media and understand its power to influence. It’s a hard truth: people will judge you without knowing you. Don’t give them any reason to judge you in an unfavorable light.
  1. Invest in stationery. When your Aunt Mary sends you a lovely holiday sweater, do you thank her in writing with a courteous and warm note? No? Well, you should. Rarely am I so forceful, but I encourage all students to be the one – maybe the only one – who sends a hand-written thank-you note to someone who has helped you, encouraged you, interviewed you, gave you a cup pf water while you waited for your interview to start, etc. Now, don’t go overboard and thank everyone for every common courtesy, but be smart and savvy. Express gratitude appropriately. If you are the candidate who sends the note, you’ll be remembered. And in our electronic age, those hand-written notes are all the more meaningful.
  1. Buy a suit. Are you comfortable in your interview attire? Right now, yoga pants and jeans are your staples, and that’s perfectly fine. But when you begin to interview for internships or jobs, you’ll need clothing that serves many purposes. You want to feel confident and comfortable in your skin. You want to send a professional message to the person across the table. For men or women, a suit that comes with its requisite component parts can help you begin to gradually build a professional wardrobe. Keep it on the conservative side. Black and navy blue are staples. Women easily can add a pop of color with an appropriate blouse, and men can add just a touch of color (again, think conservative here) with their choice of necktie. And you shouldn’t spend a lot of money here – there’s no need.

Whew. By now, you’re exhausted. You’re hoping to find the remote to see if Mom or Dad DVR-ed “Sons of Anarchy.”

Remember, no one said winter break homework would be easy, right?

And newsflash! Did you know that there’s extra credit available, too? Yes, I said extra credit.

For the ultra-motivated and ambitious, take on these challenges:

  1. Send your first Tweet.
  2. Connect with someone you know on Linked In.
  3. Research potential internships and apply to those that most interest you.
  4. Buy a roll of stamps.
  5. Write a thank-you note and mail it. (See #4 for stamps!)

Got it? Excellent. I know you do.

In the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova University, and in the Office of Undergraduate Students, we teach our students – liberally educated young adults – to be adaptable, nimble, and flexible students and professionals who contribute powerfully to society.

We want our students to realize their full potential, to discover their passions and to pursue them with relentless determination. Maybe it’s through an internship. Maybe it’s through a professional development course. Maybe it’s through one of our many professional development events. Discovering who you are and what your impact can be should help define your Villanova journey.

When you return to campus in 2015, encourage our students to visit the Office for Undergraduate Students in SAC 107 often. Discover who you are and who you are meant to be. Let our office of dedicated professionals help you on your journey of discovery.

Kate Szumanski, ’95, ’97, is the associate director for experiential education in the Office for Undergraduate Students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova University. Follow her on Twitter @KateSzumanski.    

With the Approach of Finals, Consider a Short Study Break: Focus on Your Future

By Kate Szumanski

With finals approaching, now isn’t the best time to think about your career and professional development is it? There are deadlines to meet, tests to study for, and papers to write.

But in these busy moments when you’re sleep deprived and swamped with work, I challenge you to take a deep breath, find a brief quiet time to reflect, and think about what all of this work is leading toward.

Maybe your dream is to become an emergency room doctor, triaging patients and saving lives. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to be a lawyer, fighting for justice in a court of law. Maybe you’re fascinated by operating systems and software advances, and a career in computer programming is calling to you. And maybe you are a whiz with numbers and seek to apply your strong analytical skills on Wall Street in finance.

Or maybe, just maybe, you’re not sure what “you want to be when you grow up.” And you know what, that’s perfectly OK. What’s not OK is not talking about your options, your strengths, and your passions, for therein this discussion might possibly be your professional ambition waiting to be explored.

What are you doing know to lay the foundation for your dream to be realized? What are you doing now to help discover what that professional dream might be?

After you think about these questions, go back to the books. You have finals to ace. But during your winter break, think more deeply about these important issues. Discuss them with people you trust. Think about how you will return to the University in January 2015 with a renewed focus on your professional development.

In the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova University, and in the Office of Undergraduate Students, we teach our students – liberally educated young adults – to be adaptable, nimble, and flexible students and professionals who contribute powerfully to society.

We want our students to realize their full potential, to discover their passions and to pursue them with relentless determination. Maybe it’s through an internship. Maybe it’s through a professional development course. Maybe it’s through one of our many professional development events. Discovering who you are and what your impact can be should help define your Villanova journey.

I encourage students to visit the Office for Undergraduate Students in SAC 107 often. Discover who you are and who you are meant to be. Let our office of dedicated professionals help you on your journey of discovery.

Kate Szumanski, ’95, ’97, is the associate director for experiential education in the Office for Undergraduate Students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova University. Follow her on Twitter @KateSzumanski.    

Penn Law Outreach Program “Applying to, and Succeeding in, Law School”

The Penn Law Outreach Program is designed to assist high potential undergraduate students from disadvantaged backgrounds with their preparation for admission to law school. Students must be enrolled with sophomore, junior, or senior status in a greater Philadelphia area college when they apply to the program. The program’s objective is to help these students acquire the skills necessary for:

• Successful completion of the bachelor’s degree,
• Competitive performance on the LSAT (Law School Admission Test), and
• Successful entry into law school.

This program begins in the second semester of the 2014-2015 academic year, and concludes with the participant’s completion of a “J.D. Action Plan” and application to law school. Participation requires a one semester commitment during the spring 2015 semester. Attendance is mandatory in ALL classes and presentations. At the end of the program, one participant will be awarded a Kaplan LSAT Prep course scholarship. Participants must be in good standing (i.e. have attended the necessary events) to be eligible.

The program’s academic-year components will consist of:
• A briefing by Penn Law Dean of Admissions on the application process
• A briefing by Penn Law Director of Financial Aid on financing a legal education
• A panel of current law students discussing the law school experience
• A mock class incorporating writing, analytical thinking, and logical reasoning
• A personal statement writing workshop led by a Kaplan representative
• A mock LSAT and exam review by a Kaplan representative
• A panel of alumni discussing different legal paths and careers
• Invitations to student of color events
• Mentoring with current Penn Law students
• Goal-setting and planning for academic success

The deadline for application is January 20, 2015. The program will commence on
February 7, 2015 and will end in mid-April 2015.
For more information, e-mail Allanté Keels at pennlawoutreach@gmail.com

Download and review the full application here: Outreach Program Application_2015

Communicating Your Value as a Liberal Arts & Sciences Student … in 30 Seconds or Less

By Kate Szumanski

Knowing your professional value and worth, and communicating powerfully about them in a very short amount of time, are two important skills liberal arts and sciences should master.

You need to write, memorize, and “own” your 30-second commercial, which is designed to sell you!

Let’s say you’re attending a career fair and approach a representative from a particular company. What do you say by way of an introduction? And after you exchange pleasant hellos and chit chat about the weather, what’s next? When you’re asked about YOU, what do you say?

This is where a carefully created and memorized elevator pitch or personal brand statement comes into play. You want to create something compelling, memorable, and brief that helps to describe you and your abilities.

Careers coach and author Susan Chritton shares these tips to get you started.

  • Your unique promise of value: This is the promise you make to your target market that your brand will fulfill. It clarifies and communicates what makes you special. You must be able to live up to this promise. What important abilities can you uniquely offer a company or organization that might be hard to find in the marketplace? This is your USP: unique selling point.
  • Your personal brand statement:You use your unique promise of value to write the all-important personal brand statement. When you work on your statement, envision your best self. To begin your thought process on what your brand might include, answer the following questions:
  • What three or four keywords describe your essential qualities quickly and clearly?
  • What is your essence factor, the core of who you are? “I know I am in my element when __________.”
  • What is your authority factor, the knowledge that you hold and the skills that you possess? “People recognize my expertise in _________.”
  • What is your superstar factor, the qualities that set you apart? (This factor is how you get things done or what you’re known for.) “People comment on my ability to ___________.”
  • How can you convey all of the above with energy, enthusiasm, and passion?

To help you get started writing your statement, use this fill-in-the-blanks template. Don’t be constrained by this language; simply use it as a starting point.

Hello. I’m _____________ _________________, and it wonderful to meet you. I am a __________ student at Villanova University, studying _____________ and _____________. I’m looking for _____________so that I can apply my ____________ skills and help you achieve your _____________ goals. I use my ___________ and ___________ for ___________. Known for ___________, I ___________. Using ___________ (key trait), I ___________, by providing ___________. Through my ___________, I ___________, when I serve ___________. I can make powerful contributions at ____________, an organization that I deeply admire because of ________________ by contributing my _________ and _____________ abilities.

Kate Szumanski, ’95, ’97, is the associate director for experiential education in the Office for Undergraduate Students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova University. Follow her on Twitter @KateSzumanski.