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

Achieving Professional Success With a Degree in the Liberal Arts and Sciences

By Kate Szumanski

Students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova University are often told that they can do and be anything, that with their excellent liberal education, they can work any job, excel at it, and be paid well for it.

Strong evidence suggests that this and more are true.

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) released a report in January 2014 on earnings and long-term career paths for college graduates with different undergraduate majors.

In How Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Fare in Employment, authors Debra Humphreys and Patrick Kelly analyze data from the 2010-11 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and provide answers to some common questions posed by students, parents, and policy makers who are increasingly concerned about the value of college degrees.

Their findings are reassuring:

  • Liberal arts majors close earnings gaps—earn more than professional majors at peak earnings ages
  • Unemployment rates are low for liberal arts graduates—and decline over time
  • Liberal arts graduates disproportionately pursue social services professions
  • Many liberal arts and sciences majors also attain graduate and professional degrees and experience significant earnings boosts when they do
  • Graduate and professional degrees provide earning boosts for all; largest boost for science and math majors and smallest boost for professional majors

The report argues that “whatever undergraduate major they may choose, students who pursue their major within the context of a broad liberal education substantially increase their likelihood of achieving long-term professional success.”

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.

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.  

Think Internships and Join the #InternNation

By Kate Szumanski ’95, ’97

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Career-building, mentoring, networking. You’ve heard the terms over and over again. How can you as a student –right now – actually “do” these things?

Think internships.

Now more than ever, internships provide you with tremendous value. From gaining real-world experience in a variety of fields to collaborating with diverse professionals and expanding your network, internships allow you to experience the workplace as an insider – a true participant.

The value of an internship cannot be denied. You can experiment and test the waters. You can learn how to apply your academic experiences to a variety of careers, and begin to understand where you fit, what you like, and what you don’t.

In addition, many employers consider their own interns ideal candidates for full-time positions.

Where should you start your internship search? Visit GoNovaJobs. Here you’ll find opportunities and application instruction.

If you seek to earn academic credit for your internship, please visit me, Kate Szumanski, in the Office for Undergraduate Students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in SAC 107. I look forward to discussing with you everything you need to do to secure credit for your internship.

In the coming days, our office will host a series of Internship Workshops designed to fuel your passions and ignite you on your professional journey. Be on the lookout for those dates, times, and locations.

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.