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.    


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.    

Morgan Stanley Operations Division is seeking College of Liberal Arts and Sciences students!

Morgan Stanley is seeking College of Liberal Arts and Sciences students for a Summer Analyst position in their Operations Division. This is a prime opportunity for Villanova CLAS students to grow their career and professional development potentiality. The accompanying training program includes networking opportunities, professional skills training, team projects, and much more.

The full posting details may be found on the Operations SA Program PDF, and students must apply online HERE. Don’t procrastinate; build your future!

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.  

Vizion Group Public Relations/Marketing Internship

RESPONSIBILITIES: Interns at the Vizion Group PR are expected to support staffers with key responsibilities surrounding the implementation of PR plans for sports and entertainment events. Includes creation and maintenance of media outlet list databases, research, writing, social media outreach and direct contact with traditional media. Intern must be self-motivated to fit in as a focused operative and a team player. Management makes significant effort to providing challenging tasks in addition to requiring basic intern work. Some specific responsibilities include:

  •  Research
  •  Press Release Writing
  •  Fact Sheet Writing
  •  Brochure Copy Writing
  •  Administrative Duties
  •  Media Contact
  •  Transcribing Audio Tapes
  •  Event Staffing
  •  Information Dissemination
  •  Report Compilation
  •  Web Site Updating
  •  Intern Recruitment

ABOUT THE COMPANY: Vizion Group PR is a unit of Vizion Group, a unique company located in suburban Philadelphia with offices and associates in several cities, providing diverse services to a variety of commercial and non-profit clients. These include developing and executing fundraising programs, providing public relations and marketing services, producing conferences and developing initiatives that drive economic impact and tourism. Vizion Group is comprised of professionals who have diverse experience and are results-oriented.

HOURS: The Fall Internship runs in conjunction with the Fall semester. We have flexibility on dates and hours, as needed.

COMPENSATION: This is an unpaid internship with no travel reimbursement. We will fulfill all paperwork and evaluation requirements needed by those gaining academic credit.

QUALIFICATIONS: Communications or Marketing major desired. Writing and editing skills preferred.  Organizational, follow-through and meticulous attention to detail skills needed along with working knowledge of Microsoft Word, Excel, Power Point and basic Social Media.

VIP Mentors Event Recap [Guest Post: Elizabeth Hecht]

Below is a guest post by Elizabeth Hecht ’14, Economics Major, Communication (Public Relations) Minor and Intern in the Office for Undergraduate Students.

VIP Mentors Event 9/17 Recap

On the evening of September 17, 2013, Liberal Arts and Science students representing a wide range of majors met in the library to discuss summer internships.  Four student panelists were featured: Emily Frankberry, Scott Goodwin, Rachel Lee and Sydney West.  These students have had numerous internships in many different areas: Conde Naste Traveler, Goldman Sachs, Harvard Medical School research lab and Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

The evening began with each panelist giving a brief background on their experiences.  Once the introductions were finished the panelists were asked more indepth questions about their experience.  The conversation quickly focused in on how the students’ Liberal Arts background was beneficial to them this summer.  Each panelist emphasized the importance of strong writing skills.  From Goldman Sachs to the research lab at Harvard Medical School, writing was a central part of these interns’ summer.  The panelists discussed how Liberal Arts classes such as ACS, ethics, theology etc. helped them prepare for and excel at their internships.

Another common piece of advice given was to keep in contact.  An internship is a great time to make contacts with people in your desired industry.  Therefore, it is important to make connections during your internship and keep appropriate contact afterwards.

Once the questions and answer portion of the event had ended student ate pizza and were able to speak one on one and share contact information.  Overall this event was a successful kick off for the year!

VIP Mentors events will be held once a month throughout the year.  These events give students in the college of Liberal Arts and Sciences a chance to connect with other students who have similar career interests and experience in the industry.  In the future panels will be area specific.  For more information or to receive emails about upcoming events feel free to contact me at ehecht01@villanova.edu.

Internship Experience: [Guest Post] Michelle Velez

Below is a guest post by Michelle Velez, LAS ’14, Environmental Science and Spanish Major.

profile_bird_sanctMy first few weeks as an interpreter intern at the Villanova Law Clinic have been both familiar and challenging. Despite prior informal translating experiences, that familiar buzz of adrenaline just before I’m about to answer an incoming call is still there. Translating at the Villanova Law Clinic allows me to draw upon my past translating experiences, but it is nothing like the casual summarized translations I provided when my family from Mexico came to visit, or when I was an intern this summer for the NYC Parks Department and translated for Hispanic community gardeners who were thrilled that someone finally spoke their language. Each case has someone’s livelihood, future, or family on the line. You can hear the stress of the clients’ voices through even the worst telephone connection. Serving as the missing piece for many Spanish-speaking clients who are faced with the challenge of trying to resolve complex legal issues in a language they do not speak has shown me firsthand the utmost importance of accurate and prompt translations.

My first phone call showed me this directly. I was calmly sitting in the cozy office set aside for interns in the clinic, carefully translating a document, when suddenly the phone rang. It took me a minute to come to terms with two things: 1) yes, the phone I had heard so much about over the past week was actually ringing and 2) I was the only one there who could answer it. I picked up the receiver and said my introductory line. Then adrenaline and the channeling of my endurance from the three and a half months in Panama did the rest. I found a panicked man on the other end. He nervously asked if we could help with IRS documents. After a bit of gentle prodding, I realized he was not yet a client but rather someone who had been referred to the clinic for help. As I took down notes about his story and encouraged him for more details, an unfortunate and unfair trail of events unfolded. He had been tricked by a notary who had changed the number of dependents claimed on his taxes, resulting in some sort of scheme that left the notary with more money, and the client with an audit from the IRS. I cannot overemphasize how inadequate I felt as he asked me for advice. Should he call the IRS now and try to explain he doesn’t speak English so that they will extend the deadline? Was the clinic able to take his case? I had no idea and could only record, empathize, and pass along the message as urgently as I could.

Though I have enjoyed being as useful as I can to each client and am learning a great deal about interpreting and the inner workings of a law clinic, one thing still bothers me about these first few weeks as an intern. I never heard if the man’s case about the IRS audit was taken by the clinic or not. I never heard if anyone called him back. This is something that I need to be more mindful of. The system in place at the clinic has a constantly rotating cast of interpreters so that you often do not do the follow-up for clients that you initiated conversation with. My goal is to change that. I hope to confirm that all of the clients I spoke with in the past three weeks were called back or contacted in some way and will continue to follow up in the future. I feel obligated to ensure that the clients are attended to, because for many of them we are their last chance at understanding what they can do to solve their problem.

Take a ‘Cat to Work Day, Fall Break

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 11.54.47 AMAre you looking for contacts in Philadelphia, Chicago, DC or Manhattan? Spend a day at work with a VU alum over Fall Break. Open to all Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors Apply by September 22nd.

GoNOVAJobs for details 1-Click Search: “Alumni Job Shadow Program”

For  more information: http://www.careers.villanova.edu

MLBN: My Life Begins Now [Guest Post: Olivia Wilson]

Below is a guest post by Olivia Wilson LAS ’16. Olivia attended the Jobs in Sports TREK: Careers in Baseball: MLB Network site visit on September 6th.

MLBN: My Life Begins Now

First impressions are everything. A basic concept that every child is taught once they reach middle school. It’s the reason why girls rush to the mall to find the perfect back to school outfit. It’s why boys buy the freshest sneakers on the block. One small first impression.  As we grow up, first impressions become more and more important to our futures. College essays must be perfected, interviews must be flawless, and attire must be business causal or better. Our lives now depend on one first impression.

This is what I carried with me when visiting the MLB Network. Mind you, it was nine in the morning and I wasn’t fully functioning yet. I walked to Bartley with my mind racing: Was this dress too short? Should I have worn heels? What if you can see my wrinkles? I swear I ironed this dress, I swear. As I drag my feet into the building, I instantly knew that I was most likely on the younger side of this group. I’m currently a sophomore at Villanova, so I really went on this trip to maybe get some business cards. If I was lucky, I would get an internship. Either way, I got on the bus knowing that I needed to make this first impression count.

Little did I know that first impressions work both ways. MLB Network clearly put a lot of effort into their front lobby. I would tell you that I was like a kid in the candy store, but it was much bigger than that. It was more like being a kid on the high school football team and having your state championship game in an NFL stadium. The HD televisions and huge leather chairs screamed swag. I thought if their lobby was this amazing, I could only imagine how amazing their studios would be.

As our eyes grew with excitement, the doors to heaven opened up. We were finally allowed to walk through the hallways. We instantly see a wall completely covered with baseball cards. If you’re having trouble picturing this, just think of what a typical freshman girl’s wall looks like. We finally made it into studio 42 and my jaw dropped. The whole studio is a replica of a baseball field, with infamous icons from stadiums like Wrigley field. More importantly, our names were displayed on the ticker. I instantly knew that this is a place I would love to work at.

We moved through studio 42 and then made it to MLB Network studio. When I tell you my heart stopped, I mean it went from 80 to 0 in .5 seconds flat. It was everything I had ever dreamed of and more. The rotating stage, the media center, the wall where every single baseball game can be viewed, all lay out in front of me. It was sensory overload. We learned how the whole set operated. Each anchor wore a headset with peoples creaming in their ear. They had little screens under the desk to watch themselves on camera. They barely worked off a script. I literally saw into the future. This will be my life.

We moved back into studio 42 to meet with current employees at MLB network. All I was waiting for was Lauren Shehadi to step in the spotlight so I could find out how it is that I can be in her shoes one day. I kind of mean that literally because she was wearing some pretty nice shoes. As she walked forward, she confirmed every rumor I had heard about being a reporter. She told us that she starting out in North Dakota covering high school sports, fly fishing, and everything else that screams amateur. Her demo reel was apparently a mess. Everywhere she sent it, she was rejected. Except North Dakota. Naturally, I asked her when we should start making a demo reel. The response was immediately. Never have I left someplace with such an urgency to do something in my life as I did that Friday.

Of course, all good things must come to an end. Here’s the part where I’m supposed to tell you all the things I learned from this trip, hoping that you will feel the same way as I did when I walked through these holy grounds. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things I can tell you. For example, I felt inspired to travel to Villanova away games just to get a five minute interview.  I learned that all you need is one person to believe in you in order to get your big break. Taking a position at entry level or in a field that you don’t necessarily want can get you to the point you want to be at. Or who would’ve thought that sports is a business before anything else. I’m just scraping the surface of what I gained from this trip.

Unfortunately, anything I say will not compare to actually being inside of the MLB Network. The environment is so welcoming and laid back. They emphasize being able to speak to anybody in the building whenever you want. Never have I been in a company where I felt like work wasn’t actually work. It made me remember why I want to be a reporter and why all of the struggles I will undoubtedly face will be worth it.

First impressions are everything. The MLB left a huge impression on me. I’m in awe, I have hope, and I feel empowered. I can only dream of being able to leave the same impression on my future viewers. We are a sports community and we demand the best from our professionals on and off the field. I saw the best during that tour, and one day I will be among the best too.