Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Conference Presentation Opportunity

3rd Annual New Critics: Undergraduate Literature and Composition Conference 
Deadline March 2; conference April 21, 2012
Poster available here: http://goo.gl/m9u6R

Hi, all — here is an undergraduate research conference you might be interested in participating in. It’s a great line to have on your resume, especially if you are considering graduate school. It’s also the sort of thing where you will be able to meet and network with other undergraduate students from the area.

Oneonta is about 5 hours from Niagara Falls (all freeway); if you’re interested in going, you would probably want to get a hotel for Friday and Saturday nights, although you might write to the conference organizer to see if inexpensive dorm space is available, or to get recommendations. I note that this conference is free—most conferences have a registration fee which can be $100 or beyond, so this looks like a good deal!

You would very likely be able to select something you’ve written already for one of your classes, to be developed into a conference paper format—that is, revised for oral presentation, rather than written. Given the description supplied by the organizer, I would imagine something with a few references, on a reasonably well-known (not obscure) topic would be your best bet. You might very well be able to ask the professor for whom you wrote/are writing your work to give your abstract and your final paper a once-over.

Doing conferences is something you can expect to be involved in if you’re going on for a higher degree—and an undergrad conference is a great way to get your feet wet, see what it’s about, and take a practice run for the next level up. That this one is juried (that is, not everyone will be accepted), and that it’s not sponsored by your home university, both add weight to your appearance here.

The deadline for submissions is Friday, March 2—the day before we begin our spring break, and our “mid-term” date (the middle of the semester, so you’ll probably have exams the week or two before that). Hence you might want to think about developing your abstract now and submitting by about Feb. 17; and doing the majority of work writing the presentation piece during spring break. The conference date falls just before our last week of classes—so you’d actually likely have a lull in the frantic run up to final exams where this would be manageable.

Here is a link to a document I've drafted to help you offer a smooth, clearly-organized oral presentation: http://goo.gl/kJzUy 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Twitter and Recruiters


A step-by-step guide to connecting with recruiters—those who can point you in the direction of jobs—on Twitter! Note the principle of reciprocity at work here. Your strategy is to join a community in which you give as much as you get.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Front-burner job search


This article is about how and why to keep your job-search activities on the front burner. There are some good thoughts here! Let me amplify some of them:

Article point #2, going door to door: Okay, that would make some sense if you’re headed to small or even medium sized businesses. But it’s more than likely even medium sizers have buffers—people who intercept you before you can connect with anyone with authority to hire, or even think about hiring. If you find yourself having to drop off a resume and cover letter at a reception desk—consider writing a personal note in a corner of your document, indicating that you’ve left it with [insert receptionist name here]. Also, don’t be shy about asking who to call for follow-up, and actually doing the follow-up phone call.

Article point #4, LinkedIn: You not only get “connected” to people who might know someone who knows someone—but you also get industry tidbits and useful info. There are groups you can join on LinkedIn that will up your IQ about what’s happening that might help you position yourself in a more hire-able light.

Article point #5, Resume on line: Well, why not? You don’t need fancy web-hosting or special skills. In fact, I’m doing this blog on the cheap and with fairly basic computing skills. You can save your document as a pdf (any word processing document these days can handle such a “save as” request). Then, set up a Google account, access Google documents, and upload your resume. You will have to indicate that you want to “share” the document... if this isn’t enough info, let me know and I can walk you through.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tall Ship Opportunity

Wow! This is a “study abroad” opportunity with a twist—you live and work aboard a replica of an early 1800s sailing ship. A great line for your resume. And — if you’ve never been aboard a sail-powered ship before — and incredible experience! With permission from the kind gentleman who came to my classes to present today, here is the PowerPoint presentation with pictures: http://goo.gl/lchWR

And here are the basic highlights from the powerpoint (which has very pretty pictures):

Great Lakes Maritime History – Field Course
May 31 – June 19, 2012

  • A three week historical adventure on the Great Lakes
  • Learn about literature of the sea, history of the Great Lakes, the War of 1812, and the Battle of Lake Erie
  • The Flagship Niagara is one of the largest tall ships in North America
  • Course starts and finishes in Erie, Pennsylvania

For all specific program questions, please contact: Mr. Caleb Pifer, cpifer@flagshipniagara.org814-452-2744 x223

And here is a link to the YouTube video mentioned in the PowerPoint:

Dr. Tom Chambers in History is our local co-organizer, and he recommended that I promote this program!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Experience: These would look great on your resume!

I’ve been talking about what to do if you have (or think you have) “No Experience” to put on your resume. Of course you do! Here are some upcoming Niagara University offerings you might want to consider applying yourself to.

SUMMER INTENSIVE INTERNSHIP PROGRAM: applications due Fri., Feb. 3, 2012

Niagara University will participate in a summer intensive internship program, uniting student interns from universities that are part of the Shepherd Poverty Consortium with agencies that work to benefit impoverished members of society. A primary goal of the program is to bring together students from leading universities who have a desire to address poverty. All applications are due no later than Feb. 3, 2012.

Following the opening conference which will be held at Washington and Lee University, students then learn first-hand about the multiple dimensions of poverty in the United States by working for eight weeks to strengthen impoverished communities and work alongside individuals seeking to improve their communities. The agencies, located in various urban and rural sites in the United States, focus on education, healthcare, legal services, housing, hunger, social and economic needs, and community-building efforts.  Students will work with agencies that fit their intellectual interests in order to develop their experience and skills for civic involvement and employment. The internship concludes with a closing conference to be held at the Clinton School of Public Policy at the University of Little Rock, Arkansas.

For additional information, contact Dr. Kevin Blair blairkd@niagara.edu or 716-286-8516. You can also visit the Shepherd Alliance webpage at http://www.wlu.edu/x13104.xml.

Women’s Studies Writing Contest: deadline Mon., Apr. 2, 2012

Susan B. Anthony WRITING AWARDS. Open to any Niagara University undergraduate who writes a critical paper about women’s issues. Two awards will be given: one to a first-year student, and one to a sophomore, junior, or senior.

Criteria for first-year students
  • Length:  4-15 pages
  • Paper must exhibit sensitivity to women’s issues.
  • Paper must have been written for an undergraduate course at Niagara University within the last three semesters, or be an original piece of writing.
  • Paper must exhibit high-quality research and include appropriate documentation; or must closely examine a primary text about women or women’s issues; or must critically examine a woman’s issue.
  • Paper must exhibit high-quality writing and include a clear thesis.
  • Paper must be of interest to a general audience.
Criteria for Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors
  • Length:  6-15 pages
  • A condensed version of an honors thesis chapter is acceptable.
  • Paper must exhibit sensitivity to women’s issues.
  • Paper must have been written for an undergraduate course at Niagara University within the last three semesters, or be an original piece of writing.
  • Paper must exhibit high-quality research and include appropriate documentation.
  • Paper must exhibit high-quality writing and include a clear thesis.
  • Paper must be of interest to a general audience.
Additional comments:
  • Resubmitted papers will not be accepted unless substantially revised.
  • Only one submission per student is allowed.
  • Do NOT put any identifying information on your paper.  
  • You will complete a cover sheet with identifying information.
  • Submit four paper copies (double-sided preferred) to Sharon Green, Chair of Susan B. Anthony Writing Awards, Office of Academic Support, Seton Hall, 1st floor.  
  • Submission deadline: Monday, April 2, 2012, 5:00 pm.
  • For more information, visit http://www.niagara.edu/susan-b-anthony-writing-award/, or contact Sharon Green at 716-286-8071 or sgreen@niagara.edu
  • Monetary awards will be given at the Arts & Sciences Day of Recognition on Friday, April 27, 2012.
  • Thank-you to Dr. Nancy McGlen, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, for funding these awards.

Why haven't I heard back? Email


I gotta love the article at this link. For one thing, it’s funny—in a dark kind of way. For another thing—it’s really something that made me think of myself. There are days when I’ve had 100 incoming emails. After I weed out the 50% that don’t add anything to my life (sales pitches, some legit, and others not), I may still have 50 emails that need personal attention. Some are urgent, some will be urgent if I don’t follow through quickly.... so some emails get pushed to the end of the queue.

It’s good perspective on what may be happening when you’re waiting to hear back from someone to whom you sent a resume. This information might shape your understanding of you should assume “all is lost” or not. Usually, not.

For those of us who get many, many emails, there are a lot of blogs out there, advising us how to manage the sheer volume of email, and how to keep it for turning into a bone-crushing drain on getting any real work done. There are various systems; one that’s been around for a while is GTD, “getting things done,” and “43 folders”--you can google these terms. The point is, assume the person on the receiving end is having a very busy day (week, month), and find a way to follow up gently. At this stage in your life, you may see lots of incoming emails as exciting opportunities to connect socially. Some of us, however, groan when we see lots of email.

Monday, January 23, 2012

"No Experience"--more thoughts


I wrote about the “no experience” perception you might have as you write a resume. Here’s a link with more information—essentialy questions and memory-joggers to help you think about what you have done that counts. Did you gain experience and skills doing it? did you offer a valuable contribution doing it? Then even if you didn’t get paid for it, you might consider putting it on your resume.

Two places I disagree with this writer, near the end of the article:

#1, the advice that you shouldn’t limit yourself to a one-page resume. There are times when you need more room. But pare to the bone and format carefully. Don’t let wordiness or careless formatting (typeface size, spacing, etc.) give you permission to break the rule. In other words—don’t put one page’s worth of material on two pages.

#2, the suggestion you pay someone to work with you on your resume. Yes, I agree that the investment may be worthwhile... but as a college student, you have already paid for a small army of proofreaders, second-opinion givers, and so on. Use what you’ve already paid for!

All the best — Jeanne Laurel

Friday, January 20, 2012

Organizing for the Job Search


Today’s link suggests that you create an Excel spreadsheet for your job search, and offers some ideas about how to set it up. It’s worth starting this kind of thing now to test out how you can fine-tune it to your needs.

If you’re not using Excel or a similar spreadsheet program, this is a good opportunity to learn the program. If you simply don’t have the time or expect additional computer skills to be handy, however, a word processing document can serve a similar purpose. Just don’t go about thinking of it as a linear document, that begins at one point and progresses. Rather, set up headings and be willing to jump from one category to another.

Another thought on the insights here—the writer suggests you save to your hard drive. That’s well and good—but I would strongly recommend backing up all data. You can store a document in “the cloud,” whether as a backup or as your primary access point. Here’s another link that will give you a quick overview of free cloud storage resources, and a bit of discussion about what the cloud is: http://gizmodo.com/5828035/the-best-way-to-store-stuff-in-the-cloud

The reason this kind of work is valuable: even if you think “of course I’ll remember that” (person’s name, date of contact, etc., etc.), you will invariably forget some key detail and want to retrieve it. You can look through your wallet on those squirrely slips of paper you’ve been hoarding (making your back pocket bulge, or your purse feel like a brick). Or you can pull up your spreadsheet.

Me personally—I keep documents like this for quick access anywhere on my iPod touch, synchronized through a program called Goodreader (one of the few programs I’m willing to pay for through iTunes), synchronized with my free Dropbox account. When I need to add stuff on the fly, I use a voice recorder to capture the data rather than trying to poke those teensy-tiny little virtual buttons to enter text.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

English Majors Needed

The Wall Street Journal's prognostication for the ideal job candidate in 2012 suggests that you, English majors, and others with a broad liberal arts base, will look quite good to employers. The terms that the article uses over and over are "flexibility," "adaptability," "able to quickly adapt," and "general proficiency."

That means English majors can and should market themselves as an employers best bet, for positions and industries in which knowledge and skills will change rapidly. And in what field are knowledge and skills not changing rapidly these days!?

Study Tips: Not Just for Seniors


Today’s link has a title geared to seniors--”Ten Ways to Suppress College Senioritis”--but also applies to everyone, from freshmen to the oldest fogey professor (like me). Some comments of my own:

#3, daily planner — I have learned to love Google’s calendar. Not only can I see my day (week, month) at a glance, with color coding. I can also get the calendar to send me either email or pop-up reminders as I choose (and I can set up lots of “nag” reminders). Also, when I want to know when in the past I did something, it’s right there on the calendar. Apple has an app that synchs with the calendar for Pod or Phone; I’m willing to bet Android does too!

#6, visit the career center — Good advice for seniors, but also for those in earlier years. Especially for those in earlier years, your senior year will be unbelievably crowded, and the job hunt will be breathing down the back of your neck. It’s easier to do stuff in small steps, when you feel like doing it, and spreading those steps out over time—rather than cramming a desperate rush into a too-short block of time when you’d really rather be doing something else.

#9, the buddy system — College is a great time to build up networks of Future Movers and Shakers. Find someone who will agree to schedule “study dates” or some other form of structured accountability. You can also do this sort of thing over Facebook and other social media, but I suspect it’s more compelling to have a real live person, face to face, with whom you can share a cup of coffee.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Reading Pays Off

In a Wall Street Journal article, business thinkers cite the books they've found most influential in learning skills and attitudes. You'd be surprised--it's not just the B-school textbooks and the stuff you would think business types would be reading. A number of literary works are on the list.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Help for the Beleaguered Student!

A timely post for the new semester: how to study better, not harder. Okay, I know at the beginning of the semester hope springs eternal. But simply wanting to earn better grades, and resolving to "do better," don't always get the results you want by the end of the semester.

Here are some good hacks (smart strategies, sometimes shortcuts, but just as often tried-and-true formulae) to help you follow through on your New Year's resolutions. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Martin Luther King Week: NU activities

Focusing on January 16, 2012, Niagara University will hold a series of events for students, faculty and staff, and the general public. All are welcome and encouraged to attend these important events. Please see the linked documents for more information!

Schedule for the week: http://goo.gl/GWXB2
Workshop info: http://goo.gl/HebH2

"No Experience": How to Respond

Something many traditional-age college students will have in mind as they head out to seek a first Real Job is that they have no experience. Here is a good posting on ways to remedy the issue. If you have not had a chance to get an internship, be aware that this is the gold standard for showing employers that you are motivated and capable. (And of course, get your internship supervisor at the place of business primed to give references, either within his or her company, or beyond.)

Niagara University also prides itself on service opportunities, and requires some service in exchange for various clubs, activities, and even for graduation. Find a way to shape your service activities to connect to your desired career path. When you're presented with a service moment, ask if there is something related to "X" (your desired career). In any event, keep a detailed listing of hours and responsibilities, and cultivate mentors and recommenders, at the service events in which you participate. Consider going above and beyond the requirements--our folks in the Service Learning liaison offices will be only too happy to help!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ace your interview!

Well--this article's title--"The Surefire Way To Ace Your Job Interview"--sounds a trifle easier than it turns out to be. The article (actually, an interview) has solid advice. Be forewarned, that pinnacle goal of "acing" means you have to know your own abilities thoroughly, be able to present that self-knowledge in a compelling way, and have those abilities fit in with the employer's (perceived) needs. 

I put "perceived" in parentheses because sometimes employers don't actually know what they really want until they hire it. So your job gets even more difficulty--you have to figure out what the employer thinks he or she needs, and to have a happy job fit, you have to figure out what the employer actually needs, and you have to figure out whether you have both of those to offer!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Money: Getting and Keeping

Today's post is about discipline, and how to take control of your finances. The point of getting a job, after all, is partially about having enough money for what you need (not always the same thing as what you want!) The other part of getting a job is (I hope) about having the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to the world.

I don't entirely agree with all the advice here; I've made some slightly different decisions. However, this article does subdivide the issue of "Money: How to Get It and Keep It" into manageable steps.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Interviewer: Other Side of the Desk, Part 2

Ever wonder how interviewers think when they have some great candidates to choose between? Here's some advice you can reverse engineer to your own needs--how to pick between 2 awesome candidates. 

Obviously, you'll do great on suggestion #1 (job simulation). Make sure for suggestion #2 that your references are ready to rave about you when called; and for suggestion #3 that you've shown the relevance of your accomplishments in past jobs.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Interviewer: Other Side of the Desk, Part 1

Employers worry too--here's an article you can reverse engineer to figure out how to shine in a telephone interview. These are the sorts of things an interviewer may ask by phone--so you can think through how you might answer.

Even if you're not Skyping, be aware that people on the other side of the phone can tell when you are smiling!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Getting Involved

Most colleges and universities (Niagara University included) promote extracurricular activities as a way of getting students "engaged." That is, we want you to have fun, and feel like you're part of a worthwhile community while you're here. Athletics, clubs, volunteering can all be great ways to take a break from classes, and they can form valuable parts of your professional network as you set out on your job hunt.

Even if you weren't class president, be sure to showcase your extracurriculars on your resume. Employers want to know about the skills you've gained, the leadership you've shown, and they want to know that you've got a well-rounded set of interests.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Working the Internship, Part 2

Wow--this is a rare and very useful post, by an employer on all the stuff an intern did right to get a job. Especially useful: "here's what the intern did" segments, followed by "here's how you can do it too" segments.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Working the Internship, Part 1

Have you ever not applied for an internship because the posting said that the ideal candidate will have a degree in.... history, social science, business, web design, or whatever? If so, consider this advice--that your attitude and interest are far more important than your major. 

That's not to say you can fake your way into an internship which requires (say) computer programming, or a background in neurobiology, if you have not a clue in the relevant field. 

But keep in mind that interns are--well, interns. They're only going to be with an organization for a few months, a blink of the eye in the business world. An underperforming intern (not that you would be one!) is not going to be as hard to get rid of as someone officially employed. Interns have an expiration date. Thus employers may be more willing to take a slight risk on someone who has a lot of energy, but isn't quite what they started out having in mind when they framed the ad.

You could open up a whole new field of interest for yourself. The worst that can happen is that the industry where you always thought you might like to work is not for you--and you get to chalk it up personally, and in any face-to-face interviews that come around, as "a learning experience."