Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Rubbish or Really Good Advice?

The Target:
The Rant:

Good Sense? Or Rubbish?

I bumped into this pair of posts in the blogosphere today. The "Target" blogger lists 10 tips for finding a job... and the "Rant" tears it to shreds (at least, some of the suggestions).

The take-away? Caveat Emptor--let the buyer beware. Know what strategies are out there for job-seekers, and then apply your common sense in deciding what you will do,and what you won't. That includes stuff you read on my blog.

I will say, though, that point #1, paying someone to write your resume, gets kind of a different answer if you're a Niagara University student. Rather than paying someone to write it for you, or struggling and wondering if what you've written on your own is good, bad or indifferent--visit the Career Center for help! It's "free"... that is, you've paid for it with your tuition money. Use it to the max!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Go to Germany to Study or Work!

From NU's Study-Abroad coordinator
  • Two fully-funded scholarship opportunities currently available to students and recent graduates to work and study abroad.
  • Both summer and yearlong opportunities available.
  • December 1 deadline.
#1: The Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX), a yearlong fellowship to study and intern in Germany, is open to applicants in all career fields, though preference is given to students in vocational, technical, engineering, business, agricultural, and scientific fields. Students traditionally underrepresented in study abroad opportunities are especially encouraged to apply.

The fellowship is funded by the US and German governments through a grant provided by the US Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, under the authority of the Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961, as amended. 

The CBYX program annually provides 75 participants with two months of intensive German language training, a semester of study at German University or University of Applied Sciences, a five-month internship with a German company in the participant’s career field, housing, transatlantic airfare, health insurance, and a monthly stipend for living expenses.

Prior German language knowledge is not required, though it is preferred. Applicants should have clear career goals and some relevant work experience in their career field, which may include summer, part-time, or internship work. Participants must be between the ages of 18-24, possess a high school diploma or equivalent, and be US citizens or permanent residents.

Interested applicants can apply online at The application deadline for the 2013-2014 program is December 1, 2012. 

#2: The Baden-W├╝rttemberg STIPENDIUM for Vocationally Qualified People “Work Immersion Study Program” (WISP) is a summer fellowship program offered exclusively to college students in vocational fields and includes funding for one month of intensive German language study, a two-month internship with a German company, housing, transatlantic airfare, health insurance, and a €300 monthly stipend.

Please note that the eligibility criteria for WISP have changed. WISP is now open to students in vocational fields who have completed at least 4 semesters of study by the start of the program in June 2013. Applicants must be enrolled at a US college before and after the program and must have completed at least 1 semester of college-level German by the start of the program. Participants must be between the ages of 18-27 and be US citizens or permanent residents.

WISP is funded by the Baden-W├╝rttemberg STIPENDIUM and is administered by Cultural Vistas in cooperation with the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) and their partners. Interested applicants can find out more and apply online by visiting


The application deadline for both WISP and CBYX is December 1, 2012. For more information: Beth Uding • Program Manager, CBYX and WISP • Cultural Vistas • 440 Park Ave South, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10016 •

Filling the Dreaded "Experience Gap"

One of the big hurdles facing people fresh out of college, and hunting for a first real job, is laying claim to "experience." Experience gives a prospective employer reassurance that you won't fold into a crumpled heap (or worse, make dramatic mistakes) when you need to exercise initiative.

The link above suggests three formal venues (volunteering, education, freelance work) and one conceptual category (transferrable skills). That conceptual area is where you can find some serious pay-dirt for beefing up your "experience."

You already know about volunteer opportunities; Niagara University has a strong tradition of service. Sometimes, you're assigned work that offers few bragging rights--stuffing envelopes, painting walls, whatever. (That doesn't mean it's not worth doing!) Sometimes, you can talk your way into more challenging assignments.

You know about education; again, Niagara University has a strong record of promoting hands-on experience, research and publishing. But education is hypothetical in an employer's eyes; it exists in a controlled bubble (they call it the "ivory tower") where a professor designs all kinds of fail-safes invisible to you as a student. In a word, we make it difficult for you to fail.

Perhaps you also know about freelance work; if you don't yet, you may want to consider it immediately after graduation, as a way of getting some money as well as experience.

But what about while you are still in college? Consider this: colleges and universities are businesses. There are plenty of ways for you to get involved, as a work-study student, a volunteer at events recruiting new students (like the one I attended Saturday, with a terrific student volunteer), a student activities position (club coordinator, newspaper or yearbook editor, contributor), and so on. 

Talk with your dean, your chair, your department secretary and look for ways to contribute. Or, if you have special skills (design, internet, journalism), mention the kinds of abilities you have that you would like to substantiate. Niagara University needs to do better in the areas of publicity, internet and social media experience, and related areas--if we don't have anything immediate up our collective sleeves, we may be able to come up with contacts who will.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Stalking the Wild Job-Listings

Here's a really good "how to, and why" for finding specialized job boards. 

Technology has created Monster... the job board Monster, as well as the concept of the monster, an overly-bloated mega-board where everybody posts job openings for a gazillion things you are probably neither interested in nor qualified for. The result is that using online resources to find job openings is like looking for a dollhouse-sized needle in a gigantic haystack.

This article gives you a starting formula you can plug into Google or the search engine of your choice, and some suggestions on how to fish around until you get a satisfying set of returns. You can look for job openings through portals that are much more finely tuned.

Of course, you should also visit the Career Center at Niagara University, or network through professional organizations you belong to, or consult your alumni network, to find similarly fine-tuned ways to tackle your career search.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Target Companies, Not Jobs

Should you even be applying for "jobs"? 

The blog Lifehacker (first link) has picked up a thought from Career Sherpa's blog (second link). The idea: instead of rooting around on job boards where the pickin's are slim, consider targeting a short-list of organizations you would want to work for. Network; brush up on their business model and internal culture; position yourself to know what an ideal candidate looks for before the job is posted.

Read the comments, too. There's some interesting splashback from "Cutest_Droid_Baby," who apparently has been pestered by people who want immediate results, as in "hire me now, I'm great so let's skip the application process!" 

Obviously, networking and pestering are not the same thing, although there may be a thin line between them. Know what authority your networking contact does and doesn't have before you start soliciting specific favors.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Old-school Technology: Business Cards

It may seem like paper goods are so 20th century. But here's a link to some compelling reasons to invest in having business cards made up, and suggestions about what to put on them.

I know from my own experience that business cards are useful. When I'm online, I have difficulty knowing where to "stash" information I want to keep track of. Yes, I know there's an app for that... but then I end up with an app full of unrelated clips from here and there, and stuff gets buried pretty quickly.

A business card, on the other hand, goes right into the middle drawer of my desk, right side. But before I stash it there, I enter the info on my name-and-address spreadsheet... As this article points out, the tangible object gets handled at least once in the transition to my huge pile of "stuff I don't want to forget."

And yes, I know there are apps for scanning business cards... but it still gets handled while being scanned!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Monolith Resume is Dead

You've heard it before (or should have)--you need to customize your resume for each and every job opening. A savvy job-hunter cannot afford to present just one image to the entire world of prospective employers. Here is a trio of links that can give you an overview of what should be on your resumes (plural), and why:

An overview of how and what to tweak on your resume to customize for each job for which you apply:

Are you a "hard-working, detail-oriented team player"? DO NOT put these words anywhere on your resume, according to this article!

Why you need at least three separate resumes for your job-hunt: (1) one packed to the brim with keywords that a computer can find; (2) one for human beings; (3) one on social media like LinkedIn:

Grad School Info at NU

Graduate School Information Day, this Thursday, October 25, Multipurpose Room - Lower Level Gallagher Center, from noon to 2:00 p.m.  Representatives from approximately 15 regional graduate programs will be available to meet with students. There will also be an ongoing series of presentations by guest speakers on preparing for and navigating the admissions process, as well as financing grad school.
  • Even if you're not interested in the specific schools represented here...
  • Even if you're not sure you want to go to grad school...
  • Even if you're early in your undergraduate career...

Consider showing up to this event to find out more information! The world comes to you, and all you need to do is wander through Gallagher Center!

Download the flyer here (link is good for 60 days):

Dinner panic attack

Dinner with a prospective (or current) employer--does this phrase induce a panic attack?
  • Which fork, which spoon, which knife?
  • What do I do with all that cutlery when I'm through eating? (and what the heck is "cutlery"?)
  • What if I dribble?
  • What if they serve snail? or lobster? something I have no clue what it is?
  • Why is spinach the most dangerous food on the planet?
Attend the Niagara University "Dining for Success Etiquette Dinner" on Tuesday, October 30, in the Heritage Room (bottom of Clet Hall) from 5 to 7 p.m. for the answers to these questions and more!

This popular annual event provides students with the opportunity to learn the basics of professional etiquette in a meal setting from international etiquette consultant John Bourdage. From Mr. Bourdage's LinkedIn profile: "As owner of Bourdage Consulting, a provider of seminars and training in world class social skills, service, hospitality management and wine and food pairing, I have delivered training to universities, schools of hospitality, various businesses and associations, hotels and casinos and have written several articles on manners, etiquette and networking."

This even typically closes out, but there are still plenty of seats available.  The dinner is free but pre-registration is required. To reserve a seat, contact Career Services at 716.286.8500 or