Friday, March 30, 2012

Why Use Career Services?

Okay—so now you know how to contact our Career Services folks. But why should you?

According to this article from the National Association of Colleges and Employers:

  1. The more you use your college’s Career Services office, the more likely you are to get a job offer.
  2. The more you use your college’s Career Services office, the higher your starting salary—by some pretty startling increments.
  3. Your competition is using the Career Services office; more and more freshmen are starting their college years with visits to Career Services, and thus getting a jump on everyone else.
Hiring for new college graduates is expected to spike to 10.2% more in 2012 than hiring in 2012 ( Don’t be left behind!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Jobs for English Majors

There are jobs for English Majors!

This past Sunday, the Buffalo News picked up an article from, the big job-hunt company online. The focus of the article was on English majors--and the fact that there are jobs for you out there. The article profiles a handful of recent graduates, and the paths they have taken after college, after earning their English degrees.

  • Click <here> for a pdf copy clipped from the Buffalo News
  • Click <here> for a link to to see the article on its original site

Career Center Quiz

So true! This article appeared in the Albany Times Union newspaper, with 50 tips for college students—how to make the shift from college to career.

The very first piece of advice here: “Go to the Career Center on campus at least once a semester and then every month when you are a senior.” Additional references to your college career center run throughout the 50 items in this list, either directly or indirectly.


  1. Do you know where the Career Center is?
  2. Do you have it bookmarked in your internet browser?
  3. Do you have the phone number on speed-dial?
  4. Is their general email address in your contact list?
  5. When was the last time you visited Niagara University’s career center? 
Answers to quiz:

  1. Lower Level Seton Hall
  3. 716.286.8500
  5. If your answer is anything but “today,” why not contact them today to set up an appointment?

Undergrad Research Conference

The deadline for the Undergraduate Research Conference at Niagara University is coming up: Monday, April 2, 2012. The conference itself is April 20.
If you have interesting research, please consider applying to present at the conference. If nothing else, drop Dr. Barnwell a line saying that you will be submitting an application ( 

This is a terrific item to place on your resume, whether or not you are headed to graduate school. It’s an opportunity to bask in the appreciation of faculty and peers, and to show off your stuff. And it’s an opportunity to experience a professional event that will give you confidence and preparation for future opportunities.

Any undergraduate student conducting research at Niagara University.  A faculty member must sponsor the student. Projects may include all forms of scholarly endeavors; such as, experiments, correlation studies, historical papers, case histories, literary or cultural research, evaluative studies, applied research and review papers. 

There are two ways to present your material: oral presentation (12-15 minutes, followed by Q &A); or poster presentation (with individuals presenting available for discussion in the exhibit area).

For more information, see the application form here.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Deep Networking

Here are two great posts on “deep networking.” That is, you know that networking is important for your job search strategies. Most jobs are not advertised, or at least not visible on the seemingly millions of rocks you might turn over to locate positions for which to apply. Networking can get you access to opportunities, when someone you’ve met has a lightbulb go on over the head
”oh! my company needs X! I just met someone who would be perfect for X!”

The first post is specifically tailored to college students. You’re not out in the “real world” most of the time; so how do you build a network?

The second post is for when you do get to a networking event—those mob-scene cattle calls where people are milling about, putting on brave faces (yes, everyone else really is as nervous as you are), and trying not to look like a collective group of deer in the headlights about to be hit by an oncoming car. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Here are jobs, internships

I stumbled upon this website when I was checking out another link (on Brazen Life, linking to this specific job:

Wow. It’s got a great database with many jobs. Clicking on filters that show me entry level  jobs for people with a 4-year degree, I found 523 entries worldwide. And there are 5,900 internships worldwide, a little over 18% of them paid internships. Finally, there are over 10,000 volunteer opportunities.

This would be a great place for Niagara University students to look for jobs or internships. Here is the website’s mission and vision statement:

Mission and Vision
Our Vision
We would like to live in a world where:

  • All people can lead free and dignified lives.
  • Every person who wants to help another has the ability to do so.
  • No opportunities for action or collaboration are missed or wasted.
Our Mission
Idealist connects people, organizations, and resources to help build a world where all people can live free and dignified lives.

Idealist is independent of any government, political ideology, or religious creed. Our work is guided by the common desire of our members and supporters to find practical solutions to social and environmental problems, in a spirit of generosity and mutual respect. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wrong Answers to Interview Questions, Transformed

Here is a terrific set of examples about how to explain a situation that does seem to shed the best light on you. This blogger takes ten questions an interviewer might ask, for which you have a less-than-stellar answer.

“Why do you want relatively low-paying, entry-level job?” “So my parents (landlord, significant other...) will quit nagging me to get a job.”

Well—I’m sure you know better than to say that!

If you look at the “before” (bad) and “after” (much improved) answers you might give to these questions, you’ll see a pattern. That pattern is one of changed perspective. Rather than focusing on what you don’t like, what you didn’t do well—you focus on what you will do next, on what your ideal situation looks like, on where you want to go from here.

I’m not sure I agree with the tone of this article’s headline, though: “It’s not lying, it’s marketing.” The word “marketing” has increasingly become a synonym for sleazy, dishonest practices. If you really think it’s lying to say something positive, something that will sound attractive to an employer—well, maybe you need to do more soul-searching. That is, I’m sure you do want your parents (landlord, significant other...) to stop nagging. But is all you can think about really avoiding pain? What positives do you want from your life—and how can you rephrase a negative answer so that you actually can endorse what you are telling a prospective employer?

Extra bonus points: consider that attitude adjustment, and apply it to your resume and cover letter, too! 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Going the Extra Mile

Very cool link today! The story is about someone who has been unemployed. Reading between the lines, this career consultant describes a client as “an unemployed Baby Boomer.” Two things in that phrase should have been the kiss of death in the job hunt. 

  • First, the job-seeker was “unemployed.” In today’s market, that’s not uncommon; but there has been lots of chatter about how it is easier to get a job if you already have one—even though most people who have lost a job take something close to a year to find a new one. 
  • Second, the job-seeker is a “Baby Boomer.” That means my age (56) or older. Employers are skittish about hiring us old folks. When they think about how much time an employee has to retirement, they see “not much.” They see someone in whom they’ll invest time, training and other resources, only to have that person walk out the door in (from a business perspective) the blink of an eye. They see someone who will demand a higher salary, relative to a younger person.

In short, evidence on a resume, no matter how skillfully hidden or shuffled under rotating shells, is often enough to get such a person kicked out of the running without serious consideration.

Sad truths.

But this job-seeker did something different: preparation, practice, perseverance, passion... and PowerPoint presentation. She brought with her to the interview a product that gave her the background in the field and the company. In other words, doing the research to put this presentation together gave her superb familiarity with the employer and the field for which she was interviewing. And she brought in something that was not requested, something extra, something beyond vague answers. She went the extra mile.

New college graduates, of course, are not facing the stigma of being an older worker. They are seeking entry-level jobs, where salaries are more or less “set”--it’s not a “sky is the limit” situation. (Nobody knows how much us older folks want when we apply for a job; and everybody's afraid to make the first move in talking about salary.) A PowerPoint presentation may not be appropriate in all cases. 

However, there is still something to be learned here. This person got the job because she thought ahead about what the employer might want to know, and what would prove that she was a superior candidate. She demonstrated her superiority rather than talking about it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Computer Ate my Paper!

Here’s some information that might be useful now, or might be useful later — but I guarantee you will eventually need it.

If you store information on a hard drive, or even on a thumb drive (flash drive, USB stick, whatever you call it) -- you will one day find that you have lost access to all your files. Your computer will crash, you will drop your thumb drive in the toilet, or you’ll leave either of those devices in a hot car.... the list of things that can kill electronics can go on and non. You’ll be giving the 21st centuray answer to “the dog ate my paper”--the computer did it. Because everything that is on physical media will (not might—will) eventually fail.

There are services that will let you store your stuff for free. They are called “the cloud” because like clouds, they are everywhere and nowhere. Your data may be stored in Wisconsin, California and Florida for all I know. They use a “freemium” model to capitalize. That is, they offer you a relatively generous limited amount of their service, in hopes that you’ll find it useful enough to pay for when you want more.

Here is a line I have put on all my syllabi policy statements this past semester, and will continue including with updates if any:

Backing up your documents:
All storage media can fail (computer hard drives, USB sticks, and so on). I strongly suggest you store backup copies in the cloud. Here is a good, recent article comparing some free services: I personally use Dropbox, Google and, and would be happy to discuss them. 

The article I reference in that link is to a September 28, 2011 article; I haven’t seen a better one for complete beginners who need an quick overview. (Over half a year ago is a looooong time to geeks! Lots can change.)

I’ll also add that I don’t have paid accounts with any of these services, nor am I promoting one over another. I have found, however, that since I am not storing music, photos, movies or other media (just documents), I can very comfortably accommodate all my working documents in any one of these services’ free space.

PS: Is the cloud fail-safe? No, of course not. But copying materials to more than one cloud service, and making a backup at least every week, is a pretty good way to insulate yourself from the messy consequences of not backing up.

PPS: Is it safe from prying eyes? Well, I don’t store openly-written passwords in any of the documents on these sites, nor do I store bank records, stuff that somebody could swipe my identity using. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Buffalo News jobs for English majors

In case you missed the Buffalo News this Sunday, here is a link to the syndicated column from Monster College, the Monster site for college students ready to seek their first fulltime job. It presents stories of four recent graduates with tales about what skills from their English degrees helped them land jobs in union organization, public relations, temporary staffing and recruiting, and publishing.

There are jobs out there with your names on them!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Multiple Strategies

There is no single way to job hunt. And if you choose and stick to a single strategy—pepper the world with resumes, or tweet about your wish for a job, or  doing the cliched “circling jobs in the want ads” thing—you probably won’t get a job. Remember what Albert Einstein said: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Here are two articles offering tips for multiplying your strategies, possibly even suggesting a few that are outside your comfort zone.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Where to look for jobs

Yes there are jobs to be had!

No, they might not look like what you expected. Or where you expected. But they are out there, and they’re yours for the taking.
These two links to NPR can be read or downloaded as podcasts. They detail the tremendous boom in the western United States in technology fields. Much of what is described in these articles is great news for people with degrees in petroleum engineering or hardcore computer programming. But think about it—these industries will need support services. They need people to write the manuals, the newsletters, the text, to blog and tweet about the accomplishments, to travel around the country as sales reps. There’s other stuff to be done—as two of the companies mentioned in the first article suggest. Skullcandy manufactures niche earbuds, and caters to the people who ski and rock-climb when they’re not at work.
AARP? Are you kidding me—American Association of Retired Persons? Well, yeah, this publication is for the over-50 set. It describes the boom created by new technologies for extracting natural resources, in this case in North Dakota. Living here is not without drawbacks—winters worse than Buffalo’s, a housing crisis that’s got even well-off folks sleeping in their cars for several weeks after arriving in town, and fierce rush-hour traffic. So you’re not an oil-worker. But if you scroll to page three of the article, you’ll also find that schools and hospitals are hiring—and the area is showing a January 2012 unemployment rate of 3.8% (while the Buffalo-Niagara’s rate hovering around 9%).
Do you like video games, Facebook and other virtual pursuits—sometimes, like them too much? There may well be a job for you in that. Here’s a trio of posts that explain how to go about positioning yourself, even without formal coursework in programming. Given the explosion in technology (the recent release of iPad3, the prediction by the Gartner Group that we are moving to cloud computing by 2014), the number of jobs in tech fields is only going to increase.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Networking x4

Networking! Today’s links are all about how to do it, and why. Remember, Niagara University offers you an opportunity to build your skills, whether you are currently looking for a job or not, at the “Facebook to Face” event, Monday, March 19, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Vini's 405/406. (See blog post for March 2 for more information.)
How to go to an event, like  NU’s upcoming job fair, and make the best use of the resources there. This site also has some good links to other articles on networking.
Okay, you’ve gotten to the event, and you’re staring at people with glazed eyes. You walk up to one, almost at random. What do you say? Here’s a good primer on how to get the conversation flowing.
So—you’ve showed up at the event, and managed to sound reasonably intelligent. Now you’re sitting by the phone and just waiting for someone to call, out of the blue, and announce you’ve got an interview! Okay—obviously it doesn’t happen like that. Here’s a good overview on when to push, and how not to sound like you’re a psychotic stalker.
How to “do lunch” as a networking opportunity, and what the unspoken rules are. Take your networking to the next level, beyond the cattle calls where everybody shows up and interacts at a frantic pace. Try one-on-one conversation. Perhaps lunch could be combined with an informational interview!

Happy networking! 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Networking Event on Campus

From Facebook to Face, Niagara University's professional networking event, has been rescheduled.
  • Monday, March 19
  • 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Vini's 405/406
  • Connect with recent successful alumni
  • Have fun mastering the art of making a good first impression
  • Plenty of food and drinks
  • Business etiquette trainer John Bourdage will host the event
  • Previews of etiquette training: 
Please contact Career Services (716-286-8500, or to sign up by Friday, March 16.

Business professional or business casual attire is appropriate. Those who have resumes should bring them. 

Previous years' attendees have reported great success. Warm up for the annual job fair, Career Expo, Weds., March 21 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Castellani Art Museum.