Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Networking is Like Eating Your Vegetables

You know you can't live on ice cream alone (or whatever your favorite junk food might be). Sure, a little in moderation is okay, maybe even good for the soul. 

But you gotta eat those veggies if you want to be healthy. And you gotta network if you want a job. 

Here are three great websites with a mix of motivation and strategies to get out there and get networking.


  • "Decide whether it’s more important to work only within your comfort zone, or to get a new job!"
  • Bonus: why networking is important if you feel like you're sending out thousands of resumes and letters, but nothing is happening.


  • "You can be old school all you want, but the lack of use of social networking tools will leave you irrelevant and unemployed. Why not use every possible means of communication to meet new people?"
  • Bonus: link to a new website, OppsPlace: "the newest place to find more than 20,000 jobs and opportunities at companies that value diversity."


  • "Networking is crucial for career growth and is the stepping stone that can help you reach your dreams and goals." 
  • Bonus: video lesson!

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Website of your Own


According to the Forbes blog "campus to career," you should have your own website. This makes sense. After all, when you are on Facebook, or LinkedIn (Facebook for grownups), you are filling in a template of pre-existing blanks to construct a sense of who you are.

That template is designed, manipulated, owned and monetized by somebody else. You don't get to say what sorts of information is foregrounded, or how it fits together. Why not starting from scratch with a completely blank page?

Spend a little time on the learning curve of something like Google sites and Google blogger. Put together your own home page; it's free. I won't say it's "easy," but if you've managed to get a college degree, it's nothing you can't handle.

Suggestion: I've posted a number of links to the benefits of a liberal arts education--pointing out that the skills you learn in English and other majors that don't have a single-pointed career track are exactly what employers say they want. But I'm preaching to the converted. Why not link to some of these articles on your own website as you construct a site to promote your own skills?

Friday, April 26, 2013

LinkedIn has a New iOS App


LinkedIn has launched a new application for iOS users (iPhone, iPod). I downloaded to my iPod touch, and it does seem like a useful piece of software: LinkedIn Contacts, developed by LinkedIn (rather than by a third-party developer).

LinkedIn Contacts easily synchronized to my GMail contacts and my LinkedIn contacts. By toggling through the options at the bottom of the screen, I can access (a) a list of contacts, (b) "to do" (which displays recent updates from my contacts on LinkedIn, as far as I can tell from a cursory review), and (c) my calendar.

The benefits of this app, as far as I can tell from a quick once-through:

  • I no longer have to access the LinkedIn website or iOS app (each of which has slightly different interfaces);
  • I can get to my Google calendar without having to switch apps (Outlook calendar and contacts are also supported);
  • I can dial from within the app (if I have an iPhone, which I don't); 
  • I can keep up with current private messages sent through LinkedIn;
  • My Gmail and LinkedIn contacts (as well as iOS contacts, if I were an iPhone user) appear in a single location; and
  • There may be more robust or more useful filtering abilities than either the existing app or the website (I haven't tried them out extensively).

I suspect that apps for iPad and Android will be forthcoming. There may be more functions coming on this app, as it apparently has just been rolled out. In fact, the website for the new app (the second link at the top of this page) says I am "waitlisted" to try the new app, but I was able to install it from Apple's app store. It is free.

What if you don't have an iPhone? Well, the takeaway is that LinkedIn continues to expand as "Facebook for Grownups." It's worth signing up and cultivating a list of contacts and endorsements.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Interviews, Freewheeling Discussion


Interesting crowd-sourced discussion here: ace a job interview. Many questions from job-seekers; many answers from those who do the hiring or have other claims to authority. Some trolls and wisecracks, some conflicting advice. However, a rich vein of materials for vexing questions like:

  • what kinds of questions should I ask the interviewer
  • how and when to bring up salary, and what to do once it's put on the table as a subject
  • how to answer difficult questions--your greatest weakness, why do you want to work for us
  • how to steer the conversation into subjects that will benefit you
There are also some tangential discussions about resumes and job-hunting generally. 

And it isn't boring reading, nor does it come from a single person whose advice may or may not be right for your personality or the kind of job you're seeking.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

6% Chance of a Tenure-Track Job in Literature

There's a discussion heating up that may be of interest to those who want to go to graduate school, earn a Ph.D., and teach in a college. It's ugly out there. The job market stinks.

The first volley that came across my radar was an article I blogged about on April 5. Here's my post (including a link to an article titled "Thesis Hatement: Getting a literature Ph.D. will turn you into an emotional trainwreck, not a professor.")

On April 11, Aljazeera published "Academia's indentured servants: outspoken academics are rare; most tenured faculty have stayed silent about the adjunct crisis." Basically, there are few tenure-track jobs, and people who work as adjunct faculty are treated like indentured servants.

The latest in this discussion is an academic librarian, whose April 21 blog post is titled "Smart people doing foolish things." The author asks why anybody smart enough to succeed at getting a Ph.D. would stand for a lifetime of indentured servitude. 

Here is the problem in a nutshell:
  • Grad schools take in way more students than are likely to obtain a tenure-track job--fulltime employment, with some security, benefits. They do so because these grad students teach freshmen classes at a fraction of the cost of hiring anyone else.
  • These grads end their time with a Ph.D., but no tenure-track job. They truly want (and likely deserve) a tenure-track job, but for every one job there are 17 people hoping to get it. 
  • To stay in academia, the 16 "leftover" Ph.D.s agree to teach as adjuncts--parttime employment at hamburger-flipping wages, no security, no benefits. 
  • There are other career paths for Ph.D.s; but academia regards anyone who takes a non-academic job as "washed up"; chances of getting a tenure-track academic job, if you're working fulltime at something else, drops exponentially the longer you stay at that other job.

Monday, April 22, 2013

You've Got What It Takes!


Not only English majors, but liberal arts majors generally have a strong match with the skills employers say they want. These include:

  • a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems
  • ethical judgment and integrity, intercultural skills
  • the capacity for continued new learning, and the ability to contribute innovation in the workplace 
Be sure that when you talk with prospective employers, either at career fairs or interviews, and when you draft your resume, and when you network, that you promote the skills you have!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Get Ready for Final Exams

Get Ready for Finals: Studying Smarter

In this workshop, you’ll practice strategies to help you expand your study approaches. The focus will be on studying “smarter” rather than simply studying more.  This workshop will be offered twice so more students can attend:  Monday, April 22, 3:30-4:30 pm in DNL 235, and Thursday, April 25, 3:40-4:40 pm in DNL 206.

For more information, contact:

Ms. Sharon Green, Coordinator, Instructional Services
Office of Academic Support, Niagara University
Seton Hall, 1st floor, Niagara University
716-286-8071 - sgreen@niagara.edu

Feel Good About Yourself Job Advice

“'Follow your passion' is the stupidest career advice I’ve ever heard." 

Gotta love that opening line. 

Turns out that keeping an eye on the Vincentian mission is not entirely about serving others, making others happy. "[I]t’s been found that one of the most important factors in job satisfaction is how much your work affects the well-being of others." In other words, serving others serves you too.

Job Lead


Hot news--here is a job lead, posted to Reddit's Buffalo-area forum. 

Please note that I do not know anything more than is posted here. I have not checked out the job; I'm not even sure what the company is. (The address seems to be a suite of various offices.) You can probably use your ninja English major research skills to narrow down the options.

Beyond that -- use common sense in vetting this possible opening and your own skills, and good luck!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Not Even a Nibble?


"But I've sent out what feels like thousands and thousands of copies of my resume! I've perfected the cover letter I send to each application!" 

If this sounds familiar, it's time for a reality check. Just maybe, as the meme says, "You're doing it wrong." (Supply your own LOL cat picture.) For one thing, each resume and each letter should be personalized.

Here's a great article that offers strategies that might work better.

As Einstein is reputed to have said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cold Calling Give You the Chills?


"Cold calling" is a sales term. It means initiating contact by telephone with somebody who has never heard of you--in the hopes of selling something.

In reference to the job market, it means reaching out to someone who may have a job to offer you. Or, as this article wisely points out, reaching out to someone you may be able to help by solving that person's staffing problems.

You don't have to sound like a dreaded robo-caller; some good tips here for keeping your contact both warm and professional.

"Yikes, me, cold-call somebody?" Yes--you. If you stick to these guidelines (don't pester, know what you have to offer and what you want, engage the conversation as a respectful peer rather than a beggar seeking crumbs), the worst that can happen is... nothing. That is, you will not have made a negative impression; you could very well make a positive enough impression that (a) you'll be considered for a job, now or in the future; or (b) your information will passed along to another person who has a job to offer.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

LinkedIn as 2-Way Mirror


LinkedIn doesn't only connect you with people you know. It's not only a way for you to network with others who might have leads that eventually connect you with a job through a personal referral.

It also has a hidden Recruiters' Page. That is, people at companies seeking employees have access to a special portal through which they can search for potential employees. 

So if you are not yet on LinkedIn, or if your profile is simplistic and sketchy--here's a reason for you to beef up the content and get noticed. 

Emergency ICE


Heaven forfend that you should ever need this advice. But an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say.

Coming out the Boston Marathon bombings, a quick article on what to do/how to prepare for an emergency, especially when you're okay but you have no way of letting loved ones know that.

What if the obvious connections--use your cellphone, post on Facebook--are down? Some thoughtful suggestions for how to get a brief cell or internet connection, and what to do with it if you've got only a few seconds.

Another few easy steps you can take to assure safety:

  • Program a number into your cellphone contacts as ICE -- which seems to be fairly well accepted as "in case of emergency." If you're out cold, and someone checks your phone, this will be the "go-to" number for first contact with someone.
  • Put together a small ICE card with info on your medical history, go-to numbers, medications, doctor, pharmacy, blood type, medical proxy's name & contact... stuff that can literally save your life. I have mine on a business card. I've printed in small but readable type, run off on my computer to avoid handwriting issues, and "laminated" to the business card with tape. Easy to carry. Tucked into wallet. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Will an English Degree Get You a Job?


Reddit is one of my favorite forums. (More information here.) 

Recently, a thread caught my attention; it started with the question "Which degrees/certifications (in which fields) will produce the best return in terms of employment and income?" The person who initiated this discussion had dropped out of an English degree.

There is good discussion, back and forth, about the match between English and employment. Once again, it becomes pretty clear that you need to do the extra legwork to identify prospective employers and skills that will make you marketable.

In other words, to answer my own question: "No, an English degree will not get you a job." However, it can be a very solid platform upon which to build your own distinctive set of skills and abilities into a marketable package.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

"Just Showing Up" Isn't Good Enough

Alarming quotes sell books. Harvard University Press's latest contribution to the hand-wringing over the state of college today (high tuition for 4 years, lousy employment market at the end) is generating buzz which will undoubtedly do the job of selling.

How true are the claims?

I haven't read the book. It tackles the class divisions of those earning college degrees. The wealthy will stay wealthy. The poor will stay poor. College doesn't help, not matter what the American Dream Masters of Illusion (also known as Admissions Officers) tell you.

It's  more complex than that, of course. One issue the book promises to address is who promotes and sustains the college lifestyle of just showing up, rather than tackling learning, expanding one's horizons, developing extended skill-sets beyond what is offered in classrooms.

So what's the take-away? This blog is about you, the students. You're not out to reform college and university systems. 

The take-away is that you need to make the most of your college education. If you "just show up," rather than finding an internship, taking a class in computing, visiting Career Counseling, developing leadership skills through extracurricular activities, going to networking events and job fairs before you really need to.... Well, life is going to "just show up" when you get out of college. 

You get out of it what you put into it.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Practice Interview! Empty Seats!

Folks, here is a stunningly good piece of luck for you: The Career Counseling folks have empty seats at a series of practice interviews. 

This is absolutely, positively no risk. You're not applying for a real job, so you don't have to get all twisted into pretzel knots about the outcome. Plus, the employers have volunteered, showing that they're sympathetic, and perhaps interested in NU students as a talent pool for later jobs. Plus, a number of the employers have sent NU alumni, who were in precisely your shoes just a few short years ago. 

You simply cannot lose on this one! It's convenient (no travel involved), low-risk (you may find it's a good networking moment that pays off later, but if it doesn't it's no biggie), and it can only help you develop your skills! What's not to love? JUMP ON THIS OPPORTUNITY!

Here's the email from Career Counseling: 

Each semester a large pool of employers, many of them alumni, volunteer their time as Employers in Residence to meet with our students for practice interviews. Several faculty members already require practice interviews as part of their syllabi, but this semester we have more employer slots than we have students signed up

Please encourage your students to take advantage of the opportunity to meet with an employer for a “Pain-free” practice interview. To sign up, students need to contact Karen Kroetsch at (716) 286-8500, or careers@niagara.edu.

Regardless of your students’ majors, any opportunity to connect with an employer is an opportunity to build the skills and relationships that contribute to success after graduation.  The following employers are available:
  • ABF Freight
  • Alcott Group
  • Chiampou Travis Besaw & Kershner LLP
  • Cintas
  • CP Staffing
  • Fetch Logistics, Inc.
  • Freed Maxick CPAs
  • IRS
  • MassMutual Financial Group
  • National Fuel
  • Niagara University Human Resources
  • Principal Financial Group
  • Seis-Stream Global

Toot, Plink and Fiddle for Credit

Niagara University's curriculum needs music. 

Dr. Vince Rinaldo, the Music Man himself, has taken on the challenge, and will be offering a student-designed course with variable credit. That is, you may select the instrument, performance skills and particulars of the genre you wish to play: anything goes, from baroque to jazz to rock. (I don't think air guitar counts, sadly.) 

The course is worth between one and four credits, depending on student choice. Assignments will include a research paper and performance tests. You determine the goals and the level of skill you are comfortable targeting. 

Students are especially welcome to work in small groups to develop a sense of music as language--pair, trio, quartet or small band. Those taking the course are encouraged to participate in musical events across campus, including pit band, pep band, talent nights, and providing entertainment for various functions and ceremonies.

If interested, contact Vince Rinaldo about FAA 151-154 (one to four credits); vjr@niagara.edu, phone x8459, office Acad 328.

Teacher Recruitment Days

April 15-16, 2013
Buffalo-Niagara Convention Center
Details TBA

For more information, contact NU"s Career Center:

Saturday, April 6, 2013

White House Internship

White House: Council on Economic Advisors (CEA) internships

CEA Internship Opportunities

The President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) in Washington, D.C. offers full-time internships during spring and fall semesters, and during the summer. Part-time applicants who can commit to at least 30 hours a week will be considered during the spring and fall semester. Interns at the CEA are responsible for assisting the staff in researching a wide range of macroeconomic, microeconomic, and international issues, providing assistance in making charts and analyzing data. Administrative duties to support the work of the Council are also involved.

The President's Council of Economic Advisers provides the President with objective economic analysis and advice on the development and implementation of a wide range of domestic and international economic policy issues. The Council has a Chair and two Members, who are Senate-confirmed Presidential Appointees. The staff of the Council consists of Senior and Junior Economists, Analysts, Research Assistants, and a statistical and administrative staff.

Applicants for the Intern positions should be graduate students or full-time undergraduates with some economic coursework to their credit and have good writing and analytical skills. If you are interested in applying, please send your resume, a transcript, and a cover letter via email to:

Archana Snyder, Director of Finance & Administration
President's Council of Economic Advisers
Email: CEAInternships@cea.eop.gov


  • October 31 for Spring session (Jan-May)
  • March 31 for Summer (June-Aug)
  • May 31 for the Fall session (Aug-Dec)

All applicants must be:

  • A U.S. citizen (no dual citizenships)
  • At least 18 years of age
  • A full time student, enrolled in a degree-seeking program at an accredited academic institution

All internship positions at the Council of Economic Advisers are unpaid. The United States Government does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability and genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, or other non-merit factor.