Friday, February 27, 2015


CareerRealism suggests that you document everything you do on the job, so the next time you're hitting the pavement seeking a new job you'll have the information at your fingertips. Then you have the quantifiable accomplishment you can highlight on a resume, or at a job interview: "Increased sales by 25%" or "Shaved 10 seconds off the hold queue for telephone inquiries."

But what if you haven't done stuff like this? What if your biggest accomplishment was "Wrote a bunch of papers for English classes and turned them in on time while working almost full time"? Or "Elected Secretary of the Blah-Blah honors society." After all, you're still in college, and probably working an outside job which pays bills but doesn't offer much chance for bragging rights.

Two thoughts.

First, document everything. Keep a professional journal, a log, a box of paper, or some kind of written list of things you've done that you are proud of. When it happens, write it down and date it. Include a picture, a copy of an email, the grade you earned, the number of hours you worked. Code your entries. If you are keeping an electronic file, put classes, work, honors, service learning in different colors. If you are tossing stuff into a box of paper, make a marginal note in the upper right corner of each piece of paper reminding yourself of what this page is about.

Second, every so often (preferably before a job interview or "need a resume tomorrow" moment), spend some time sifting through the file, or the box, and practice condensing and sprucing up your accomplishments in resume-speak. 

  • "Held a 3.5 average while working 30 hours per week" is better than "worked a lot, got good grades." 
  • "Streamlined minutes and record-keeping on a cloud-hosted storage web-file" sounds much stronger than "Elected Secretary." 
  • "Tutored students who subsequently improved from C- to B average" is more impressive than "Did service learning for after-school homework help."
Doing the record keeping makes you aware of the need to ask for more information about results. And having a bunch of concrete information written down when it occurred helps refresh your memory at a time when you most need it. After all--what did you accomplish four years ago? Probably a bunch of stuff, but you would have trouble pulling it together into a coherent narrative right now. 

Thanks and a tip o' the Twitter hat @AriellaCoombs

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How to Resume

EpicCV has some thoughtful tips for people developing their first resume. The first link discusses length; the second page discusses your "Work Experience" section. You'll find information on

  • What to include, and what to omit
  • Formatting tips 
  • Ways to make content appealing, readable, succinct

The abbreviation CV stands for "curriculum vitae," Latin for the facts about your life, qualifications, experience. It's basically the same as "resume"; the two terms can be used interchangeably, although CV is more frequently used in academic settings, and Resume in business settings.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Bad Career Advice

Good advice in today's link: there are old wives' tales and generally outdated or bad advice abut job-hunting and careers as a whole.

Some of the myths debunked here are useful for those just starting out to know. Other information helps you understand how to continue climbing onward and upward, not sideways or down.

Thanks and a tip o' the Twitter hat @Jenna_Goudreau!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Documentary Screening, Kent State in 1970, 3/25/15

On Wednesday March 25, Tom Grace will introduce the screening of Fire in the Heartland: Kent State, May 4th, and Student Protest in America, a documentary that details the 1970 shooting of unarmed students at Kent State University by the National Guard. Tom is one of thirteen students shot in the massacre, during which the guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others.

This event was and is directly connected to student activism. Some of the students who were shot had been protesting the U.S. bombing of Cambodia. The National Guard was quick to respond to Kent State’s campus because of the tradition of activism among the students involving civil rights and peace protests. Following the shooting, four million students across the country participated in strikes, marches, protests, and rallies to show their solidarity with the students of Kent State.

Niagara University’s newly re-constituted Black Student Union is proudly hosting this event on March 25 at 6 PM in the Gallagher Multipurpose Room. Discussion following the screening will be led by Danielle Judge and Lou Dejesus of the Buffalo Anti Racism Coalition. All are welcome and refreshments will be served. An informational flyer is attached.

Documentary Summary:

Fire in the Heartland: Kent State, May 4th, and Student Protest in America is a documentary film about a generation of young people who stood up to speak their minds against social injustice in some of our nation’s most turbulent and transformative years, the 1960s through the 1970s. On May 4th, 1970, thirteen of these young Americans were shot down by the National Guard in a shocking act of violence against unarmed students. Four, Jeffery Miller, Sandy Scheuer, Bill Shroeder and Allison Krause, were killed. Immediately afterward the largest student strikes and student protests in history swept across 3,000 campuses nationwide, punctuated ten days later by the shooting of African American students at Jackson State University. There, James Earl Green and Phillip Lafayette Gibbs were killed. This student protest in America did not arise from nowhere. It represented an active voice of protest against the terrible and continuing violence against African Americans and the perpetration of one of the most corrupt, violent and terrible wars in US history against the Vietnamese people.

The story is a personal story for those who tell it and for every viewer who lived through these times, but also for their sons and daughters, and for all Americans. This is not just the story of a violent turning point, but also of a hoped for new day for a generation and the music, art, literature, and politics that accompanied it. It is told by over 20 voices of those people at Kent who lived through a movement that began in alliance with the civil rights struggles, with silent vigils and education efforts, that grew into massive demonstrations, sit-ins, strikes, and activist protests, and that went on after the tragic events of May 4. They include men and women, activists, musicians, attorneys, teachers, historians, journalists, photographers, veterans, musicians, poets and artists. This is their story and a story of all times when human beings are faced with injustice and are asked to choose—to stand by or to stand up, to stay silent or to raise a voice, to stay safe or to put themselves at risk, sometimes at very great risk. This is a story that resonates as much today as it did in the 1960s and 1970s.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Video Thyself before the Interview!

Here's a totally giggle-inducing video:

It's a split-screen showing (a) what an interviewee says, and (b) what the prospective employer hears. 

Did you know that Niagara University's Career Services can keep you from sticking your foot deep into your mouth by offering you practice interviews? You can probably even ask them to video the interview... or you can turn on your webcam and ask for help analyzing the results.

Make sure what you say is consistent with what you want your prospective employer to hear!

Thanks and a tip o' the Twitter hat to Fast Company!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Bragging Specifically

Today, a couple of articles that seem unrelated: interviews and cover letters. Don't you write the latter to get the former?

But both need attention to a key strategy: bragging specifically.

You're looking for a job; so are a gazillion other people. And perhaps they are very similar to you. Or perhaps they are even a little better than you. The one thing that will make you stand out of the herd is the ability to quantify your successes:

  • Saved my former employer $2,000 (not "saved my employer some money")
  • Decreased volunteer turnover by 30% (not "got more volunteers to stick around")
  • Managing editor for on-campus newsletter with one issue per semester, 10 pages, 3 years running (rather than "contributed to newsletter")
Bring particulars to your interview and your letter of application to show a prospective employer what you can do for the organization where you want to work.

Thanks and a tip 'o the Twitter hat @BeyondJobs!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Social Media Horror Story

Can a tweet ruin your life?

You already know that if you're ever going to be searching for a job (which you will be, unless you are independently wealthy), you should keep your social media accounts clean.

But what constitutes "clean"? 

Today's New York Times Magazine suggests that the boundaries may be tighter than you imagined. 

Thanks and a tip o' the Twitter hat @NYTmag.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Tell Me About When You Screwed Up

Okay--you are unlikely to get the question with this exact language in an interview, unless (a) it's a really laid back office, or (b) it's the kind of place you really don't want to work. (Or perhaps both.)

But a good interviewer is going to probe for weaknesses, as well as strengths. He or she wants to know what you're made of. And it's up to you, as the interviewee, to turn a negative into a positive. And that doesn't mean shoving your mistakes under a rug.

Say you're asked about a time you handled a difficult customer--the supposition behind today's link. If you're not in customer service, you may get asked about a time when you

  • made a mistake
  • did something you weren't proud of
  • got in trouble with the boss

The answer that will WOW an interviewer includes an honest, real-life moment when you weren't at your best, and a follow-through description of what you did to make the situation right. 

Avoid these temptations: telling about a time when you

  • used the wrong paperclip (inconsequential goof)
  • did nothing and simply took the consequences (you learned nothing, did nothing to right the wrong)
  • created a horrible mess (you can think of no "up-side" to the situation)
Have one or two of these kinds of events tucked into your mental repertoire of interview questions you're prepared to answer. You will be asked.

Thanks and a tip o' the Twitter hat to Sarah Greesonbach and Simply Hired!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Contest: Norton Anthology Recitation

The Norton Anthology – the people who bring you volumes 1 through 5 of American literature in your survey course, and A through F – bring you their annual Student Recitation Contest!
  • Deadline: March 23, 2015
  • Prizes: Four prizes, $200 each—one for each option to recite a poem
Brief directions:
  • Choose one of these four poems:
William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116: “Let me not to the marriage of true minds”
Walt Whitman, “Beat! Beat! Drums!”
Phillis Wheatley, “To S.M., a Young African Painter, on Seeing His Works”
Emily Dickinson, “After great pain, a formal feeling comes”
  • Each can be found in Norton’s anthologies.
  • Submissions must be under 5 minutes long.
  • Email a video link (such as YouTube).
  • Supply:
1) Name of entrant; 2) Email address
; 3) Type of student (college or high school)
; 4) Name of school
; 5) Work recited.
  • Questions? Contact, or tweet @NortonAnthology.
Printable poster below. For updates, visit Norton on Facebook or Twitter.

What to Ask at an Informational Interview

You know you should be going on informational interviews--right? These are invitations to coffee or lunch, or even a 30-minute chat in the office of someone you admire, want to emulate, in the kind of company or organization where you eventually might want to work.

You're not asking for a job, but rather finding out how best to prepare yourself for a job. They're a great way to make yourself visible in a "low stakes" setting. That is, you are not trying to get hired immediately, but rather trying to find out what it takes to get hired. 

You're also creating a networking opportunity. The person you invite to such an interview might remember you, and call you a year down the road: "Hey, the perfect job for you just opened up where I work, please apply!" It could happen--but not likely. Rather, you let someone in your field of interest know that you're out there; you can make a connection on LinkedIn; that connection can lead to others... and voila! your name starts to get out there.

So once you've set up an informational interview--now what? You can't very well sit there like a deer in the headlights saying "Tell me stuff." Here is a list of ten questions you can ask to get the most out of your discussion, and leave a positive impression.

Thanks and a tip o' the Twitter hat @kelseyMmanning@levoleague, @YouTern

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Women & Sports, 02/11/15; free ride!

Dr. Rachel Madsen in Niagara University's College of Hospitality and Tourism is offering a free ride to any of our students interested in attending "Women and Sports  Day" tomorrow, February 11. The website for the event is here: If any Niagara University students wish to go, they should email Rachel at:

Monday, February 9, 2015

Where to get an English Graduate Degree?

So you want to get a job teaching English at a college or university. Does it matter where you get your credentials?

Yes! Yes! Yes!!!

Today's link is to a great article that puts in cold, hard words and numbers information that has been one of the best known "dirty little secrets" of academia. It matters where you do your Ph.D. The better the school from which you earn your Ph.D., the better the school that will be willing to hire you. And logically, the better your credentials, the greater the number of schools willing to consider hiring you. In a lousy job market, that's a serious consideration.

In order to figure out which are the "top tier" schools:

  • Visit
  • Toward the top right side of the page, select a school from the drop-down menu. (Bizarrely enough, "English" is filed under "social sciences"--which tells you that U.S. News is both full of beans, and highly influential.)
  • Click "go."
  • Click on the words "program rank" twice--to get the page to sort English Ph.D.-granting schools with the best ones at the top.

If you've done these steps correctly, you should see University of California Berkeley at the top of the list. You can, if you wish, further refine your area of specialization using tools on the left side of the page.

Thanks and a tip o' the Twitter hat @SyndiDunn.

Women's History Month 2015

Celebrate National Women’s History Month 2015!

The Susan B. Anthony Writing Awards and Birthday Celebration
Wednesday, February 11, from 6:00-7:30 p.m.
St. Vincent’s Hall, Room 301
Join the student winners of the contest as they present their papers, learn about the work of Susan B. Anthony and others for women’s rights, and enjoy some cake in celebration of Anthony’s birthday.

Coni Minnechi, Art Historian
“A to Z: An Historical Survey of Women Artists”
Castellani Art Museum, Main Gallery
Wednesday, March 18, from 10 a.m.-12 p.m Coni Minneci takes you on a journey through the lives of 26 women artists, both well-known and under-recognized. Minecci’s talk (with imagery for each woman’s work) gives a glimpse into the histories for each of the inspirations for her traditional still-life paintings, revealing each female artist with interesting insight and humor. This program is co-sponsored by the Castellani Art Museum.

Half the Sky Book Discussion
Thursday, March 19, from 6:00-7:30 p.m.
St. Vincent’s Hall, Room 301, Niagara University Library
RSVP: Sharon Green at
Employees and faculty members are invited to sponsor a student and join in this book discussion. For more information, contact Sharon Green at

Gamergate: Gender and Video Games
Monday, March 23, from 2:30-3:50 p.m.
Dunleavy Hall, Room 121
Speaker’s Panel includes Dr. Doug Tewksbury and Dr. Carrie Teresa (both from Communication Studies), and Dr. Yonghong Tong (Computer Science) and student gamers.

Imam Daayiee Abdullah
“Gender and Islam in America”
Thursday, March 26, from 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Dunleavy Hall, Room 127
Washington, D.C.-based Imam Daayiee Abdullah will visit campus on March 25-26, 2015 as part of women's history month. He will address a number of classrooms on these two days as well as the larger university community on March 26, from 6-7:30 p.m. at 127 Dunleavy Hall on the topic of "Gender and Islam." Abdullah trained as a lawyer and earned his Juris Doctorate degree from the David A. Clark School of Law at the University of the District of Columbia. He is a scholar in Shariah sciences and Quranic interpretation and lectures nationally and internationally on progressive Muslim concepts, intra-faith and interfaith networking, and the development of inclusive and progressive revisions of Islamic theological thought and Islamic law. He is the executive director of the MECCA Institute (Museum Education Center for Creative Academics). 
            Sponsors for Imam Abdullah’s presentation include Communication Studies, College of Arts and Sciences, Modern Languages, History, Office of International Relations, English, NUSGA (Student Government) and the Office of Multicultural and International Student Affairs.

Downloadable, printable flyer below!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Niagara U English website mentioned in Washington Post!

Woot! Woot! 

Fifth paragraph down. English classes, literature and majors are not boring. Or irrelevant. Or narrow-minded. Or employment unready. 

The link in the articles leads to number three of the the "Five Common Myths about English Majors" on our Department website. Read all five myths and our debunking of them here:

English majors rule!

Thanks and a Tip o' the Twitter Hat @valeriestrauss!