“Believe in yourself and there will come a day when others will have no choice but to believe with you,” Cynthia Kersey.

Seniors, spring commencement is almost here. This semester has passed by quickly. With graduation so close, many seniors are wondering what life after FSU might look like.  Hopefully the process of writing your cover letter and resume and searching for a job is underway.  However, the process of getting letters of recommendation is often overlooked. Recommendations are necessary for most job applications, as well as applications to graduate schools. Recommendations are different from a reference. A reference is generally brief, most often a call, discussing the general character of a person, while a letter of recommendation is often longer, more detailed, specific and discusses the skills and qualifications of a person for a position or program.   Because of this, getting letters of recommendation takes more time so it is good to begin early.

While gathering your letters of recommendation, remember that the person is writing to describe you professionally, so family members and friends are really not appropriate. Whoever you ask, there is a particular way to do so.  This week’s blog will cover How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation. You may feel comfortable writing your professor or anyone else an informal email to ask for a recommendation, but to secure a letter of recommendation, you should design your request to be very professional.  If you need someone to look over your letter of recommendation request before sending it, schedule a meeting with a career counselor at http://starfish.framingham.edu/

Before you Begin

In week five of this blog series, we covered networking, where tips to building your professional network were given. Before sending out a request for a letter of recommendation look over your network. Find the 3-5 individuals who you think know you well in a professional or academic setting. A letter of recommendation could come from a professor that you’ve had a few semesters in a row, an academic advisor, or your internship supervisor.  You could ask a coach, a co-member of a club or organization you belonged to, a parent of someone you babysat for or a former boss.  Anyone who could describe your professional skills and qualities is appropriate.

Request for a Recommendation

Once you have determined who you want to ask, make the request. You can do this in person, via e-mail or over the phone.  The first step is to ask whether someone is willing and able to write you a favorable recommendation in the time frame needed.  If the person says no, simply end the conversation politely and move to someone else.  If the person is willing to write a favorable recommendation, send them a written request and provide them with information that helps them with their task. You will be providing this information in a second or follow up e-mail.

Your follow up email should include a few key details: 

  1. Tell them what you are applying for, the name of the company and a little description of the position
  2. Briefly describe why and how it suits you. 
  3. Why are you qualified, what are your relevant skills, successes and work habits that make you a good candidate?
  • Remind the professor or former employer how successful you were in their class, or on the job, and what you learned from them, as they may have many students or employees that they have taught/supervised over the years, and they may not remember you in such depth.
  • Update them on your latest accomplishments and provide all the relevant context for the recommendation you are requesting.
  • Always provide them with a copy of your resume (and the job description, if possible).  
  • Let them know when you need the recommendation by and give them enough time to write it.  (At least 2 weeks)

Sample letter/email asking for a recommendation:

Dear Professor Smith,

I am currently in the process of applying for a full-time Research Assistant position in the Immunology Laboratory at Boston Children’s Hospital. I have already had a phone screen interview, as well as a Zoom interview with three lab team members. They have now asked for me to provide them with letters of recommendation.

I am emailing to ask if you would be willing to write me a letter of recommendation that will enhance my candidacy for this position?

From being in your biology class and interning with you this summer to redesign the 3rd year bio discovery course, I feel that you know my skills, work capabilities, and my work ethic. Considering that you and this program have been so instrumental in helping me grow and develop as a scientist (and person!), I feel that your recommendation would go a long way in helping me secure this position. I am hoping you could talk about my collaboration skills, my motivation for learning, and my curiosity as a scientist. 

I’ve also attached my resume. If you need more information or want to meet to talk about anything else, I am happy to share any additional information. I don’t have a deadline for the letters, but they’ve asked for the letters of recommendation to be submitted as soon as possible, within two weeks. If you are agreeable to writing this letter for me, could you please address it to:

Principal Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Boston Children’s Hospital

300 Longwood Avenue

Boston, MA 02115

Please email this letter directly to: Jane Doe at: jdoe@enders.tch.harvard.edu

Thank you in advance for your time and for your consideration. I know the things I have learned from you and the biology program will be extremely helpful in my future career. Your support is most appreciated.

Sincerely,

Mary Student

Cell number

Email address

The Thank You Letter

Once you have made your requests, remember to send thank you notes or email. This note is not just a thankful and courteous gesture but will also likely ensure their future support of your success. In your thank you-letter, you can include the following: a greeting, sharing your gratitude with specific examples, additional thoughts or information, and a polite closing. An example of this could be:

Dear [insert name here],

I know it is a busy time of year, so I wanted to thank you, personally, for the letter of recommendation you agreed to provide to [organization name] by DATE.  If you have any questions or if I can provide you with any additional information to help you write this letter, please let me know.  I am very excited about the possibility of using my skills in the position of ____ and I appreciate you being a part of my job search process.

Regards,

[your name]

Tips: 

  • Keep your request formal
  • Make your requests with at least a two-week notice
  • Keep them updated in the process
    • Example: send them a follow up email if you get the job

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started,” Mark Twain.

Seniors, there are just three weeks left in this semester and four until graduation. I am going to be candid; I am freaking out. It is scary to start a new stage of life and leave this academic environment. Even if you know you are going to graduate school or heading into the workforce, this time is scary and exciting. You may be asking yourself will I pick the right career? Do I have the skills necessary to succeed? As we begin to submit job applications, the internal question of “am I good enough to land this job?” is still in our heads. But let’s listen to another voice,   the words of a lovely professor here on campus, Dr. Desmond McCarthy, who has said, in so many words, “you have worked hard to get to where you are, and any employer would be lucky to have you.” 

Knowing what I know now I would change a few things I have done. First of all, I would have visited the career services office a lot earlier. I had never imagined there would be so much preparation necessary for the job search. Meetings with career services took the stress out of the process. These meetings helped me get my job search materials ready and also my thoughts in order. Along with this, I would have found references sooner and planned ahead for recommendation sooner. At this time of the semester when final papers, assignments, and exams are looming over everyone’s head it is hard to stay on track of contacting references. I would have applied for an internship earlier and prepared my resume and cover letter ahead of time. Regardless of how late I started this process, I value my internship at career services. 

Years from now, when all is said and done you want to look back and know you did everything you could to land the job you dreamed of having. Whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior schedule an appointment with career services and start preparing yourself for the job search ahead. Take a breath. If it doesn’t work out, you can’t say you didn’t try. Sometimes you may, “come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. but mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?” (Seuss 1990). Your entire future lies ahead of you, you have so much to gain, don’t limit yourself on account of fear or lack of preparation. Work hard and know you’ve earned your place in the workforce.

Reflect

As we have arrived at the end of this Couch to Career: Top Tips series I want you to take a few minutes to reflect on where you are in your job search. Whether you are a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior look back at this past year or semester and analyze where you were before starting your job search journey and where you are now. What have you accomplished? What steps have you taken to prepare yourself for life after graduation? What do you still need to do to prepare? What steps will you take to do that? After reflecting schedule a meeting with a career counselor and see what steps need to be taken and can be taken before the semester ends. 

Tips and Takeaways:

  • Start early
  • Meet with a career counselor 
  • Pace yourself
  • Take a breath, you will figure this out. 

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” Albert Einstein

By Genesis Muñiz

Seniors, there are five weeks left in this semester. Soon you’ll start final papers and examinations, which often causes a slew of anxiety for every student. The fact that this is your final semester might be the only thing getting you through finals, but what if it isn’t your final semester? What if you were to go to graduate school? At one point or another you may have asked yourself or at least considered graduate school. Depending on your career, you may need to attend graduate school. You may even decide to attend grad school to make yourself more marketable to employers. However, take a breath, graduate school may not be right for everyone. It can interrupt your work schedule, take a lot of your time, and is also very expensive. So, whether or not to apply now must take a lot of consideration. 

Before you Begin

Whether or not you decide to go to graduate school now is up to you but before making that decision and applying, here are some things you may want to consider: (ITG 2020).

  • Is graduate school necessary for your career/personal goals?  
  • Should you go to grad school immediately after receiving your bachelor’s degree, or should you consider working in your field for a period of time before applying?
  • Do you know what you are hoping to accomplish through graduate work? Do you want to master a particular specialty, or acquire a job that requires advanced study?
  • How do you feel about studying?  Do you feel ready to continue your studies in a more intense and specialized manner for eight or more hours a day?
  • Can you afford more schooling?  Keep in mind that graduate school in the short term is not an income-producing venture, and financial aid for graduate students is limited.
  • Are you going to graduate school as a last resort because you can’t find a job in your field? Are you afraid to tackle the employment market, or do you not know what else to do?

As stated before, graduate school is expensive. Before applying you should look over where you stand financially. Start saving money and clear up any debt or credit card balances, if possible. If you plan to work while studying, you should also look over the class schedule and see if your classes would be at night or during the day. Make sure your employer can be flexible with your hours. 

The Application Process 

If you have decided to apply to graduate school, you should begin obtaining letters of recommendation. These recommendations may be from people who have worked with you in an academic, professional, or community servicesetting. You should start asking professors and supervisors for recommendations as soon as possible. When asking for recommendations its always helpful to explain to the person what your goals are. This will help the recommendation be more applicable. The next step is the standardized test. Based on your program of choice you may have to take the GRE, the MAT, or the LSAT. Studying for these exams is necessary and should begin as soon as possible. Your program of choice might require a portfolio. This is a collection of written, visual, or auditory work that some schools require. Be sure to look over your portfolio and ask your professors to review it as well. 

Standardized Test Prep Resources: (ITG 2020).

  • GRE: www.gre.org
  • Free downloads, free POWERPREP software, FAQ’s, description of the test 
  • MAT, (Miller Analogies Test): www.milleranalogies.com
  • Test registration informationfree practice test
  • LSAT: www.lsac.org
  • Online registration, free sample test, information on choosing a law school
  • GMAT: www.gmac.com/
  • Test overview, sample questions, mini-test
  • MCAT: www.aamc.org/students/mcat/
  • Online registration, FAQ’s, writing sample prompts, information about financing a medical

Portfolio Prep Resources: (ITG 2020).

The major components of the application process include the following:

1.         Researching and selecting graduate programs

  • Establish the type if program you are looking for and search for programs based on that as well as geographic location and your needs. Visiting the campus may help you decide whether or not a school is right for you. 

2.         Taking the appropriate standardized graduate admissions test(s)

  • Take the time to study for whatever standardized test you are taking. Try and take the test months before the application deadline so you have time to retake it, if needed. 

3.         Forwarding the test scores to your school(s) of interest

4.         Obtaining letters of recommendation from faculty members and employers

  • Before acquiring the recommendations you need check the graduate school requirements as they might have a recommendation form to be filled out by those writing your recommendations. Make sure your recommenders are aware of the recommendation submissions deadlines. 

5.         Obtaining transcripts from all of your undergraduate schools of record

6.         Drafting, rewriting, and polishing a compelling statement of purpose

  • Schools sometimes use this statement of purpose in place of an interview. They want to know your motivations behind applying to their program. What you can bring to the table, and what do you plan to do with your future degree? “A career counselor can help you choose a topic for your personal essay and critique your draft,” (ITG 2020). 

7.         Assembling a portfolio of written, visual or audio work (if applicable to your program)

8.         Completing the application form or applying online

9.         Sending your materials to your target schools via a guaranteed carrier

10.       Verifying that all of the above have been received by your program

The Personal Statement

Your personal statement is your introduction to the grad school you are applying to. It shows who you are, why you want this specific school and why you would be a good fit. Before writing your personal statement be sure to look over the requirements stipulated by the school you are applying to. Follow instructions, if it says your personal statement should be two pages single spaced, do it. Then proof, proof, proof your statement before submitting it. CSER can help. 

Tips:

  • Don’t jump into the decision.
  • Know why you’re applying to grad school.
  • Think about all the factors time, need, money. 
  • Start your grad school application as early as possible.
  • Check deadlines for scholarship/funding applications.
  • Get some first-hand grad school advice – from other students, grad school alumni, admissions staff and advisors.
  • Perfect your personal statement.
  • Many grad schools require a resume which may be longer than a standard resume. 
  • Learn from any rejections; if your application is unsuccessful, take the opportunity to learn from this – especially if you intend to re-apply.

This blog cannot cover all the steps involved with applying to graduate school, but career counselors at the CSER office can help you with these steps. Schedule an appointment with a career counselor today http://starfish.framingham.edu/.

“The minute you decide to do what you love to do, you have made a life plan for yourself and a career choice.” Hudda Kattan

By Genesis Muñiz

Seniors, your time here at FSU is near its end. There are only seven weeks left in this semester and 8 weeks until we get to graduate, how exciting! Your four years have led to this moment and in this week’s blog we will provide tips on how to succeed in your job search as your career as an undergraduate student comes to an end. We have already discussed resumes, cover letters, elevator pitch, introductory statements, informational interviewing, and networking and so we will embark on the process of the job search. 

If you are planning to work post-graduation, as many of us are, now is the time you should start applying to jobs. Since many students are graduating at this time job postings are being filled quickly. The sooner you apply to a recent job posting the more likely you are to get an interview. However, before you start applying you need to find the career path that is right for you. To know this, you must know your VIPS. 

Before you Begin

Your VIPS are your valuesinterests, personality and skills. Your values are what’s important to you beyond your job like: pay, prestige, helping others, being creative or challenged, and acquiring knowledge/experience. Your interests are what you like to do whether it be hobbies, causes, activities, or how you can do your job in different areas. Your personality is who you are. Some questions to consider: Can you handle change/do you need stability? Are you an individual or team member? And how strict are you when it comes to following the rules? Finally, your skills are what you can do. What are you good and not so good at? What hard and soft skills do you have? Take some time and analyze your own VIPS. 

Tools for Assessing your VIPS 

Focus 2http://www.focus2career.com/ is an online assessment is a self-guided career and education planning system that is designed to help you figure out your career goals through a series of exercises and questions. 

Knackapp also uses games to identify your talents, strengths, and which career paths may be right for you.

MassCIS, https://masscis.intocareers.org/default.aspx, also has information that can help you understand the career path that you may be inclined to follow. Now that you know yourself better and the career path you may want to explore, use MassCIS to learn about the industry you are looking into. 

Use https://www.onetonline.org. This resource will provide you with the skills necessary and general job descriptions, training, and salaries for the career you are interested in. 

The Job Search -Searching for Positions-

There are many ways that you can begin your job search such as:

  • Research Jobs and Apply Online 
  • Attend Career Fairs and Career Events (virtually and in-person)
    • These are, for now, virtual spaces where you can begin to network and even connect with employers looking to hire students. April 21, 2021 Career Services will be hosting a virtual Career and Internship Fair from 2:00-4:00pm. Be sure to register on Handshake. https://framingham.joinhandshake.com/.
  • Network 
    • Keep building your personal network. You never know which connections could be useful in helping you land the job you’re searching for. 
  • Informational Interviews
    • Interview those in your personal network for advice on the job search.
  • Join a Professional Organization
    • If you are a psychology major join Psi Chi, and if you are a chemistry major you should join the Mass Chemical Society of America.
  • Find a Mentor and/or Participate in a Mentorship Program

Conduct a quick job search. Take time and read through the job descriptions to see which positions would work for you. Once you find the positions you are interested in use the skills discussed in weeks one and two of this blog series and tailor both your resume and cover letter to each job posting and submit them. If you are having trouble writing your resume or cover letter schedule an appointment with a career counselor at http://starfish.framingham.edu/. You should also continue practicing your elevator pitch as you will begin attending interviews, in person or virtually. 

It is likely you won’t find the job of your dreams in your initial search. The position may already be filled but do not fret. This can be a frustrating process. Avoid pitfalls like procrastination, giving up, or all or nothing thinking to stay on track. If you’re feeling stressed about this process talk to someone you trust and share how you’re feeling. A listening ear may be just what you need, and maybe they’ll provide you with some insight you had not previously considered. Stay socially involved, understand rejection is normal, and realize you are not alone. So many are in this job search process, and you will make it through; just be patient. 

Tips:

  • Know your career goals and skills
  • Don’t procrastinate
  • Meet with a Career Counselor 
  • Customize your resume and cover letters
  • Use your network
  • Join a professional organization
  • Attend career fairs and career events
  • Practice and schedule informational interviews
  • Be patient and persistent!

“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” Abraham Lincoln

By Genesis Muñiz

In your years at FSU, you might have learned little to no information on networking. Beginning my internship with Career Services I wondered why it was so important since some people have said it seems to be unnecessary or ingenuine. However, I now know networking is essential. It is probably the most important skill that will be used throughout your life in lots of different situations, it can also be the most scary. Networking is, “when you build relationships with other professionals both in your career field and in other related fields,” (Indeed 2021). It allows you to cultivate relationships that are beneficial to both you and those you are networking with. It is like social media. The plan is to foster friendships because you never know if that friend might help put in a good word for you for a job. 

Some common places to build your professional network that may now be online,  are: “networking events, college alumni clubs, sport groups or teams of professionals, conferences, a current job, social events, and online social media sites that are geared towards professionals,” (Indeed 2021). Two networking events that Career Services will be hosting are the April 7 Employer Showcase, and the April 21 Virtual Career and Internship Fair. These are great environments where you will be able to build your network, you can also register for both of them on handshake. 

Before you Begin

Here is a quick exercise to help you define your personal network. You may think you do not have any connections, but I assure you, you do. Take some time to think and write down everyone in your current network. This may include Framingham State faculty, advisors, and students, present or former employers, parents, stepparents, siblings, doctors, lawyers, landscapers, neighbors, or even your parent’s insurance agent. Taking this further create an excel sheet with your networking contacts along with names, numbers, emails and notes on how they might be able to provide you any advice. 

You may be wondering why network? What’s the point? Networking not only helps you uncover the job market that is often not online, but it also helps prospective employers. When you are applying for a job, the employer may find it easier to interview and eventually hire someone who comes with a referral, as it creates an implied trust between the employer and prospective employee. Whether you know which career you are going to pursue or not, networking can work for anyone. If you have no idea what you plan to do networking helps you learn more about the jobs ahead. If you know exactly what you want to do after graduation the right connection could help you land the job of your dreams. Networking also helps you develop your job search techniques and, “if you can network, you can ace every interview you ever have,” (ITG 3). 

Networking

Look back at your personal network contacts from the previous exercise. How can these individuals help you? What do they do? Who do they know that can help you? Almost everyone on your list may be willing to give you advice or at least knows someone who can do the same. It is important you ask for advice and not for help or a job. Asking for help places a person in a place of responsibility and on the defense because it might take up their time. This might dissuade them from helping. However asking for advice places them in a position of knowledge that they may be willing to share. Be sure to create an account on LinkedIn, the professional networking website. There you can cultivate your current connections, create more, and connect with employers. 

If you are worried about introducing yourself while networking refer back to your elevator pitch. This is the perfect moment to use it as you will be providing each person the information they need to know about you. Whether you are networking in person or online be sure to smile, carry a confident posture, and make eye contact. You want to deliver your thirty-second elevator pitch in a confident manner so be sure to practice beforehand as practice precedes success. 

Informational Interviewing – One Part of Networking

One part of networking is the informational interview. The goal of the which is to learn what your contacts really do in their current careers. It is not an interrogation but rather a conversation you will have between yourself and various individuals in your personal network. Before conversing with those in your network think about what you want to know, write this down. They may be questions like what do you do? What was your major in college? How did your major help you land the job you have? What is a typical day at your job? What is a potential starting salary for this job or career? And more. Whatever your questions are, be sure you know what you are going to ask. Keep each question open ended as that will help provide more information while also keeping the conversation going. 

Then you want to reach out to your contacts, start with your “safe” contacts such as friends and family and then move on to others on your contact list. Clarify you are a student at Framingham state exploring different careers and would like to speak to them for 20-30 minutes about theirs. Once conversing with them keep the conversation flowing and listen to their answers, they have information that is vital to you. Start with the questions you have written and then ask questions as they come to mind. At the very end of your conversation, remember to ask if there is anyone they can recommend that you can talk to about your professional journey.  After the interview be sure to write down what you learned from whom, as you may need to ask them for more information later on. Very importantly email them a thank you note to express your gratitude for the information provided, their time, and a desire to keep connected. 

When reaching out for an informational interview here is what your email could look like:

To: jane.doe@organization.com

Subject: Framingham State University Student Seeking Career Advice 

Dear Mrs. Doe

My name is John Smith, and I am a Senior at Framingham State university majoring in _____. I was given your name and contact information by ________ and am seeking your career advice. 

I am interested in learning more about the _______ industry and would appreciate a few moments of your time. Some of my immediate questions include:

-What advice would you give someone interested in this field?

-What was your major and how did it help you in attaining this career?

-What is the market outlook for this industry?

We can continue to communicate via email or can arrange a time to speak for 15-20 minutes at your convenience. I can be reached at jsmith@student.framingham.edu or 555-555-5555. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

John Smith

Tips:

  • Study and develop your contacts
  • Join LinkedIn
  • Listen, listen, listen
  • Practice your elevator pitch!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for advice 
  • Stay in touch with your contacts
  • Always thank your contacts

If you want to learn more about networking be sure to schedule an appointment with a career counselor at http://starfish.framingham.edu/

https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/professional-networking

“The progress of tomorrow is the preparation today.” Lailah Gifty Akita

There are eight weeks left in this final semester. That information may be a cause for complete and utter joy while also causing a bit of fear because the end of our undergraduate collegiate days implies the beginning of a new era. Whether you decide to go to graduate school or get a job straight out of college this week’s topic is one which all of us, at one point or another, will experience: the dreaded interview. It may seem so daunting to sit in front of a prospective employer, virtually or in person, and talk about yourself. Will I say the wrong thing? Or what if the information I provide is not what the employer wants to hear? However, to ensure success in the interview portion of your job search you must do your homework and be prepared. 

The interview with a potential employer is one of the most important stages in the job search process. This is where you will make your first face-to-face impression with this employer. It is important you are confident and convey how youwill be an asset to their company. If you’re having trouble developing confidence in your interview skills remember to be prepared and that you know your experiences better than anyone else. These employers want to get to know you so do not overthink or stress about your responses. Answer each question honestly, tailoring the information to your fit into the position/company you are applying to. 

Before you Begin

The first thing you need to do when preparing for an interview is research. Research the company you are applying to and the position you are applying for. What is their mission statement, and values? What are the requirements for the position you are applying for? This is important as employers expect their applicants to be prepared for the interview. Three key interview components are: why you? why them? And why now?

Before explaining what these three components are you should complete a quick exercise: The S-T-A-R method approach. The S-T-A-R method takes a skill from the job description and turns it into a behavior-based interview question you may be asked and gives you the structure to answer it effectively.  

An example of this is: (CSER 27).

Interview Question Topic Create examples that address the job description  S= Situation  T= Task  A= Action  R= Result
 Examples: Leadership A time when you went above and beyond the call of duty Addressing a difficult customer or team member  Set up briefly the stage/context of the situation Common pitfall:Talking too long about the situation What did you decide to do? What literally did you do?   Common pitfall:Be sure to report what you did specifically (not the organization or team) What was the result of your actions? Common pitfall: Forgetting to report the result
 Tell me about a time when you showed leadership? I am extremely interested in working for an NFL team. In exploring this interest, I realized that students did not have a way to connect with others who were interested in working in sports.  A time when I showed leadership was when I decided to start a new club on campus to address this need. It was called the Future NLF Shining Stars Club I wrote a new student club constitution, completed required paperwork for a new student group, and led marketing efforts for recruitment and group officers. This included social media campaigns and outreach tables in our student union.  The group I founded is now recognized as a student organization on campus with more than fifteen students joining the club initially. More than twenty-five have expressed interest for the new year, where we have company visits and panel discussions planned. 

Now look at the description of the job you are applying for and look at some of the skills required for that position. You can also head to page 24 of CSER’s Career Search Guide to see how to tailor your stories to some of the common interview questions provided https://www.framingham.edu/Assets/uploads/the-fsu-difference/career-services/_documents/Career Guide Spring 2021 Accessible Updated 3-10-21.pdf

Make yourself a chart and prepare a few S-T-A-R method approaches using a few behavior-based interview questions. This will help you in your preparation for your interview. 

Preparing for your Interview

Now let’s look at the three key interview components to an interview: why you? why them? And why now?

Why you

This is where you will show the employer what you have to offer them, your skills, talents, and interests related to the organization. You also should make a mental note of your accomplishments and goals you want to achieve. This is also where you will use the information prepared in the S-T-A-R method exercise. You want your employer to know you are prepared for the position you are applying for. 

Why them? 

You should know at least three reasons why you would like to work for this company, and how to express these reasons with concrete examples. They could include:

  1. The company’s mission or values
  2. The company’s products or services
  3. The company’s reputation

Examples:

  1. I read your company’s mission and vision. After finding out more information about your company from social media, I can clearly see how my goals align with the purposes of the company. There’s nothing I love more than when I am working with other engaged individuals towards a common goal, and that’s what excited me about working here. My research has led me to four fundamental ways that my goals align with yours, and here they are: …………………………………

Explanation: This example calls out the alignment in values clearly and directly. By saying the exact ways that the candidate’s mission matches the company’s mission, the hiring manager will recognize that this person did their homework and is excellent for further developing and upholding the values of the organization.

  • I have used your software for many years and am consistently impressed with the innovation and developments made in the space. I also appreciate your dedication to education, providing your customers with free demos to learn how to use your products effectively. I would love to be a part of this innovative team and use my skills to continue the groundbreaking work you are doing here.

Explanation:  The candidate directly refers to the quality of the company’s products here, which is flattering for the hiring manager to hear. As a user of the products, this candidate demonstrates that they are already knowledgeable about what the company does, and how much they want to be a part of the team.

  • I’ve seen your company consistently listed as one of the top places to work. I’ve read employee testimonials and heard of your enthusiasm for encouraging employee growth through education, training, and vast resources. I already know that engaged employees produce better work, and that is evident in the most recent campaign you created. I would love to join your innovative team, continue to create great work, and grow within the company by learning new skills.

Explanation: Speaking to the reputation of the company is something that the hiring manager will love, as they are working hard to make their company a better place to work and getting recognized for their efforts is something, they would like to hear. It’s important to take it a step further than just speaking to what’s in it for the candidate. This response is excellent at then highlighting what the employee can bring – through experience and innovation – and continue to develop.

Why Now?

This is where you will show your fit with the company as well as why it suits your current career path. You want to provide enough information so this employer can connect why this current position fits into your long-range career plans. 

If you are having trouble preparing for your interview be sure to schedule a mock interview with Career Services at http://starfish.framingham.edu/

In preparation for your interview, whether it be virtual or in person, you want to dress professionally. Here is a link that provides information on how to dress for different types of interviews: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-to-dress-for-an-interview-2061163

If the interview is virtual be sure to: *test your camera and sound before the interview, *choose the time wisely so there is no background noise, * make sure your background is clean, *look at the camera and not the screen, and *be aware of your body language (Radbil 2020). 

During the Interview

During your interview you might be asked why this employer should hire you? Recap and highlight your fit with the position and skills you bring. When asked if there anything else about you that you would like to share? Take this opportunity to highlight something unique or share something you did not get a chance to emphasize.

Toward the end of your interview, you might be asked if there are any questions you have for the employer about the position. Always have 3-4 thoughtful questions to ask the interviewer at the end. Do not ask questions about pay and benefits. Prepare more than the 3-4 questions because some of your intended questions may be answered by the interviewer during the course of the interview. Some examples of these questions are: how would you describe the department’s culture? What is your management style? Or, what are the characteristics of successful interns or employees in this role? 

At the end of your interview remember to ask the interviewer(s) for their business card, what the next steps in the hiring process will be and reiterate that you are very interested in the position. 

Lastly, prepare a tailored, well-written thank you email/note within 24 hours of your interview. Reiterate what you bring to the position. Here is a link from Indeed that provides more information on how to write a thank you email after an interview https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/interviewing/sample-thank-you-letter-after-interview

Tips:

  • Be yourself 
  • Be authentic, and answer questions truthfully 
  • Practice your interview answers but do not memorize them
  • Arrive 10-15 minutes early 
  • Stay calm and confident 
  • Take out your clothes the night before your interview

This blog post cannot not cover all the information needed about successful interviews. Schedule an appointment with a career counselor to learn more, and even schedule a mock interview appointment!

This link also provides simulated interview questions that may come up in your interview: http://myinterviewsimulator.com/

“You know that the beginning is the most important part of any work,” Plato.

As graduation draws nearer many soon to be FSU graduates will be contemplating life after college. Whether it’s getting a job, going to graduate school or taking some time to explore what you want to do next, you need to be able to give a concise, informative and engaging summary of who you are and what you want to do to a variety of people you may meet. This week’s blog post will cover your Elevator Pitch. In a job interview you may be asked the question “so, tell me a little bit about yourself?” More importantly, this question can come up in other obvious, and sometimes not so obvious networking or connection building situations. People may ask you–What are you doing after graduation? What’s your background? How can I help you today? In that moment students often draw a blank, feeling worried because they do not know what to say. Rather than stress and worry you’ll say the wrong thing here is your solution: Prepare and Practice your Elevator Pitch.

Imagine you are in an elevator and the hiring manager of the business/job of your dreams walks into that elevator with you. You have less than a minute to convince them you are an ideal candidate for a specific position. This is where you want to say your elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is your personal thirty second “informercial” convincing that person you are someone they want to get to know better in terms of a job opportunity. In general, you will summarize your education, experience and accomplishments. You will also relate them to the position and company you are applying for. This is a quick advertisement of yourself and your personal “brand” that will get your prospective employer excited about you. 

This introduction to who you are, and your goals will be of use in a variety of instances including Framingham State’s Virtual Employer Showcase being held on April 7th from 1:30-2:30 p.m. on Zoom and Virtual Career and Internship Fair which will be held on April 21st from 2:00-4:00 p.m. on Handshake. These two events will be great networking opportunities. You will be able to connect with over thirty different employers actively looking for full-time, part-time employees and interns.  You can explore how different people ended up in their current careers. What were their career paths? What advice do they have for you to get started on yours?

Writing your Elevator Pitch

Your elevator pitch can include your “degree (your major, the type of degree, anticipated graduation date), experience(relevant, volunteer, paid, on campus or off), and goals (type of position you are seeking and why)”.  The “why” can provide the chance for you to show your particular fit with this company or it can demonstrate something unique about you that someone would want to learn more about at another time. Depending on the nature of the conversation, interview, or networking situation, you may choose to phrase your pitch differently, but the outline will remain the same: degree + experience + job goal = your elevator pitch

It looks something like this: (Feel free to copy this onto a word document and fill it out with your information but take the time to make it yours).

  • Hello my name is _______. 
    • I am a _________ at Framingham State University studying __________ with an anticipated graduation date of _________. 
    • I have gained useful knowledge of _______ while learning ________. 
    • Along with my education, I have worked at ___________ where I gained valuable experience doing____________ and observing _________. 
    • I am particularly proud about _______. 
    • My current hope is to ______ and I have a long-term goal of _________. 

An example of a completed elevator pitch would be:

Hello, my name is Jonathan Student, and I am a senior at Framingham State University majoring in Criminology with a minor in Spanish. My ability to speak Spanish and my internship in the criminal justice system makes me a good candidate to work with a variety of populations. Recently, I interned at the Framingham Police Department where I observed criminal processes first-hand. I am currently seeking a position in either the prison system or with a law enforcement agency.

Take a few minutes to work on a generic elevator pitch. Then visit https://framingham.joinhandshake.com/ and find a random job. Take some time to look through the skills that job requires and tailor your pitch to it. This is important as you always want to remind a prospective employer how you can help them. Take time to practice your elevator pitch. You also do not want it to come across as ingenuine or rehearsed. Practicing will ease the stress of interviewing and talking about yourself and your accomplishments. 

CSER’s career counselors are here to help you develop your elevator pitch and you can practice with us. Schedule a virtual appointment with a career counselor at http://starfish.framingham.edu/.

“Opportunities are like sunrises. If you wait too long, you miss them.” William Arthur Ward

By Genesis Muñiz

Can you believe there are only eleven more weeks left in this semester? I can barely believe it either. To see these past four years come to a close can be scary but they open a new door of opportunity. Opportunities of which we are all capable of achieving. As shared last week the path to success lies in preparation. There are so many opportunities right in front of you, a new career, graduate school, or the job of your dreams. You just need to make sure you’re ready to take advantage of them. This week’s tips will be on writing the dreaded cover letter. 

Your cover letter is your first written introduction to the company you are applying to, so it is important you present yourself appropriately. Prior to becoming an intern at Career Services, I had trouble writing cover letters, my writing would always come to a screeching halt because I was afraid to talk about myself. After an appointment with one of CSER’s career counselors I was able to better understand the importance and the structure of a cover letter. Note: whatever you begin today will be a great starting point that a career counselor at the CSER office can build off of. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, make an appointment at http://starfish.framingham.edu/.

The aim of cover letters is not to reiterate what is already in your resume but rather to serve as a bridge between you and the person you hope will hire you. A good resume will show your prospective employer how a few of your skills can supply the needs of their company. The cover letter can go more into depth and provide some explanations. The better the cover letter the more closely your resume is likely to be looked at. 

Before you Begin

I want to remind you to take your time. Your cover letter will not be perfect, nor will it be completed in an hour. You may even have to write several versions based on the jobs you are applying to. Be patient with yourself and the workload in front of you. Let’s start with a quick exercise: skill set statements. This will not only help you in your cover letter writing but also will prepare you for next week’s topic: the elevator pitch. Find a specific job posting. Take some time to look through the skills that job requires and choose 3-5. Write 3-5 quick sentences that connect your experience with those necessary skills. This is important as you always want to remind your employer how you can help and be of service to them. 

If my three skills are (1) written and verbal communication, (2) teamwork and (3) social media including zoom, my statements might look something like:

  • I have gained useful knowledge of Zoom while learning remotely since March 2020. All my classes have been remote since the start of the pandemic and I have been able to keep my grades up with motivation and time management. 
  • Along with my education, I have worked at Target where I gained valuable experience working collaboratively with my coworkers. 
  • I am particularly proud of my 21-page seminar paper along with the presentations I gave to my class about the literary theory I researched. 

Take your time and work on these statements. You want to make sure they are accurately connected to the position at the company to which you are applying. You will then explain that these skills will help you contribute to the needs of the company. 

Cover Letter Writing 

I would like to reiterate that your cover letter is important because it will link the job you’re searching for to your resume. The cover letter is divided into three main sections: your introductionwhy they should hire you, and a conclusion

Your introduction will detail where you found the job, remember to specify which position you are applying for, and why that specific job or company appeals to you. Take time to research the company from the job posting their website or mission statement. Demonstrate your fit into this company by your connection to something you saw. To further this idea your next section will explain why this employer should hire you. Take some of the skills you worked on in your skill set statements and meld them into this section. This shows the employer you have the skills they are looking for and you will be useful to them. Your last section will be a conclusion. Here you want to thank the employer for their time and consideration, express interest in meeting with them, and provide contact information. 

When addressing the employer do not write, “to whom it may concern.” Do your research, look for the HR or department manager in that company and address them personally. If even after contacting Career Services, you cannot find the department manager you can write “Dear Hiring Manager.” CSER can help provide the precise way to address the cover letter and format. Your cover letter will also serve as a writing sample to your future employer. Be sure your writing is grammatically sound. Don’t be afraid to read and reread your cover letter.

Tips:

  • 3-4 Paragraphs in length
  • No longer than one page
  • You do not need to include your address
  • Include 3-5 skills the company is looking for 
  • Do not repeat what is already on your resume
  • Keep the same header in your resume and cover letter 
  • Always upload a cover letter, even if it’s not required
  • Reviewing is a vital step in this process, make sure there are no grammatical errors 

For more information and help with cover letter writing schedule a virtual appointment or phone call with a career counselor at http://starfish.framingham.edu/. CSER will be hosting two upcoming events: The Virtual Employer Showcase April7th from 1:30-2:30pm and a Career Fair on April 21st from 2:00-4:00pm. These are environments where you will be able to begin networking and make some connections with potential employers. Be sure to take advantage of the opportunities provided here at FSU. You will not regret it. 

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” Dr. Seuss

By Genesis Muñiz 

As a Senior you may be counting down the days until graduation but looming over each and every one of our heads is the job search ahead. Will I find the career I am looking for? Do I have the skills I need for my dream job? Have I done enough to get to where I want to go?  I say this not to trouble you but to point out the anxieties that, at one point or another, we all confront. As a senior myself I too face these concerns. No one can deny, the road ahead is not easy. However, much like anything new, easing those anxieties has a great fix: preparation.

Your first day of freshman year may have been just as confusing. Did I choose the right major? How tough are my classes? What class did they say this was? Oops, I’m in the wrong room (that actually happened to me an embarrassing number of times in my first two years at FSU). Moments like these we can never avoid but better preparation will make all the difference in your job search. To prepare for the first week of classes students review the syllabus, buy school supplies, required textbooks, and watch whatever introductory material has been posted by the professor. This nine-week Couch to Career blog series will be like that time of preparation before classes just for getting a job. There is no fast way around this process but we at Career Services hope to make the first steps of your job search a thousand times easier. 

Your application materials are like many of the textbooks in your courses: required. They are the way in which you will market yourself to your future employer. These necessary materials include your resume, cover letters, and reference list. This blog will cover resume writing

Career Services is having a Virtual Employer Showcase April 7th from 1:30-2:30pm and a Career Fair on April 21st from 2:00-4:00pm. These will be environments where you will be able to network with a few companies who may be looking to hire students. Here is your goal. Have a resume by that time so you can share it with employers. 

Before you Begin

You may find it difficult to compile a document describing your accomplishments along with a cover letter matching your skills to the position of your choosing. To make this a bit easier we will start with a few quick exercises. Remember to pace yourself, Rome was not built in a day and neither will your resume. These exercises can be worked on a few minutes each day. Don’t burn yourself out trying to write your resume all at once. Work steadily and efficiently and you will reach your goal. 

First, look back at your years at FSU and make a list of all your experiences. What classes relate to the job you are searching for? Have you worked or volunteered in these past four years? Have you had a part time on campus or off campus job? Write it all down. This will be the backbone of your resume, meaning everything else will build off of this information, so take your time. 

Next, you’ll want to write down the skills you’ve acquired from the experience you’ve had. Here is a link to help identify hard and soft skills: https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/guide/soft-skills-vs-hard-skills/. Hard skills are the skills your specific employer may want while soft skills are skills every employer wants. To identify skills your potential employer may be looking for, visit https://www.onetonline.org/. Look over this information and take some time to identify the hard and soft skills that you have gained and organize them under each experience. 

Accomplishment statements quickly describe what you’ve done and what the purpose or result was. Here you will be combining the first and second steps of this exercise. If I worked at the FSU library one of my accomplishment statements might read, “implemented and organized a filing system of over 1,000 books in Excel, which enabled students to locate materials more efficiently,” (CSER 11).  

Here is an example:

Experience Name What you did (your contribution)Why you did it / result
Framingham State University, Library AssistantImplemented and organized a filing system of over 1,000 books in ExcelWhich enabled students to locate materials more efficiently 
How this would look on a resume: 
Experience
Framingham State University; Framingham, MA 
Library Assistant   March 2017 – June 2018
• Implemented and organized a filing system of over 1,000 books in Excel, which enabled students to locate materials more efficiently.

You have accomplished more than you know in your years at FSU. Work on at least one or two accomplishment statements and write them down. 

Resume Writing 

A good resume will set you apart from others applying for the same job as you, so, it is important you spend time on your resume. You have worked hard for your FSU degree and you’ve gained the experience necessary to land the job you’re searching for. You just have to make sure you let your future employers know that. This resume may be the first impression you give to your future employers. Be sure to remain honest while not underestimating your accomplishments. Your resume will compile all your work-related experience on one sheet of paper and tailor your information to the job you are searching for. 

The usual format for a resume is reverse chronological order within each section. Your resume will include contact information, education, and experience. You may include awards/honors, language skills, computer skills, memberships, leadership activities, and publications. This is where you will use your accomplishment statements, you want to communicate the experience you’ve attained along with the purpose of such experience. This will allow your prospective employer to analyze how you may fit into their work environment. 

Resume Tips: 

  • Don’t use a template!
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread! 
  • Avoid using first person pronouns 
  • Your resume will be one page for now
  • Keep it brief and relevant to the job you’re applying for
  • Don’t include your high school or experiences from that time
  • Keep it visually appealing utilizing appropriate whitespace, fonts, and font size 

There is so much more to writing a resume, but this will get you started. The career counselors at Career Services can provide the help you need to write a good resume. Be sure to make an appointment at http://starfish.framingham.edu/. Stay tuned, this blog series will provide more information to help you in your job search. 

“Whatever you are, be a good one.” Abraham Lincoln

By Genesis Muñiz

Are you a senior feeling unprepared for the career search ahead? Whether you answered yes or no, our Couch to Career 9-week blog series is for you! Feeling prepared? This series can serve as a checklist to ensure you are prepared for your entry into the workforce. Feeling unprepared? This series will give you information in an easy, clear, non-overwhelming, and approachable way. 

As your final semester comes to an end, Career Services wants to ensure you have all the tools you need to succeed in finding the career of your dreams. Tune in each week beginning February 25th. You’ll learn that in all your years at FSU you have cultivated skills employers are looking for. Additionally, we hope to ease the anxieties that come with starting anew, into the world of work. 

Freshman, Sophomores, and Juniors, you’re included! This series will provide you with a head start in your job and internship search. It is never too late or too early to start your career journey.

Whether your dream career is in editing, marketing, biology, etc. or you still don’t know, we want to help you find the career you’re looking for by teaching you to network and navigate your way through the job market successfully. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “whatever you are, [whatever you choose to be,] be a good one.”