Fear Not the CSER Office

Written by Andrew Morin

Hello, all.  I am Andrew, the new writing intern for the Career Services and Employer Relations office.

This is my whirlwind of a first impression of an office that can be seen as frightening, but ultimately isn’t.  This office offers so much to students, and I am so new to it, that this post will barely scratch the office’s surface.  And this post isn’t meant to scratch the surface, but merely look at the surface, which alone is something that many of us students find difficult.

I, a commuter, had only been at FSU for a year when I stepped into the CSER office, so, in my naiveté, the office was as anxiety provoking as any other FSU office.

There’s two things you notice upon stepping inside the peculiar CSER office.  First, foremost, and any other extreme word for being the immediate and blatant thing one notices, the staff are exceedingly nice.  Exceedingly.  Amongst the—now, this is the second thing you notice—surely hectic atmosphere of students and staff swooping in and out, the constant closing and opening of doors, the feverish typing of emails, you’ll be kindly greeted by Wendy at the front desk, who will courteously help you in any way she can.  “Have a seat, want any candy? Water? Or Tea?”

And while you may feel as though this hospitality is a show, (and believe me, I also had had my suspicions), after being in this office for over a week, I assure you, it is no show.  And if you think the comfortability stops there at the front desk, I assure you, it does not.  Wendy is just at the frontline, the harbinger, there to give you your bearing for your travels across the calm seas that are the CSER.  From Wendy to the always-helpful career counselors, to the director Dawn Ross, everyone is astoundingly amicable and accessible.  So, as far as there being any reasonable intimidation that you might feel regarding a visit to the CSER, I stress, it is not reasonable.

Once you’ve overcome any fear of entering the office, it may be appropriate to check out the wall of various flyers and handouts to get a sense of the scope of what the office offers us students.  Resumes, internships, job search tools, etc.  This is where your mind may start to become a bit unhinged, perhaps?  Fear not the CSER office, for even this worry of pure “Oh my gosh” can be gently tended to by the caring career counselors.

Just like the rest of you, I have a lot to learn about the CSER office.  I will continue this blog, posting about the CSER office and its various facets.  This being my first post, I thought it fitting to address one’s first impressions of the office, first impressions which can perhaps leave us a bit unnerved.  There are questions many of us have that can be answered, or we can at least be guided to an answer, by just stopping by the CSER and making an appointment.  I implore you to drop by and see for yourself just how helpful and not-scary the CSER office is.

“Vault Into the Career of Your Dreams”

Written by Jesse Sannicandro

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Career Services and Employer Relations is hosting a Career Conference called “Vault into the Career of Your Dreams,” on Wednesday, November 30 in the McCarthy Center Forum from 1:30 PM to 4:00 PM. There are three sessions in this conference and students are encouraged to attend all three parts, but can also attend only one or two.

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The first session will be “Unlock The Vault.” Vault is a web resource that students and alumni are able to use to help with job searching. This resource contains industry statistics, overviews and advice on how to enter an industry. There are also recommendations on what career path to pursue based on your major and personal interests. Additionally, there are guides that give advice on interviewing, networking, and resumes, among other things. At first glance, it can look difficult to navigate, so this information session teaches users how to best take advantage of it.

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The second session is called “Soft Skills Savvy.” Soft skills are transferable across careers and industries. They are abilities that all employers look for and include teamwork, interpersonal skills, and goal-orientation. They are not something that you learn in class and are often overlooked by students. There is a gap between what skills students think they have and what employers actually need, this is called the “soft skills gap.” Students think that they have all the skills they need, but there are often many that they are missing. This session will help attendees learn all about this and more.

http://www.connectionsacademy.com/blog/posts/2014-12-01/Why-Developing-Soft-Skills-during-High-School-Matters.aspx
via connectionsacademy.com

The last session will demonstrate a new library resource, Career Spots videos. Career Spots is a resource that is new to Framingham State University this semester. This valuable resource was made available thanks to a grant that the Whittemore Library received from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. It includes many videos on everything career related. Using this resource can be a good alternative to reading information for those who learn better by watching videos. Included in the videos available on Career Spots is information about interviewing and resume writing.

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I have never been to a career conference and am excited about the opportunity to attend one. This program will be useful as a way to transition from life as a student to someone searching for gainful employment in a career. Whether you have your career path set or if you have no idea at all, we at Career Services encourage all students and alumni to attend.

Rock STAR Interviews

Written by Jesse Sannicandro

Job interviews aren’t always easy. They can be nerve-wracking and you may draw a blank when asked a simple question. But they don’t have to be difficult, you just have to be prepared.

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Hopefully, this isn’t you

I recently took part in a mock interview as part of the Suitable Solutions Professionalism Program. Though I made a good impression, I drew a blank when I was asked a certain question.

“Tell me about a mistake you’ve made.”

I went silent. I hadn’t prepared an answer to this question. I immediately could think of several mistakes, but none of these would be appropriate responses in an interview. I knew that a good reply would cover certain criteria. The interviewer only asked about a mistake I made, but of course, I would have to make a positive experience out of it. It would have to show that I understand when I’m facing a problem and am able to solve it. Not only this, but that I am able to learn from the mistake. The best way to do this is mention a specific anecdote with concrete evidence by using the STAR approach.

STAR is an easy to remember acronym with four basic steps: situation, what happened; task, what the goal was; action, what I did; and result, what happened after.

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Hopefully, this is you

After several days of mulling this question over, I think I was able to come up with a good response.

Situation

“My first year at Framingham State, I was automatically dropped from Oceanography because there was an error with my account. By the time I got my PIN so I could register again, the class had filled up.”

Task

“I hadn’t paid close enough attention to my bill, I thought that everything was taken care of, but things can always go wrong. The class was a requirement for me to graduate. I had to contact the professor to see if there was any way that I would still be able to get into the class.”

Action

“I emailed the professor for the class. He said he understood and could sympathize with my situation. He told me that he would sign an override form for me so I could take the class, even though it was at maximum enrollment.”

Result

“I got into the course after I submitted the override form to the registrar’s office. I completed the class and I was able to get the necessary credits. Though I was able to fix the problem with effective communication, it was something that could have been prevented. I should have paid more attention to my student account to make sure that everything was taken care of. From this experience, I learned that it always pays to pay attention.”

The STAR approach is useful for many interview questions. You can use it whenever a question asks for a specific situation. The best response will recall a difficult situation you had to deal with. I understand the STAR approach and was able to use it to answer several other questions.

I made a mistake once in a mock interview. I couldn’t give a good answer when I was asked something quite simple. I explained that I couldn’t think of anything to say so I told him as much. I realized that this is a question that potential employers may ask, and you’ve got to be able to think on the fly if you get a question that you’re not ready for.