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The “Toast” of the Town

By Jo-Ann Raines, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Director Student and Alumni Career Development

Collaboration is a tool that career services’ offices use frequently. Working with faculty, other staff departments, students, and employers is a means to promote our message and programs beyond the limits of what our own staff can achieve.  This year Career Development Services (CDS) entered into a unique partnership with a student group that has proved beneficial to both of us.

Last spring we were approached by our newly-revived student chapter of Toastmasters International.  They had an interesting proposal:  in exchange for assisting with their membership fees, the members were willing to work with us in a quasi-ambassador role to spread the good news about our programs and services.  Toastmasters is an organization whose goals closely match one of ours, which is to help our students develop their oral communication skills in an intentional manner. Employers have long said that speaking clearly with purpose and organization is a skill they desire in their employees, including interns and recent grads.  We agreed to the proposal, held training sessions on CDS programs and services for the members, and embarked on initiatives for the fall semester.

The collaboration began with Coffee and Cocoa in the Morning, where the group’s representatives offered free coffee and cocoa to arriving students, staff, and faculty on two mornings in November.  They distributed fliers marketing themselves and our office and answered quick questions.  Toastmasters’ students helped us staff our weekly CDS at the Campus Center information table where we address student inquiries and review resumes.

Three events in quick succession were particularly effective:  the president of the organization acted as a co-host for our yearly Diversity Dining Etiquette event in November.  In addition to the introductory remarks, he led the ice breaker and facilitated the employer panel, including Q and A.  On another occasion, one of the members performed the introduction for John Decker, an alumnus and NASA engineer emeritus who was visiting campus and making class visits.

The final event was a push by Toastmasters to engage students in a free offering to the student body, the Bloomberg Terminal Certification, which gave students training in trading stocks and bonds, resume exposure, interview preparation, and connections with 300,000+ users.  Although already offered through the Martin Tuchman School of Management at NJIT, student usage was not robust.  Toastmasters took on the challenge and arranged for three days sponsored by the organization where students could sign up for stations spots and begin their certification process.  Marketing materials for Toastmasters and CDS were provided and student representatives were available during the day in the Financial Analysis Lab to answer questions about themselves and CDS.  This event boosted student participation in the certification process by more than double from attendance in previous weeks and increased CDS visibility.

We meet with Toastmasters liaisons every other week during the semester and will begin to plan spring activities once the new semester has begun.  We are looking forward to more opportunities for mutual benefit with this engaged group of students.

Jo-Ann R. Raines is the Director of Student and Alumni Development in Career Development Services at New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, NJ.  She has been with the university for 28 years in progressively responsible positions in career services.  She currently manages the quality of career advisement and delivery of experiential learning programs and activities for undergraduate and graduate students. Jo-Ann has a BA from St. John’s University in Social Sciences and an MA in Higher and Adult Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. 

 

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The Power of a Network

By Ethan Selinger, Northeastern University

In today’s globalized world, it easy to connect with others, both in-person and online. The ability to create and maintain a professional network, both in-person and online, is vital to professional development and discovering job opportunities. As a career services professional, I believe it is essential that we educate our students on successfully building and utilizing a professional network.

Through my own teaching on the subject, I have found that many students still believe that searching on job boards and applying through company websites is the best method to finding a position. While utilizing a college’s job board and strategically applying online can be useful (especially for finding internships and co-ops), building a professional network can make finding a full-time job (and co-op and internship) much easier.

There are a variety of networking opportunities that are beneficial for students to take advantage of. These include:

  1. Informational Interviews- In my opinion, informational interviews are under utilized by students. I find myself encouraging students more often than not to try setting up and carrying out informational interviews with employers, students with experience in the professional world, etc. Informational interviews are an excellent tool for students to build their network while simultaneously learning more about a company, position, etc. As I tell my students, “people love to talk about themselves.”
  2. LinkedIn- LinkedIn, the professional online networking site, has a variety of available tools and functions that allow people to effectively build a network, especially for students. LinkedIn provides various capabilities that make networking easy for students. For example, searching an institution’s LinkedIn page allows students to filter alumni by their place of employment. If a student is interested in a particular company, finding potential alumni contacts provides an excellent blueprint for creating a new contact(s) in that company, and possibly setting up an informational interview/learning more about opportunities. Furthermore, recruiters do use LinkedIn to find potential candidates. LinkedIn has become a key component of my co-op prep courses, as setting up an engaging, informative profile is vital to both networking and job searching.
  3. Conferences- Being in Boston, I often encourage my students to lookout for potential conference opportunities. Being able to learn and meet potential contacts in their professional field can be vital to both professional development and networking.

These are some brief examples I use to help my students think about and build their professional networks. College members, how do you help your students develop their professional networks? Employer members, how do you encourage students to build their networks?

https://www.payscale.com/career-news/2017/04/many-jobs-found-networking

Ethan Selinger is currently a Cooperative Education (Co-op) Advisor at Northeastern University’s College of Computer and Information Science.

Making the Most Out of Winter Break

By Jo-Ann Raines, Director, Career Development Services, New Jersey Institute of Technology

After the stress of finishing projects and taking final exams, students look forward to the weeks of semester break and time to relax or travel.  Before they leave for that much-anticipated time off, we can encourage them to be creative and use the break as a strategic interval in the career development process. Some alternatives they can consider:

  • Review and revise the resume—Now that the fall semester has concluded, a review of accomplishments, new gpa, completed projects, major related courses, and extracurricular activities is in order.
  • Update social media—LinkedIn is recognized as a valuable tool for networking and the job search. Students can create a profile or update the existing one.  If students wish to include a photo, encourage them to use a shot that is professional in its setting.
  • Short internships—Taking on a short term internship is a good way to add to overall work experience and can be another source of additional networking contacts. The internship can be full time or part time, depending on the agreement between student and employer.
  • Finding a mentor—Having an experienced person as a guide in the career development process is a great advantage for emerging young professionals. The winter break can be an opportunity to review a list of previous contacts from school, community activities, and previous work experiences to identify a prospective mentor.
  • Information interviewing—After the holiday festivities have died down, students can reach out to a couple of network referrals who can shed some light on what they do and how they came to their careers.
  • Civic engagement—The holiday season offers may occasions to give back to the community. Volunteering has the triple advantage of providing assistance to those in need, adding another dimension to the resume, and supplying another means to build the professional network.
  • Social situations—This is a season for parties, dinners, meeting up with friends and family, and making new acquaintances. When appropriate, sharing short and long term career aspirations can lead to helpful information for future reference.

Students can advance their career development process while classes are not in session and they have more control over their time.  These suggestions are a few that can get them thinking and provide a boost to their career plans.

Jo-Ann Raines is the Director of Student and Alumni Career Development at  New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Federal Job Opportunities: Opt In or Opt Out?

By Jo-Ann Raines, Director, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Career Development Services

The federal government is a source of challenging and rewarding internship and career opportunities.  It has also suffered from an image problem.  Uncle Sam has been characterized as an employer with boring, predictable jobs for paper pushers.  The myth exists that you have to work in Washington, DC to be a fed.  Another bad rap is the salary structure—non competitive with the private sector. Less tangible is the premise that it wasn’t “sexy” to work for the feds, and even if you wanted to, the application process was a mystery at worst and cumbersome at best.

So should the federal government remain in our repertoire of options to suggest to students?  Indeed, yes!  Through an Innovation Grant from the Partnership for Public Service, NJIT came to a deeper appreciation of what the federal government has to offer someone in the job search process.  The jobs are first and foremost an opportunity to serve the country.  Only 15% of federal positions are located in Washington, DC.  The rest are spread across the United States and some abroad.  The jobs can be exciting and unexpected in the variety of challenges they offer.  Salaries are competitive, commensurate with level of education and experience, and the benefits are excellent.

The economic downturn that began in 2008 and lasted several years had an impact on hiring in the federal sector as it did with private industry.  Budgets were reduced and this caused frustration in applicants and advisors alike.  But there has been an uptick in hiring, especially as it relates to cyber security, and some facts remain true.  The federal government has an aging population who is taking its knowledge and experience with them into retirement.  Also there are certain functions within agencies that must be maintained, most evidently the afore-mentioned cyber security.  Under President Barack Obama, hiring practices were revamped and the Pathways Program for Students and Recent Graduates was created.  Pathways provides opportunities for federal internships for current students and provisional full time opportunities for graduates up to two years out.  Eligible participants may be considered for conversion to full time employment. For details on the Pathways Program, go to https://www.usajobs.gov/Help/working-in-government/unique-hiring-paths/students/

Jo-Ann Raines is the Director of Student and Alumni Career Development at  New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Extreme Career Fair Planning: Tips for Schools and Employers When Your City Resembles a Snow Globe on the Big Day

By Tiffany J. Franklin, Associate Director, University of Pennsylvania Career Services

After 19 years of coordinating roughly two career fairs per year, I’ve experienced a variety of weather conditions from those crisp fall days that define the season, to sweltering heat, and unrelenting rain storms. As any event planner knows, you must expect the unexpected and adapt accordingly. Rain – no problem! Provide umbrella bags, extra mats, and ensure no one slips. Heat – bring in extra water and fans. Bitter cold – order more coffee and plenty of coat racks. But snow, that’s another story. For me it inspires awe and dread.

My History with Snow

To understand my complicated relationship with snow I must share that I grew up in Atlanta, a place where we were more likely to contend with ice and I can only remember about 5 snowfalls during my whole childhood. In each case, I had about a week off from school due to weather. I still associate that first snowy morning with waiting in line at Kroger at 6am, feeling lucky to have scored a loaf of bread, eggs and milk, as if some French toast making contest had suddenly overtaken suburban Atlanta. To this day, my mom in Florida still calls to ensure I have enough food when snow is forecast. Moving up to Philly during grad school changed my perception of snow. While I still think it’s beautiful, it’s not quite as magical when you must commute in it. And then, it really became interesting this past February.

The past couple of years I’ve worked in a team of three to manage the annual Penn Startup Fair held in February. Planning any event that time of year in the northeast is always a gamble, but my heart sank when I looked at my iPhone weather app 10 days before the event and saw a snowflake for February 9th in the extended forecast. I rationalized it away, thinking of how that forecast is constantly changing, but that was one persistent snowflake that kept taunting me and never budged. I’ve been to a few fairs with light snowfall that did not disrupt anything, but this time felt different. Two days before the event the weather forecasters assured us snow was on the way and it was scheduled for right at morning rush hour.

When things don’t go according to plan

That’s when the well-oiled machine that is our typical career fair planning took a few detours. Since the event was scheduled for 11am to 3pm, my colleagues and I worked on contingency plans to anticipate possible last-minute cancellations from employers traveling in for the day and what we would do with all the food if the university closed. The morning of the startup fair, the snow began falling rapidly at 6am and that’s when the world resembled a snow globe. News of canceled flights and trains poured in my inbox. Later that hour, we learned from the University Weather line that Penn would have a delayed opening of noon. That made things especially tricky because we were not able to access our event space until first thing that morning since there had been an event the night before and employers usually started arriving at 9am. We debated whether to cancel the event, but after numerous calls and emails with my team, our leadership, a few employers, and the caterers, the fair was still on, only slightly delayed. As long as we could safely hold the event, we didn’t want students and the employers who had already traveled here to miss out on connecting.

Thankfully, we had the number of the building manager and got in around 9:30am and quickly arranged everything. By noon, the sun came out and melted a great deal of the morning snow. Despite the chaos of cancelled flights, trains, and snowy conditions, the startup fair proceeded and we had about 75% attendance from both employers and students compared to prior years, which we were grateful for given the unique circumstances.

Tips for navigating your event when weather does not cooperate

As we approach another Philly winter, I’d like to share some tips I learned from this experience for other career services staff and employers attending.

Career Centers

  • Using a Career Fair App makes a big difference. For the past two years, we have used Career Fair+ and it made it easy to send out a push notification to students and employers the morning of the fair with the latest updates and throughout the day.
  • When it looks like bad weather is coming, send preemptive messages the day before. We sent students messages via Facebook, Twitter, the Career Fair+ app, and through our website and newsletters letting everyone know about the weather forecast and that the university would be open unless the university MELT line said otherwise. For employers, we sent individual emails to the person who registered for the fair and all potential attendees.
  • This past summer we launched Handshake, so that’s another great tool for quick notifications to students and employers.
  • The day of the fair we sent a newsletter emails and app push notifications letting students know the event would proceed.
  • When bad weather is forecast, call caterers a few days before the event to explore options. We were able to reduce our food order by 20% since it was 2 days before the fair and we had a system of backup vouchers from the building food court in case the snow never materialized and we ran short.
  • Ask the contact at your venue for all the numbers of their staff and about their weather contingency plan. Our main contact was not able to make it in, but having the building manager’s number really helped.
  • See about mats and extra salt or sand for entrances to ensure the safety of everyone with ice and snow.
  • Check with UPS and FedEx to confirm if shipments are still being picked up in the weather.
  • Have the cell phone numbers of your who career fair planning team, your leadership team, and any student volunteers. Have a sense of where people are coming from geographically and which ones might not be able to make it in to the university in the case of bad weather. Have backups lined up who live closer.
  • Email yourself important contact sheets so you can access them from home if the university is closed and you need to reach out to employers with instructions.
  • For employers who can’t make it due to snow, we collected resumes on their tables.

 Employers

  • Always provide your name, email, and phone to the organizers of a fair, even if you are a last-minute substitution. Oftentimes the person filling out the fair registration will write TBD when it comes to extra reps. In the example above, we had worked hard the week before the fair to get contact info from all projected attendees. At the time, we did this to check about head counts for catering and food allergies, but it became a crucial detail the morning of the storm to let all employers know about the delayed opening.
  • Check to see if a university has a weather line with the latest closing info.
  • See if the city having the event has snow emergency routes. Philadelphia does and some of the major streets that usually allow parking do not during snow emergencies so the ploughs can clear everything. Parking in wrong place could get you towed. See if there’s a weather text notification system for that city with info and maps.
  • Make sure you have the contact info of the fair organizers. It should be on the invitation, confirmation, and every email about the fair.
  • See if the event has an app associated with it – that’s a great real-time way to learn more and usually where the latest updates are listed.

 

Fortunately, it took almost 20 years for me to experience this snow craziness. While I don’t relish the thought of another snowfall during an event, I now have a better idea about where to begin. Even if you live in warmer climates that don’t see much snow, it’s always a good idea to have contingency plans in place that focus on communication and safety for everyone. Hope your events go well and you will never have to use those contingency plans.

Tiffany Franklin joined the University of Pennsylvania Career Services team in 2014 as Associate Director and provides career and internship guidance to engineering students and alumni. Prior to coming to Penn, Tiffany served as a recruiter on the technology team of an international staffing company and submitted candidates to top companies in Silicon Valley. From 2006 to 2013, Tiffany worked at Vanderbilt University in the Center for Student and Professional Development. In that role, she coached Arts, Media and Communications students, coordinated the Vandy-in-Hollywood summer internship program and traveled throughout the country meeting with engineering alumni. Tiffany launched her career in 1998 at Drexel University, where she advised students on all aspects of their co-op and job searches. She is dedicated to helping students explore career options, craft resumes/cover letters that effectively highlight their experience and tell their professional story in a way that resonates with recruiters.  Tiffany earned her M.S.Ed. in Psychological Services from Penn’s Graduate School of Education and a B.A. in Psychology from Vanderbilt University.

Creating Mutually Beneficial Partners Between Colleges and Employers

By Ethan Selinger, Northeastern University, College of Computer and Information Science

In my brief time as a career services professional, I have worked in employer relations at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts, and currently work as a Cooperative Education (Co-op) Advisor at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. A critical component of these positions is employer relations; creating meaningful partnerships between school and employer. After all, the employer/college partnership is the lifeblood of experiential opportunities for students. It is vital that colleges create meaningful partnerships with employers to create internship, co-op, and potential full and part-time time opportunities for students; likewise, connecting with colleges can provide access to a talent pool of newly trained and eager young professionals for employers to both hire for short term (internship/co-op) or full time employment. With work so important to the experiences of students and employers, I oftentimes wonder and reflect on how people and institutions (including myself of course) can continue to improve both the quality and quantity of employer relationships.

Through my short-time as a career services professional, I have found the following practices create the best chance of a successful partnership between colleges and employers, and do my best to implement these in my work.

Research the Company
It is vital that a company’s industry, mission, and opportunities reflect the needs of students, and that the institution’s programs of study match employer needs. Researching a company before reaching out (or if a representative reaches out) is essential in creating a mutually beneficial partnership.

Understand a relationship must be mutually beneficial to both the school and employer
It sounds obvious, but working in college career services (at least in my experience), it’s possible to become so focused on creating opportunities for students and the institution that it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that employer relations is a two-way street- a mutually beneficial relationship between an institution and an employer relies on the needs of both parties being effectively met. One of the greatest aspects of being involved with EACE is the ability to work hand in hand with employer members and gain perspective.

Create a Welcoming Environment
From an initial phone call, to use of database’s, to on-campus events, it is the job of career services professionals to create a welcoming environment for employers. It shouldn’t be difficult for an employer to work with an institution; many companies and talent acquisition specialists work with large numbers of institutions. In my experience, the more difficult it is for an employer to connect with an institution, the better the chance of losing that relationship. The process should be as streamlined as effectively as possible to create talent pipelines; be mindful of recruiting cycles, user friendly technology (i.e. job boards), and time-friendly events.

Network
Studies show that networking is by far the greatest method to finding a job. I make sure to tell my students this all the time in their co-op search. Network network network! I feel the same about creating partnerships with employers. Leaving the confines of the campus is essential. Taking advantage of networking events (such as conferences) as a college representative is vital to meeting new employers. EACE offers events and opportunities throughout the year to connect employers and institutions!

Be Mindful of Employment Trends and Changes
It’s the 21st century, and industry needs constantly shift. Creating mutually beneficial partnerships relies on an institution’s ability to prepare students for the changing needs of employers. Even though career services alone (at least as far as I know) cannot change curriculums throughout an institution, it is still important to understand trends and changes. I’m trying to make it a habit to read up on trends, continually connect with my employer contacts (in and outside of EACE) and take advantage of yearly trends conferences in the Boston area to stay informed.

I want to pose these questions for thought from both college and employer members: What are your best practices for creating mutually beneficial partnerships? What are your thoughts for continued improvement?

Ethan Selinger is currently a Cooperative Education (Co-op) Advisor at Northeastern University’s College of Computer and Information Science.

Cranky Director’s Corner – A Word on Work

Let’s get philosophical for a moment, shall we? While perusing the NACE Journal’s May issue I naturally gravitated to the article on what Princeton University has done to reimagine career services. Generally visionary, the piece got me thinking about the nature of work and our relationship to it, both personally and professionally. What exactly do I mean by that? Simply this: we live and operate in a society that views work as a necessary evil, or at least an inconvenience, yet our own professional activities center on helping others acquire jobs and navigate careers. Even Princeton’s use of a three tiered framework – job, career, calling – belies this underlying sense that work must be dressed up to be made palatable. Further evidence lies in how we talk about work and our jobs: TGIF, dreading Mondays, working for the weekend, the threat of delayed retirement. Of course, there is a distinction to be made in the work in our jobs and the frictions, usually with people, that can lead us to desire a break; but there remains an underlying longing to move on to leisure. Why IS binge watching on Netflix so appealing rather than appalling?

Much of this stems from ancient Greek thinking that exalted leisure and reviled labor. Apparently Olympus was filled with gods living the life of Riley while humans had been tricked or trapped into working. Plato, Aristotle, and the rest of the thinking class perpetuated and reinforced this concept. Clearly we have inherited that thinking. And by we I mean all cultures influenced by the ancient Greeks, including those “visited” by Alexander. Follow your passion/calling/love and you will never work a day in your life, right? The subtext is clear, work is to be avoided.

We can attempt a biological explanation. Physical and mental labor burns energy and we naturally want to conserve energy for survival. We also tend to avoid discomfort, and physical work can leave us sore, stiff, or even injured. That said, some of us then go to the gym, run marathons, tackle challenging puzzles, or write poetry as leisure activities. We look forward to and will expend time and energy on something we designate leisure more readily than something we designate work. While the matter offers more complexity than this, the point remains.

By reinforcing this way of thinking embedded in our culture we perpetrate at least two harms. First, we create a hierarchy of labor which leads to a hierarchy of laborers. The poor shlub on the back of the garbage truck (job) compared to career development directors (career, hopefully calling). Second, we ignore or devalue the intrinsic value of work. You could point out we in fact value hard work and speak highly of those with a strong work ethic, but we usually apply that to work with a goal, as opposed to valuing the work itself. Work is the way to get the payoff, as opposed to being the payoff.

I challenge all of us as we tip into summer to take time to rethink our relationship to work – how we think about it, talk about it, teach about it – and bring a new, countercultural notion to the activities we expend energy on. Can we effect such radical change? Maybe, maybe not. Resistance will be high. But who is better positioned to introduce and advocate for a new way of relating to work?

The cranky director will deliver rants on the economy, technology, social engineering, lack of a really good nearby regional BBQ place (falafel solved!), and idiot politicians (broadly defined)  to your computer desktop of preferred mobile device the fourth Friday of every month.

The Millennial Journey: How to Mitigate Buyer’s Remorse in Education

By Gorick Ng, MBA Student, Harvard Business School

According to a recent Gallup poll, 51% of U.S. adults would change at least one of their education decisions (degree, institution, and/or field of study) if they had a chance to re-do their post-secondary degrees.[1] With 44 million Americans[2] each sitting on an average of $37,172 in student loans,[3] we should expect less buyer’s remorse, no?

We should. And we can.

Although a number of socioeconomic and sociocultural factors underpin the current higher ed crisis, I’d like to highlight an often overlooked element: our lack of foresight as students.

Our “conveyor belt” education system has always fed us the next step: do well in kindergarten and first grade will be waiting. Do well in middle school and high school will be there. Do well in high school and college becomes the next step.

Along the way, the default strategy is often to look to John on our left and choose the same school, look to Jenny on our right and choose the same major, and look to our parents and take a similar path. In a constant attempt to keep our heads above water in the face of midterms, homework, essays, jobs, activities, peer pressure, and family obligations we feel there’s no time to reflect on what are doing, why we’re doing these things, and how this all shapes the person we aspire to become. Since this “conveyor belt” kept moving anyways, we were largely sheltered from the consequences of our actions – and inaction.

But what happens towards the end of this “conveyor belt”?

Some students rush to their campus career centers in search of guidance, sometimes days before commencement. Others look to graduate school not as a career enhancing opportunity, but rather an extension of their runway. It is no surprise that buyer’s remorse is so prevalent in higher education.

How do we address this issue? Start from within.

Treat every new experience as a hypothesis test.

TickConsider life as a scatterplot: Speaking with someone (or not)? Taking a course (or not)? Taking care of a loved one (or not)? Getting a job (or not)? Working on a project (or not)? Doing an internship (or not)? Joining a club (or not)? Volunteering with an organization (or not)?

Each experience accumulated (or foregone) is another observation on this scatterplot – and another opportunity to introspect:

  1. What attracted me to (or repelled me from) this?
  2. What did I enjoy / find to be a chore? Why?
  3. What was I good at / not good at? Why?
  4. How much do I like / respect the people? Why?
  5. To what extent can I live a comfortable, fulfilling life doing this? Why?

Imagine our desired future selves as the invisible regression line. If we have just two dots, it can be tempting to draw a straight line and yell “Eureka! I should become a [whatever]!”

But the more dots we can collect, the better our ability is to identify the sweet spot at the intersection of what we are good at, what we are passionate about, and what pays the bills.

This model is not perfect, but with it we can better leverage what we know about ourselves at the time to make more informed decisions about what school to attend, what field of study to pursue, which degree to obtain, and what job to take out of school. Though it takes time, effort, and serious introspection, our future selves will thank us.

[1] http://www.gallup.com/poll/211529/half-adults-change-least-one-education-decision.aspx

[2] https://www.newyorkfed.org/medialibrary/interactives/householdcredit/data/xls/sl_update_2016.xlsx

[3] https://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2016/05/02/student-debt-is-about-to-set-another-record-but-the-picture-isnt-all-bad/

Gorick Ng helps Millennials more successfully transition from school to the workplace. From his work Gorick has spent thousands of hours understanding the experiences of Millennials, career counselors, and employers – and the “soft skills” and “hard skills” gaps that exist.

Gorick is pursuing his MBA Harvard Business School and is a graduate of Harvard College, where he now serves as a Resident Tutor leading pre-career advising. He was the first in his family to attend high school and college and is passionate about helping young people pursue their dreams.

More on Gorick here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gorickng

When Technology Fails

By Rachel E. Wobrak, University of Maryland

We’re very lucky these days that we have all kinds of technology to help us do our jobs better and more efficiently. Some of us are more apt to jump in and try new technology while others are a little unsure of new resources and how to use them. I think we can all agree we love technology, when it works, but when it doesn’t, that’s another story. What is supposed to make our lives easier can sometimes make them more stressful or more difficult.

Recently I found myself in a few of these situations. My graduate assistant and I have wanted to better utilize the technology we have available to us when organizing panels. She found someone who could participate virtually on the panel in addition to our in person panelists. It was great until we could see the panelist, but we couldn’t hear her and she couldn’t hear us. Eventually we just had to start the panel and my grad continued to trouble shoot until we finally decided to simply call her on the phone and put her on speaker. Other presentations/panels recently we’ve run into similar technology issues, once we forgot to select which audio to use so we had video and no audio and the next time we were diligent to make sure we figured out the audio, but the video wouldn’t work. You’d think this would be a little easier sometimes. I’ve been co-chair of the Technology committee for two years now and I still have trouble. I am not immune to these problems and I like to think I’m fairly comfortable with technology.

I say all this because when we reach these road blocks, it can be easy to say why bother and not attempt to use the technology the next time because you think it will let you down. I’m willing to admit that I’ve been frustrated in the moment and have thought about giving up and not bothering the next time. So, instead, I decided to make this the focus of my blog piece in an effort to encourage others to fight through that frustration. That’s my plan; I will be back at it with my fall programming to try to get it right, because I know it will be an invaluable tool for our students that can’t make it to the presentation/panel.

To make it easier, I have some tips for powering through frustration to get the technology to do what you want it to and to help us all do our jobs better.

  1. Form a Committee: It’s easy to give up when it feels like it’s just you vs the technology, but if it’s you and a colleague or you and a small group of people that want to learn how best to use the technology, you’re sure to motivate each other to learn how to best use the resources you have. More minds are better than one anyway, right?
  2. Google Common Problems: I know it sounds simplistic but this can sometimes be a really successful approach, especially if it’s something a number of people using the same tool have struggled with.
  3. Reach out to others: If you’re still stuck, try your IT department or manager, talk to other colleagues, or even reach out to EACE friends/colleagues to see who has experience with this same tool.
  4. Hold Training Sessions: Once the technology has been mastered (or at least it’s better understood), share the knowledge! Teach others how to use it so they feel more comfortable with the tool(s).
  5. Try, try again: Don’t let one set back keep you from figuring it out!

 

Rachel Wobrak is a Program Director at the University Career Center & The President’s Promise at the University of Maryland. She works with the College of Computer, Mathematical & Natural Sciences developing programming/events, meeting with students and collaborating with faculty, staff and employers. She assists with the office’s social media presence by managing the Center’s Pinterest account. She’s a Co-Chair of the EACE Technology Committee and soon to be on the Board as the Director of College Member Services. Rachel has her MEd from the University of Florida in Student Personnel in Higher Education and her BA from the University of Maryland in Classics (proof you can find a great career with any major). Please feel free to connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

 

Radio Ga Ga

By Lauren E. Creamer, M.S., Wentworth Institute of Technology

WIRE – “Radio That Doesn’t Suck”

When I startedWIRE Logo at Wentworth Institute of Technology two years ago I never thought I’d be producing a radio show. Actually. I never thought I’d be producing a radio show.

But here I am. Mondays at 1 PM. Riffing with some of my favorite colleagues and talking careers.

Let me back up. Wentworth has this hip, totally accessible, award-winning radio station called WIRE (Wentworth Internet Radio). WIRE only lists a handful of their awards on their website, but every year they rake in the trophies – including, most recently, Best College Radio Station in Boston by Boston A-List. The coolest part about WIRE is they let staff and faculty in on the fun.

Enter my office, CO-OPS + CAREERS.

WITworks Radio

In an effort to get our message/advice/guidance out to the student body in a new and engaging way, our fearless Director signed us up for an hour a week. I can’t recall exactly how I was roped into this, but it’s definitely got something to do with my inability to keep my thoughts to myself.

How do you even manage a radio show?

We started out haphazardly. We’d brainstorm topics at lunch before our show – things that were relevant to whatever was happening that semester/month/week.

Then we started to bring in employers. This was a turning point for us – Google and Raytheon – these are our most-listened shows! (I guess that should have been obvious). Students can tune-in live, but they can also listen on-demand through the WIRE Mixcloud page. The numbers keep climbing and so we keep scheduling. To make it easier for everyone – when an employer requests on-campus interviews, we ask them to be on the show. Since then we’ve added four new employer interviews and no one has yet to turn us down. (And, everyone who has been on has been really excited about doing the show!).

Our summer plans: develop a schedule based on the office cycle of busy and quiet points, and the co-op season. We just completed a show idea brainstorm with the staff and I hope to poll our students, too.

Getting Your Message to the People

If you have access to a radio station on your campus (and the students are willing to let you on air) – definitely consider trying this out. Don’t have a radio station? Try podcasts. Or Facebook Live. (Check out Brandeis and their Hiatt Live videos… Career Cab is my favorite).

Bottom line? Try some out-of-the-box ways of getting your message to your students. They’ll start listening and you might just have some fun, too.

To listen to our show, check out this link and search “WITworks Radio”: https://www.mixcloud.com/WentworthRadio/

Lauren is the Senior Co-op + Career Advisor at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston. She works with biomedical and electromechanical engineering, and applied mathematics majors. She has worked in higher education for five years in both career development and residential life. Lauren and three of her colleagues write and produce their career development-focused show, WITworks Radio. This is not what she had in mind regarding “other duties as assigned”, but is still jazzed about it anyway. 

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