Friday, October 31, 2008

No Experience? Try These Job Sites

Getting experience can be difficult, because even jobs described as "entry-level" often require several years of experience. The traditional job boards usually have very few entry-level positions. After looking at several job sites, I've found four that offer true entry-level opportunities and list internship opportunities, as well.

1. Experience

2. MonsterTRAK

3. College Recruiter

4. College Grad

Beware: Some of these sites have work-from-home/"business opportunity" scams so look for jobs that list a specific location.

Edit: I just found this article at Career Alley : Career and Job Resources for Recent College Grads
Any other suggestions?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Four Important Factors to Consider When Choosing a Career

Choosing a career involves a lot of thought and introspection. Superficial factors such as income or prestige do not provide career satisfaction in the long-term. Important factors have to do with who you are as an individual.

1. Interests : What topics do you read about in your spare time and what classes do you enjoy in school? Your career doesn't have to be your passion, but it shouldn't bore you to tears, either.

2. Natural Skills and Abilities: If you struggled through math in school and couldn't pass no matter how much you studied, you may want to consider a career that doesn't require a great deal of mathematical ability. However, most degree programs include a variety of classes that may or may not relate to your future occupation. Don't let this discourage you from pursuing the career you want.

3. Introversion vs. Extroversion: Introverts require time alone to recharge, while extroverts thrive on social interaction. Most people are close to the middle of the spectrum and will be most happy in a career that balances time alone with social interaction.

4. Goals and rewards : What do you find rewarding? Some people desire to help others directly, while others seek independence and autonomy. Everyone derives their fulfillment in different ways.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Four Things NOT to Consider When Choosing a Career

1. Prestige. Prestige is subjective and the general public's idea of what makes a prestigious career changes with time.

2. Income. A job should provide you with enough money to live on. However, over a certain amount, income should not matter. If your job provides fulfillment, you won't need to buy extra stuff to fill the void.

3. Education Requirements. If you really know what you would like to do, don't let the education requirements hold you back. You don't want to endure 50 years of regret because you wouldn't spend a few more years in school or didn't want to take a certain class. See my previous post about education length and career choice.

4. "Best" Career Lists. These lists are based on opinion and change every year. If your chosen career is on the list, great. If it's not, don't worry, it may be next year. In any case, everyone has different ideas of what makes a good career. Your list of best careers is the only one that matters.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Length of Education and Career Choice

Many occupations require several years of school after the bachelor's degree. You should not let these additional education requirements prevent you from choosing one of these occupations if the career interests you. I'll address some reasons why length of education should not be a factor in choosing a career:

1. If you are pursuing your dream career, the time spent in school will be interesting. You will have to live like a student for a few more years, but fulfillment will come from working toward a long-term goal.

2. Most doctoral programs provide stipends. If you are entering a professional program, your salary after graduation should be enough for you to pay back the loans. In most cases, a graduate degree will provide greater income potential so money should not be a concern.

3. You will save time in the long-run, because you will not have to go back to school or spend time training for a new career.

Of course you should be sensible about tuition costs and loans, but don't focus on your age and time. Three, four or even five extra years isn't that long when it means 40 more years in a great career.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Career Planning for Introverts

On every personality test I have taken, I have scored extremely high on introversion (often 100% introverted). As an introvert, social interaction requires considerable effort and drains me. This is hard for most people to understand, since about 80% of the population is extroverted. Introversion is often seen as a negative trait and we introverts are encouraged to change. However, we will always derive our energy from within and this inherent trait cannot be changed. Instead, we should look for careers in which our introverted nature is an asset.

The ideal career for an introvert will allow for some time to recharge during the workday (preferably you will have a space of your own to think and work). Interactions will be one-on-one or in small groups. Remember that all careers require interaction with coworkers and clients, but even introverts can develop good social and communication skills with practice.

Some careers for introverts to consider:
  • Actuary
  • Accountant
  • Archivist
  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • Forensic Science Technician
  • Software Engineer
  • Statistician
  • Technical Writer
Being introverted should not stop you from pursuing the career you want. If your dream career involves working around people, you may just need more rest at the end of the day than your extroverted coworkers. Even introverts can work in social occupations if the work interests and fulfills them.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Characteristics of Successful College Students

College can be an overwhelming and intimidating experience for even the best student. What characteristics do the most successful college students have? Below are some traits and skills that will help a student have a happy and successful college experience.

1. They have good time management skills

Learning to balance school, a social life, and extracurricular activities is one of the most important things a college student can learn. The sooner a student learns this skill, the better. I recommend setting a specific place and time to study for each class. Don't procrastinate, because some things cannot be completed in one night. Review your notes immediately after every class and start studying for each test several weeks in advance.

2. They are persistent
There will be some courses that make you want to change your major, if not quit college altogether. Successful college students realize this and are able to keep their long-term goals in mind. This is particularly hard if you sailed through high school with straight A's and are being academically challenged for the first time in your life. It's easy to think you are stupid and give up. The truth is that very few people can get through college without intensive studying for many of their classes. You may even have to retake a class. Don't let it get you down. You are not a failure and it happens to more people than you think. Just learn from your mistakes and try again.

3. They talk to their professors and instructors
I've always been intimidated by teachers, especially college professors. What if they ridicule my questions? What if they brush me off? Professors can be dismissive and rude (it's happened to me several times), but that shouldn't keep you from talking to them because most are very approachable and willing to help. You just have to let hurtful comments and bad attitudes roll off of your back. It probably has nothing to do with you personally, they may just be under a lot of stress. Find the professors who are approachable and talk to them. It helps to establish relationships with your professors because they can provide a good reference or write a letter of recommendation for you when you are applying to graduate school or looking for a job.

4. They are able to enjoy this stage in life, while preparing for the next
College should be a time to have exciting experiences, to mature, and to learn things about yourself. You have the freedom that you didn't have in high school, but you don't have the responsibilities that you'll have after graduation. Have fun, make friends, study abroad, take interesting classes, and enjoy being young. However, you should also start to develop a plan about what career path you'll take. Do you want to go to graduate school? Maybe you want to find an internship or get a part-time job that will relate to your future career. Keep a current resume and update it at least once a semester. Also, save all of your papers and projects so that you can look back on what you've accomplished.

5. They get involved
While getting my first bachelor's degree, I studied, studied, studied, and ruminated over my GPA. Other students were having a good time, going to parties and participating in campus organizations. I graduated with honors, but those four years are a blur because there was nothing to break the monotony of studying and going to classes. Sure, I was a member of several honor societies and volunteered occasionally, but I didn't have fun and I certainly didn't feel like a part of something.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Resume Advice for Students

Creating a resume when you have little or no work experience is challenging, but possible. The skills you've developed and knowledge you've acquired in school can be transferred to any job. Below is a list of sections that a student or recent graduate should include on a resume.

1. Relevant Coursework

You've worked hard in your classes, so why not put them on your resume? List any classes that relate to the position for which you are applying.

2. Projects and Presentations
List the major projects or presentations you have completed. Briefly describe each project and include the grade received if it was a B or above.

3. Computer Skills
This includes software such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access. If you know HTML or any other programming languages, include those as well.

4. Languages
You don't have to be extremely fluent in a language in order to list it, but you should be able to conduct basic conversation with native speakers (be honest about your level of fluency on the resume).

5. Community Involvement
If you've volunteered or done any community service, be sure to include it on your resume. Tutoring volunteer work that you can do on your own and looks impressive on a resume.

6. Honors and Awards
Honors, awards, and academic scholarships you've received should be on your resume. You should also put if you were on any honor rolls (President's List, Dean's List, etc).