Make the Most of Your First Job by Karen Knight

Anne - Thumbnail
Submitted by Anne Meehan
Center for Career & Life Planning Director of Career Development

As you step into your first postgrad work experience, there are a lot of things you need to know that your textbooks didn’t teach you over the past four years. Here is what you should be gleaning from your first adventure in the world of work.

Your First Job Is Not Your Destiny

Your first job in no way predicts where you will ultimately end up. Talk to any mid-career worker, and you will be shocked where his career began. Your main task on your first job is to test your wings, learning how organizations work, how business gets done, and what makes people and organizations successful. Remember: Career (not job) changes are in your future as you learn, grow and change.

Watch Your Attitude

One of the biggest complaints about new college grads is that they often expect too much too soon and come across as thinking they know more than seasoned employees. Know that you will need to earn your stripes, as well as the trust of colleagues and supervisors, before being given more responsibility. Especially watch your attitude with support staff so as not to come across as arrogant or condescending.

Learn About the Various Kinds of Power and Influence

Observe how the staff members interact with each other and how things get done. Who really calls the shots, compared with what the organizational chart says? Who seems to have more power than might be indicated by his job title? Who is looked up to, admired and why? How are decisions made: top down, bottom up or a combination of the two?

Figure Out the Organizational Culture

Pay attention to the behaviors and results valued in your organization. Also, find out what the company stands for. Ask what the organization’s mission statement is and how it is different from the competition’s. Do you get a feeling of teamwork? What are the written and unwritten rules? What kinds of people seem successful, and why?

Know Yourself

Your first job is a chance for you to learn more about yourself, what you’re good at, what you’re not and what work you prefer and enjoy. Pay attention to others’ body language as they come in contact with you; this will help you understand how others respond to you. Observe the kinds of people who energize you and, alternatively, the types who drain you. Pay attention to the types of management styles that bring out the best in you.

Build Skills

Understand the new work paradigm is that you, not the organization, are in charge of your career. Gone are the days when the organization takes responsibility for moving you along from first job to retirement. Your task is to make a contribution to the company and develop skills you can take with you when it’s time to leave.

What are some good ways to build skills? Volunteer for interesting projects, and keep your eyes open for any professional-development opportunities both within and outside the organization. Keep a skills portfolio folder, and as you learn, develop or demonstrate a skill, write it down and stick it in that file.

Ask for Regular Feedback, and Keep a Compliments File

Even if it’s not part of the protocol, ask for a three-month and/or a six-month performance review. Stay on top of how well you are meeting expectations, and nip any problem areas in the bud. Always ask how you can improve your performance.

Put any compliments you receive, written or verbal, in a file, including any good work evaluations. You can use these comments for impact in both future cover letters and job interviews.

Read Internal Job Postings

Internal job postings can be used as a way of understanding the breadth of work done in the organization and other positions that might interest you down the road, either there or somewhere else. Pay particular attention to understanding the job requirements.

Blog from: Knight, Karen. “Make the Most of Your First Job.” Web.

Mark Cuban shares his top 5 tips for 20-somethings by Richard Feloni

Submitted by Mackenzie Thomas
Center for Career & Life Planning Marketing Assistant



After he received his bachelor’s degree from Indiana University in 1981, Mark Cuban followed some friends to Dallas.

He remembers that when he first moved into their apartment, things were so cramped that he’d come in at night after bartending and have to sleep on the couch or, if that was occupied, the floor. He kept his belongings in a heap.

Cuban didn’t have much of a technology background but landed a job selling PC software. He performed well, but his boss fired him for disobeying an order. Left with no savings but a strong clientele and an interest in the business, Cuban founded his own software distribution company, MicroSolutions. He and his business partner faced some difficulty along the way — including when a receptionist embezzled and ran away with $83,000 — but they outperformed the competition.

In 1990, when Cuban was 31, he sold MicroSolutions to H&R Block for $6 million and made about $2 million for himself after taxes. It was the first big win of his career, which would eventually see him become a billionaire investor, entrepreneur, and owner of the Dallas Mavericks.

Cuban wrote a blog post in June 2009 (also included in his book “How to Win at the Sport of Business“) meant to inspire young people trying to establish their careers in a world that had been ravaged by the Great Recession. The economy has significantly improved since then, but the lessons Cuban drew from his own experience are just as valid. We’ve summarized them below.

1. Live cheaply.

You don’t need to sleep on the floor of a gross apartment with a bunch of your buddies, but don’t let a focus on your outward appearance distract you from your financial obligations.

“It doesn’t matter where you live,” Cuban writes. “It doesn’t matter how you live. It doesn’t matter what car you drive. It doesn’t matter what kind of clothes you wear.”

When you’re starting out, prioritize building a financial cushion. Use your 20s to pay off student-loan debt, not accumulate credit-card debt. Learn how to ignore the attraction of some unnecessary luxury and instead build savings you can fall back on. You’ll thank yourself later.

“The more you stress over bills, the more difficult it is to focus on your goals,” he writes. “The cheaper you can live, the greater your options.”

2. Take chances.

You shouldn’t expect to land your dream job straight out of college, Cuban says. Be open. And if it takes you a while to find a decent job, don’t let your ego keep you from a low-skilled gig in the meantime. If you need to run a cash register or wait tables to pay your bills for a few months, that’s fine.

Once you land your first job, you may find after a few months that it’s not a good fit, Cuban says. That’s fine, too. Look for something else.

“Finding the right job is a lot like dating,” he writes. “It’s hard until you start; then when you start, it’s great until it’s not. Then it’s frustrating as hell until you get it right. But when you do, it all comes together.”

young-mark-cuban-13. Find a job you love.

Cuban says there’s an easy way to tell if you’ve found a job that can help you build a career.

“If it matters how much you get paid, you are not in a job you really love,” he writes. This doesn’t mean that you should not strive to make as much money as possible, but you need to prioritize your passion over your paycheck if you want to put yourself on a rewarding career path that allows you to thrive.

“If you love what you do so much that you are willing to continue to live like a student in order to be able to stay in the job, you have found your calling,” Cuban writes.

4. Be the best you can be.

Once you’ve found your calling, whatever it is, you should have only one goal, Cuban says: “to be the best in the world at it.”

He doesn’t mean that in a shallow, motivational-speaker way, either. He believes that the only way to become exceptional is to give your job absolutely everything you’ve got and to live in a state of constant self-improvement.

You’ll know you’re making progress not when you feel as if you’re at the top, but when demand for your services increases, whether within or outside of your company. Cuban writes that “rather than trying to convince people you are the best, let the quality of your work do the talking.”

5. Be optimistic from the moment you wake up.

“You are going to screw up,” Cuban writes. “We all do. I can’t tell you how many times I did and continue to.”

But you’re going to need to learn to let little things go and see your failures as learning experiences. You’ll experience negative emotions, but you’ll need to let them pass through you rather than cripple you.

Tell yourself that “you’re going to enjoy all the bullsh– you have to deal with as you chase your goals and dreams, because you want to remember them all,” Cuban writes. “Each and every experience will serve as motivation and provide great memories when you finally make it all happen.”

Blog from: Feloni, Richard. [Internet]. 10 April 2015. Mark Cuban shares his top 5 tips for 20-somethings. Available from:

39 Incorrectly Used Words That Can Make You Look Bad by Jeff Haden

Julia - ThumbnailSubmitted by Julia Larson, Assistant Director of the Center for Career & Life Planning


Where writing is concerned I’m far from perfect. One example: I always struggle with who and whom. (Sometimes I’ll even rewrite a sentence just so I won’t have to worry about the correct usage.)

And that’s a real problem; just as one misspelled word can get your résumé tossed onto the reject pile, one misused word can negatively impact your entire message.

Fair or unfair, it happens all the time — so let’s make sure it doesn’t happen to you.

My post 32 Incorrectly Used Words That Can Make You Look Bad resulted in readers offering a number of other examples of misused words; some of them appear below (thanks!):

Advise and advice

Aside from the two words being pronounced differently (the s in advise sounds like az), advise is a verb while advice is a noun. Advice is what you give (whether or not the recipient is interested in that gift is a different issue altogether) when you advise someone.

So, “Thank you for the advise” is incorrect, while “I advise you not to bore me with your advice in the future” is correct if pretentious.

If you run into trouble, just say each word out loud and you’ll instantly know which makes sense; there’s no way you’d ever say, “I advice you to…”

Ultimate and penultimate

Recently I received a pitch from a PR professional that read, “(Acme Industries) provides the penultimate value-added services for discerning professionals.”

As Inigo would say, “I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Ultimate means the best, or final, or last. Penultimate means the last but one, or second to last. (Or, as a Monty Python-inspired Michelangelo would say, “the Penultimate Supper!”)

But penultimate doesn’t mean second-best. Plus, I don’t think my PR friend meant to say her client offered second-class services. (I think she just thought the word sounded cool.)

Also, keep in mind that using ultimate is fraught with hyperbolic peril. Are you–or is what you provide–really the absolute best imaginable? That’s a tough standard to meet.

Well and good

Anyone who has children uses good more often than he or she should. Since kids pretty quickly learn what good means, “You did good, honey” is much more convenient and meaningful than “You did well, honey.”

But that doesn’t mean good is the correct word choice.

Good is an adjective that describes something; if you did a good job, then you do good work. Well is an adverb that describes how something was done; you can do your job well.

Where it gets tricky is when you describe, say, your health or emotional state. “I don’t feel well” is grammatically correct, even though many people (including me) often say, “I don’t feel too good.” On the other hand, “I don’t feel good about how he treated me” is correct; no one says, “I don’t feel well about how I’m treated.”

Confused? If you’re praising an employee and referring to the outcome say, “You did a good job.” If you’re referring to how the employee performed say, “You did incredibly well.”

And while you’re at it, stop saying good to your kids and use great instead, because no one — especially a kid — ever receives too much praise.

If and whether

If and whether are often interchangeable. If a yes/no condition is involved, then feel free to use either: “I wonder whether Jim will finish the project on time” or “I wonder if Jim will finish the project on time.” (Whether sounds a little more formal in this case, so consider your audience and how you wish to be perceived.)

What’s trickier is when a condition is not involved. “Let me know whether Marcia needs a projector for the meeting” isn’t conditional, because you want to be informed either way. “Let me know if Marcia needs a projector for the meeting” is conditional, because you only want to be told if she needs one.

And always use if when you introduce a condition. “If you hit your monthly target, I’ll increase your bonus” is correct; the condition is hitting the target and the bonus is the result. “Whether you are able to hit your monthly target is totally up to you” does not introduce a condition (unless you want the employee to infer that your thinly veiled threat is a condition of ongoing employment).

Stationary and stationery

You write on stationery. You get business stationery, such as letterhead and envelopes, printed.

But that box of envelopes is not stationary unless it’s not moving — and even then it’s still stationery.

Award and reward

An award is a prize. Musicians win Grammy Awards. Car companies win J.D. Power awards. Employees win Employee of the Month awards. Think of an award as the result of a contest or competition.

A reward is something given in return for effort, achievement, hard work, merit, etc. A sales commission is a reward. A bonus is a reward. A free trip for landing the most new customers is a reward.

Be happy when your employees win industry or civic awards, and reward them for the hard work and sacrifices they make to help your business grow.

Sympathy and empathy

Sympathy is acknowledging another person’s feelings. “I am sorry for your loss” means you understand the other person is grieving and want to recognize that fact.

Empathy is having the ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and relate to how the person feels, at least in part because you’ve experienced those feelings yourself.

The difference is huge. Sympathy is passive; empathy is active. (Here’s a short video by Brené Brown that does a great job of describing the difference — and how empathy fuels connection while sympathy drives disconnection.)

Know the difference between sympathy and empathy, live the difference, and you’ll make a bigger difference in other people’s lives.

Criterion and criteria

A criterion is a principle or standard. If you have more than one criterion, those are referred to as criteria.

But if you want to be safe and you only have one issue to consider, just saystandardor rule or benchmark. Then use criteria for all the times there are multiple specifications or multiple criterion (OK, standards) involved.

Mute and moot

Think of mute like the button on your remote; it means unspoken or unable to speak. In the U.S., moot refers to something that is of no practical importance; a moot point is one that could be hypothetical or even (gasp!) academic. In British English,mootcan also mean debatable or open to debate.

So if you were planning an IPO, but your sales have plummeted, the idea of going public could be moot. And if you decide not to talk about it anymore, you will have gone mute on the subject.

Peak and peek

A peak is the highest point; climbers try to reach the peak of Mount Everest.Peekmeans quick glance, as in giving major customers a sneak peek at a new product before it’s officially unveiled, which hopefully helps sales peak at an unimaginable height.

Occasionally a marketer will try to “peak your interest” or “peek your interest,” but in that case the right word is pique, which means “to excite.” (Pique can also mean “to upset,” but hopefully that’s not what marketers intend.)

Aggressive and enthusiastic

Aggressive is a very popular business adjective: aggressive sales force, aggressive revenue projections, aggressive product rollout. But unfortunately, aggressive means ready to attack, or pursuing aims forcefully, possibly unduly so.

So do you really want an “aggressive” sales force?

Of course, most people have seen aggressive used that way for so long they don’t think of it negatively; to them it just means hard-charging, results-oriented, driven, etc., none of which are bad things.

But some people may not see it that way. So consider using words like enthusiastic,eager, committed, dedicated, or even (although it pains me to say it) passionate.

Then and than

Then refers in some way to time. “Let’s close this deal, and then we’ll celebrate!” Since the celebration comes after the sale, then is correct.

Then is also often used with if. Think in terms of if-then statements: “If we don’t get to the office on time, then we won’t be able to close the deal today.”

Than involves a comparison. “Landing Customer A will result in higher revenue than landing Customer B,” or “Our sales team is more committed to building customer relationships than the competition is.”

Evoke and invoke

To evoke is to call to mind; an unusual smell might evoke a long-lost memory. To invoke is to call upon some thing: help, aid, or maybe a higher power.

So hopefully all your branding and messaging efforts evoke specific emotions in potential customers. But if they don’t, you might consider invoking the gods of commerce to aid you in your quest for profitability.

Or something like that.

Continuously and continually

Both words come from the root continue, but they mean very different things.Continuously means never ending. Hopefully your efforts to develop your employees are continuous, because you never want to stop improving their skills and their future.

Continual means whatever you’re referring to stops and starts. You might have frequent disagreements with your co-founder, but unless those discussions never end (which is unlikely, even though it might feel otherwise), then those disagreements are continual.

That’s why you should focus on continuous improvement but only plan to have continual meetings with your accountant: The former should never, ever stop, and the other (mercifully) should.

Systemic and systematic

If you’re in doubt, systematic is almost always the right word to use.Systematicmeans arranged or carried out according to a plan, method, or system. That’s why you can take a systematic approach to continuous improvement, or do a systematic evaluation of customer revenue or a systematic assessment of market conditions.

Systemic means belonging to or affecting the system as a whole. Poor morale could be systemic to your organization. Or bias against employee diversity could be systemic.

So if your organization is facing a pervasive problem, take a systematic approach to dealing with it — that’s probably the only way you’ll overcome it.

Impact and affect (and effect)

Many people (including until recently me) use impact when they should use affect.Impact doesn’t mean to influence; impact means to strike, collide, or pack firmly.

Affect means to influence: “Impatient investors affected our rollout date.”

And to make it more confusing, effect means to accomplish something: “The board effected a sweeping policy change.”

How you correctly use effect or affect can be tricky. For example, a board can affect changes by influencing them and can effect changes by directly implementing them. Bottom line, use effect if you’re making it happen, and affect if you’re having an impact on something that someone else is trying to make happen.

As for nouns, effect is almost always correct: “Employee morale has had a negative effect on productivity.” Affect refers to an emotional state, so unless you’re a psychologist, you probably have little reason to use it.

So stop saying you’ll “impact sales” or “impact the bottom line.” Use affect.

(And feel free to remind me when I screw that up, because I feel sure I’ll backslide.)

Between and among

Use between when you name separate and individual items. “The team will decide between Mary, Marcia, and Steve when we fill the open customer service position.” Mary, Marcia, and Steve are separate and distinct, so between is correct.

Use among when there are three or more items but they are not named separately. “The team will decide among a number of candidates when we fill the open customer service position.” Who are the candidates? You haven’t named them separately, so among is correct.

And we’re assuming there are more than two candidates; otherwise you’d saybetween. If there are two candidates you could say, “I just can’t decide between them.”

Everyday and every day

Every day means, yep, every day — each and every day. If you ate a bagel for breakfast each day this week, you had a bagel every day.

Everyday means commonplace or normal. Decide to wear your “everyday shoes” and that means you’ve chosen to wear the shoes you normally wear. That doesn’t mean you have to wear them every single day; it just means wearing them is a common occurrence.

Another example is along and a long: Along means moving in a constant direction or a line, or in the company of others, while a long means of great distance or duration. You wouldn’t stand in “along line,” but you might stand in a long line for a long time, along with a number of other people.

A couple more examples: a while and awhile, and any way and anyway.

If you’re in doubt, read what you write out loud. It’s unlikely you’ll think, “Is there anyway you can help me?” sounds right.

Blog Post: Haden, Jeff. [Internet]. 5 April 2015. 39 Incorrectly Used Words That Can Make You Look Bad. Available from

Perfect References by Dana Shaw

Julia - ThumbnailSubmitted by Julia Larson, Assistant Director of the Center for Career & Life Planning


Congratulations! You’ve been asked for your references, which is a good sign that an offer of employment is coming soon!

To create the perfect reference sheet for email or hard copy delivery, here are some helpful tips:

  • Always chat with your references before sending them. Check that you have their most up to date contact information. Tell them what the job is about and what the interviewer might be really interested in hearing about.
  • Never include personal references for a professional, paid job, unless you’re directly asked for them.
  • Always include former supervisors, wherever practical. Sometimes your current or most recent manager isn’t a practical reference, in which case a former internal client is a decent substitute. An external client will do in a pinch.
  • Your references should look just like your resumé, as if it’s your personal letterhead, with your name and full contact information at the top, in the same font and font size as in your resumé.
  • Include 3-4 references in at least 12pt font size. See below for more details
  • You can centre or left-justify the list; your choice, but be consistent.
  • Leave lots of white space and even spacing between the references, to make it easy to read.
  • Regardless of the result of the references, be sure to contact them once the competition closes with an update, and to thank them for their time.

For each reference, include:

  • First and last name
  • Reference-worthy relationship at your former employer (VP, Manager, Supervisor, Colleague, Internal Client, etc. at X Company)
  • their current title
  • their current company
  • a weekday phone number where they can be reached
  • a work or personal email address
  • the best way to reach the person, if you know they’re often hard to reach

Having a clean and professional reference letter will present you in an organized, professional light to support your desirability as a candidate. When you’re this close to an offer, it’s like icing on an cake, and adds to your perceived value to the hiring decision-makers.

Blog Post: Shaw, Dana. [Internet]. 1 April 2015. Perfect References. Available from

How to Use LinkedIn to Get Calls From Recruiters by Joshua Waldman

Anne - Thumbnail
Submitted by Anne Meehan
Center for Career & Life Planning, Director of Career Development


I was in my car, headed to a client meeting in the north part of Las Vegas when my phone rang. An unknown number. Interesting. “Hi. This is Scott from XYZ Solutions and we found your profile on LinkedIn. We’re looking to hire 5 new sales reps in the next month or so and wonder if you are open to other opportunities.” This was the first of many such calls, all from different recruiters when I was working at Cisco back in 2007. At that time my network size was about 300. I knew almost everyone in my network. And there were no recruiters in my first degree. LinkedIn was much smaller, I’d estimate their network wasn’t larger than 10 million (it’s 330 million today).

The draw for them was very simply that I work at Cisco. These recruiters were sourcing candidates from the big brands for their own contracts and relying on Cisco’s better judgment to help them determine who a good candidate might be.

The problem is that most people don’t work at big brands. So most people are missing out on this kind of easy attraction for recruiters. Another problem is LinkedIn has gotten crowded, but many people haven’t adapted to the new situation. If you would like to start receiving random phone calls from recruiters in your field, read on.

A Case for Adding As Many Recruiters in Your Network as Possible

If you are still rejecting invitations to connect, or you still feel that connecting with strangers is not the right way to use LinkedIn, please read my case for being more flexible with who you connect with. Adding recruiters to your network does several interesting things.

First, understand that 93% of recruiters are using LinkedIn to source. That means they are actively running searching to fill roles. Those search results show up in order of connection (no one knows for sure the secret algorithm used by LinkedIn, we know keyword density, keyword placement, number of recommendations, picture and degree of connection all play some role). So just by having more recruiters in your network, you increase your chances of actually appearing on one of their search results pages.

Second, you are helping them with their jobs. When a recruiter gets assigned a role to fill, they will look at their database of A or B candidates. If that database is old, exhausted or just not in alignment with the current assignment, they will source for more. The tool they use to fill those lists is LinkedIn. So when you send a connection request to a recruiter, you have given them another name to add to their A list, which is their primary asset for doing their job.

Before you start inviting recruiters, make sure your profile is in good shape. Head on over to to test your profile, then follow the steps to improve it.

How to Find Recruiters in Your Field

I got an email from a blog reader who told me that he has IT recruiters, Medical recruiters and Science recruiters in his network, but none in PR, Communications and Marketing.

How would he even begin to find the right recruiters to add? Here’s how.

  1. Open up the advanced people search feature on LinkedIn.
  2. Filter by location. This is a key variable. Make sure it’s where you want to work, not just where you live.
  3. Filter by industry, current company (if you are targeting).
  4. Add these keywords, try out “Recruiter” or “Talent Acquisition ” or “Sourcing”.
  5. Optionally, add role specific keywords like PR, or Communications and see how that affects search results.

For paid LinkedIn subscribers:

  • Filter by “Interested in…Potential Employees”.
  • Filter by Function…Human Resources.
  • Join groups for recruiters and then filter your advanced search to include those groups.

In general, start off with as many filters and variables as you can. Then gradually lift them to grow your list size.

If nothing pops up, maybe recruiters in your industry don’t hang out on LinkedIn.

Tip: you can save your searches and come back to them later!

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 8.22.03 AM


How to Add Recruiters

Once you have your list of recruiters from the previous step, connecting is really easy.

As much as LinkedIn says, “You should only connect with people you know.” Their features tell us that they actually want us to connect with as many people as possible. It only helps their share price!

Your second degree connections will look like this:

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 8.12.50 AM

Just click on Connect, and the invitation with the boilerplate language is sent.

It will look like this:

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 8.12.57 AM

For your third degree connections, you will have to take an extra step. Those will look like this:

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 8.13.48 AM

In this case, click on the name of the person to open up their profile. Then click Connect from their profile to open up this window:

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 8.14.07 AM

Here, you might modify the message to say something like this,

Hi Jean,

I noticed you are a recruiter in my industry. I’m open to new opportunities and thought it might be mutually beneficial if we connected.




Assuming that recruiters look at who’s viewed their profile on a regular basis, you can also use tools like LinkedIn Autopilot.

Autopilot “views” the profiles in a saved search at a rate you determine. The people whose profile it views might see you show up in their Who’s Viewed My Profile list. If they think you would be a good candidate, they will ask you to connect.

Blog Post: Waldman, Joshua. [Internet]. 27 March 2015. How to Use LinkedIn to Get Calls From Recruiters. Available from

8 Habits Every Student Should Master Before Graduation by Caroline Altenbernd


Submitted by Mackenzie Thomas
Center for Career & Life Planning Marketing Assistant


While students should always audit and analyze themselves and their progress often, there are some habits that they are best to adapt sooner than later.

All knowledge could be useful for something in the future, and it’s always great to have as many skills as possible.

Here is a list of common habits that students should master, improve upon or learn that will be useful throughout their professional and personal lives:

1. Properly speak, write and eat

It is always best to leave a good impression, rather than a bitter mark. In today’s digitally-oriented world, many people often seek shortcuts to communications. Shortcuts can actually complicate communications. Extensive word usage should not be disregarded and grammar should be carefully considered.

In any meeting with food involved, it is better for your colleagues to focus on your shared ideas than your table manners. It is also crucial to know how to properly use tableware and avoid any unnecessary distractions during an important meal time.

2. Deliver a presentation and persuasion

According to a 2013 National Institute of Mental Health study, 74% of people in the U.S. suffer from speech anxiety. It is not unusual for the average person to detest public speaking.

Even if your desired career will not involve much public speaking or involvement with large amounts of people, you will still have to deliver your ideas effectively, sell yourself and the perspective you have. Fears can be controlled and managed with willpower and discipline.

3. Teach the basics of chosen major

If you could teach an audience about your major, then you are doing well. The basics of a particular subject should always be the base of any further acquired knowledge. At any point in life, people get asked why they have chosen their paths, and some tips to apply to any other interest. It is good if you can give your personal meaning, and speak based on what you have learned.

Also, with escalated success, there will be opportunities to publish industry-related articles, teach or mentor in educational facilities, speaking opportunities and more. The essentials should always serve as a ground source of principal information.

4. Have a solid base of common knowledge and celebrate curiosity

There will be multiple chances to formulate substantial conversations, and when there is one, it is good to have valuable points, arguments and facts. Absorb the news, expand your sense of people’s needs and wants and create an understanding of current situations across the world. Cultivate your ideology. Question everything. Build your opinion, define your values, sharpen your knowledge, read often, analyze things closely and expand your vision. Allow the brain to absorb new information and see things that may have been overlooked.

5. Maintain posture amongst all types of people

Create a personal relationship with people. Know how to be a good listener, and know when to speak. Be sensitive to others’ cultural backgrounds. Formulate a way to deal with different people with complicated situations, views and issues. Also, a way to deal with others when danger might be present.

6. Carry the essentials

Order and have some business cards in your possession at all times. You never know if you’re going to cross someone that you always wished you could have networked with. Always carry a pen and possibly a notepad. You do not want to keep hunting for a pen when one is needed. A notepad is very useful when there are ideas floating, and they should be written down.

Such ideas could inspire you sometime later in life, even leading to become a large project. And, do not disregard an emergency plan and kit. Life is always surprising and emergencies happen. Know where you should go for help, have a backpack with first aid kit and medicines for any occasion, some cash and a document folder in case you need to run out of the house.

7. Own the basics

Build a basic wardrobe with three basic suits, several basic shirts and pants. Also, know how to do basic operations: know how to cook one good meal, know one good affordable wine that can be served or given to almost all types of people, know how to iron and remove the stains of your clothing, know how to make a valid, powerful presentation, etc.

8. Construct distinctiveness

Think about the person you want to be, the world you live in, your surroundings and what sets you apart. What can you do for an organization that anyone else might not do like you? How do you want others to remember you and your life? How do you see yourself in a few years? Find your weaknesses and work on them. Find your strengths and use them to your advantage.


Blog Post: Altenbernd, Caroline. [Internet]. November 4, 2014. 8 habits every student should master before graduation. Available from 

No Experience? 3 Ways to Show You’re Right for the Job Anyway By Ryan Kahn


Submitted by Mackenzie Thomas
Center for Career & Life Planning Marketing Assistant


No Experience Pic

If you’re just out of college or embarking on a new career path, probably the most intimidating aspect of finding a job is coming up with relevant experience—because you don’t have any.

The bad news is, I can’t magically create experience to help you pad your resumeand cover letter. But the good news is, you don’t need magic—you just need to be creative. Follow these three tips to help beef up your application without making it sound like a bunch of bull.

1. Embrace Your Inexperience

I’ll let you in on a little secret: When you’re applying for an entry-level position, the hiring manager already knows you have little to no experience. So, why beat yourself up trying to manufacture something?

Instead, I suggest embracing your inexperience and leveraging that as motivation to learn. For instance, if you’re applying to a PR firm, you might highlight how you became the star student in writing class when you self-motivated yourself from someone who couldn’t finish a book report to writing a 50-page thesis. Sure, the experience itself isn’t perfectly connected to the PR industry, but this accomplishment perfectly illustrates your dedication, curiosity, and commitment to learn and grow (not to mention your now-killer writing skills). And guess what? That’s exactly what hiring managers are looking for from recent grads.

2. Get Personal

We’ve already established you haven’t exactly been around the block yet, as far as work goes, but what you do have is life experience. So, don’t be afraid to share some personal anecdotes that taught you a lesson or two that you carry with you now.

For example, maybe you studied abroad, and the experience opened your eyes to the amazing cultural differences across the globe. That personal experience shows maturity and understanding any hiring manager would want in an employee. Find those moments in your life that have changed you, write a brief description on your resume or in your cover letter, then use them as talking points when you land the interview. Pro tip: Keep it classy—skip the full moon parties and stick to life lessons that can translate into good work ethics.

3. Find a Link

This one takes a bit more effort and must be customized for each application, but I promise you, you’ll be glad you took the time.

If you’re applying for a gig, even though you may not have specific experience in a particular field, chances are you’re interested in the role and company for a reason, right? Do some research on the company, and find a way to tie your life and educational experiences in with something awesome it has done. For example, if you’re applying to a movie studio, mention how you became obsessed with its films as a child in your cover letter. Perhaps you saved all your old DVDs and posters or once camped outside of a theater so you’d be sure to get opening day tickets—whatever it was, find a way to connect your passions and life experiences with the company, then explain how that will translate into you hitting the ground running once you’re hired. You’ll find that link is exactly the kind of experience employers are looking for from recent grads.

Whether you’re applying for a job with a tech firm, fashion studio, or record label, chances are you won’t have loads of direct experience to highlight on your resume right after school. But, remember, employers know you’re just starting out, which means they’ll be much more impressed with your interpretation of “experience” and how you use the lessons you’ve learned in life as a solid foundation to get started. Keep it professional, and keep it honest, and you’ll fill your resume with real, valuable experience—without sounding like you’re full of it.

Blog Post: Kahn, Ryan. [Internet]. No Experience? 3 Ways to Show You’re Right for the Job Anyway. Available from

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