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 http://college.usatoday.com/2014/11/04/8-habits-every-student-should-master-before-graduation/ 

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 https://www.themuse.com/advice/no-experience-3-ways-to-show-youre-right-for-the-job-anyway

4 Pitfalls to Avoid in Answering “Why are you interested in this position?” by Lily Zhang


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


Hiring managers don’t always say what’s on their minds, and sometimes this results in a less effective interviewing experience for you, the job candidate. But, regardless of how good or bad your interviewer is, you’ll very likely still get this question: “Why are you interested in this position?”

The reason for that is because your answer says a lot about all of the most important things the interviewer will be evaluating: your skills, your cultural fit, and your interest. In other words, this is definitely not a question you want to screw up. Here are four common mistakes and how to avoid them.

  1. You never talk about the company

I recently had a conversation with a recruiter, and she shared this great tidbit with me about what she considers to be the kiss of death for interviews. When people answer, “Why are you interested in this position?” with something about being passionate about programming, writing, or some other skill with no mention at all about the actual company, it’s immediately a red flag. Think about it this way: You can bring your skills anywhere. The trick is explaining why you want to use them for this particular company.

  1. You only say what’s in it for you

This mistake is particularly common because, well, this is what the question is asking for, isn’t it? Maybe this job would give you the chance to learn a lot about marketing, or it’s an opportunity to grow your quantitative analysis skills — that’s great, but it’s not what your interviewer really wants to hear. At the moment, the hiring manager isn’t the most invested in what’s in it for you; he or she wants to know what’s in it for the company. The solution? Align your interests and say something about your enthusiasm for using your skills to contribute to the company’s greater goal.

  1. You bring up points that aren’t relevant

In the heat of the moment, it can be really tempting to reveal that the office is actually quite close to your daughter’s school or how the company’s flexible hours policy would make it easier to carpool with your roommate, but don’t give in. These are nice perks, but (hopefully) they’re not the only reason why this position is exciting for you. Plus, you’ll be giving up an opportunity to share the more relevant ones.

  1. You answer the wrong question

Have you ever gone on a date with someone who wouldn’t stop talking about his or her ex? Well, turns out this happens during job interviews, too. Don’t be that person who can’t shut up about why you need to leave your old job, stat. Even if the reason you’re job searching is directly related to your previous position, focus on the future. Bring up the skills you’ve developed for sure, but no need to dive into the history of how you acquired them.

This seemly innocuous question is a surprisingly tricky one, especially if you try to answer it without first thinking about your audience. Read this to learn more about how to answer this question strategically. Then, get your story straight, and remember who you’re talking to. It’s just one question, but it can completely shape the way an interviewer views your candidacy.

Blog Post: Zhang, Lily. [Internet]. February 14, 2015. 4 pitfalls to avoid in answering “Why are you interested in this position?” Available from http://mashable.com/2015/02/14/interview-question-mistakes/

Social Media Marketing: Things to Be Taken Care of by Bruno Errett

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


With growing exposure in the Social Media space, the differentiation between constructive & destructive activities online is getting thinner & weaker. It so happens that you give your full effort towards structuring valuable content for your audience and suddenly discover that the same idea is already available across different platforms.

Attracting audiences towards your material is another challenge ahead.


Social Media Marketing is all about being participative with your audience and lightly tread into an engagement platform without being intrusive. To make your audience hooked on to your content is not an easy task. While it is an art to make your posts interesting and enjoyable to read, there are a few things you should practice to maximise your efforts in Social Media Marketing. The following are some of the most important ones that you should not miss.

Do Not Be Critical

Be gentle while participating in a conversation with your audience. Never criticize participant’s input even if they are the most stupid comments on earth. In this situation, the response should be “thanks for your valuable comment and let me explain….. Further, try to rephrase what they said or modify it a little and say something meaningful. This also has an advantage: If others see that even the worst commenter on earth was rewarded for participating, the more intelligent ones will definitely get encouraged to participate and contribute to the discussion.

Originality of Content

Be sure not to post the same content by rephrasing it again and again.

  1. Successful writers do not re-write existing articles in different words, rather they provide a whole new perspective to an idea with completely fresh content.
  2. Try to maintain originality in your posts.
  3. Try to make each and every post valuable to readers.
  4. Read a lot. There is no shortcut to learning & mastering the art of writing good content other than consuming a lot of the same. Reading will broaden your horizon and will help you to come up with innovative ideas whenever you start writing something.
  5. Interesting content: If your contents are able to generate interest in your readers, you ought to have a constant flow of audience traffic towards your site.

Do not Spam/Bacon

Do not ever engage in social spamming. Spamming prepares you to see your Social Media Marketing Campaign die a quick death. Not only you lose your credibility, but all your efforts may not as fruitful.Social spamming isn’t limited to offering irrelevant links on social sites; posting promotional comments (with or without links), Digging or Stumbling posts on popular topics that are in no way related to your site, even sending automated Direct Messages on twitter are considered spammy or spamalicious practices.Avoid automation of your Social Media efforts: Be thoughtful, generous and spend your time wisely in healthy & constructive participation with an audience.

Review Your Content Before Posting

Use Spell Checker. As simple as that!

Be sure to read your contents at least once for spellings and once for purpose of writing before posting them to make sure it does not contain any careless mistake.

Errors can make your audience lose trust over your content. On the contrary, you can become a good comedian rather than being taken seriously! A new feature by a popular company providing Social Media Management Tool’s takes care of misfired & reputation staking spelling mistakes. You should also make your content easy to understand. Create short, crisp sentences easy to understand.

Blog Post: Errett, Bruno. [Internet]. February 25, 2015. Social Media Marketing: Things to Be Taken Care of. Available from http://articlesq.com/?p=1150 

The Pros and Cons of Job Hopping by Chrissy Scivicque

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


Out of everyone in my group of college friends, I was the only one who still had the same job two years after graduation. Everyone else had changed jobs once, twice, even three times. So, I felt somewhat smug—as if I knew something they didn’t. It wasn’t until many years later I understood the positive side of job hopping. It hit me when I suddenly discovered I had forced myself to stay in a job I hated for five years. If only I had just left at the very beginning when I realized it wasn’t for me…maybe I wouldn’t have wasted all that time being miserable…

Of course, job hopping also involves a few pretty serious downsides. In order to make the best decisions in your career, it’s helpful to understand both the positive and negative aspects of bouncing around from one job to the next, and how it can impact your long-term goals.


Clearly, no one expects you to know exactly what you want from your career the minute you graduate from college. But, as you gain experience, you should become more astutely aware of what your idea of “the right” job looks like. If you find yourself stuck, feeling like nothing will ever make you happy, it’s time to do some self-reflection. If you need help, download my FREE mini-workbook which will walk you through a process to determine what’s working (and what’s not) in your current career so you can begin pinpointing the things that may provide (or detract from) career fulfillment the future. Once you know more about yourself, you can be more discerning in the job search process.

Proactively searching for a job that matches your unique career wants and needs should help prevent job hopping, but there’s no guarantee. Sometimes, the only way to really learn what works for you and what doesn’t is to simply step in there and give it a try. I always recommend that, unless things are really unbearable, it’s a good idea to stick with a new job for at least a year. This gives you enough time to really get a feel for it and make an informed decision.


Most of us enjoy routine…up to a point. Then, it becomes monotonous. Job hopping certainly provides variety. You end up learning about many different businesses and industries; you gain a variety of skills and meet a wide range of people. This is what many job hoppers crave when they bounce around. They just want to escape the boring everyday routine. Be cautious of this! While it’s nice to experience new things, most jobs will have some degree of monotony. When you’re being paid, it won’t always be exciting and new.

Shallow Experience

If you’re a job hopper, or if you end up being one, you can always frame your scattered experience as being a good thing: you have a wide range of capabilities and broad point-of-view. However, in reality, your experience in each area is rather shallow. If you only stay somewhere for a short period of time, you’re not getting a deep understanding of what’s going on. That usually takes several years to accomplish and prospective employers may be concerned about your skill level.

Lack of Loyalty

Inevitably, once you’ve job hopped a few times in a row, employers will start seeing it as a red flag. They’ll wonder about your loyalty. They’ll worry that it’s not worth the time, money and energy needed to train you because, in a year or so, you’ll be gone. This can be a hard stigma to shake so you better have some strong justification for why you left each position and proactively address it in your cover letter. Don’t try to ignore it and hope they won’t notice.

You Don’t Know What You Want (‘Till it’s Gone!)

The other thing prospective employers will assume is you don’t really know what you want. When you tell them why you’d be perfect for the job and why it’s a position you’ll be thrilled to have, they’ll doubt your motives. Your past doesn’t indicate that you really know what will please you. Again, with a little clever maneuvering, you can frame it in such a way that your past actually proves that you know exactly what you want—and DON’T want.

But, ultimately, many job hoppers end up regretting their decisions. They fall into the “grass is always greener” syndrome. Once they’ve moved on and fallen into another monotonous routine somewhere else, they realize that the last job wasn’t so bad after all.

If you ever find yourself labeled as a “serial job hopper,” take some time to evaluate why it’s happening and how it’s affecting your long-term career objectives. Create strategies to overcome this issue so you can settle into a job that feels right and keeps your interest. Working with a career coach or participating in a group coaching program may also be helpful.

Blog Post: Scivicque, Chrissy. [Internet]. January 2011. The Pros and Cons of Job Hopping. Available from http://college.monster.com/training/articles/1421-the-pros-and-cons-of-job-hopping

How to Prepare for Etiquette Dinner

Written by Ashley Williams
Center for Career & Life Planning Program Coordinator

Preparing for a networking event is never easy, but the Center for Career & Life Planning wants to make this transition for you as easy as possible. Listed below are some suggestions on how to prepare for a networking event, specifically this week’s Etiquette Dinner.

  1. Create a 20-30 second introductory pitch. See the attached handout and our YouTube video tutorial for suggestions.
  2. Practice a strong handshake. (Your goal is to give a firm, confident handshake; not a finger-crushing one).
  3. Be prepared to MIX & MINGLE! Knowing the common icebreaker/open-ended questions below will help you feel prepared in meeting new people.
  4. Set a realistic goal that pushes you a little out of your comfort zone. Branch out of your normal circle and set a goal for the number of new people/employers you want to meet.
  5. Due to the high volume of students, you will likely be talking to employers and alumni in groups. Feel free to connect with other students as well. Be as inclusive as possible, using open body language and open-ended questions.
  6. Follow the steps below to excuse yourself (professionally) when the conversation naturally wanes.
  7. Review dinner etiquette tips from Rollins 360 magazine.


Use open-ended questions after you deliver your 20-30 second pitch. These questions also can be used to keep a conversation flowing. Feel free to come up with your own (appropriate) ice-breaker questions as well!

  1. Start with a genuine compliment
  2. What do you do?
  3. What do you like most about what you do?
  4. Tell me about yourself.
  5. What do you like to do when you’re not working?
  6. How did you first get started in your industry?
  7. Looking back on when you graduated from college, was there anything you wish you had known?
  8. What is the biggest challenge you notice in your industry today?
9. What did you study in college?
  9. What advice would you have for someone interested in this field?
  10. (Introduce a friend to the person to whom you are speaking.)


  1. It was great meeting you. Do you have a business card?
  2. It was great meeting you.

(Do not say you’ll follow up with them or connect in the future if you do not plan on following up).


At the very least, send a thank you e-mail within 48 hours after the event. The sooner you do this, the more likely the individual will remember you. Re-cap what you discussed with that individual and what your next steps are; if appropriate, let them know what opportunities you are seeking next.


If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Center for Career & Life Planning at (407) 646-2195 or stop by our office at 170 West Fairbanks, 1st floor.

How to Brand Yourself as a College Student

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




By: Sandra Long

Your personal brand is established and nurtured by you, whether online or offline. Start by reflecting on what is most important to you and your future. Be able to effectively share your passions, specialties and values in various ways. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s all happening online. Once you start networking or get that interview, your handshake and elevator pitch also have an impact on how people perceive you. Here are 5 tools to help you to establish your personal brand:

Create a powerful online presence.

Young people can overcome a negative perception about their age and experience with effective use of websites and social media. Bunee Tomlinson, a sophomore at Oklahoma City Community College and a freelance filmmaker, developed his keen interest in film and video production from an early age. Besides participating in film festivals and competitions, he began working as an intern in high school while starting his own freelance business. Bunee developed his own website (bunee.tv) which demonstrates his capabilities and film projects. On LinkedIn, Bunee chose “Freelance Filmmaker” as his title instead of “student”. With the website and LinkedIn profile, Bunee’s personal brand projects energy, confidence and creativity but not his young age.

Trudy Steinfeld, Assistant Vice President and Executive Director of Career Services at New York University, says “It often makes sense for a student to create a social resume. Many NYU students have their own website that is linked to their social media sites. Your personal website says who you are in a very interesting way. It might include video, photos and examples of other types of projects or work. Make sure it’s professional. Your social resume should contain relevant keywords. Also, link it to all your other social sites that are professional. If you have personal information make sure to use the privacy settings for each site. ”

Create a customized infographic.

Infographics are extremely popular so why not use one for your resume? Joseph Catrino, Assistant Dean of Career Services at Quinnipiac University, says “Infographic resumes can be highly effective. Pull out five things from the job description that match your talents and make an infographic. Depending on the industry, this can be very impressive for a student to submit to a hiring manager. They will probably still need a traditional resume for HR or recruiting staff.”

Be memorable with Business cards.

Business cards are an important tool for college students. It’s a great way to support your networking activity and become memorable…Read more.

Blog Post: Long, Sandra. [Internet]. January 2015. 5 Personal Branding Tools for College Schools. Available from http://www.blogging4jobs.com/job-search/5-personal-branding-tools-for-college-students/#80lhm23PyL3L4QOr.97

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