ASK Experience Series: Communication

In the newest HireDePaul Blog series, the Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Program will be hosting interviews with alumni designed to bring DePaul students access to unique career advice and professional insight. In the first installment, we spoke with Margaret Batkiewicz (‘74) about her career and the importance of good communication in the workplace. 

Margaret spent most of her career in global employee communications, creating internal messaging to keep employees informed and up-to-date. When asked about the importance of effective internal communications, Margaret told us that “a company that communicates well with its employees is going to do better, [improve] morale, and have less turnover.”

This messaging came in many forms, one of which being a regular newsletter sent out to an international audience of employees. With such a diverse audience, it was important that she communicated consciously, ensuring awareness of cultural and linguistic differences. By consulting with company leaders from the various geographic regions she was communicating with and sending out surveys to employees, she was able to successfully navigate this unique challenge throughout her career. With that, however, comes the joy of communicating globally. 

“I met so many wonderful people and learned so much about their cultures,” Margaret said. 

From there, Margaret went on to discuss communication as a whole and how it can make or break a company. 

“Communication is essential to the success of a company,” she said, “whether it does business locally or globally.” 

But what is good workplace communication? Good communication skills vary by industry, position, and workplace culture. However, there are some good practices that can be applied to any professional environment:

Tone and Volume

Be conscious of the tone and volume of your voice when communicating with colleagues. There is some truth to the old saying “it’s not what you say, but how you say it.” Pay attention to your tone, watching out for any unintentionally negative, unenthusiastic, or accusatory intonations. As you get more comfortable in a workplace, continue to practice respectful and sincere communication. 

Be Concise and Definite

Avoid any superfluous information. Communicate with definition, avoiding language that may unnecessarily extend or worsen periods of uncertainty like “maybe” and “probably.” In some instances, informing your coworker that you are unsure of an answer is equally appropriate to providing that answer, as long as you come back to them with that answer once you have it.

Practice Good Listening Skills

Listen closely and attentively while showing interest in the topic and respecting the speaker. Ask questions to clarify information you may have missed. Paraphrase what you have heard and repeat it back to the speaker to ensure understanding. 

Give and Receive Feedback

Be descriptive and clear, while avoiding judgmental language. Be open to receiving feedback without defensiveness, allowing for the other person to address all of their points before responding. Remember: address modifiable, not unchangeable behavior. 

For more information on career readiness, make sure to explore the HireDePaul Blog. To connect with alumni like Margaret and practice your communication skills online, check out the DePaul ASK Network!

DePaul Career Center Summer 2021 Programming

We are excited to share our Summer 2021 programming schedule below! These regularly scheduled virtual events and workshops will help you stay on top of your career goals, gain new skills, and navigate the ever-changing job market.

June 24: Unveil Your Purpose

Unveiling your life’s purpose is essential to living life to its fullest potential. In this highly engaged and interactive virtual workshop, you will be provided the tools to evolve your inner self while navigating the journey of living out your purpose.

June 29: Resume Workshop for Seniors

Knowing how to successfully create a resume is the essential first step in your search. We encourage you to come join us to discuss the basics of resume development where we will share concrete strategies and resources to help best prepare you.

July 8: Interviewing Basics

Whether you’ve already done a few or are eagerly anticipating your first one, we encourage you to come join us to discuss the basics of interviewing where we will share concrete strategies and resources to help best prepare you.

July 27: Big East Virtual Career Fair

You’ve learned, led, and succeeded in college, and now you’ll have the opportunity to tell your story to employers at the BIG EAST Virtual Career Fair. This event, created exclusively for graduates who completed their degrees in 2020 and 2021 at a BIG EAST school, will connect you with organizations hiring now.

July 27: The Art of Professional Communication

Join the DePaul Career Center as we talk through Professional Communication and what you need to succeed when you join the workforce. We will go over tips and tricks and must-know facts.

August 4: The Business of Healthcare

Join us for an interactive employer panel highlighting companies in the Healthcare and Science industry that also have opportunities in business. Learn about industry trends and skills needed to be successful. We will also discuss changes since the pandemic and initiatives supporting employee wellbeing.


August 18: I have graduated from college, Now what?

Join us for an informal Q&A with recent DePaul alums to get answers and insight into your most burning post-grad questions and to connect with your fellow alums! They will be sharing insights into their own journeys after graduation, lessons learned, and helpful tips to set you up for post-college success.

This summer, the Career Center is introducing a job search group for first generation graduating seniors who are looking for to get their career started. The group will meet three times over the summer where you will learn search strategies to help you through the job search process. You will receive support, advice, individualized openings based on your specific interests, and valuable connections to alumni. Spaces are limited, so be sure to fill out the form to receive updates and grab a spot!

Sign up Today!

There are a variety of remote options to connect with our team for career guidance and insight. Drop-in with a peer career coach in Zoom, submit your resume or cover letter for an email review, or schedule an appointment with an advisor in Handshake.

Job Search Tips for 2021 Graduates

Be Distinctive

Right now, the job market is the hottest it’s been in recent years as companies are hiring following the COVID-19 pandemic, but that also means the competition is fierce right now.

Because many 2020 graduates had to put off their job hunt while companies went through closures and lay-offs, there are even more of your peers applying for the same jobs you are right now. That means your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile need to be polished and stand out. 

However, for the same reason, the competition is stiff in the current job market; the popularity of remote jobs and internships also opens up the ability for you to apply to opportunities across the country—and the world!

Be Open-minded

While job postings on Handshake are at a high, not all sectors are hiring equally. The top industries looking to hire new graduates were the pandemic’s big winners: tech, financial services, education, and professional services, according to Handshake data. It’s essential to be flexible in your job search at a time like this and think about what skills you could bring to a role as well as what skills you could gain, even if the job isn’t exactly your dream role. 

Settling for what is available doesn’t have to be a bad thing either! While working in your not-dream-job, you can spend that time also taking classes and getting additional certifications, attending webinars and events, and upskilling.

Be Prepared

Having classes, meetings, and hangouts over video chat platforms like Zoom has become commonplace in the past year, but it’s still important to treat virtual interviews the same way you would an in-person one. Make sure to dress professionally, prepare for any questions they may ask, know how to work the features of the platform being used for the interview, and that your setup is well-lit without any distractions in the background.

Some workplaces have also started requesting pre-recorded video interviews in which you answer a list of questions they have provided. Though this type of interview is not live, there is still not much time between receiving the questions and the deadline for sending the video, so it’s still important to prepare in advance.

If you’re nervous, ask a friend or family member to take you through a mock interview, or schedule an advising appointment, or drop in with a peer coach!

Be Creative

You should also be ready to explain how you spent 2020, especially if your summer internship disappeared because of the pandemic and a gap in your resume. Did you do any freelance work? What about personal projects? Did you take any new classes in your free time? Did you volunteer anywhere? You can also highlight any new hobbies you picked up to show you’re willing to and capable of learning new things.

You may have skills you never even thought about that you can highlight, including soft skills!

And if you are still looking for ways to add to your resume, there are plenty of ways to gain experience outside of a traditional internship.

Be Authentic

While your network is a valuable resource in job hunting, it’s also a great space for building relationships with peers in your industry. Not every contact in your network will be in the position to give you a job when you need one, but it’s still essential to maintain and build relationships without expecting a transaction. Professionals in your industry — especially DePaul alumni — can give you helpful advice and share their experiences.

Consider setting up an informational interview with someone in your field or bringing up the possibility of job shadowing at a company you’re interested in or with someone whose role is appealing to you. Check out the ASK Network to connect with alumni.

And don’t forget to give back when you can and open yourself up to meeting with students as a professional in your field, or pass on opportunities you come across to your peers if it’s not something right for you!

More information:

Employer Spotlight: Carlo Varquez (MS ’18) LifeStart

The Health Care & Science (HCS) Career Community wants to introduce students to a wide range of careers. Students may be familiar with popular clinical roles (e.g., nurse, physician, veterinarian), but less familiar with jobs like healthcare data analytics, health administration, or biotech research.  

Today, we highlight a certified personal trainer, certified nutrition coach, and small business owner. In a virtual interview, Debbie Kaltman (HCS Employer Engagement Specialist) spoke with Carlo Varquez (MS Exercise Physiology ‘18) to learn about his educational and career journey, insights into pursuing preventative health and fitness professions, and advice to students.

Carlo’s educational and clinical experiences in the healthcare industry shifted his perspective and career goals to focus on preventing rather than treating health issues. In the health promotion, wellness, and fitness industry, Carlos serves as a general manager for LifeStart and founder of Pride Wellness, a small business built to empower clients to invest in their overall health via online classes and coaching sessions. As a certified fitness trainer and nutrition coach, Carlos seeks to take care of other people’s health so they come to feel better about themselves, believe they’re part of something, and vision their life in different ways. He plans to keep learning to become a “master trainer” who has a well-rounded skill set and is well-known as a person who will work hard for his clients.

Carlo’s advice to students interested in preventative health, wellness, and fitness: “Invest in yourself first before you invest in others! A) It gives you credibility. You practice what you preach. B) If you’re not following the right steps to keep yourself healthy, it’s going to be hard to advise others to be healthy.”

“Take every opportunity no matter how big it may seem. If you feel like it’s the right thing in your gut, just do it. I’m a big advocate for that gut feeling. It doesn’t make sense, you don’t know why it’s making you feel this way, but it feels right at the same time. Just follow your gut and take care of yourself.”

How I got this job: Valentina Djordjevic Physician Assistant

During Spring Quarter 2021, the Health Care & Science Career Community team sat down with DePaul students to learn about the educational and career journey of DePaul alum, Valentina Djordjevic (Health Sciences, ‘16). After completing the Physician Assistant (PA) program at Rosalind Franklin University, she is now a PA-C at Able Psychiatry. Valentina shared her story of gaining research, work, volunteer, and clinical experiences while at DePaul, deciding to pursue a career as a PA, her current job responsibilities, and her future career goals. In this event, Valentina highlighted what being a PA means to her and the importance of pursuing your passions.

Words of wisdom from Valentina Djordjevic

Valentina on deciding to become a PA:

“For me it was pretty easy to be a PA because it was quick. Two years seemed pretty doable for me. It offered me the opportunity to work in multiple specialties which I liked at that time because I wasn’t exactly sure that I wanted to be in psychiatry. The GRE also seemed more doable than the MCAT for me. I also liked that there wasn’t a residency requirement for PA school. I really liked that I could get this degree and then start working right away. I wanted to stay in the sciences. I wanted to help people. I wanted to be financially independent and be able to have a good income. I think it was a pretty easy decision for me to go into the PA track.” 

Valentina on the importance of mentoring for a PA:

“A piece of advice about post-PA school is that you really want to find a job where you will be taught. There are a ton of opportunities for PAs out there, and they seem really appealing. They’re going to throw a lot of money at you, and just be careful that they don’t throw you out to the wolves because PA school is really fast. You’re getting this degree with the hope that you’ll be trained really well at your first job, but if you aren’t, you’re gonna have a huge stunt in your growth. It’s really important to have a mentor: someone that you can ask questions to, someone that is expecting you to not know what you’re doing. If it’s a good growth opportunity, that might be better than a more appealing pay stub at the end of the day because if you get good training, you can go anywhere.”

How I got this job: Nia Hurst Research Biologist

During Winter Quarter 2021, the Health Care & Science Career Community team sat down with DePaul students to learn about the educational and career journey of DePaul alumna Nia Hurst (’14). From an Environmental Sciences major to working as a Research Biologist in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nia shared her story of getting involved at DePaul, gaining experience with research labs, and her current job responsibilities. In this event, she highlighted the power of networking because the connections she made  opened doors to so many opportunities.

Words of wisdom from Nia

Nia on building her network and maximizing connections:

“I think it’s really true that you have to expand your network and connect with people to let them know what you’re interested in. Expressing what your interests are to as many people as you can like your advisor and other graduate students. I would also really recommend going to events like conferences, luncheons, and other networking events.”

Nia on the primary responsibilities of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

“When there is a regional issue that needs to be addressed (e.g., wetland development to offset phosphorus pollution, mangrove forest development to alleviate hurricane impact), we conduct longitudinal research studies on best practices for that regional development project. There are a lot of different projects. It’s applied research that you do for the sake of knowledge.”

Nia on the diversity of scientific roles available in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

“I’m a research biologist, but we work with engineers, statisticians, computer specialists. There’s a lot of people to build out a team with, a lot of opportunities for a lot of different types of scientists.”