Introducing: “How I Got This Job” Event Series

Have you ever encountered someone in a cool job and wondered how they got there? 

It’s this very question that led the Career Center’s Health Care & Science Community team to create the new quarterly “How I Got This Job” series.  Each quarter, current students will sit down with a DePaul alum or professional in the health care and science field to learn about their career journey, ask questions, network, and connect with fellow students who have similar career interests.  

Join us for the series’ inaugural event on Thursday, February 27, as we welcome back Ciera Hester-Smith (BS ’14), Senior Manager of Operations at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, to share her journey from hospitality leadership to health care administration and an MBA.  



How I Got This Job: Ciera Hester-Smith, BS ‘14
Senior Manager of Operations at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush
Thursday, February 27
1:00 – 2:00 PM
McGowan South 107
Free lunch provided


As Ciera’s story shows, major does not always determine your career, and you can use your education in a variety of fields and industries.  Students from all years and majors are welcome to attend.

Interested in other opportunities to connect directly with alums like Ciera?  Check out the DePaul Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Network to connect with DePaul alumni for career insight and conversations.


Your Guide to Connecting with Alumni on Linkedin

By: Gracie Covarrubias, DePaul University organizational and multicultural communication major ’18 and Career Center communications assistant

Scoping out potential contacts on LinkedIn can feel like a never-ending quest—the options are literally endless. There is, however, an art to finding that perfect connection on LinkedIn and sparking a conversation. Check out our guide to connecting with alumni on LinkedIn.

The Search

Crafting a LinkedIn search requires a few critical filters. Start off by typing in ‘DePaul University’ in the search bar. Once you’ve clicked on DePaul’s official page, click on the ‘see alumni’ button and you will be presented with a detailed breakdown of alumni interests, places of employment and fields of study.

Now it’s time to narrow your search. DePaul University’s Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Associate Director Leslie Chamberlain has a few pointers for students:

“Decide why you’re looking to connect with alumni. If you’re looking to explore a specific field or if there’s a city you’d like to be in, this is going to influence the keywords in your search for connections.”

Once you’ve used a couple of keywords and identified a potential connection, it’s time to actually hit the ‘connect’ button and send a message.

The Ask

This initial message is key to ensuring you get a response. Leslie advises that your message follows this classic, business outline: Them. You. Time-Bound.

Let’s break that down.

Them: Your first line should be a sentence about them, recognizing a particular involvement or position that caught your interest. For example, you could say, “your work as a social media analyst with the American Red Cross looks exciting.”

You: Your next two sentences should introduce you and provide some background. Think of it as a shortened elevator pitch. For example, you might say, “as a current public relations student at DePaul, I’m interested in working in the nonprofit sector. I’ve had the opportunity to take courses where I’ve constructed social media campaigns for companies and I’m looking to expand my knowledge in this sphere.”

Time-Bound: Finally, your last sentence should be time-bound to solidify a time to talk. “Fifteen to twenty minutes is the perfect amount of time to ask for. It’s enough time to get a feel for the person. If you vibe with the connection really well you can always ask for a follow-up meeting and if you don’t then you’re not trapped in a long conversation,” Leslie explained.  For example, you could say, “I would love to chat with you about your experiences as an analyst. Would you be available to talk over the phone for 15-20 minutes sometime in the next two weeks?”

The Follow-Up

Once you’ve sent the message and had the opportunity to talk over the phone, follow up with a simple thank you message.

This thank you should follow the Past. Present. Future. outline. First, acknowledge your previous interaction with a simple line, such as, “thank you for taking time out of your day to discuss your career.”

Next, bring up an insight they mentioned that you’re going to take action on. For example, “I picked up a copy of the branding book you mentioned and I’m looking forward to reading it.”

Finally, if you’ve really hit it off, the future portion of this thank you should be focused on a second meeting. For example, you might ask, “could I reach out to you next month? I’d like to talk to you about this book once I’ve finished it.” If you didn’t quite hit it off, a simple, “I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors,” will work.

Easy as that! Connecting with alumni is a great way to learn more about your industry and develop a mentorship with someone who shares common interests. Curious about other ways that alumni can help you? Check out the Alumni Sharing Knowledge network for more information on connecting with alumni.

How to Successfully Network Online & Make Connections that Will Last

Professionals often talk about the importance of networking, but the act of networking itself can be daunting. Living in a now digital-reliant world, many feel more comfortable engaging with a potential networking contact electronically, whether through formal social channels like LinkedIn or by simply emailing a lead. Networking over the digital sphere, however, means your writing skills will be put to the test; it’s important that you bring intriguing, professional language to the table.

Below are a few different scenarios you may encounter when networking online with professionals in your field, and some best practices to ensure you are making the best impression when doing so.

DePaul’s Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Network

Our Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) network is where over 1,000 DePaul alumni volunteer to be networking resources and assist DePaul students and fellow alumni in exploring college and professional transitions, interviewing best practices, life challenges and career options. Although these contacts have volunteered, you want to be respectful of their time by crafting a well-written introduction that includes the following:

  1. Who you are: Include your full name and major/career interests or passions
  2. Why you wish to connect: Do you want to learn more about his/her role, company, career path, etc.?
  3. What stood out from his/her profile: Personalize your request by noting one or two things that really piqued your interest in the volunteer’s profile

Your message doesn’t have to be lengthy, but it should include each of the above components. Afterwards, request 15-20 minutes of their time to either speak with them in person or over the phone; this way, you have set the expectation that you don’t intend to take too much of their time, which may encourage a quicker response. It can be much harder for a contact to set aside 30-60 minutes without advance notice.

The thing to remember about the ASK network is that these alumni have all volunteered, so you never have to feel intimidated or uncomfortable reaching out to them.


The most popular channel that students lean on to seek potential networking contacts is LinkedIn. The good news is that it’s very easy to make new connections on LinkedIn; simply click “Connect,” and a potential new contact awaits. However, if you don’t take the time to personalize your connection request, you’re less likely to be accepted into someone’s network.

The best thing to do is review a potential contact’s LinkedIn profile before you send him/her a request, and try to identify one or two things you have in common. Maybe you share the same major, or perhaps you were both involved in the same student organization; mention this in your invitation request. If you’re reaching out to someone you don’t know personally, he/she is much more likely to respond if you identify some kind of shared experience or, at the very least, a reason why you want to connect with that person. What not to do? Send a blank invitation. Anyone can do that, but most professionals don’t want to accept just anyone into their network.

Once you’ve established a connection with this person, consider sending a lengthier introduction inquiring about his/her professional background. From there, simply follow the steps outlined above—the same rules that apply to the ASK network also apply here.

Email Referrals

There may come a time when a friend, professor or advisor will refer you to a contact at a company you’re really passionate about. These interactions may feel a little more intimidating, but many of the same rules apply:

  • When reaching out via email, be sure to introduce yourself and clarify your reason for writing.
  • You may want to look them up on LinkedIn to see if there are any commonalities you can refer to, or research the company website in case they’ve included a bio.
  • Most importantly, you want to be extra careful that you communicate with referrals professionally, and that you take the time to follow-up with them if they agree to do so.

In these instances, it’s not just your reputation on the line but that of the friend, professor or advisor referring you, so it’s especially important that you be mindful of any and all communication you have with these contacts.

Steps to Take Right Now

It’s always beneficial to begin seeking networking contacts through ASK, since these are people you have something in common with already (specifically your DePaul experience), and they have already volunteered to assist you! You can also meet with your designated career advisor to identify potential leads through ASK, LinkedIn and other industry-specific channels. Finally, we’re always happy to review any email communication in advance; simply email your advisor with the text you want to send to a potential contact, and we’ll help you to put your best (e)foot forward.

Is Copywriting Your Gig?

By: Kenny Lapins, DePaul LAS 1991, senior copywriter for Centrifuge Brand Marketing

As you look beyond your collegiate career to the lifelong career that lies ahead of you, you’re probably asking yourself, “How do I invent a time machine so I can stay 21 forever.” But once you realize pursuing such technology is mere folly, you should get serious about what it is you want to do.

The importance of choosing the right career cannot be overstated. You don’t want to be stuck in a career that neither matches your skill set nor captures your interest. For some of you — you lucky, lucky, creative few — copywriting will satisfy both criteria.

There are a few things you can do to determine if you’re a copywriter-in-the-making. First of all, ask yourself, “Am I a writer?” Seems like a simple enough question. But a writer is more than a person who writes. A writer can’t help but find all the typos in the restaurant menu. A writer will unexpectedly pull their car over onto the highway shoulder to make note of a story idea, a character sketch, or even just a good line. A writer uses complete spelling and correct grammar on all text messages. A writer sees a clever turn of phrase on a billboard and has three reactions (in this order):

  1. Oh look, what a clever tag line.
  2. Man, why didn’t I think of that?
  3. Ugh, I’m a complete failure, a fraud, and I am going to be publicly humiliated by my peers any second now.

If this describes you, congratulations: you are destined for many sleepless nights worrying about the three, eight-word tagline alternatives you need to write by 10 a.m. tomorrow. And of course, when you actually get to the office in the morning, you end up writing 15 alternatives because your subconscious was working on them all night and now you are just getting out of the way of the flow. Having an embarrassment of riches is its own problem of course because now you have to cull those 15 perfect alternatives down to the best three, but would extol and defend each one like it’s your child getting bullied on a playground.

Copywriting is a rewarding field for a writer. To me, each sentence I write is pored over laboriously and painfully. So when a creative director runs over to my desk quivering in fear, sweat beading on her brow, screaming, “Oh my god! We need four words to fit in this banner that encapsulate the client’s entire go-to-market strategy in the next five minutes or we’re all dead!” it’s a call-to-arms, it’s a rallying cry, it’s what I live for.

But don’t be deceived. Account managers and clients (oh, those pesky clients) can edit your words and you just have to sit there, smiling, telling them how great a change that is, how it will clearly drive more business to the site, and how they are geniuses, all the while inside you’re weeping like a baby. Most often, however, the benefits outweigh moments like these. The first time you see your words shining on a billboard, hear your voiceover ad copy spoken on the radio, or encounter your brilliant tagline on an in-store display, the choir of angels you hear in your head makes all the striving for the perfect word well worth it. Suddenly all the pacing around the office you did as you searched for just the right turn of phrase is long-forgotten. The IT expense your agency incurred because they had to replace the keyboard you smashed against the wall in a fit of pique now seems a worthy investment.

If this still describes you, one word of advice I would impart to you is this: when you are interviewing for a creative position, remember that you are selling your intangible creativity, not your measurable skills. This is why your portfolio will be more valuable to you than your resume. Think of it this way: if you were commissioning an artist to paint your portrait, you would review their body of work. It would be much more important to your decision-making than how they perform in an interview. If you went by the interview alone, you may end up with a cubist and in the final portrait your nose could be on your cheek and your body represented by a big, purple box. While it may objectively be a beautiful portrait, it’s not what you were looking for. Copywriters have different styles. Some are best at comedy, some at heartstring-tugging, some at making bland corporate-speak melodious.

When you are interviewing for a creative position, remember that you are selling your intangible creativity, not your measurable skills. This is why your portfolio will be more valuable to you than your resume.

Are you a copywriter? Only you can tell. But if the palette in your hand is filled with words rather than globs of acrylic paint, if you have an opinion on the Oxford comma that you will literally fight for, if you are enraged when people confuse “literally” and “figuratively,” you may be. And I welcome you into the Guild with outstretched arms.

Kenny Lapins is a mentor with the DePaul University Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) network. Kenny volunteers his time to network with DePaul students and provide career insight. Visit Handshake to connect with Kenny and other ASK mentors.

What Recruiters Like to See on a Resume & What Makes Them Cringe

By: Kristen A. Urhausen-Kummerer, Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) mentor and former Big Four recruiting and operations leader

I have read thousands of resumes in my career with the Big Four and have seen all styles, formats and lengths. Having a resume with the right information, format and presentation can make or break your chances of grabbing the attention of a recruiter. There is no doubt that resume writing is one of the hardest things to do. It takes time and patience, but if done right, you can capture a recruiter’s attention and score an interview that will help you get one step closer to your dream job.

Here is a list of five things that are eye-catching to recruiters:

1. Notable accomplishments vs. a list of responsibilities  

When you include notable accomplishments, you are immediately showing the reader how you added value to your current/past employers, and how you could do the same for their company. Notable accomplishments should include quantifiable information, if possible, and a concise explanation of how you achieved the accomplishment. For example, the line, “Helped company save $300K in expenses annually” should be edited to say, “Key contributor in helping company save $300K in expenses, annually, by re-negotiating all vendor contracts and implementing an automated approval process workflow for all expenses.” A list of responsibilities doesn’t help sell you, your skills or capabilities is what will get your foot in the door.

2. Modern and slick format  

The format of your resume must be clean and easy to read. If your resume doesn’t have a format that is easy to follow, you will lose the reader’s attention in the first few seconds. Consider these guidelines:

  • Make sure your name jumps off the page by using at 20 pt. font
  • Include a bolded headline under your contact information (i.e., Innovative Information Technology Consulting Director)
  • Stray away from Times New Roman or Book Antiqua as the font. Use a font such as Cambria, Arial or Helvetica
  • Bold important information at the beginning of each notable accomplishment in an effort to encourage the reader to continue reading

3. Simplified contact information.

The key contact information to share is your name, e-mail address, phone number and a link to your LinkedIn profile. There is no need to include your physical address.

4. Career summaries that highlight expertise, experience vs. soft skills

Most candidates highlight their ability to communicate, get along with people and build relationships in their career summaries. Although this is important, recruiters want to know what your sweet spot is. When people think of you professionally, what comes to mind? If you are an IT consultant, you probably have strong experience assessing current information system infrastructures and providing custom solutions that meet client needs and business objectives.

5. Tables

Use tables to highlight technical skills and other competencies vs. including them in a bulleted list.

Now that you know what recruiters like to see on resumes, here are five things that make recruiters cringe:

1. Resumes longer than two pages

Recruiters spend an average of less than one minute reviewing a resume, and will most likely put your resume in the “no thank you” pile if it is longer than two pages.

2. Detailed company descriptions about current, past employers 

If you choose to include a company description, try to limit it to one sentence. Including more than one sentence takes up valuable white space and will lose the interest of the reader.

3. Objective statements

Adding an objective statement is out-of-date and will not help you stand out from the crowd. By applying for an open position, you are implying that you are looking for a new opportunity that will utilize your skills and career interests at a specific company.

4. References available upon request

Make it easier on employers, and yourself, by offering your references early on. In some cases, employers will automatically ask for references either on the job application, or after they have decided to extend you an offer of employment.

5. Misspellings and grammatical errors

Be sure to double and triple check your resume. Print it out and read each word out loud to make sure that it reads perfectly. Consider sending it to a friend to review as well. You need to demonstrate to the reader that you pay close attention to detail.

So, how does your resume stack up?

Kristen A. Urhausen-Kummerer received her Bachelor of Science in commerce from DePaul in 1992 and has 22 years of Big Four recruiting and operations leadership experience at KPMG LLP, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and Arthur Andersen & Co, SC. She has interviewed and hired hundreds of professionals ranging from administrative assistants to senior executives over the years. Kristen is currently an independent resume designer and career advisor who focuses on partnering with job seekers as they prepare for their job search. She provides job seekers with insight on current resume trends, prepares them for interviews and helps to increase their confidence. Kristen is also an active ASK member and has helped students prepare for job fairs and interviews, in addition to providing career guidance and mentoring.

New Year, New Focus: 5 Career Resolutions to Make This Year

By: Gracie Covarrubias, DePaul University organizational and multicultural communication major ’18 and Career Center communications assistant

The New Year brings the promise of a fresh start—a new landscape to grow and develop as a person. It’s no secret that every year we all make resolutions that we end up losing track of about a month into the year. Here at the Career Center, we believe that the best resolutions are those related to career development. Don’t want to set unrealistic goals this year? We’ve got you covered.

Check out our top five New Year’s resolutions, and start building a more career-ready you.

Come to the Career Center at least once a quarter

The Career Center is a hub for good vibes, motivation and career support. As a general rule of thumb, you should make the effort to expose yourself to the people, advisors and ideas circulating within this office. This year, we’re challenging you to come in just once a quarter to get your resume reviewed, chat with peer career advisors (PCAPs) or check in with your advisor. A visit to the Career Center usually takes up no more than an hour of your day.

Network with your professors

It’s important that each quarter you take the time to reach out to your professors. Give a basic intro of yourself and ask them if they’d be open to meeting with you to share insights beyond what is discussed in class. Professors are people, too; they’re successful in their field and they’ve got a backpack full of knowledge they’d be happy to share with you if you simply ask. Connecting with professors is important not only for networking purposes, but also for attaining letters of recommendation and—if you’re lucky—you could even gain a mentor.

Connect with an ASK mentor

Since we are on the topic of mentorship, you can never have too many mentors. DePaul’s mentorship program, Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK), is the perfect way to connect with alumni in your field of interest. In a matter of minutes, you can connect with alumni right on Handshake whose work interests you. Once you’ve found an alumnus you’re interested in chatting with, you can send them a message requesting a time to talk, and then you can begin building a relationship with them.

Seek out informational interviews

An informational interview is essentially a meeting in which you chat with someone whose job interests you; it’s a way for you to gather a better understanding of their day-to-day responsibilities, the culture of their place of employment and their professional background. Informational interviews are a great way to get your toes wet and begin exploring different jobs that may be of interest to you. If you aren’t specifically looking for a mentorship relationship, but still want to gain insight from alumni, you can set up informational interviews with alumni through ASK as well. This year, make it your goal to set up at least one informational interview each quarter!

Go to at least one job fair, networking event or workshop each quarter

The Career Center hosts a myriad of career events each quarter that cater to all majors, interests and experience levels. These events exist to help you hone in and further develop your career and personal development skills, and to connect you with employers. You can kick off this resolution by attending our Winter Job and Internship Fair on Friday, February 10th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Can’t make the fair? Check out a complete list of our events on Handshake!

The 2017-year is full of endless possibilities, and these five resolutions are a sure-fire way to help you develop your career journey. If you need any help with accomplishing resolutions, be sure to stop by the Career Center!