In Case You Missed It: Business Not as Usual Event

At the “Business Not As Usual” event May 12, the BEC community welcomed four of our great alumni to share the strategies they employed in clinching their respective jobs during the pandemic. If you couldn’t attend it, you can watch the recording of the event here: 

You can also learn more about our alumni panelists through their LinkedIn profiles below, who graciously agreed that we could all connect with them.

While the pandemic marked a period of many uncertainties for both job seekers and employers, Shannon said she learned to not lose hope despite the uncertainty, and it paid off eventually. Though, it was a challenge it was for her to switch to remote work mode as she was just getting to know her new colleagues at work before the pandemic really took a turn.

To stand out from the competition during the job search, Michelle mentioned that she curated a portfolio summary of her body of work in addition to her resume. She also emphasized how important it is that new hires prove their worth early in the job. In other words, don’t assume your new colleagues know your capabilities well enough.

When asked what the panelists wish they would have done differently in their remote jobs, Genevieve stated that she would take more advantage of the online employee resources like yoga classes offered during her internship and utilize the time to enhance her wellbeing. Christina said she would get more involved with the different employee resources groups at work in order to network strategically.

Finally, when asked about how they would like to return to work, they all agreed that a good mix of both remote and in-person work would go a long way, and employers would do well to remain flexible on this topic.

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.”

Employer Spotlight: Michael Reynolds (MPA ’21) at HealthJoy

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.  

HealthJoy is an app that aims to improve the healthcare experience by guiding users to accessible professionals and resources. In this interview, Debbie Kaltman (HCS Employer Engagement Specialist) spoke with Michael Reynolds (MPA ‘21) to learn about his educational and career journey, his insights to students about making career changes, and his current role as a Customer Success Operations Manager.

Michael’s passions for learning as much as he can, building relationships with people, and supporting others have helped him grow in his professional goal of being a public servant. His career journey brought him to different professional industries — including theatre (fun fact: Michael has a BFA in Playwriting!), retail sales, and healthcare — and they all allowed him to explore his broader passions. As a Customer Success Operations Manager, Michael analyzes customer data and feedback to solve problems, improve their services, and help build the platform. This data-centered role is a professional pivot from Michael’s previous work in customer relations and success, but he views it as an opportunity to continue learning. Michael continues to seek experiences where he can build meaningful relationships and help others.

Michael’s advice to current students: “What you study in undergrad does not dictate what your career will look like. Taking advantage of the communities around you can be helpful. Volunteer, network… see what’s going on in the world around you, and see where your passions take you!”

Lessons for 2020 Grads from 2008 Grads

For 2020 graduates, the job search looks drastically different than it did even three months ago. Every day more and more questions are presented. How do I navigate hiring freezes? How can I still gain experience and leverage my skills? What resources are out there during this time? While the current state of the world is a public health crisis, the job market has many similarities to that of the 2008-2009 recession. We interviewed three DePaul alumni who graduated amidst the recession to learn how they navigated the job market and leveraged their skills and adapted to the changes. 

  • Matt Isaia, who graduated from DePaul in 2008 with a B.A. in English and currently works as the Electronic Resources Librarian at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake.
  • Mostafa Radwan, who graduated from DePaul in 2009 with a Masters in Computer Science and is currently a Solutions Architect at Docker Inc. 
  • Tara Genovese, who graduated with a B.A. in International Studies from DePaul in 2008 and currently works as a Social Worker at Fresenious Medical Care.

In general could you tell me a bit about your experience applying to jobs and finding employment upon graduation?

Tara: When I graduated from DePaul, I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after graduation and had very little guidance during that time. It was generally expected that once I graduated with a college degree that I would find a job easily afterward. Unfortunately, this was not the case. I remember one of my first professional interviews hearing in the waiting area about people’s 20 years of experience and master’s degrees competing for the entry-level job I applied for. Needless to say, I was not very confident in that interview or really in myself at the time. I would say compared to many of my friends who graduated that same year as me, I was lucky to find something. I had volunteered as an ESL teacher for a few months and I was contacted by the manager of the Non-profit regarding an AmeriCorp position there. That position did not pay me well at all, but at least I was able to get a forbearance on my loans, get really great experience, and be eligible for an end of year grant for each year completed to go toward further education or paying off my loans. I was not able to financially move out on my own after graduation and stayed with my mom. 

Matt: I graduated in August of 2008 and had been working a part time retail job that held me over. I began looking for work and quickly realized that in order to find this first job out, it was less about applying and more about networking. I was able to find a job with a small company specializing in government contracting. Networking was definitely the crucial component during this time. 

Mostafa: As an international student, there was already an additional level of difficulty. I had landed an internship and had experience as a software engineer prior to graduation which helped the most. Despite that, it was still very tough, I had a lot of interviews but not a lot of people were hiring. Many companies responded that these were “uncertain times” and they would keep me posted, but I began running out of money so I had to look for a plan B. I kept doing a lot of interviews and eventually landed an interview and job out of state in GIS mapping around September/October of that year. 

I found it most important to remember that you won’t be where you are forever, it’s okay that you’re in that job for now.

Matt isaia, Electronic Resources Librarian at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake


Did you have to shift your plan to account for the recession and economic changes? 

Tara: I was 22 years old so there really wasn’t much of a plan to begin with. I was still trying to figure things out back then. I really started looking at the money after this, seeing how certain positions weren’t in demand. I guess in this way my mindset changed. I wanted to work in a field where I could help others but wouldn’t starve. This in a lot of ways is why after getting my master’s in social work I went to medical directly instead of mental health because hospitals and health clinic’s pay better and offer benefits. If there wasn’t a recession, I probably would have gone straight to nonprofit work or after my master’s straight into mental health. I was always massively afraid of losing what financially I had or losing my job. I think this changed the way I negotiated my salary at work. Because the common saying was “just be happy you have a job.” This again is what I am hearing today but instead of “happy,” I hear “grateful.” I, personally, find these statements very problematic. 

Matt: There was a physical shift in that I wasn’t 100% sold on moving back home with my parents. Given the time, I ended up moving back home, which definitely wasn’t the easiest decision. The first job that I took after graduation had very little to do with what I wanted to do and what I had done at DePaul. I think that this shifted my thoughts. I began thinking more about pursuing other opportunities like advanced degrees. 

Mostafa: My original plan was to go into software engineering, but, at the time, there weren’t a lot of jobs out there so I tried to still stay in technology.


Are there any specific skills you had picked up at DePaul that helped you the most in that first post-grad job?

Matt: I definitely picked up a lot of soft skills that were useful. DePaul has robust general education requirements that helped hone my excel skills, allowing me to become familiar with spreadsheets and looking at data. My English classes also helped hone my writing and research skills. With these skills I was able to say I have a lot of experience writing and ask if I could work on a certain project. 

How did that first post-grad job help you in your later roles? 

Matt: Honestly, it was most helpful in that I was able to learn what I really want to do versus what I don’t want to do. At the first job, I had an overwhelming sensation that I don’t want to stay here and saw it as just a stepping stone to what I do want to do. I started asking myself what it is I need to do in order to get out of this work. Where do I want to be? I could stay where I am or I could challenge myself. I think it’s more than okay to try jobs that you might not see yourself in because you’re able to learn about what you want to do and don’t

Additionally, what were some of the best resources you found while job hunting? 

Tara: For me, I didn’t stop learning about the job-hunting process. There are so many resources out there on how to formulate your resume, cover letter, what colors are best to wear during a job interview, everything on the internet. These help. Keep learning. For me, I primarily used indeed.com like websites where they take postings from multiple job boards. I would also try to use the same verbiage in my cover letter and resume as in the job post.

If there is a company you like, make a schedule of when to look back on their job board. Start finding people on LinkedIn who work for the company and look at their experience. Even though it’s scary, just contact them for an informational interview and come prepared and on time. 

Tara Genovese, Social Worker at Fresenious Medical Care.

Matt: Networking was definitely the most important resource during that time. I think the ASK network has really streamlined the process within the DePaul community. I wish it had been around for me. I also utilized the Career Center’s resume review service which helped get my materials in order to apply. 

Mostafa: LinkedIn wasn’t very popular while I was job searching but it definitely is now and I’d recommend checking out LinkedIn. Candor is also a great resource to find out who has a hiring freeze right now. I made sure to take advantage of the services at the Career Center as well. I made appointments for a resume and cover letter review a few times which made sure everything was the best it could be. I landed my internship from the Career Center job fair so I would definitely utilize them during this time. 

Finally, what is some advice that you’d give graduating seniors during this time? This could be related to careers or could be overall life advice. 

Tara: Life is always uncertain. You will get what you want but you have to be prepared that it is not going to be with plan A. It’s never easy to be flexible and adaptable, but it will teach you to persevere. I graduated in the time of the worst recession this country had ever seen until today, I have a master’s degree, I work in the field that I got it in, I own my home, and I have a small business. I didn’t allow someone to tell me how to live my life. I didn’t listen to how the media always insulted my generation. I got what I wanted and for the most part, getting there wasn’t by plan A or B. If you want what you want, you will get it but you have to believe it in order to do so!

Matt: Try to look for jobs that are very in demand right now. If you’re able to, try looking at COVID-19 response jobs. I would also keep in mind that once the economy opens back up there’s going to be a big flood of people looking for jobs. Be aware of the competition; it’s a numbers game in any economy. Right now, there’s so much that we can’t control, so it’s important to try to stay positive. Focus on the things you want to do, and ask yourself ‘what can I do now that I couldn’t do before.’ This could be hobbies or upskilling, try to embrace the situation as much as you can. 

Mostafa:

Make sure to take care of yourself first, before others; make sure that you’re meeting your own personal needs (getting sleep, eating well, surrounding yourself with loved ones).

Try to see what’s available out there resource wise, any income or recovery plans. It’s going to be super difficult to concentrate on a job search if you don’t know how to pay for your rent. Apply to lots of jobs, and find or create your own opportunities, even ones you might not have normally considered. In life, it’s important to never stop learning, even outside of class; this can be a great time to upskill. Try to continue to foster relationships during this time, network, reach out to people through the ASK network. Your career is a work in progress, it’s never going to end, where you land after graduation doesn’t determine your entire future. 

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.  

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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.

 

Pave Your Own Career Path, Discover Your Interests with the Help of These Tips

By: Gina Anselmo, former career advisor for the DePaul University College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences 

Recently, I learned what a “desire path” is from a faculty colleague who is well versed in exploring the art of walking. A desire path refers to a natural path made by a walker or bicyclist as opposed to a path that already exists, like a sidewalk. It occurred to me that perhaps a desire path is the kind of path a College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (LAS) student is looking for in order to respond to some internal sleuthing of an “I know it when I see it” type of career. To pave your own desire path, you need to jump into exploratory resources that help you lay the foundation of what makes up your professional identity as well as explore sites of inspiration that help you investigate fit.

Here are a few exploratory resources and inspirational sites to help you discover your professional identity and interests, and to help you pave your own desire path.

What is your Primer? Developing your Professional Identity

Exploring elements of your professional identity can help you connect what you want to learn and do (interests), what motivates you (values), your strengths (skills), and your characteristics (personality), which will in turn uncover paths.

After you have identified terms that describe your interests, values, and skills, think about the following:

  • What themes can you identify in your reflection?
  • Can you start to see how these areas can be applied to different settings and professional roles?
  • Try to think of different career titles/settings that complement your interests
  • Can you identify action steps that would help you test out “fit” in the interests you identified?

Finding Your Buckets, Gathering More Language

ONET is a rock star, career exploration site that can help you uncover more connections between your professional identity and which occupations interest you the most.

Explore ONET through some of the following searches to discover occupations that link to a mash up of your interests:

  • Job Families
  • Interests (your top three)
  • Values Clusters
  • Skills Search

Food for Thought: Stories Sparking…More Stories

The following sites can help you find topics or stories that resonate with your professional self, and allow you to further uncover interest paths. You may also find stories from others who have likeminded interests.

  • Medium, a community of readers offering unique perspectives
  • Exposure, adventures and stories through a photographic lens
  • Ted Talks and more Ted Talks that inspire college students

People, Places and Positions

Sometimes uncovering interests will stem from learning about other people’s paths and stories. By exploring alumni profiles, you can uncover the paths that alumni have taken with the same major:

  • Search away on LinkedIn and explore the studies and career paths of alumni
  • Connect with the Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) network to get assistance with finding alumni with the same major/minor or who are currently in a job or industry that interests you

Calling in Reinforcements – Work Place Culture

The vibe that an organization executes can set the tone for engagement, happiness, and satisfaction among professionals. It also goes hand-in-hand with identifying your work values. Here are two sites that can help you explore workplace settings and cultures and determine which environments you will thrive in.

Scavenger Hunt of Inspiration – Job Search Sites

The following sites might spark ideas of how your broad areas of interests could narrow to specialized areas, settings and professional roles:

  • Lumity npo.net, a job board of nonprofit and community service opportunities
  • Idealist, a platform where 118,600+ organizations post career opportunities
  • Chicago Artist Resource, a site providing artists with national and international resources
  • Back Door Jobs, a place to find summer jobs, internships, seasonal positions, volunteering opportunities and more
  • Indeed, a platform to discover fresh job listing

My Advice to You When Looking for Career Inspiration

Remember that many careers have more than one starting point. Every career can be unpacked to have many adaptations, which can lead to more career possibilities. Build on the foundation of what describes you and use a mash-up of your interests, values, and skills to continue to create the road you are looking for.


Are you interested in strengthening your understanding of professional interests? You can meet with a career advisor who specializes in supporting your college. You can also check out the Career Center’s online exploration resources and connect with the ASK network.