4 Benefits of Enrolling in a UIP Course

By: Renee Radzom, DePaul University graduate, former University Internship Program (UIP) assistant

Before becoming DePaul’s University Internship Program (UIP) manager, Erika Mercado (CSH ’16) dipped her toes into a few UIP courses herself as a student. Because of the UIP courses she took and the positive experiences she had at DePaul, she was able to discover her interest in the education industry. I sat down with Erika to gather key benefits of enrolling in a UIP course, aside from being able to cross off your Experiential Learning requirement. As the current manager of the program and fellow student participant, Erika had a lot to share

1. You’ll get help visualizing your future career: Erika said one of the reasons she wanted to work for UIP was because of a very beneficial experience she had as a student. Erika took the UIP 240 course Explore Your Career Options in her first year after transferring to DePaul. She felt it was a “great eye-opener” and allowed her to visualize future career goals. “UIP 240 helped me discover that I loved higher education and led me to pursue student jobs on campus, including front desk receptionist and peer career advisor roles,” Erika said.

2. You’ll be able to jumpstart your portfolio: Erika also took UIP 250 titled You, Your Work, and the World and enjoyed the ability to make an online career portfolio. Erika said she felt much more confident applying for jobs and going in for interviews after the class.

3. You’ll learn how to make the most of your internship or job: One of the things Erika really loves about UIP is that the program allows you to make the most of your internship or job. If you’re looking to fulfill your Experiential Learning credit, Erika said UIP is a great tool to “navigate your internship in order to stand out and make the most of the experience while developing job search tools to help you land your next position.”

4. You may just discover your career calling: “If it wasn’t for UIP and my positive experience working at DePaul, I wouldn’t have discovered that my dream job was somewhere in higher education helping out other students – you never know what you can discover through UIP and through an internship,” Erika said.

“It’s great to hear other students get excited to start UIP, and to start their internships,” Erika explained. “Having once been in their shoes myself, I understand how the process of finding and securing an internship can be stressful. But the experience you gain and the new skills you learn are worth it – and UIP is there to help!” If you have any questions about UIP orientation or enrollment, or any inquiries about the internship proposal process, Erika encourages you to get in touch with the team at uip@depaul.edu.

Your Guide to Following Up After the Interview

Job interviews can be nerve-racking. Even if they go well, many people breathe a huge sigh of relief once they’re over. But before you celebrate too early, keep in mind that how you handle yourself after the interview is just as important as the interview itself. So, while it’s okay to treat yourself for a job well done, there are a few additional steps you want to take to maintain professionalism and good standing beyond the interview.

Send Personalized Thank You Letters

The most crucial step to take after an interview is to deliver a thank you letter to everyone you spoke with; these letters should ideally be sent out 24-48 hours after an interview when the information and discussions are still fresh in your mind. Doing so will also help demonstrate your enthusiasm for the potential employer.

In terms of format, email thank you letters are appropriate and may be easier to complete if you spoke with a number of people at one company. However, we consistently hear from employers that thank you letters received in the mail always stand out, as it shows the applicant went the extra mile to find a card, write a message by hand, and send it off. Since most employers rarely receive mail that isn’t directly tied to their role, personalized thank you letters can stand out in a significant way.

Keep Up with the Employer

Most employers will give you a timeline for when they intend to move forward in the interview process or make a hiring decision. It’s important to honor that timeline and not be too eager to find out where you stand. For example, if an employer says they intend to make a hiring decision by December 12th, don’t contact them about the status of the position until after that deadline has passed. Reaching out sooner won’t make you seem enthusiastic; rather, it may give the impression that you are impatient, or that you don’t know how to follow directions. Best to wait it out, and then follow-up via email. If an employer doesn’t give you a timeline for when they intend to make a decision, it’s best to wait 7-10 business days before following up.

When you do follow-up, send a brief email to let the employer know that you are still interested in the position and that you were just writing to check the status of the hiring process. This is a non-aggressive way to let them know you are still passionate about the role.

If another two weeks go by and you still haven’t heard from the employer, it’s okay to send one final email to check the status of the position.

Review Salary Expectations

If you’re applying to a full-time job, you may be faced with having to negotiate a salary and benefits package. Take some time after an interview to research the average salary for the position you applied for, both at the national and local level, and evaluate your financial obligations to determine a salary range you would be comfortable communicating in the negotiation stage.

Visit your career advisor to learn more about salary statistics pertaining to your major or career path, as well as to develop a negotiation strategy specific to the position. We can also help if you are juggling multiple offers and need assistance on how to communicate with employers professionally.

Next Steps

Need help crafting a thank you note or follow-up email? Check out our Job Search Letters packet on our website for thank you letter examples. And, if you’re emailing an employer to follow-up on the hiring process, you are welcome to send a rough draft of that email to your career advisor for suggestions and feedback. Finally, if you have questions regarding salary, reach out to your career advisor for additional tips so that you feel comfortable and confident during the negotiating process.

How to Navigate Unusual Interview Questions

Many professionals talk about the best ways to answer traditional interview questions (“What is your biggest weakness?”) and behavioral questions designed to understand how you’ve handled past situations (“Tell me about a time when you had to address an angry customer”). But how do you prepare for an interviewer who wants to know how many trees there are in New York’s Central Park, or what type of car best represents your personality? Below is a run down of three different types of unusual interview questions, and how to answer them.

The Oddball Question

Interviewers may throw an oddball question at you, which is typically a question that, on the surface, doesn’t appear to have any relationship to the job itself. The most common example of this is designed to get a better sense of an applicant’s personality. Questions such as, “If you could be any animal – or color, or food – which would you choose to be and why?” are going to generate highly subjective answers, and this is an opportunity for you to provide more insight into your personality beyond your resume or more traditional interview questions. For example, as an animal you might describe yourself as a tiger because of your ability to hit the ground running on the job. Maybe you identify with the color yellow because you try to remain bright and positive at all times. Avocados are a versatile food and can be used in a variety of recipes; describing yourself as one could show flexibility.

If you could be any animal, which would you choose to be and why?

Employers recognize that these questions are goofy, so it’s okay to have a little fun with your responses. Do try to avoid examples that have negative connotations – like describing yourself as a snake, or mold green, or fast food – unless you can put some kind of positive spin on it. Remember, your response is a reflection of your personality, so it helps to think of potential answers in advance. The website CareerOverview has some good ones to consider, such as, “If you were a salad, what kind of dressing would you come with?”

The Brain Teaser Question

Some interviewers will throw a brainteaser your way in an attempt to better understand your problem-solving abilities. Your responses to questions like, “How many gas stations are there in the city of Chicago?” or “How many ping pong balls could fit in a Boeing 747?” will provide employers with some insight into how well you think on your feet as well as how you approach complex problems. Here are two important things to remember when answering brainteaser questions:

  1. Employers aren’t looking for one exact answer
  2. It’s crucial to explain your thought process while answering these questions to give employers an understanding of how you think

For example, a colleague of mine loves to ask the question, “How many quarters would it take to stack from the floor to the ceiling,” because there are a number of different ways to answer it. During a single interview cycle, we had three very unique responses. One applicant pulled out a calculator, a pen, and some paper to analytically solve the problem, and show us her work once she was finished. Another applicant used her surroundings to generate an answer; she noticed that the cinder block walls in the interview room were roughly the size of a roll of quarters worth $10, and calculated an approximate answer from there. The final applicant refused to answer the question because he didn’t see how it was relevant. Which answer do you think was the least effective?

How many quarters would it take to stack from the floor to the ceiling?

Again, employers understand that these are unusual questions, and the worst thing you can do is refuse to play along. But practice makes perfect. This Muse article breaks down seven different types of brainteaser interview questions and the best ways to tackle them.

The Case Study Question

For more advanced interviewers, or applicants seeking work in specific industries like consulting, you may be presented with a lengthy, work-related case study question that requires you to spend some time generating a detailed, well-thought out response. These questions may be presented in advance of an interview so that you can research and plan your response prior to the interview. Sometimes, you may be presented with a case study on the spot; in these cases, you are typically given some time – generally between 15-60 minutes – to come up with and present a response. A sample case study might read, “Our client, XYZ Manufacturing, is losing money. Why?” From there, you may be presented with additional information about XYZ Manufacturing to help your thought process along.

Case studies, similar to brainteasers, are designed to see how well applicants think on their feet. Case studies also allow employers to get a sense of an applicant’s attention to detail and analytical and presentation skills. The most effective way to prepare for these types of questions is to practice at home. Boston Consulting Group has one of the best databases of sample case studies you can dive into, designed in a “choose your own adventure” style where you can select different responses and discover whether or not your approach will provide employers with the types of answers they are seeking.

Additional Prep

Take advantage of mock interviews through DePaul’s Career Center to gain additional insight about your responses to these more unusual types of questions. Our career advisors are available for 60-minute practice interviews, and many mentors in our Alumni Sharing Knowledge database provide mock interview prep. If you can’t get in front of someone, try out InterviewStream, which allows you to practice from home using a webcam so that you can record and view yourself answering questions. Each of these methods can help you to feel more prepared as you enter the interview stage, no matter what type of question is thrown your way.

Job Hunting? Here’s Something That Will Help

By: Alejandra Ruiz, DePaul University honors marketing major ‘16

Are you a recent graduate, an alumni or a student who is still looking for a full-time job or internship? Are you feeling anxious about your future? Please don’t! The Just in Time Fair is here to help you. This job fair is designed exclusively for the DePaul community. At the fair, you will find recruiters from a wide range of industries who are seeking qualified candidates of all majors and experience levels to fill job, internship, and volunteer opportunities.

For your convenience, the fair is deliberately following commencement weekend, in the hopes of connecting DePaul candidates to immediate opportunities!

When it comes to attending a job fair, my one piece of advice is to prepare. Being prepared will better your chances of walking out with a new connection, an interview, or even a job offer.

Follow these simple steps to get job fair ready:

Revise Your Resume: Go and see your career advisor or a peer advisor at the Career Center to review your resume and provide feedback.

Do Your Research: Research the companies that interest you and have specific questions ready for each. This will help you engage the representatives at the fair and express your knowledge of their companies.

Keep Calm & Practice: Before entering the fair, stop by the ASK Oasis table to…

  1. Relax and prepare for the fair
  2. Practice your introduction and pitch
  3. Get a final resume review

The Just in Time Fair is a great opportunity to interact with recruiters from exciting companies who are hiring right now. To learn more about the fair, please visit Handshake.

How to Talk About Weaknesses in an Interview

“What’s your greatest weakness?”

If you have interviewed for a job or internship, chances are you have been asked this question. In a brief video posted to Forbes’ website, Kathryn Dill provides sage advice on how to handle this question.

Some important themes in her message to take note of include:

Be authentic: It is important to both be aware of your weaknesses and avoid clichés, especially those that are not actually weaknesses (e.g. perfectionism) and can make you seem arrogant.

Be professional: Stick to examples from the workplace. Other formal settings like the classroom, student organizations, or volunteer experiences are OK too.

Be proactive: Select something you have been successful in addressing and share the tactics you have adopted. This approach will allow you to both communicate your problem solving abilities and assure the employer that the weakness will not lead to problems in the workplace.

In my work with advisees, I often share these very same tips. Being able to talk about your weaknesses and how you have addressed them shows that you have a self-awareness that allows for growth. Besides, no one wants to hire someone who cannot recognize their own growing edges, rendering them unteachable and often unpleasant to work alongside.

Being able to talk about your weaknesses and how you have addressed them shows that you have a self-awareness that allows for growth.

In preparation for your interview, take time to reflect on where you have struggled. Select weaknesses that are not vital to the type of position you are applying for as not to raise red flags, and be prepared to talk about how you have succeeded in addressing these weaknesses. I also recommend being prepared to talk about at least 2 or 3 separate weaknesses. Some employers, knowing that you have likely prepared at least one response, may push you to provide additional examples to see how you respond under pressure.

Of course, weaknesses are just one topic you should be prepared to negotiate in an interview. Learn more by meeting with your career advisor or conducting a practice interview with an ASK alumni mentor!

How to End Your College Years With a BAM

By: Alejandra Ruiz, DePaul University honors marketing major ‘16 

Stop what you’re doing! Take a step back, and enjoy the moment.

These past few months have been flying right past us, and we haven’t had a chance to enjoy our last year as undergrads. Two months from today we will be walking across the stage, saying goodbye to friends, professors, and for some, to Chicago. We’ve been so focused on getting good grades, finding a job, and trying to be ‘official’ adults that we’ve forgotten the most important thing – to enjoy the ride.

Whether or not you have plans after graduation, there are a few steps that you need to take before you walk across that stage:

  1. Build your Network. I know, I know, you’ve been hearing this from everyone. But it is truly essential. I’m not asking you to go talk to people you don’t know. I’m just saying that you could have a great network of people if you stay in touch with classmates, professors, office staff, coaches, and pretty much anyone here at DePaul. It is simple; connect with your classmates via LinkedIn, Facebook, or other social media outlets. With professors, you can do the same, but it will be more beneficial if you get to talk to them one-on-one before you leave. Remember, finding a job after college isn’t just about “what” you know, but “who” you know. From experience, connecting with a professor will help you reach mountains you never thought were possible in such an early start of your career.
  1. Visit the Career Center. I know we’ve all been avoiding meeting with our career advisors, it’s a nerve-wracking situation. But to be honest, going through that experience of meeting with them is very much needed. I can assure you, there is no one more dedicated and knowledgeable. They will help you through each step – from revising your resume, to showing you where and how to apply, to connecting you with people and events, and, they even help with mock interviews. Trust me, as a senior going through the scary process of searching for a job, my career advisor has been of great help!

I encourage you to not only follow these tips, but to also enjoy the last few months you have here at DePaul. Make sure to take some time to walk around campus, eat that disgusting Student Center food, watch a game, visit your dorm hall, and reflect on the past four years of your life. DePaul has been the best four years of my life so far, and I’m excited to see what’s coming my way. Congratulations to all graduating seniors, and I hope my short checklist will help you finish your undergrad with a BAM!