How to Navigate the Hiring Process After Your Post-Graduate Service

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

Since DePaul is a service-focused university that commits over 518,848 hours of community service each year, it’s exciting to hear about students considering post-graduate service either in the U.S. or abroad. While committing a year or two of your life after graduation to service is an exciting step, there are challenges that one may face when reentering the workforce. For example, students who commit to post-graduate service don’t always jump into a career path that directly aligns with that service. Although this can make resume building and elevator pitches more complicated tasks, there are ways to effectively market post-graduate service to employers. We sat down with DePaul University’s Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) associate director and Peace Corps alumni, Leslie Chamberlain, for insight on how to navigate the hiring process as someone who has done post-graduate service.

Just like with any prospective employment opportunity, there is a process attributed with catering your skill sets to the job description. Leslie broke it down simply, “It’s very powerful and meaningful to do post-graduate service, but you want to be able to quantify and qualify that experience. You have to talk about why it was powerful and meaningful.” How exactly do you get to this point? Leslie suggested a three-step solution: self-assessment, research and connection.

Reflection/Self-Assessment

The first step in qualifying and quantifying your new skills requires you take the time to conduct a self-assessment. Strive to identify specific skills that you gained from your post-graduate experience. The key to maximizing these skills is being able to articulate what you learned in employer-friendly terms. Check out our blog post about marketing service experience to employers for a step-by-step guide on how to leverage engaging language when talking about your skills.

Research

Next, you want to conduct research on the company just as you would for any other employment opportunity. Explore the company’s website and start building a case for why you would want to work there. Determine which values and what aspects of their mission and company culture stand out to you the most and why. This would be a perfect time to reach out to your contacts at the company and ask for an informational interview to gain a better understanding of whether or not the employer might be a good fit for you.

Connecting Skills to Opportunities

Based on what you learned from the self-assessment and about the company, begin connecting the dots between the two. When it comes to connecting skills to opportunities, Leslie reminded us, “Employers are turned off by students who cannot articulate why an experience is important to a job they are interviewing for.” Apart from quantifying and qualifying experiences, you should strive to get excited about the ways in which your skills will be an asset to a team—this is where your company research comes into play.

Connecting the dots between existing company issues and your newfound skill sets also exhibits your ability to think critically. The idea here is that you should be able to relate the skills you gained from post-graduate service to how you can solve an employer’s problems.

At the end of the day, successfully leveraging your post-graduate experiences means taking the time to reflect upon yourself, research the company and ultimately connecting the dots between the two. Remember, post-graduate service is a great way to give back and gain incredible experience that could set you apart in the hiring process. Don’t let the challenges discourage you; rather, allow them to excite you! Need more insight on how you can connect the dots? Stop by the Career Center to schedule an appointment with your career advisor.

Young Women Entering the Workforce: Showing Your Worth

By: Gloria Martinez, founder of WomenLed 

Gloria Martinez runs WomenLed.org, which aims to celebrate women’s achievements in the workplace. As a college professor turned business owner, she knows all too well the ups and downs women can face when trying to advance their careers. She believes that while women have made advancements toward “shattering the glass ceiling,” there is still much to be done. It is her aim to help increase the number of women-led businesses by educating others about the topic.


As young women enter into the workforce, it is not always enough to be just good at a job. Sexism can create extra hurdles to overcome while trying to advance in male-dominated career paths. Although even subtle gender bias is challenging and unfair, there are ways to prove your worth and show your strengths to earn those top jobs.

Bolster Your Personal Skills

  1. Start by making yourself your personal best. For instance, if you want to be an executive in charge someday, try the simple task of dressing the part. Instead of your usual, casual garb, try assimilating leadership styles. When it comes time for hiring and promotions, bosses will already see you as professional, ambitious, and fitting the part of management due, in part, to your attitude and presence.
  2. Find an organization that you’re passionate about and volunteer in an official capacity. Volunteering can be a rewarding endeavor that opens up the opportunity to meet and network with other professionals. You can also use it on your resume, and gain invaluable experience in the process.
  3. Practice using assertive language. When women apologize at unnecessary times or don’t speak up when they know something, they can appear insecure. Remember, you undermine the hard work you put in when you are not confident and assertive.
  4. Realize that you bring value to your workplace. Don’t be afraid to show off your skills and education! Keep a list of all your successes and achievements to reference in the event that they may lend substance for your resume, cover letter, a promotion or project offer.

Strategies to Use in the Workplace

There are several ways you can gain respect in the workplace. Consider this:

  1. It’s okay to admit that you don’t know everything. It’s better to be open about not knowing something and ask for additional information or resources on the topic.
  2. Mistakes happen at work and it is best to own up to them. Taking responsibility for mistakes and finding ways to fix them are signs of leadership and strength. Be a problem solver, your bosses and peers will grow to respect you.
  3. Look for a mentor who is a leader in your field. Choose someone who is respected and knowledgeable; someone from which you can learn from. Mentors can help you analyze and get past problems you might encounter as well as help promote your skills and assets to peers.
  4. Make yourself knowledgeable about your company and field of work. If you are always extra prepared for meetings with knowledge and solutions to issues, you might get an opportunity to run a project or have influence on an important decision.
  5. Hone in on your negotiating skills. These will be key when it is time to talk about salary and advancement. We sometimes believe that our hard work will be rewarded automatically, but that’s not always the case. Many times you will have to market yourself and confidently ask for what you deserve.

Want more? Check out this article where several New York Times readers shared advice and strategies for young women in the workplace.

It may take some time to prove yourself, but stay positive even when faced with challenges. You will gain experience, wisdom, and respect by doing so. Even in male-dominated professions, the ones that put in the most work with integrity, humility, and gratitude will usually rise to the top. Keep climbing and glass ceilings will shatter.

 

 

 

What to Do Before Your Quest For Summer Employment

By: Brandon Levy, DePaul University Finance Major ‘19

As we get closer to summer, a lot of students begin to hit the market for a job or internship. It’s nice to make a little money over the summer, especially if it’s by doing something related to your career. (How else are you going to afford to go to Lollapalooza?) Unfortunately, securing a position isn’t always easy, as the market for jobs is very competitive. Knowing this, I scheduled an appointment with the career advisor for the Driehaus College of Business to gather some insight.

In preparation for the inevitable interviews I will go through on my quest for employment this summer, I decided to focus my meeting on techniques I could use to improve my interview skills.

Jumping into it, I was all over the place with my questions, inquiring what I should ask an employer, how I should conduct successful background research, and even how I should write an effective thank you note. No joke, before the meeting, I didn’t even know that writing a thank you note is something I should be doing!

To my pleasure, all the questions I asked were answered, often provoking a new question or topic for discussion. I was amazed at how much I was able to take away from the meeting.

Here are the top things I learned that might help you during your quest for employment:

  1. When answering questions from a potential employer, figure out ways you can use your experiences to answer their questions. It’s an effective way to display the relevance of your prior experience to the position.
  2. When conducting research on the company before your interview, don’t limit your research to just the company itself, explore the industry as a whole. One great way to do this is by following the organization and the industry using social media such as LinkedIn or Twitter. That way, not only are you well versed, but you are in the loop about relevant matters and issues.

I left the office with a variety of resources at my disposal including websites for interview practice or background information, and helpful attachments touching on the following:

  • Questions frequently asked by employers
  • Posture tips (yes, this matters!)
  • Tactics for successful responses to interview questions

All and all, I highly recommend scheduling an appointment, which you can do on Handshake. Learn new interview techniques, improve your resume, or even work on an elevator pitch! I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be worth your time.