5 Ways to Boost Your Career over Intersession

By Emily Komendera, Assistant Director, Employer Engagement and On-Campus Interviews

Fall Quarter came and went in a blur.

Luckily, the relief of a month-long break is right around the corner! While it may be tempting to use that time for Netflix (or Disney+) and holiday socializing, make sure to also set some career goals. With this time, you have the freedom to focus on what lies next after college, and the time to get some things done that wouldn’t be as feasible with class projects and homework piling up.

1. Pump up your online brand

What a great time to finally make those edits to your LinkedIn and Handshake profiles! You’ve taken some awesome classes this past quarter, and maybe you had a great internship that you haven’t added to your experience section. Think beyond text, and consider adding photos, links to your work, or going beyond that to create a professional portfolio online. Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, or Moonfruit are easy to use resources for creating an online portfolio. This can really make an impact on an employer’s first impression of you, and can also include more examples of your work beyond what’s included on your resume.

2. Follow up with your contacts

The end of a quarter is a great time to check back in with some of the people you’ve met recently at networking events, or colleagues from your summer internship. Make sure you are tracking your networking contacts and the last time you’ve connected, an easy way to do this is through an Excel or Google Sheet. You don’t only want to reach out to them when you need something – so share a quick update on how the quarter went, maybe email over an article that made you think of them, or ask how things have been going for them on a project you saw them share on LinkedIn.

3. Expand your network

While many folks travel over the holidays and might not have as much availability, intersession can be a great time for you to sit down and identify gaps in your network. Say your dream company is Google and you don’t know anyone who works at Google! Check out the DePaul ASK Network or look at those who are 2nd degree connections on LinkedIn who work at Google. If you know the person you have in common as a connection well enough, you can ask them for an introduction, or ask if they would be comfortable if you mentioned their name when you reach out to them with a LinkedIn message. When building your network, it’s always important to think about who you are already connected to and how they can help – but always put the ownership for that action on yourself.

4. Explore short-term opportunities

The holidays can be a slow time for some, but for non-profit, retail, and hospitality, it can be the busiest time of year! If you’re looking to make a little extra cash, add experience to your resume, or both, consider exploring seasonal opportunities. There are a lot of great options on Handshake; make sure to type “seasonal” in the search bar in the “jobs” tab. You never know what a short term opportunity could bring in the long run!

5. Set goals for next quarter

This additional time and the terrible Chicago weather make for a really great opportunity to reflect on what has changed this past quarter for your future goals. Write down stories about things you learned professionally and personally, and document all of your successes. It will come in handy when you have your next interview.

It’s also a great time to think ahead and set some tangible goals for what you’d like to do in the remainder of your time here at DePaul and beyond. If you’d like to talk to someone to bounce your ideas off of for goals, remember that the DePaul Career Center is open through 12/20.

Personal Branding & Standing Out

By: Mariah Cowan, DePaul University digital communications and media arts graduate student ’16

You know you’re awesome, but how will you let employers know that you’re awesome?

Go to college, get a degree and land your dream job. As simple as it may sound, there is so much more that goes into developing your career. You can’t walk into an interview with only your degree and expect to get the job on the spot. Employers are looking for people who stand out. You have to present yourself in a professional manner in order to impress employers. So, how can you get employers to think you’re simply stellar?

Brand yourself! Think about it. Why do you buy the brands you use? Because they stand out from the rest? They present themselves better than others? So how will you? You probably know the basics: Nice and clean resume, professional dress, etc. But have you considered building a portfolio? Or a personal website?

In an article I read titled, “Do you need to build a personal website to land a job,” there are three professional benefits of having a personal website. They include the following:

  1. Sharing your expertise – What can you do? Share your accomplishments.
  2. Building your personal brand – Create a professional presence online.
  3. Establishing yourself as a thought leader – Establish industry credibility.

I believe the same benefits apply for a portfolio. Portfolios allow you to showcase your skills and experiences. It shows that you not only can talk the talk, but you can walk the walk.

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Here’s what our professionals, Sarah Highstone and Micheal Elias, had to say about the topic:

“Students who show employers, through digital portfolios, their work online have an advantage over students who do not.” – Sarah Highstone, former Career Specialist for Computing and Digital Media

“A digital portfolio allows applicants to expand on their brand beyond resume data, a business card, etc., by promoting concrete evidence of their work and school accomplishments. If employers can point to artifacts that support the content on a students’ resume, it can give them an advantage in the application process over applicants without concrete evidence.” – Michael Elias, Assistant Director, Career Specialist for College of Communication

But is this true for all students? What if employers do not require a portfolio? “I would think it can help an applicant stand out even in traditional fields where it’s typically not required, since it presents something new to the hiring manager,” says Micheal.

I agree with Michael. Whatever helps you stand out, I say go for it!