Happy New Year! Just as before, the DePaul Career Center is here to help you have a successful and productive year.
We are excited to share our January 2021 programming schedule below! These regularly scheduled virtual events and workshops will help you stay on top of your career goals, gain new skills and navigate the ever-changing job market.
By Betsy Cahill, Career Community Advisor, Health Care & Science
While the job market has shifted over the past couple of months, there are still numerous ways to continue gaining experience, honing new skills, making connections, and exploring career paths.
1. Remote Internships
As many internships are moving from in-person to remote for the summer, this opens even more doors to possible organizations and opportunities you can target in different cities, states, or even countries! To find remote opportunities, use “remote” as a keyword or filter when searching in platforms like Handshake and Indeed. Don’t forget to highlight your experience with remote work tools, such as Zoom, in your applications!
Micro-internships are short-term, paid, professional assignments that are similar to those given to interns or new hires. Completing a micro-internship project can help you gain valuable experience, translate your coursework into practice or learn new skills. Find micro-internship opportunities here.
3. Remote Volunteering
Volunteering is a great way to gain industry-specific experience, get exposed to organizations doing interesting work, and expand your skillset. From manning crisis hotlines and tutoring to sewing face masks and supporting community organizations, volunteer opportunities abound. Find one that would be a good fit for you at VolunteerMatch.org, One Good Deed Chicago, or Serve Illinois.
Informational interviews are a low-pressure, highly productive way to explore careers, build your network, and practice your interviewing skills. Talking with people working directly in roles and fields of interest to you is one of the best ways to get direct job-related, industry-specific insight and advice. Learn more about informational interviews here, and find DePaul alums to connect with through the Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Network and LinkedIn.
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By: Mackenzie Canfield, DePaul University English and sociology major ’17 and peer career advisor
For many of us, service is a critical part of our experiences as DePaul students. It’s an opportunity to not only engage with various Chicago communities, but also build lasting, impactful relationships with individuals outside of our immediate DePaul networks. However, as it comes time to apply for internships and full-time positions, it is often hard to envision how these service experiences play into our professional goals.
While the context is different, many of the skills developed through your time spent volunteering are transferable, and therefore marketable to a potential employer. These are skills that will stand out on your resume and cover letter, highlighting who you are as an internship or job candidate.
First, ask yourself, how do I engage with the communities I’m working with during my service experiences? Often times, the initial response is, I help students in Back of the Yards with their homework, or, I play games with residents at a Garfield Park senior center. While these responses are certainly true, in order to best market service experiences to a potential employer we’ll have to dig a little deeper to pull out the more valuable and unique skillsets being utilized.
Let’s work with the first example of tutoring students in Back of the Yards. Tutoring, as a skill, may be marketable for some professional positions, however, if you’re pursuing accounting, marketing, health sciences, or any other number of fields, it might be less important. Tutoring does not have to be the skill we focus on, though. Let’s think: What else does tutoring students in Back of the Yards involve? It involves listening to students’ stories in order to best help them, supporting full-time staff by continuing to live out the mission of the school or organization, as well as initiating and planning different events for the students based on what they—and the community members—need.
Listening, supporting, initiating, and planning. Those are four skills that an employer within any industry would like to see displayed on your resume or cover letter. Additionally, they will take note of the fact that you were intentional of the skills you mentioned and that you took the time to think of your experiences in the context of the position you’re applying for.
To work on further identifying the skills you’ve used and developed through your service experiences, consider these common transferable skills utilized within volunteering contexts:
Now that you’ve identified the transferable skills used in your service experiences, the next step is thinking about how to communicate those to an employer in your application documents.
In terms of your resume, your service experience probably best fits under “Additional Experience” or “Volunteering Experience,” depending on how you’ve organized your resume. Regardless, we will communicate the transferable skills we’ve just identified through descriptive bullet points listed underneath the volunteering experience.
You’ll begin each bullet point with one of the transferable skills you’ve identified. This can be thought of as what you did. From there, you’ll want to add detail to the bullet point so it also includes how you did it, as well as why you did it. This way, the potential employer will best understand your skills and experiences.
With formatting, here is how our tutoring in the Back of the Yards example might end up looking:
Back of the Yards College Preparatory High School, Chicago, IL — Sept. 2015 – Present
Listen to students during tutoring sessions in order to develop lesson plans and activities that best engage them as they prepare to apply for colleges
Support full-time teachers and staff by providing supplemental instruction and one-on-one advising to students with low attendance records
Initiate and plan school-wide events and open dialogues that allow students to identify and solve issues within their Back of the Yards community
When thinking about your cover letter, if you’ve had one or more internships, completed a long-term research project, or studied abroad through a relevant program, it is very possible that you might not mention your service experience. However, if you’re looking for a way to demonstrate relevant skills in one of your cover letter’s body paragraphs, a consistent volunteering experience is a great opportunity to do that.
First, take a look at and highlight the skills being mentioned in the job description. Then, ask yourself, how have I demonstrated these skills through my service experiences? Your answer will most likely connect back to some of the ideas displayed through the bullet points in your resume, however we want to remember that your cover letter is a chance to say more than what’s on your resume. So, rather than just filling a body paragraph with the same skills mentioned in your bullet points, go into greater detail about one or two of those bullet points, thus further focusing on specific skills the employer is looking for.
Volunteering with different communities can be experiences that end up defining us, and how we live our lives. However, it’s common that we instinctively separate our service from our professional development. This doesn’t have to be the case. By considering the transferable skills we develop within service, we can best market them to potential employers.
As a student you are learning a lot in the classroom. From technical knowledge related to your major, to transferable skills like problem solving and collaboration, your degree program is preparing you to enter the workforce. As you engage in internships, volunteering, and student leadership roles, you put these skills and knowledge to use in ways that are of interest to potential future employers. Being able to effectively communicate what you are able to offer will be key to your successful job search.
In a recent article series published in Eye on Psi Chi, an online magazine for members of the national honor society for psychology students, I wrote about the importance of being able to identify and put language around your skills. The Career Center offers a card sort activity, called SkillScan, in both one-on-one advising and workshop formats that focuses on transferable skills.
SkillScan, described at length in the first article, helps you prioritize the skills you would like to use in the future, separating them from those of less interest and those that you are certain you would not like to use. An activity like this is valuable as you work to identify the industry and career path you wish to target for yourself. From there, your career counselor or workshop facilitator will guide you in identifying strong examples of times when you have successfully employed the skills you wish to use in the future. He or she will also help you to think critically about those skills you need to develop further and/or exemplify through future coursework, volunteer activities, internships, and part-time work. To complete a SkillScan assessment, attend the “Identify Your Skills and Accomplishments” workshop on May 2, 2016 or contact the Career Center to schedule an appointment with your advisor.
Once you have identified the skills you wish to perform in the workplace, you must hone your ability to convey these to potential employers. The second article in the Eye on Psi Chi series addresses the art of communicating your skills through strategic resume writing. Crafting bulleted accomplishment statements that strike the right balance between offering sufficient detail and being concise enough to allow your reader to quickly grasp the skills you offer, can be a challenge. The Career Center’s Peer Career Advisor program offers walk-in resume development and critique sessions to help you ensure your resume will grab employers’ attention, and land you the interview you are after.
My advice to you when it comes to communicating your skills:
Emphasize the skills you wish to use and further develop in your next position when crafting your resume. Also, be concrete by offering examples of times when you’ve used those skills and be sure to note the positive outcomes that resulted from your efforts.
A future article in Eye on Psi Chi will feature tips for continuing your efforts to communicate skills to employers by providing tips and best practices for helping you to succeed in the interview process. Stay tuned for more details!