Monthly Archives: November 2012


Another huge way that the communication department helped me out was by providing me with an internship.  During my last semester of college, one of my communication professors received an email from a friend of hers asking if she knew of any students who fit certain qualifications.  She had just started as the director of advancement for a private school, and needed someone with design capability to help her out as an intern.  After reading the qualifications, my professor thought of me and asked me if I was interested in interviewing for the internship.  After some deliberation and asking my family for advice, I was finally convinced it was a good idea and went for it.

I had been worried over whether or not I would be able to juggle the internship with school and the part-time job I was working, but I realized that an internship in the career I was interested in would give me a leg-up and would be worth the extra time and effort.  It wound up being a great decision, for while it did increase my workload, it gave me valuable experience and even led to my first job outside of college when I was asked to work there for awhile after graduation.

What I was asked to do for the internship was re-design their fall newsletter and try to have it not only look more professional and less cluttered, but also fit their brand.  I also had to write some articles for the newsletter and wound up working on updating their graphic standards while I was at it.  The last thing I did was create a holiday video for their annual fund.  It was exciting working on projects for an actual institution and having to problem-solve ways to complete the assignments given to me.  I really enjoyed my internship with St. Paul’s, even though at first I was nervous and had no idea what to expect.

Therefore, my suggestion if you are thinking about working after getting your degree, is to try to get an internship before you graduate.  Look for opportunities posted in the department of your major/minor or go and talk to an adviser in the career center.  It is also a good idea to establish relationships with your school adviser or your other professors, because they may be able to suggest you for an internship as well.  You can also do an internship for college credit and have it count as an elective or one of your requirements to graduate.  An internship is a good idea because it provides practical experience that looks good on your resume, can help you determine if the career you are considering is really what you want to do, and help you network for possible future job opportunities.


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Building a portfolio

Another great tip I received from my communication professors was to build a portfolio for job interviews.  Certain types of jobs require you to provide an example of your skills, so it is a good idea to have one prepared for job interviews.  For example, if you want to go into journalism, then you want to include examples of news stories or other articles you have written to showcase your ability.   If you are going into publishing, then you may want to bring examples to showcase your editing or design ability.

Since I wanted to prepare for jobs in advertising and public relations, my portfolio consisted of the projects I had completed in my InDesign and advertising classes, writing samples such as articles and memorandums, and documents I had designed such as a brochure for the usher program at the Mitchell Center.  I only bring my portfolio with me to job interviews where I think showcasing my work could be beneficial to gaining the position (for example, I have brought it for jobs related to graphic design or public relations, but not jobs that are focused more on customer service).  When I bring it out, I go through the portfolio with the person interviewing me and briefly explain the projects and why I wrote the documents.

As you continue to gain job experience, make sure you also continue to grow your portfolio.  When I worked at St. Paul’s, I always kept track of the projects I completed for the school and added them to my portfolio – everything you work on throughout your career can be useful in getting you a new job or a better position within your company.  You can also create an online portfolio that you can send in with your resume when applying for positions.  I am going to link mine as an example in case you want an idea of the sort of things to include in your portfolio.

I cannot recommend enough that you put one together, for bringing a portfolio to an interview really does boost your chances at landing that job.  It allows the interviewer to gauge your skills directly and gain an idea of what you can do, and can give you a leg up over the competition, especially if the interviewer is not sure of their abilities.

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Networking and conferences

So you have finally pulled together a decent looking resume.  You have work experience, you are involved in a student organization, and you sometimes do volunteer work on the weekends.  You may think you are pretty prepared now for the job search, and you can just spend the rest of your time focusing on school and having a good time.

Well, if you think so, you are wrong.  Getting a job usually requires more than just putting together a nice resume and cover letter.  To really get a step up, you also have to network and gather references.  Luckily, if you have been building a relationship with some of your professors or the organizations you have worked for and volunteered at in the past, you should already have a few great resources that will be willing to help you out in the job search.  References can write recommendations for you, or if they hear about a job that is in your field of interest they may suggest it to you or even take it a step further and suggest you for the job.  I actually got my internship during college because a friend of my professors asked her if she had any students with the skills she was looking for, and my professor recommended me for it – I didn’t even know about it until my professor contacted me and asked if I would be interested.

If you really want to have a chance at a job, a great idea is to join a local chapter of the professional organization that best fits your interests.  For example, if you want to go into advertising there is the American Advertising Federation, or for public relations there is the Public Relations Society of America.  More than likely there should be a student organization related to the local chapter, and if it is active it will provide resources for internships, conferences, and projects that can help you network and build your resume.

I would highly encourage you to attend conferences if you can, especially if they are specifically related to your field of interest.  It will be awkward at first since it could be hard to approach people, but if you go with a professor or other members of your organization you can be introduced to people who may help you get a job or internship.  You can also meet people who will give you great advice on improving your resume and attend workshops and presentations with helpful tips about the industry you are considering entering in the future.  The career center at your school should also provide business conferences and networking opportunities that can help you get used to networking so you can build up your skills and prepare for when you are on your own.

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Resume Building

The first helpful piece of advice I received via the communication department was how to create a professional looking resume.  The first step is to look up examples of resumes other people have done by either looking at examples provided by the career center or doing an Internet search.  After reviewing several, look at the format of the different resumes and try to determine which you like best.  Or, you could mix and match different layouts and pick the parts you like best from a few like I did.

Once you have come up with the format of how you want to layout your information, you next want to decide on the design.  Make sure you use one easy to read font, and make sure the font size is large enough for the same reason.  You must also ensure the resume doesn’t look cluttered and contains enough white space.  You may want to use spot color to make the resume more eye catching, or if you are applying for creative jobs you may want to show off your design skills.

Keep in mind, however, that if you are not applying for a creative job or a business that would appreciate your design and creativity, it is best to keep a simple, professional looking layout.  Potential employers are more interested in something that is easy to read and lists your qualifications than something that looks eye-catching and creative; also, many “creative” resumes I’ve seen posted can get too busy or use small font that is more difficult to read.  If you do go the creative route, try to make sure to balance between professionalism and creativity – remember, in the end the most important thing is letting the reader know your qualifications.  Purdue’s online writing center has some great design tips along with links to other resume building advice if you would like a place to get basic ideas.

After you have finished your first draft for your resume, the next step is to let people read it.  Show it to friends, family, and professors in order to see if they spot any errors, give advice on how to structure it better, or let you know if any of the wording needs to be adjusted.  The next step after that is to bring it to a career center to have an adviser look at it, or to bring it to a resume building workshop or conference.  The more people that look at your resume and give you advice, the better product you will wind up with.  Keep in mind, however, that a lot of the advice will be the particular person’s personal preference.  If you do not agree with the advice, do not make the changes.  Hopefully, by the end of this process you will have a professional looking resume that will catch the eye of potential employers.

You will also want to follow a similar process to build a cover letter.  A cover letter should always be sent in with a resume, for you can use it to explain in more detail how your skills and experience can be a perfect fit for the position you are applying for.  You will want to keep your cover letter at one page, however, just like your resume.  While there may be many reasons you could provide for why you should get the job, the potential employer will be sorting through many other cover letters and resumes and may toss yours if they think it will take too long to read.  Remember, most of them have other work to do besides hiring new employees, and probably consider the hiring process secondary to their main job.  You do not want to take up too much of their time.

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Communication to the rescue!


In my last post, I discussed some of the difficulty I had during my junior and senior year trying to prepare for life after graduation.  I also mentioned how it wasn’t until I turned to my communication professors that I received the help I needed.  My next series of posts are going to talk specifically about the advice and help they gave me, while also going over how I utilized their advice.  You can also turn to my 10 Things posts in order to see other advice about the job search and grad school.

The upcoming topics I am going to cover are:

1. Resume building

2. Networking

3. Portfolio building

4. Internships

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