Tag Archives: tips

Internship

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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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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Writing Papers: Tips on writing a literary analysis

The PowerPoint for the 10 Things presentation contains some basic tips to follow when writing a literary analysis.  I will provide them here with a little extra advice.

Keep yourself out of your analysis.

When writing a paper you need to use third person.  Third person means you use words such as he, she, one, etc.  You do not use first person (I) or second person (you).  The reason you use third person is it keeps your paper objective.  You are trying to prove a point using facts – not simply stating your personal opinion.

Sometimes, however, some professors actually want you to include your own thoughts in the paper.  Therefore, they may be alright with you using first person.  You have to check with your professor to see what his/her requirements and expectations are.

Avoid summarizing the plot (i.e., retelling the story literally).

To put it simply, your professor has already read the book (probably several times).  He/she does not need to have the plot thrown back at him/her.  The whole point of a literary analysis is you are actually analyzing the text.  Therefore, you need to create a thesis (argument about the text) and use examples from the text to back up your argument.

Include a clear thesis statement.

Back in high school my AP English teacher my junior year had us highlight our thesis statement for every paper we wrote for her.  The whole point of highlighting the thesis statement was to make sure we knew how to create a clear one.  Your thesis statement should be meaningful and bring up a topic that can be argued about.

In other words, you cannot state a fact.  For instance, you cannot say, “Iago’s lies lead to Othello’s murder of Desdemona.”  That is a fact in the play.  Instead you would say, “Part of the great tragedy of Othello is the fact that despite the lack of racial prejudice against Othello in Venice, Iago is able to create a situation that leads to Othello’s downfall.”  The thesis is stating that Othello’s downfall is not linked to his race but solely to Iago, which is a statement that can be argued with; many scholars link Othello’s treatment to race.

Use literary terms to discuss your points.

In other words, talk about character, point of view, alliteration, rhyme, etc.  I’m sure at some point in an English class you had to memorize literary terms.  If not, there are books available that you can reference.  For example, instead of saying that Moby Dick is a story about the hunt for a whale, you would say, “The white whale Moby Dick is a symbol for death, since the color white throughout the novel is linked to death.”

Do not confuse characters’ (in fiction or drama) or speakers’ (in poetry) viewpoints with authors’ viewpoints.

In other words, just because a character or narrator says something in a story, it does NOT mean that is the author’s viewpoint.  The author’s viewpoint can be completely different from his or her narrator.  Furthermore, the author is not the narrator (unless it’s an autobiography or you are told otherwise).  So be careful when writing your paper to specify between the narrator/character and the author.  For example, it is Hamlet who states, “To be or not to be,” not Shakespeare.

Write the paper in your own words and form your own opinion.

In other words, while you will be using quotations and paraphrasing passages from the novel and arguments by critics, you must make sure that the majority of the paper is your own argument.  If you use too many quotations and paraphrases you are heading into plagiarism territory.

Also, you must form your own thesis and arguments – don’t just use the opinion of a critic.  The whole point of a literary analysis is to draw your own opinion about the novel.  Now, you will need to see what other critics are saying to back up your argument, but you cannot rely on only their opinion (you may not even agree with everything they say anyway).

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Filed under 10 Things I Wish I Had Known as an English Major, Freshman year, Sophomore year, Upperclassman