Career & Internship Fair Advice

The Internship and Job fairs have reached their end.  The stress of getting your suit pressed and polishing your shoes till you can eat off of them are gone.  You can finally rest because the hard part is finally behind you…..or is it?

You may think that now is a time to breathe easy but the time following these fairs is where the real leg work begins.  If you were well prepared, had a good pitch, and dressed the part, you should be seeing a steady stream of emails and calls starting to flow through your inbox from the employers you spoke with.  Other times, they may be waiting on you to initiate the first contact …sort of like that girl you met at the bar last weekend.

"The three day rule doesn’t apply in business"

This brings us to our first point.

Follow Up: It is important to follow up with any company you speak with.  Get representatives business cards!  Those little pieces of paper are your golden ticket.  You no longer have to throw arrows in the dark to move on in the application/interview process because you have a living, breathing person to guide you through it!  Write a handwritten thank you card or email thanking them for their time at the fairs.  It sounds like something my mother used to nag me about but I’ve heard this advice validated time and time again from recruiters.  Remember also to concisely restate your pitch in this note and close by asking what the next step in the process is.  Your attention to detail IS what grabs their attention and it really is the “little things” like this that can make a difference.

Stay Focused:  Don’t throw your suit in a pile on your bedroom floor just because the fairs are over.  Many companies have reserved time on campus for interviews that can take place just weeks after the fairs.  Stay in the mindset you had before/during the fairs and keep that momentum moving you forward.  Take advantage of these opportunities that are given to you.  Even if you’re uncertain of your future with a certain company use your time with them as an opportunity to learn more about the positions they have to offer.  Who knows, that company may have your dream job that you didn’t even know existed yet.  Even if nothing comes of your interview with a certain company, the practice you’ll receive along the way is priceless!

Prepare:  When you begin to schedule interviews with various companies, dig deeper on your research for each one.  They already like what you have to offer but now they want to see if you match their unique brand.  Look into their company culture as well as the descriptions of the positions they offer.  Understand how your skills  match those parameters then prepare and show the employer why YOU ARE the right fit for the job!

Use the STAR approach to sell why you are the best person.  The STAR approach is described in further detail below:

  • Situation- think of a situation that you were faced with that will be relevant in your interview.  An issue at work/school or a project.
  • Task- what did you have to do to find a solution to the situation?  Did you have to work with a team or step into a new role?
  • Action- What things did you personally do to achieve success?  Did you take a leadership role in that team or did you overcome a challenging obstacle?
  • Result- Are there any metrics related to your success?  What good came from you overcoming the situation?  Did your team meet its goals?  Do you have numbers to quantify your result? 2.0out

The World Collegiate Sales Open

The following guest post is written by Senior Marketing Major Abbey Vanderwoude. 

Last weekend was the culmination of a 9-month long sales competition, the World Collegiate Sales Open.  The WCSO was designed by the legendary Dr. Dan Weilbaker himself, and is unlike any other sales competition. Nick Kochetta, Nicole Weldon, and I were deemed finalists who joined the other 17 students from around the world for the final series of events: a voicemail, appointment call, two role plays, two elevator pitches, and reverse job fair.  I have competed in other sales competitions in the past, but the WCSO was an entirely new experience. I was pushed way past my comfort zone with unusual events like the elevator pitch and the reverse job fair. The competition was also unique because it incorporated a series of curve balls to keep us on our toes. While these curve balls made the events more difficult, the effect was that the combined events added up to a realistic portrayal of the sales professional’s journey to earn an account’s business.

Amidst the competitions events, we had the chance to mingle with the other contestants and learn about other sales programs around the world. The students each brought their own perspective to sales, and I know I learned a lot from them. When I walked out of my Final Four Role Play, I was down on myself for not “controlling the meeting,” and not running the call the way I planned. I spoke to another finalist at the Awards Banquet, who, interestingly enough, happened to be an accounting major, and his response was this: “It wasn’t your meeting.” He was absolutely right, and I am so glad to have learned that perspective from him. In addition to networking with other contestants, I really enjoyed networking with the competition sponsors and judges. Companies including White Lodging, ADP, McKesson, Bosch, Adobe, and Sure Payroll generously sponsored the WCSO, and all were eager to get to know the students.

One of my main takeaways from last weekend is that the NIU Professional Selling Program prepares its students extremely well for sales careers.  Although we were sitting in a room with students from the top sales programs around the world, our skills as NIU students stood out.  Our team was extremely grateful to be coached by the best, Dr. Peterson, and we know we would not have made it to the finals round without his guidance. From our experience in Marketing 350 and Marketing 450, we were able to overcome the curve balls thrown our way and, as Dr. Peterson would say, not let “the wheels come off.” It was an absolute honor to be a part of such an esteemed competition, but even more of an honor to represent the NIU Sales Program and make our peers proud.

 

Bringing In Your Dream Guest Speaker

Who do you want to see speak at NIU? Google? McDonalds? The Chicago Bears? Anything is truly possible in this day and age and I’ll show you a step-by-step process of how you can use LinkedIn to bring in your dream guest speaker.

But first a few LinkedIn basics I try to follow:

  1. Don’t over-connect with everyone

The reason I don’t connect with everyone who requests to connect is because you want to be comfortable asking favors on LinkedIn. As you’ll see below, I ask my connections to introduce me to a specific person in the Chicago Blackhawks. A good rule of thumb is to connect with someone you’d be comfortable giving your phone number to.

2.  Get a profile picture!

Even if it’s a close-up of you in your “going out shirt” temporarily until you get a professional picture taken (which are always going on in Barsema), get a darn picture! When I see someone I know on LinkedIn with no picture I immediately think they are inactive and therefore don’t respond to them. Get a picture. Now.

3.  Recommend and get recommended

But only from people you have worked with! Trading recommendations with friends not only is a rookie mistake, but also looks really poor when hiring managers see it, and trust me, they do. However, if you’ve worked with peers, in a meaningful way (semester long project, ELC, organization, competition, internship) then by all means, recommend your fellow Huskies and colleagues. Please don’t be the one requesting a recommendation with the same custom template LinkedIn gives you. If you can’t take the time to actually personalize your request, I don’t have the time to write you one.

Okay, now to bring in your dream speaker.

  • Hover over the “people” tab, click and scroll down to select “companies.”

  • Type in the company you want to bring in (think BIG – Google, Apple, Nike, P&G, etc.)

  • Click the company’s profile.
  • Under the “How you’re connected” section, select “see all.

  • Look for 2nd degree connections. These are the people you want to invite! (Make sure they still work at desired company.)
  • Hover over the list icon on the right side of the “connect” logo. Select “Get introduced.”

  • Select a connection to introduce you and be sure to customize your message.
  • Prosper! Good luck!

By using these 8 steps, I was able to bring in the Senior Director of New Media and Creative Services from the Chicago Blackhawks to speak for the Interactive Marketing Board and the American Marketing Association! If you’re interested in coming out to see Adam Kempenaar speak about social media strategies, branding, media techniques used, you can REGISTER for the April 3rd event for free here.

Cheers!

Mike

Winter Break

As most of you know, winter break has finally begun.  It’s a magical time where students across campus can take a deep breath, spend time with their loved ones and catch up on reading their textbooks…..okay, maybe that last one is a stretch. By now, they’re probably bought back or being used for bonfires.

"O' the fire is so delightful"

Anyways, I will not be posting to this blog until I return to classes the week of January 14th.  Look forward to another great semester for Student Voices and hopefully some great guest articles as well!  Now is the time to write them!  Check out our ‘Guest Posts’ page for more information.

Before I go, I want to thank everyone for a great first semester.  It’s been quite a learning experience for me and hopefully it’s been as enjoyable for you all to read as it has been for me to manage.  I hope that you continue to read, make suggestions, comment and contribute in 2013.

I told my parents that you can't spell success without C's. They didn't like that very much.

As I’ve said before, I take this blog very seriously…sometimes more seriously than my classes (my report card doesn’t look too good this semester) but knowing that you’re all out there reading and playing along makes this position worthwhile and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.  Until next semester…2.0out

 

The 2-2-2 Rule

This next guest post is written by Mike Glassberg, an Interactive Marketing Student at the NIU College of Business. Follow him on twitter @cubswin716.

For most of my college life, I’ve prided myself on the relentless perseverance to reach any and all of my goals and to never give up. This also meant giving 110% in all activities. Giving anything less felt like a failure, something I refused to let happen.

And at the beginning of my first Senior semester, that’s what I did: gave 110% in every activity, project, or assignment that was handed to me – or at least I tried. But it was overwhelming being a leader in two organizations, working for the university, being a Junior Consultant in the Experiential Learning Center (ELC), all on top of my regular class schedule.

 

In college, and in life, you need to understand what’s important to you and prioritize accordingly. Over the last few months, I’ve implemented a new rule into my life: the 2 weeks, 2 months, and 2 years rule.

What will this matter to me in 2 weeks? 2 months? 2 years?

My most memorable use of the “2-2-2″ rule was from a few weeks ago; I had 10+ page midterm due the next morning. My friend had called me that night as I was typing away, and explained to me a serious personal problem she was going through. I value our friendship very much, and want it to last well over two years. So instead of telling her I was busy with a big paper, I used the 2-2-2 rule and decided that I’d get over the poor grade of my midterm paper in two months, but it would  hopefully mean a lot more to her in two months that I was there for her, especially when I was at my busiest.

This rule of thumb has turned me from a bag of hammers to, well let’s say a few hammers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still stressed, but its focused in the right places and allows me to be excellent in the areas I care most about.

I strongly urge you to use the rule of 2, immediately. Today. Use it in class when you get an answer wrong and are feeling down. Use it when your best friend can’t make your big party. Use it when you have a dilemma and can’t decide between two alternatives.

I hope this helps you in relieving stress and choosing between alternatives as much as it has helped me!

Go Huskies!

-Mike

Carpe Diem

A wise man once told me that you get three options in College: social life, good grades, and sleep.  The catch is you only get to pick two.  This year, I’ve chosen social life and good grades so you may have seen me sleepy on more than one occasion in Barsema.  This same wise man tells me that food shares a very similar formula: Hot, ready, or delicious.  Again, you only get to pick two (think about it, you can’t have all three. Trust me, I’ve tried!).  I think he’s put some real thought into this stuff!  Anyways, as a senior in college, I want to leave no regrets on the table upon graduation.  I will forsake the time that normal people dedicate to sleep to do school work or to go out with friends and make memories that will last longer than any ride on the struggle bus.

Sure, sometimes I will take a weekend to myself and hang around my apartment or at home; I just try my best not to make it a habit.  People consistently tell me from their own experiences to live college life to the fullest.  Just last week I was scrolling through our student voices blog and that philosophy was reinforced by a post from previous blogger, Nick Lo Vetere.

In his post he states, “The fall semester felt like it was over as soon as it began and the spring semester feels almost as if everything over the past several months happened in a matter of a week.”

He goes on to state that he would take advantage of every opportunity from going out with friends to forming new relationships.   His parting quote from the post reads, “I can only hope that if incoming college students stumble across this post that they go to school with the notion that it will go by quick and they need to take advantage of everything as early as possible.”

I feel that I have waited too long to really begin my own experience especially after being stuck at a community college for the first half.  Now I feel like I am trying to play catch up and I’m jamming four years worth of experiences into a two year timeline here at NIU.  I feel that I have done a fair job but there is only so much time left where you’ll have a month off in winter, a week off every spring, and three months off for summer.  Please heed our advice when we say that College moves very quickly.  As Ben Franklin, one of our nation’s founding fathers used to say, “Lost time is never found”.

Plan out your time early and often and make your college years memorable.  Go on a road trip or see someplace foreign.  Go out to apple orchards in the fall or kayak down a river in summer.  Do whatever you want; just do something!  Go out of your comfort zone and do something remarkable (I’m thinking skydiving for me).  Don’t leave college saying I should have done THAT because who knows when the next opportunity to do THAT will be. 2.0out

 

Reflections on Barsema Hall

So here I am, sitting in the atrium enjoying a midday hotdog and I can’t help but feel like I’m a part of something much bigger than myself.  The atrium feels energetic and full of life.  It is the proverbial heartbeat of the college and it is such an interesting and diverse place to be in.  Not only is it a place where students take a moment to relax and socialize with their peers but it doubles as a study area where they can complete assignments and other tasks.  This work and play atmosphere provides an interesting dynamic to the feel of the space.

As I finish my hotdog, I step outside where I overlook Dad’s Pond from the terrace.  This is my place to reflect.  In between classes you will often find me here pondering my next move.  It’s as though I’m playing a game of chess with life and my responsibilities are the pieces.  The benches along the walkway provide me with a moment of clarity and the breeze that passes by comes with almost a rhythmic frequency (*contented sigh*).  Just before I get too relaxed, I head back inside to move to my next task. 

The thing I enjoy most when I step back inside is the fact that I really feel like a young professional when I enter Barsema Hall.  I am surrounded by the future which is kept in the hearts and minds of my peers and in the walls of the institution.  The future is born from our motivation and our dreams and I get the opportunity everyday to see other students working hard to live out their own!

For the amount of time that I spend in this building I could almost call it home (I’d rather not call it that because then they’d start charging me rent).  The faculty make me feel at home and not a day goes by where I don’t speak with my professors outside of class.  A majority of the time, the conversations never have anything to do with classes or related projects.  Students will walk by and say hi and it all feels like I have an extended family here.  These people have grown with me professionally and worked beside me for the past year.  Going through that process really seems to strengthen the ties between students here at the College of Business.

When I was younger I thought that I’d just become another number in College…how much further could I have been from the truth.

These thoughts I catalogued above came to me courtesy of a few minutes between class and a hot dog.  Imagine that.  Anyways, thanks so much to Dennis and Stacey Barsema for providing this amazing building and thank you to the faculty and students that breathe life into the NIU College of Business.  Give yourselves a pat on the back.  Together, we’ve made a population of students into a community of students! 2.0out

Getting Involved: Part 3 of 6

Nick graduated in Spring 2012 and within a couple of days, we’ll hand over the reins to our new student bloggers for the Fall 2012 semester. Until then, here’s one of the top posts from last semester.  This is Part 3 of 6 of the “Getting Involved” series of posts.  Whether you’ve read this particular post or not, we hope you will find it helpful and useful. We’re excited to share it with you again!  And be on the look out for a flurry of new posts from our new bloggers!

 

Getting Involved

This is post three of a six part series about involvement on campus. Part one discussed why I got involved, part two explained why I didn’t get involved sooner, part three touches on the opportunities available through being involved, part four talks about leadership experience, part five explains how to go about getting involved and briefly what it takes up front and part six are my thoughts going forward for post graduation involvement.

Getting Involved; Part 3: New Opportunities

The context in which I’m drawing on my experience is in reference to business organizations, versus overall general involvement. Although the principles I’m going to touch upon can be applicable to things such as athletics or fraternities in some instances and not just limited to academic organizations.

Through joining AMA and CSAB it provided me with great opportunities to easily make new friends built on a foundation of common interest. Some of the friendships I’ve developed in these organizations carry on even though lots of my friends graduated in May 2011. I still keep in contact, still see these people in a social setting, and see them in professional settings as well. The connections I’ve developed extend beyond the walls of this college or any graduation date.

Another essential opportunity is one for professional networking. Anyone in business will tell you that networking is extremely important to anyone at any point in their career, especially college students. Aside from networking with your peers you have the opportunity to meet professionals from various industries. You can learn about marketing in the social media realm, the retail sector, the insurance world, etc. With today’s technology it makes it even easier to keep these people as contacts through platforms like LinkedIn. Because of my involvement with these organizations there are recruiters, sales managers, or sales representatives from various companies that now know my face and name. They don’t hesitate to stop me and chat if they see me at College of Business or marketing department functions.

This wouldn’t be possible had I not been involved and networked to the best of my ability with whom I’ve had access to. Down the line you never know if you’ll end up working for this individual, using the people you’ve met as referrals or doing business with them in the future. I’ve learned that people hire or do business with someone they know and like. It sort of pays homage to the saying “It’s not what you know it’s who you know.” Pair great networking abilities/opportunities with the tools and skills learned at the NIU College of Business and you have two huge components in setting yourself up for success down the road.

To conclude this section I’d like to share a story that perfectly illustrates everything I’ve discussed so far. As President of the Collegiate Sales Advisory Board it is one of my responsibilities to meet once a semester with the sales faculty, marketing department chair, occasionally the Dean of the College of Business and anywhere from 20 – 30 representatives from different national and worldwide companies that make up the Sales Advisory Board. The purpose of the Sales Advisory Board is for companies and faculty to collaborate on improving the sales program and making sure the curriculum being taught and certifications earned, are directly applicable in the real world.

I interviewed during the fall with a company that sits on the Sales Advisory Board. Going a step further, I interviewed with the actual representative himself, not of the companies recruiters. Somewhere along the line whether it was my interview or my online personality test results, they decided not to invite me in for a second interview. Nearly a month later, this individual and I are at the Sales Advisory Board meeting and I’m on the agenda to discuss CSAB’s activities as well as providing insight on discussion of where our sales program is headed for the future. After a couple of hours we break for lunch and the individual I previously interviewed with asked me to step outside with him. He then told me that he was extremely impressed with how I handled myself in front of a room full of sales executives and faculty from my school. He then told me that they have people going to final interviews a week or two later and he’d like me to be there. He even arranged (minutes after talking to me) the second interview for me to complete which was clearly just a formality. I interviewed well at their final interview event and a day later he called me himself with my job offer. I can firmly say that had I not been president with the responsibility to represent the students of my program, I would have been just another person viewed as not being a good fit for that company. My involvement directly correlated to me getting a job six months prior to my graduation date.

What opportunities have come your way through being involved?? Share below!

In my next post, part 4, I talk about the leadership experience gained through being involved. Stay tuned!

Getting Involved: Part 2 of 6

Nick graduated in Spring 2012 so now we’re lining up more student bloggers who will start in the Fall 2012 semester. Until then, Student Voices is sharing with you the top posts from last semester…the “Getting Involved” series of posts.  Here’s Part 2 of 6.  Whether you have read this particular post or not, we hope you will find it helpful and useful. We’re excited to share it with you again!

 

Getting Involved

This post will be a several part series about involvement on campus. Part one discussed why I got involved, part two discusses why I didn’t get involved sooner, part three touches on the opportunities available through being involved, part four talks about leadership experience, part five explains how to go about getting involved and briefly what it takes up front and part six are my thoughts going forward for post graduation involvement.

***Spring break gets in the way of the succession of posts but this series will continue when classes resume on March 19. The blog will be quiet for the duration of break.***

Getting Involved; Part 2: Why Not Sooner

I always tell younger students or anyone I run into that I wish I had gotten involved sooner than my last two years here. In retrospect my reasons for holding off for so long seem sort of ridiculous but they were very real concerns at the time. My first thought was what if I join a marketing organization and then realize in my first year or two that I’m not cut out for the College of Business? I’d feel stupid joining only to drop out because I didn’t make it into my major. My next concern was joining without having had any marketing classes. I’d also feel stupid attending meetings and listening to speakers talk about concepts of which I have no prior knowledge.

Having been extremely active for two years now I realized those concerns were very wrong reasons to keep me from involvement. I should have pushed myself out of my comfort zone. Had I looked at it differently I would have realized that joining could provide extra motivation to get into the College of Business. It also would have provided me with extra insight into what I’d really be getting myself into with an education in marketing. I let my concerns inhibit my involvement instead of letting my involvement address my concerns.

Now that I’m nearing graduation I know I’ve made the right educational and career choice and my only regret was not joining sooner. I would love to have that time back to really make the most of the opportunities I missed.

What are some of the things that might be holding you back from getting involved? Feel free to let me know in the comments!

Also, please keep an eye out for the next post; the opportunities available through being involved coming on March 19th!

Getting Involved: Part 1 of 6

Nick graduated in Spring 2012, but we’re lining up more student bloggers who will start in the Fall 2012 semester. Until then, Student Voices is sharing with you the top posts from last semester. Whether you have read this particular post or not, we hope you will find it helpful and useful. We’re excited to share it with you again!

Getting Involved

This post will be a several part series about involvement on campus. Part one will discuss why I got involved, part two discusses why I didn’t get involved sooner, part three touches on the opportunities available through being involved, part four talks about leadership experience, part five explains how to go about getting involved and briefly what it takes up front and part six are my thoughts going forward for post graduation involvement.

Spring break gets in the way of the succession of posts but this series will continue when classes resume after Spring break. The blog will be quiet for the duration of break.

Getting Involved; Part 1: Why I Got Involved

I got involved in student organizations my second to last year in college. A major influence in getting involved in a student organization was of course, my father. He has always been a strong advocate of me being involved in something growing up and it certainly didn’t stop when I came to college. I too realized the need for involvement to have something on my resume to help me stand apart from all the college kids who attend school but who do nothing beyond class work.

When I finally made the decision to join, I also made the decision to become actively involved, not just sit back and relax. After my first American Marketing Association meeting the current board illustrated a need for someone with web maintenance skills (which I had) and I jumped on the opportunity. My first two weeks in AMA I got myself on the executive board. From there I went on to decline presidency and became Vice President for the 2011 – 2012 academic year. After absolutely loving my first semester in AMA, I joined the Collegiate Sales Advisory Board. After learning that the entire board of that organization would be graduating in May 2011 I took strides to become President for the 2011 – 2012 academic year.  Joining and becoming active in both of these organizations has paid of immensely for me in so many ways.

Stay tuned for Part 2; why I didn’t get involved sooner.