About the Blog

This blog and its resources are here to assist all students throughout their college years and into their careers. Blog is moderated by a Certified Professional Career Coach and Master Tutor Trainer. Site moderator, Neil O'Donnell, is an EOP graduate of Buffalo State College and can be reached at odonnenp@buffalostate.edu.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Start Prep for Finals Early!

I realize that for many students, final exams are weeks away. However, it is crucial to begin studying for finals as early as possible to ensure you do well. Especially for instances when a final exam is comprehensive (testing on material from the entire semester), preparing early helps students in recalling information they learned weeks earlier. To that end, here are some strategies to consider for finals preparation:



1) Ask your professor for a study guide for the final exam. If the professor doesn’t provide one, create your own based on class assignments, readings and lectures (and then show it to the professor to see what she/he thinks of your study guide - your professor may help you fine-tune your study guide helping you focus on the major topics).

2) Tutoring services are usually available days and evenings; check your college advisement office and academic department to investigate tutoring options.

3) If there isn’t a tutor listed for the subject/class you need assistance with, stop by the tutoring center and ask if one is available. As for writing assistance, tutors are usually available throughout the day – just stop by a tutoring center. Also remember, Academic Mentors/tutors can assist you with learning better ways to study in addition to helping you understand content. Most of those that go to tutoring are the students getting A’s and B’s in classes.


4) Start a study group if you don’t have one already for a class that you are struggling in (you should have a study group for every class even when you are doing well).

5) Start studying for final exams today if you haven’t already!!!!! It is easier to retain class material if you study early and repeatedly.

6) See a counselor in the counseling center to address any test anxiety you are facing. Test anxiety is common amongst students of all ages. Counselors can assist you in managing that stress now and in the years to come
.

7) Start final papers as early as possible. Work on developing a solid thesis statement to guide your efforts and ask your professor to check it over to make certain you are on track!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Free Parents' Guide to Help Kids Prep for College

Update: April 15, 2017

As students and their families investigate colleges and universities, remember to speak with each institutions Financial Aid Office! Ask about scholarships students can apply for (local, national, international, and even any the college itself offers). Also, check to make certain that the student's FAFSA and State financial aid paperwork are complete. The sooner all information is in, the sooner you/your child can be considered for scholarships. Take care!

Best regards,
Neil

***

Here is a short ebook I wrote for parents and their children as they prep for students. From selecting colleges to financial aid & study skills, I wrote this to help families navigate the whole college process. Consider the book a springboard with this blog providing further support. Take care.

Book at this Link:  https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BwEzD14Fnt49T3FjcFhrcUlQcW8
A Parents' and Student's Guide to College

Dad, Mom and me at Graduation

Monday, January 30, 2017

College Students: Gaining Field Experience This Summer

1992 - Me teaching undergrad and grad students on using an alidade and plane table.
I have spoken at length about the importance of gaining field experience PRIOR TO GRADUATION for many years now. Experience above and beyond one or two internships is what I encourage here! I know it is only January, but the summer will be here soon enough and even freshmen may find opportunities to gain field experience in their major, but it is important to start now to look for these experiences in order to have the widest range of opportunities. How do you find such opportunities? I'm glad you asked! Just follow the advice here (FYI - Yes, that is me working as a teaching assistant in 1992 - just a Junior at SUNY Buffalo State - teaching undergraduate and graduate students how to utilize an alidade and plane table in archaeological research - thanks Dr. Engelbrecht):

1) Discuss options with your academic advisor. Ask your advisor what are jobs that are available to undergrads that will provide good training (and experience for your resume) in preparation for your long-term career goals.

2) Speak with advisors at your college's career center. The career development specialists at the career center may have extensive experience assisting students who have had similar career goals to you. As a result, they may be able to help you find relevant summer job opportunities.

In the event you cannot find a job that specifically links to your career path, consider stepping things up at a typical college student job to gain experience that grad schools and future employers will appreciate. Specifically, ask your summer employer the following:

1) Is there an opportunity for supervising other employees?

Me excavating an Archaeological Test Unit - 2011
2) Can you assist with developing or managing a company's website, Facebook page or Twitter feed?
 Can you develop a Facebook page or Twitter feed for the company you work for?

3) Can you help with advertising for the company (putting up flyers, posting info through your own Facebook and Twitter pages, etc.)?

4) Can you assist in helping to organize the office files or create an Excel database for client/vendor contacts?


5) Can you help lead the reorganization of a supply/store room?

Such experiences will teach you great skills while also helping you stand out on your resume when you apply to jobs down the road.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

RRBC Back to SChool Blog Block Party


* Prize for this stop on Blog Party: One person will receive a $10.00 Amazon giftcard.

Happy Summer, Readers! Yes, I have joined up with a group of amazing authors to help showcase our collective works. While I write fiction and Non-fiction, it is the latter I wish to focus on in this post. Specifically,THE CAREER-MINDED STUDENT and RESUME ESSENTIALS: DO'S, DON'TS, AND IT DEPENDS . 

THE CAREER-MINDED is a practical college success guide that breaks down, step by step, what college students should do each year as undergrads to best prepare for jobs IMMEDIATELY after graduation. The book includes study skills advice, but it includes a significant amount of advisement on how to build up career-relevant experience PRIOR to graduating (I used this advice and was able to beat out Ph. D's for positions (when I had only a Bachelor's, but a good amount of experience attained through relevant jobs the summers after my Sophomore, Junior and Senior years  - none of those jobs were internships AND all of them paid well). This book was written to stop the cycle of college graduates having a degree and no experience other than one or two internships. FYI - I never had an internship - I found full-time summer jobs, which made a bigger (better) impact on my job search after graduation.

As for my second new book, RESUME ESSENTIALS, was written to provide job seekers with a straightforward guide to writing eye-catching resumes and cover letters (with 20 sample resumes included covering fields such as biology, journalism, fine arts, trades, computer science, business management, and even high school graduates). Why did I write this book? I found students were paying so called "professionals" over a hundred dollars for a resume, and the resumes they received were crap. MY STUDENTS DON'T HAVE $100 TO SPEND WITHOUT MAKING GREAT SACRIFICES! I kept this book short, sweet and inexpensive to give new graduates and career professionals a way to develop a resume when they can't afford to hire a resume writer. For the record, I am a nationally certified career coach and resume writer (CCPC) and a longtime college career & academic advisor.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

What is "Resume Filler": Guidance for Duties and Accomplishments to put on Resumes

I included a section in one of my books that includes what I refer to as "resume filler." What do I mean by "resume filler?" Great question! (see bottom of post for filler related to sales, social workers and paralegal professionals).

First, let me say that I always advocate that continuing education is incredibly important AND that whether through college courses or online workshops, we all need to continually improve our Skill Sets. When writing a resume, it is important to include accomplishments/duties performed for each job we list on our resumes. In my book, WRITING STANDOUT RESUMES, I include a "resume filler" section with accomplishments/duties that are typically looked for by employers - experience and expertise they are often seeking in the jobs ads placed online or elsewhere. That section is a guide. For example, for a 'Sales Associate' resume, I included the following bullet points as duties typically placed on resumes:


  • Led effort to expand company’s customer base into new region, which led to a 25% increase in customers and 35% increase in revenue from services rendered.
  • Dynamic customer service professional with extensive record of achievement in mediating customer complaints and increasing sales & customer base.

If you are a sales associate and have statistics to show you increased number of customers and increased revenue, then include this in your resume. On the other hand, if you don't have much or any experience in "mediating customer complaints," consider this sample as a guide of experience you should seek out so that you can put that skill down as soon as you acquire that skill. The filler recommended is actually just me saying, such experience catches the eye of hiring managers.


Sample accomplishments/duties for sales, social workers and paralegal professionals:

Sales Associate


  • Led effort to expand company’s customer base into new region, which led to a 25% increase in customers and 35% increase in revenue from services rendered.
  • Dynamic customer service professional with extensive record of achievement in mediating customer complaints and increasing sales & customer base.
  • Proficient in point of sale transactions and processing merchandise returns and/or exchanges.
  • Provided superior general office and customer service support.  Skilled at training new hires in use of point of sale technology and of new company merchandise & services.
  • Continually exceeded company’s sales goals achieving record sales marks in multiple quarters.

Social Worker/Case Manager

  • Secured private grant to fund continuing education for institution’s staff in areas of child development, classroom management, health & wellness, and first aid.
  • Graduate-level Substance Abuse Counselor with CASAC-T Certification.  Additional certifications in Child Abuse & Maltreatment, Tobacco & Chemical Dependence Interventions, First Aid (2014) and CPR (2015).
  • Proficient in patient advocacy and assessment.  Skilled at coordinating patient treatment and healthcare needs with staff, medical facilities and families.
  • Adept at crisis intervention counseling as well as individual and group counseling.  Proficiency in MS Excel, PowerPoint and Word.
  • Accomplished at facilitating communications between patients, physicians, and discharge planners.  Trained in and knowledgeable of HIPPAA regulations.
  • Facilitate the securing of proper housing for patients; provide patient referrals to appropriate social services for medical and financial assistance.
  • Adept at records research and analysis.
  • Coursework & field training in Group Counseling, Childhood Development, Interventive Methods 1 & 2, and Psychoactive Drugs & Health.
  • Proficient youth mentor adept at advocacy, assessment, and developing & implementing educational/wellness programming for diverse populations.
  • Accomplished at performing outreach within urban settings and providing individualized treatment and advisement to clients.


Legal Secretary/Paralegal

  • Led initiative to transfer client records over to Excel-based database and archive providing attorneys a secure and global 24-hour access to client files.
  • Proficiency in securing evidence for litigation including digital records, phone logs, employment files and business contracts.
  • An aptitude for quickly identifying relevant state and federal court decisions relevant to cases.
  • Expertise in prepping legal team for arguments and case histories of potential use by opposing counsel.
  • Adept in use of Excel and the use of multiple legal coding/billing software.
  • Coordinated evidence cataloging and completed court requests for evidence and depositions.
  • Assisted in research of historical proceedings to aid in providing precedence to support legal teams’ court actions.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

In The final stretch - but Time remains: Finals Preparation

Summer break is just around the corner, but don’t let the nice weather distract you from your classwork! Will a few weeks remaining, it’s important to keep at studying, complete all assignments and prepare for finals. That in mind, here are some last minute tips you should consider:

1) Tutoring services are usually available days and evenings; check your college advisement office and academic department to investigate tutoring options.

2) If there isn’t a tutor listed for the subject/class you need assistance with, stop by the tutoring center and ask if one is available. As for writing assistance, tutors are usually available throughout the day – just stop by a tutoring center. Also remember, Academic Mentors/tutors can assist you with learning better ways to study in addition to helping you understand content. Most of those that go to tutoring are the students getting A’s and B’s in classes.

3) Ask your professor for a study guide for the final exam. If the professor doesn’t provide one, create your own based on class assignments, readings and lectures (and then show it to the professor to see what she/he thinks of your study guide).

4) Start a study group if you don’t have one already for a class that you are struggling in (you should have a study group for every class even when you are doing well).

5) Start studying for final exams today if you haven’t already!!!!! It is easier to retain class material if you study early and repeatedly.

6) See me a counselor in the counseling center to address any test anxiety you are facing. Test anxiety is common amongst students of all ages. We can assist you in managing that stress.

7) Start final papers as early as possible. Work on developing a solid thesis statement to guide your efforts and ask your professor to check it over to make certain you are on track!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Do you have a paid or volunteer experience lined up for summer break?

This picture is of me in 1992. During the summer months before the Junior year stretch of intense Anthropology stats and research classes. I was a teaching assistant for an archaeological field school. By the end of the summer of 1992, I was contacted by a local archaeology team and would end up working for them at $9.00 an hour. Collectively, these experiences told me (well in advance of my senior year) that Anthropology was indeed the correct major for me. Then, when I graduated in December of 1993, I was well set to compete for jobs in my chosen field. In fact, I was out-competing those with advanced degrees because I had more field experience. The point? Just because you are not a senior or you don't have a degree, it doesn't mean you can't look into jobs or volunteer experiences that will give you field experience related to your major (paid or volunteer)

When you apply for jobs, experience matters, often times as much as having a bachelors or masters. So, in preparation for the summer break from college, speak to professors in your major and ask what types of volunteer and paid positions you should look into and can possible attain. In the immediate sense, such experience will help you determine if you picked the right major/career path. Additionally, such experience will look good on your résumé, making it easier for you to compete for jobs after graduating.