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.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Summer Break... Almost

For most college students, final exams are a week away (or students are in the midst of finals). Remain mindful of the need to study for exams and put in the time to finish each project (and each class) as strong as possible. If your professors didn't give out study guides for finals, ask them for one or develop your own and ask the professor to review it.

Put in the time now. Then, after all exams are done, enjoy your summer. Best wishes to all.

Below: 'Flat Top' the squirrel, who just completed his last exam and is enjoying the summer break.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Importance of Connecting with Department Faculty

The guidance given to students by their department’s faculty is crucial in helping students in determining which classes (especially major electives and free electives) would best position students for career success. Also, when applying to graduate school or a job, students will often be required to submit 3 to 5 letters of recommendation. In these instances, it is the department faculty from a student’s major department that generally hold the most weight when being considered for admission or hire. Finally, faculty from a student’s major department have valuable insight into the fields they teach in, knowing what jobs, internships and volunteer experiences best prepare a student to be ready for success (and ready to compete for jobs after graduation). For all these reasons, EVERY student should be speaking regularly with department/major faculty beginning freshman year.

All too often, students leave college without having established a good relationship with faculty tied to the student’s major. This often leads to students completing a degree and/or minors that are poorly suited to a student’s career goals. On the flip side, students who are connected with department professors and are asking questions are those who often have a significantly easier time navigating their undergraduate years as well as graduate school AND their ultimate career.

Do you have 3 professors in your department that could provide you with a glowing recommendation today, a recommendation that clearly identifies your strengths and accomplishments? If not, you have some work to do.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Importance of electives to your career

As we near the midpoint of the semester, and students start thinking about Spring Break and then summer, I just want to mention something career-related that is often overlooked as the academic year nears its end.

The ‘All College Electives’ or 'Free Electives ' and Major electives you need in order to complete your degree can play an important role in obtaining jobs and promotions after graduation. YES, those supposedly ‘waste of time’ classes can give you a serious edge over your competition for jobs if you select classes that will provide useful skillsets for down the road. How do you figure out what classes would be advantageous to you, career-wise? Speak with your professors in your major and ask them what courses both in and outside the major would best prepare you for your career path? Listen to their advice and investigate recommended courses. You can also speak with me or another career counselor
, but speaking with your major professors is critical for their industry knowledge AND because such interaction will help you build a connection with professors (remember, you will need them as references AFTER graduation).

By the way, you need to do well in those recommended classes, so remember to utilize your college's tutoring services. The tutors there can give you insight into the course material and help you excel on tests. Take care.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Conferences: Education Beyond Classes and Networking

Classes are crucial for your long-term academic and career success, that includes utilizing tutors and mentors at EOP's Academic Center for Excellence. That said, all students should be looking beyond the classroom for additional information, networking opportunities and career-related learning. A recommendation to every student is to speak to your department advisor (or the chair of or a professor in your major) and ask about any local conferences that are coming up. Conferences are day to week long events where professionals from around the region or country present their current research. First, the information presented at these conferences often provides insight into changes coming to your field (knowledge of these changes can give you an edge over others in the field). Second, attending conferences is a great way to gain a better connection with your department professors as conferences often open the door for a student to be mentored before, during and after the conference (these connections often lead to your gaining great references for graduate school or jobs).

There is third thing of importance with conferences; they are great ways to network with professionals. Conferences offer students and professionals a chance to connect with other students and professionals in your field. The bounds that are often formed at conferences can lead to job offers in later years! By the way, conferences can be expensive. Yet, some colleges and universities will pay for a few students' conference fees (speak to your department to see if they will sponsor you for a conference). Local conferences for smaller organizations are often less pricey and more manageable for student budgets so look locally if money is an issue. Take care, and goes ask your department about conference opportunities. I mean... like TODAY!  :)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Important Tip for Final Exam Success

In preparation for finals, I recommend every student develop a study guide for each exam (unless the professor has already provided one). In developing your study guides for each final, include terms that appeared in bold/italics in textbooks and those discussed by the professor in class (anything that appeared in the text AND class lectures is especially important). Then, after developing your study guides, ask your professors to review the study guide you developed and see if they would recommend additions. I find that some professors will review a student’s self-made study guide and point out things to add and things/topics/terms to not worry about. Give it a try.

Working with classmates in this regard can help you fine-tune the study guide further.

This is good practice for your career – develop plans and seek feedback from supervisors is a good way to show your being proactive, focused AND a team player. Take care!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Documenting your job search

A job search is a rigorous endeavor filled with stress. With that in mind, I hate to add another task to a jobseeker's plate, but you have to document your job search thoroughly. Before anyone rolls their eyes at this suggestion, please hear me out as to why documenting your job search can be uplifting.

As for what to document, I suggest that at a minimum you keep a record of the job position you applied for, the company you applied to, the date of your application, a list of what materials (resumes, cover letter, etc.) you send and any responses you receive from the company. The image in this post is an example of a basic format for documenting your job search.

Now, the main reason for such documentation is likely not what you were expecting me to state. Yes, keeping tabs on the positions you apply to helps make sure you don't submit more than one application to a job/verifies you sent materials requested. Additionally, for those receiving unemployment benefits, this record could provide data requested by the Unemployment office to substantiate that you are making an effort to look for work (see unemployment office for specific requirements). These important reasons are still not the main reason I advise clients and students to document their job search.

After being laid off and needing to find a new job, the layoff beginning the week before my wedding, I became depressed and struggled to eat and sleep. I think you can imagine the stress I was under; it is stress I find most endure when jobless and searching for work.During the 10 weeks I was unemployed, looking at a list of jobs I applied to helped keep my spirits up during a tough time. My job search chart (similar to the image above) help me maintain order when I was otherwise in chaos. Being able to see that I was getting interviews and making a serious effort was empowering (I think my documentation overwhelmed the unemployment office staff who were at a loss on how to assist an Anthropologist find work). I was fortunately able to find a better job in a poor economy even with an Anthropology degree (take that all you who trash Anthropology degrees). A lot of my success was due to my remaining positive, and that positive frame of mind was due in no small part to my documenting my efforts to find a new job.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Picking Courses for Your Future

As students get ready to register for Spring 2018, in is important that students and their advisors
consider the importance of both major-required classes as well as the importance of Major electives and Free Electives. Electives are often seen as an obstacle by students and advisors... something that just has to be done to get the total required credits (usually 120) with which to graduate. However, careful selection of Major and Free electives could provide students with skill sets that will be advantageous for the student later on in their career (and look good to potential employers when listed on a résumé). As an Anthropology major seeking to pursue work in field archaeology, I took an Anthropology elective (an Archaeological field school) so I had the fundamental skill sets for completed field excavations and lab analyses. However, knowing the importance of map making and the use of aerial photography in archaeological research, I took a Free Elective in "Map and Air Photo Interpretation." That mapping class was offered through the Geography Department, and it provided me with a great skill set which ultimately turned into a factor in helping me attain work in field archaeology AND get promotions.

Students need to seek out such coursework, which will give them usable skills and unique training that will set them apart from other graduates. Advisors, meanwhile, should be looking to free electives as the critical training they can be.  That said, students need to ask advisors in their major about classes in other departments they can take, which will provide long-term benefits professionally speaking.