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.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Career-Minded Student

For too long, college students have gone about their undergraduate years without guidance, true guidance, on how to best prepare to compete for jobs immediately upon graduation (if not beforehand).  Those days are over.  As a career and academic advisor for 20 years, I have compilled my experience and guidance into a new book to help students achieve career success as soon as possible after completing a degree.  A book that should be read by high school students intent on pursuing college as well as current college students.  The advice worked for me, and it has helped many of my students excel in classes AND in their careers (yes - the book includes study skills).  Take care!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Interview: Part 1 - Preparation

So, you got the call and now have an interview scheduled.  What's next?  Well, the résumé certainly did it's part.  Now, you have to step up your job search game and really invest time.  To excel in interview situations, it's not just about what you say during or after an interview that matters.  The first step is to prep for the interview.  How?  I'm glad you asked.  Below are steps to take BEFORE the interview even happens:

1) Research the company you are interviewing with.  When you walk in to the interview, you should have a good understanding of the company's history.  Who started the company, and what changes have been made over it's history?  Did it change it's products and services at any time?  What innovations has the company provided to the market?  What is the company's local, regional, national and global presence?  Has the company won any recognition or awards?  You should also understand what the companies short term and long term goals are.  What is it's five year plan?  What is the company's ten year plan?  You will likely be asked about how you see yourself fitting into the company.  Researching the company's history and long & short term goals will help you answer that company (such research will also help you understand if this company is actually a good fit for you).  By the way, usually one of the first questions most of us who have lead the interviews of candidates ask is "What do you know about our company?"

2) Determine who is interviewing you and research her/his/their background.  This may not be so easy as often times a committee is assembled to interview candidates (and most of the committee members are from different departments within the company).  If you don't know who is interviewing you, call the office and ask the secretary he/she may know and be willing to let you know.  In the event you cannot find out the specific individual(s) interviewing you, research the department and its staff.  Their names will likely be posted on the company's website.  You may also be able to scan LinkedIn to determine who staff members of the company are.  Even a basic Google search can reveal this information.  As with the research of the company, check into the staff/committee members' backgrounds thoroughly.  Find out their education and career background.  Look into hobbies and accomplishments (publications, presentations, awards, etc.).  Find out what contributions they have made to the company and the field.  Read any publications they have to understand their views on the future of the field.  Such information could help you in answering questions you are asked.  For instance, if you know that one of your interviewers is interest in a specific technology or software program based on her/his online bio, make certain you are familiar in some way with such tech and find a way to incorporate it into your answers.  Bottom-line: You should know these people as if you were longtime friends!  The more you know, the better you'll do answering the interview questions!

Next post:  The Interview: Part 2 - Preparing for Typical Questions

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

New Site Resources tied to my new book

For those visiting this site via the link in my new book, Writing Standout Résumés, I will be writing a sequel on Job Interview Strategies.  That book will be posted on this site and will be FREE!!!!  Stay tuned as I hope to have the book up by end of January (sorry - but if I don't get back to my fantasy novel, my publisher is going to kill me).

In the mean time, if you have questions about how to best prep for an interview, send me an email at npo113@hotmail.com.  Take care, and have a safe holiday season!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Medical School Workshop at Buffalo State

For those interested in going to Medical School, Buffalo State's EOP Program is hosting a workshop to answer students' questions regarding medical school and the medical field.  For those who cannot attend, most colleges and universities have staff/faculty who can guide them through the process of preparing for medical school.  The sooner you get your questions answered, the better!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Writing a Kick-Butt Résumé

Me presenting at a conference on writing quality résumés. 
Résumés are a scary prospect for undergrads, college graduates and seasoned professionals alike.  Yet, the résumé doesn't have to to so terrifying!  Once you get the hang of writing one, it becomes relatively easy to update a résumé as you obtain more experience.  For those here because of my new book and for students in any of the country's EOP programs, here you will find a number of sample résumés.  Please review them and see if any match your needs.  Then, simply write a résumé of your own.  For seasoned professionals looking to apply to a senior level or managerial position, I recommend that you seek guidance of a nationally certified résumé writer or career coach (a career coach is a senior-level résumé writer who can also provide you with great guidance for preparing for interviews and conducting a thorough job search).  If you do consider hirong a career coach or résumé writer, request references from them and ask them to provide samples of their work BEFORE your sign a contract.  Yes, I am a Nationally Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC)!  NO, I do not write résumés except for my students, and I do that for free.  The résumés posted here are free for anyone to look at and use as they see fit.  If you have questions, please email me at npo113@hotmail.com, and I will answer questions when time permits.  I will be adding sample résumés over the next few weeks for a variety of career fields so keep checking back (you can request a sample résumé by emailing me.  Take care!  

* For those who purchased my book, The Résumé: A Guide for Recent Graduates, the book will only be provided in Kindle format and will remain at $.99 - I wanted this book to remain inexpensive to offset the scam artists charging students an arm an a leg for worthless résumés.  

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Registration for Spring 2016 - GET READY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, it's the midpoint of the semester, and while you're feeling relaxed, you need to remember that registering for Spring classes is here.  That said, it's time to get prepared for registration, and here are some reminders for all students planning to take classes next semester:

1) Pay off any balances or fines (overdue library books, etc.).  If you don't make arrangements to take care of even minor bills you may not be permitted to register (the longer it takes you to register, the more likely it is the classes you wanted will be closed.  If you owe a lot of money, speak with the Student Accounts Office about setting up a payment plan or see if the hold can be lifted long enough for you to register for classes.

2) Declare your major.  If you are not registered for a major and you know which major you wish to pursue, declare it immediately.  Why?  If you are not officially in a major you may be blocked from registering for classes in the respective major.  Again, this could delay your ability to register.

3) Meet with your department advisor to go over your major and general studies requirements.  Yes, many students have a good understanding of what their degree requirements are.  However, getting feedback from an advisor could help a student pinpoint classes outside the major which complement the student's career goals.  Make sure you go over your degree audit with your advisor and ask any questions you have regarding degree requirements.  The Academic Advisement office at your college should be able to assist you as well.

4) Look up classes before the first day you can register.  Be prepared with your first options as well as back up classes (just in case the classes you wanted fill up before you can register for them).  While you are at it, register the first moment you are allowed to, because classes fill up quickly.

5) If a class you wanted to take is closed, contact the class professor and request to be added.  In some cases, professors are fine with letting a few additional students in.  In other cases, professors keep a waiting list of students to add should space fill up.  The sooner you contact the professor the better.  Remember, professors are often prohibited by departments and/or the college from adding additional students so don't be upset if a professor informs you he/she cannot add you.

6) After registering, look at your degree audit to verify the classes you registered for fulfill the requirements you anticipated they would fulfill. Not every Biology class fulfills a college's Natural Science requirement just as not every painting class fulfills a college's Art requirement.  You need to make certain the classes you chose fulfill requirements.  If you don't, you could end up taking a class that fulfills no requirements, which may require you to stay an extra semester.

7) Register for at least 12.0 credits of coursework you have never attempted before.  Many financial aid sources require students to attempt and often complete 12.0 new credits a semester in order to maintain aid.  If you have any questions regarding this, contact financial aid immediately.  If your plan is to graduate in four years, you will need a minimum of 15.0 credits a semester.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Midterm Preparation [Yes - Midterm of the Fall semester is approaching]

Happy Tuesday, everyone!!! Yes, as the post title indicates, this blurb is about the fast approaching midterm of the Fall semester.  By now, most students have had at least one test or is aware of a midterm exam set for the 1st or 2nd week of the Fall semester.  Are you ready for those coming midterm exams?  Are you up to date on course reading?  If you are struggling in any class, you cannot afford to wait any longer.  Memorizing information takes time.  So, with those points in mind, open your textbooks, read your chapters, attend classes and get tutors to assist your with anything you do not understand.  Don't know where are your campus there is tutoring available?  Ask your professor, an academic advisor or staff in the Academic Affairs office at your college or university.  The key here is DON'T WAIT!!  You blink your eyes a few more times and we'll be discussing finals week.  As always, check out my blogs for free academic and career guidance.

Best wishes,

P.S.  Winter is Coming!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Finals Preparation (Yes, as in Preparing for final exams)

The end of the semester is weeks away, but that doesn't mean students can hold off studying for finals.  In fact, if you haven't started studying for finals, you're already wasting valuable time.  Over the next few weeks, make a point of preparing for your finals by:

1) Determine where your grade stands in each class.  If you are uncertain of your approximate grade in a class, ask the professor.

2) Determine if you need to withdraw.  If you are failing a class, discuss with your respective professor, your academic advisor AND a financial representative whether withdrawing is in your best interest.  The reason you need to talk withdraws over with a financial aid representative is to make certain that withdrawing doesn’t impact a grant, loan or scholarship you are receiving.

3) Ask professors what are important topics to focus on in preparation for final exams.  Make certain you read over respective textbook chapters and class notes.  You should also ask the professor for a study guide for  final exam(s) for the course.

4) Work with tutors to go over course material you don’t understand.  You should also ask the professor for clarification of difficult material.  Asking for help from a tutor or a professor is a sign/display of strength, not weakness.  I got through a lot of tough course material with the aid of professors and tutors.

5) Read all assignment textbook materials.  Questions on final exams often come directly from textbook chapters, particularly from practice questions often posted at the end of chapters.

6) Complete all assignments.  Failure to complete an assignment could lead to your failing the course.  Additionally, questions on final exams may pertain to information presented/learned through class assignments.

7) Attend all classes. You can’t learn if you are not in you classroom seat.  If you miss a class you may miss out on the professor offering guidance for the final exam.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Midsession Review: Where do you stand in classes?

Believe it or not, it's nearing the midpoint of the Spring 2015 semester.  What does that mean?  It means it's time for every student to THOROUGHLY evaluate where she or he stands in each class.  Start off evaluating yourself by asking the following:

1) What is my average in each class?  You should know what your approximate average is.  If you have not received any grades back, ask each professor for a grade update.

2) Do I need assistance for a class?  We ALL could use help in better preparing for quizzes and tests.  We ALL could use assistance in better understanding class material.  Even if you have above a 90% in a class, assistance from the professor or a tutor could help increase a student's understanding and retention of course material?  Do you have a 100% average in each class?  Even if you do, it never hurts to go over material with a tutor, classmates or a professor.  Doing so could help you retain information for the long-term, as in for years later when a student is a professional and in his or her field.

Time is flying by so reach out for available supports and USE THEM!  A final bit of advice: start building a study group if you haven't done so yet.  Working weekly with that study group could go a long way towards helping you ace a class.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Free Online Academic Support

What are the Secrets to attaining academic success in college?  Yeah, you can read the book.  Or, instead of my book, why don't you just check out my free website? http://eopcenter.blogspot.com/

My blog includes guides to better study and test prep techniques, tips on defeating test anxiety, and career research advice.

The big issue right now is don't wait to read assigned textbook readings and study class notes.  Stay on top of the work you need to get down throughout the semester to avoid cramming later on (believe me, cramming makes it tougher to retain information.

Welcome back, everyone!!!!!

p.s. It's time to start preparing to complete your FAFSA so get your tax info together quickly and file.  Need assistance, ask associates at the Financial Aid Office for help.