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.

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.

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,


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.