Thursday, May 10, 2018

Making the Most of Your Internship Experience

You did it! Congratulations on another year of college completed. Chances are, you have an internship lined up for the summer. The Harvard Business Review says that about 75% of college students work in an internship at some point.

So, what can you do to make the most of this experience?

1)     Know what stage of the internship you are in and act appropriately

The first few weeks of an internship are the “honeymoon” phase where is everything is new – people, processes, routines, location. Take your time acclimating. Ask questions. Mistakes are expected and tolerated at this stage, so jump right in!

The next few weeks transition into the “initiation” phase where you will have increased expectations placed on you. Your supervisors will be more critical of your work and attention will be focused on performance and productivity.

In the third stage you should be displaying “competency”. You will gain confidence in your work and have a greater understanding of the company culture. You should be looking for ways to find solutions to daily issues that arise, displaying assertiveness and initiative.

Your internship closes out in the final “evaluation” stage. Make sure that all your internship requirements have been met and that you have properly thanked your supervisors and co-workers. Take time to evaluate yourself – your performance as well as your “fit”. Is this a job you could see yourself doing long-term? Is this a company that you would like to be part of in the future? Does your current major and career choice still fit you?

2)     Translate your internship experience into a résumé builder
Identify three real-life experiences you gained that can now be added to your résumé. A helpful format is: experience + impact (here is what I did and here is what this means for you, Mr./Ms. Employer)

3)     Use your internship as an opportunity to build your professional network
It may be tempting to spend most of your time hanging out with the other interns, but do take time to form relationships within your team and throughout the company. Observe others who are great relationship builders and learn from them. Conduct informational interviews with staff members. Make yourself memorable.
Identify three relationships you have built that you can leverage for future employment. Who have you worked with that can help either as a reference, or as someone who has connections to others who may have connections to jobs in the future?

Written by: Amy Westra, Dordt College
Associate Director of Career Development

Edited by: Emily Rollins, St. Ambrose University
Career Advisor/Coordinator of Events & Marketing

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Bachelor: Networking Style; Upping your Game on Professional Relationships

While this pairing seems random, it turns out that networking and dating actually have a lot in common.  When seeking out a mate, you are generally looking for a variety of factors that ultimately lead to someone who makes you happy; many times that person “makes you a better person”.  The same is true with networking.  You are looking for a connection with people that can elevate your professional life, in the pursuit of your own happiness.  Just like in dating, however, there are strategies meant to help you appear to be a “great catch”.  Thankfully, there are many “roses” in networking, so you don’t have to limit yourself to just one relationship! These tips will show you how to provide value to your network instead of just gaining from it.

Take Advantage of Time – Just like on The Bachelor, you might be vying for the attention of one well-connected person at an event, and may only have a couple of minutes to make a good impression.  You can’t monopolize someone for an entire event, so you have to perfect the art of establishing those relationships quickly.  If you meet someone at an event, be sure to get their card so you can follow up with them again later on LinkedIn or for a cup of coffee.

Attitude is Everything – If you go into networking situations thinking that it’s all about yourself, you may be setting yourself up for disaster. Networking is about helping others so they also want to help you.  When talking to potential connections, certainly talk about your interests and what you are looking for, but also be sure to ask them questions.  What do they do? What do they need?  How can you help?  Ever gone on a date with someone that ONLY talks about themselves and what they want?  Doesn’t make for a great impression, and usually doesn’t result in a second date!

Know Your Value – As college students, it’s easy to think that you have nothing to offer or that others would not be interested in what you can contribute to a networking opportunity, but that is simply not true.  You bring incredible value to the conversation: insight into your demographic and peers as well as a fresh perspective.  Many organizations today are trying to garner the attention of the younger generation, or learn about social media, and would love to talk with someone who could provide them with advice and guidance.  In addition, fresh eyes on problems can encourage creativity, thinking outside the box, and your other networking connections may be of value to them as well. Confidence here is key; know that you have something valuable to offer.

Follow Through – Many students reach out to networking contacts to ask for jobs or contacts, but never take it to the next level.  Schedule a meeting with a mentor or someone in your field of study and pick their brain.  Find out what it takes to be successful.  If they give you advice, take it.  Then, follow up and let them know what you did and how it worked out. Networking connections are much more likely to reach out to others on your behalf if they know you will make a good impression and follow through.  “Woo” your connections; share an article they posted on LinkedIn or comment on their status.  Send them a thank you note; let them know you appreciate their efforts.  Go after that second date!

Networking connections love to know that they are making a difference; most people LOVE to help other people.  However, networking relationships, just like romantic relationships, are never successful when they are one-sided.  Use your skills to show your networking connections that you value their contributions, and that you want to help them out as well.  Follow these tips and you will hopefully never experience networking heartbreak again!

Written by: Stacie Hays, Morningside College
Career Services

Edited by: Emily Rollins, St. Ambrose University
Career Advisor/Coordinator of Events & Marketing

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Hidden Benefits of Service & Community Engagement

You as students are told constantly by career services staff to seek out opportunities that build your resumes early on in college. One common recommendation is often community engagement and service. While there is no denying that yes, service does look good on a resume, there are so many other benefits and reasons why college students should consider becoming more civically engaged. This post highlights a few of those benefits that may not be obvious at first thought.

Benefit #1: Follow a Passion.

You are thrown many tasks and requirements that need to be completed in order to graduate college. While we hope that most are meaningful and enjoyable, service learning is a chance for you to explore a field or cause you’re passionate about that may not pertain to your major field of study. Whether it’s working with animals, children, or botanical gardens, you as college students can make an impact on your community in a creative and fun way that also serves as an outlet to pursue a passion of your choosing.

Benefit #2: Develop Leadership Skills.

One may not think about service as a place to gain leadership skills, but think about it: whether you’re responsible for project management, facilitating an event, or managing a group of young adults, you have to step up and practice skills like communication, conflict resolution, and collaboration in all forms of service. Whether you realize it or not, these soft skills are slowly building more confidence and helping you to become leaders in the community, and these skills trickle back to campus and into the classroom!

Benefit #3: Expand Your Network.

While you are out in the community volunteering, you will inevitably cross paths and work with others you may not have had a chance to meet otherwise. From other students, to volunteer coordinators, to employers, you are working next to and collaborating with several individuals each time you complete a service project or volunteer. If you’re wise, you’ll maintain those relationships and explore how those connections may relate to your industry and search for employment!

Benefit #4: Define Your Purpose & Calling.

Sometimes, you may realize through a service experience that your gifts and talents are really meant for similar work. Even those who have never questioned their decision of being a Business major may find joy and fulfillment in service, and alter their career goal toward working for a nonprofit. Maybe an Education major who thought he’d be teaching 3rd grade realizes he feels called to work with at-risk youth in after school programs. Community engagement can sometimes open new doors to career opportunities you would have never considered, or allow you to focus in on a specific area in your industry that fulfills that deeper sense of purpose.

Written by: Anne Funke, University of Dubuque
Assistant Director for Vocation & Civic Engagement 

Edited by: Bobbi Sullivan, Simpson College
Director of Career Development and Civic Engagement  

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Evolution of the Resume: 6 Elements of a Modern Resume

Like power suits from the 80’s or big hair from the 90’s, resume practices and fashions change over time. If it’s been more than five years since you submitted your resume to find a job, it is time to edit! Even if you aren’t currently searching for work, organizing your professional life on paper is a great way to celebrate your accomplishments and pause to reflect on all the excellent things you’ve had a hand in. It could also serve as a handy reference for your next evaluation!
So what has changed?

1. No more snail mail addresses! Your resume does not need to include your actual mailing address anymore. The generally accepted information for the contact section of your resume is now name, city, state, e-mail, and phone number. If you use LinkedIn you can also include your personalized URL in the contact section of the resume.


Your Name
Plainview, NY (555) 555-5555

2. Live links to e-mail, e-portfolios, LinkedIn profile, or other media! The new resume is a landing platform for everything wonderful about you. Worried that the URL is too long and distracting for your resume? Google has a free tool that shortens long web links: Also include live links to your e-mail and LinkedIn. Employers report that they appreciate the ease of quickly e-mailing you after viewing your document.

3. Headers, branding statements, and/ or professional profiles! The objective statement is now very out of style. A more effective way to communicate with an employer is to tell them who you are and what kind of candidate you are immediately. You can do this with a quote, a header, or a brief paragraph about what you offer. Remember this section focuses on what you OFFER, not what you WANT.


Marketing Assistant
Brand Positioning • Digital Marketing • Content Development
Professional Profile
Ambitious new business and marketing graduate practiced at crafting innovative and engaging social media campaigns that drive consumer engagement and brand awareness. Project Leader and team collaborator with strength in event management, ability to function in fast-paced environments, and reputation for meeting aggressive deadlines. Leverage partnerships to launch cross-promotional marketing and communications campaigns that drive business results.

4. Color! In the past, sticking with good old black and white was the standard. Today, color is no longer taboo provided it is used conservatively.


Core Competencies & Key Attributes
Hands-On Learning Differentiated Strategies Developmentally Appropriate Practices                                        Knowledge of State/District Standards Effective Classroom & Behavioral Management Parent Communication Assessments Team Leadership Common Core Curriculum GO Math 
Technology Proficiency: SMART Board Power Point

5. Bullet points should be accomplishments based! Employers are not interested in reading your job description. Instead, they want to know what you accomplished!

  •  Recognized as Teach For America, Sue Lehmann Excellence in Teaching Nominee (2016)
  •  Utilized frequent assessment, differentiated instruction, strong family involvement, and engaging teacher strategies to increase grade-level goals from 11% mastery to 90% in one year with class of remedial ESL students.

6. Inclusion of endorsements! Including quotes from letters of recommendation is a great way to share the story of who you are. It lets the reader know you’ve established positive relationships with others in the past. It also allows some warmth into what can sometimes become a very cold and business-like document.



Our son is having a great year in Kindergarten and we definitely have you to thank. He was very well prepared for the material they’re covering and was assessed into the highest group for both reading and math. You are an awesome teacher and I hope you are working with students (and parents) who deserve you.” – Jane Doe, Parent

Written by: Catherine Craig M.Ed, ACRW, CCMC, CPRW, Graceland University 
Director of Career and Academic Advising Center

Edited by: Sarah Moss, Graceland University
Director of Marketing and Communication

Thursday, November 30, 2017

“The Gig Economy: Is It for Me?”

I don’t know about you, but it seems like each semester I see more and more students who have a wide variety of career interests and strengths, and can’t seem to pinpoint exactly which direction to take their career. They aren’t really looking for the “traditional” 40 hour a week, 8:00-5:00 kind of career that we tend to assume is the ideal. Does this sound like you? What if a wide range of interests isn’t such a bad thing after all? If you’re a student who values working independently, a flexible schedule, and constant change and variety in a fast-paced environment, then keep reading to learn about the growing popularity of the “gig economy.”

Personally, when I hear the word “gig,” I tend to think about my dad’s middle-aged folk band that plays in wine bars and art galleries on the weekend. I’ve never thought of this work as steady income and employment, and more of an on-the-side, fun job for nights and weekends. However, this upward trend of “gig economy” workers refers to individuals who are self-employed, or work via temporary contracts, and can span across all industries and occupations. These “gigs” often require high-level skill sets, can be done remotely, and most often eliminate a middleman such as a temp agency. Before you write off this type of work just yet, let’s talk pros and cons, because there are several.

Pros to “gig economy” work:

·         Independence. You make the decision as to which jobs you take and pursue. This means that you can pursue opportunities from your wide variety of interests and abilities.

·         Flexibility. There aren’t necessarily any set hours, unless you’re under temporary contract for an employer that requires them. You can pick and choose when, where, and how you work. A lot of students today prioritize the work/life balance factor; this type of employment would allow you to work around family schedules and life events if you so choose.

·         Constant change & variety. Not only does this appeal to individuals who aren’t quite sure of their niche (or have many niches), but it also presents an opportunity to be constantly challenged in your work. Taking on a variety of gigs can open up more connections, provide ample networking opportunities, and help you discover a passion or skill set you perhaps didn’t even realize you had.


·         Lack of benefits and insurance. If you are working for yourself, or for a variety of employers under contracts each year, there will be no benefits package included. Everything will have to be purchased independently.

·         Work is everywhere. While working from home and on your own time sounds like a dream, for some, the temptation to constantly check email and communicate with clients can quickly turn into working 24/7. The lack of a structured work location and schedule can sometimes eliminate a “stress free” zone where we can unplug. 

·         No guarantee. While the variety and excitement seems great, keep in mind that even a busy “gig” employee won’t necessarily make the same, consistent, salary as a full-time employee. Sometimes, gig employment is not stable, is not easy to find, or simply doesn’t add up to the same kind of salary you could receive working for one employer depending on the field and industry.  

Several sources agree that 40-50% of the workforce is working independently to some degree. Perhaps this is encouraging if you are one who feels like your path might be leading you somewhere other than the traditional careers we so often think of. At the end of the day, each of you will always be unique in terms of a “best fit” career. But it does seem that for the time being, the prevalence of the “gig economy” is only growing, and should be explored by those of you who think you could thrive in it.


Dahlberg, N. (2017). The gig economy is here to stay. Chicago Tribune.  Retrieved from

Pickerell, D.A. (2017). Ethical Practice in the “Gig Economy”. The Changing Nature of Careers, 33 (3), 7-10.

Torpey, E. & Hogan, A. (2016). Working in a gig economy. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from

Written by: Anne Funke, University of Dubuque
Assistant Director of Vocation & Civic Engagement 

Edited by: Stacie Hays, Morningside College
Career Counselor

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Pathway into Federal Internship Programs

Current students and recent grads: Are you interested in working for the federal government? The Pathways Program may be your first step to a federal internship or career. There is need for new workers as many federal employees become eligible for retirement. The purpose of The Pathways Program is to provide a great resource for agencies to boost their civil service ranks.  

These opportunities are offered in all states within the United States, as well as internationally. 

1.    Internship Program: If you are a current student in high school, college, trade school or other qualifying educational institution, you may be eligible.  This program offers paid opportunities to work in federal agencies and explore federal careers while completing your education.

2.    Recent Graduates Program: This program is intended to promote possible careers in the civil service to individuals who, within the previous two years, graduated from a qualifying educational institutional with an associate, bachelor, masters, professional, doctorate, vocational or technical degree.

3.    Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program: This is the federal government’s premier leadership development program for recent graduates with an advanced degree -- Masters, Ph.D. or J.D.

4.    Department of State Student Internship Program: This unpaid program for students with a minimum of 60 credit hours, provides the opportunity to work in U.S. Embassies and Consulates throughout the world, as well as in various bureaus located in Washington, D.C. and at Department offices around the United States. It is designed to provide substantive experiences in a Foreign Affairs environment.

5.    Virtual Student Foreign Service: This is an eight-month remote internship program for U.S. students, college-level and above, who would like to make a real difference in the work of the U.S. government.

More Pathways Program information can be found at Click on “Students & Recent Graduates”. We hope this information will be helpful to you as you start your job/internship search.   When you are ready to apply for the Pathways Program, view this Resume Writing Video, and stop by your institution’s career services center to have your resume reviewed.  

Written by: Jan Gray, Graceland University
Career & Advising Specialist  

Edited by:  Stephanie Gronowski, St. Ambrose University
Internship Coordinator & Career Advisor

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

What to Look for in an Internship 

Now that fall semester is underway, employers have begun to fill our job-boards with summer internship opportunities.  Internships have become highly valued as they allow students to apply the knowledge they’ve gained in a classroom to a real-world setting.  However, I’ve learned from working with students, that the quality of internships can vary.  The purpose of this blog is to encourage you to seek out the below factors when considering your options.

1) Alignment with your professional goals.
Does the position description match your major field of study?  Will the expected tasks and responsibilities allow you to put into practice the concepts you’ve learned in college?  Consider sharing descriptions of your positions of interest with your faculty members and/or career center staff for review.

2) Direct supervision and mentorship.
Will you be directly supervised by one person?  Within the description, or during the interview, was there talk of how frequently you would meet with your supervisor to receive feedback?  Having at least weekly feedback will give you room to grow while also building your confidence. 

3) Appropriate levels of responsibility.
What types of tasks and projects are anticipated?  Will they challenge you appropriately?  On the flip side, is there a professional staff member in your field at the company who can guide you?  For an internship to be sustainable, you must strike a balance of feeling challenged while also feeling supported.

4) Connection to the company.
How will you be integrated into the company culture?  Are interns included in company-wide meetings, service projects, and/or social outings?  Being treated like a true member of the team can build your loyalty and increase your drive.

5) Appealing environment.
What will your workspace be like?  Will you be sharing it with anyone?  Are there opportunities for collaboration?  What type of attire is expected?  While there are not right answers in this category, it is important to find a suitable environment for your personality. 

6) Appropriate compensation.
Will you earn what you should according to the Fair Labor Standards Act?  If unsure, ask a staff member within your career center to complete the 7-factor test for unpaid internships with you.

As you’re being interviewed for internships, remember to interview the companies as well.  You have a lot to offer prospective employers and owe it to yourself to be thoughtful in your search. Enjoy the process and best wishes on finding the right opportunity for you.

Written by: Bobbi Sullivan, Simpson College
Director of Career Development and Civic Engagement  

Edited by:  Kim Matteson, St. Ambrose University
Director, Career Center