Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Insider’s Guide to Writing Thank You Letters


 
Written by Lauren Lind
 
Thank you cards can break or make your chances of landing a second, third or final interview. It may seem like small thing to you, but to your interviewer, it shows that you appreciate the time they spent with you and you’re definitely interested in the job. A thank you letter can also be a great opportunity to reinforce your candidacy in case you felt like you might have missed anything or didn’t answer a question well. But how can you go about writing a good thank you? What else are you supposed to say besides thank you? Take a look at our tips to help you write a strategic and genuine thank you card that sets you apart from your competitors.

• Make sure to mention specifics from the interview. If they had concerns regarding XYZ being needed to be the perfect candidate and you were lacking in any of those areas, this is your chance to address those concerns. Sell yourself and show them that you are perfect for the position despite the weakness mentioned.

• If your response to a particular question got jumbled because of nerves, then this is a good time to elaborate on your response and tell them you would like to expand on your response after having time to think and would like to clarify your thoughts.

• If you feel the interview went fantastic and all you really want to say is thanks for your time, remember to still be specific. You can do this by connecting your top three qualifications with the job requirements and employer needs that were relayed to you during the interview.

• Show them you were paying attention to what they were saying by bringing up a point or specific information they shared. State how or why this sparked your interest and let them know that you appreciate them sharing that knowledge with you.

• Make a promise to deliver and keep that promise. This is the final moment to market yourself and leave the employers with a memorable impression.

  Keep it short and sweet. I have made the mistake before of elaborating too much, and the truth is, employers only have so much time to read your letter, so keep it short and to the point.

A thank you letter is yet another tool in your job searching process that you can use to prove your worth to the company, show that you are grateful for the opportunity to speak with them and that you are serious about working for them. Use these tips to craft a great thank you letter and leave a positive, lasting impression.

Monday, April 14, 2014

5 Things to Do to Prepare for The JIT Fair




Written by Lauren Lind

Are you looking for an internship or job and are starting to freak out a little since summer is right around the corner? Have no fear....the Just In Time Fair is here! Okay that was cheesy, but seriously if you are in need of an internship or job come to the JIT Fair this Thursday. The fair is in the UMC from 9:00am-3:00pm and ALL employers attending are hiring.

Here are 5 things to do show up prepared for this fair:

1.  Look at the list of employers attending before hand and decide which companies you want to speak with. Click here to see who will be attending the fair and their job categories.

2.  Research the companies attending and show up with well thought out questions for the recruiters. It will show that you are serious about working for their company and have done your homework.

3.  Step up your professional wardrobe. We have received feedback from employers that students dress too casual at career fairs. Always err on the side of overdressing than underdressing. You’ll make a much better impression this way.

4.  Make sure your resume is up to date. Bring copies with you and be able to discuss your previous work experience in detail. Career Services has drop-ins this week from 1:30-4:00pm where you can get a quick 15-minute review of your resume. Come by our office in C4C, N352.

5.  Be open to exploring all your options. There are many opportunities in industries that you might not have considered, so be open-minded.


Being prepared for the Just In Time Fair will set you apart from competitors. If you really want a job or internship then show up with confidence ready to make a good impression! Let us know how the career fair went for you by tweeting @CUCareerServ or posting on our CU Career Services Facebook wall. Best of luck in your job and internship search!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Power of Networking: Utilizing Your Connections to Make Your Dreams Come True

-->
-->Written by Lauren Lind


This past November I decided that I wanted to move to New York City after I graduate in May. At that point in time I had no plans or ideas of how I was going to make that dream come true. A month later, I found out that the CU Advertising Collective was going to New York over spring break for their annual trip. I took that as a sign that my dream of moving to New York was, in fact, possible!

I began the networking process by talking to my advertising professor who ran a very large advertising agency in NYC before she came to teach at CU. I respect this professor a lot and she was very supportive of my aspirations. She told me, “Picking up and moving to New York was the best decision I ever made.” She then sent a message via LinkedIn to her former students who are living and working in NYC asking them if they would be willing to meet with me just to give me some insights and advice.

I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of people who responded and were willing to meet with me! From there, I had 14 more contacts in New York than I had before. I met with these amazing people while I was In New York and had the opportunity to tour many offices including Twitter and Foursquare, and received tons of useful advice regarding job searching, interviewing, my resume, and moving to the city. I was in awe of how helpful and wonderful people were to me.

At a Bolder Young Professionals event, a networking group in Boulder, I met networking guru Nancy-Chin Wagner. I did not know who she was before being introduced to her, but soon found not only is she one of the coolest ladies around, but she grew up in the Bronx and worked in New York for many years. I explained my goal to her and she whipped out her phone and gave me the phone number of a former CU alumnus who moved to NYC after graduation four years ago. I called the alumna and we scheduled a time to meet while I was in NYC. Once I was there, she gave me many tips regarding apartment hunting and introduced me to another CU alumnus. He has been so helpful with job searching and connecting me with people who are looking to hire in the city.

Nancy also put me into contact with her niece who lives in Chinatown. When I was there she showed me where I could get authentic Chinese food (which was delicious!) and she also sent me some media-related job openings. It amazes me that I met all these people just by simply approaching one person at a networking event.

Another event that greatly helped my networking process was Career Services Executives Tell All Panel in February. I listened to executive, Cathie Black’s, story of graduating college and moving to NYC with friends. I felt inspired to see someone who started off just like me and has now accomplished so much. Cathie is the past Chairman/President of Hearst Publishing, an author, past President of USA Today, a former NYC schools chancellor, and many more accomplishments. I approached her after the panel and although I felt a bit intimidated, I asked for her contact information and told her my goals and that I would be in New York over spring break. She gave me her contact info agreed to meet with me while I was in NYC.

Not only was she willing to meet with me, but she also was willing to help me connect with people in New York! Cathie introduced me to her friend who is the founder of a fantastic PR firm and I was lucky to be able to discuss their internship program! I was also awestruck by the fact that such an accomplished businesswoman was willing to help me find job and internship opportunities. Cathie at one point told me that “following up is key,” and it definitely has been an important piece of advice. Following up with Cathie led to me finding out about this wonderful internship opportunity!

The power of networking has changed my life and has turned my dreams of moving to NYC into an actual action plan. Following up and thanking everyone for his or her time is also very important when it comes to networking. Networking can happen anywhere at any time, so be prepared. You never know how the people you meet can change your life!

If you are unsure about where to network in Boulder, Bolder Young Professionals hosts great networking events every month, and I would highly recommend joining this group as a current student or even as a seasoned professional. I have learned to be open to talking with as many people as possible and learning as much as I can because wonderful opportunities can arise from the most unplanned meetings!

Monday, April 7, 2014

How to Retain the Best Employees, and Yourself

Written by Shari Harley 

 Managers: 

The fear of saying what we think and asking for what we want at work is prevalent across organizations. We want more money, but don’t know how to ask for it. We want to advance our careers but are concerned about the impression we’ll make if we ask for more. Instead of making requests, many employees assume they won’t get their needs met and choose to leave their jobs, either physically or emotionally.

Questions Managers Should AskThe key to keeping the best employees engaged and doing their best work is to ask more questions and make it safe to tell the truth.
  • Do you know why your employees chose your organization and what would make them leave?
  • Do you know your employees’ best and worst boss?
The answers to these questions tells managers what employees need from the organization, job, and from the manager/employee working relationship. Can your manager answer these questions – that I call Candor Questions – about you? For most people, the answer is no. Most managers don’t ask these questions. And most employees are not comfortable giving this information, especially if the manager hasn’t asked for it.

It’s easy to mistake my book, How to Say Anything to Anyone, as a book about giving feedback. It’s not. It takes me nine chapters to get to feedback. The first eight chapters of the book are about how to create relationships in which you can tell the truth without fear. You can read all the feedback books you want and take numerous training classes on coaching, managing people, giving feedback, and managing conflict, and you’ll still be hesitant to speak up, because a formula for giving feedback is not what you’re missing. What’s missing is being given permission and knowing it’s safe to tell the truth.

How to give feedback

Managers, tell your employees:
“I appreciate you choosing to work here. I want this to be the best career move you’ve made, and I want to be the best boss you’ve had. I don’t want to have to guess what’s important to you. I’d like to ask you some questions to get to know you and your career goals better. Please tell me anything you’re comfortable saying. And if you’re not comfortable answering a question, just know that I’m interested and I care. And if, at any point, you’re comfortable telling me, I’d like to know.”
ManagingQThen ask the Candor Questions during job interviews, one-on-one, and team meetings. We’re always learning how to work with people. So continue asking questions throughout your relationships. These conversations are not one-time events.

If you work for someone who isn’t asking you these questions, offer the information. You could say:
“I wanted to tell you why I chose this organization and job, and what keeps me here. I also want to tell you the things I really need to be happy and do my best work. Is it ok if I share?”
Your manager will be caught off guard, but it is likely that she will also be grateful. It’s much easier to manage people when you know what they need and why. Most managers want this information, it just may not occur to them to ask.

If the language above makes you uncomfortable, you can always blame me. You could say:
“I read this blog and the author suggested I tell you what brought me to this organization and what I really need to be happy here and do my best work. She said I’d be easier to manage if you had that information. Is it ok if I share?”
Yes, this might feel a little awkward at first, but the conversation will flow, and both you and your manager will learn a great deal about each other. The ability to tell the truth starts with asking questions, giving people permission to speak candidly, and listening to the answers.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

#GoBuffsPro: How Becoming a Buffs Professional Can Benefit You

-->Written by Lauren Lind
Stand out with the Buffs Professional Program certificate! These four workshops offered by Career Services are designed to prepare you for the professional work world.  Learn what it takes to transition into the professional world after college.

April is your last chance this semester to earn your Buffs Professional Program certificate! Simply attend the four workshops (or participate in them online) and attend the career fair. Once you've completed the required workshops and attended the career fair, you'll be invited to attend the Summit event on April 24th. You do not have to complete the classes in any particular order. Below are the in-person workshops.

Explore Majors and Careers
Tuesday, April 8th, 5:30-6:30pm, S350
Learn about majors you're interested in and career assessments. This workshop will allow you to connect your strengths and skills to areas of interest.

Resumes & Networking
Tuesday, April 15th, 5:30-6:30pm, S350
It has been said that 80% of jobs are found through networking. Often times it’s about whom you know and getting your foot in the door.  During this class you can craft a resume from scratch or work on your existing resume.

Internship/Job Search & Interviewing
Tuesday, April 22nd, 5:30-6:30pm, S350
Begin the internship and job search process and learn the ins and outs of how to be successful in your search. This class emphasizes building social media job searching skills and interviewing skills to put you ahead of the competition.

Professionalism Skills
Tuesday, April 29th, 5:30-6:30pm, S350
Gain insight into professionalism on the job and skills to adapt to changing work environments. Learn the professional skills that employers seek in candidates.

This is a unique opportunity to make your application stand out and understand what employers are looking for in candidates. Click here to see the student requirements. 

To get started, email: BuffsPro@Colorado.edu with your student ID number. The Buffs Professional Program is managed through Desire2Learn, so you can attend workshops in person or online.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Justin Gold | Owner & Founder of Justin’s

Written by with Bolder Young Professionals

Peanut butter and chocolate is probably the ultimate match made in heaven. The only way the combo could get any better would be to put it in a spread, or a handy to-go pack that won’t get smushed out of shape in a pocket or backpack.  Justin Gold, Boulder entrepreneur and owner of Justin’s, has done just that, with his variety of nut butters (in convenient squeeze packs) and candies. Paired with a commitment to using all-natural, organic, GMO-free ingredients, Gold has found overwhelming success in his business producing the nut butters and peanut butter cups, particularly given his unconventional background.

JGold

“I grew up in a small rural town in Western Pennsylvania with dreams of becoming an environmental lawyer until I interned at a law firm in college and, well, changed my mind.”
Gold’s grandfather started one of the first “health food” stores in western Pennsylvania in the 1960’s, and Gold credits him for giving him an early introduction to natural products. In college, Gold worked towards earning a degree in environmental studies, helping to organize field trips to hazardous waste facilities, landfills, meat packing plants and dairy farms. These factors, coupled with his vegetarian lifestyle and his upbringing, helped to solidify Gold’s dedication to sustainability and using organic and natural products for what would become Justin’s.
“Imagine telling your parents that you are giving up a law degree for the opportunity to make peanut butter… They were totally supportive and that has made all the difference.”
Gold moved to Boulder shortly after finishing college where he worked as a waiter and at an outdoor store for several years until his company was stable enough to launch.
The inspiration for Justin’s was born from Gold’s vegetarian lifestyle and eating lots of peanut and almond butter during his many outdoor adventures. Originally starting with jars sold at farmers markets, it was Gold’s squeeze pack that really helped launch his company nationally.
“I was on a long mountain bike and was sick of my bars and gels and just wanted a packet of peanut or almond butter. The squeeze pack innovation instantly put our company on the map with national distribution in Whole Foods Market and Starbucks.”


JustinsLogo

Today, 11 years after Justin’s was founded, the nut butters are sold nationwide in a variety of flavors and styles, from classic peanut butter to chocolate hazelnut butter and maple almond butter (Gold’s favorite).  It was a natural progression then, to break into producing organic peanut butter cups. Gold capitalized on the classic combo of chocolate and peanut butter, much like the ever famous Reese’s, but with an all-natural, organic spin to them in both milk and dark chocolate peanut butter cups.
As any business owner will tell you, Gold is simultaneously challenged and rewarded by the things that come each day, pulling him in a hundred different directions all at once. His day-to-day work is rarely ever the same, but he tries to keep things consistent, as best he can.
“My day always starts with a workout then getting to the office first so I can rock out to music while I catch up on emails.  The rest of the day blows by with meetings, projects, etc.”
Gold strives to stay true to Justin’s mission, using quality, organic and all-natural ingredients that come together in delicious, vegan, gluten- and GMO-free products.
Looking to the future, Gold hopes to continue to meet the growing demand from his increasing fan base, keeping them stocked with delicious Justin’s products.
“It sounds crazy, but my big milestone is to have us in a position where we have plenty of inventories to sell to our customer who are constantly out of stock. We’ve never had the opportunity to catch up with customer demand.”
As for his participation with the Boulder community and Bolder Young Professionals, Gold encourages all budding entrepreneurs and young professionals to follow their passions and start somewhere.
“Our economic future lies within the courage and curiosity of the young minds. I’m thrilled to be involved with organizations that support and encourage intellectual curiosity at young ages”.



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Leaving No Stone Unturned


Interview by Annie Sugar

Rhea Williams earned a BS with a double major in Chemistry and Mathematics at Salem College in 2009. CU-Boulder's Chemical and Biological Engineering Department's broad, contemporary energy related research opportunities and its connection to the Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels (C2B2) drew Rhea to Boulder for her doctoral studies. She plans (hopes!) to defend her dissertation and graduate this summer.
 
What are your plans when you finish your degree? How are you preparing for your new career and job hunt after graduation?

My plan post-grad school is to head down an "alternative" PhD career path. By alternative, I mean that I am seeking roles where my scientific knowledge and organizational skills will be a key asset in furthering a company or organization's goals, including scientific program management, scientific publishing, or the coordination and administration of research and development team projects.

I realize these are niche positions to find, so my job hunt is already underway. While attempting to leave no stone unturned, I have availed myself of the help offered by the graduate counselor, Annie Piatt, in CU Career Services. Her critique and advice for my CV and cover letter was timely as I prepared to submit online applications this spring. Another great suggestion Annie gave me was to use LinkedIn's various search mechanisms (by company or within alumni, for example) to find first and second degree connections I could reach out to. My follow up visits to Career Services have been reassuring as I continue the job hunt process and I've appreciated getting an objective person's perspective as I prepare to interview professionally.  

What role does networking play in your career preparation and what skills are you developing to that end?
I believe networking will play a key role in my job hunt. To date, my time in the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, undergraduate January internships, and professional meeting/conference contacts have already served me well as mentors, with whom I check in periodically for feedback and to ask relevant questions. Their insight and experience helps me explore the possibilities and shape the vision I have for a fulfilling career. Building relationships, demonstrating a professional communication style, and just having the courage to reach out and ask questions are useful skills I'm developing.

What is your networking strategy and how has networking helped you?
My networking strategy is multifaceted and includes emails, periodic check-ins and updates, and getting coffee at conferences over the years. I would encourage other students to find out what works best for them. I have had good success by sending "blind emails" of interest and inquiry to root out opportunities. As an undergrad, I relied on the power of suggestion to open a door at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and they created an internship for me based on my offer to spend my January Term at their Washington DC headquarters. It worked out so well, that the agency now hosts two students every year in the particular program office I worked in. My not-so-secret love for film took me to the Sundance Film Festival in 2009. A straight-to-the-point email to a few folks saying, "Anybody need help?" received a good response and resulted in a volunteer spot in the Theatre Operations office. It's worth mentioning that working the Sundance Film Fest was a goal I'd set for myself a full year prior. I believe sufficient forethought is important so you can "connect the dots" throughout the year and when the time comes, your circumstances are such that you can seize the day.
 
Where have you discovered are good places to network (online and offline)?

Conferences have been fruitful for me, but you need an "in" to help you start conversations. It's hard for anyone to walk up to a stranger! Non-conference aspects of the meeting provide good inroads. Just show some interest and nine times out of ten, the person will be happy and willing to answer your questions and have a discussion with you. Follow up on professional networks such as LinkedIn every time to connect, and be sure to personalize the invitation message rather than rely on the automatic one provided by the site. You can and should follow up fairly soon after the event, being sure to mention an idea or point from their presentation or related to your recent conversation, etc.

Do you have any networking success stories to share?        
A couple recent efforts resulted in multiple beneficial informational phone interviews and invitations to send my resume for personal referral to hiring managers for positions that interested me. The first connection came through a friend I met at my REU, now working in the industry, was linked to a chemist post-doc at Pfizer who then connected me with a chemical engineer in research and manufacturing, which led me to a CU-Boulder chemical engineering undergraduate alum working in the same R&D group. My second connection came via my mother's former employer where an executive business consultant spoke on my behalf to a friend who is working in the oil industry supply chain, Conveniently, this contact's father is a Ph.D. chemical engineer working at LyondellBasell, a large international chemical company.
 
What advice do you have for other graduate students seeking to establish or improve their networking skills or strategies? How should they get started?

Get started by checking out the Career Services website and maybe set up an appointment with Career Services to discuss your personal approach to what can be an overwhelming task. Next, think about a person you can reach out to. This person will feel like a "stretch," someone you haven't spoken to in a long time but you think they might know something that could help you. Reconnect. Send them an update on your accomplishments and current project. Have a goal in mind before you hit the send button. For example, I was seeking an answer to the question "What does an industrial chemical engineer really do?" when I conducted my info interviews.

Basically, you have to put yourself out there on the limb. Don't take it personally if only one out of five attempts nets an offer of help. It's cheesy, but just keep turning over stones until you find a gem. I want to emphasize how important it is to follow through when the contact offers to introduce you to someone or sends you some helpful information or asks you to send your CV. Now is not the time to procrastinate! Promptly read what was sent, reply and ask another relevant question to help move the dialogue forward, eventually building a relationship.