• Career Fair Success

    by Mai Nguyen

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    I have been in college for roughly 3 years now and I’ve participated in quite a few career fairs. Yet, I still get butterflies every time I walk into the room full of companies and organizations. That first handshake, the small conversations, the nervousness, the success and the failure are all the things we, as college students, experience when going to career fairs. Luckily, I had the amazing opportunity recently to be the featured Insider speaker for the month with the topic on Career Fair Success Tips. Thanks to this, I get to share my experience of going to career fairs and offer advice to other students so we can all strive to succeed in our future career fairs.

    Do your research.

    Before attending any career fair, it is essential to research the companies beforehand. This gives you knowledge about the company’s mission, business culture, and the potential positions, which could turn into a big icebreaker to spice up your conversation with the recruiters. I usually reach out to the people from the companies that I’m interested in if I can find their contact information. I let them know I’ll be coming to the career fair and ask what positions they are looking for if that is not stated on the school’s page.

    Prepare your resume

    Learn to build an impressive résumé. It is important that you have others, especially a career counselor, proofread your résumé. Meeting a career counselor at your school’s career center or redeeming the resume critique award via the Pearson Student Insider is a key to success! A recruiter once told me that it’s important to consider the type of paper we should print our résumé on! Even though you may impress recruiters through the conversation, it does not hurt adding that extra impression when they look at your résumé! I usually use ivory paper that is thicker than the usual paper, so employers can feel the difference as soon as they touch my résumé. Small details matter.

    Prepare yourself.

    Additionally, make sure you come to the career fair with professional attire. Each college student should have at least one to two professional suits that can be used for formal occasions. And practice your elevator pitch so you can impress the recruiter as soon as you come to the table. One very good way to overcome nervousness before the fair is to practice the “power pose” recommended by Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy. Insiders can complete a challenge on power posing here.

    Jump in!

    When you first arrive at the career fair, browse all the tables first before you start talking with any. The rule of thumb is to start with smaller companies, even the ones whose positions do not entirely match your interest. This gives you time to practice and get in the mood of communicating!

    Follow up.

    After attending the career fair, do not forget to follow-up! I usually make an Excel document with the name of the company, the recruiter contact information and start keeping track of dates and times I followed up. It is recommended that you follow-up within 24 hours, but do not rush the follow-up email. Make the email professional but also personal; mention what you and the recruiter discussed and what you found interesting.

    Learn from the experience.

    Be yourself when you’re at the career fair. Be intentional in selling yourself, but at the same time, enjoy the atmosphere, be yourself, show your passion when talking with anyone. I know we are afraid of many things, such as “what if the person does not like me”, “what if I get stuck in the middle of the conversation”, “what if I do not get the interview for the position I want”, but think about it: we not only learn through success, but we also learn from failure.  If your first career fair does not go as well as expected, don’t lose heart! Learn from the experience and try again at the next career fair.

    Pearson Students – how do you prepare for your campus career fair? Share your tips when you comment on my blog!

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  • 5 Tips to Improve Public Speaking

    by Mai Nguyen

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    Did you know that, according to Forbes’ magazine, only 10% of the population is highly confident in public speaking? Nearly 80% experience some form of anxiety when they deliver their speech and 10% report being extremely terrified. How can we overcome the fear of public speaking? To learn more, I studied some common causes noted by speech coach Dr. Gary Genard. Here are five causes with a solution to each that I think may help.

    Self–consciousness in front of groups

    Indeed, many people say “I can speak in front of 4 or 5 people, but a group of 300? Forget it!” The number is too big to handle. One way to improve is to remember that a large audience is made up of individuals. Focus on communicating with your listeners by dividing your audience in groups and talk to the groups. This helps you have better eye contact and improves the quality of your conversation.

    Fear of appearing nervous

    This can be improved by using the “fake it till you become it” method by Harvard professor Dr. Amy Cuddy. In a TED Talk, Dr. Cuddy noted that body languages affect physiology and have priming effects on behavior. To practice, relax yourself 5-7 minutes, focus on controlling your breathing, and visualize the positive outcome. Tell yourself you can do it! The easiest way to “fake” your emotion when you’re not in a good mood is to practice smiling. A bright and full smile makes it much easier to deal with emotions in almost any situation!

    Past failures generate fear

    Instead of seeing a past failure as a fear, see it as a trial and learn to improve from it. After delivering any speech, sit down and evaluate yourself. Ask someone who watched your presentation for feedback. Find out what you did well and what needs to be improved. Focus on improvement for future presentations.

    Fear that others are judging

    Whenever you deliver a presentation, your purpose is to tell others your opinion about an issue. Because it’s an opinion, there will be people who agree or disagree. Listen to those people who give you constructive criticism. You can learn from it and improve.

    Poor preparation

    Being unprepared practically guarantees a speaker will stumble, forgetting the structure of their speech or the message they want to convey. Good preparation gives you an outline to follow when delivering your speech. It also means practicing thoroughly. You can use note cards for preparation of the speech, but work towards using as few as possible during your actual presentation. Your note cards should have your outline with points and sub–points. They’ll keep you organized during your presentation but won’t be a word-for-word script.

    As a member of my school’s forensic speech team, I give speeches for regional and national tournaments. These five tips have been very useful for me and my teammates. I hope that they are useful enough to help you be more confident the next time you deliver a speech. Good luck with public speaking and remember- it’s nothing to fret about!

    How do you prepare for public speaking? Please write them in the comments below!

     

     

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  • Words Matter: How a Movie Changed The Way I Communicate

    by Mai Nguyen

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    Have you ever been inspired by a movie? “A Thousand Words” starring Eddie Murphy, changed my perception of communication. The movie plot surrounds the sudden appearance of a mysterious tree in Jack McCall’s (Eddie Murphy) backyard after Jack stretches the truth to make a business deal. It hints that Jack’s life completely depends on this tree- whose leaves represent every word (verbal and written) Jack uses to communicate with other people. Whenever Jack does something bad to the tree, he experiences the same feeling. This means as the tree loses leaves- which happens when Jack talks—it speeds up the age process of the tree and sooner it will perish, and so will Jack.

    Wasting words

    Watching Jack continue to struggle with his word limit and try to communicate with others using the fewest words possible, I realized how sometimes I’ve been wasting my words talking about unnecessary things. I know I am privileged to have the ability to speak, learn different languages, and communicate in those languages. But I must learn to say positive and uplifting words in suitable situations to encourage others.

    Realizing the value

    Moreover, as the tree is about to perish, Jack learns he can survive only by healing the broken relationships, miscommunications, and conflicts he is suffering. He does this by carefully choosing and using all of the words (leaves) he has left. Once he completes this quest, he is given another chance at living a much happier life realizing the value of his words.

    Communication is not just talking

    Although it’s a comedy, the message the movie delivers is significantly powerful. It makes me rethink about how many relationships I’ve missed due to lack of communication, miscommunication, or lack of care and support. Moreover, I understand how I should apply different communication approaches to different people based on their personalities, hobbies, and concerns. I also learned that communication is not just about talking, but also about listening and sympathizing. I see how words can be constructive as well as destructive.

    The next time you want to say something to someone, take a moment and think about these questions: Are the things I’m going to say benefit the person? Will my words hurt them? Do these words truly express what I want to convey? How should I say this to get my opinion not misunderstood? Because as a saying goes, “The tongue has no bones, but it is strong enough to break a heart.” Be careful with your words if you don’t want to wake up one day and terrified about having a tree in your backyard counting every word you say!

    Have you ever been inspired by a movie? Please share with the Pearson student community below in the comments!

     

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  • Celebrate International Students

    by Mai Nguyen

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    Being an international student means traveling thousands of miles away from your parents to  study with students who come from a culture that is completely different from yours. Being an international student comes with its struggles and challenges. It also means that just hearing your mother coughing on the phone or seeing your brother having a fever over Facetime can make you feel worried the whole day.

    November 17th is International Students Day, a day that reminds international students of our motives when coming to America and encourages us to constantly try to meet our objectives. It also exists to remind Americans about the international students on their campus, remembering that each international student has a story to tell. We can teach American students to maintain an open mindset and learn to respect other countries’ culture and customs.

    Even though coming from Vietnam to study in America is a huge sacrifice, I have grown greatly and gained skills I never thought I could gain if I were in Vietnam. I have had many unforgettable experiences that helped shape my personality. I want to take this day to share what lessons I have learned from studying abroad through my experiences.

    Remember that you are not alone

    That’s right! International students, even if you don’t know anyone on campus, visit your International Student Center. The office is a great resource to help you adapt to your life on campus and life in America. You will make international friends who will “survive” 4 years of college with you. And if you have any questions related to your visa, work authorization, or financial aid, this is the office to go to for answers. In my sophomore year, I signed up to be an International Ambassador in which I’m assigned 10 incoming international students. I help them get familiarized with campus, college classes, and get them more involved with activities around campus. I use this opportunity to make friends with more international students on campus and learn more about their culture.

    Room with American students at least the first two semesters

    This will help you adjust to the American culture and helps with improving your English skills. I started studying English as a compulsory subject in school since I was 6, but learning English in school and having conversations with Americans is a very different experience. Also, having a friend to tell about your hometown and your family is one of the best way to adjust to your journey in America.

    Embrace your culture but don’t forget to learn to love American culture

    Even though people talk about America around the world and seem to know about American culture, it’s not until actually coming to America that one can “know” about the culture. I learned how different people from northern and southern America are, not only in their accent, but their hobbies and personalities, too.

    Learn to understand American jokes

    This can take a long time and be extremely hard to do. Different cultures have different personalities. Sometimes I still don’t know how I should maintain a conversation with an American. How I should react when he/she makes a joke that I don’t understand?

    Try to be more involved with activities on campus

    This is an awesome way for you to learn new things and an opportunity for you to make friends with other students. Find something you love or are passionate about and get involved. Before you know it, you’ll be surrounded with people who are not only your friends but also your mentors. I’ve always had a passion for public speaking. Being involved in my school’s speech team gives me the opportunity to talk about issues I care about the most and to travel to different colleges across America for competitions. Through this, I’ve learned about the different issues America is facing and have listened to other students’ opinions about them. At the same time, I was perfecting my English skills.

    Expect the unexpected

    I want to end my blog with one experience that I will never forget. This incident happened only a few days after I arrived in America. My friend and I were trying to find our way to a local church one Sunday and we ended up walking on the highway for almost two hours. We even saw a dead deer on the side of the road (my very first time seeing a deer.) And although my cell phone did not have service, it still allowed me to make an emergency call to 911. Unfortunately without phone service the 911 operator was unable to locate us to send help. But a little while later, a couple stopped their car on the highway and took us to the church. That was an extremely unexpected thing and it made me realize how welcoming American people are!

    International students – remember that you are strong, intelligent, unique and you came to America for a reason. Be encouraged and motivated by that reason. Share your culture as you learn about American culture. Try your best and make yourself stand out!

     

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