• How do I Identify a Full-time Career that I Will Enjoy?

    by Will Cagnassola

    Blog author Will Cagnassola is shown in a restaurant kitchen with 2 of his co-workers.

    Every day, college students are asked the question, “What do you want to do after you graduate?” Throughout my college career, I personally have found this question quite difficult to answer, and I know I am not the only one who has encountered this uncertainty. As I enter my final semester of college, I want to share some tips and tricks on how to find a career that you will be able to enjoy. I found each of these helpful in deciding my own future.

    Identify Options

    My first step in figuring out a career path was to shadow somebody working in a career related to my major. I found that this was the quickest and most informative way to see what the day-to-day activities would look like in my future. By shadowing a professional, you will be able to identify the pros and cons of the job that will enable you to make an informed decision later down the road.

    Recall Your Past

    Next, it is important to look back at your own experiences and preferences when figuring out the route you want to take. Recall experiences and activities that you have enjoyed while growing up. For example, I have always had a knack for putting myself in other people’s shoes and understanding their situations. In addition, helping others get to where they want to be is something that has continually brought me joy. This is a major reason for why I have selected sales as a profession.

    If you have worked in the service industry growing up and you have enjoyed it, then selecting a career that is more customer facing may bring you more happiness than others. I personally worked in the service industry for 4 years as a line cook before taking on sales and I absolutely loved it. It was really hard work, but it is something that has shaped the kind of worker that I am. I have even added an image of me in the kitchen to this blog because it was so meaningful to me looking back. You probably have quite different experiences that have shaped your image of an ideal career, however this advice will provide a great framework to move forward with.

    Understand Yourself

    My last piece of advice for students in the process of finding a career they will enjoy is to think about their ideal workplace setting. Do you prefer to work alone or in a team? Would you like an office space, or would you prefer to work from home more often? These are key questions to ask when finding satisfaction in your future career.

    I hope these little pieces of advice will successfully propel you students to your next steps in life and I wish you all the best!

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

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  • Developing Your Personal Brand: The Art of Selling Yourself

    by Keila Garza

    Nine pencils in a pencil cup. Eight of the pencils are the standard dark yellow color, but the one in the middle is hot pink.

    Who Am I?

    Picture this: after years of working hard in college, you find yourself interviewing for your dream job – the exact one you have pinned on your vision board. Having prepared for this opportunity, you expect positive results. You are acing every interview question until they ask, “how would you describe yourself, and what skills can you offer us?” You freeze. Describe myself? Oh no, the dreaded 30 second elevator pitch. How do I narrow down 20+ years of living to 30 seconds? What is actually important in communicating ‘who am I’?

    The Secret

    Well, you’re a college student, but is that all? In spite of the dramatization, many students panic and freeze in these circumstances, but should you? As a fellow college student, allow me to let you in on a not-so-secret secret: you will soon be entering the very competitive job market where such questions are commonplace! It is important to be aware and prepare yourself for this daunting task early on in your college career.

    Perhaps you may have already gotten the chance to “dip your feet” into this metaphorical ocean of the job market with a hopeful heart, only to find yourself fade into the vast sea of similar job seekers. Or, like many other college students, you have not yet had the opportunity to interview for a professional role. I propose that your experiences as a student are not as shallow as you might imagine and provide a depth of knowledge from which to share.  Wherever you are in your professional job search, it’s never too early to work on a very essential part of your professional self – your personal brand.

    What is a Personal Brand?

    So, what exactly is a personal brand and where can you buy it? Is it expensive? Actually, you already have it; we all do. Each of us develops our own personal brand through our unique experiences and is characterized by the skills and deportment acquired over time.

    Consider the classes you might take at university, or the extracurricular activities that populate your schedule. Interested in spicing up your communication and developing effective delivery techniques? Take a class on public speaking and learn the mechanics of rhetoric and nonverbal cues. Want to brush up on your collaborative skills? Join an intercollegiate sports club where you can aspire to win the championship game with your teammates. Or audition for the next performance of Hamlet with the theater club and learn what it takes to labor for weeks alongside your fellow thespians. Pursuing the skills you want to strengthen will help you begin to shape your personal brand. The important thing is not what you choose to do, but that you choose to do something at all! Just go for it!

    You Can Do This!

    While developing a personal brand may seem like a very daunting task which lies out of reach for the everyman, gradual steps taken in pursuit of personal development are not only attainable, but practical as well. Be intentional about developing your personal brand! You are the catalyst of your own development and success. And when you are confronted by land mines of questions from interviewers, think back to all of your experiences and how they have molded you.

    Your personal brand is a tool which you can wield to your advantage; use it wisely. Cultivate your personal brand in a way that is unique to you so that you can distinguish yourself from the sea of faces and achieve your dreams. 

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog? If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started!

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  • Your Path, Passions, and Career

    by Olivia Kane

    Two female college students sitting side-by-side with a lake and shoreline in the background. Location: Arendal, Norway

    Prior to beginning college, I had a linear and picturesque set of measurable goals leading to my career. I was prepared and excited to study nursing at Washington State University for two years and move to Spokane for nursing school; however, after undergoing brain surgery I quickly learned that life is not a straight line. I found myself questioning whether a career in nursing was right for me.

    You may ask: why are you telling me this? Simple. A lot of people can agree they wish they had pursued a passion or a dream, rather than a cookie-cutter career lifestyle. It is a lot easier said than done to pursue your passions, but it is important to know that some of your greatest moments and biggest adversities can turn into a life you want to live.

    Growing up in a household that was oriented in business, economics, advertising, and marketing, I unknowingly picked up countless techniques and important points to succeed in the business world; however, I craved a medical-based career and was prepared to work as hard as possible to achieve that goal. To become what I dreamt of; I developed a set of measurable goals leading to my career prior to beginning college. I was prepared and excited to study Nursing.

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  • How to Prepare for Your Interview

    by Will Cagnassola

    A male college student sitting at a table and looking at a laptop. He is wearing a suit jacket and tie.

    With the beginning of a new semester comes everyone’s favorite season: recruitment. After applying for a job, sitting down for an interview can be nerve wracking. Whether you’ll be searching for a position for this school year or already looking ahead to next summer, I’m here to provide some insight on how to make this process easier and to help you land a quality job or internship.

    Advance Preparations

    Once you land an interview, there are some things you need to do ahead of time to be successful day of. These include:

    1. Research. The best thing you can do as a job prospect is to research the company prior to an interview. Learn about what they do, what they care about, and how they help the community around them. This is absolutely key for showcasing your interest in the company, which is ultimately one of the first steps in building trust with your potential employer.
    2. Prepare. Know your resume like the back of your hand. You will be asked about prior experiences and how they relate to the job you are applying for. Be sure you can answer this and elaborate on any other experiences listed.
    3. Ask Questions. Do not be afraid to ask questions! Compile a list of questions in advance to respond to the ‘Do you have any questions for us?’ question. Ask the interviewer what they like about their company, what they would change. This kind of curiosity leads to ideas and eventually greater advancements.

    Day-of-Interview Plan of Action

    If your interview is in person, be sure to arrive on time and in the necessary attire. Make sure you have a reliable mode of transportation, a second (and third) copy of your resume, and more than enough time to get to your interview location.

    If the interview is via video call, consider what will be in your background during the call. Find a spot around your home that looks organized and has minimal distractions. Or set up a virtual background if necessary. Minimize background noise. Check that your Wi-Fi is running, that your computer is functioning, and that you have the link readily available prior to the call. Have an internet outage contingency plan. Could you join by phone if your wi-fi suddenly goes down?

    One last bit of advice - always, always, always thank the interviewer for taking the time to discuss your job opportunity. Follow-up with a thank-you email. Time is the most valuable asset in the world, yet it is most often overlooked. If you recognize and appreciate that somebody has taken the time out of their day to help you, it opens up many opportunities to form a quality relationship in the future.

    If you are able to follow my advice, I promise you will have a great chance of getting the job!

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us -  click here  to pitch your idea and get started! 

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  • What’s in a Name?

    by Johnny Condit

    Two young men smiling and sitting behind a table with a Pearson tablecloth and prizes.

    Do you ever met someone for the first time, introduce yourself, and then totally forget their name? You see them again 5 minutes later and have no idea how to address them. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Many people have trouble remembering names when meeting someone for the first time. However, through my college career, I have learned more and more how important it is to learn and remember someone’s name. We all have one, right? So, we might as well use them.

    Addressing someone by their name is a sign of respect that will grab people’s attention. It shows that you are an active listener that is genuinely engaged when in a conversation. So often we are worried about what we will say or how we look that when someone introduces themselves to you, their name goes totally over your head. To keep that from happening, here are 3 tips that I use to remember people’s names the first time I meet them.

    1. Remember that you are not the most important person in the room - Most people are too worried about how they look or what they are going to say when meeting new people. They do not even register what even comes out of your mouth when speaking. Well, if that’s the case, don’t worry about what you’re going to say and become aware of what people are trying to tell you. Once you stop worrying about yourself, you are able to become more of an active listener.
    2. Repeat their name - When you first meet someone, the first thing you do is exchange names. When the opposite person says for an example, “Hello, my name is Jerry, nice to meet you!” you should respond, “Hey Jerry, its nice to meet you too!”. Hearing the name twice, from him and yourself, will make your brain realize that the name is something important to remember.
    3. Look for name tags – When someone is wearing a name tag, it is not for style. Become more aware when someone has a name tag. You can even address them by their name before they introduce themselves. That will make you stand out from others and leave a lasting impression on someone.

    Being able to remember someone’s name is an amazing quality and it makes people feel special. Take value in people’s names and watch your network and friendships grow!

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here  to pitch your idea and get started! 

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  • Networking for Beginners

    by Geeta Chandaluri

    A screengrab of a virtual networking event held on Zoom.

    When I first entered college, I was constantly hearing juniors and seniors tell me how important networking is. However, like most freshman, I had no idea what networking was. It’s not something they taught us in high school. So, what is networking, how do you prepare for it, and how do you maintain connections?

    What is networking?

    Networking is the art of interacting with peers and experts in a professional manner. It is about creating lasting connections that can help you learn and gain industry insights.

    Networking can happen anywhere, in any setting. Often times people think of networking as attending organized events all suited up, but that’s not the case. Every interaction you have is working to widen your network. The person you strike up a conversation with at a coffee shop may help you with career advice or be able to put in a word at a company where you’ve applied.

    Create your Elevator Pitch

    The first question people often ask you is to tell a little bit about yourself. This is a question you should be prepared to answer with what is called your ‘Elevator Pitch’. An Elevator Pitch is essentially a 30 second introduction of yourself and your experiences. The idea is that if you met someone you’d like to connect with on an elevator, by the time the person got off, they’d know you.

    The tricky part comes in deciding what to include in your Elevator Pitch. You probably did a lot in high school like extracurriculars, community service, and part-time jobs. If you are beyond a first year in college, you likely have even more accomplishments you would like to include. Therefore, it can be a bit of a challenge to speak about yourself in a concise manner. So how do you decide what should be included in an Elevator Pitch and what shouldn’t?

    Think about your end goal: making memorable connections. You should always try to grab attention and facilitate a longer conversation. You are essentially marketing yourself. So, think like a marketer --Elevator Pitches are simply self-advertisements.

    You should give an overview of past accomplishments, present involvements, and future goals. You can start off with your major and extracurriculars, then move into relevant job experiences, then finally career aspirations. After you frame your pitch, rehearse it until you become comfortable saying it.

    Formal vs Informal Networking Situations

    Sometimes organizations will sponsor networking events where students can interact with employers. If you plan to attend a formal networking event, research the people you’d like to connect with ahead of time. A good place to research is LinkedIn. Tailor questions to that individual. People love talking about themselves - the more specific the questions are, the better.

    Always be sure to assess the nature of the event. Understand the tone so you can frame your conversations. If you are in a formal setting, it is encouraged to have copies of your resume to distribute. However, if you are in an informal setting, like a coffee shop, passing along your resume may be strange. But you could perhaps create a business card to use in that situation. Always be sure to read the environment you are in.

    Maintaining Connections

    After a conversation, ask the person if they are comfortable sharing their email address and connecting via LinkedIn. Most professionals are happy to connect, but it is nice to show courtesy and mention your intent to maintain the connection.

    If you met the person at a formal networking event, always send thank you notes within 24 hours. This signifies that you respected their time. Sending out thank you letters always works in your favor. Not everyone sends them out, so a customized thank you letter will make you stand out.

    You may run into your connections again. Take the opportunity to reconnect. Remind them when you last interacted and something memorable from the conversation. The familiarity can lead into more specific and beneficial conversations.

    Long Run Goals

    Networking is all about the give and take. Once you established yourself and created a strong network, be open to helping others forge their own impact. You can practice giving by inviting professionals on a panel to host events. There are endless possibilities on how you can give back by sharing your experience to your peers and juniors.

    Networking is like professional speed dating: some will succeed, and some will fail. But the most important thing is to have fun. Enjoy speaking to people. You may not see it coming now, but interactions will open doors for you. You will be grateful for having made those connections in the past.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us - click here  to pitch your idea and get started! 

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  • How to Ace an Interview

    by Paige DelBrocco

    A laptop screen shows a presentation slide with the words, “How to Ace an Interview’ on a pink background.

    The interview process for jobs and internships is one of the most stressful things that a college student can experience. We have all had our fair share of automated rejection emails or just no response at all. Although the entire process is quite overwhelming and nerve-wracking, it is extremely rewarding once you finally get that offer. From making sure to be yourself to figuring out which questions to ask the interviewer, there are a few key things you should know before walking into your interview. Here are some tips and tricks that have worked for me to ace an interview!

    Do your research

    It is so important to research as much as you possibly can about the company before you have your interview. Not only should you understand what the company does, but you should also think about why you want to work there in the first place. By researching the company, you are able to understand what it is that they do and why, and whether it would be a good fit for you. Completing this research prepares you to answer that first question without hesitation: “Why are you interested in working here?”

    Ask questions

    I have been told time and time again from my mentors to ask questions during an interview, and it is excellent advice. Not only does it show that you are interested in the position, but it helps you understand the role better. An interview is not a one-way street; it goes both ways. You need to make sure that the role suits your own experiences and professional aspirations. When you ask questions, you can get a much better understanding of the opportunity that you are exploring.

    When it comes to figuring out which questions to ask, I have found that preparing a few before the interview relieves some stress for me. Although it is important to have questions in your mind beforehand, you should ask questions throughout the entire interview based on what the interviewer is sharing with you.

    Be yourself

    I realized early on in my interviewing experience that it is vital that you stay true to yourself and avoid putting on a new face to impress your interviewer. They want to know who you are, not who you are pretending to be. Being straight-forward about your personality, skills and experiences is the only way to go. By being yourself and sharing what you can bring to the table, you will gain the respect of your interviewer in no time.

    Believe me, I know interviews are stressful—especially when you want nothing more than to receive an offer. Don’t let the fear of interviewing hold you back from pursuing your professional endeavors because by following these tips, I promise you will be able to ace that interview.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

     

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  • Coffee with a CEO: College students gain more by networking up

    by Timothy Evans

    A screenshot of the blog author on a web call with 13 others.

    A Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is the highest rank that you can achieve in a company. For many of us, achieving this position seems like a far-off dream – especially as a college student. Students know that networking is important, and while it can be intimidating to network up with a higher-level executive, there’s so much to gain by putting yourself out there.

    When making the connection, it is natural to get nervous, of course, but you don’t need to change who you are to impress them. Students tend to forget that a CEO is still a human being. Here are three things I do during the preparation, presenting, and follow-up stages of connecting with a CEO.

    Preparation

    This step is crucial. By preparing, you will have a better grasp of what to say and ask. Yes, you will get nervous, but the preparation phase helps calm those nerves. It’s similar to taking a test after studying extensively: you still feel anxious, but you KNOW that you are ready. Ways in which you can prepare are simple.

    • Pick out clothes to wear the day before. Your clothing choice is essential. It shows the executive that you respect them and that you are here to be remembered. Even in a virtual setting, you want to look professional on screen.
    • Write out an outline of what you want to say. Make sure to keep this as an outline. You are not reading a word-for-word script but helping to keep a conversation structure. Studies have shown that going over an outline three times can best prepare you for a presentation.
    • Get questions ready that aren’t just about the business or your goals. Ask questions about his/her interests and try and find things that build a relationship between the two of you. This will help you stand out from the crowd as well.

    The prep phase is critical, and with these three things in mind, you can wake up in the morning with the most incredible sense of relief.

    Presenting

    You will be nervous. Do not try and fight that - embrace it. When you speak to an executive, you want to keep it brief. Do not ramble on. Show them that you can get to the point and respect their time. When presenting, make eye contact, use your hands when speaking to declare emphases, and nod when spoken to. These all are important in showing that you can be confident in your ideas and an active listener. Lastly, presenting doesn’t mean just you are speaking. Let the other person talk as well. Ask questions about things they bring up to show interest and show that you care about what they are saying and want to know more.

    Follow Up

    After the meeting or casual coffee call, make sure you follow up and share something that you appreciated about the conversation. People love reflecting on good stories, and CEO’s are no different. Don’t forget that it is okay to ask questions in the follow-up email. It doesn’t have to be goodbye. If you liked your conversation and felt it was a good connection, use this email as an invitation to connect further.

    Now that you have understanding of the do’s and don’ts, you should be ready to put yourself out there and grab the attention of an executive. Remember to always prepare beforehand, maintain good presentation skills, and be ready to continue the conversation, even after the call.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 


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  • Best Places to Get Virtual Badging

    by Rhea Mathur

    A screenshot of eight digital badge examples for topics related to career development and leadership.

    As the recruitment process relies more and more on virtual aspects, it is more important than ever to maintain an accurate and competitive online presence. Virtual badging is a newer way to receive recognition for skills learned on websites like LinkedIn.com and Monster.com. Virtual badging typically doesn’t take very long to obtain – for many LinkedIn Learning certifications, it could take anywhere between 45 minutes and 3 hours, making the commitment totally worth it!

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  • Tips for a Successful Mentoring Experience

    by Brooklynn Gross

    Student holding and showing Alumni Mentor Program Handbook

    In the movies, every hero has a mentor who helps them achieve their goals: Dumbledore shares his wisdom and advice with Harry Potter, and Yoda trains Luke Skywalker to be a Jedi. Mentors are also important in real life because they can provide guidance and support during a student’s journey.

    Last semester I participated in my university’s alumni mentor program and communicated with a professional in my future career pathway. I hope to work in the field of education, so my college paired me with the director of instruction from a local school district. After participating in this program, I believe all college students should work with a mentor in order to make professional connections, explore careers, and develop work skills.

    If you’re struggling to find a mentor, think about professors, upperclassmen, or people at your workplace who may be willing to mentor you. You could also reach out to your university’s career center for information about connecting with alumni. Finding a mentor is the first step, but it isn’t the last—you will need to create a positive relationship with your mentor in order to build trust and spark meaningful conversations. Here are my top five tips for a successful mentoring experience.

    1. Be professional

    Mentors donate their time to work with you; show your appreciation by being on time for meetings and dressing appropriately. Put your phone away and give your full attention to the person in front of you. Practicing professionalism with your mentor will help you develop this skill for your future career.

    2. Get to know each other

    Learn about your mentor’s story and share your own. You may choose to discuss some of the following questions:

    • What challenges have you overcome?
    • Who has encouraged you throughout your journey?
    • Why did you feel inspired to choose this career path?

    Discussing these questions can help you form a connection with your mentor and learn things you didn’t know about them. Hearing about your mentor’s journey may give you information for your own career path.

    3. Set an agenda for each meeting

    My school’s mentoring program provided a handbook with suggested topics for mentors and students to discuss. At our first meeting, my mentor and I looked through the handbook and chose a topic for each session. Setting an agenda for each meeting helped us focus on subjects that were most relevant to me. Our discussions centered on themes like student teaching, job applications, relationships with colleagues, and graduate school. Choosing these topics ahead of time gave me the chance to prepare for each meeting and write down my questions.

    4. Visit your mentor’s workplace

    All of my mentoring sessions were virtual due to COVID-19, but I would encourage you to visit your mentor’s workplace once the pandemic is over. Shadowing your mentor would give you the opportunity to meet their coworkers and connect with other professionals in the same field. It would also help you experience the work environment and decide if your mentor’s career would be a good fit for you.

    5. Ask for feedback

    My mentor reviewed my résumé and asked me interview questions, and he shared some tips that I can use when I apply for jobs in the future. I now feel more confident about my résumé and my interviewing skills. You could also ask your mentor to give you feedback on your LinkedIn profile.

    These five tips will help you get the most out of your mentoring experience. Don’t forget to send a handwritten thank-you card. When you put time and effort into this relationship, you can develop a lasting connection that will be fulfilling for both you and your mentor.  

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  • Securing your dream internship

    by Jacquie Dunworth

    blog image alt text

    When summer is coming to an end, you may not be thinking about what you’ll be doing a year from now. However, it is never too early to start preparing for the internship search and making a plan. Many companies are beginning to recruit earlier and earlier to secure the best talent. There are certain steps you can take to prepare yourself for securing an internship.

    Determine your interests

    The first step of your internship search is to determine what you are looking for. This entails figuring out which industries you are potentially interested in, like finance or health care or retailing. Reflect on your past schoolwork and major to help see where your skills lie and determine what kind position you are seeking. Determine what the size of company and culture you are looking for. Evaluate your past experiences, such as clubs, projects, or classes that you enjoyed and could translate into a career.

    Research

    Once you have an idea of which industry and role you want to get an internship in, start researching. As you discover specific companies you want to work for, create a list with the company name, then add internship opportunities and application deadlines as you find them. If you want to work somewhere with a very competitive internship program like Amazon, Google, or Facebook, ensure you have some companies that have less competitive programs. Research the type of interviews associated with the role you want. For example, some internships have multiple interview components. Finance interviews typically have a behavioral component and a technical finance component, whereas many engineering interviews contain a math test and consulting interviews have a case study.

    Prepare

    Once you know where you want to work and what to expect in the interview process, you need to prepare. Networking is very important and can help land you your first interview. Reach out to family and friends to see if they know anyone in the industry or company you are interested in. Check your school’s career events. While events this Fall may be virtual, many large companies will still have recruiting opportunities for students. Contact graduates from your college who work for companies you’re interested in on LinkedIn and have a coffee chat. Set up an appointment with a career coach at school and do a mock interview so you are ready when the time comes for you to interview for an internship.

    It’s never too early to start preparing, setting goals, and doing your research. Small things like these can help put you a step ahead of the other applicants. Hopefully starting early will help you land your dream internship. Good luck!

     

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