An Uncertain Senior

By Maya Young

Starting at PSU, I knew that I wanted to delve into communications studies but had no idea what that truly meant. My first year, I took an intercultural communications course and was immediately drawn in by the depth in subject matter that we covered. From this course, I found that I was deeply interested in the influence of cultural and societal effects on interpersonal communication. My interest has only grown as I have found myself more invested in communication theory and research.

Now, as a senior, I am identifying strong skill sets within myself that do not completely correlate with one specific job type. Beginning my job search for post-graduation has been a daunting task as I am met with a plethora of different fields to go into and little knowledge of my professional passions outside of academia. PSU has afforded me numerous opportunities, from networking with communications graduates, working as a learning assistant for a core course, and even beginning a position as a Business Minor Marketing Assistant. But despite all of these experiences, I remain overwhelmed by what my professional life will be after I graduate. 

My advice? Make the most of the opportunities and resources offered at PSU. From professors to advisers, and from internships to on-campus jobs and extracurriculars, there are numerous ways to test the waters and uncover your passion. Although I remain uncertain, I know that these experiences are invaluable and will eventually lead me to do what I love and hopefully make a difference.

5 ways to prepare for a job fair

Career fairs are a great tool for students looking for jobs or internships.

Learn about different career paths and ask your career questions directly to employers. Develop and implement your professional image and build confidence in approaching employers.

5 tips to make the most of a career fair:

Review the list of participating employers in advance and identify which employers/organizations are most important or interesting for you to meet (available in Handshake prior to the event).
Bring 5-10 copies of your resume.
Practice your “elevator pitch” or how you will approach employers. For example: “I’m a psychology major and I’ll be graduating in June. Can you tell me more about your organization? What kinds of positions do you have? I’m interested in positions related to…”
Prepare some questions to ask the recruiters and feel free to take notes when they give you information. Questions may include: What types of entry-level positions do you have? Do you have any internship opportunities? How do I apply? May I have your business card so I can follow up?
Take notes and bring them to your next advising appointment.

Remember: Employers are attending because they are looking to hire. Take this opportunity to network with employers and make a great first impression. You can do this!

Have no fear, Fearless Fridays are here!

Blogger Profile Picture  By: Sara Kirkpatrick

As an up-and-coming professional, I’m constantly worried about my past getting in the way of my dream job. As students these fears are commonly expressed, but then quickly ignored; which is ironic because our past can be our strongest qualification. Our past, both good and bad, can lead to determining factors which help land us our dream job.

Last Friday, I was inspired by a Fearless Friday workshop, hosted by Business Associate Dean Erica Wagner: “How to turn your past into an asset.” The title for this workshop didn’t do it justice. I had no idea our own associate dean held such a genuine passion for our educational aspirations. She acknowledged students’ fears about the past with a sympathetic ear, and offered insightful, yet practical feedback.

After attending this session, I learned that our past shouldn’t be feared, but rather embraced. Wagner posed the question, “What’s your secret sauce?”  What are traits that draw people to you?  How has your past helped shape these traits? By answering these questions, students can overcome the fears that are keeping them from their dream jobs.

Takeaway Tips for Confronting your Past:

  • Don’t turn your weakness into a positive; be frank about them
  • Describe any personal growth you’ve experienced
  • Remember, everyone has a weakness – this makes you more relatable

I high recommend anyone who hasn’t attended a Fearless Friday to be fearless and attend an upcoming workshop. It was not only inspiring, but motivating and gave me insight to a different side of PSU.

See you at the next Fearless Friday: http://www.pdx.edu/events/calendar

STUMPED in Stumptown…

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By: Sharon Nellist

Can you imagine going into your senior year and doubt the major that you have so painstakingly been working toward the last few years? Well, I certainly can. HELP!

My most recent thoughts: I am certain of the type of job I am looking for…. But will my current major get me there? Will my major hurt my chances of getting this job? Is it worth switching majors at this point? How much longer will it take? Ahh! I have to study more for that last final exam…

My mind is full.

Thankfully! I have the summer to figure this out.

And I know that I am not the only one…

Nearly 80% of new students heading for college are undeclared. About 50% of college students that have declared a major change their major, even two or three times!

Also, Portland State has great resources to help through this “traumatic” time…

What can I do with a degree in….?
Career Workshops, Classes & Events
Exploring PSU Majors Fair

What did or would you do in this situation?

Wish me luck!

Real Talk About Internships

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Photo credit to Internships.com

Brooke HornBy Brooke Horn

We’ve heard it before: Internships are a key part of your education. They provide valuable experience, they present networking opportunities, they look good on your resume, they help you transition from academia to the workplace, etc. We get it already. They’re important. What’s lacking in the conversation about internships (at least the ones I’m hearing) is how to really make them work for you. I’ve had three so far, and I’ll be the first to admit I made a few mistakes along the way. Here’s what I learned from them.

Like any relationship, it’s important to know what you want going into one so that both parties are on the same page. I’ve seen internships range from one to six months in length and require anywhere between one and 25-plus hours per week. Before you do anything else, figure out how much time you can realistically devote to interning. I made the mistake of overestimating how much time I had to give, and as a result, I’m writing this blog post at 4am. Sleep is important too, as is scheduling time for things that help you relax and genuinely make you happy.

When you interview, remember that it goes both ways. You should be asking questions and making sure that this internship will be mutually beneficial. Some things to consider: Will this internship provide you with new skills, or do they expect you to already be competent? Do you need to generate work samples for a portfolio, and if so, will this internship help you do that? Are you going to be exposed to networking opportunities? Will you be working on your own or as part of a team? Telecommuting? Not only will you impress your potential employer, but your internship experience will be that much more rewarding because you know what you want out of it.

Finally, no internship discussion is complete without acknowledging the elephant in the room: compensation. The ethics surrounding paid vs. unpaid internships deserve a blog post – or even a book – all their own, but I’ll say this: I’ve had one paid and two unpaid internships, and they ALL were irreplaceable parts of my education. It may seem incredibly unfair to have to pay tuition and fees for seemingly free labor, but you aren’t really working for free. You are gaining otherwise unattainable experience, academic credit, and networking connections. In many cases, you are also helping small businesses stay afloat in a difficult economy. My internship with local independent publisher Hawthorne Books taught me not only about publishing, but how small businesses interact with their communities.

In short, don’t just sign up for an internship to fill a requirement or a line on your resume. Be selective, know what you want and what you have time for, and do your research. Seriously… internships quite literally changed the course of my education. If you’d like to know more, feel free to ask in the comments. I’m out of room here, but I’m always happy to help a fellow student.

If you’re on the hunt, the following resources are super helpful:

  1. PSU’s Career Center
  2. PSU’s Jobs & Internships Database
  3. Career Workshops, Classes, & Events
  4. 10 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Internship
  5. Pinterest’s surprisingly good internship advice

Hey little girl, what do you want to be when you grow up?

By Emily Skeen

In the immortal words of Jason Robert Brown, “I stand on a precipice, I struggle to keep my balance.” The dictionary defines a precipice as “a very steep rock face or cliff, typically a tall one”. This seems fitting to me because the metaphorical precipice in question is my transition between college and ‘the real word’, and what lies on the other side is a large, terrifying open space, full of student loans I seriously hope I’ll be able to pay off.

There was a time when the thought of this precipice didn’t seem so terrifying. In fact it seemed exciting. Beyond it, to quote another musical, was “the unexamined life” that I couldn’t wait to live, because I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. But now, after 4+ years as an undergrad exploring my interests, the only things I do know are: I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, and I’m not a little girl anymore. The terrifying and exciting nature of that dark pit beyond this precipice is that I get to make the decisions, and all I can do is act on opportunity and hope I don’t screw it all up. Because in reality, it’s still that same exciting “unexamined life”, it’s just a little more unexamined than I had hoped for. But in way, even when you have plans, the future is always unknown, so in that sense, am I really any different from anyone else?