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?

That elusive job!

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Did you enjoy the “All Major Career & Internship Fair” at the Smith Memorial Student Union last Tuesday? With representatives from more than 60 organizations, including those from private industry, government and non-profits, it was a perfect opportunity to start the search for that elusive job and get to know the various opportunities out there. Some of the popular companies who made their presence felt at the fair were Boeing, Blount International, Cambia Health Solutions, and Hershey Company.

An elevator pitch is an important element of the career fair for which the students need to train in advance. If you are wondering what an elevator pitch is – it is a one sentence, succinct description of what you bring to the table, and how you are a good fit for the company. This may essentially compel a company to immediately take note of and get interested in you. It was good to see students practicing their elevator pitches outside the ballroom while getting ready to impress employers.

Apart from the employers, there were representatives from Portland State University (School of Education, Business graduate programs office) to help students chose companies based on their skill sets. This was definitely the first chance to take a shot at an internship for next summer or for full-time careers for graduating students. Hope you all made good use of the event. And in case you missed it, there are a couple more career fairs to look out for – The Nonprofit 2013 career fair on the 7th of November and Northwest Career fair on the 18th of November. For more details see https://portland.experience.com/stu/cf_list?aff=12627

-Guru (guruprasad.tg@gmail.com)

Higher Education Cushion

higher_edLast term I took two elective courses that made me question my choice of major and career. After two years of pursuing Economics, a class in Health and Health Systems was precisely my cup of tea. At the same time, I was taking a course on Nutrition, which inspired me to cook more often and in a much healthier way.

I noticed that while I was excited to get ahead on readings and homework for my health classes, my econ homework was often thrown by the wayside. I procrastinated more for those econ classes than any other in my entire life. All fall, my close friends had to endure my constant narrative about whether to change my major. And at the end of the term, I finally did. I’m now officially majoring in Health Studies.

Nearing the halfway mark of my junior year, I am thankful for the cushion that comes with still being in school. Changing my career after college would be even more difficult than changing my major in my junior year, which, trust me, was terrifying. My appreciation for the security and freedoms I have as a student have grown substantially, as well as my respect for those who have made a career change, returned to school, or enrolled for the first time in order to make a job transition later in life.

How many times have you changed your major? Are there any other “cushions” in higher education that you have grown to appreciate?