" />

Professional Confessional

A blog providing tips and resources for life after college

Amy Willard

The Job Search Series

The fall semester is a flurry of activity. One activity is The Job Search; particularly for seniors. Landed a job already?!?! Lucky you. However, many of your fellow classmates are still on the hunt. The job search is a daunting task with many variables including researching companies for openings and positions; attending info sessions; completing resumes, cover letters and applications; preparing for and attending interviews; connecting with alumni; and negotiating and selecting the best offer. Follow the blog for the next four weeks for tips on how to survive and manage the job search.

If you have specific questions, I encourage you to visit our office either by making an appointment with a career coach or dropping by during walk-in hours – Monday – Thursday, 3:00p.m. to 4:30p.m. Resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile reviews are Monday – Thursday from 1:00p.m. to 4:00p.m.

Prepare for The Interview

Last week, you attended the career fair and connected with a few key employers. After the fair, you followed up (within 24-48 hours; I hope) by thanking them for their time and expertise, and sharing your interest in and qualifications for their company. You spoke with them by phone or during an information session. You discover they were impressed with you and your skill set. You receive an invitation to interview. You are excited, yet nervous. (Gulp) Now what do you do? How do you prepare for an interview?

Watch the video to find out how best to prepare for an interview.

For detailed information, read further…

Before the interview:

1) Research the company’s website. Knowing the employer thoroughly will help set you apart during the interview process. In addition to reviewing the employer’s website, useful information can be found by searching recent news and articles of the organization from one of our recommended Career Exploration Websites such as Glassdoor or Hoover’s Online and Business Source Complete, available through the ZSR Library’s online databases.

2) Prepare…

  • Responses to questions they may ask you during the interview. Employers will ask general questions and behavioral questions.
  • Questions you want to ask the company about the position and information not readily available on the company website or career exploration sites.

3) Practice interviewing…ask friends, OPCD counselors, and use mock interviews to practice. Gather feedback on your content and delivery. Another resource is interview stream – an online format for interview practice.

During the interview:

1) Be…

  • Early. Arrive 10-15 minutes before the scheduled interview time.
  • Professional. Appearance is important. It is best to be conservative than too casual. Offer a firm handshake when introducing yourself. An initial judgment to hire you will be made within the first 30 seconds of meeting you.
  • Confident and relaxed. You don’t want to appear fidgety and nervous.
  • Smile. Show interest and enthusiasm for the position and company.

2) Answer questions. Ask for clarification if needed. You can request a few seconds to gather your thoughts before answering a question.

3) Ask questions related to the position and company. Remember, don’t ask questions when answers can be found on their website unless you are seeking clarification.

After the interview:

1) Close the interview with a firm handshake.

2) Ask about the timeline for hiring a candidate.

3) Follow up. Send a thank you letter to everyone who interviewed you expressing interest in the position, connecting a few specifics of the conversation, and how you make a good fit and meet qualifications they seek in a candidate.

Follow Up with Your Connections

Send a thank you note to all employers whom you met at the career fair within 24-48 hours. It could be the difference between receiving a job or internship interview or not. If you don’t land an interview, you made an important connection…a bridge to life after college. These connections may become future references, networking connections, or a potential hiring manager. As a Wake Forest recruiter once stated, “It is an unbelievably small world and you never know when paths will cross again, so it is wise to build instead of overlook or burn bridges.”

Here are a few tips to writing a thank you note:

  1. Connect…to what you talked about during your conversation at the career fair. Reminding the employer of specific details from the conversation shows your interest in the position and your eagerness to learn. Reiterate your interest in the company and how your skills align with company goals. If you attended an employer info session, mention it and something you learned from attending.
  2. Proofread…your note. Employers have found spelling and grammatical errors which can hinder a candidate in the process.
  3. Forget something? Include your contact information and attach your resume. Be sure your resume is up-to-date and highlights skills aligned with what they are seeking.
  4. Timely…send the note within 24-48 hours. This will set you apart from the competition.

You want to be sure they remember you. You don’t want to be the candidate who didn’t follow up with a thank you note. You can send an e-mail thank you note to help meet the 24-48 hours deadline. However, follow it up with a more detailed handwritten or typed note (always sign the letter). Here are a few sample thank you notes.

Finally, this type of correspondence shows professionalism and maturity; it is not something everyone does, and you may be surprised at the responsiveness from employers. This helps build your brand and reputation.

Present Yourself with Poise

Before going to the career fair, prepare an elevator pitch for introducing yourself to company representatives. You have only minutes (if not seconds) to make a positive impression. You want to be able to answer the question (even if they don’t ask it; they will be thinking it) – Why should we hire you?

Here are five tips for developing and delivering your pitch:

1) Research – Learn more about the companies you want to meet at the fair. Search the companies and identify the following: Current initiatives (What is the company doing?); Industry (What is happening in the industry?); Business lines (What are some of their business lines?); Location (Be familiar with where the headquarters and other offices are located.); and Skills (Review current job postings for desired skills and qualifications. How do you align with whom they are seeking?) Also, you want to determine their values and how your values and skills align with the company.

2) Outline – Create an outline of key points you want to hit when delivering your pitch. Focus on your educational, professional, and personal accomplishments and how they align with the company’s goals. How are you going to help them reach their goals? Know your skills, interests, qualifications, and goals. Be able to articulate them in 1-2 minutes. Use this worksheet as a guide to develop your pitch.

3) Practice – Practice, practice, and practice some more. It will help you remember what you want to say; however, don’t memorize. You don’t want to sound like a robot spouting out data. You want to be natural. Deliver your pitch in a mirror and to a friend. Ask for feedback. Remember… Smile and make eye contact.

4) Prepare – Write down questions specific to the industry and the company’s work. Not only do you want to sell your skills and qualifications; you want to discover more about the company. Develop a list of questions to ask (if time allows). Don’t ask questions when you can find the answers on their website unless you need clarification. It will be apparent you have not done your homework. You want to demonstrate initiative, preparedness, and interest in their company.

5) Deliver – Approach the company’s table with a smile and exude confidence by making direct eye contact. Speak clearly. Introduce yourself with a firm handshake. Use the representative’s name during the conversation to build rapport. If the representative is speaking with another student, patiently wait to be acknowledged; speak with other students; or visit another employer and come back later. At the end of the conversation, always thank the representative, and shake his/her hand before exiting.

Make the Most of the Career Fair

Whether you are a student exploring possible career options, or looking for your next internship or full-time job, the career fair is a great opportunity for all students! It is only open to current students of the University, and you will get to: network with other career fair attendees, learn to answer the question, “Tell me about yourself,” learn about a myriad of career industries, and get comfortable attending career fairs and talking with recruiters.

Thinking about attending the career fair?

Check out this short video for tips to help you make the most of the career fair:

To learn more, read further for details and resources to help you prepare and make the most of your experience.

1. Dig for Info. Before you go, researching organizations of interest is a great way to strategize which representatives you may want to talk to, and you will have a point of reference for not only what the company does, but what values are of interest to them, and how your skill set may connect to a position there.

2. Meet & Greet. Arrive early, stay positive, and smile! The Career fair is an event that allows you to meet different company reps – many of which happen to be WFU alumni – and network. Remember, networking is not about whether or not that person can give you a job or lead on the spot, but about the information you can gather to build your knowledge! Check out the networking and resume pages for more information about how to effectively market yourself on paper and out loud. You can also stop by the office for resume review hours Monday – Thursday between 1:00 – 4:00 pm.

3. Dress the Part. First impressions are critical – and often begin with what you are wearing! Remember, you are marketing a product (you!) and at the career fair, you want to be memorable – in a good way. Your outfit should be wrinkle and stain free, and you don’t want to wear too many accessories. Bring a portfolio or folder to jot down notes and collect business cards. While we aren’t saying that you wear will get you the job, it will definitely give you a competitive edge. Here are a few examples of what to wear.

4. Say “Thank You.” For each employer that you meet, be sure to ask for a business card or jot down their contact information in your portfolio! Sending a follow-up thank you note (via email is fine) within 24-48 hours is clutch! This will not only show gratitude for them taking the time to talk with you, but will allow you to reference specific details from your conversation and further cement a lasting impression.

Explore, Discover, Practice, & Connect

No matter the class year, or job/internship search phase…The Fall Career Fair is for you!

Here are a few reasons why you should attend:

1) Explore…what companies and industries recruit at Wake Forest University. Log into or register with DeaconSource to read the list of companies attending the career fair. Select specific companies of interest. Seek information on a few different companies/industries. Go with an open mind. You may find an unexpected fit with a company not on your radar.

2) Discover…what types of interns or job candidates they seek, and the skills they want interns and graduates to have as a competitive candidate. Ask about the types of majors they seek…you may be surprised to find many employers hire all majors. Gather information on internship and job opportunities. Attend information sessions to gather additional information on the company such as company culture.

3) Practice…speaking with employers. Deliver your elevator pitch…what do you have to offer the company and why should they hire you.

4) Connect…with employers. This is your opportunity to network with employers wanting to hire Wake Forest students. You never know…you may meet an employer, make an impression, and open a door to an opportunity. Many recruiters are Wake Forest alums, so it is a safe environment to connect with an employer. You already share one common interest…being a Demon Deacon.

You may be asking…How do I prepare for the career fair? What do I wear? What do I say?

These are a few common questions all students have about preparing for the career fair.

For the month of September, the Professional Confessional will host the Career Fair Series. The career fair series will provide tips and advice for success before, during, and after the career fair. Be prepared – follow the blog to get your questions answered and make the most of the career fair.

Explore, Discover, Practice, and Connect at the Fall Career Fair on Wednesday, September 17th from 12:00pm to 4:00pm in Benson 401.

Real World Reality Bites

Entering your last year in college can be exciting, sad, and daunting.  It’s also a time to take advantage of what Wake Forest has to offer you – one last time.  Perhaps, it’s rolling the Quad after a big win, running in Hit the Bricks, or dancing for Shag on the Mag.  These nostalgic events are important.  However, there are also plenty of opportunities to prepare you for life after college.  To ease some of the anxiety, the OPCD’s WFU alums want to share their advice for soaking up what Wake Forest has to offer you before leaving the familiarity of college and starting this thing called life after college.

Here are their bites of reality:

LBLauren Beam (’07, Communication and Religion), Assistant Director, Mentoring Resource Center and Alumni Personal and Professional Development

Build Relationships.

It’s never too late to reach out and build relationships with the amazing faculty and staff members that you have right in front of you. I wish I would have left my comfort zone of friends and extracurricular activities and been bold enough to ask a professor or staff person that I respected and admired to grab a cup of coffee. Take advantage of their wisdom and build relationships with older mentors who you can stay connected with beyond life at Wake Forest.

Matt WilliamsMatt Williams (’09, Communication), Associate Director of Marketing and Communication

Go Beyond the Bubble and Explore the Winston-Salem Community.

If you haven’t had an opportunity to go beyond the Wake Forest bubble, I encourage you to do so. There are often networking events, service opportunities, special programs, comedy shows and more that offer you a taste of what life could be as a budding young professional in your next destination. You might even give public transit a try to test how good you are at navigating an unfamiliar place.  There’s no need to wait until you’re away from Wake Forest to experience the “real world” when you can explore a developing and vibrant community right now as a senior student.

Patrick SullivanPatrick Sullivan (‘93, Politics), Associate Director, Career Education and Coaching

Talk to People.  Really Talk to People.

Not just the people that you go to school with, but the people all around you.  Do you want to learn more about Winston?  Ask someone you see at a restaurant what they like about the city?  Do you want to learn more about what one of our guest speakers does?  Make it a point to talk with them after their presentation.  Are you interested in learning more about a particular field or profession?  Take advantage of the fact that the Wake Forest alumni network is strong and supportive by reaching out to alumni on LinkedIn in order to ask a few questions.  You will probably be surprised by just how helpful these alumni can be.

Zach GarbisoZach Garbiso (‘14, Psychology), Presidential Fellow for the OPCD

Start Taking Yourself Seriously…But Not Too Seriously.

Having just experienced senior year, I can honestly say that I’ve (very recently) been in your shoes.  It doesn’t take long before you start to realize that in the fall of next coming year, you will not be returning to the Forest for classes.  It’s a wake-up call.  However, don’t let it detract from your experience of being a senior on this amazing campus.  I encourage you to do some self-searching to really find what you’re passionate about before the job applications need to be submitted.  Take some ‘you’ time and find out what really inspires you.  If you give yourself the opportunity to establish this now, the other pieces of your life will fall into place.

Jessica LongJessica Long (‘05, Communication), Assistant Director, Career Education and Coaching

Soak It All In.

I’d have to say that my advice to seniors would be for them to soak it all in while they can. Take time to do well academically, but also spend time doing things they enjoy. If there is an event or activity on campus that they’re interested in, then explore it and become involved. Are there campus clubs or organizations they have wanted to join but haven’t taken time to do so? Do it now. While going through the year, take a few moments from time to time to reflect on what you look forward to and what gets you excited. These experiences are invaluable and will help you gain self-knowledge and confidence when you get into the real world.

TIP: Update Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile

Don’t miss the opportunity to highlight the skills you developed during your summer internship! Before you get too far removed from your internship, you’ll want to update your resume by highlighting the new skills developed and projects accomplished during the experience. A resume plays an important role in the hiring process for internships and jobs. Often, the resume is the first impression an employer receives on you. So, you want to market your professional brand and skills to potential employers. If you kept a journal, review it for specific skills and tasks completed on key projects. It will help guide what you want emphasize on your resume. Remember, you want to highlight skills relevant to the internship or job to which you are applying. A position’s job description is another great reference when updating your resume. Review the job description for sought-after skills and highlight the skills you possess on your resume. It is not uncommon to have a few different resumes to match each position you wish to receive an interview. You want to be the qualified person employers are searching for in a candidate.

Similar to your resume, your LinkedIn profile can be a first impression of you. Did you know that when you Google your name your LinkedIn profile is one of the top ten links found on you? Use your resume to update your LinkedIn profile with the skills and projects obtained during your internship. This will ensure your profile matches your resume. LinkedIn is not only your online resume, but a resource for connecting and networking with alumni and employers. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, learn more by viewing the video below.

For assistance, come by the Office of Personal and Career Development during resume review hours to receive tips and advice on your resume and LinkedIn profile. Review hours are: Monday through Thursday 1 – 4 p.m. Exceptions: extended hours 1 – 5 p.m. on September 17; and no reviews on September 2 and November 27-28. The last day of reviews for the semester will be December 5.

Visit the Career Development website for additional information and tips on resumes and LinkedIn.

Diary of an Intern: Laura’s Self Discovery & Reflection – Part 2

Congratulations to our Diary of an Intern series’ student blog contributor, Laura Jurotich! She completed her summer internship. Laura’s final posts are reflections on self discovery and experience as an intern. Laura will share what she learned about herself and the skills developed during the internship. Read her reflection in a 2-part series – Diary of an Intern: Self Discovery and Reflection.

Let’s read Laura’s next steps and advice she gives to future interns. Insightful tips on researching and making connections!

Laura JurotichNow that my summer in Nantucket is over, my plan moving forward is to head back to Wake for senior year. I am a leader at the Summit (formerly Pre-School) pre-orientation program, so I am heading directly from Nantucket to Wake Forest to help lead a group of 75 freshmen at Camp Cheerio in the Blue Ridge mountains. I will graduate in May with a BA in History and Art History, and I plan to pursue finding a career in museum work in Washington, DC. Since DC is a major cultural hub for arts and history and has such a strong presence of Wake Forest alumni, I think that it would be a nice place to start out my post-grad life.

My advice to other students seeking internships is to apply early and often. Start looking for internships and make lists of where to apply in November and December. Winter break is a great time to apply since the process can be intensive and time consuming, and it is tough to add that to your already hefty workload at Wake. Treating the intern application process like the college application process is a good mindset to have; although that is not a super fun idea, you are more likely to gain acceptances that way. That being said, I think it is important to apply to a wide range of internships with three tiers of acceptance possibilities: most likely going to be accepted, maybe will be accepted, and then “reach” internships.

I also think that it is important to explain in a cover letter why this internship in particular suits your needs. Thus, it is always a good idea to do in-depth research on each internship so that you can include details in your cover letter or interview that show that you have done the background research work. I think it is also a good idea whenever possible to email someone directly in the department where you are applying. Just sending a quick note saying that you are applying for that internship and how you heard about it will help you gain immediate name recognition over other applicants. Making connections to past interns is also a plus; I have spoken in interviews for internships that I ended up accepting about past Wake students who I know who have also had that internship. Have faith in yourself, be disciplined in your search, use your connections, and you will have a great shot at landing a meaningful internship!

Laura Jurotich ’15 – History and Art History double major

Diary of an Intern: Lauren’s Self Discovery & Reflection – Part 2

Congratulations to our Diary of an Intern series’ student blog contributor, Lauren Friezo! She completed her summer internship. Lauren’s final posts are reflections on self discovery and experience as an intern. Lauren will share what she learned about herself and the skills developed during the internship. Read her reflection in a 2-part series – Diary of an Intern: Self Discovery and Reflection.

Let’s read what Lauren learned from her experience and the advice she gives to future interns. Fantastic tips on networking and landing an internship via social media!

Lauren FriezoMy internship with restaurant critic and author Gael Greene pushed me to become a sharper thinker and a more creative writer. It’s amazingly difficult to write about food in a way that captures every tiny taste and texture. In order to do so, you have to think outside the box. Food writers have to be detailed, descriptive and thorough, yet also allow their own voices and experiences to shine through. Those who master this become great storytellers like Ms. Greene. Editing her work firsthand was a great way to learn. I will definitely continue this multi-faceted approach to writing in my English courses and in my job as Editor-in-Chief for Her Campus Wake Forest.

I was surprised by how important technology is for a writer. Nowadays, writers don’t just write. They do everything…promoting themselves through social media, running their own websites using HTML and CSS and editing their photographs with Photoshop. If I want to enter into this field, I will definitely have to sharpen these skills. I plan to further develop my skills in this area by taking an Introduction to Adobe Photoshop and InDesign course over winter break.

I am interested to see how writers exist within larger companies. I now know that I enjoy this industry. The past two summers have exposed me to a world of food and restaurant reviews, but what about food publications? What about Gourmet magazine? Or what about television stations, like Food Network? Through searching the Linkedin Wake Forest Alumni group, I was able to connect and meet with a few of these professionals in NYC. It was a great way to end a great summer!

For others interested in a career in food writing or restaurants, I have a few suggestions. The first is to check Twitter constantly. I actually scored this internship through responding to a tweet from @GaelGreene. She tweeted that she needed an intern, and I answered. Don’t underestimate the power of social media, especially in such a fast-paced industry. If you want to work for someone, follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Make yourself knowledgeable, and then when an internship opening is mentioned, pounce. One more thing — make sure your resume is 100% ready to go so you can answer immediately. Of course, the OPCD can help with that!

Lauren Friezo, ‘15 – English major