Rising College Seniors; ‘To-Do’ Checklist Preparing for Graduation!

(by Samantha Gonnelli – C2C Career Advisor)

A Summer & Fall ‘To-Do’ List for College Juniors/Rising Seniors!

Calculate your credits.
If you have not already, ensure that you are on-track in terms of meeting your credit requirements, especially in terms of your major and any general education requirements. Check your school’s course catalog for assistance with this matter. If you are off-track, i.e. you will not be able to graduate on time due to lack of credits, consider taking a course during the summer to catch up. Bear in mind that summer courses are condensed and, therefore, will cover a significant amount of material in a short amount of time. The homework for such courses can be substantial and the weight of each assignment can be greater than in a typical, semester-long course. The payoff is that you may be able to graduate on time, with your class.

Prepare for your job search.
Gaining experience in your field is important. If you have not already, I recommend utilizing your network to find an internship or job where you can develop and refine the skills that will help prepare you for your job of choice.  Below is a list of checklist items to address as a rising senior in preparation for graduation next May!

1)  Update your resume. Take the time to create multiple resumes, each geared toward a position/industry in which you are interested.  You may want to consider adding the following to your resume, if you haven’t already:
– Relevant Coursework
– Honors and Awards
– Leadership and Volunteer Experience
– Computer, Language, and Other Skills

Also, consider making a video resume.  Some organizations are beginning to require video resumes as part of their applications.

2)  Write a standard cover letter. You will have to customize it when you begin applying to jobs, but your standard cover letter can serve as a starting point. This will save time when you begin applying to jobs.

3)  Research companies, programs, and/or schools of interest.

4)  Clean up your social media and use it to your advantage. I recommend Googling yourself to see what comes up. Ensure your search produces results that are appropriate and further your professional image.

5)  Create or update your LinkedIn, complete all applicable fields, make connections, and post articles.

6)  Research organizations/companies you are interested in, follow them on LinkedIn, and connect with people who work at your companies of interest. A great way to do this is to see if you are already connected with someone that is connected with a person who works at one of your companies of interest. If you have such a connection, ask him or her if s/he will connect you with the person via LinkedIn. In this way, your connection serves as your reference. Messaging with your new connection can help you find out more about your company of interest, which can assist you with writing your cover letter and, later, acing your interview!

7)  Set up informational interviews with people who have, or had, your desired job.
I recommend beginning with reaching out to alumni who work, or have worked, in your industry of interest.  If you do not know how to access your school’s alumni database, contact your college’s Career Center.

8)  Join a professional organization. These organizations typically have reduced membership fees for students and are something you can include on your resume. Through joining one of these organizations, you can learn about industry-specific networking and professional development opportunities. Attending these, making contacts, and gaining new skills can give you an edge as a job candidate.

9)  Practice interviewing.
First, write down your answers to standard interview questions. Then, set up an appointment with a Career Advisor for a mock interview when you get back to school.

If your industry of interest typically requires you to complete a task during an interview, practice doing that task. You can find out more about interviews for your field by doing online research and through informational interviews.

10)  Make a list of people who you can ask to write a letter of recommendation for you for potential employers and/or graduate, law, or medical school applications. Contact those people and, if they say yes, invite them to connect on LinkedIn. They will be able to recommend you on that platform as well.

11)  Begin compiling a portfolio of your work, as you may need to bring examples of past work to an interview.

12)  Let people know you will be looking for a job soon so that they know to pass information along to you about open positions.

13) Volunteer!  Builds your resume, keeps you current and can hone and build your skills!
Volunteering allows you to help someone or a group of people in need and/or improve your community. It also enhances your resume and augments your network.

You can find volunteer opportunities by:
– Going online. There are various websites, which can connect with you with local volunteer opportunities.  Find an opportunity that is related to your field of interest and/or a passion of yours.

– Asking around.  The chances are that you know someone who volunteers locally and can connect you.

14) Read!
– Keep up with current events.
– Discover more about the industry you plan to go into.
– Pick up a book (or two) about what interests you.

15) If you are studying a foreign language, join a local Language group to continue practicing your skills.

16) If applicable;
– Research graduate, law, or medical schools and prepare your application materials.
– Study for and take the GRE, LSAT, GMAT and/or MCAT.
– Study for and take relevant teacher certification exams.
– Research gap year programs and/or fellowships and begin gathering your application materials.

* These opportunities listed above can add and give you the necessary experience you will need and allow you to connect with people in your field of interest all along.

Enjoy checking items off this list!

Starting a New Job; On the Right Foot!

(By Samantha Gonnelli – C2C Career Advisor)

You submitted your application, aced your interviews, said your “Thank You’s,” and were just offered the job! Congratulations! Effectively showcasing all that you have to offer via your resume and an interview is challenging, but you managed to impress your new employer and have just signed on with an organization. Now it is time to show your employer, as well as your new colleagues, that they made the right decision and that you do, indeed, have the skills necessary to do the job well. With that said, your “hard” skills, i.e. the specific, quantifiable skills you learned through your coursework, internships, etc., are only part of what you need to be successful at your new job. It is your “soft” skills that will prove just as important. Soft skills refer to the abilities we gain through social and emotional learning, e.g. self-regulation, organization, relationship building, communication, collaboration, conflict resolution, etc. These skills, according to last year’s NACE (National Association of Colleges & Employers) Job Outlook Survey, make up 17 of the 19 attributes that employers look for in applicants and, by extension, prospective employees. The attributes, in order of importance, are:

Notice, of the list, only two are ‘hard skills;’ computer and technological!

I first learned about the importance of honing your soft skills when I was studying Education in college, but I truly observed their importance as a counselor on the K-12 level. In this role, I have learned that soft skills can be taught, although there is not typically a specific focus on doing so in traditional school settings. Teachers often provide students with the opportunity to practice these skills, but they are rarely able to provide them with concrete feedback regarding their use. This is not the fault of teachers, but rather due to the lack of emphasis on social and emotional learning in modern curriculum. The results of the 2016 NACE Job Outlook Survey reveal that our heavy focus on hard skills, and our subsequent neglect of soft skills, is not in the best interest of students because employers clearly value soft skills. This is especially important to remember when beginning a new job. To start your job on the right foot, you must be able to demonstrate the following soft skills:

Time Management and Organizational Skills

Demonstrating the aforementioned skills, most of which are listed in Hillary Obepeul’s article about soft skills for graduate students at the University of Cincinnati, will help you make a good impression at work instantly. At the top of the list is dependability. Punctuality and the ability to meet deadlines are critical. Arriving to work on time, staying on task during the workday, and submitting your work by the assigned deadline help you build trust with others, which is a key part of building relationships. When others recognize that you are someone they can trust to come prepared to work everyday, they will go to you for assistance, seek out your expertise, and, ultimately, help you to attain success in your position; however, more is required than just your reliability.

Your interest and passion for your work should be evident to your new colleagues, not just because of what you say, but what you do. You have to take the initiative to complete your work to the best of your ability every time and learn how to take constructive criticism, thereby allowing you to reflect on your current practice and improve for the future.

Employers also want to know that you have a strong commitment to their organization, which you can demonstrate by submitting excellent work, incorporating feedback into your practice, and, eventually, making contributions to the organization at large.

Effective communication is integral, especially when beginning a new job. It is important to interact with your colleagues, superiors, and, if applicable, clientele in a clear, professional, and polite manner, both verbally and in writing. Take the time to introduce yourself to your co-workers and focus on listening to what they have to say; after all, they know how the organization functions and can help guide you when you have questions. Being nice, in general, goes a long way and will not soon be forgotten. It will also assist you when you need to engage in teamwork and help you gain the respect of your co-workers when you are given the opportunity to exercise your leadership skills.

When starting a new job, it helps to illustrate your flexibility and show that you can gracefully adjust to a variety of situations. You may not be assigned to the exact role you were initially promised or given the same responsibilities that were discussed during your interview, as the needs of your organization may change. If the role changes drastically, I would advise addressing this sooner rather than later so that you can determine if the job is still a good fit for you; ultimately, however, it is important to remember that everyone needs to start somewhere and, often, there is a room to grow. Do not forget, changes can be made!

Showing that you are able to prioritize effectively and meet deadlines is also key to your success in a new position. This takes excellent time management and organizational skills. Maintain a calendar and create an organizational system that works for you. My best tip here is to take paper and a writing utensil with you to all meetings, both impromptu and formal. This will help you keep track of what needs to get done as well as make note of your contacts. If you are prone to procrastination and/or struggle with organization, I recommend asking someone you respect, who has mastered these skills, for advice and then making a genuine effort to improve in whichever area you find challenging. This will help you gain a strong reputation at work, complete tasks more efficiently, and ensure that you always meet your deadlines.

In short, focus on fine-tuning your soft skills and make use of them when beginning a new job; they will, unmistakably, help you thrive in the workplace.

While you are Job Searching…

(By Samantha Gonnelli – C2C Career Advisor)

Searching for a new job is challenging for multiple reasons. Many job seekers become frustrated when they submit application after application without even receiving an email from employers, acknowledging that their application materials were received. As a result of this cycle, it is difficult for job seekers to obtain feedback on their application materials, making it difficult to know what to change or improve on a resume or a cover letter. Applying to jobs for months at a time can thus become draining and feel like a solitary, lonely mission, especially if you are not working, or are underemployed, while you are job searching. I have experienced this firsthand as a job seeker and secondhand, as a Career Coach for long-term unemployed job seekers. In this article, I will discuss what you can do to fill the time, as well as the gaps, in your resume while you are navigating the job search.

Throughout your job search, I suggest that you:

Continue to develop and refine your application materials – Ensure that you have multiple resumes. (For more information on how and why it is helpful to create multiple resumes, see my earlier article from March of 2017). Polish and personalize your cover letters and update your LinkedIn page. Create profiles on the websites of the companies and organization in which you are interested, thereby making it easier for you to apply to these places once they post a job in your field. Seek out feedback on your resumes and cover letters from a Career Advisor, an industry professional, etc.  It may also be useful for you to compile a portfolio to bring to interviews. Portfolios are hard data; they are a great way to help both you and your potential employer visualize and better understand your past accomplishments.

Build your brand and market yourself – With so many candidates applying for every posted position, it is important that you find a way to stand out. One of the ways you can do this is to figure out what your “brand” is and communicate that to others via the “Summary” at the top of your LinkedIn page or while networking with others, either online or in-person. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines a brand as “a particular identity or image regarded as an asset.” It can be challenging to create a single statement, or even a brief paragraph, that adequately conveys your skills, expertise, and future career goals; however, doing so will not only convey what you offer to a potential employer – it will also assist you with communicating what you bring to the table to others when you are networking or interviewing.

Network – Networking is critical, even when you are not actively seeking a job. It is the best and most efficient way to find out when new positions become available and is your best shot in terms of getting your foot in the door. A good word from one of your contacts can ensure that your resume is, at least, reviewed, but hopefully, it will also lead to an interview!  To network, you can take a few different approaches. You can start by reaching out to your family and friends. I also suggest taking advantage of your alumni network, speaking with former colleagues, and staying active on LinkedIn. It’s also helpful to check out local MeetUps and ToastMasters International chapters. Conduct informational interviews when you obtain a contact and remember to keep in touch with him or her. Finally, and most importantly, let others know that you are actively looking for a new job so that when they hear about a position you might be interested in, they will pass it along, and perhaps, even refer you.

Attend Job Fairs and Hiring Events – These events can be daunting, but they do offer a chance for you to speak with the individuals reviewing your application materials. They also provide you with the opportunity to interview on the spot and ask questions about both the position and the employer. Finally, these events also serve as another venue for networking and may steer you in the direction of another job lead.  Additionally, the following activities will help you find a job and build your resume at the same time; plus, engaging in these activities will also make you a better candidate:

Volunteer – Helping others is both fulfilling and educational. Try to volunteer in support of a cause that you are passionate about and in a role where you may be able to exercise some of the skills you might utilize on a daily basis when you achieve your dream job. Volunteering also allows you to meet others with whom you may be able to network and can introduce you to other job options.

Blog – Blog about the industry in which you are trying to obtain a career. If you are seeking a career in finance, create a blog that covers finance-related news. If you are interested in obtain a job in fashion, start a blog about current trends in men’s and/or women’s clothing. Writing will help you stay up-to-date with your industry of interest and demonstrate your passion for it to potential employers. You can also include a link to your blog on your resume or LinkedIn page!

Seek and accept contract work – For most of us, the goal is to find full-time work in our area of interest; however, taking a part-time or a temporary position can help you gain experience so that you can eventually land your dream job. Taking a part-time or a temporary position may also set you up for a full-time position at the company; however, even if it does not, it will still help you build your resume.

Happy job searching!

Group Interviewing

(By Samantha Gonnelli – C2C Career Advisor)

With the number of students graduating from college rising and every job becoming more and more competitive, the practice of group interviewing has increased. It saves time and typically gives candidates the opportunity to play the role for which they are interviewing. Group interviewing is exactly what it sounds like – the practice of interviewing several candidates at a time for a single position or, sometimes, multiple positions. There are both advantages and disadvantages of interviewing candidates in a group, and the interview can look different depending on the industry. Some common group interview formats include:

The “Panel-Style” Group Interview – The interviewer poses a question and all of the candidates answer, one at a time. Additionally, the interviewer may pose a question and any of the candidates may answer, and not all will have a chance to speak.
Team-Building Exercise – Candidates participate in a team-building exercise while the interviewer observes (and, sometimes, facilitates).
Mock Team Meeting – Candidates assume the role for which they are applying and participate in a mock meeting with other candidates and/or current employees. Typically, the participants will be given a task or a problem to solve as the basis for the meeting.
Group, plus Individual, Interview – One of the above formats, preceded or followed by an individual interview.

As I mentioned previously, there are both advantages and disadvantages with group interviewing; in fact, each advantage is typically coupled with a disadvantage. I’ll explore some below:

More People, Less Focus on You – Because there are multiple candidates in the room, you may feel less nervous and even gain more time to formulate a response to the interviewer’s question. This can also be a disadvantage because:
You might feel more pressure to provide responses that are as “impressive” as those of your peers, i.e. you’ll compare yourself to others.

You might overthink your answers.  It may be more difficult to find an appropriate time to contribute to the conversation, depending on the interview format.

To combat this, as for any interview, research the organization thoroughly, have answers prepared for standard interview questions as well as any other question you think may come up, and think about the future of the organization for which you’re interviewing. Anticipate their challenges, their areas of growth, their needs, etc.

Tips for Success:

Use your active listening skills during the interview. Sometimes, it can be hard to speak up, but you need to find a way in. Be patient, but assertive. Also, remember it’s okay to disagree, but do so respectfully and offer solutions.
It’s important to showcase your ability to work in a team. You may find yourself in the role of leader within the group, depending on the format, but you do not want to come off as monopolizing the group. Interact enthusiastically and professionally with the other candidates and ensure the task gets done.

Be confident in what you bring to the table. No candidate is the same and it’s not worthwhile to get bogged down in comparing yourself to others. Before the interview, reflect on your unique skill set and experience. Also, think about a time you worked on a team and it went well. Bring that knowledge and experience to the interview and, remember, you have already impressed the interviewer; s/he wouldn’t have asked you to come in if they did not think you were a good fit for the position!

Bring multiple copies of your resume and check the dress code. The latter is especially important if you end up having to participate in a team-building exercise, as you may need to move around a bit during the activity.
Have a brief introduction prepared; you’ll need to do one.

Some Examples of Group Interviewing:

“Panel-Style” Interview.  At an interview for a nonprofit job, I was assigned to a small group of other candidates, also interviewing for the same position. One interviewer stayed with our group, asked the candidates to introduce themselves, and then posed a series of questions, allowing each candidate to answer before moving on. It is important to note that this was only one part of the interviewing process for this organization. On the other hand, for a fellowship I interviewed for during college, about 10-12 candidates were seated around a table with a single interviewer, who asked the group questions at large. Not everyone was given the opportunity to answer each question and, at times, it was difficult to insert myself into the conversation. In situations like these, it is important to be assertive, but not rude. If you and another candidate begin speaking at the same time, you might suggest, “Why don’t you finish your thought and then I’ll share mine?” Start after the other candidate stops and, if another candidate attempts to interject, remind him or her that it is your turn to speak.

Team-Building Exercise.  I was asked to engage in a team-building activity for an interview for a pre-college program. In the job, I ended up having to work very closely with my co-workers in addition to carrying out my individual job as a Teaching Assistant. I had to run 1-2 activities daily with my co-workers, supervise a floor with a co-worker, lead field trips with my co-workers, and meet nightly with my co-workers to debrief each day. Collaboration with my co-workers was, needless to say, critical; therefore, it was important for the interviewers to find a staff with strong chemistry. They succeeded, as this was one of the best, most effective teams with which I have ever worked. This is a textbook example of how group interviewing can be beneficial to and appropriate for an organization.

Mock Team Meeting.  I was asked to participate in a team meeting at an interview for a School Counseling position. Other candidates for my position participated in the meeting as well as candidates for various teaching positions. We were given a rubric for grading the students based on character. The traits were in alignment with the school’s mission. It was our task to decide how we would integrate the rubric into the curriculum and make it part of the school’s culture. How would we convey the expectations to students and then evaluate them on it? This exercise was meant to see how the candidates would address a real problem facing the school and how they would interact with colleagues in their desired roles. It provided the candidates with a taste of what they could expect from weekly team meetings, and it provided the interviewers with a taste of how you would fit in with their current team. It should be noted that I also interviewed individually with a faculty member, a counselor, and two administrators and then wrote a brief essay before participating in the exercise detailed above. I also interviewed with a group of position as part of the hiring process for this institution. I was interviewed from almost every angle for this job!

Resume Differentiation

(by Samantha Gonnelli, C2C Career Advisor)

The Importance of Having More Than Just One Resume

It’s hard enough to perfect just one resume; it’s difficult to think about creating and customizing another one. While this may seem like a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be, and doing so will help your resume stand out to employers across industries. It’s very likely that you’re applying to more than just one kind of position, especially if you are just graduating from college or graduate school; therefore, it will be helpful for you to have multiple resumes on hand so that you can apply to various jobs with ease.

To begin, I suggest compiling a master list of all of your previous experience, from which you can pull and then create as many resumes as necessary. For instance, if you are interested in obtaining a job as an Administrative Assistant, you may want to create a few different resumes, depending on the industries to which you are applying. You might create one for each type of organization at which you would like to work. In this instance, you might like to work at either a large corporation, a small business, or, perhaps, an educational institution. For the school jobs, your resume might emphasize your ability to interact well with people, your organizational skills, and your understanding of the legal parameters when it comes to releasing information, etc. For the traditional office jobs, you might emphasize your previous experience with answering phones, scheduling meetings, making travel arrangements, reporting expenses, and maintaining files. As another example, if you are seeking a job as a Social Worker, you might take a different approach and create just two resumes, one focusing on your experience working with children and adolescents and one focusing on your experience working with adults. This will come in handy if you are open to working with either population and are applying to jobs where you would work specifically with one of these populations.

My tips in general for differentiating your resumes are:

Organize your resumes by theme.
If you are applying to teaching and coaching jobs, you might organize your resume by “Teaching Experience” for the teaching jobs and “Leadership Experience” for the coaching jobs. Remember, each category of your resume should run chronologically.

Emphasize your educational background, certifications, publications, honors, and professional development differently, according to job.
Put what’s relevant to the particular job at the forefront.

Read job descriptions carefully and make amendments as necessary.
If most of the job descriptions for the job you are applying for mention the importance of working with different populations, make sure that you are specific with the kinds of populations you have worked with to show that you meet that requirement. Describe the size of the group you serve, their ages, gender, etc.

In general, with your resumes:

Be specific.
Use numbers wherever possible. How many people do you manage? How big are the audiences to which you present? How many customers do you serve each day? Numbers speak volumes and will give potential employers a better idea about the scope of your work. How large a team do you lead? Are you skilled with working with small groups/teams, big groups/teams, or both? Do you have strong customer service skills? Again, the data will help potential employers answer that question and want to learn more about you.

Know your audience.
Are you applying for a job at a design agency? How about an investment banking firm? Your resume should look different, aesthetically and otherwise, depending on the industry to which you are applying. You wouldn’t use the same resume for the two industries mentioned above. These industries value different knowledge, skills, and experience. One is more creative, while the other is more data-driven. If you sought the job in design, your design skills would be important to highlight right away and you may even look for an opportunity to show off some of those skills via your resume. On the other hand, for the banking job, you would likely opt for a brief, more traditional resume format that showcases your education, previous internships, and project experience more than anything. These resumes will help you get noticed in the industry in which you desire to work.

In summary:
Narrow down your job search and decide to which jobs you are going to apply.
Research your desired jobs. For instance, if you are interested in teaching, but would like to expand your job search to more than just traditional teaching positions, so that they include tutoring positions, coaching positions, position in nonprofits geared at assisting youth, etc., make a different resume for each after doing your homework on what each of these jobs necessitate. The resumes will be similar, of course, but you may organize your experience differently, emphasize certain aspects of your experience, etc. on each resume.
Get feedback on your resume from people in the industry, if possible. Turn to your alumni network, your contacts, etc. and ask how your resume reads for someone in the field. This will help you refine and make smart additions to your resume, which is always a work in progress. This important document is worth the time if it helps land you a job that’s right for you.

Happy applying!

This Year’s College Grads Leaving in Record Debt

College grads leaving with record debtMILWAUKEE — (from USA TODAY) After four years at Marquette University here, Molly Mead is graduating Sunday with a bachelor’s degree in women and gender studies and history — and student loan debt totaling more than $28,000.
In the fall, she plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin, where she expects to borrow another $20,000 as she pursues a master’s in social work.

Her situation is not the least bit unusual.

“I knew coming to Marquette that I would be taking on quite a bit of debt,” Mead said. “I won’t be making that much money even with my master’s, so debt is something that’s concerning for me. … However, it’s somewhat of a relief to know a lot of my peers are going through the same thing.”

Students graduating from college this spring are entering the healthiest job market since the recession, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, an organization that tracks college hiring. It says U.S. employers expect to hire 5.2% more recent graduates this year than in 2015.
But graduates entering the job market are doing so with a record amount of debt, according to recent surveys.

Along with their new diplomas, this year’s graduates will leave campus with an average of $28,950 of student debt, according to the latest figures from The Institute for College Access & Success, an independent nonprofit research organization. The institute found that from 2004 to 2014 the share of graduates with debt rose modestly from 65% to 69%, but the average debt at graduation rose at more than twice the rate of inflation.

Other groups have produced different estimates. Cappex, a college selection website that generates its projections based on federal student-loan data and economic factors such as inflation, predicted the average debt for this year’s graduates at $37,173. This is up from $35,000 for 2015 graduates, and an increase of more than $15,000 in the past decade.

However, the group most likely to default on payments aren’t graduates buried in debt, but the students who borrowed then dropped out.

This group generally owes less than $9,000, according to the Education Department. But without the income boost that typically comes from a degree, dropouts represent a disproportionately high portion of defaulters.

Students leaving college — whether graduating or withdrawing — with federal student debt are required to participate in exit counseling, a process that helps borrowers make smart decisions about repaying their loans.

Tim Opgenorth, director of financial aid at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said one of the best ways for students to manage debt after graduation is to make sure they’re keeping it under control during their undergraduate years.

“Hopefully, students have been borrowing responsibly,” Opgenorth said. “It’s important that they take out no more than they need to so they can pay it back in a timely matter.”

The debt situations facing three other Milwaukee-area students or recent grads play out countless times across the USA:

Vic Oliver

College: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Annual tuition: $9,429 for in-state students

Current debt: $70,000

Despite having a job lined up, Vic Oliver worries that the new position lacks the security and salary she needs to shrink the $70,000 she owes in federal and private loans.

“The job is guaranteed, but security isn’t,” said Oliver, who will have a seasonal job as zoo education coordinator at the Menominee Park Zoo in Oshkosh, Wis. Oliver works seven months of the year and earns $13 an hour.

The job will last at least two years, she said, and in the off-season she plans to work as a waitress or bartender.

She is graduating Sunday with a bachelor’s degree in conservation and environmental science.

Oliver received numerous donations from friends and family to help pay her tuition during freshman year, so she needed a loan of just $6,000, she said. But without the same financial support in the following years, she had to take out bank loans to pay for tuition, books, housing and studying abroad.

Additionally, she borrowed $3,000 to $5,000 each year through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

Today, she’s accumulated debt that she estimates will take 15 years to pay off.

“The way FAFSA is set up is really unfortunate because it puts a lot of people in a lot of debt, but that’s just the reality of how the system works,” she said. “And a lot of students are in a similar or worse condition.”

To combat mounting debt, Oliver has been working two campus jobs throughout college, one in the office of international education and the other as a peer mentor through university’s orientation program. She works 25 hours a week, the university maximum for students with campus jobs.

“I’m prepared,” Oliver said. “I’ve been saving and living a very frugal life.”

Kimberly Hadinata

College: Marquette University

Annual tuition: $38,000

Current debt: $51,000

With one year to go before graduation, Marquette junior Kimberly Hadinata already owes more than $50,000 and plans to borrow another $17,000 to help pay for her senior year.

“I worry about paying it off in time before it keeps adding up,” she said. “I want to have good credit so that I can live on my own, but I know realistically I probably will have to live with my parents after graduation.”

Hadinata says she has maxed out all federal loans the private Catholic university offers and has taken out additional loans with a bank in her home state of New Jersey.

After graduating from Marquette in May 2017, she hopes to attend law school, which will mean even more debt.

“The process of applying for loans can be annoying,” Hadinata said. “It feels like it’s not a mutual agreement. Students are slapped with a payment plan that we really have no choice but to accept if we want to continue pursuing a college education.”

Tatiana Zaldua

College: Milwaukee Area Technical College

Tuition: $160 per credit for health classes; full time, $2,080

Current debt: $6,500

Tatiana Zaldua has been pursuing a college degree on and off for seven years, but she estimates she will be able to pay off all of her debt within three months of graduation this month.

Zaldua, who graduated Friday from Milwaukee Area Technical College with an associate degree in cardiovascular technology, owes $6,500. In June, she will begin working as a cardiopulmonary technician at All Saints Hospital in Racine, Wis., making $24.95 an hour.

Zaldua will work alongside doctors, assisting with surgeries and helping fix hearts.

“It’s a good job,” Zaldua said. “I’m fairly confident I can have everything paid off by the end of the summer.”

Before attending the two-year public vocational-technical college, Zaldua was enrolled at Alverno College in Milwaukee, where she was studying to be a cardiac nurse. After one year in the program at the private four-year Catholic college, Zaldua left.

“Unfortunately, I got into a lot of debt,” she said. “At the beginning they tell you, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll give you financial aid.’ But after that, you realize that their scholarships are bigger because their tuition is more expensive.”

According to Zaldua, Alverno offered her an annual academic scholarship of $10,000; annual tuition that year, 2009-10, was around $27,000. It took her three years to pay off the loans she took out.

At Milwaukee Area Technical College, she was more cautious with her borrowing. She continued to work throughout the two years it took her to complete the cardiopulmonary technician program. Sometimes she went to school part time, sometimes full time, but she was always applying for grants and scholarships.

“I applied to every single one I could possibly find,” she said.

Zaldua plans to work at All Saints Hospital for at least a year before returning to school for her bachelor’s degree in cardiopulmonary sciences, which Zaldua said the hospital would help pay for.


Hiring Hurdles: Employer Drug Testing

Employer Drug TestingSAVANNAH, GA. — A few years back, the heavy-equipment manufacturer JCB held a job fair in the glass foyer of its sprawling headquarters near here, but when a throng of prospective employees learned the next step would be drug testing, an alarming thing happened: About half of them left.

That story still circulates within the business community of this historic port city. But the problem has gotten worse.

All over the country, employers say they see a disturbing downside of tighter labor markets as they try to rebuild from the worst recession since the Depression: They are struggling to find workers who can pass a pre-employment drug test.

That hurdle partly stems from the growing ubiquity of drug testing, at corporations with big human resources departments, in industries like trucking where testing is mandated by federal law for safety reasons, and increasingly at smaller companies.

But data suggest employers’ difficulties also reflect an increase in the use of drugs, especially marijuana — employers’ main gripe — and also heroin and other opioid drugs much in the news.

Ray Gaster, the owner of lumber yards on both sides of the Georgia-South Carolina border, recently joined friends at a retreat in Alabama to swap business talk. The big topic? Drug tests.

“They were complaining about trying to find drivers, or finding people, who are drug-free and can do some of the jobs that they have,” Mr. Gaster said. He shared their concern.

Drug Free Certification PostingsNotices at Gaster Lumber & Hardware attest to its certification as a drug-free workplace since 1994.  Drug use in the work force “is not a new problem. Back in the ’80s, it was pretty bad, and we brought it down,” said Calvina L. Fay, executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation. But, she added, “we’ve seen it edging back up some,” and increasingly, both employers and industry associations “have expressed exasperation.”

Data on the scope of the problem is sketchy because figures on job applicants who test positive for drugs miss the many people who simply skip tests they cannot pass.

Nonetheless, in its most recent report, Quest Diagnostics, which has compiled employer-testing data since 1988, documented an increase for a second consecutive year in the percentage of Americans who tested positive for illicit drugs — to 4.7 percent in 2014 from 4.3 percent in 2013. And 2013 was the first year in a decade to show an increase.

John Sambdman, who employs about 100 people in Atlanta at Samson Trailways, which provides transportation for schools, events, tour groups and the military, must test job applicants and, randomly, employees. Many job seekers “just don’t bother to show up at the drug-testing place,” he complained. Just on Thursday, Mr. Sambdman said, an applicant failed a drug test.

In August, Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia promised to develop a program to help because so many business owners tell him “the No. 1 reason they can’t hire enough workers is they can’t find enough people to pass a drug test.”

That program is still under discussion. When job seekers contact Georgia’s Department of Labor, which provides some recruitment services to employers, the state would like to begin testing them for drugs; individuals who test positive could receive drug counseling and ultimately job placement assistance, Mark Butler, the state labor commissioner, said in an interview.

“Obviously, it’s not an easy process, and it would be costly,” Mr. Butler said. “But you’ve got to think: What is the reverse of that?” People needed to fill jobs are turned away, and, he added, “it’s pretty much a national issue.”

In Indiana, Mark Dobson, president of the Economic Development Corporation of Elkhart County, said that when he went to national conferences, the topic was “such a common thread of conversation – whether it’s in an area like ours that’s really enjoying very low unemployment levels or even areas with more moderate employment bases.”

In Colorado, “to find a roofer or a painter that can pass a drug test is unheard-of,” said Jesse Russow, owner of Avalanche Roofing & Exteriors, in Colorado Springs. That was true even before Colorado, like a few other states, made recreational use of marijuana legal.

In a sector where employers like himself tend to rely on Latino workers, Mr. Russow tried to diversify three years ago by recruiting white workers, vetting about 80 people. But, he said, “As soon as I say ‘criminal background check,’ ‘drug test,’ they’re out the door.”

While employers’ predicament is worsened by a smaller hiring pool, the drug problem for those that require testing is not as bad as it once was. “If we go back to 1988, the combined U.S. work force positivity was 13.6 percent when drug testing was new,” said Dr. Barry Sample, Quest’s director of science and technology.

But two consecutive years of increases are worrisome, he said.

A much broader data trove, the federal government’s annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health, reported in September that one in 10 Americans ages 12 and older reported in 2014 that they had used illicit drugs within the last month — the largest share since 2001.

Taken together, Mr. Sample said, his data and the government’s indicate higher drug use among those who work for employers without a drug-testing program than workers who are tested, though use by the latter increased as well in 2013 and 2014.

Testing dates to the Reagan administration. The 1988 Drug-Free Workplace Act required most employers with federal contracts or grants to test workers. In 1991, Congress responded to a deadly 1987 train crash in which two operators tested positive for marijuana by requiring testing for all “safety sensitive” jobs regulated by the Transportation Department. Those laws became the model for other employers. Some states give businesses a break on workers’ compensation insurance if they are certified as drug-free.

Here at the main yard of Gaster Lumber and Hardware, faded certificates and signs (“Drugs Don’t Work Here”) attest to its certification as a drug-free workplace since 1994.

Mr. Gaster’s human resources director, Chuck Keller, said that status reduced workers’ compensation payments for its nearly 50 employees by 7.5 percent in Georgia and 5 percent in South Carolina. The savings, about $4,000 this year, offset costs of about $2,500 for laboratory and on-site testing and related requirements.

“We’re always short of drivers,” Mr. Gaster said, “and drug testing is part of it.”

Terry Donaldson, 53, who was tested when he started 20 years ago, supports the policy: “If they want to have a good job, the drugs got to go.”

So it was for some of his new co-workers.

Britt Sikes, 38 and a single father to three young girls, lost his teeth to methamphetamine and used marijuana since he was 8 — until three weeks before taking the test for his $13-an-hour job as a Gaster door installer.

“I’m a recovering drug addict myself, and to raise my girls, I had to learn to leave it alone,” Mr. Sikes said.

Kevin Canty, 55, said that in his experience, “most people can’t pass the drug test because they don’t want to pass a drug test.”

“They want the job,” he added, but “they still want to be in that lifestyle. And they have to choose.”

One of the newest hires, Frederick Brown, 34, said, “I come from a society where drugs is common – marijuana, weed, it’s common,” and people who cannot pass a drug test seek work at McDonald’s. Most restaurants do not test.

“I asked for this job,” Mr. Brown said, calling it a blessing. “I already knew what I had to do — you know what I’m saying?”


Best Careers for Personality Types

This was shared with us by Emily Parker of CollegeMatchUp.net.  Today, many job assistance organizations and career counseling centers will factor in a person’s Myers-Briggs personality type when helping them find the ‘perfect’ job. Find your type below and you will see a few suggestions to get you started in finding a role that can best fit your specific disposition.  Remember, these are general terms and suggestions presented, as opportunities abound and you’re not necessarily limited to what’s listed!  Below the infographic the 16 MBTI types are listed and identified!



These types are good work horses, as they get things done. They see every detail of a plan and aren’t afraid to spend extra hours at the office or take on extra work. To compensate, they seek out jobs with high rewards.

Nickname: The Duty Fulfillers

Prevalence: 8.5%

Perfect careers: Business administrator, police officer, lawyer


These are the defenders of our society. They seek out jobs in which they can feel accomplished and important, as well as helpful.

Nickname: The Guardians

Prevalence: 13%

Perfect careers: Military officer, teacher, sales representative


Like the ESTJs, these types are supportive, but in a much more nurturing, caring way. They feel things intensely and like to help others through difficult situations.

Nickname: The Nurturers

Prevalence: 7%

Perfect careers: Interior decorator, social worker, childcare


Full of empathy, ESFJs seek employment in places where they can connect with their client, student or patient. A high amount of these types are in the nursing and teaching fields.

Nickname: The Caregivers

Prevalence: 12%

Perfect careers: Nurse, counselor, teacher


These types look at a problem from absolutely every angle. They like to problem-solve and believe there are multiple ways of finding solutions.

Nickname: The Mechanics

Prevalence: 6%

Perfect careers: Forensic pathologist, computer programmer, engineer


ESTPs are the “go-getters” of the personality types. They are high-energy and enjoy friendly competition. They work well in fast-paced environments that are challenging and rewarding.

Nickname: The Doers

Prevalence: 10%

Perfect careers: Marketing, paramedic, athlete


ESFPs crave the spotlight. They are very creative and thus stay away from jobs that require strict routines or office work. They like to travel, to design and to express themselves.

Nickname: The Performers

Prevalence: 11%

Perfect careers: Artist, fashion designer, consultant


Like ESFPs, ISFPs are creative, though in a much more introverted way. They tend to choose jobs that require imagination and originality, but they’d much rather work in solitude.

Nickname: The Artists

Prevalence: 6%

Perfect careers: Musician, photographer, veterinarian


Born leaders, ENTJs are risk-takers with sharp wits. They can make firm decisions and never feel regret. They are best in charge of large accounts, corporations or business decisions.

Nickname: The Executives

Prevalence: 4%

Perfect careers: Corporate executive, entrepreneur, judge


These types are the thinkers. They can solve complex problems and enjoy doing so. Most are in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) field.

Nickname: The Scientists

Prevalence: 1.5%

Perfect careers: Scientist, engineer, corporate strategist


ENTPs like to solve potential problems, and they are often looking toward the future. They connect well with people and they like to work in teams on complex issues.

Nickname: The Visionaries

Prevalence: 4.5%

Perfect careers: Psychologist, actor, systems analyst


Like The Scientists, INTPs do well in STEM fields. But they also enjoy scripted public speaking and teaching, as they enjoy sharing what they find with others.

Nickname: The Thinkers

Prevalence: 2.5%

Perfect careers: University professor, mathematician, forensic research


ENFJs enjoy doing volunteer work and helping others. They are also good at organization and do well planning events and parties.

Nickname: The Givers

Prevalence: 4%

Perfect careers: Clergy, events coordinator, writer


ESTJs are The Guardians, but INFJs are a bit more prone to choose careers that offer small victories. They don’t want to save the planet, they just want to make the world better one person at a time.

Nickname: The Protectors

Prevalence: 1%

Perfect careers: Chiropractor, early childhood development, dentist


These types like to be surrounded by other creative types. They thrive on others’ energies and enjoy being a part of creative, political or social movements. They’re also perfect leaders with great communication skills.

Nickname: The Inspirers

Prevalence: 7%

Perfect careers: Politician, television reporter, writer


INFPs can be perfectionists, but this usually benefits them in their careers. They see only one solution per problem but work very hard to reach that solution.

Nickname: The Idealists

Prevalence: 2%

Perfect careers: Psychiatrist, social worker, teacher



Class of 2016, time to clean up your digital footprint!

For the class of 2016, May’s graduation may seem quite a ways away still, and it is, but what you do now can greatly affect what happens in May. The holidays fast approaching, now is a great time to be starting to think, and act, on cleaning up your on-line persona. Using the time now to be making sure, as you start to meet with potential employers, that your ‘digital footprint’ is working in your favor. Here are some steps and ideas to make that favorable impression when launching into your the beginning of your career!

clean-online-profile-google1.  Search yourself!

Google your name and see what everyone else would see if they did the same.  This is a good opportunity to see what’s ‘out there’ with your name attached.  Once seeing anything that might not be favorable, now’s the time to be proactive and get it eliminated, ‘sanitizing’ you on-line presence.


clean-online-profile-linkedin2.  Start managing your reputation.

LinkedIn is a great place to start and the best thing about it; you get to control what’s said and how it’s presented. You can use your privacy settings to your advantage to decide who sees what and when.  The same can go for updates to your LinkedIn site, allowing people to see, or not see, your updates and edits.  the great thing about LinkedIn is that it not only gives you a chance to make a favorable presence in terms of content but a canvass to get involved with other people involved in things you are interested in.  You can get into individual discussions, get involved in news or discussion groups.  All various modes of demonstrating your prowess for certain topics, discussions or fields of interest.


clean-online-profile-facebook3.  Check Facebook privacy settings

If you think employers will not be checking you out on-line, think again.  They do, they will and will also look for various avenues to see what portrayals your digital footprint leaves behind.  It’s very important that you take this time to clean up and comments, photos, events, etc., that may compromise your impression.


clean-online-profile-social-media4.  Think before you post anything

All of the possibilities for social media represent a mosaic of ‘who you are,’ at least on-line and your hope is to present as favorable of an impression as possible!  Be wary of anything that may be posted, said or uploaded. Imagine a compromising tweet that is re-tweeted or a suspect photo that is shared.  Once you’ve hit ‘send’ it’s out there – forever….



Oh, no! Please not another (bad) infographic.

Under construction.  Early October this will be published.  Thanks for checking in!