Tag Archives: Advice

Alumni Interview: Katie Heaney

By Maggie Zeisset

Majorkatie_heaneys: Political Science, Hispanic Studies

Graduated: 2009

 

What were you involved in on campus (Greek life, RSOs, academic work with a professor, etc.)?

Pretty involved! I was a tutor at the Writing Center from the second half of my freshman year until I graduated, and a Spanish language tutor and Political Science Research Assistant for the latter two years. I played on the tennis team sophomore through senior years. I was also a member of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance for sophomore through senior years, and president for the first two years.

How have you used your liberal arts education in your career? What specific skills have been valuable to you?

I think that my writing-focused coursework (no matter the subject) and my work as a writing tutor is probably the most directly helpful in my career, but learning how to do good research, and how to understand and use language, all of that’s helpful too.

Your major isn’t necessarily typical of someone in your career field, how has your major benefited you in your career?

I have to say, my majors don’t really affect my career in any specific way that I’m aware of. My career came more out of something I’ve always been interested in, which is writing. I loved the majors I chose, and I’m sure I would be happy had I ended up working with them more directly, but I don’t think they’re necessarily as important as the skill sets I got just from going to such a good school and working hard in general.

What experiences did you draw from to create your book Never Have I Ever?

Just my real life! I mean, it’s a memoir, so I was just retelling everything as best I could remember it. Several of the friends I made at Wesleyan are my best friends to this day, and play a prominent role in the book, and they helped me both directly (like by remembering little details in certain stories) and indirectly (by being my friends, making memories with me, influencing the way I write) too.

How did this idea come about?

I was contacted by a literary agent after publishing a few things online, and they were really conversational and kind of about both friendship and dating, and I knew that I was in the somewhat unique position of being the age I was then without having really done much/any dating. And I thought I could make that funny.

What was the process like to get your book published?

Much easier than I had any right for it to be. Like I said, I was contacted by my agent, who is wonderful, and I wrote the book during my second year of graduate school (I was getting my master’s degree in public policy), and sold it shortly after I graduated to a really wonderful editor and publisher. It was so unexpected and exciting.

Do you have any advice for students aspiring to write a book and then publish it?

Yes—get online. I sort of think you have to have (or, well, you don’t HAVE to have, but it certainly helps and I don’t know how people sell books without it) Twitter, and maybe a Tumblr, and you have to get some smaller things published on websites if you can. Name recognition is huge, and though I didn’t have much of it when I sold my book, even the little audience I had built by then really helped make a case for me and my book.

You have different types of work that you’re doing (BuzzFeed, author, blogger, etc.); can you talk about the realities of balancing those different types of work? What steps did you take in order to get where you are in your career?

I’ve at various points balanced book writing with internet writing, though right now I’m pretty much just focused on my full-time job at BuzzFeed. I would like to write another book, but it’s definitely hard to write all day every day and then want to go home and write more. It’s tough. I sometimes feel like I have to use my vacations for that. But I know it’s possible to write a book when you’re largely focused on something else, because I did it in grad school.

What would you suggest students get involved in now in order to be successful later in a similar career as yours?

The Writing Center is great I think, whether you’re a tutor there or just making use of the fact that it’s there to help you. I am going to be honest: I read a lot of bad papers when I was there. And Wesleyan is such a great school! But I don’t think students are taught how to write early on enough, or well enough, and it’s possible to get through school without ever getting good at it. But the tutors are there to help, and you can learn a lot from them. Learning to write and communicate is essential for a job like mine.

Can you talk about your typical day at work?

I get to work a little before 10, and usually spend the first hour or so of the day kind of looking around the internet for post ideas or talking them over with coworkers. We bounce a lot of ideas off each other, and we’re organized into little groups, so I spend a lot of time talking to my group about how to make our post ideas better and stronger. I typically publish about one post a day, unless I’m working on something longer, or just stuck. We all have days where we just can’t find ANYTHING. It’s part of the reality of working in a creative field I think.

What is the best and worst thing about your career?

The best part is getting paid to do something I love, which is writing and trying to make people laugh with writing. It’s hard sometimes, and I think it’s a job that can burn you out easily, but finding new ways to do it and be weird and creative makes it continually interesting and fun. And BuzzFeed is a really fun office to be in.

Alumni Interview: Jack Thornburg

by Katherine Serrano

jack-thornburgMajors: Business Marketing, Religion

Graduated: 2010

What was your major(s)/minor(s) while you were at IWU? Did they change throughout your years?

I received a double major in Business (Marketing) and Religion. I didn’t make any changes while I was there – I knew that marketing was a field I would enjoy making a career out of and the religion courses were consistently my favorite at IWU.

Were you a part of any RSO’s or Greek Life?

I was a Sigma Chi and also worked on the Fraternity & Sorority Programming Board.

What on-campus resource(s) helped you excel throughout your years at IWU?

The Hart Career Center was a tremendous help and actually put me in contact with the hiring manager at L2TMedia. Without a doubt, the Career Center is a resource that everyone at IWU should be utilizing very early on. I think people wait to reach out to career advisers until they’re panicked and looking for a job. Start those relationships early – share what classes you enjoy taking, discuss what types of internships might interest you, and ask about graduates that have gone into careers that appeal to you. It’s true that you don’t need to know exactly what you want to do while in college, but you’re doing yourself a disservice if you’re not exploring your options and testing some cool things out along the way!

What is your role as SEO & Social Media Manager? Can you describe the work that you do?

At L2TMedia, we provide digital marketing solutions primarily within the automotive industry. Products include Paid Advertising (PPC), Display Advertising, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media, and Reputation Management. I oversee the strategies and specialists for our SEO, Social Media, and Reputation Management products. As a manager, much of my time is spent keeping up with industry trends, understanding what those trends mean for our clients, and making decisions around how we should adjust our strategies. The digital marketing world is always changing, so it takes a lot of work to ensure that we’re providing the best services possible to our clients.

How has each of your major(s)/minor(s) helped you to this day?

Illinois Wesleyan does a great job of allowing (and encouraging) students to take a variety of classes. Studying religion appealed to me because of the requirement to think critically from another person or culture’s point of view. It’s no secret that much of marketing requires the same skill.

If you were to hire future IWU alumni, what characteristics would you look for in candidates?

At the risk of giving a simplistic answer, I look for candidates who are personable and excited to learn. Most college graduates simply don’t have a ton of experience to pull from – and that’s fine. I think most hiring managers know this, so they look for bright candidates that will be easy to work with (communicate well, know right from wrong) and will walk into the office eager to learn.

If you had the opportunity to make one change from your IWU experience, what would it be?

I still kick myself for not taking computer science courses. The ability to understand how computers and applications work is invaluable in most careers and will only become more important in the future. Whether or not you can code/develop a website from scratch isn’t critical for most professions, but understanding core concepts like how data is collected and how you can modify technology to suit your needs is invaluable across the board. (If you haven’t taken courses at IWU, it’s not too late! A good place to start is codecademy.com.)

What was the best part about attending IWU?

The best part about attending IWU was being able to study religion as well as business. I would encourage all students to take plenty of courses outside of their major. To put it bluntly, I always lean towards hiring entry level candidates with strong liberal arts backgrounds over those that have specialized themselves. So much of business (and agency work, in particular) is being able to think critically outside of your “expertise.” Illinois Wesleyan gives you an awesome opportunity to practice this critical thinking through a variety of courses, so take advantage whenever possible!

 

More questions for Jack?  The Hart Career Center can put you in contact with him!

Become an Awesome Networker

Whether it’s a career fair, professional conference or work mixer, putting yourself out there is daunting. You want to come across as interested, but not aggressive, lively, but not fake. When it  comes to networking, there’s a fine line everyone has to navigate. However, learning how to network doesn’t have to be hard.

Embrace these tips and you’ll be a networking guru in no time!

Career Essentials

In today’s world, it takes a whole lot more than having a well crafted resume and cover letter to succeed in the career arena. Whether you’re looking for a job or currently in one, having all the necessary tools for success is crucial to making your mark in the professional world.

Some of things we think are essential:

Wardrobe

Having a well crafted professional wardrobe that’s tailored to your industry is a must. Putting together this wardrobe will take some time, but make it fun by making it fit with your personality.

Career Essentials Photo

source:http://theheropiece.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/look-part-getting-interview-dress-code.html

Professional Email

It’s time to put your “caligurl92” or “footbawler” email to bed. To be taken seriously in the professional arena, opt for a simple “firstname.lastname” username and if you must a number or two is okay. You can easily set up a free email account with Gmail or Yahoo!.

Business Cards

In a variety of networking settings, whether it be a job fair or an professional organization, you want to make sure you’re not only getting your name out there, but solidifying that they will remember you. At the conclusion of a conversation, how easy is it to suggest, “Can I give you my card?” or “Can I have your card?”. It makes further communication with this connection so much easier. We like MOO because it has a variety of creative and professional business card templates for you to choose from.

http://us.moo.com/design-templates/business-cards/

Stationery

Handwritten notes are NOT a thing of the past. They are the preeminent way to thank an employer, professional connection or colleague. Make sure you have tasteful looking stationery for any occasion.

http://www.finestationery.com/

Planner

Stay organized with a quality planner. Use your phone’s calendar, or invest in a paper one to bring to important meetings and events. Whether you opt for a bright and colorful Lilly Pulitzer or Emily Ley or a stark and sophisticated leather bound one is up to you!

http://www.galleryleather.com/planners/leather-professional-planner
http://www.emilyley.com/
http://www.lillypulitzer.com/section/agendas/429.uts

 

Company Culture: Something to Consider

company-cultureAlthough sometimes hard to think about, we spend a lot of time at the office. In fact, Americans spend over 2,000 hours a year at their jobs! For this reason, company culture is crucial to your sanity and happiness in the workplace. Know yourself and your preferences when it comes to work style. Do you like a casual environment or do you prefer more formal? Is teamwork your thing?

During the interview process you can begin decipher the work environment by paying close attention:

  • How are you treated while interviewing?
  • What phrases do the interviewers use frequently?
  • Is there a theme or unspoken tone to the questions asked?
  • How does the environment feel to you?
  • How prepared are the interviewers? Are they on time?
  • Were you given an interview schedule?
  • Were you treated like a prisoner or a guest?
  • Are your responses to questions treated with suspicion or professional curiosity?
  • How considerate is the company recruiter?

For more reading and information, check out Forbes and Monsters’ articles about company culture.

Sources:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/williamcraig/2014/10/24/what-is-company-culture-and-how-do-you-change-it/

http://career-advice.monster.com/job-interview/interview-preparation/assess-company-culture-best-fit/article.aspx

 

Is your LinkedIn Profile Photo Hurting You?

You finally have your LinkedIn profile honed after revising time and time again. Your content may be impressive, but what does your profile photo say ABOUT YOU?  That thumbnail image of yourself can have a much larger impact than you would think.

Use these tips to have the perfect photo that shows your personality, but also shows you are a professional.

Using Social Media in Your Job Search

Social Media has practical uses within our everyday personal spheres, but what about its use in the professional ones? Employers today use social media in their recruitment, hiring, and evaluation processes, so it’s crucial for young professionals today to be aware of their digital image. Here are a few, easy tips to revamp your profile to be attractive to potential employers.

fb

Facebook

  • Use a professional-looking picture—you can use the same picture on all of your social media pages.
  • Add the following to the “about” section: internship and other educational experience, a short bio, and links to other professional social media.
  • Follow organizations you’re interested in to discover intern and full-time job opportunities, announcements about the company, and potential contacts in the organization.

linkedin

Linkedin

  • Drop in your professional photo.
  • Customize your headline with keywords and phrases that are related to your desired industry or profession.
  • Request a connection with professionals you’ve worked with at internships or met through networking channels. Be sure to “personalize” your request by offering some information on why you would like to connect.

twitter

Twitter

  • Use a professional profile photo. Your cover photo can indicate your interests.
  • Choose a Twitter handle that will be recognizable as you.
  • Tell your story in your bio: university, class year, major, and keywords describing your career interests.
  • Add a link to your LinkedIn profile, your personal website, blog, and/or online portfolio.

pinterest

Pinterest

  • Drop your professional-looking picture on your main page.
  • Select a username that is consistent with your other social media platforms.
  • Create a bio that reflects your goals and brand. Who are you? Why are you using Pinterest? What are your professional aspirations?
  • Create boards using images and content to share your interests and experiences in your field.
  • Mark boards “secret,” if they are going to contain content you would prefer to keep private.

With these tips in mind you can make a real impact. Use these tips to renovate your personal pages or create separate professional social media pages specifically for employers.

 

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

 

Interviewing: “Tell Me About Yourself”

Tell-Me-About-Yourself“Tell me about yourself.”

This seemingly simple question that all interviewees encounter in their job search can either trip up or make an interview experience. Navigating how much, little, or even what you should say can be difficult. However, this question is an open-ended opportunity to personalize the dialogue with a potential employer, giving the interviewee power in a situation where they generally don’t call the shots.

Think of this question as an opportunity to present a condensed infomercial of sort about you as a candidate. It should be concise, but informative and interesting to the employer. The link below provides an extensive list of what you can say in your interview to make an impact and conquer this question in your next interview.

http://theundercoverrecruiter.com/tell-me-about-yourself-dos-donts/

IWU Alumni Interview – Law School Style

I’ve compiled a good deal of alumni interviews over the past couple years and haven’t always been able to fit all the useful information into “Career Connections,” our monthly newsletter. So, before I graduate, I thought I would upload a variety of interviews to the blog here for your reading pleasure. First off, alumni Chris Seps ’07, who is currently attending University of Illinois College of Law and has some great advice for students considering law school:

Continue reading IWU Alumni Interview – Law School Style