Posts Tagged ‘Students’

Merinda_Epstein_job_interviewDear Job Seeker:

You did it: You made it to the in-person interview. You do not, however, have the job yet. Don’t get comfortable. Nowadays, the hiring process is a marathon for job seekers, not a sprint.

Here are Auntie Beth’s Top Five Tips for Sealing the Deal in the In-person Interview:

  1. Dress appropriately. Auntie Beth keeps saying this, so it must be important. IT IS! Research the organization and know how employees dress at work. You should dress one or two steps up the fancy ladder. At Auntie Beth’s organization, suits and dresses are de rigueur. Imagine her surprise when a fellow wore jeans to his interview.
  2. Pay attention to hygiene. Please bathe, fix your hair, brush your teeth, clip or polish your nails, shine your shoes, etc., in preparation for your interview. Take pride in your presentation. Auntie Beth don’t want no scrubs.
  3. Prepare for interview questions. If you have been interviewed over the phone or via Skype, then you already know what kinds of questions organization representatives will ask you. Now is the time to tighten up those answers. Know the points you want to make about your education, experience, work ethic and goals that make you the right fit for the organization. (These are called “talking points,” boys and girls!) Match key details to the job description. For example, if they ask you to tell them about yourself, do not share your biography from age 3 to present in a 20-minute monologue. Simply offer a few sentences about what makes you the best candidate for the position. If they ask you about your greatest achievement, do not respond, “Getting off the pole.” (Auntie Beth heard that true story  from a friend at a staffing firm. The candidate stated that she still had her pimp, though.)
  4. Remember that you are still in an interview. Do not ask for a larger office (another true story), a refrigerator and microwave in that larger office (true again), or comfortable couches so people can “hang out” (yep, also true).
  5. Have fun! This is perhaps the most important part. Yes, Auntie Beth knows you are nervous, but you need to show your personality. You will spend at least 40 hours at work each week with these people. You likely will spend more time with your work colleagues than you will with your friends and family. Do you like them? Do they like you? Smile and turn on the charm.

Auntie Beth believes in you. Carpe diem!

In other words, seize the day,


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2013.09.27.skype-conversationsDear Job Seeker:

If things go well at the job fair, the next step might be a Skype interview. Auntie Beth is here to help.

Auntie Beth’s Top Five Tips for Acing the Skype Interview:

  1. Use a professional handle. Use your name or an appropriate variation (e.g., WriterBeth). (You can save “HoochieMama12” for your chats with friends.)
  2. Art direct your space. Find an appropriate location that looks professional. A home office is a good spot. A garage with recycling bins behind you is not.
  3. Troubleshoot your equipment. Run tests with friends or family to make sure everything is working properly. Set up your laptop/iPad/computer on a stable surface that is eye level. Don’t even think about holding your iPad in your hands for the interview.
  4. Dress appropriately. Wear interview attire. Just because you might be at home doesn’t mean professional dress doesn’t apply. Don’t try to disguise sweats by wrapping yourself in a big scarf. Have some sense!
  5. Remember that this is a bona fide interview. For the love of all that is holy, do not take your laptop into the kitchen to make a sandwich during the interview. (True story, says Auntie Beth.) Look into the camera and answer questions the way you would in an in-person interview.

May the bandwidth be ever in your favor,


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'I'd like a job as a job creator so I can create an easy, high paying job for myself.'

Dear Job Seeker:

Auntie Beth is here with more advice to help you get a job. This is the first of a three-part series on interviewing: Making the Most of the Job Fair, Acing the Skype Interview, and Sealing the Deal in the In-person Interview.

Auntie Beth’s Top Five Tips for Making the Most of the Job Fair:

  1. Do your research. Find out which companies will be at the job fair and what jobs are open. Tailor your résumé to fit each position you want.
  2. Come prepared. Based on your research, make a list of what positions are open where and which résumé fits. (Type A people, this is where you can color-code some folders!) Put your tailored résumés in a proper carrier, such as a nice leather bag. Do not shove them in a ratty North Face backpack.
  3. Dress for success. Wear proper interview attire. Do not wear jeans and a hoodie to a job fair. (This seems like common sense to Auntie Beth, but you’d be surprised at what she has seen with her very own eyes.)
  4. Be ready for an impromptu interview. If company representatives like what they see in your résumé, they will want to talk to you right then. Formulate responses to key questions. Auntie Beth was shocked recently when a candidate simply wanted to drop off a résumé at a booth and was not prepared to be interviewed that moment. It’s a job fair, people — that’s why you are there!
  5. Talk to everyone. Even if companies you are interested in do not have a job open that is right for you, talk to representatives anyway. Give them a résumé. Let them know what kind of job you would be suited for in their organization. If you are personable and seem like the right fit for the company, chances are good that they will remember you later. Don’t forget to ask for business cards and follow up with a nice note.

Doing well at the job fair may be the difference between being gainfully employed or being 35 years old, eating a steady diet of government cheese, thrice divorced, and living in a van down by the river!

Yours in motivation,
Auntie Beth

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970249_539592979431185_1168549634_nDear Job Seeker:

Auntie Beth is here to help you get that dream job, or at least something that may lead to your dream job. Just so you know, kids, Auntie Beth has never been unemployed, or even underemployed. Auntie Beth has worked her heinie off since the tender age of 15 when she scooped ice cream at Baskin-Robbins. Auntie Beth has no sympathy for whiners.

If you want to work, there are jobs out there for you. “Work comes from work,” said the great sage Jerry Saltz, art critic for New York Magazine, at a recent SCAD event. It is a full-time job to get a full-time job. Get out of your robe, get off Facebook, and get going.

Here are Auntie Beth’s Top Five Tips for Getting a Job:

1. Rework your résumé. Put everything on one page. Yes, ONE PAGE. People don’t have time to sift through your stuff looking for interesting nuggets. Make it easy. Tailor your résumé for each listing. Use their keywords. If you have gaps in employment, use the header “related experience.” If your education is the best fit for the job, put that first. If it is your experience, put that first. Persuade people with your résumé that you are the perfect fit.

2. Do your research. Once you know that an organization is hiring, find out everything you can. What are the organization’s strengths and weaknesses? How can you contribute? What are your unique skills that would be valuable to the organization’s goals? This will help you take on No. 3 below, and will help you if you make it to the interview stage.

3. Use your cover letter to persuade by offering proof. Your cover letter should consist of three main paragraphs. In the first paragraph, explain how you found out about the job. If someone in the organization gave you a lead, NAME DROP. Explain why you want the job and are the best candidate. In the second paragraph, prove how you were successful in previous jobs and tie your proof to what they want. If they say they want someone with time-management skills, don’t just write, “I have excellent time-management skills,” prove it by writing, “I was able to juggle three college courses while working two full-time jobs — one of which named me ‘Sales Leader of the Month.'” In the third paragraph, reiterate why you are the best and explain what you will do next (i.e. “I will call you in two weeks to set up a meeting to discuss the position.”). Then do it. You cannot be passive. (Although if the ad says, “no calls,” you have to respect that.)

4. Network. Use your vast Facebook friends list for good: Tell everyone that you are looking for a job. Tell them what you can do and what kind of job you want. Ask former colleagues and supervisors to endorse you on LinkedIn. Join groups so you get notifications of open positions. Most people get jobs because of people they know. One of my former students tracked down the information on the person doing the hiring for a position he wanted. It turns out that the person and I worked together and are still Facebook friends. He asked for a reference, which I willingly gave because he is industrious and I like him. The chance of you finding a job through simply responding to ads on monster.com is next to nil. Most people will go out of their way to help you and connect you with people they know who are hiring. Follow up on all of those leads and then thank each person in writing.

5. Put on your big girl panties or big boy pants and get out there. Dress for the job you want. Jeans and a hoodie are not going to cut it. Invest in a suit. It is an investment that will pay off handsomely. Go in person in that suit to organizations where you want to work. Drop off your résumé. Be friendly and energetic. They’ll be impressed, I promise. A student of mine did that and had a great job in less than 24 hours. Remember: The worst thing anyone can do is say, “No.” It’s scary but you must do it.

Remember: Your job is to get a job. If you cannot pay for your own living expenses without help, then you are either a student or you are underemployed and need a better job.

Don’t be afraid to take a good job just because it isn’t exactly what you want. Cliché alert: It is a foot in the door and a step in the right direction toward the “right” job — and it pays the bills in the meantime.

Now go get ’em, Tiger. Make Auntie Beth proud!



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Dear AWP Program Directors:

I’m mystified by something that happened this morning. Please help me make sense of it.

One of you complained that prospective students often ask her this:

What job am I going to get?

The overwhelming majority of the rest of you laughed as if to say this:

Oh, how silly! Why would someone ask something so crazy?

She went on to lament “consumer culture.”

Wait just a hot second. Are students not consumers of a product, albeit an intangible one? In return for their money, time and effort, they earn a degree and, one hopes, a job.

Why is this bad?

I talked to the woman who made the comment. She said she got her M.F.A. because she is an artist. I said:

But don’t you want to get paid for your artwork?

Then I found out she is a poet. Oh. And she represents a poetry degree program. OH!

That explains her situation, but what about the rest of you? I appreciate art for art’s sake, but it is better when you can make a living doing what you like best. No?

This seems to me to be another example of AWP acting like an ostrich.

Weren’t you just talking about the rising cost of college and increasing student debt load? Don’t you want to help students get a job so that they can pay off the college education that helped them get a job?

I’m confused. Please help me understand.



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Dear 16th-century Poet Who Wrote the “12 Days of Christmas”*:

I’d like to adapt your song to reference my life as a professor. I hope you don’t mind.

For space’s sake, we’ll skip to the last verse. Please sing to the tune of the standard arrangement by Frederic Austin.

On the 12th day of Christmas, my students gave to me:

12 “strongly agree”s
11 alumni notes
10 brilliant comments
9 rec. requests
8 mangled clauses
7 late-night emails
6 Twitter retweets
5 bacon links
4 lame excuses
3 “utilize”s
2 ampersands
And pride in a job well done!

(They drive me crazy, but I love them just the same.)

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


*No one knows for sure who wrote it.

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Captain’s Log: Embarking into hostile environment. Kowalski! We’ll need to win the hearts and the minds of the natives. Rico! We’ll need special tactical equipment. We’re gonna face extreme peril. Private probably won’t survive.

Dear unemployed graduate of the university for which I work:

Congratulations on your achievement one month/one year/three years/10 years (choose one) ago! It is impressive that you were able to get through two years/four years/five years/eight years (choose one) of a degree program designed to help you earn a career, make money, and permanently move out of your old bedroom in your parents’ house.

(If you had a job and were laid off, you can stop reading. This post isn’t for you. It is for the never-employed graduate. Unless, of course, you need a tough-love pep talk. In that case, read on.)

By now, you might be blaming the university for the fact that you don’t yet have a job. Don’t. Let’s consider a few things that might be standing in your way:

1. You don’t have any experience.
A degree in your field is a wonderful thing, but it doesn’t tell potential employers that you can actually do the work. You know what does tell them that? Work experience. No one should leave college without doing at least one internship. No internship? Do freelance work.

2. You haven’t been sending out enough (or any) letters, emails, résumés, etc.
You have to find the job; the job is not going to find you. You have to meet people, talk to people, write to people. You know, “network.” Put yourself out there. Ask professors for contacts. Go to conferences. Attend events in your field. Go to alumni meetings. Contact alumni in your field and ask for advice. Finding a job is a full-time job. Set hours. Get dressed for work. Work those set hours toward your goal. Then change into sweats, eat chips and watch “Game of Thrones.”

3. You have unreasonable expectations.
Your first job out of college is not likely to be your dream job. It likely will be an entry-level job that does not pay very much. Suck it up. Learn everything you can. Do extra work. Meet new people. Ask for advice. See No. 2. Condé Nast Traveler is not going give you a plum writing job right out of the gate, but you might get a position as assistant to the assistant to the marketing coordinator. All you need is a foot in the door. If you are competent, personable and motivated, you can work your way around. Everyone has to start somewhere.

4. You have a bad attitude.
Only one person is standing in the way of you finding a job. Go to a mirror. Look in it. That’s right. You have to do the work to find a job and have the right attitude while doing it. You want to complain about how hard it is? Do it in a private conversation with your mom. Show that you have the right work ethic by proofreading your résumé and cover letter, deleting those party photos from your Facebook page, and having a positive and professional public attitude at all times. Nobody wants to hire a drunk, lazy whiner. (And Facebook is public, people.) Talk the talk and walk the walk.

5. You blame the economy, the university, your parents, your professors, etc.

Reread the first part of No. 4. You earned an education. Your professors taught you everything they could within the university’s structure. If you were too busy sleeping through your 8 a.m. class, drinking whiskey with your roommates, bitching about how picky a professor is about grammar, etc., to pay attention in all your classes, it is a moot point now. You are a great white shark: If you don’t keep swimming forward, you will die. Live in the moment. And at this moment, you need to start researching companies, finding job openings, networking, submitting your résumé, and so on.

The world does not owe you a job. So go out there and take one from some other sad sack who does not have his/her act together like you do. Er … like you will. In the words of Aibileen, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

Go get ’em, Tiger!


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