A message on the end of the school year

Like everything does, the 2020-21 school year has come to a close. This has been a year that I am sure no one will forget. All year long, students and faculty alike battled the constant threat of Covid-19. At first it appeared that having classes face to face wouldn’t be the greatest idea. Thanks to everyone’s commitment to stopping the pandemic, we were able to have as much normalcy possible all while going through a global pandemic. For everyone who attends the University of St. Francis, and for all the other students and teachers out there; job well done.

This school year delivered more than Covid. For me, it was a year of firsts. As a student, I really dived more into my major and I am glad I did. I had the opportunity to work on a lot of cool projects, and step into new leadership positions. All of that work really helped expand my knowledge and I look forward to what’s left for my senior year next year. I also feel this year provided me, as well as countless others, the opportunity to reflect and make meaningful improvements to ourselves. Even though sitting through quarantine was unenjoyable at times, there was still some good that came out of it.

As we look forward to next year, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to keep writing these blogs. In the meantime, get some rest. You earned it. From everyone here at the Career Success Center at USF, we wish everyone a wonderful summer! We hope to see everyone recharged and ready to go come this August! Until then, you can stay up to date with us by checking out our new blogs all summer long!

This is Cosme Lozano signing off on another great school year!

Make this summer count and DEVELOP your SKILLS!

Written by: Cosme Lozano

When you think of summer, its often beaches, BBQ, and summer nights you think of. I’m here to tell you that there is one other thing that the summer provides. The summer provides you the perfect opportunity to work on yourself and really hone your skills. I got some tips today that will help you stay on your A-game throughout the summer!

Tip 1: Volunteer

I know that when it comes time for summer, most people just want to rest and relax and rightfully so. After all, you’re coming off a nine month school year. I’m here to tell you though that there is still work to be done. Volunteer work is the work that you aren’t required to do, but it is the work that helps take you to the next level. Volunteer work can help develop your skills in a multitude of ways. You might volunteer for a food shelter, and that could help you develop better people skills. From personal experience, last summer I was thrust into USF’s program director position for the radio station. This job essentially runs the station and is in charge of programming and managing the talent that goes on air. I had no idea how to really do any of that going into the job, but fast forward nine months and I am glad I made this decision. It has taught me so much and I have had the opportunity to learn and do so many great things for the station. Moral of the story, take chances and volunteer for things! You never know where it’ll take you!

Tip 2: Intern (If you can)

This is always a classic for college students. If you have not already done so, I highly encourage college students to start applying for internships. Internships are great because they provide you with actual real world experience. Even more than that, it offers young adults the opportunity to start networking and making connections with professionals who work in their field of interest. This is extremely valuable. I know that internships are harder to come by in this Covid era, but I still highly recommend that students send in applications to as many places as they can. If you are a student at USF, log onto Handshake and search for internships near you TODAY!   

Tip 3: Don’t stop discovering

As mentioned at the start of the article, summer is often a time where people want to take it easy. There is a time to rest, but you should always try to keep learning. Summer provides you the perfect opportunity to do so. Start learning Spanish! Go out to the park and read that book you have been putting off! Listen to that cool new podcast on your way to work! Or go take that cooking class you have wanted to take for the last three years. Whatever it is, just keep learning. As people, we only fall behind when we have no desire to keep learning and expanding our knowledge. If you don’t want to do any of that, at least take the time to go somewhere quiet and just reflect. Reflect on yourself and evaluate where you’re at. Are you where you want to be? I know for me, I like to do this during the summer and go for night drives. It helps clear my mind and put everything in perspective. Hopefully it can do something similar for you!

Summer is a time to have fun. Like I said, you deserve a break and a good rest. Despite that, it does not give you an excuse to slack off for the whole summer. Stay on top of your game and come back better than ever next year! Your competition is out there working, what are you doing?  

How to prepare for finals THE RIGHT WAY

Written by: Cosme Lozano

You’ve finally done it… You’ve been working hard, and grinding the whole s­chool year, and it’s time to wrap it all up. For some, all it takes is a lack of discipline and the thought of summer beaches to derail all that hard work. Don’t find yourself in that situation. Today, I’m going to go over some tips to help college students finish the school year the right way!

First and foremost, you have to know your schedule. How are you going to make a plan of attack if you don’t even know your own finals schedule? Trust me, in my time at college there have been students who are genuinely unaware or lost when it comes to this. So before you do anything else, find out the deets!

Study time is the second most important aspect for finals. For me, I can study about two to three hours before I get burnt out. During that time, I take fifteen minute strategic breaks. Eventually a car runs out of gas, and it needs a refill. The same applies for you. You have a certain amount of focus, and eventually you will run out. These breaks help get those levels back up. Above all else find the proper amount of time that works best for you to get the effective amount of studying done. While I am not a fan of all-nighters, for some people they work really well. Some individuals need their backs against the wall to do their best work. Whether you’re studying for one hour, or three days prior before the final, it is important that it’s the optimal amount of time for you. And be honest with yourself. I get you want to be done with it all, but you have one last job to do before you can have fun. Do the proper amount of prep work, ace the test, and then have all the fun you want.  

Carrying on from study time, it’s crucial that you effectively divide your time among your classes. You should not solely focus on one class and ignore the others. On the flipside, you don’t want to study for all of your finals at the same time. That’s a lot of different information to process, and it can emotionally overwhelm you. As a good rule of thumb, I usually study for a class in intervals of one hour. I study a little, transition to another class, take a break, and then I’ll wrap back around to the first final and study some more. Rinse and repeat. If it’s a class that I am struggling in heading into the final, I may give special attention to that class. Maybe instead of one hour I’ll do two hours, so I can really hammer down the stuff I am still confused on. The key is to be efficient with your time.

An underrated aspect of success for students is sleep. Good sleep can be the difference for when you’re studying, or for when you take the test. It’s generally recommended that people get about 7-8 hours of sleep per night. In a study done at Baylor University, researchers discovered that students who met their “8-hour sleep challenge” did better on their finals, compared to the students who did not adhere to the challenge and got less sleep.

My last bit of advice is to use the resources provided for you. If you need extra assistance, get some help. A lot of colleges have tutors, academic resource centers, math centers, etc. All of which are built to help students in similar situations. If that doesn’t do it for you, talk to your professor directly. I have been incredibly fortunate in my college time to have great professors go over the study guide with me further during their office hours. Getting one on one help with your professors is sometimes what students need the most.  

You’ve come so far. You have been doing academic work for over half the year, and it all leads up to one test. It can be daunting, but hopefully this guide helps put finals into a more manageable perspective. Take things one step at a time, study the right amount, and stay calm. Trust me, you will get through this. See ya in the summer!

Tips college students SHOULD KNOW before applying for jobs

Written by: Cosme Lozano

During our time in college, we learn a lot. We learn things like Plato and Aristotle’s viewpoints on the world, how to conduct a lab, how to be a radio host, and the list goes on. One thing we don’t really learn is how to converse and act during our first job interview. Today, I am going to be giving you guy’s four tips that will hopefully help you out during your first job interview.

Tip #1 – Make a resume, and have it reviewed

            When it comes down to the basics, making a resume should be the first thing you do. Making a good resume is not hard, but it can be if you are not active in your community or school. When you make your resume, you need to give a snapshot into all the skills, and things you have done and learned. It is important to remember that a proper resume should be about one page in length. If you do go over, you run the risk of the resume reviewer getting bored and not finishing the resume. Good things to put on your resume would be work experience, education, as well as certifications and qualifications you have received.

 Another thing to note: if you are majoring in something that requires you to have a portfolio of your content, (i.e. Radio air checks, drawings made, videos produced, songs made, etc) make sure you have them in your back pocket! You can pull it out and show your interviewer the content, to go along with your resume. Lastly if you are a student or alumni at the University of St. Francis, you should really stop by the Career Success Center. We will help you review and edit your resume for no cost. We seek to make your resume the best version it can be before you go out for that big interview. Schedule a meeting with us today, by following this link.

Tip #2 – Do research on the people you wish to work for

            Failing to do research on the people you interview with is one of the biggest reasons why people show up unprepared. Businesses and people expect that you have a genuine interest in the organization, since you are applying to work there. It can be very awkward for both sides, when the interviewer asks you a question regarding the company’s mission or purpose and you don’t know it. We can avoid this entirely, by doing our research and studying the organization. By looking at what they do, you get an idea of their values and beliefs. This is valuable because you can then use this information to see what kind of person they want for the job. Another reason the research helps, is because it calms your nerves. Do you remember a time back in high school or college where you studied hard for a huge test and you wound up getting an A on it? You got that A because you worked hard, and you did the research. The same principle applies here. Put in the work, and get the reward YOU deserve! 

Tip #3 – Have your friends or colleagues help you

            What are friends for if they don’t do mock interviews with you? Am I right? No, but in all seriousness having your friends give you mock interviews can be a great way to prepare for your interview. It helps give you a sense of how the interview might go down when it comes time. You can do this, but even better, by replacing the friend and having someone who works in that profession or a mentor figure. Having someone who has worked, or does work in the profession you want to go into is invaluable and it can give you a huge advantage. Not only do they know what to look for, but they also know the little tips and tricks to the trade. Whoever you decide to interview you, I am sure that it will only help you out. By doing casual interviews, you can strengthen your confidence and it also gives you familiarity in an interview

Tip #4 – Dress to impress!

            The time has come.. You have made a strong resume, you did your research on the people you will be interviewing with, you did countless mock interviews. All that’s left is for you to look the best version of yourself as you head out. Make sure your hair is tamed, and nicely done. For any men who have facial hair, shave it off or trim it to be more uniform. Next, make sure you have the right outfit picked. For women, going with a fitted blazer, blouse, button down, khaki pants or appropriate dress is usually the way to go. You can pair the items above with a nice pair of shoes, and socks or tights. For men, the standard is usually a button down, dress pants, and a nice tie that compliments the color scheme. Don’t forget that the color belt you choose should also match the color of your shoes. PLEASE DO NOT WEAR A BLACK BELT WITH BROWN SHOES! Before you head out the door and conquer the world, make sure to give yourself a quick spray of your favorite fragrance. If you can do all of this, you will look and feel like a million bucks. That extra confidence will go a long way as you head toward the big interview.

Good luck guys!

3 Tips College Students Should Know for Career Success

Written by: Cosme Lozano

When we enter college, we enter it wide eyed and optimistic about the future. The world is seemingly at our fingertips, waiting for us to reach out at it. All this enthusiasm and energy can quickly dissipate for a multitude of reasons, such as an increasing social life, work duties, stressful classes, etc. Before you know it, you’re on your last first day of school as a college senior. College goes by fast and it is easy to get lost in the shuffle of the day to day motion. To avoid unneeded stress, in an already stressful time, we offer the following tips to best position yourself for success in life post college!

  1. Do the hard things

When I say this, I don’t mean to go take 7 classes, and be the club president for three clubs. While all of that is great, I mean this on a simpler scale. By just staying on top of your homework and classes, you win half the battle. If you can do this and do it consistently, you will start to build a good foundation for yourself going forward. Part of it is having a sense of accomplishment for doing well in those classes, while also building discipline within yourself. From here, you can start to add more responsibility and duties. Maybe venturing out and becoming the club president for a club related to your intended career in the future. Or maybe working on the student government board. It can even be something as simple as working an on campus job at your university. By continually challenging yourself to do the little things right, you start to create a better version of yourself. You start tearing down walls and eventually you start looking forward to greater challenges.

2. Make yourself available to learn new things

One of the worst things a student can do during their time in college is not take advantage of opportunities to enhance and expand their knowledge. Great opportunities present themselves in a multitude of ways while on campus. These experiences can help cultivate students real world experience through teaching you skills that may relate to your intended career, or new social skills. It’s possible you will do things you are unfamiliar with, such as working with a budget, organizing meetings for members or employees, or conducting interviews. Average college students are not really doing these things, at least not frequently. Get ahead of the game, and learn them now! Shelcy Joseph, a career development writer for Forbes said this on the matter, “Many reported feeling like their college experience did not provide the critical skills they need to transition into the workforce, such as solving complex problems (43%), resume writing (37%), interviewing (34%) and job searching (31%)” (Joseph, 2018)

When you eventually enter the workforce, you can hit the ground running and stand out against your fellow colleagues. You can even take this a step further by seeking professional opportunities. While in college you are in a continual state of learning. Just because you are always learning does not mean you can’t apply what you already know. The goal is to keep looking for ways to implement preexisting knowledge, while still having a stream of new experiences follow.

3. Just start

Failure to start is undoubtedly one of the leading causes as to why college students get overwhelmed as they approach graduation. This can happen because you keep avoiding things you know you need to do. You push off that career fair to next year. You push off writing your resume for next week instead. You push off applying for that internship because you want to go hang out with your friends tonight. Life happens and we all can get really busy, that’s ok. What matters is that you follow through with what you want to do. You don’t want to find yourself pushing everything off because eventually it will all catch up to you at an inopportune time. Starting anything for the first time can be extremely daunting. From personal experience, I was a brand new freshman who was wowed by the complexity and vastness of USFs radio station. Never in a million years did I think that in my third year of college, I would be running the programming and business side of the station. I have met so many new and great people, and doors have been opened for me because I wanted to challenge myself with something new. I do not regret my decision, and I am glad I accepted the offer for the job, even though I was scared of failing. It has all gone really well, and I am looking forward to doing even bigger things for my senior year at the radio station. Moral of the story, don’t underestimate yourself. You are talented, you are skilled, and you are worthy of the task. Just start.

Succeed with Your Online Interview

Portrait of happy beautiful stylish young woman in glasses sitting, looking at her laptop screen on video call and giving hand to handshake, toothy smile.

In a world where COVID-19 is disrupting the way we conduct business, candidates and recruiters are participating in online interviews now more than ever. It is still essential to have an impeccable resume and tailored cover letter so that candidates can stand out from other competitors and secure an interview. Once granted the interview, be ready with the following tips for online interview success.

 It starts with contact

The online interview typically starts with an initial phone call from the recruiter, followed by an email invitation. 

If the recruiter misses connecting with you, your voicemail should be professional, free from background noise, and most importantly NOT FULL. Once you have received the call, spoken with the recruiter, and scheduled the online interview, you must prepare.

Pictures Say 1000 Words

Similar preparation should occur as you would for an in-person interview. You will select clothing and accessories that represent you well and give you confidence. 

Also, you will select a location for the interview that is clutter-free and has a digital connection that will be uninterrupted. Some services offer a blurred background. If you cannot blur your background, make sure the items behind you do not distract from your interview. If you are living in a place with other people, be sure that your interview location is away from interruptions.  

Practice Makes Perfect

Next, practice a conversation with a friend on the platform—whether it is Zoom, Skype, or Microsoft Teams. By practicing communication, you will note where to look while speaking. Many candidates look down at the screen when speaking instead of into the camera, which can be distracting. This dry run also provides you with an opportunity to see how you will appear on the screen and your background.  

Be Prepared 

Research the firm thoroughly before the interview. List out questions you might have. Google top interview questions and be ready to answer the “Tell Me About Yourself” question concisely and with energy. Print your resume and cover letter and review these before the interview. I recommend preparing 3 to 4 stories about yourself that convey your strengths. You can incorporate these into the answers you provide, which will help you become more memorable with the recruiter.  

You should have your resume, cover letter, and any samples that are relevant to your interview saved in a location on your computer that is easily accessible so that you can share documents with ease if asked to do so.

Be Respectful

Respect the recruiter’s time. Be on time. Just like in a face-to-face interview, be ready 15 minutes early. When you connect on the call, you will have already set yourself up for success because you look great, you prepared, you have tested the technology, and all of that proactive work will pay off because the confidence you have will show through.  

Good luck with your interviews.  

P.S. Remember to follow up with a well-written thank-you note.

Career Success Center FAQ’s COVID-19 Edition

Online job interview. Online conference. Business online.

How is the Career Success Center providing service during the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Your Career Success Center at the University of St Francis is ready to assist you virtually. Students and alumni can submit resumes for review to careerservices@stfrancis.edu and can also request virtual appointments via https://stfrancis.joinhandshake.com/  or via email.

We can meet via Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Our job board stfrancis.myhandshake.com is also available for Job search, use the same credentials you use to sign in to your classes with us. If you are considering a change in major, we offer career conversations and assessments too.

Reach out today and let us know how we can help. It is a great time to dust off old resumes or get yours started. Our Virtual Coffee and Careers meeting takes place on Tuesdays from 11 a.m.-Noon. Let us know where to send your invite. You can also call our Director, Maribeth Hearn, at 815-740-3384 to talk about services and programs.

What should I do for connection? 

LinkedIn

With much of the nation on a shelter in place order, you can use this time to connect with others online. We recommend reviewing your Linkedin profile, updating old information, adding certifications and keywords, and of course, connecting and building relationships with your network. If you can create useful content, do it. If you can like, comment or reshare a post, do it.

Support your people and stay positive.

If you don’t have a Linkedin profile set up—start one today. There is a free and paid version. Start with FREE and use it.

Zoom

If you haven’t already set up a Zoom account, you can connect with friends, family, and coworkers via the video chat service.

The quality is excellent, and you will feel more connected than just on a conference call or phone call.

Microsoft Teams

Similar to Zoom, Microsoft Teams has a video chat where you can stay connected and hold meetings online. It works very well and even allows you to blur your backgrounds (for those working from home settings). If you are managing a team remotely- this service can keep everyone in the loop and provide face to face virtual connection.

How Can I Use This Time to Make Me a Better Job Candidate?

It is a great time to update resumes, connect with new and existing contacts online, and learn.

If you have always been meaning to learn a new skill, this is the time. Interesting in learning a new language, download Duolingo. Between sites like YouTube, libraries with audiobooks, and online books and apps, you will find a plethora of ways to gain a competitive edge and use those new skills.

 Where Should I Look For Jobs?

The Career Success Center recommends that you use the Handshake job board at https://stfrancis.joinhandshake.com/ for jobs and internships.

Workforce Services Division of Will County has a job board too: http://www.jobs4people.org/job-seekers/job-board/

Whom Can I Talk To About Internship Questions?

Betty Kohl is the Career Success Center’s Employer & Internship Support Specialist. You can email at bkohl@stfrancis.edu   Her phone number is 815-740-4295.

The Center is in the process of updating the forms and how students will go about obtaining the 6 signatures that are required to start an internship.

You can search for Internships on the USF Handshake Job board at www.stfrancis.joinhandshake.com log in with your USF credentials.  You can choose connect with the Career Center and appointments to schedule one online.

Can I Drop Into the Office for Services?

The Career Success Center is working remotely to serve your needs and abide by the Shelter in Place directive. You can email careerservices@stfrancis.edu to schedule a one to one virtual appointment or call our Director, Maribeth Hearn 815-740-3384.  You can go to stfrancis.joinhandshake.com to schedule appointments too. Choose the service and it will show you availability.

Working from Home

WFH is a new experience for many employees due to COVID 19.  WFH can be a rewarding and positive experience. It can also be challenging and difficult to not only keep up with your work but to continue creating quality work too.

These five tips should help you establish some ground rules for yourself when working in your environment:

  • Be Disciplined – Create a schedule

Working from home means far more distractions and temptations than usual. There is no traffic to beat, no train to catch. It can be extremely easy to get distracted by household chores, family members and a full refrigerator.

Creating a schedule allows you to know exactly what time you should be awake and working, when your breaks are for your coffee etc. and when lunch is. You may think that you are disciplined enough to not need a schedule, but keeping to it keeps your mind sharp and will allow for an easier transition back to normal working life when things return to normal once more.

  • Location, Location, Location

Choosing the right place to complete your work is crucial. Work typically has less distractions than home; there is always something that you will find at home to do instead if you are in the wrong location. Do not use your bed as your workspace; make sure you are somewhere quiet, with good lighting if possible and away from any other distractions such as a television.

  • Set Priorities

Similar to working life at the office, some tasks are more important than others. Yet without the hierarchical framework of a traditional office, it can be difficult to prioritize tasks and organize your workflow. To-do lists, checklists, etc. are great ways of establishing a list of jobs to complete for the day or for a certain time-frame. Staying in touch with your team or superior is also important. Structuring your day around objectives set by yourself, fellow workers and your boss is crucial to success when working at home.

Just as important is knowing when to stop working for the day. It is dangerously easy to take work home with you when you are working from the kitchen or the living room. Once your allotted work hours are over or your to-do list is complete – stop.

  • Select the proper tools

Work from Home means using your furniture or creating your own desk space. You may not have the spinning, comfy office chair at home. But that doesn’t mean you cannot invest in one and any other equipment you may need that will make work-life just that little bit easier. A comfortable chair that allows your eyes to be at the computer screen level is important. You do not want to be slouched over or craning your neck to see your work. Finally, make sure you have the necessary tools and software at home to allow you to do your work. Without WIFI at home, most employees will not be able to accomplish much. Communicating with your work and supervisor often will allow you to keep updated on what software you need.

  • Practice Self – Care

Working from home tends to lead to fewer sick days and working through illnesses you normally would take off. Staying in tune with your energy levels and your well-being is of great importance, especially in current circumstances.

Job Searching in the LGBTQ Community

The LGBTQ community offers many resources for members of the community, especially in regards to job searching. While job searching, it is important to understand what resources are available and how to use them. Recently, legislation has been changing to put policies into place to protect the LGBT community in the workforce.

Some questions may arise such as:

Should I disclose my sexual orientation on my resume or in my interview?

How do I know if my employer is committed to equal practices?

How do I read the culture of the workplace?

How do I decide which employer will be right for me?

Searching for a job that will be a right fit for you and provide a welcoming environment doesn’t have to be difficult. So long as you are able to identify your career goals, and you utilize the resources provided to you, you should be successful in your job search. Below are some links to pages providing helpful information for LGBTQ candidates actively on the job search:

 

 

Student Alumni Mentoring Program at USF

We met with Aubrey Knight, Director of Alumni Services, to discuss the processes and benefits of the Student Alumni Mentoring Program, also known as “SAM” at University of St. Francis. The program matches students of all levels and majors with an alumnus in the same field to provide guidance, networking opportunities, and career opportunities. It is an opportunity for students to build connections with their mentors, other students’ mentors, as well as other students in the program.

How does the SAM program work?

Student and alumni both submit applications at the beginning of the school year (student applications are due October 4th). The applications are then looked at from a career standpoint first to pair students with alumni who are in the field that the student is pursuing. Next, the applications dive further into interests, hobbies, aspirations, etc. and these are also taken into consideration when making matches. It is important that the pairs have qualities in common to create that connection that will be beneficial to both the alum and the student.

What can students gain from the program?

Both parties gain access to an extensive professional network by participating in the SAM program. Along with gaining access to the alumni mentors, by connecting with them, you also gain access to their professional networks. Students also get one on one interaction with their mentor in the form of monthly communication for discussions and guidance.

What are the requirements?

For anyone interested in joining the program as an alumni mentor or a student mentee, an application must be submitted, and the pairing process takes about a month. Once students and alumni pair, they are sent an email with information about the mandatory induction dinner, held in early November where they will become acquainted with each other in person. After the induction dinner, it is only required that SAM members attend the Career Networking Dinner in February. Also, the pairs of students and alumni are to converse monthly; whether it be via email, text, face to face meeting, etc. Every month, members will receive an email containing discussion topics and resources to help ease the process. This program designed for the busy worker as well as the busy student keeps requirements low and communication open to accommodate busy schedules.

What are some successful outcomes of SAM?

There have been many success stories from the SAM program. One international student paired with the CFO of In-N-Out Burger, and the CFO took care of the student’s flight costs to fly out to California and participate in an internship with In-N-Out, that this student may not have been able to participate in given the flight costs. Also, a student who matched with an alumnus in Washington DC was able to utilize the alumni’s network to get an internship in Washington DC. These are just a couple of the many students who have gotten internships, jobs, and otherwise great benefits from the SAM program.

For more information, contact Aubrey Knight at aknight@stfrancis.edu or visit stfrancis.edu/sam