Have You Been Going to A LOT of Information Sessions?

That’s great! Did you find what you wanted? Like a company that completely embodies your career goals and personal values and can’t wait to hire you? If so, awesome sauce. The job search can be challenging not because they aren’t any opportunities (we’ve had tons of information sessions on campus) but because these opportunities may not be what you’re looking for. The important thing to remember is that the information sessions are just one of the valuable resources offered at the CCD.

So now that you have some time in-between interviews and before your next golden opportunity, try exploring these 3 handy resources that can help you find what you’re looking for:

1) CCD Guides to EVERYTHING

Is the “everything” an exaggeration? No. I am going to give you a list and you need to try at least looking at one of them: phone interviewing guide, resume writing guide, interviewing basics guide, getting started with RICElink guide, getting started with the VAULT guide (more on this later), International Students and the job search guide, Applying to Grad School guide, Professional Dress Guide, Internship guides, you name it! I am out of breath. Here’s the link to these fabulous guides and presentations: http://ccd.rice.edu/guides/

2) The Vault Career Insider

This is not insider information. The Vault has tons of career guides provided free of charge by Rice University. Never heard of the Vault? You are missing out. Are you interested in a career in anything? Go to the Vault and create an account (it’s free): https://careerinsider.vault.com/career-insider-login.aspx?parrefer=7387

3) Internships in…. New York? Is that possible?

It can be very valuable to have internship experience in a different city, another state, maybe it will be your future home! Or even maybe you just want to go back home (outside of Texas) but it’s hard to do so when you’re living in Texas currently. Internship Series are here to save the day! Want an internship in New York? Want to do research at Yale? Internship Series is able to provide you with internships from partnering top universities and it’s all found in one, singular place! Visit today: http://cei-internship.squarespace.com/student-login/

 

- Alice Chen, Duncan Peer Career Advisor

Business Etiquette

Business etiquette applies to many situations, such as when you are meeting new people at networking events, when you are having lunch with a representative from a company that you are interested in, or even when you are connecting with your business contacts by email or on social media. In this blog post, I will focus on business etiquette which is more applicable to us, college students. Here are some prescribed rules you should follow in a business setting.

 

Present yourself professionally. Making a positive impression is crucial in building relationships. Dress well. Arrive early. Sit/stand straight. Make eye contact. Shake hands firmly. Turn your body towards the person who is speaking. And most importantly, give people a sincere smile.

 

Remember names. A lot of us think that we are good at remembering faces but terrible at remembering names. A common tip (which actually works) is to use the person’s name as frequently as possible during the conversation. At some company information sessions I have been to, I have seen people writing down the names of the people from the company after they introduced themselves. I thought it was not necessary as they all had name tags on, but it is actually very useful after the event when you want to remember to whom you have spoken.

 

Don’t be distracted. It is disrespectful to be not paying full attention when you are listening to someone speak. Even though many of us put our phone in silent mode these days, it is still difficult to resist the urge to check your phone if it is vibrating every minute. Before an interview or an important meeting, make sure to set your phone to not vibrate in silent mode, and put it away somewhere you can’t see.

 

Send a thank-you note. It is important to express appreciation for a person’s time, usually within 24 hours after an interview or a meeting. People have different opinions on whether you should send a physical card or a thank-you message through email or LinkedIn. This is, of course, at your own discretion but personally, I think that sending a card would differentiate yourself more because so much communication takes place electronically these days.

 

Respond promptly. It is important to return phone calls and reply to emails within 24 hours. Even if you cannot provide the information right now, it is good to reply saying that you would send it at a later date. Also, make sure to check over your message for grammatical and spelling errors, especially if you are sending it from a mobile device, so that you don’t become an unfortunate victim of autocorrect.

 

Business etiquette is a very broad topic and this blog post definitely does not cover all of it. If you would like to know more about how you should behave in a business setting that includes a meal, sign up for the Business Etiquette Luncheon on Saturday, October 25th! The workshop is held over lunch and registration can done through RICElink.

 

-Phyo Shwe Yee Win, Peer Career Advisor

Martel ‘17

 

Thoughts to Prepare for a Conference

Do you want to meet people who are interested in the same things as you? Do you want to learn more about a specific industry? Going to a conference may be for you. I went to the Society of Women Engineers Regional Conference in downtown Houston. It was a nerve-wracking experience getting out of the hedges for a conference with complete strangers from other schools, not to mention a career fair in the middle of the schedule… so to prepare, here are some tips I have from my experience at my first conference:

 

Before the conference:

1)   DON’T FORGET YOUR RESUME. I sat next to a couple of students from another university who didn’t know to bring their resume to the career fair. DON’T BE LIKE THEM! It’s easy to forget when the career fair is wedged between workshops, speakers, etc, but remember to print many copies of your resume before you get to the conference. Print a little more than you expect. I printed about 9, and had to limit myself as to who I would give my resume to because I underestimated my interests in different companies.

 

2)   Bring a folder to hold not just your resume, but also the mountain of the brochures/flyers the recruiters give you. I like bringing a nice Rice folder.

 

3)   Dress in the proper attire. For the SWE Regional Conference, it was business casual. If you’re unsure, contact the Rice officers (in my case, the Rice SWE officers) who are organizing/publicizing the event.

 

During the conference:

4)   If there’s an option to go to the career fair at an earlier time, do it. Recruiters get very tired in the afternoon and some companies may even leave early. By going to the earlier session, you get the recruiters at their most energetic.

 

5)   Approach the companies that aren’t the top of your list first. This is a good way to get your nerves out of your system and practice your introduction. A good introduction is never: “What does your company do?” Try making a 2-sentence intro with your name, your interests, and how your interests brought you to their booth.

 

6)   If you have experience in the field you are interested in, mention it! For example, I always started out with how I was interested in the oil industry because it’s surprising that only 40% of the oil in a reservoir could be recovered using conventional methods; the challenge of extracting the rest interested me to pursue oil recovery research in a lab at Rice, and now I want to get more hands-on experience of the oil industry in company “X”. Many Rice professors have big names in certain industries; one recruiter was impressed with the professor of the lab I was working in, and quickly wrote that down on my resume. Explaining your interest with proof (ex: I joined a lab based on my interest) really makes you stand out from other people.

 

 

7)   Don’t hog the recruiter; get your information, get contact info and move on! Many people are in line for their time with the recruiter, so once your major questions are answered, ask for their contact information or how to learn more about the company. Don’t be offended if the recruiter does not give out their email— sometimes it’s company policy, or they don’t want to have thousands of emails when they are done with the fair. Once you get their name, you can find them on LinkedIn and connect with them. You can also use their name in the future to introduce yourself to others in that company.

 

8)   Learn from the workshops and other events going on! A conference is a great time to meet other people with the same interests as you, and share ideas on the industry you want to go into. I hope all of you take advantage of a conference as it not only helps with job-finding, but it’s a great way to learn about topics you are interested in.

 

- Lisa Chiba, Wiess Peer Career Advisor

4 Common Interview Questions to Answer and 7 Good Questions You Can Ask

There are four questions that are in almost every behavioral interview. I’m here today to guide you how to approach them and how to showcase your best experiences and skills.

 

  1. “Tell me about yourself.”

a)       You are a leader – Provide a specific leadership example, either in your academic career or any past internships and experiences.

b)       You are a hard worker – Share your goals and acomplishments.

c)       You are passionate about the role – express your enthusiasm about the job.

 

  1. “What personal traits make you stand out for this role?”

a)       Discuss stories that reveal a track record of success.

b)       Use this as an opportunity to highlight strong leadership capabilities.

 

  1. “Why should we higher you for this position?”

a)       Explain why the position interests you.

b)       Describe what you will bring to the role.

c)       Offer insight that shows you understand something unique about the company.

 

  1. How would your friends describe you?”

a)       Understand the firm’s corporate culture.

b)       Provide examples explaining that your friends describe you in ways that match the company’s values.

c)       Conclude with a personal observation about the company and style that you would be a good fit at the firm.

 

While there are many other questions an interviewer can ask, focus on creating conversation by describing your experiences relevant to the question.

 

You should also be sure to ask the interviewer questions to demonstrate your interest and to also obtain more information about how the company is a good fit for you. This video gives you great ideas for questions and what you gain from them:

 

http://www.businessinsider.com/job-interview-follow-up-questions-2014-6

 

Ellen Hoang, Peer Career Advisor

McMurtry ‘16

How to Write a Cover Letter Recruiters Will Read

Does your cover letter look like this?

Have no fear! This post is dedicated to guiding your cover letter construction. First of all, a cover letter is essential to landing that interview – it shows the company how interested you are in them and how well you are suited for the position. Below is a general guideline to help you format and organize your thoughts:

Contact info:

  • Put your best contact information at the top, and be sure it’s correct
  • Address the letter to a specific person if possible (ex. hiring manager’s name, interviewer)
  • Avoid vague statements such as “To whom it may concern.”

Opening Paragraph:

  • Start with a statement that explains your purpose for writing; mention the position you are seeking and how you became aware of the opening or organization.
  • Include the name of a mutual contact if you have one.
  • Hiring managers prefer a powerful first sentence that summarizes the top skills and experiences that you bring.

Middle Paragraph: (this is where you show your knowledge of the position and company and what you have to offer)

  • Give the reader a clear sense of what makes you a strong candidate
  • Be specific when describing your qualifications and avoid generic phrases.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the organization

Closing Paragraph:

  • Request a personal interview
  • Be specific regarding your plan for follow-up and how the reader can contact you - this is really important since this puts you in more control.
  • Say thank you!

Remember, your friendly PCAs are always around to help you review your cover letter and make it the best it can possibly be. Don’t be afraid to reach out to us!

Best of luck on landing the interview!

Ellen Hoang, Peer Career Advisor

McMurtry ’16

 

Finding Summer Research Opportunitites

Compared to tips and advice about how to obtain an internship position with companies, how to compete for research opportunities is a bit different. There are many differences between research intern and company intern, including purpose, method of selection, funding, payment, etc. The goal of going to a research program in summer is to accumulate research experience and facilitate graduate school applications. Meanwhile, interning in a company can make you more qualified for a desired full-time job after graduation. Research applications are associated with essay writing and recommendations while company internship applications emphasize resumes and interviews. The following discussion about research programs is exclusively for undergraduate science and engineering research in summer from my perspective.

 

First, it is very important to clarify your plan after graduation. If you are looking for graduate studies for science and engineering, then doing research in the summer can be very helpful to equip you for graduate school. It is generally known that the admissions committee members value research experience. You can choose to stay at your own school for research or participate in research programs funded by National Science Foundation (NSF) or companies at other universities, which are more formal.  Doing summer research at your own school means that you can continue the work you did during school year and spend plenty of time on one single project, which can be long enough for you to get concrete results or actual achievement. However, even if it is considered full-time in summer, this kind of research job may not be paid and housing is not guaranteed. NSF funded research programs are generally called Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) programs, which are commonly paid summer research programs. A list for REU sites can be found on NSF website. There are also a small amount of research programs, which are built through gifts from companies. They are usually better paid and offer more benefits in terms of housing facility, travel compensation, site visits opportunities, and so on. Participating in REU programs and company supported research programs normally mean housing and higher stipends than just staying at one’s own school.

 

For formal research programs, the eligibility for these programs is usually as simple as pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in STEM fields and being a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Sometimes there is also a GPA requirement. The application mainly includes essays, one of which must be a purpose of statement, recommendations, application forms, transcript, and resume. The request for interviewing and the opportunity to talk to recruiters are rare. Rather than being stressed by hour-long interviews, research intern applicants need to put more time to polish their essays and get good references. Prior research experience is not required but preferred. Excellent performance on coursework is also important in obtaining a desired research opportunity.

The application period for a summer research program is usually from December to February of next year and the results come out in March or April. One program can include 5 to 15 undergraduate students. Participants are expected to do a research project culminating in a presentation or poster and complete a research report at the end of the program. There are always graduate mentors to assist these projects. Besides doing research, there are also fun activities built into the program summer.

- Jackie Yang, McMurtry Peer Career Advisor

“So… What do you do?” : how to learn more about a job without saying these words

A big question that you may want to ask recruiters is “so… what do you do?”

What you really mean: I want to learn more about what I’d be doing if I worked here.

How it’s perceived: I sauntered into your booth… I have no idea what this company does… I’m only here for the freebies….

 

There’s a ton of good reasons why you should know what a position in a company entails:

1)   you’ll figure out exactly what you’ll be doing if you join the company

2)   you can talk about why YOU fit the bill for that position in the interview

3)   the company will see how serious you are for wanting that position when you speak to them

 

The problem is that it’s hard to learn more about a person’s specific role in a company when you don’t want to appear like you didn’t do your homework; here are ways of finding out what employees actually do in a company without making a bad impression.

 

At career expos and info sessions:

1) Talk to recruiters and ask the question in a way that makes you look like you did your homework. Instead of “so what do you do?” you could ask what position they work as, and follow up with “as a _______, what are examples of some projects you have worked on?” It shows recruiters that you’re genuinely interested in their work and what they’ve accomplished, and it’s great for you because it’s easier to imagine yourself in that position when you know exactly what kinds of projects you’ll be working on if you joined. This way you can learn the details behind their vague titles! Another question I like to ask: “If you could describe the kind of person who would enjoy being a ____, what qualities would they possess?” It gives a more candid perspective on the job position and you can also emphasize these qualities in an interview if you go on to apply for that position.

 

Using LinkedIn:

2) Did you know LinkedIn has job descriptions for different positions in a company? If you type the company name along with job position title, you can find a job posting that describes in more detail what responsibilities that position entails. It’s great for learning what kind of person the recruiter is looking for (sometimes they EXPLICITLY list qualities they’re looking for) and you’ll be able to emphasize your strength in these qualities in a cover letter / interview.

 

3) Also, when you search for a company name on LinkedIn, you may have a lot of unfamiliar faces populate your screen. These people appeared because they are a friend of a friend who works at the company you’re looking at. Even though they’re strangers, don’t hesitate to try to find their contact info from that mutual friend. For example, I saw that a woman working for my dream company shared a mutual friend from my childhood. I Facebooked that friend and asked him if he could ask her if she would be willing to answer a few questions I had, and if so, if he could hook me up with her email. A few days later, I’ve been corresponding with her learning about her experience at the company, why she loves it/dislikes it, what it’s like to climb the ladder at the company, etc. I know so much more now about that company, and if an interviewer asks me where I see myself in the company, I know exactly what position I want, and I can talk about why I think I can satisfy the responsibilities with that position.

 

3) If you don’t have a very large network on LinkedIn and you can’t find friends or friends of friends who work in the position you want to learn more about, you can search for Rice alumni in that position. Go to linkedin.com/alumni and you can actually filter the search for Rice alumni in the industry you want. You may not have any connections through friends to this alum, but they’ll probably be happy to talk to a fellow owl about their experience in their job.

 

It may take extra work to get to know a job position more, but it’ll help you in so many ways! Take the effort to research positions and you’ll have a lot more confidence when you apply for the jobs you want!

- Lisa Chiba, Wiess Peer Career Advisor

Prepping for the Career Expo

So did you miss the “Do this, not that…at the Expo” the CCD? Never fear. Here is the bulk of what you missed.

Attending a career expo gives students a great opportunity to learn more about various industries and companies, to network with recruiters, and to pass out their resumes. Where else but at a career expo can you find a large number of companies in one place wanting to meet potential candidates?  However, remember that the recruiters are there not just to meet but also to screen out applicants.  Therefore, you want to maximize your efforts and learn what to do before, during, and after the expo to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

While a career expo is just one small part of your entire job search, you want it to be a successful part.  Take advantage of the expo and strategically put yourself above other attendees by paying attention to the tips below.

Before

  • Get Your Resume Ready: Highlight skills and accomplishments, and make sure it’s error-free, concise, and easy to read.  Have a Peer Career Advisor critique and proofread it.  Print 10-15 copies, and carry them in a portfolio.
  • Do Your Homework: Research the companies you’re interested in because the last thing you want to ask an employer is,  “So what do you guys do?”  The more informed you are, the more it is that you will make a positive impression.
  • Develop Your “Elevator Pitch”:  This is what you would say if you had only 30 seconds to summarize yourself.  When a recruiter says, “Tell me about yourself,” think of an answer that promotes you and what you have to offer and that will pique the listener’s interest.
  • Have A Game Plan: A layout of employer booths will be available the day of the Expo.  Use both map and guide to determine which employers you’re most interested in and where they are located.  This way you can use your time at the expo to focus on those companies.

During

  • Dress Appropriately: Generally, business casual is fine, but be careful that it’s not too casual.  You want to look like a professional, not a student.  If you have doubts, check your appearance with a Peer Career Advisor, or err on the side of being a little overdressed.
  • Take the Initiative:  Don’t wait for the employer to start the conversation, but instead approach him/her with a firm handshake, a smile, and a brief introduction of who you are and why you’re interested in the company. In many ways, a career expo is a test of your social skills. Employers are almost always friendly and outgoing; they’ll expect the same of you.
  • Ask Insightful Questions: If you’ve studied up on the organizations, you’ll probably have some questions. Not only will you get some answers, but you’ll also show yourself to be someone who does his/her research.
  • Ask For Business Cards:  Having the business cards will enable you to remember who you spoke to and have a direct contact with a company.  You’ll also have the correct spelling of the recruiter to put on the thank-you note.  If business cards are not available, be sure to ask for and write down the recruiter’s contact information.
  • Respect Employers’ Time and Give-aways:  Remember, you’re at the expo to make a positive impression on employers. Don’t undo that by dominating their attention or by grabbing as many freebies as you can get!

After

  • Take Notes:  As soon as you can, write down notes about conversations you had with company representatives. If you wait too long, the conversations will start running together in your head, and you’ll forget what you said to whom.
  • Follow-up on Any Promises: For example, if the recruiter asked you to submit a writing sample, be sure to do so.
  • Send Thank-You Notes: Write or email each of the people you met and thank them for their time. Reiterate your interest in the company and your relevant skills and experience. This simple act can make a big difference.

There may not be many times in your life when employers will make such a concerted effort to get your attention. Your small investment of time and effort—before, during, and after the expo— might very well turn into an opportunity you would not have had otherwise.

Do:

  • Arrive early and walk around
  • Take the initiative to talk first
  • Ask Questions
  • Try to go back to important employers before you leave
  • Thank the recruiters
  • Enjoy yourself

 Don’t:

  • Spend too much time in line
  • Monopolize the recruiter’s time
  • Interrupt your peers while they’re talking with the recruiter
  • Try “winging it” with employers
  • Debate, bad-mouth or complain