Last Thursday was the Career Kickstart event for resume building, networking, and interviewing skills. Twenty-two graduating seniors of the Communication Department came dressed to impress with resumes in hand and their two minute elevator speech prepared. With the students’ dream job printed on their name tag, the four mentors dug in offering critical advice and tips of improvement.
As I roamed around the room to the rotating four groups consisting of five or six students to one mentor, I picked up on some valuable advice that was being offered:
Edgar Gonzalez, Assistant Dean for Advancement and External Relations at the College of Built Environments at the University of Washington. Alumni board member and recent recipient of the 2012 UW Comm Outstanding Early Career Award
-Interviewing is a necessary evil. It’s not his favorite because you rarely get the best of someone. It would be easier to do over cocktails or coffee, but you can’t always do that. But think of it as a conversation and you have one free hour to convince someone that you’re great.
-Edgar looks at three aspects when hiring that are shaped like a triangle: On the bottom is aptitude (can you do the job?), which can usually be found out with a resume and cover letter. Next up is attitude: Are you positive and a team player? And at the top is fit. Your goal should be to have the hiring manager picturing you working there.
-Good questions to ask the interviewer at the end: One question about the job that goes beyond the job description, a question about the company (culture, the employees, etc.), and lastly something quirky or personal, like what’s the latest book they’ve read.
Terry Tazioli, host of TVW’s “Well Read,” former editor of The Seattle Times and alumni board member. UW Comm Alumni Hall of Fame inductee.
-Don’t sound like you’re reciting who you are and your accomplishments during your elevator speech. Relax, take a breath, and just talk. Record and listen to your speech beforehand. It’s good if by the end of your speech the hiring manager has a few points he/she wants to go back to and ask questions about.
-Don’t sound like you’re asking questions by ending your sentences with a higher pitch as it sounds like you are unsure of yourself. Make statements.
-At the first meeting, always shake hands and use your first and last name. Also, say out public relations, human resources, etc. on first mention instead of using the abbreviations PR and HR.
Vena Rainwater, recruiter at Amazon.
-Understand the context of the job you want. For example, human resources is this huge, wacky job that can mean a whole lot of things. What is it that you are interested in and how do your skills play into that.
-Know the difference between PR and marketing because they are very different, and know which one you want to do. Furthermore, marketing has a creative advertising side and a data side. Decide which path you want (at least when you are pitching yourself). Not knowing comes off as you not knowing what you really want to do.
Jodi Davis, staffing consultant at Microsoft.
-Humility: we are human beings and we make mistakes, so don’t say that you’ve never made one. Think of one before you go in to the interview and how you solved the problem.
-Accomplishments: How did you get there? Did you play nice in the sandbox? You could have great results, but did you step on others to get there? It is key to have soft skills beyond technical skills.
-Make sure your resume and cover letter are aligned with the job description. With hundreds of resumes coming in to Microsoft per day, this is very important. And stay connected with folks from your internships as they may think of you when a job opens up.
Katrina Tolentino (senior communication student with a sales certificate) said she was drawn to the event because of the companies that were being represented. “I was really interested in Seattle-based companies, so the fact that there were professionals from this area just helped me network a little bit better. What I really liked about this whole process was that there was a lot of great advice that I probably wouldn’t get from a classroom. Since there are recruiters here, they were telling us what they expect of the people that they are interviewing, so I got a behind-the-scenes kind of view.”
Stephanie Morey (senior communication student minoring in diversity) agreed and added, “In particular, I learned a lot about myself and what I’m good at and what I need to work on. For instance, Terry gave great advice to record yourself and I’ve never heard of that as a way to see how you present yourself, so I’ll definitely take that away even though it’s a little intimidating.”
Seth Deister (senior communication student) said, “I liked hearing the different perspectives that all four mentors had. Everyone had a different career path, but they all had relevant things to say to us.”
In a closing remark by Gonzalez, he said to put your dream job on the mirror. You may have to take jobs that you don’t really like at first, but see your dream and take the steps to get there.
Keep an eye out for more information on the final Career Kickstart mixer on May 17 for students 21 years and older.