Author Archives: ethom3

How a Liberal Arts Degree Primed Non-Traditional Student for Success

by Caesari Avent

100_1478I am a non-traditional student at UIS with a plan to graduate with a BA in Liberal Studies in May 2015. Choosing Liberal Studies as a major gave me the option to be more flexible with what courses I could choose from and which internships I could work and get credit for, as the degree is self-designed and tailored to meet certain career goals for some majors.  A Liberal Studies education provides interdisciplinary learning, self – directed learning, and a reflection of your academic collegiate history. This program will improve a student’s written communication skills, critical thinking skills, give a student exposure to the arts community, and provide the option of choosing courses from several subjects. Avent

After I decided Liberal Studies would be a good choice of a degree plan for me in my undergraduate studies I enrolled in many Business, Accounting, and Economics courses. I have just completed an internship at Illinois Department of Revenue through UIS in 2014. Working at Illinois Department of Revenue’s Taxpayer Assistance Division inside the call center was a challenging and rewarding experience, allowing me to focus on my strengths and weaknesses. This was my first position in a call center and my first position working in taxation. A Call Center Tax Specialist answers questions in respect to refund status, letters tax payers received, tax laws, forms, and tax preparation; I was trained on tax laws, tax procedures and forms, phone operation, and work policies for the first month of the six-month program. Because of this internship, my knowledge of Illinois individual income taxes and federal taxes (to some degree) has increased immensely. The job required good verbal communication skills, good phone etiquette, and the ability to work in a fast-paced environment.

Having  six months experience in Illinois Individual Income Taxation as an intern, I was qualified to apply for another internship at Fiducial – Federated Funeral Directors in Springfield, IL. Fiducial does accounting and payroll for small to mid-sized businesses, and taxes for individuals. I applied for the position at Fiducial and was offered the position in less than a week.

My Fiducial internship will be starting in February of 2015 and will be for credit.   This position’s job description includes the preparation of federal and state individual income taxes from tax payers from all over the country. This will be a good learning experience, especially since I will be taking Federal Income Taxation along with the internship. I was approved for EXL 300 (experiential learning), which means the job is a college course, receiving college credit and completing assignments with due dates just like any other course.

A student with a BA in Liberal Studies is able to choose from several careers. After graduation I plan to work in taxation or a field of accounting while furthering my education as an MBA student with a focus in Entrepreneurship or an MSA student in the Accounting Master’s degree program.  I will leave my options open as to exactly where I will work or what specific title I will hold after I graduate.

Career Spotlight: Paige Heiser

by Paige Heiser

PHeiserThe best advice I could give to freshmen and beginning students is to get in touch with the CDC early and often. It’s a tool on campus I wish I would have taken advantage of throughout my time at UIS, instead of scrambling to make appointments during my last year.

I thought my resume alone could land me a job with all the experience I had, but the CDC helped me dive a little deeper into the process. I was challenged to not just apply to every company under the sea, but to think about what I wanted from an employer, what kind of position I wanted, what my overall goals were. I was challenged to look past just the words on my resume and consider formatting, lining up my resume with specific job openings, and critically thinking about how my experiences could help me obtain a career. I went to multiple resume workshops, got advice on how to strengthen my LinkedIn profile, attended individual sessions with my career counselor, held practice interviews–which all lead up to my success at the Career Fair.

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I used the skills and knowledge (and confidence) that the Career Center had given me to impress potential employers. It wasn’t all about dropping off my resume and hoping to hear a reply. I actively listened and engaged in conversation with confidence, finding ways to connect why I was a good candidate for an open position and letting the employer see that I wasn’t just another student–I was a student who meant business.

I found a company I was interested in and after briefly meeting the representative and exchanging a resume for a generic reminder card, I went off on my way to the lobby where I did a quick research of the company and even developed a few questions. I then went back to the booth and conversed with the rep for over 20 minutes! At previous fairs, I was lucky to keep attention and conversation for 3 minutes. Before I left this time, I was given the rep’s personal business card and he emailed me later in the week to set up an interview.

During the process, a conversation about expected salary arose. Not having any knowledge on how to handle these kinds of conversations, I went straight to the CDC who proceeded to create an entire workshop around Salary Negotiation!

Later on, I scheduled a webcam interview. The day before the interview, my computer malfunctioned, leaving me stranded outside of the cyber world. The CDC was able to quickly accommodate me and had a room ready for me to use to interview the next day.

Now, months after the Career Fair, I’ve landed a job at the #1 wine and spirits distributor in the state of Illinois and the country. I’ve got an amazing benefits package at a company with advancement opportunities  and I work with some of the best people I’ve ever met. I’m actually excited to go to work and look forward to what each new day brings.

I don’t know where I would have ended up had I not used the CDC to my advantage.

Image taken from Leadership Lived interview.

 

 

 

How Career Fairs Worked for Me

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by Don Hall

My name is Don; I am a sophomore here at UIS, majoring in Accountancy and minoring in Management Information Systems.

I was working as a volunteer for the Career Fair, so I had an opportunity to talk to the employers while helping them setup. My major and minor are great combinations, but as a sophomore I do not expect to get credit for internships until I reach my junior and senior year of college, so I was using the fair as a way to introduce myself to the employers but also talk to them to get information on the qualifications I would need to get an accounting internship.

While talking to Cameron, Smith & Company at the Career Fair I was able to discuss the opportunities they offered and was given an internship to help them as a tax assembler intern. This internship is important because regulation is one of the four exams to be a Certified Public Accountant which requires knowledge of taxation.  I am going to be able to get firsthand experience with understanding and applying this knowledge with the internship.

As a fellow student, I would encourage at least going to the career fair to talk to the employers that come. My interpersonal skills helped me with a lot with getting this internship because I came dressed to impress but I did not have networking cards, resumes, or cover letters ready to give the employers as I walked around. So I would also suggest to fellow students that if you are preparing to go to the Career Fair to prepare by:

  • Having an overall resume that shows your different skills but to also have a resume handy for opportunities that you’re seeking in my case I should have a resume for accounting. This makes it easier to discuss what qualifications you and the ones you should work towards.
  • Having a cover letter that will reintroduce you to the employer or networking cards that will have contact information on it.

Lastly I would definitely recommend going to the Career Center for help with preparing your resume, cover letter, and networking cards they have the resources and knowledge to help you with preparing for the fair.

Career Immersion with H. D. Smith

HDSmithImmersion1Six UIS students went on a Career Immersion to H. D. Smith on October 24th, 2014. By participating in the Career Immersion, students got a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look into an employer’s business and were able to fully explore the different career paths available there. At the end of the event, Katherine Shaffer, who is currently working towards attaining her MBA, stated, “I learned a lot about the company and what they are looking for. I would enjoy participating again at another employer.” H. D. Smith happens to be the fourth largest national healthcare distributor in the US and its corporate office is conveniently located in Springfield, Illinois. H. D. Smith is actively recruiting for more recent or soon-to-be graduates in the fields of Business, Accounting, and IT.

HDSmithImmersion2Each Career Immersion is a little bit different, but at H. D. Smith, the students were able to ask questions and learn a great deal from the COO, Christopher Smith, and many managers of departments and their staff. Each speaker enthusiastically shared about their roles within H. D. Smith, the skills and degrees they’re seeking in hiring new candidates, and the potential career opportunities within their departments as well. “I researched H. D. Smith and came up with questions, I had a great time at the event, and I’m looking forward to applying at H. D. Smith,” stated Alyson Knapik who is also pursuing her MBA. The Career Development Center is excited to host another Career Immersion at a different site at least once each semester, so keep an eye out for fliers, emails, and other notifications about when and where our next Career Immersion will be so that you or someone you know can apply!

First Photo, from Left to Right: (Brittany Carls, Alyson Knapik, Anais Gonzalez, Katrina Salvador, Alanna Cieslek [UIS Career Counselor & Student Success Liaison], Timothy Wudiyono, and Katherine Shaffer) pose next to the H. D. Smith headquarters sign after the Career Immersion had ended.  Second Photo, UIS students receive excellent career-preparation information from CIO, David Guzman.

Researching Employers

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by Alicia Bervine, Anne Orange, and Jennifer Whetstone-Jackson

Researching employers is perhaps the single-most important activity you will undertake in your job search. The information you uncover can help you:

  • Discover organizations that are a good match for you,
  • Identify the organization’s goals and needs,
  • Tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight your skills and experiences that match the employer’s needs,
  • Know what questions to ask employers,
  • Demonstrate your interest in and enthusiasm for the organization,
  • Answer interview questions with confidence, and
  • Make an informed employment decision.

 

Unfortunately, many students overlook the importance of research when undertaking a job search or looking for an internship. In fact, it’s common for employers to complain that potential job candidates haven’t “done their homework,” and instead come into the interview with little or no knowledge about the organization. These candidates flounder, asking questions that could be easily answered by a cursory look at the company website or literature. Needless to say, they make a poor impression, because employers often assume lack of research means lack of interest.

Where should you begin?

Start by developing a list of organizations in which you might be interested—companies that have the types of jobs or do the type of work that interests you. These could be organizations that visit your campus for career fairs, information sessions, and interviews, or they might be companies you have identified on your own as potential employers. An added bonus: You may discover lesser-known organizations that might be a match for your skills and interests. (Having a problem with this step? Talk with a career counselor in your campus career center for direction.)

Research companies to obtain information in each of the following categories:

  • Organizational overview: age, size, financial outlook, growth, and structure
  • Trends/issues in the industry
  • Mission, philosophy, objectives
  • Public or private or foreign-owned
  • Location of plants, offices, stores, subsidiaries
  • Products and/or services
  • Names of key executives
  • Competitors
  • Sales, assets, earnings
  • Growth history and current growth activity
  • Current challenges
  • Major achievements and activity, issues, news
  • Career paths, training, benefits
  • Company culture

 

For specific industries or sectors, see:

  • ThomasNet.com, for brief information about manufacturers in 67,000 categories in the United States and Canada.
  • GuideStar.org, for brief information on more than 1.8 million U.S. nonprofit organizations.
  • Idealist.org, for information on 71,000+ nonprofit organizations worldwide.
  • USA.gov, for a list of federal agencies (click on “Find Government Agencies” on the home page).
  • USChamber.com, for a list of employer members (click on Chambers and then “Chamber Directory”).

 

Don’t forget the resources available in your campus career center: Check your career center for information about employers that recruit at your school. Finally, this list of resources is a starting point; never underestimate the power of a search engine. Simply “Google” the name of the organization you are interested in and see what information and news is returned!

Other Research Resources

Start with the organization’s website.

Well-constructed and comprehensive sites will have abundant information, and for the sites that are not as comprehensive, it is still important to learn what is there. This is what the organization deems most important for you to know.

Look at university libraries’ research databases.

These will have information not available elsewhere for free, including financials, industries, market news, trade data, and more. Choose the business databases for information for the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Some of the most relevant databases are Hoovers.com, Dun & Bradstreet Million Dollar Directory, Thomson One, Business Source Premier, IBISWorld, and Mergent Online.

Check your public library.

Public libraries have online research tools available free with a library card. In the business category, you may find ReferenceUSA, with information for more than 20 million U.S. companies, including nonprofit organizations. Speak to a reference librarian for additional options to research organizations.

Look at social networking sites, including LinkedIn.

LinkedIn has become a leading source of inside information about organizations.

  • On LinkedIn, find companies of interest and once found, click on the “Follow” tab to receive updates posted by the company.
  • Join groups related to any career interest appealing to you.
  • Contribute to discussions and connect with other members.
  • Use the advanced search to find alumni working in companies in which you are interested.

 

Try the Employer Locator on Careeronestop.

Go to www.acinet.org; in the site search window, search for “Employer Locator.” This is a U.S. government database of nearly 12 million U.S. employers with brief information about each. It’s a good resource for finding employers in a specific industry in a particular geographical location.

Look for small, independent companies in the local newspaper.

 

Alicia Bervine is Program Manager, College of Arts & Sciences; Anne Orange is Career Librarian; and Jennifer Whetstone-Jackson is Program Manager, College of Engineering & Computing, at the University of South Carolina, Columbia.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.