by Paige Heiser
The 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.
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.