How to do Career Fair like a BOSS!

Virtually all colleges and universities alike come equipped with a career services center. The biggest mistake students make in their academic career is waiting until the semester they graduate to prepare for their professional career. Career services offer an abundance of different resources to make you successful post-graduation.

Virtually all colleges and universities alike come equipped with a career services center. The biggest mistake students make in their academic career is waiting until the semester they graduate to prepare for their professional career. Career services offer an abundance of different resources to make you successful post-graduation.

Think of it this way-their job (the people who work at career services) is to get you a job! They should be your best friend! Make it a habit to visit your career counselor at least once every 6 weeks. You should develop a new professional skill every six weeks anyway so during your appointment review the progress you are making as well as any new issues or concerns you have about post graduation.

Everyone should take advantage of the resources available at their career center. By everyone,  I mean everyone: underclassmen, upperclassmen, graduate students and everything in between.

The crowning jewel of career centers across the country is the career fair! Career fairs are an excellent networking opportunity FOR ALL STUDENTS (underclassmen, I’m talking about you)! There are a lot of students (especially underclassmen) who do not go because they do not know what they are doing or do not think anyone wants to talk to them. This is a grave mistake.

Freshmen should go to career fairs.

Sophomores should go to career fairs.

Juniors should go to career fairs.

Seniors should go to career fairs.

Every student should go to career fairs.

With that being said,  I understand the hesitation. Career fairs are basically structured networking events and behavior at a networking event does not come naturally to some people. There is a learning curve and I understand that. Fortunately for you, you can overcome that learning curve by following these tips and tricks!

Do your research!

Go to your school’s website and figure out what companies are going to be there. Then take some time learning about that company. You do not have to become an expert in XYZ Company, but it is important to learn the basics: what the company does, the company’s values, the company’s motto/vision and the company’s products/services.

Fortunately, you do not have to memorize all this information! You can take your notes with you. Invest in a nice padded portfolio and a good pen. Take your notes with you and prepare questions to ask the recruiters beforehand. That way when your approach recruiters, you will be informed and prepared.

ATTENTION UNDERCLASSMEN: Companies hire FRESHMEN and SOPHMORES for internships. (Yes, seriously they do. I know because I got one my freshman year and I’ve seen other people do it too.) There is still hope for you. Plus this is a perfect opportunity to hear straight from recruiters the type of skills and experience you need to be successful.

For example, if you are a freshman and a recruiter tells you that you need to be really good at Java in order to be competitive, you have a heads up! That way you can take more Java electives. You have time more time on your side and that’s not something juniors and seniors can capitalize on. If you need more help when it comes to finding internships, make an appointment with me.

Practice your 30-Second Me!

A 30-Second Me is a basic introduction of yourself. No, it does not have to be exactly 30 seconds but it should NEVER be longer. (You will look like you are rambling and people will tune you out.) A 30-Second Me is great because it is a safe and easy way to start a conversation. As you get more comfortable with attending career fairs, you will be able to start conversations without one.

There are many different methods for creating a 30-Second Me, but I like to keep it simple: Name, Field of Study, Tailored Experiences, and a Segway. Let me break it down:

Name: Your name

Field of study: Major or intended major

Tailored Experiences: Your experiences that correlate with what recruiters are looking for

Segway: Using your research  to ask the recruiter about the company

For example, let’s say a sophomore studying finance attends a career fair and approaches a recruiter from a big bank. A good 30-Second Me would look like this:

Hi my name is Angel Rodriguez. I am currently studying Finance. I am the treasurer of the Finance Association as well as the recipient of the Academic Excellence Scholarship. In my research  I learned that your company is looking for high performers. What are the skills or experiences you would consider high performance?

This is the break down of that 30-Second Me:

Hi my name is Angel Rodriguez. I am currently studying Finance. I am the treasurer of the Finance Association as well as the recipient of the Academic Excellence Scholarship. (This is where you include specific experiences that are relevant to what the company is looking for. It’s a bank so they may be interested to know you are actively involved in an organization about their industry. They are also looking for high performers so including that you were recognized for your academic performance helps too.) In my research (this is the Segway! You incorporate the research you did on your own to ask a question to the recruiter. This turns the conversation back to them.) I learned that your company is looking for high performers. What are the skills or experiences you would consider high performance?

(I’ll make a video with more examples of 30-Second Me so subscribe to my YouTube channel or this blog to stay up to date!)

Look your best!

This does not mean go out there and spend money that you do not have! The most important thing is that you look nice and neat. If you are buying a suit, make sure it fits well. To be on the safe side, dress conservatively, but it does not have to be black. Gray or navy blue is fine as well.

Despite any rumors you may have heard, WEARING HEELS IS NOT REQUIRED! You will not be secretly judged for not wearing heels. If you do wear heels make sure you can walk in them confidently and can last all day. If you wobble around at the career fair, you will be judged (and it will not be a secret). Also, if you insist on wearing heels, keep them at kitten heels or shorter.

Secondly, keep the perfume and cologne at home! Consider the recruiter. They are going to be bombarded by people all day. The last thing you want is to be remembered as the person who gave the recruiter a headache just by the way you smelled. Your smell will carry a negative connotation.  If you take a shower and wear deodorant  you will smell just fine.

Lastly, check your breath! You do not want to offend any potential recruiter with your breath. Ask 2 good friends to give you honest feedback about your breath. If you have any concerns, chew a couple of breath mints before you start your conversation. (Not gum, breath mints).

Be confident!

If you tell yourself you do not belong at the career fair, then it will show. If you do not believe you are good enough to hire, then no one will hire you. It is incredibly important to believe in your skills, experience and qualifications. If you are still nervous about the who prospect of career fair then schedule a meeting with your career counselor. They can help you work through your nerves.

If you still believe you need more help, I’m always available! Make an appointment with me today! 

Scholarships: The Equivalent of 3 FULL TIME JOBS

If you just started your scholarship search, this is a great place to start. I’ll break down what you need to know to be successful in your scholarship journey. After reading this article, if you are still nervous about this whole scholarship thing then please do not hesitate to reach out to me! Scholarships are definitely my thing so consider me a resource! 

Scholarships are a form of financial aid that you do not have to pay back, but they are definitely not free! From experience, I can tell honestly tell you the process of finding, applying and receiving scholarships is the equivalent of THREE FULL TIME JOBS!

This is not an exaggeration on my part. If you do this the right way, you’ll end up pouring hours, weeks, months and even years of your life into the scholarship world. It takes significant personal effort and resilience. Consider it a character building experience because you will not be the same person afterwards.

 I can also say from experience that it is completely worth it and it (literally) pays off. I would do it all over again.

If you just started your scholarship search, this is a great place to start. I’ll break down what you need to know to be successful in your scholarship journey. After reading this article, if you are still nervous about this whole scholarship thing then please do not hesitate to reach out to me! Scholarships are definitely my thing so consider me a resource!

Yes it seriously is the equivalent of 3 FULL TIME JOBS

A full time job is 40 hours a week. It will take 120+ hours of work on a weekly basis to see the results you want. You need to be committed to making scholarships your lifestyle. (Note: not “part” of your lifestyle. It needs TO BE your lifestyle.) Finding and applying for scholarships should become obsessive. Make it your mission in life to know everything and anything that has to do with the scholarship world.

Focus on what you are good at

Once you begin to explore the scholarship world, you’ll realize that there is a scholarship for everything under the sun. The variety is amazing, but also distracting. Just because there is a scholarship for everything does not mean you should  dedicate your precious time to applying for each and every scholarship you find.

For example, I only apply for scholarships that are academic or essay based. I have very strong writing skills and my grades have always been excellent. Those were the type of scholarships I would most likely win.

There were other types of scholarships that required creative writing samples, creative video submissions, art pieces, woodwork and other elaborate works that required a level of skill that did not come naturally to me. I completely ignored those scholarships and focused on what I was good at: academics and essays. (It paid off.)

Stay up-to-date with all the scholarship engines

It is your job to know what is going on, on each and every scholarship engine platform.

You should know the various scholarship deadlines.

You should know the popular and unpopular scholarships.

You should have a specific calendar dedicated to scholarship deadlines.

Remember the whole “treat it like a full time job” thing I mentioned earlier? This is a part of that. It is your job to know what’s going on in the scholarship world. Don’t let an opportunity fly by because you were not paying attention.

Start with the low hanging fruit

In this case, the low hanging fruit would be the resources that are already open to you. Check within your community first. Is your place of worship sponsoring college students? What about your parents’ workplace? What about your school district? Have you asked your teachers? Professors? Colleagues? Advisers? Peers?  What about your home college or university? What about any national organizations you are a part of?

It never ceases to amaze me the amount of scholarship money that goes unclaimed simply because no one applied. Never make any assumptions when it comes to scholarships. Always ask. The worst thing that can happen is that they will say no.

For example, I got a scholarship from a local law firm my senior year of high school. This scholarship was not widely publicized and only students from my school district qualified. (I did not have to study pre-law to qualify either.) I also got a scholarship from my elementary school and many, many, many scholarships from the University of Houston as well. I am also a member of HonorSociety.org so I was eligible for those scholarships too. These are resources that were already open to me.

The nice thing about low hanging fruit is that everyone always overlooks them (except you because now you know) so there is less competition.

FAFSA! FAFSA! FAFSA! FAFSA! FAFSA! (You get the idea)

Hopefully one day this will become a no-brainer, but until that day comes I will preach FAFSA on the top of my lungs! Luckily I created a nice infographic and video about FAFSA. Make sure you complete your application ASAP!

Stay eligible! Stay focused!

Most scholarships come with a GPA requirement. The last thing you want is to lose all that funding because you let your grades slide! In addition to your 3 FULL TIME JOBS you are also a full-time student. (Most scholarships require you to be in school full time.) It is a juggling act that requires an intense level of discipline, but it is possible! (Again, I say this from experience).

In addition to your GPA, your scholarship might require you to perform a certain number of community hours, or study a particular discipline or play an instrument.

Make sure to honor whatever the conditions of the scholarship so you do not lose your hard earned dollars!

Grow a thick skin

If you do this right, you will be rejected on a regular basis.

I have been applying for scholarship since my junior year of high school. I have applied to thousands of scholarships and in all my years of applying have won less than 15 separate awards. It paid off because I am now graduating debt-free, but I was rejected often and on a regular basis.

You cannot let rejection discourage you from applying. By the time you get rejected (because you will) you should already be working on the next scholarship. In reality, you should not have time to feel sorry for yourself.

Remember your sponsors!

When you do finally win a scholarship, never forget the people who invested in your education! You need to take the time to thank your sponsors. Make sure to honor the investment they put into you.

I know this sounds old school but learn how to perfect the art of a thank you note. It goes a long way. Send a heartfelt email if sending a note is not possible. Get really good at saying thank you!

Like I said earlier, I am an experienced traveler in the world of scholarships. If you need more guidance in this journey, please reach out! Let me help you!

How to Master a School-Work Life Balance!

Although it can be difficult, it is possible to balance the two without sacrificing the full university experience. 

I had the opportunity to focus on being a full-time student during my freshman and sophomore year. This gave me an opportunity to focus on classwork, take heavier loads and become ingrained in the campus culture.

Unfortunately, this is a luxury that not all students can afford. Sometimes working part or full time while attending school is a necessity. I had my first part-time job my junior year. This was also before I started Achievement Consulting. It was the first time I had to balance a full-time school schedule as well as a part-time work schedule.

Although it can be difficult, it is possible to balance the two without sacrificing the full university experience.

Prioritize what is important to you (AND FOLLOW THROUGH)

In reality, your first job is school. If you are a full time student, you are taking at least 12 credit hours a semester. This is not including the (at least) 6 hours you spend preparing for those classes. College is a huge time and financial investment. Try not to let your part-time job erode that investment.

Once you prioritize what is important to you, make sure your actions reflect those priorities. For example, your priorities might be 1. School 2. Soccer 3. Work 4. Student organization. Once you determine your priorities (no more than 5) make sure your actions reflect those priorities.

For example, if you know you have a big test next week, you might not be able to attend the social your student organization is having the night before or if you know you have a soccer game in a month then make sure your are not scheduled to work that weekend.

Students can get in trouble because they have their priorities but they do not follow through with them. For instance, they might decide to work an extra shift and attend a social when they know they have a test coming up soon and need to study. When your actions are contrary to your priorities, it is a recipe for disaster.

Realize that work will be one of your priorities

It may not be your first priority, but it is on the shortlist. This sounds pretty obvious but some people take it for granted. This means that there will be sacrifices you have to make because of work. If you are working 15-20 hours a week, you might not be able to spend 2 hours on the phone with your best friend or stay at a party all night or binge on Netflix as much as you used to. You need to be ready and willing to make the sacrifices necessary to make sure you can balance your school/work life successfully.

This does not mean that you cannot have fun anymore. You can still have friends and watch Netflix and go to parties. You just have to be disciplined with how you spend your time and with whom.

Communicate your priorities to your employer

If you have an on-campus job, this process is much easier. The university you work for wants you to be academically successful so they will cap the hours you work and are more willing to compromise on scheduling.

However, if you work off-campus you have to take the initiative to talk to your employer ahead of time about certain time conflicts you might have. For instance, if you know if you have a midterm coming in a month, then ask now for time off so you can study. If you know you have to travel for a soccer game then make sure your employer knows that you will not be available on that date.

You do not have to tell them all your personal information, just make sure you give them a clear picture of the times and dates you will be available. Communication is key!

Don’t get stuck

Learning is done in and out of the classroom. Make sure that you are developing yourself in someway wherever you work. If your job does not provide opportunities for advancement or professional development, try to find one that does. Look into finding a paid internship (which I would be happy to help with) or another part-time position that is more challenging but still works with your school schedule. This is not necessarily easy but it is definitely worth it.

If you have any more questions about balancing a school/work life successfully, please feel free to reach out!