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Toppel Peers Blog

the inside track to your career

Communication & Job Searching

By Kiera Adams, Peer Advisor

We hope everyone had a great time at Expo last week! Expo having just passed means it’s about that time when recruiters are starting to reach out about jobs or internships. It’s always a question about how you should approach the next steps: Here are a couple of tips to guide you on how to follow up with employers!

First question is: when exactly should you follow up? When talking to a recruiter, it’s not a bad idea to ask at the end of the conversation what the next steps would be. From their answer, this should give you an idea of when you should except an answer. If they don’t give you a specific date, it’s recommended you wait a week or a week and a half before following up.

One tip to keep in mind is not to invade their personal space: Not just physical space, but also over the Internet. Don’t contact the employer asking if they made a decision the day after you speak with them. You want to show interest, but don’t want to seem like you are desperate.

Another question is what method should you use to follow up? Should you call or email? Employers don’t have the time to talk on the phone to every candidate especially with the quantity they meet at a career fair. Emails can be easier to keep track of and leaves a paper trail. Make sure when you are writing your emails that you say something that will remind the recruiter of your previous conversation. They hear from a lot of people so it can be difficult to keep track and remember people just from your name on the email signature.

 

Here are some do’s and don’ts from an article about this topic from LiveCareer:

Do be patient. The process often takes longer than the employer expects”

Don’t stop job-hunting, even if you feel confident that you will get a job offer.”

Do write individual thank you notes or letters to each person who interviewed you”

And finally:

Don’t place too much importance on one job or one interview; there will be other opportunities for you.“

Article: https://www.livecareer.com/quintessential/interview-follow-up-dos-donts

Hopefully these tips help you get to the next step in your job search! Good luck, Canes!

Take Advantage of Resources

By Ali Banas, Peer Advisor

As a freshman in college, you experience a lot of firsts. Possibly the first time living away from home, the first college courses, first finals week, on-campus living, the list goes on. It can be a lot to handle, but it can also be the start to a great experience. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in a new sea of people who all seem to know what they are doing, and what their future plans are. The University of Miami has great resources to help students gain steady footing during this time. For me, freshman year had many firsts, including my first internship. Living out of state during a portion of the year makes finding jobs/internships very difficult, but it’s made easier with applications like Handshake, and facilities like Toppel. I may not have found my internship on Handshake, but I found lists of a dozen others I would have never found by myself. Having no past experience with resumes or applications for internships, I found myself uploading my mediocre resume to Handshake and just hoping for the best. When a Peer Advisor commented on it, I made changes, and was amazed that this service was done automatically, without me having to ask. Looking into the services offered by Toppel, I realized I needed to take a trip before sending in my application. Applications are not always straight forward. Some have what seems like endless hoops to jump through, and can drive you insane. My application was one of these. I struggled on how to get all my paperwork together, and on what the best way to complete everything was. Walking over to Toppel was nerve-wracking, because I had no idea what I even needed to ask. Going to Peer Advising seemed scary, but honestly extremely worth it. The Advisor helped answer my questions, and figured out what it was that my application needed to be considered complete. Utilizing services like this, is something that every student, not just freshman should take part in. I learned so much from my internship that I never would have guessed that I would be taking part in freshman year. It seemed so advanced, but with help on creating the best possible application, I secured my place.

It can be scary taking advantage of services that are new to you, or that you never needed in the past. But as a freshman, undergraduate, graduate student, or beyond, you learn from new experiences. You have a possibility to learn from everyone you meet, if you just take the time to. Whether it’s job applications, job searches, or questions that you didn’t even know you had, there are resources to help. Not only are there amazing career resources on campus, but there’s a resource for nearly everything you can need. Mental health, counseling, medical, social issues, on-campus living, and academic, it’s all covered. Majority of these are included in tuition, so why not take advantage of them?

Good Luck, Canes!

Ways to Normal

By Morgan Henry, Peer Advisor

Whether you called it Irma, Hurrication, or (my personal favorite) Irmageddon, the impromptu vacation probably disrupted your semester. Calendars are soaked with white-out as we frantically work to keep up with continual altered academic and break schedules. This state of change-induced stress is a dangerous position to be in as it’s a recipe for either a burnout or procrastination.  

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I’m a big proponent of the phrase “work smarter, not harder,” and I think that definitely applies here. As we work to find the schedules we lost to Irma, it’s important to take action and know ourselves. Keeping in mind what we’re capable of and understanding what needs to be done to improve are the first steps in getting back on track and not only coping with the stress, but conquering it. Here’s a short list of things that work for me: 

  1. Compartmentalize. When I’m doing school work, I focus on school work. When I’m at work, I focus on work. When I’m at neither of these places, I try not to talk about either. Constant obsession over the imagined impending doom of assignments headed my way makes me anxious and adds to unnecessary suffering. I try to create a limit of how much I worry over these things to help with stress.  
  2.  Plan one activity that you look forward to each day. It can be anything from going on a run, taking a power nap, or watching an episode of your favorite show. But actually schedule it out. I have a planner that contains every detail of my life, and I make sure to block out at least 30 minutes of the day to relax with that. This helps me create a better work-school-life balance because life’s about more than just smashing goals. 
  3. Reach out to professors and managers. If stress ever starts to make me feel miserable, I immediately find someone to talk to. Sometimes a friend works but other times I need someone who will more directly understand the situation. Life’s not out to get you, and professors and managers are always there to help.

Good luck, Canes!

Why Career Expo?

By Sterlie Achille, Peer Advisor

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Career Expo will be the place NEXT WEEK on September 6th from 1pm to 5pm! Join us at the Watsco center to engage in an incredible chance to explore internship options, full-time job opportunities, and graduate programs. You absolutely DO NOT want to miss this event. There are several reasons why attending this career fair will be a great way to progress your job search.

1) Attending Career Expo allows you to meet directly with the hiring managers and or representatives who have an impact on hiring decisions. Career expo has nearly 100 registered employers that will be attending this year. These recruiters are from a variety of industries ranging from American Express, Carnival, Chewy, Maximus, Miami Heat, Stryker, Visa and so much more! What better way to learn which companies you might want to work for and which open positions would be most relevant to you, than in person?

2) Career Expo will be a less-formal setting to practice your elevator speech and get to know more about the company’s you are interested in. Even if you only get to communicate with them briefly, you will have the practice of talking about yourself and your strengths. Be bold. Take advantage of the fact that you can talk to a variety of people that could have a need for your skill set and experiences. You have so much to offer!

3) Attending this signature recruiting event would allow you to better align your resume with the company’s needs! Knowing what these companies are looking for sets you apart from the competition. So come join us and talk to employers, build your network (and your LinkedIn connections) and most importantly, practice your elevator speech! Make sure to come professionally dressed, bring your University of Miami Cane ID, and have at least 20 copies of your resume.

Are U  excited, yet!?

The 3 Rules of References

By Carly Smith, Associate Director, Career Readiness

This summer, I have been thinking a lot about references. Being at the same company now since 2011, it’s been a while since I’ve had to think about who I would use myself if asked to provide a list of 3-4 people who can speak highly about me to a future employer, grad school, etc. However, this summer reminded me why I should always be thinking about who these people might be. In my position at the Toppel Career Center, I have both given many references to those who have worked for me or with me. I have also been on the other side, calling references for those I am considering hiring. I had the opportunity this year to serve as a reference for someone who I admire and love working with, and it felt wonderful to know that my positive endorsement might help support that person in their goals. However, there have also been a few situations I encountered recently that made me realize that finding a great reference is tricky, and not everyone may know the best tips and strategies for finding the right person. So, here are my three major rules for finding the best reference for you.

#1. Make sure the person you are asking to be a reference knows you well enough to speak well of you.

I learned this lesson as a college senior. Not knowing who I wanted to write me a recommendation for graduate school, I chose some faculty members that I had taken classes with recently and performed well. Everything seemed all great, until one of those individuals turned me down. I was caught off guard. Why is this person saying no to me when I took the time to ask for a recommendation? Well, it was for one huge reason. This individual was a lecturer at my university and the course that I had taken with her was only a one credit course, so she felt her recommendation would not be as well received as from someone who I knew better and spent more time with. In the end, she was right, and I chose a professor who I had a better relationship with. I have carried this with me into my current job, and will sometimes turn down a reference request if I don’t feel that my recommendation will be able to be as great as I know it should be. These people usually agree and find someone much more knowledgeable about them. Continue reading “The 3 Rules of References”

The Art of Interviewing

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By Anna Kenney, Assistant Director, Internships

Over the last few weeks, your trusty Toppel staff have been interviewing candidates for some of our vacancies. As luck would have it, we have interviewed a ton of truly qualified people. This has proved to make our job that much harder in trying to identify the best candidate to join our staff.

It got me thinking about the nature of interviewing and the fact that it is a learned skill. It takes a lot practice to get to the point that you are comfortable talking about your skills, accolades and yes, even your weaknesses.

You may be thinking, but Anna, I do not need to worry about this now, I already know what I am doing this summer. However, you would be incorrect, you should worry about it now, before the pressure of a potential interview for a job or internship hits you.

As I reflect on individuals I have interviewed over my career, I wanted to share with you the top traits that I feel you should work to master.

  • Being well prepared: It is so important to do your research on an organization before you speak with them. Take the time to read over their mission, goals and/or strategic plan. If possible, learn more about the people who will be interviewing you. Also, make sure you have an understanding of the position you are applying for. An informational interview with a current employee there can never hurt!

 

  • Dressing for the role you want: Please show up for your interview dressed appropriately. Find out what works for your specific industry. For many roles, a full business suit is the most appropriate, however for others it may not. If you are unsure of the “dress code”, PLEASE ASK! We advisors at Toppel are always here to offer you a second opinion if you are not sure. Sometimes students will come in or will email us a photo of what they plan to wear, and we are more than happy to provide feedback. The best rule of thumb however is, do not wear something for the first time on an interview! The last thing you want to do is stress over ill-fitting clothing a few hours before an interview. For inspiration, check out our Pinterest boards with suggestions or come in and see what is available in Sebastian’s Closet.

 

  • Concise in presenting answers: It is pivotal that you prepare ahead of time to how you might answer questions in an interview. You do not want to ramble your way through and then realize you never actually answered the question. While you may not be able to anticipate every question that could be asked of you, you can prepare by knowing what types of questions will be asked of you. Generally, in interviews, you will be asked resume-related questions or behavioral based questions. The goals of these types of questions are to learn more about your experience or how you would handle things. Variations of behavioral based questions could be things relating to culture/fit, situational scenarios and/or case studies. Depending on the field, you may get questions that are more technical. There are two main ways to practice this. #1: Schedule an appointment with a Toppel advisor for a Practice Interview #2: Utilize Big Interview as a way to practice online whenever you would like.

 

Do not forget that Toppel is still open over the summer. We are here Monday – Thursday from 8:30am-5pm. All our services are available just as they are during the academic year. For those of you that may not be physically on campus or in Miami, do not fret, you can schedule phone or Skype appointments as well. Our staff is committed to serving you, so please keep in touch and reach out over the course of the summer. August will be here before you know it!

Dear College Graduate,

By Sterlie Achille, Peer Advisor

I hope this letter finds you well. First off, congratulations on accomplishing your goal of earning a college education! You came, you learned, you conquered. These 4 years as a Hurricane have flown by and formed a stronger and wiser version of your freshman identity. You’ve earned the degree, aced your job interviews, and landed that great job. You may be asking yourself: What’s next? Well, now a new journey awaits…the real world.

When you are out there living your best life, I hope you remember to:

1. Keep up with your fitness

Unlike in college where you walked to get to and from class, most workplaces involve a lot of sitting or limited mobility. As difficult as going to the gym may be, it might be essential for your body’s upkeep. If not through exercise, manage your fitness by eating better and removing unhealthy choices as often as you can.

2. Practice smart financial decisions

It can be as small limiting your eating out to 1x a week (put in the effort to bring your own lunch to work as much as you can since eating out can add up quickly), or creating a budget, or even removing the unnecessary bills like cable (especially if you’re never home).

3. Continue networking

So you found the perfect job? That’s great! However, it is still very crucial for you continue to build professional relationships and meaningful connections at your workplace. This isn’t only good practice to get a reference or referral when moving jobs. It can also benefit your advancement within the company.

4. Ask for help, when needed

In the real world, we don’t always get things right. This is perfectly normal and you are not alone. Whether you need help in your personal life, or in the professional world, there are many knowledgeable people who would be more than willing to help guide you. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but once you ask for help the first time, it gets easier. What’s more important than a few awkward minutes? Your confidence in your ability to tackle the problems you will face!

 

The real world may not only be all fun and games, but there is something exhilarating about making your own decisions and having the freedom to manage your time. In addition to the things above, I hope that you find everything you are looking for. I hope that you roll with the punches, never stop aiming for excellence and continue to show up, and never give up! Carpe diem graduate, and congratulations again!

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Stressed Out

By Jackson Pollock, Peer Advisor

Finals are quickly approaching and stress levels are about to reach an all-time high. This stress that builds up while studying or thinking about finals can be alleviated with a few easy methods:

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Breathing Exercises

Personally, I have really grown to enjoy taking a break and practicing some breathing exercises. The simplest and most productive, one in my opinion, is to just sit with you hand on your stomach and breathe through your nose, slowly and deeply, so that you feel your lungs fully expanding, then slowly releasing your breath through your mouth. I usually do this technique for about two minutes. I would recommend doing whatever you feel comfortable with, just don’t get too comfortable that you fall asleep in the library. This will lower your heart rate and lower blood pressure. This is a very easy and quick way to bring yourself back to a good mental state. It’s very easy to do this in the library for a couple minutes to relax.

Talk to People Close to You

Talking to friends about what is going on in your life is a great thing to do to lessen your stress level. Doing this will allow you to truly understand why you are stressed out and with their support it will motivate you that you can in fact have it in you to accomplish your finals (in this case). You’ll also get to hear what is on their mind, which may show that you are both going through some tough mental times. Whenever I get stressed out, I like to talk to friends I’m close with at school, but also reach out to distant friends that are completely detached from my current environment.

Laugh Out Loud

On one of your study breaks go online and either watch your favorite show (The Office works well) or some funny videos. Laughing out loud will make you feel mentally lighter and realize that there are things other than Biology and Calculus.

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Listen to Music

This might be my favorite way of reducing stress. There are two ways you can approach this. This first is to listen to some relaxing music in the form of something like white sound, or classical music. This can calm you out. My personal angle on this is to start jamming out to some of my favorite songs, making sure the volume is fairly high (but not too high to affect the studying of other people in the library)

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Move.

Although the chairs in the library are actually pretty comfortable (@ me), during study breaks you’ve got to get out of that place. Take a walk around the library and get some fresh air, go for a run around campus, go workout in the gym, go take a yoga class. Just do something that will get you moving.

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Zoom Out

This is the most important one on the list. On one of your study breaks pick up a newspaper (if you don’t know what this is, it’s a series of papers put together with text and images on them telling the national and world news) and read through some of the national and world headlines. In this newspaper you will see all the bad things that are happening in the world, and all the things that you need to worry about. Through this zooming out and seeing the whole world, you will realize that these finals are not going to have substantial impacts on your life. This zooming out will allow you to be grateful for having the privilege to attend an amazing institution such as the University of Miami and much more.

You’ll be fine…

Building a Personal Brand

By Tina Humphrey, Peer Advisor

What is Personal Branding?

Personal Branding is a unique story that others recall when they think of you.

Why is it Important?

It’s important in the workplace because it helps it allows you to s123tand out. When you need a promotion or a referral, your supervisors and or colleagues should have something positive to say when they think about you.

What should you be doing now to build your Personal Brand?

Think about what makes you unique, relevant, differentiated, and special. Reflect on your strengths, skills, values, and passions. How do you STAND out?

How you see yourself is how others see you

Keys to build your personal brand

Be Authentic

Be known for something specific

Get your personal brand in check

Take steps to build and own your personal brand online

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“Your personal brand is what differentiates you from others”

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