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the inside track to your career

3 Things Equally as Important as Academics

By Jordan Lewis, Peer Advisor

As students, the pressure is on to get good grades, whether it be in order to maintain scholarships or gain admittance to graduate school or simply reach personal goals, combined with participation to extracurricular activities and possibly even a job can be draining both mentally and physically. We often think we need to prioritize our academic success over our general well being, as if the two cannot coexist; this mentality is NOT a healthy one!

Continue reading to learn more about three things (other than your academics) that deserve some serious attention.

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Sleep

Many students find themselves skipping out on a good night’s sleep to study or put last minute touches on an essay and do not realize the benefits they are giving up by doing so. Mentally, sleep improves learning in addition to helping you pay attention, make decisions, and be creative. Sleep deficiency, on the other hand, negatively effects those things, in addition to being linked with depression, suicide, and risk-taking behavior. Physically, sleep helps heal and repair your heart and blood vessels, decreases the risk of obesity, and supports healthy growth and development.

Long story short, next time you find yourself at 2 AM choosing between pulling an all-nighter and getting some rest, consider choosing the latter; you won’t regret it.

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Exercise

We all know that constant exercise helps us look better, but that’s not why it’s on this list. Yes, exercise is important physically; it decreases risk of cardiovascular diseases and other health problems, including stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and cancer. What many do not consider, however, is how vital it is in maintain a good mental state. Frequent exercise not only stimulates the brain chemicals that make you happy, but also boosts confidence and energy.

It doesn’t have to be long; a 15/20 minute walk a few times a week can improve your life in ways you never imagined.

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Fun

This one needs little explanation. Right now, we’re at the time in our lives where we have the fewest responsibilities. Most of us don’t have house payments or children to support, and we should take advantage of that! College is about getting a degree, but it’s also about making memories and growing as a person. Set aside time during the week to enjoy yourself, relax by yourself or with friends, and recuperate before the next hard task you’re given.

Take care of yourselves. Work hard, but remember to play hard too!

Dressing the Part to Rock the Interview

By Kara Davis, Peer Advisor

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Congratulations! You scored an interview for the job of your dreams, but what are you going to wear?! Proper business attire can make or break your chances of being offered that position.  Since you’re going for an interview, it is safer to go with business professional rather than business casual.  What’s the difference? Business casual is often worn in a casual office setting, but is still considered appropriate for the workplace. This includes khakis or slacks and casual button-down shirts for men and a skirt or pants with a dress shirt or a dress for women.  Typically, business casual does not include jeans, flip flops, or tank tops.

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Business professional is exactly as it sounds, professional. For men, this is usually a dark-colored suit with a tie and dress shoes. For women, business professional can include either a dress with a blazer or a suit with pants or knee-length skirt; shoes can either be closed-toe heels or closed-toe flats. Wearing business professional attire to your interview will be a benefit to your future employer’s first impression of you. Are you worried that you don’t have the right items to put together your professional look? Come to Toppel and make use of Sebastian’s Closet! Here you can borrow various items of professional clothing for FREE. It’s better to be dressed for success than under dressed without your dream job!

 

Good luck, Canes!

Pre-Med Students and the Gap Year

By Andrea Trespalacios, Peer Advisor

In recent years, there has been quite a shift in the demographics of medical school students. Ten years ago, 60% of Harvard Medical School students were coming straight out of college (The Harvard Crimson). Nowadays, their most recent statistics show that about 65% of admitted students have spent some time off between college and medical school. This data combined with the rising cost of education and the increase in competitiveness for top schools has prompted many students to take gap years.

Students choose to take time off between college and medical school to strengthen their academics by:

  1. Taking other classes to boost their GPA
  2. Studying for the MCAT
  3. Earning other degrees

Students also take their time off to prepare financially for the commitment of having to pay for another degree. With the average debt being around $183,000 (American Association of Medical Colleges), students spend their time:

  1. Working and saving money
  2. Applying for scholarships

Thirdly, pre-med students focus primarily on gaining relevant experience that will make them stand out from other applicants. They spend their time:

  1. Doing research
  2. Working as a medical scribe, EMT, or at a doctor’s office
  3. Interning at non-profit organizations
  4. Volunteering at local clinics or hospitals, Peace Corps, and hospices
  5. Shadowing doctors in a range of specialties

The video below does a great job of explaining why gap years should be considered if you are applying for medical school. But is also important to remember that gap years are not for everyone and ultimately, students should weigh all the elements and factors that go into this decision!

https://youtu.be/aQnspMq7fMY

Good Luck, Canes!

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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!

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