Toppel Peers Blog

the inside track to your career


Campus Life

Soft Skills

By Kim Wilks, Peer Advisor

Personal Qualities are EXTREMELY important!

There are some key skills that employers are looking for in candidates that they believe cannot be taught. However, these skills can be developed during your undergraduate career through your involvements. Students often focus mainly on their professional development, but personal growth is just as important. The skills that employers are looking for include communication, teamwork, integrity, and adaptability. Employers want to know that the people they hire can produce results. Nevertheless, sometimes failure is inevitable and they want to know that you will learn from your mistakes and use them to move forward. The best way to develop the personal qualities employees seek is through involvements!

Whether you are a waitress or a lab supervisor, having a job while you are a student is a great way to learn responsibility and time management. You will learn the importance of being punctual. You may not get along with everyone that you work with and this will teach you how to maintain your professionalism in every situation. Whether the job is relevant to your field or not, employers understand that working and being a full-time student is not always the easiest thing to do. Your ability to manage both will reflect greatly on your skills.


Being involved in on-campus organizations can mold you into a better leader and communicator. Once you are on an executive board, you must communicate ideas within the board and to your general body. Try to run for a position that will push you out of your comfort zone and develop your weaknesses. Holding leadership positions in organizations throughout your college years will signal to employers that you possess the skill to successfully lead others.

Your intelligence and work will speak for themselves, but don’t miss out on an opportunity because you lack the personal qualities that companies now search for. Develop these skills during your undergraduate career and watch doors open. Even if you do not possess the technical skills that a company desires, your demonstrated ability and willingness to learn may be all you need. Technical skills can be taught!

Good Luck Canes!



Getting the Most Out of Classes

By Varuna Rampersad-Singh, Peer Advisor

When students begin college, they often have a newfound freedom from being on their own. There’s no one telling them what to do anymore and no one waking them up every morning. This means they can end up missing a lot of classes and sometimes students forget that they are at school to learn not to hang out. Here are a few tips on how to make the most of all your classes.

1) Make sure you attend your classes. At this school, one class costs more than $5000. If you aren’t attending classes you’re throwing away money.

2) Pay attention in class. This may seem obvious but many people go to class if attendance is being taken but spend the whole time on their phones. You shouldn’t sit in the back and watch your favorite show, it makes learning the material much harder later on.

3) Attend office hours. Teachers usually have specific dates and times that students can go to ask questions and get help. Even if you can’t make those times, the teachers want you to be successful so they will often make personal appointments to meet with you.

4) Stay ahead. Teachers have a syllabus of the entire school semester planned out. If you read ahead in the text book, you should have no problem passing this course.


Good Luck, Canes!

Handshake For Dummies

By Jackson Pollock, Peer Advisor

Handshake is a great platform for students for a wide variety of reasons. It allows students to access resources for jobs, internships, events, career fairs and much more. Here are different ways how to use Handshake to your advantage:


Setting Up Your Profile:

The first time you sign on to Handshake you will have to set up your profile. This is a very important part of Handshake. When you first sign into Handshake you are going to want to upload you resume first. In order to gain full access to Handshake your resume has to be uploaded and reviewed by a staff member at Toppel. A Toppel staff will review your uploaded resume, provide feedback on how to approve it, then approve the document so you can gain full access to Handshake. As soon as your document is approved then you can start to build your profile. There is actually a feature to build your profile from your resume where Handshake will pull experiences from your resume and allow you to directly add them to your profile without having to type them in. Make sure you profile is full of all your experiences, skills, and education. Your profile will look similar to how a LinkedIn profile looks.


Making Appointments:

With your profile set up, you can now start to access all Toppel has to offer starting with appointments. If you do not feel like going into Toppel (you shouldn’t feel this way) to schedule an advising appointment, you can do it from your fingertips. All you need to do is go to the appointment tab, choose the advising you need, pick a time, and you are all set.


Finding Events/Interviews:

Another thing you can do on handshake is find events and register for them. You will be able to search through events that Toppel is having in this section and see if it is relevant to you; in which case you can register for them. In addition to Toppel events, you will be able to find Career Fairs, see what employers are coming to the fair, and register for the fair. Lastly you will be able to register for interviews. Interviews happen at Toppel when employers come to campus and you are able to find these opportunities in Handshake and register for them.


Searching for Jobs and Internships:

With your resume uploaded and profile set up, you can now start looking for internship and job opportunities. To look for these opportunities, you will need to go to either the job or internship tab depending on your current wants and needs. In these sections you will find an overwhelming list of jobs and internships that span over 109 pages. Do not get overwhelmed by this. You can choose to narrow your search. You can narrow it down by location, job type, employment time, and many more. One very helpful modifier is “Show Qualified Only.” This will allow the jobs and internships to be filtered to only the ones you would be qualified to apply for based on your major, year, and other factors. That 109-page list will narrow down a lot when you apply the modifiers of your liking. With the smaller list you can go through the opportunities and read up on the qualifications and job descriptions.


Applying for Jobs and Internships:

Once you have singled in on your prized job or internship it is now time to apply for the job. If your resume is approved, this is easy. All you have to do is click “Apply Now” and you will be prompted to upload you resume form Handshake. After you apply you will be notified by the company after they review your application.


I hope this gives you a general overview of Handshake and just how important is it for the job search. Remember walk-in advising at Toppel is open Monday through Friday 9am to 4:30pm. Stop by for critiques or if you have any questions about Handshake.



Study Tips

By Jackson Pollock, Peer Advisor

With midterm exams upon us, it is a good time to reflect on some different ways and methods of studying. Although no one really wants to, eventually we all have to sit down and get cranking. Here are a few tips and methods to study:

1) Start Early:

Make sure you give yourself enough time to be able to study the right way. The worst thing for you to do is to pull an all-nighter to cram for an exam. It is both bad for your personal health and it is actually harder to commit information to your memory. Start studying at least a week before your exam so you have ample time to get notes, and lecture slides together, and if needed to meet with your professor during office hours. This will allow you to have extra time to study for other exams, and give yourself the personal time you need.

2) Find a Study Group:

Find a few friends or acquaintances in your class or with the same professor and plan on studying with them for some of the time. Having a group or friend to study with helps a lot. Rather than being isolated on the 9th floor of the stacks, it will allow you to communicate with civilization in a very beneficial way. Studying with a friend or a group of people will allow you to quiz each other, share different ideas of understanding, and help motivate each other.

3) Personal Health:

Your personal health is very important during the time you are studying. You should still eat and sleep regularly. Sleep is crucial. If you do not give appropriate time to sleep you will feel it in your body and it will heavily affect your performance. Remember to start studying early so getting a good night’s sleep will not be an issue. Make sure you set aside time for yourself as well, either to work out or to just be yourself for a little.

4) MAKE Flash Cards:

Although using someone else’s flashcards or Quizlet may seem like the easier option, the actual act of creating flashcards or a Quizlet will help you study even better. The process of creating flashcards commits things to your memory because you are writing it down. Just going through flashcards or a Quizlet will help you to memorize, but it will not give the same result as actually creating flashcards or a Quizlet.

5) Location, Location, Location:

With such a unique campus such as ours, there are so many places to study. While being in the library might be the first thing that comes to mind, it is good to mix it up. Anywhere outside is a great option, because it gets you out the cold, air conditioned library.

I hope that these tips are helpful for your midterms that we are all excitingly awaiting! Good luck, Canes!

Time Management

By Beverly Asante, Peer Advisor

As you all know it is extremely difficult being a full-time student and tackling other obligations. For some of you these obligations might be going to work, taking care of your family, or even attending weekly meetings for student organizations. These obligations begin to add up and before you know it, you will be stressed and overwhelmed because it feels as if you are doing a million things at once. We have all been there. If you have struggle with time management, I strongly urge you to continue reading. Listed below are a few tips on how you can increase your time management skills.

Have a Planner

Time management is about controlling the amount of time you spend on activities. What better way to do that then to use a planner. They are a great way for you to keep track of your daily activities. Most planners have a daily or weekly overview that allow for you to pencil in all your upcoming events and schedules. You can even organize your schedule by the hour. Planners give you a physical record of your schedule and the times you are available to ensure that none of your daily tasks conflict with each other. As busy college students, with a million and one things on our plate, using a planner is essential for making sure our time is used efficiently.


To-Do list


The biggest reason as to why I would recommend a to-do list is for organization. Again, for most of us, school is not our only obligation. Often times we have an idea of what we have to do, but actually writing things down allows for us to organize our tasks and prioritize our responsibilities. Also, keeping everything in our head gives us room to forget things. Nobody is capable of remembering everything they have to do, all of the time. I know I can’t. That is why I recommend keeping a to-do list; it ensures that we focus all our attention on our most important tasks.

Start Early


Starting early is very important. Most times, the reason why we have so much to do is because we wait till the last minute to do everything. I’ve done it, we’ve all done it, but it is probably one of the most inefficient ways to work. For example, professors give us our syllabi during our first day of school. Meaning, we have weeks in advance to prepare and organize ourselves. Please do not wait till the day before your exams to start studying. Study a week or two in advance and get ahead. Doing things early will allow for you to be calm, more creative and clearheaded, thus enabling you to work at your maximum capacity.

Get Career Expo Ready by Preparing an Elevator Pitch

By Tina Humphrey, Peer Advisor

An elevator pitch is a 3 to 5 minute persuasive speech of who you are, what you do, what you’re looking for, and how you would be the ideal candidate for a company.

Start off by thinking about the types of jobs you are looking for, pick your most significant job from your resume and how your experience could offer something to the company you are applying to.

For example, you decide you want to visit Abercrombie and Fitch’s booth. You researched that the company values diversity and unique customers and employers. You can state in your elevator speech that you are seeking a company that values diversity because in your previous job you learned how to communicate and work with effectively with people of various cultures. You believe your culture competence could be of value to Abercrombie’s unique culture. You could end by asking to have the recruiter’s business card and leave your resume to show them how you would be a great addition to Abercrombie’s culture.

Here is a great video on how to better prepare your pitch:


Take a deep breath, be confident and practice what you are going to say. Keep in mind you want your elevator pitch to be conversational instead of an infomercial.

The more you practice the more you will feel confident in your speech!

Good luck Canes!


5 Things I Learned From Attending Expo

By Lindsey Shanck, Toppel Peer Advisor

A room full of students milling around in suits, a constant low rumble of chatter and logos everywhere I turned, the nerves kicked in. What if they don’t like me, or I say something wrong? Is my resume good enough? Should I go up to more companies than I had originally planned?

These were just a few of the thoughts that went through my head when I attended Expo for the first time. Toppel Career Center hosts Career Expo, a job fair consisting of an array of graduate schools and employers in every industry for students to attend; some companies recruit for internships, others for full time positions. On September 19th, students will flock to the BankUnited Center to partake in this event.

Whether you are a freshman, graduating senior, or alumni, it is strongly encouraged that you attend. Freshman that attend Expo get a leg up for every other year that they are at the U. Not only will they gain valuable experience in networking, they also begin to build on connections that could deem useful in coming years.

Although I didn’t attend as a freshman, I wish that I did. I was so nervous going in as a junior that I didn’t feel as confident as I would have liked to. So if it is your first time attending too, here are 5 tips to help you prepare.


1 – Practice, practice, practice your elevator pitch!

An elevator pitch is a brief yet concise introduction that can help inform the employer you are talking to about who you are and what your intentions are. We recommend telling them about your present, past, then future. Information you should include are your major and year in school, an internship or job you’ve had, and your career goals. Practice this pitch in the mirror, in front of friends, and record yourself until you feel confident reciting it.

2 – Wear clothing you are comfortable in.

While professional dress is required for entrance into Expo, make sure that whatever you are wearing is something you feel comfortable in. If you are wearing high heels that you cannot walk in, or a suit jacket that is unbearably tight, it will be apparent to others.

3 – Know who you are talking to.

Pull up the list of employers attending Expo on, and choose a few employers you would definitely like to talk to. Do some research about those few companies and learn more about them so you when you talk to the recruiter it is apparent that you are interested in the company. Sharing what you like about the company and specifically why you would like to be a part of it will set you apart from others.

4 – Bring many resumes!

After you have your resume critiqued by a peer advisor at Toppel, print out 20 copies to bring with you to Expo. Although you may only be interested in four companies, another company might catch your eye or you might strike up an interesting conversation with a recruiter that you weren’t expecting.


Of course my last piece of advice is to go to Expo. I strongly regret not going my first two years of college and missing that valuable practice. Many of the same companies attend every year, and making those connections three years ago might have helped me now. Register by logging into your Handshake account, clicking on “Fairs”, then Fall Expo.


See you there!

Welcome to the U

By Beverly Asante, Toppel Peer Advisor

The transition from high school to college is a big step. For some of you, this might be the first time you are away from your friends and family. This may be the last time that you see your classmates from high school. This may even be the last time someone scolds you for not doing your laundry. Why you may ask?  You’re a college student!  Congratulations baby canes, you’ve made it! Here are a few tips on how you can make your transition from high school to college that much smoother.

Be Yourself

 Oscar Wilde once said “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”   This may sound really cliché, but it’s true. I was extremely worried when I first started my college career. I didn’t have any friends.  I literally was eating alone in the cafeteria with no one to talk to for about a month. It happens, you might not have friends the first couple of weeks, but you will eventually make some. The only way you can survive in college or anywhere else for that matter is by being yourself. People will gravitate towards you more easily once they can relate to you, the real you.  So put your best foot forward and don’t forget to always be U.

Get Involved

I previously wrote a blog post about getting involved, the link for that will be listed below. However, I cannot stress the importance of it. Employers want to know that you are not a robot, studying all day in the library and that you are a well-rounded person.  You should be actively participating in clubs and organizations that resonate with who you are and your values. Getting involved shows employers that you have a balance and that you can be a leader both inside and outside of the classroom. Not to mention, you can meet some of your lifelong friends and advocates through clubs and organizations. Speaking from my own experience, joining organizations such as the debate team and the Hammond Butler Inspirational Concert Choir helped me so much. Till this very day, I hold friendships and bonds with people that constantly motivate me to be a better person.  

Go to Class

Last, but not least do not forget to go to your classes. I understand our parents are no longer here to tell us what to do and we are definitely all adults here, but going to class is very important. You can miss out on very important material if you do not attend class on a regular basis. I definitely recommend going to class and developing a relationship with your professors. Don’t ever forget that it is the little things that matter such as going to class, getting there on time, participating, and treating both your classmates and professors with respect. Professors actually pay attention to those little details and that might actually work in your favor when final grades come around.

Here is the link to all my previous blog posts including the one about getting involved,

 Thank you for reading, and don’t forget, it’s great to be a Miami HurriCane!


Back-to-School, Back to Blogging

By Jessica Sublette, Graduate Assistant, Career Education

Welcome to the new site of the Toppel Peers Blog. What is the Toppel Peers Blog, you ask? Great question!

The Toppel Peers Blog is a medium of communication from the Toppel Career Center staff to University of Miami students and the surrounding community. Here you will find tips, tricks, how-to posts, and suggestions on topics like career readiness, internship searches, making the most of your current job, dressing for success, how to rock an interview, and so much more!

Each week you can expect a couple posts that will be focused around personal and professional development. I am personally very excited to see what tips our staff has in store for us this semester, so I hope that you will stay tuned with me on the edge of our seats…

My shameless plug in this first post is about our walk-in advising at Toppel. Bring your resume, cover letter, personal statement, or CV to our walk-in advising staff (Monday through Friday 9:00 am to 4:30 pm) and we will be happy to review it with you!

Don’t forget, Career Expo is coming up on September 19th! Allow us to help you put your best foot forward by dropping in to see us. You will need professional dress and copies of your resume to enter the venue so don’t wait until the last minute to rent clothes from Sebastian’s closet (see link below) or to come in for resume help!

Thank you all and good luck this semester! Go Canes!


Important links:

Toppel Career Center Website (check out our new look):

Professional Dress & Sebastian’s Closet:

Resume & Cover Letter Online Resources:

Blog at

Up ↑