The Importance of Informational Interviewing

Informational Interview

Hey Argos!

Looking for information and advice about working in a career that interests you? Try Informational Interviewing!

Why is Informational Interviewing Important? 

  • Obtain firsthand relevant information for a specific career field or position.
  • Learn what it’s like to work in a particular organization.
  • Get tips for how to prepare and enter into careers.
  • Develop professional relationships and expand your network.

How Can One Obtain an Informational Interview? 

  1. Research
    • Research the career field or the employer.
  1. Identify
    • Identify people to interview by reviewing your contacts and finding possible leads.
  1. Prepare
    • Create a short introduction about yourself including why you have contacted the person.
    • Plan to ask open-ended questions.
  1. Initiate
    • Initiate contact with the person by phone or email.
    • Mention how you got the person’s name.
    • Emphasize that you are looking for information, not a job.
    • Ask for a convenient time to make an appointment.

What Questions Should/Should Not Be Asked?

  • Select appropriate questions for your target career field and level of decision-making.
  • Ask questions related to the nature of a person’s work, how to get started in the field, or effective approaches for the job search.
  • Avoid asking for a job and do not ask questions to get answers that can be found through a basic internet search.

Examples:

  • How important are my GPA and extracurricular activities?
  • What kind of training did you find most effective for entering your career field?
  • Does your organization hire ___________ majors? If so, for what positions?

 

Learn more about the great resources we have to offer at Career Services! Come by and see us!

Until next time,

Hannah, Oracle Resource Coach

Professionalism in the Workplace: How to Work Well With Others/Diversity in the Workplace

hommes d'affaires et bagarre

Hello Argos,

It’s Allee Millsap here. I believe today’s topic is one of the most important for defining one’s future career: how to work well with others. Many of us have already experienced conflicts in our part time jobs during high school and now in college. During my time in college thus far, I have noticed that one can look at a conflict in a negative or positive way. As Dr. Harriet B. Braiker once said, “Conflict can and should be handled constructively; when it is, relationships benefit. Conflict avoidance is *not* the hallmark of a good relationship. On the contrary, it is a symptom of serious problems and of poor communication.” The roots of so many of today’s conflicts are not due to what was said, but what was not. The very essence of a relationship is built on communication. In order to work well with others, you need to get to know the different communication styles.

The Host
I bet you all have that one friend who throws great parties. Every time you go over to his or her house you have a blast. Instead of leaving the guests to fend for themselves, the host makes sure to introduce everyone and makes them feel at home. As a host, you want to identify with the guest’s interests, skills, and personality traits in order to engage with them. If you are in this mindset in your workspace, you will be able to identify and best facilitate their communication styles. In the process of identifying different communications styles, you will also be able to learn how to address conflicts.

Understanding different conflict handling styles
Many of times when a dispute arises, it is easier to point out how others respond than our own. Each of us has our own way of coping with difficult situations. Two behavioral scientists Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann developed the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, which have identified five ways people generally handle conflicts – competition, collaboration, compromise, avoidance, and accommodation. There is no one right and wrong conflict style. Here is a nice compiled list from the University of Texas’ website that nicely defines each of the conflict styles:
1. Competing – A competitive style of managing conflict can be appropriate when you have to implement an unpopular decision, make a quick decision, the decision is vital in a crisis, or it is important to let others know how important an issue is to you – “standing up for your right.” The biggest disadvantage of using this style is that relationships can be harmed beyond repair and may encourage other parties to use covert methods to get their needs met because conflict with these people are reduced to – “if you are not with me, you are against me.”
2. Accommodating – You set aside your own personal needs because you want to please others in order to keep the peace. The emphasis is on preserving the relationship. Smoothing or harmonizing can result in a false solution to a problem and can create feelings in a person that range from anger to pleasure. Accommodators are unassertive and cooperative and may play the role of a martyr, complainer, or saboteur. However, accommodation can be useful when one is wrong or when you want to minimize losses when you are going to lose anyway because it preserves relationships. If you use it all the time it can become competitive – “I am nicer than you are” – and may result in reduced creativity in conflict situations and increased power imbalances.
3. Avoidance – characterized as deliberately ignoring or withdrawing from a conflict rather than facing it. This style maybe perceived as not caring about your own issue or the issues of others. People who avoid the situation hope the problem will go away, resolve itself without their involvement, or think that others are ready to take the responsibility. There are situations where avoidance is appropriate such as when you need more time to think of how to respond, time constraints demand a delay, confrontation will hurt a working relationship, or there is little chance of satisfying your needs. However, avoidance can be destructive if the other person perceives that you do not care enough to engage. By not dealing with the conflict, this style allows the conflict to simmer and heat up unnecessarily, resulting in anger or a negative outburst.
4. Compromising– demonstrates that you are willing to sacrifice some of your goals while persuading others to give up part of theirs – give a little, get a little. Compromising maintains the relationship and can take less time than collaboration and resolutions might mean splitting the difference or seeking a middle ground position. The downside to compromising is that it can be an easy way out and reduces new creative options. If you constantly split the difference or “straddle the fence,” game playing can result and the outcome could be less than ideal.
5. Collaborating – Views conflicts as problems to be solved and finding creative solutions that satisfy all the parties’ concerns. You do not give up your self-interest; you dig into the issue to identify the underlying concerns, test your own assumptions, and understand the views of others. Collaboration takes time and if the relationship among the parties is not important, then it may not be worth the time and energy to create a win-win solution. However, collaboration fosters respect, trust, and builds relationships. To make an environment more collaborative, address the conflict directly and in a way that expresses willingness for all parties to get what they need.

Tips of handling Conflicts in the Workplace
Now that you know the different styles for how people handle themselves in the workplace, it is important to see what principles you can use in addressing workplace conflict.

Ask open ended questions – If there is some confusion with how to handle a task or you just want to gain someone else’s perspective, make sure you take the time to ask the person for their ideas, needs, opinions, and concerns.
Listen Effectively – Problem solving requires effective listening skills. When you listen effectively, you help the person talking reduce their emotional level so they begin to think through their problem and how to resolve.
Look for their interests – Understanding people’s interests is not a simple task because we tend to communicate our positions – things that are likely to be concrete and explicit. It is helpful to learn to recognize the difference between person’s positions and interests to assist in creative problem solving.
I hope this can help you work well with others in your workplace. Feel free to email if this helps you! We’d love to hear!
Sincerely,
Allee Millsap

Work Ethic

Hello Argosethics

I hope you all are having a smooth semester so far. In overview, today I will be discussing ethics in the workplace. Ethics, in the face of all types of unlikely situations, is truly about behavior. A very important part of workplace ethics and behavior is possessing integrity, being honest and doing the right thing even at the foot of adversity. For example, health care employees who must work with mentally or physically challenged patients must have a huge level of integrity, as those who manage and have dealings with money.

Ethical managerial leaders and their teams are required to make ethical considerations in the work place and lean towards the “good” path when they come to the ethical choice points.

Take HR professionals as another example. HR professionals are in a very powerful position to help build and maintain an ethical workplace culture because of the exceptional role they play in hiring, training and reviewing the eligibility of future employees; a role that allows them to influence their organizations in many ways. Ethics is so important in these environments.

When we look at ethics, we generally seek codes or rules which govern a certain practice, organization or profession. It involves how information and client’s relationships should be managed. Code of ethics and the laws are mutually exclusive. This means, an action may be legal but unethical. However, you may find that some acts and situations are both illegal and unethical. This is where ethical considerations occur when you are required to use these rules to better serve your clients and employees.

Another idea to consider is how ethical considerations affect the generational age differences in the work place. According to Rich Milgram, “Each generation brings their own set of skills and cultural norms. A successful office should be a melting pot of different generations, personalities and talent, all coming together toward a common goal. That is the only way a company will ensure they are bringing fresh perspectives to oftentimes common problem.” Milgram continues on to say, “As new generations join the workforce, there is a period of adaptation and ethics that’s required on both ends.” This period of adaptation is where we might see a shift in ethical considerations those employees and employers must be cognoscente of.

Overall, having knowledge of ethics in the workplace is crucial to being a successful member in the professional world. Employers value employees who maintain a sense of honesty and ethics above all else.

Until Next Time,
Judy Cholymay

Inter in and CoOperate

Hey Argos!

 
According to The Career Playbook: Essential Advice for Today’s Aspiring Young Professional by James Citrin, you are probably in the “Aspiring” phase of your career. This means, you probably do not have a lot of professional experience, but a vast amount of potential! The potential comes from going to class and practicing the skills that you will use in your future career. But now more than ever, it seems employers want to see some practical experience utilizing the skills you learn in class. A great way to increase your professional experience, and therefore your value to future employers, is to apply for an internship or co-op.

the-internship-main

Here are the UWF Career Services definitions of internships and co-ops:

Internship: “An internship is most often a one semester experience that may or may not be for academic credit. It may also be paid or unpaid, but employers should comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Students typically seek internships in their junior and senior years in college. If seeking credit, you should meet with your academic advisor to discover if you are eligible to pursue an internship.”

Co-op: “Cooperative education programs (CoOps) are multi-semester experiences that are always for course credit and always paid. There are two forms of CoOps: parallel or alternating. A parallel CoOp student works and goes to school at least 3 semesters in a row, averaging 15-25 hours a week at work and 9-12 academic credits. An alternating CoOp student alternates between workplace and school semester by semester, working 40 hours a week during work terms and going to school full time during academic terms.”

Some degree programs at UWF require you to complete an internship to finish your degree. But even if it is not required, internships provide you with hands-on experiences and helpful professional connections. To learn more about internships and co-ops, talk to your academic adviser and come see us at Career Services!

 
Until Next Time Argos!

 
Grace

 

 

5 Tips for Successful Networking

Hello Argos,

I hope your semester is coming to a great close. Today, I will be discussing the importance of networking. Networking consists of building connections with other professional who may be at your benefit in moving forward in your career field. Below I will provide 5 tips on building the links of your network in order to gain status in your profession.

  1. Create a LinkedIn account

I cannot stress this enough, LinkedIn is a tool that allows professional to showcase their connections and allows them to create new connections, and it’s social media for professionals!

  1. Get to know your professors

Making connections with your professors in your major classes can be very beneficial in the long run. They have experience in the field that you are going to enter and can put in a good word for you, helping you build connections with other professionals.

  1. Always introduce yourself

When attending conferences, workshops, and other events, introducing yourself is crucial. You cannot get your name out there if no one knows it.

  1. Take every meeting seriously

You never know who is in attendance at job interview or a conference that could refer you to other employers. So always be professional, on time, and respectful.

  1. Always follow up

Following up is always great tool and helps the individual remember you. Following up also provides you with more opportunities to meet with a potential employer.

Hopefully with these tips you will be to your ways to building your connections and prospering in your future career field!

Also, last but not least, congrats to our graduating seniors! May many opportunities and further education advancement come your way!

Sincerely,

Kabria Shelley

The Benefits of Using LinkedIn

LinkedIn Image

Hello Fellow Argos!

Times have changed, 20 years ago if you were trying to find a job you would have to go door to door and check the newspapers for any openings. In today’s society if you are looking to apply for a job you have many more resources at your disposal in order to network, including LinkedIn!

LinkedIn was established in 2003 and increased 20 million users in 2006 but as of 2015 there are over 300 million users in 200 different countries and territories.

There are many different resources within LinkedIn:

  • It is a great way to network with individuals and connect with millions of employers, in today’s time
  • Build your professional identity online and stay in touch with colleagues and classmates
  • Discover professional opportunities, business deals, and new ventures.
  • Get the latest news, inspiration, and insight you need to be successful in your field

LinkedIn is a great way to look for jobs and follow companies you are interested in working for. They have hundreds of jobs that you can apply for with just a tap of a finger. They also have recommended jobs that they believe fit your qualifications making it easier to find additional opportunities.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Hakeem Douglas

Oracle Resource Coach

Dress for Success

Hey Argos!

What does it mean to you all to “Dress for Success?” What does that look like? Your attire has a real impact on your job search and your clothes say a lot about you! Here are some tips to dress successfully for your interview!

There are 3 main categories of attire:

  1. Casual
  2. Business Casual
  3. Business Professional

So What Is…

Business Casual?

  • Men-
    • Nice slacks or khakis
    • Nice, clean, ironed button up or polo
    • Blazer (optional)
  • Women-
    • Nice slacks, black pants or khakis
    • Skirts and dresses may be appropriate
    • Make sure clothes are not too tight or revealing

Business Professional?

  • Men-
    • Clean, well-fit 2 piece suit in navy, black, or charcoal
    • Pressed, white dress shirt
    • Tie with a simple pattern or solid color that matches the suit
    • Dress shoes, high dark socks, and a leather belt
  • Women-
    • Clean, well-fit 2 piece suit in navy, black, or charcoal
    • White or light-colored long sleeve blouse (all buttons buttoned)
    • Dark shoes with a low heel
    • Wear appropriate undergarments

What Types of Events are Appropriate for…

Business Casual?

  • Picking up a job application
  • Church
  • Certain School Functions

Business Professional?

  • Job Interview
  • Weddings or funerals
  • Graduation
  • An Awards Ceremony

Remember you can only make a first impression once!

Have a great week!

Hannah

Life Coach

Hey Argos,

Not sure what to do with your life? Don’t know what to study? Career Services is here to help!

We offer Career and Major Coaching appointments that can help you narrow down your interests and plan out the next steps. I spoke with Ciara Bacon, one of our fantastic graduate students, about these appointments and what you can expect if you make one!

First and foremost, these appointments are brainstorming sessions. You will most likely not walk out of these appointments knowing exactly what you want to do, because this is a decision only you can make! Another thing to keep in mind is that there is a difference between Career and Major Coaching appointments, and those differences are outlined below:

For Major Coaching, students will always start out identifying their VIPS (Values, Interests, Personality, and Skills). Identifying your VIPS will help you narrow your interests and discover where you would be the best fit. These types of appointments are intended for students who are not sure what major they want or students who are thinking about changing their major. Often, a major elimination sheet will be used that helps students cross of majors that they aren’t interested in or that do not align with their VIPS.  A key aspect of these appointments is using the website MyPlan. MyPlan is a great resource that quizzes you on your VIPS in order to help you identify majors/careers that you would enjoy and excel in. The important thing to remember is that it is “not always a linear path from one major or career,” says Ciara. One major may lead you to many career opportunities. These appointments will always end with an action plan that defines your SMART goals.

Career Coaching begins like the Major appointments, with a discussion about the student’s VIPS. These appointments are typically for student who know what their major is but are not sure what do with their degree once they graduate. MyPlan is also used for these appointments, as it recommends certain career paths based on your VIPS and the associated quizzes. A vital part of these appointments is learning about the specific job requirements of each job. If the majority of the job sounds interesting, it may be a career to explore!  Like with the Major Coaching, each of these appointment ends with a Smart Goals assessment.

I hope this helps you learn more about the great resources we have to offer here at Career Services! Come by and see us!

Until next time,

Keriann

Personal Social Media Branding

Hey Argos,

Can you believe it’s that halfway point in the semester? Many of you will be graduating soon, and if you’re like me, are in the process of applying to graduate schools! Even if you don’t fall into this category, it’s never too early to make sure your social media is as professional and effective as possible. Here are  5 easy tips to help guide you!

#1: Do a personal online audit: Google, Yahoo, and Bing yourself for a start. If you notice some inappropriate content that pops up, remove it! Employers and potential employers will see this information!

#2: If in doubt, delete: Comb through your posts and check for information that is unprofessional. This can include inappropriate pictures, extreme/politically charged posts, or even disparaging remarks about a current job or client. Again, if in doubt about how that information will be viewed, delete it! 

# 3: Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date: If you have a LinkedIn, update it! Employers and admission officers look at your LinkedIn, and it can damage your chances if you have an incomplete profile. Plus it’s a great networking tool!

#4: Start cultivating a more professional side on Facebook, Twitter, and similar platforms: Enhance your brand by following, liking, re-tweeting etc. graduate schools that you are interested in, or potential employers/leaders in your industry. This will help you stay up to date and give you some good talking points for potential interviews.

#5: Consider changing your privacy settings: If you are in doubt concerning what to keep and what not to keep or how an employer will view your social media, change your privacy settings so that only select groups can see your info. Don’t let something from your past interfere with your future!

Until next time,

Keriann

Why you should volunteer

Throughout your life, volunteering is an amazing experience to take part in. As college students, we may have more direct benefits that can assist with our professional careers. Here are the top 3 reasons college students should volunteer.

  1. Help Yourself, While Helping Others

You never know who you are going to meet or what connections you create just by volunteering. While volunteering, you can network with other community members. This will allow you to build relationships with people that connect you to different resources or refer you to people and help you get employed.

Even if you are not able to network while volunteering, the experience you gain from volunteering in your community can be communicated on your resume. Employers hold community service in high-regard and may have a connection to an organization you worked with.

Volunteer work is an excellent addition to any resume. If an employer sees you work hard for others when there is “nothing” in it for you, they will be excited about your efforts as a paid employee.

  1. Connect with Your Community

Volunteering is an excellent way to meet people and learn more about the community you reside in. If you are not from Pensacola, it may be difficult to find a tie to the community. Volunteering creates a connection between you and your community. It gives you something to take pride in. Whether you are building homes for Habitat for Humanity, or taking care of animals at the Humane Society, volunteering can give you a sense of purpose.

  1. It Feels Good

After completing community service there is a strange sensation that almost always occurs, satisfaction and fulfillment.  I have never seen someone walk away from a service project looking sad. Volunteering experiences are inspiring and motivating. In fact, after building a house with one of my organizations for Habitat for Humanity, they asked to go back again. Some members described the experience as addicting.

There are also biological benefits to volunteering. Being kind to others means you are being kind to yourself. Here is a link to great article in Time magazine: http://healthland.time.com/2013/05/09/why-kindness-can-make-us-happier-healthier/.This article discusses how being kind can improve your health.

When you volunteer you have the opportunity to network, connect to your community, and add some happiness to your life. Invest some time in your community and I guarantee you will see the benefits. Find something you are passionate about and find a way to give back to the community using your talents. For more information on volunteer opportunities, please visit JasonQuest accessible through your MyUWF desktop.

Get out there Argos, and make great things happen!

Grace