Coming Through in the Interview

Written By: Deserai Wills-Smith ’15

After waiting five awkward minutes, I’m invited into the office.  I shake my interviewer’s hand and say, “Nice to meet you.”  He replies, “Nice to meet you too. Have a seat.” I head over to my chair. I know it’s mine because it’s opposite the large wooden desk. Those desks get me every time. They’re very intimidating. He sits down, glances at my resume, and says in a manner neither friendly nor hostile, “So tell me a little about yourself.”

It seems impossible not to be nervous at this moment. When I envisioned this interview I envisioned the part where I got the job.  I was not expecting this. By ‘this’ I mean I thought he would be doing most of the talking – not me – and now I have to tell him about myself and I’m getting the sense that he wants a specific answer. What the heck?!

This was part of what happened during an interview for the position of organizing intern with United Cerebral Palsy of RI. I was really excited about getting that interview. I was dressed to a T (yes, capital T) but I had no understanding of how to interview or what to talk about and maybe you guessed already but I did not get that job.

Now part of the reason had to do with the fact that I was so nervous, but more importantly I came into the interview with the wrong attitude. I thought interviews work something like magic. You go in, the employer sees something in you, and then you get the job. WRONG! From this and many other failed interviews, I learned that the interview is your stage and the interviewer your audience. You’ve got to know how to appeal to your audience part of that is knowing what they want the other part is showing them that you are what they want.

Now let’s deal first with knowing what the interviewer wants. This is the easy part. You don’t have to talk to the interviewer to have an idea of what they’re looking for. Any job posting has these details in the post. I recommend looking back at the job description and articulating out loud what work/volunteer experience you have that matches the description and what personal characteristics you have that make you a good fit. You probably wrote this in your cover letter but it will be beneficial to you to articulate it briefly out loud to yourself. This is about making clear to yourself what you have to offer because the interviewer will want to know what you have to contribute to the organization.

As for showing them you’re the right candidate, I say you’ve got to practice, listen, and be honest. Who hasn’t heard that practice makes perfect? The same goes for interviews. The more time you spend asking yourself, “Why do you want this job?” and “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” the less nervous you’ll be when asked in an interview and the juicier your answer will be. That’s right. I said juicy and I mean it too. Give your interviewer juicy answers bubbling with genuine well thought out responses. Practice with a friend, your mom, your cat, your reflection, or swing by CDO (that’s what we’re here for!). If you prefer to practice alone here are some common and (more interestingly) not-so common interview questions to get you started.

Next is to listen. I think Jeff Hadden raises a crucial point when he says, “No matter how much research you’ve done, you can’t truly know you want the job until you know everything possible about the job” (9 Things Interviewers Never Tell Job Candidates, But Should). During some of my own interviews I wanted the job so bad I didn’t really care too much about the details. For example when I worked as a cashier I accepted a late night shift.  I didn’t realize how tired I’d be after my shift or how much went into cleaning up before I was able to clock out. The point is that sometimes in our excitement (because getting an interview or, even better, the position itself is exciting) we overlook some things that we should take into consideration. So during the interview make sure you listen and ask questions for your own benefit to make sure it’s a job you’re happy to stick with for a while. With that said, be honest with yourself about what you’ve heard. Are you able to put in the time required? If you were excited about one specific aspect of the position are you still interested after finding out the position requires that you spend the bulk of your time doing something else? Are you willing to compromise? Know that it’s okay to say no to a job. As much work as you put into finding and applying for opportunities in the end you want to secure something that best suits you.

 

You, Me, and The FRC

Written By: Tina Wack ’15

As a senior, getting a job after college is a terrifying proposition. It has taken four years for the reality to finally set in, but now that is has—it is time to take the workplace by storm. An incredible event which I participated in was the Fall Recruiting Consortium, held in New York every year and sponsored by the CDO. Since I’ve been working for the CDO for the last two years, I had a lot of experience dealing with the process from an administrative perspective but this year I finally participated in it. Although my dream job has (yet) to come my way, being in the FRC has definitely helped me gain the skills I need to eventually find one!

I applied to four positions—two in publishing, a managerial rotational program, and business analysis. A lot of time was spent revising my resume, perfecting each cover letter, and meeting with the career advisers to make sure my stuff was professional yet personal. Once you’re approved to be in the FRC online system…waiting for the employers’ responses is tortuous. Every day I would check painstakingly to see if anyone had made a decision and it became a compulsive habit to refresh the page. Eventually, the results came and I got an interview for onefinestay’s rotational program! What a glorious time to be alive in those few moments of recognition. I was determined to be the best I could be.

Arriving in New York City to be interviewed is in itself glamorous—the traffic, bustling streets crammed with professionals, and the smell of accomplished urbanite productivity filled my senses on the way to the event. Herds of black suits and high heels welcomed me into the conference center—everyone ready to be on their best behavior and to land some sense of security for their aspirations. There is a row of seats with signs above them indicating who should sit where while waiting for their interviewer to come collect them. I sat and in moments she came, dressed in a blazer and nautical blouse. I was led into a room where tons of professionals and students chatted about strengths, weaknesses, qualifications, and the pursuit of happiness (not really). I had an amazing chat with Samantha, recruiting manager from onefinestay, who seemed personal and frank. I thanked her for her time and left to return to the golden cab streets.

I didn’t get the job, but I feel that to be only a small part of what the FRC experience is all about. If anything, it became the training wheels of my budding job hunt. I feel more prepared than ever to take on the wonders of writing resumes, cover letters, and perfecting the interview. See you later FRC—it’s time to begin the Life Recruiting Consortium.

From: A Bardian. To: My Fellow and Future Bardians.

Written by: Kristy Maier ’15

For years growing up, I fantasized about being an Olympic equestrian, galloping through fields and over water jumps for a living. Want proof? Here’s an excerpt from my Fifth Grade “Girl Zone” Workbook:

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However, as happens with most kids, by the time I was 12, this career goal morphed into a passion to be a rocket scientist. I decided a respectable job was what I needed. Something high paying, and to which people would say, “Wow. You do that?” I wrote my first persuasive essay on how Pluto deserved the planet status it had been robbed of. I watched every PBS episode on Astronomy I could find. I even stalked NASA’s website, researching current job openings, degree requirements, and the housing market where these jobs were available.

In eighth grade, my English teacher recommended I major in literature; I told her no thanks, I’d rather be a scientist. But as fate would have it, I’m currently a Written Arts major, about to enter my senior year. I love what I’m studying and the stories I’m working on, but I am still not sure what I will do for a long-term job. Due to my vast interests and uncertainty, I had been a frequent visitor of the Career Development Office before I ended up working there.

On a typical day working in the CDO, I write emails and respond to students trying to set up appointments or employers who hope to advertise their internships to Bard. I also research career-related opportunities to update our Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as the Nationwide Internship Consortium. Some days are busy with walk-in students, phone calls, and a stream of emails overlapping with each other. Other days are very quiet. Most walk-ins want to talk about their resume or summer internships. Some students who come into the CDO have a specific question in mind about a program I’ve never heard of. And, of course, there’s always the odd request to borrow the stapler or a pair of scissors.

When I first came into the CDO as a sophomore, I told April, a career counselor, that I was having anxiety about graduate school applications. I think she was surprised that a sophomore would already be experiencing anxiety about applications, which would not be due for a couple years. Taking me a step back, she asked me if I’d started working on a resume. I told her no, and that it was beside the point, because who had time to worry about a resume when grad school applications were just a few years away?! It feels good to look back and laugh about my former priorities. I have definitely changed a lot since freshman year.

I came into Bard expecting to go straight to a doctoral program to become a literature professor. But after taking numerous classes and discovering interests in unexpected fields - such as Japanese, Drawing, and Astronomy – I have realized there is much more I want to explore than four years could ever allow. Some students that come into the CDO seem to know exactly what they want to do after Bard. Other students walk in feeling a little lost, like after Bard there is this deep and mysterious cliff of responsibility. For me, I feel a sense of the end coming, but I know there is still much to be accomplished. I, like many Bard students, keep asking the question: how and when should I choose what to do with my life?

I know I want to attend grad school, but when I will go and what I will study, I cannot be sure. Before I spend money on another degree, I want to intern in different career paths, so I can really see if it’s a good fit for me and worth pursuing higher education. Teaching seems rewarding. So does working for a literary agency or a library. On the other hand, I feel a sense of urgency to travel the world and meet new people. There are so many cultures I don’t know anything about, so much of the world I feel a responsibility to see and to understand. I am interested in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program and working on an organic farm in Europe. However, the trouble with traveling is always the money. Traveling is expensive. Not to mention I’ll have thousands of dollars in loans to pay back.

So to save up, I might work for a while in retail or an independent bookstore. Some might not consider this a “career,” but there would be many plusses to such a job. I’d have my evenings and weekends off. I would have the freedom to read for pleasure every day, which is something I have been missing these past three years. I could volunteer teaching ESL. I could take that yoga class or that painting class. I would have time to ride horses again. Who knows how the skills and interests I develop in that time could inspire my later career? The possibilities are endless. Whatever happens, I will make it exciting.

In the meantime, I’ll be spending half the summer in New Orleans as a volunteer counselor with the Bard New Orleans Exchange. There, I’ll be working in the Andrew H. Wilson Charter School’s summer camp to prepare preschool age children for formal education. I’m thrilled to see New Orleans for the first time, hear New Orleans’ street musicians, eat a Po Boy in the bayou, and connect with people whose lives are very different from my own.

After this five-week program, I’ll travel back to Bard to work on the farm in July and August, as well as in the Bard Learning Commons as a writing and ESL tutor during L&T. All the while, I plan to start reading and writing for my senior project. While I may not be sure where I’m headed after graduation, I definitely know where I’m going this summer. I can’t wait to wrap up this semester and head to New Orleans for the first time!

Wish me luck ^_^

KristySig