Preparing for Fall Semester: Build Your Skills with Electives

By: Trish Freshwater on June 28th, 2012

Whether you’re working towards a bachelor’s degree in business, food management, fine arts, or anything in between, you likely have some elective credits to fill each semester. While you might think that this is a great place to drop in that easy class to lighten your load, you also may want to consider a more strategic approach to your electives.
As I mentioned in my last post about transitional skills, there are a number of competencies that will set you apart from other job candidates which will help you succeed in numerous different jobs and that will enhance your technical skill set. From this perspective, consider choosing an elective that will help round out your experience, knowledge and skill set.

Writing Classes
Good writing skills are, perhaps, the most important skill set you will need for any career. From the seemingly simple task of writing an e-mail to the more thoughtful writing of letters, proposals and presentations, writing is at the core of everything you will do in your future career. You need to be able to express yourself well in writing, using good sentence structure, organized thoughts and persuasive writing. And, the only way to improve your writing is to practice writing. A lot. So, look for classes in business writing, business communication, technical writing and fiction/nonfiction writing. It doesn’t really matter what type of writing you’re doing, as long as you’re writing.

Public Speaking
Most college students dread giving a speech. This fear usually comes from a lack of experience. But, these skills will be essential in your professional career as you speak one-on-one with others in your company or if you ever need to present an idea, formal presentation or other material to a group. This is perhaps the second most important elective you can take, after a writing class. Look for classes in public speaking, oral interpretation, interpersonal communication and business communication.

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Knowing how to research, understand and solve problems will be common tasks in your professional life. Being good at this requires a strong understanding of ethical behavior, critical thinking skills and problem solving abilities. Look for classes in ethics, logic, philosophy, critical thinking and project management, or a class in research methods if it applies to your major.

World Views
Today’s world is shrinking fast, thanks to social media and other online tools. While you might look for a job at, say, a hospital in your local community, your understanding of the world around you and the diversity of the people in your community will be critical for your ability to interact with varied patients, customers and colleagues. Look for classes in history, political science, government, geography, world religions, cultural anthropology, women’s studies and ethnic studies.

Business Skills
Even if your future career will be in classroom teaching elementary school children, you will need a good
bit of business acumen to understand the greater organization for which you work. All entry-level candidates for nearly any job should have solid computer skills. Additionally, it would be helpful to understand some basic business concepts. Look for classes that teach Microsoft Office programs and if it makes sense for your career look into graphic design, photo and video editing classes. For business acumen, consider classes in accounting, business communication, business law, human resources management and economics.

Choosing the right elective classes should be a fun part of arranging your schedule each semester. But, if you put a little thought behind your choices, you could easily set yourself up to be a stronger job candidate after graduation. Who knows, if you select just the right classes, you could even earn yourself a minor in business or communication – just one more credential to set you apart from other new grads in your career field. Good luck and happy scheduling!

Trish is a senior communications manager for Sodexo, a world leader in quality of daily life solutions that contribute to the progress of individuals and the performance of organizations. As a member of the marketing and communications team for Sodexo’s Talent Acquisition department since 2010, Trish is an employment expert who aims to educate job candidates about the hiring process, networking opportunities and the culture of Sodexo. A graduate of Marist College (BA – Psychology) and the University of Southern Mississippi (MS – Public Relations), Trish has never been far from the classroom. As a former adjunct professor for the College of Charleston and professional advisor for the college’s Public Relations Student Society of America chapter, she enjoys helping students reach for their potential and guide them through the process of preparing for their future careers. A lover of technology and gadgets, cookies, chocolate and baking, Trish spends most of her free time raising two small children and competing with husband to obtain the most stamps in her National Parks Passport book. Feel free to connect with Trish or learn more about careers at Sodexo.

What’s Up with the One Page Resume Rule?

By:  on July 21st, 2012 

There’s a bit of conventional wisdom out there about how long a resume should be.  Many career advisers, resume writing books and websites, and even some blogs suggest that people should keep their resume to one single page.  Job seekers shrink their font sizes, decrease their margins, and use other tricks to try and force their resume to meet this rule. In my humble, yet professional, opinion – it is okay to have a two or three page resume.  It’s what you do with that resume that really counts.

There is a real benefit to a one-page resume.  You see, when we post a job opening, chances are we will get dozens and dozens of resumes – big companies in metro areas may get hundreds and hundreds!  This leaves those of us screening resumes very little time to invest in deeply reading each applicant’s resume.

When we screen resumes, we do what comes natural – start at the top and work our way down.  Now, if we get half way through page one and find nothing of interest – we’ll probably stop looking at that particular resume and will move on to the next one.  The more concise your resume is, the more likely the aspects of your resume that you want to stand out will.

So, is it okay to have a two or three page resume?  Yes, but make sure on page one, and early on page one for that matter, you highlight the most pertinent information for the job for which you are applying.  One way to do this is to include a “summary of qualifications” or a “summary of achievements” as one of the first sections of your resume.  If all the good stuff is buried on page two, I can assure you it will never get read if there is nothing to excite the person reviewing your resume on page one.


Mike Spinale is a corporate Human Resources leader at a healthcare information technology company located outside of Boston, Massachusetts and is an adjunct professor at Southern New Hampshire University. He has over eight years of experience in HR and management including career counseling, recruitment, staffing, employment branding, and talent management.  Mike has dedicated his HR career to modern views on the field – HR is not about the personnel files – it’s about bringing on the best talent, ensuring they’re in the right seat, and keeping them motivated and growing in their careers. In addition, Mike is the author of the CareerSpin blog where he offers advice and opinion on job search, personal & employment branding, recruiting, and HR. Mike is a certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Babson College. He is also a board member of the Metro-North Regional Employment Board, a board which sets workforce development policy for Boston’s Metro-North region, and an active member of the Society for Human Resource Management and the Northeast Human Resources Association.

Advance Your Career with Community

By: Michele Posehn on April 24th, 2012

You tweet. You’re on LinkedIn. You’ve got the online networking thing down. But what about offline? Are there some local networking opportunities to consider?

Consider your everyday life. You shop, you vacation, and you dine out; in all of those situations, you are encountering people. Life is the original social platform–minus the 140 characters. I have found myself in many situations that have led to great contacts–dinner parties, sporting events, even striking up a conversation with a stranger while waiting in the grocery checkout line. In your everyday world, the casual encounters of your daily routine can open up a network of connections with limitless possibilities. Consider some of these common–and not so common–places where people are networking offline:

Community Events
Do you participate in local charity events or other community events that businesses might sponsor or participate in? Not only can you meet potential employers or talk to employees of companies you are interested in, you will likely meet many people with years of experience in your industry who can turn into good mentors or someone who can help you get a foot in the door. Tradeshows also offer a wealth of business contacts, especially since companies pay handsomely in sponsorships and usually have a strong onsite presence. Also, check out career fairs at local colleges–your campus Career Services office should have a listing of upcoming events.

Chamber Memberships
In your local community, you may want to consider joining the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber exists solely to promote local business interests, so meetings are usually well attended by business leaders. Chambers meet regularly–often including monthly breakfasts with speakers and business after-hours networking–and are a great way to make an impression on those in your area.

Golf, Sports and More
It’s no secret that many business leaders enjoy a little networking on the golf course. So, if you golf, there is a great chance you could bump into a new contact on the course. But what about local sporting events where companies buy box seats or sponsor a night for their employees to attend? Sometimes being in the right place at the right time can make a casual conversation into something more about a specific company.

Now, consider this. There is a gym in New York City that recently began offering an exercise class for “sweat workers.” The idea is that some business leaders would like to opt out of lunch meetings at restaurants that pack a punch in calories, and get down to business while working out. While this option may not be for everyone, it’s an interesting trend to watch.

While being on social media is important, don’t discount everyday opportunities that present themselves. It’s a great feeling when you look at a crowd of people and realize that any one of them could add value to your job search and build your network.

Michele is a Senior Recruiter for Sodexo, a world leader in quality of daily life solutions that contribute to the progress of individuals and the performance of organizations. As a former assistant director at the University of Maryland University College’s Career and Cooperative Education Center, she’s no stranger to students trying to plan their careers. During that time, she worked with non-traditional college students to gain school credit for on the job work experience. Michele also taught seminars on job searching, resume writing and interview techniques, and partnered with local employers to help students gain employment. At Sodexo, she has continued her interest in shaping student careers by serving as a mentor to an intern in the company’s Future Leaders Program. Michele began her recruitment career in 1999, joining Sodexo in 2008 where she recruits for a range of food, facilities and environmental services positions. Michele holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland College Park (go Terps), is a charter member of a Baltimore area Toastmasters chapter, and a Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR) and Certified Diversity Recruiter (CDR). When not giggling with her two girls, Michele enjoys writing … and watching the Yankees win, much to the dismay of her husband. Join her on LinkedIn or just Network with Us at Sodexo.

Internet job searching, are you crazy!

Did you know that the Internet is one of the lest effective ways to conduct your job search.

In fact the San Bernardino County Labor Market Information Unit reports that less then 10% of the available jobs are filled through advertisements methods like the Internet.

Another survey by the LMI Unit revealed that at least 74.5% of job positions were filled directly or indirectly as a result of networking! Most job opportunities are not list and are part of what is called the “hidden” job market with approximately two thirds of all positions found there.

One of the most difficult task; is finding out about available employment opportunities. The Internet is a valuable tool for researching and finding out information about companies when preparing for an interview. But not for weeding out nonviable job opportunities.

Networking face to face with employers and those connected with employers in the community where you are seeking employment is one of the most effective job search strategies out there.

A large number of job opportunities are never advertised, never posted at college campuses, never posted at veteran placement offices, never listed with employment agencies or executive placement firms. How come? Because “word of mouth” is fast, it’s easy, it’s free, and someone known and trusted to the prospective employer does the initial screening.

Consider google searching

3 Keys to Getting Your Message Out into the World So You Can Make a Difference

If you’re one of the thousands of heart-centered and conscious entrepreneurs, getting your message out into the world in a big way is important to you. In fact, it might even be the reason why you started your business in the first place.

The problem, of course, is how. How do you get your message out into an already crowded marketplace? How do you make sure you’re getting your message in front of the people who so desperately need to hear it?

That’s what I’m going to walk you through today — the 3 main keys to getting your message out into the world in a REALLY big way so you can make the difference you were put on this Earth to make.

1. Make sure your message is crystal clear. In fact, the clearer and more specific the better. The more general it is, the less impact you’re going to make.

Consider this — “I am a healer” versus “I provide spiritual healing to entrepreneurs as they step into their own power as an entrepreneur.” Do you see the difference? The first one could be for nearly anyone and because it could be for nearly anyone it has no meaning. The second one is far more juicy and it gets much of that juiciness from being specific.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself “I don”t want to be too specific because I may turn some people off from my message.” First off, if someone is turned off from your message, they probably aren’t open to it in the first place. And second of all, even though it sounds counter-intuitive, the more specific you are, the more you’ll stand out. (Don’t believe me? Go back and read those two statements again.)

2. Make sure you’re crystal clear about who you’re trying to reach. Again, the more specific you are, the more likely you’ll cut through all the clutter and reach the people who really need to hear your message.

You don”t have to reach everyone — just the ones who need your message. In fact, trying to reach everyone is a determent. All you’ll end up doing is NOT cutting through the clutter and not making the difference you’re meant to make.

Believe me, there’s more then enough of your ideal clients to keep you very busy for years to come, so just focus on them and don’t worry about the rest.

3. Make sure you’re consistent with your message and you repeat it frequently. You’re an entrepreneur. Which probably means you’re a little (or a lot) ADD. Which also probably means you’re going to get tired of your message long before you’ve made an impact in the marketplace.

Look, your ideal clients, the ones who need to hear your message, are not going to get tired of hearing it because:

A: They aren’t living in your business so even you’re most rabid fan is only going to hear your message a fraction as much as you are

B: Your ideal clients are busy people and won’t hear your message unless you repeat it often.

So you need to do two things — resist the urge to “tweak” your message as you get bored with it (and especially resist the urge to redefine or remake yourself every six months or so, that’s the fastest way to cause serious confusion in the marketplace). And make getting your message out there one of your top priorities. You should be marketing yourself and your message as often as you can and in as many different media as you can. That includes social networking, articles public relations, direct mail, speaking, etc.

Above all, don’t give up. It may take awhile to penetrate crowded marketplaces and make the difference you’re meant to make, but it IS possible — just as long as you follow these 3 keys and stay persistent.

About the Author

Michele PW (Michele Pariza Wacek) is your Ka-Ching! Marketing strategist and owns Creative Concepts and Copywriting LLC, a copywriting and marketing agency. She helps entrepreneurs become more successful at attracting more clients, selling more products and services and boosting their business. To find out how she can help you take your business to the next level, visit her site at Copyright 2009 Michele Pariza Wacek. . Article on marketing, visibility, small business marketing strategy, online marketing strategies, strategic internet marketing by Michele Pariza wacek

Paper Chase

so: job search tip: its very important to follow directions when applying for employment opportunities. Many employers use the application process to gauge suitability. Be clear in your employment objective, know what your seeking and ensure that you are able to articulate why your a fit for the opportunity.

Read the job description carefully and show in your resume and any communications how you fit or can fulfill the objective of the job.

If you have questions regarding the company and the available or lack of information, write a clear communication to the employer (something like)
“Hi Mr. Employer
I am [….]
I’ve followed the directions to apply
I have questions regarding [….]
I am that I am qualified and willing to fulfill the job requirements
I am the best thing since “flip flops”
Here are my questions […..]
What is the best way to follow up regarding my questions and how can I set up a informational interview?” end quote

Other mind set tip: note to self “sh!t i am in the market for work, my job, is job search, job search is a full time activity and I treat it as such, i have a plan and my objectives are clear, i have a network of individuals and organizations helping because I am the sh!t employee but I smell good”

job search is the ACTIVE pursuit of finding a job. Dont give in or up you will make it, you are not by yourself. Job search is a transition, its a period of transition, use it to go to the next level.

Put First Things First

Prioritize and focus on what matters most.

“You can’t become principle-centered without a vision of and a focus on the unique contribution that is yours to make.” 

In order to live a more balanced existence, you have to recognize that not doing everything that comes your way is okay. There’s no need to overextend yourself anymore. Stephen R. Covey

EQ3R System

Here’s a little system that you can use to help stay on track

Evaluate:  look your plan over. This will help you refocus and remember what you set out to achieve

Question: your progress, this is where you evaluate the Who, What, When, Where, Why and how of your plan, doing this helps you see if your on track. Write down any questions that come to mind during you questioning session and set them aside for later.

Read: your plan over

Recite: immediately after reading your plan look away and recite and visualize what you have read. See your accomplishing the thing you want to achieve.

Review: the notes/questions you’ve made, read your daily journal entries and plan to reward yourself for progress and goal attainment. Make needed adjustment in the appropriate areas.

Building a Brand, not a Business

By:  on October 31st, 2011


When taking on a new project, every student should ask themselves why they are dedicating their time to said project, and what do they hope to benefit from the experience.  As a student, if your answer to the benefits is made up of dollars and cents, you are probably not off to a good start.

Being a student or young professional is a time for adventure and growth; it should never be defined by money. Even Mark Zuckerberg didn’t create Facebook for the money. It was his passion project and he took it to a place where he could reap the rewards. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or not, you have to understand that you are building a brand, not a business.

For the past couple of years, I’ve started and taken on many projects that required a great amount of time, but nearly all of them saw zero return, monetarily speaking. Even my social media consultancy didn’t see much return as I offered many of my services pro-bono (that said, I do wish I collected some of the money I was owed).

Now though, my experience has paid off where I now have a full-time job and (un-related) am able to share my thoughts with this great community. I think this all stemmed from the realization that the greatest thing I can do while I am still young is build a brand, not a business.

Businesses come and go, but your brand stays with you throughout career. Fortunately, students are more empowered with knowledge and communication tools that allow them to build their brands earlier and faster than ever. So don’t worry if your early endeavors don’t result in riches. . . building a brand is more important. After all, it’s the biggest brands that have the biggest followings.


Harrison is the Community Manager at MBA@UNC, the new Online MBA program at the University of North Carolina and sticks to his entrepreneurial roots as the founder of the global social good campaign, Tweet Drive. As evidenced through his previous projects, Harrison has a passion for all things social media, philanthropy, and finding new ways for students to understand the power of a brand. Before moving to New York and while still a student at Temple University, Harrison founded the PR/Social Media consulting firm, Kratz PR as well as Engage TV and the #PRStudCast podcast.  Feel free to connect with him to discuss community, social good, branding, or the Philadelphia Phillies on Twitter, @KratzPR or Linkedin.

Does Your Major Align with Today’s Top Careers?

By:  on July 13th, 2012 

Growing up, our parents had grand visions for our future. They hoped we would grow up to be doctors or lawyers. My own mother even dreamed once that I would become an investigative reporter, traveling the world seeking the truth for my stories. Our parents often hoped we would find a job with an outrageous salary to support ourselves, and possibly their retirement. But above all, they wanted the best for us. And they still do, even if our career interests don’t lead down these wishful paths.

So, if being a doctor or lawyer is not in your future, what careers are hot today? Do your interests match up with any of these careers?

Each year, the U.S. News and World Reportcompiles a list of “best jobs” based on labor statistics and other data that indicate the types of careers likely to see consistent hiring over the next few years. Additionally, jobs expert Laurence Shatkin, Ph.D., author of Best Jobs for the 21st Century,compiled a list of hot jobs for women. Listed below are some examples of hot careers in today’s market.

Facilities Management

  • Maintenance and Repair Worker
  • Energy Managers/Engineers


  • Registered Nurse
  • Pharmacist
  • Medical Assistant
  • Physical Therapist
  • Paramedic

 Information Technology

  • Software Developer
  • Database Administrator
  • Web Developer
  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • Computer Programmer

Additionally, there is much anticipated growth in business/office jobs and the education market.

Does your major align with any of these career paths? If so, it’s important to remember that while these career fields are hot,  finding jobs in these areas could be competitive. So take the time now to fully prepare yourself for a rewarding career while you’re still in school. Enhance your knowledge withtransferrable skillsgain some experience (even if you don’t have a summer internship), start building your network and learn how to write your resume using keywords. There are a lot of things you can do now to ensure you stand out from the crowd of candidates when it comes time to apply for your first job after college.

What if you’re undecided? Do any of these career paths interest you? Take the time to fullyresearch each career – learn about the education requirements, research salaries in your area to ensure they’ll meet your needs and start researching companies that hire in the field you’ve chosen. If you’re undecided, knowledge is your greatest asset to help you choose a future career.

Once you’ve selected a career path, check out company web sites for information about the careers they offer. For example, here at Sodexo we provide lots of information about what it’s like to work at our company for candidates interested in Facilities Management and Information Technology, as just two examples. We list the various types of jobs we have in each area and provide information about career advancement at our company. Other companies provide similar information on their web sites, too. The more you learn about a career path, the easier it will be for you to design a path that leads you towards this goal.

Whether your future career is “hot” or not, finding a job that aligns with your personal interests, values and professional goals is important. You will find far greater satisfaction in a job that you enjoy than if you select a career solely based on the financial rewards. In my next post, I’ll provide some insight into some of the highest-paying jobs for those with a two-year degree. Happy career choosing!


Trish is a senior communications manager for Sodexo, a world leader in quality of daily life solutions that contribute to the progress of individuals and the performance of organizations. As a member of the marketing and communications team for Sodexo’s Talent Acquisition department since 2010, Trish is an employment expert who aims to educate job candidates about the hiring process, networking opportunities and the culture of Sodexo. A graduate of Marist College (BA – Psychology) and the University of Southern Mississippi (MS – Public Relations), Trish has never been far from the classroom. As a former adjunct professor for the College of Charleston and professional advisor for the college’s Public Relations Student Society of America chapter, she enjoys helping students reach for their potential and guide them through the process of preparing for their future careers. A lover of technology and gadgets, cookies, chocolate and baking, Trish spends most of her free time raising two small children and competing with husband to obtain the most stamps in her National Parks Passport book. Feel free to connect with Trish or learn more about careers at Sodexo.