December 2018 news

Gaining Experience Over Break

While your student is enjoying their winter or summer break, often they focus on spending time with family and friends or getting well-deserved rest. However, they can also include spending time getting real world know-how which will allow them to gain experience over their break. "Like what," you ask? Don’t worry! We’ve compiled a handy list of helpful suggestions of things they could and should do over their break to gain a professional edge.

  1. Conduct informational interviews
    Semester breaks are an ideal time to reach out to contacts in locations, fields and organizations of interest. Informational interviews are a great way to learn more about careers in their field. If they haven’t decided exactly what they want to do, they can use their time to talk to people in a variety of occupations to learn more about job requirements and their day-to-day activities.
  2. Job shadowing
    For college students, trying to gain experience can be a tough process as the landscape tends to be quite competitive. If they identify any people eager to help, encourage them to consider asking them if they could shadow them or a colleague. Job shadowing can enhance an eventual internship and the job search process. Accurately understanding what their desired industry or job entails is one of the most important parts of growing a successful career.
  3. Seasonal employment
    If your student is struggling to fill their resume, adding a seasonal job is a great way to add some additional experience. Alternatively, if they have interests in multiple industries, but have no experience, adding a seasonal job can help bridge the gap. They should view the seasonal job as an opportunity to gain more experience and obtain transferable skills that can be utilized in the future.

These options will give your student a rare inside glimpse into how a company actually operates — and a chance to test-drive it, relatively risk-free. Let your network, friends, and family know about their plans because they may be able to connect them with a contact in their field(s) of interest. That person may even end up being a great professional mentor for them. Don’t forget that their break is also a good time to schedule an appointment with a career and professional development advisor. Other than the brief time the university is closed, our office remains open over break, and we are happy to talk with them in person, via Zoom or over the phone. Also, while they are gaining all this additional experience, don’t forget to have them update or get started on their resume. They can refer to our Career Planning Guide for resume examples. This resource is available in print in our office and online. Make sure to encourage them to make the most of every moment – they’ll be happy they did once they get ready to enter the professional world.

November 2018 news

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In celebration of National Career Development Month, Career and Professional Development would like to spotlight the career journey of one of our graduating Peer Career Advisors, Caroline Ward.  Caroline began working for Career and Professional Development her sophomore year, and intends to pursue a master’s degree in health administration upon her graduation in December.

What led to your interest in the health field?

I have always liked environments that are busy and full of energy. As an extrovert, I find myself drawing my energy from all that is going on around me. Although I have unfortunately spent a decent amount of time in the hospital due to my hip and my back problems, I realized over time that I actually appreciated and was fascinated by the environment I was in. I also admire the constant changes and advancements in the health field, whether it be with technology, policy, or strategy. Healthcare is something that we will always need, and I want to be a part of it in order to make it more sustainable and attainable for everyone.

Why health administration (and not nursing, medicine, etc.)?

I have been a communication studies major my whole time at VT, and I wanted to try to find a way to combine my communication skills with the world of healthcare. I looked into different minors here and found the medicine and society minor. The classes I have taken have allowed me to understand and evaluate different societal positions on medicine, as well as discuss ethical dilemmas in healthcare. After graduate school I hope to land in a human resources or patient advocacy role within a hospital where I can utilize my communication skills and strategize the best way to aid my fellow staff and the hospital’s patients.

Tell us about your internship this summer.

I interned for Inova Health System this past summer, specifically within the Inova Well Department. It is a division of Inova that focuses on various wellness strategizes for our employees, clients, and community as a whole. I got to do so many different things that included researching and talking with six different national vendors in regards to a potential partnership with Inova Well for our biometric screenings and shot clinics. This allowed me to participate in conferences calls with the heads of sales departments across the country all on my own and really improve my professional communication skills. I also got to work a lot with our newly acquired virtual reality headsets and showcased them at various events to employees. I definitely loved working with the VR headsets because it allowed me to provide a quick and easy way for employees to practice mindfulness before they began their busy and often stressful shifts at the hospital. I value and appreciate human connection, and Inova provided me with an atmosphere where I was consistently talking, meeting, and helping employees and clients, as well as learning from them.

What do you think is the best service offered by Career and Professional Development?

It is honestly difficult for me to choose the best service because I have utilized nearly all of them, but I think one of the best services is definitely the mock interview service. Students can sign up for a mock interview with a full-time advisor and will receive feedback following the interview. The student will even be told to come professionally dressed, and the advisor will help them with outfit tips. Interviews are something many students dread but practicing for interviews can make them much less daunting and increase students’ confidence when entering a real interview. I have used it myself and received so much insight on how to prepare for interviews as well as follow up after an interview has concluded.

Questions about the CPD news for parents and families can be directed to:
Ms. Heidi (Thuesen) Gilbert
Assistant Director
Career & Professional Development
540-231-6241
hlgilbert@vt.edu