By Amanda Cardini, Staff Writer
A few weeks ago the Thunderbird Career Management Center hosted a career weekend filled with events designed to help new students prepare for job and internship searches. I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t necessarily thrilled about the prospect of attending—we had just gone through Foundations, and I was definitely ready for a break from jam-packed weekends. It wasn’t until after attending that I realized just how valuable the weekend was. The scheduled events ended up being instructive in a number of ways, from résumé building, to interview tips and even business dining etiquette. What I found to be the most useful though, are the connections I made with various alumni over the course of the weekend. Some offered advice and some shared experiences, but I learned something from each of them:
It’s okay to let your personality shine through your résumé
We’ve all heard that most employers spend a mere six seconds, looking at your résumé. While we know this, it can be hard to decide how to make your résumé stand out, how to ensure that your personality is accurately represented, and what is considered appropriate for the job for which you are applying. Several Thunderbird alumni mentioned that résumés that demonstrate unique personality are the ones that stand out. One recent T-bird graduate even gave an example of a résumé that started with a sentence about the applicant’s passion for buying outlandish suits. Other Tbird alumni acknowledged that in certain industries (such as finance) a playful attempt at a résumé just won’t fly, and noted that it’s important to understand that not every industry will deem this type of résumé appropriate.
Never assume an interview is casual
On Saturday of Career Weekend, students had a chance to do a mock interview with an alum for a pretend job. My interviewer happened to be extremely casual; he had a very relaxed manner and tone of voice and wasn’t dress in a full suit and tie. At the end of my mock interview he let me in on his secret: when he conducts interviews he purposely takes a casual approach to see whether the interviewee will remain professional. While it might be common knowledge that it’s better to come to an interview overdressed than underdressed, the same goes for the way you carry yourself throughout the interview: it’s better to be overly professional than under, even if the interviewer is casual.
It’s okay to leave a company you’ve become an integral part of for self-improvement
After a few minutes of conversation, one alum and I discovered that we had something in common; we had both left jobs that we either were extremely invested in or where others were heavily dependent on us, to come to Thunderbird. Knowing that you are of value to your company is a great feeling, but it can make leaving extremely bittersweet. Both the alum I was speaking to and I knew that Thunderbird was the right choice for our goals, and although it was hard to leave our jobs feeling like we had let our teams down in some ways, it was the right decision. Fortunately, we were both able to leave our jobs gracefully and respectfully, maintaining the relationships we had built there.
Know what you want to get out of networking events
One activity of career weekend involved attending a mock career fair at which we were encouraged to speak to at least five potential employers. Having never attended a networking event, I was a little nervous about the prospect, especially as even though this was a mock career fair, some of the people we were speaking to were real employers! However, the first person I talked to was a Thunderbird alum who gave me feedback that set the course for the rest of my encounters that day: make your reason for attending the event known. If you don’t let potential employers know exactly what you’re looking for, they won’t know whether or not they can help you. Stating your goals clearly also shows that you’ve given thought to your career and know what steps you need to take to get where you want to be.
Live a full life
All of the alumni I had the pleasure of meeting had incredible stories to tell about their careers, travels, and time at Thunderbird. It can be easy to get swept up in the grind of life and forget to do what makes you happy both in your career and in your personal life. These alumni reminded all of us that there is so much to experience in life and to take advantage of the opportunities that come your way.
Overall, Career Weekend was more successful than I could have foreseen before attending. Hearing the stories and advice of both recent and not-so-recent T-bird alumni was an enriching experience. As a new student, it’s exciting to know that my classmates and I will one day be following in their footsteps.