Prepare your Holiday Dinner Pitch!

We talk a lot about the importance of networking, and here we are at the threshold of what might be your ultimate opportunity:  holiday meals with the family.

"What?" you say, "There aren't any important employers in my family!"  But, of course, there are. Your aunts and uncles work, and they have colleagues.  So do your parents, friends of your parents, and nearly all the neighbors.  What better group could there be?  They like you already, and they're all rooting for you to finish college and get a job.

The only real problem is that they still know you as that cute little kid who threw up after eating too many hotdogs at the family picnic one year.  What on earth could make them think of you as a bright, college-educated person with great potential? 

The answer is your own self-introduction.  It's time to move up from the kids' table, put on some grown-up clothes, and start re-introducing yourself to all the professionals in your life.  You might have actually changed your name--lots of cute nicknames get lost when kids become college students--but either way, you're a very different person than you were even a couple of years ago.  It's time your family circle got to know the new you.

Brush off that One-Minute Pitch or Elevator Pitch that you practiced for the Professional Readiness Program. Tweak it so that works for the holiday gatherings.  You probably aren't actively job hunting, so you'll remove those points.  Your family is more interested in general career plans and campus activities.  The main thing is to re-brand yourself as a capable young adult....then let the conversation continue on a whole new level!

You might discover those boring old relatives actually have a lot of cool jobs, professional savvy, and great advice!

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To review some of the materials from your PRP sessions, click here.

For more tips on networking with family members, take a look at this article from the Daily Muse (another excellent professionalism blog!)

Widen your loop --- and ours!

I've decided to create a list of the best professionalism blogs...and there are plenty to chose from!  For professionals in many fields, blogging is a way to establish professional credentials, build a reputation, and develop new business.  Some people blog about a technical topic, like accounting practices or technology solutions, or labor law....but many focus on the same skills that we develop through the Professional Readiness Program.

You can help!  If you follow a blogger that you think is particularly useful, send me the link! 

In the meantime, here are a few sites you might like to start following:

Lifehack is a full-service collection of "tips for life" and the feeds on communication, productivity, and work provide great tips for professionals.

Professional Development  Izzy Justice, a consultant in Emotional Intelligence, has been working with major corporate clients for over twenty years. 

Work Matters   Bob Sutton, a Stanford business professor, writes primarily for business executives, but he's brilliant. 

Two Minute Rule for Email Efficiency

My own employer (UNI) has just subscribed to a professionalism resource, which gives me the option of passing on useful tidbits to my students!  How cool is that!  These lessons are developed and delivered by consultants, authors, and other experts, and if the first samples are any indication, I'll have some good things to share.

Here's a quick two-minute video with a great productivity tip for managing email. The link is being shared directly with you and does not require you to login to view:  http://bit.ly/17sFgT0 (link will expire in 14 days).

As you watch this video, keep in mind the rule that consultant David Allen is assuming.  The first sort is work versus non-work.  If you aren't going to take any action on an email, get it out of your in-box!  It's up to you whether you delete it or stuff it in a folder called "junk that I intend to ignore until somebody calls me."  The important thing is to get it OUT of your work flow immediately.

Tips from a Personal Branding expert

A couple of short videos were recommended by Cynthia Goro, our Executive in Residence.  The speaker, Kathy McAfee, provides programs for sales and marketing organizations all over the country, and you'll find plenty of her tips on YouTube. 

Here's one on crafting a dynamite elevator pitch or networking introduction: click here.

Another provides body langage and vocal power tips: click here.

Enjoy!!

 

 

Professionalism Priorities

Wondering where to focus your professional development time and energy? A recent survey of human resources and line management professionals ranked the most important professionalism skills:

#1 Interpersonal skills

#2 Appearance

#3 Communication skills

#4 Time management

#5 Confidence

#6 Ethics

#7 Work ethic

#8 Knowledgeability

Click here to see the full story and here for a summary infographic.

It's Networking Time!

Whether you're in the middle of a great internship, studying abroad, or working extra hours to get your bank account ready for fall, summer is the season for networking. The face-to-face time with colleagues, new acquaintences, and business associates is absolutely invaluable, but don't neglect your on-line professional network.  A lazy summer evening is also a good time to update your LinkedIn page...and take a bit of time to think about how you might make better use of the tool.

A recent article* in Fortune reviews LinkedIn's growing relevance for professional development and offers five ways to take advantage of the networking opportunity:

   1. fill out your entire profile,

   2. join groups relevant to your professional goals,

   3. follow the news of your industry, company, and people who matter to you,

   4. share information that illustrates your own professional expertise, and

   5. manage your growing network of professional connections. 

That doesn't even count the value for job seekers. Hemple reports that 88 of the Fortune 100 use LinkedIn software to find and track potential job candidates, and many professionals believe that an updated LinkedIn profile is now more important to a job search than a resume.

 

*Hemple, Jessi (1 Jul 2013), "LinkedIn: How It's Changing Business (and how to make it work for you)" is available electronically through the Rod Library.

It's not what you say, but how you say it!

When recruiters complain, one of the most frequent issues is the way applicants talk.  They'll tell stories of the candidate with a 3.5 GPA, but sounded childish or couldn't manage a full sentence without "like" or "you know" or  a couple of "um's".  No hire!

A recent WSJ article, "Is This How You Really Talk?"  tackles the topic.  There are a few scary statistics (the vocal pitch really does make a difference in annual salary!)  There are also a few good suggestions....and if you think you need a vocal coach, the Professional Readines Program staff can help!

Alumni thoughts

The annual panel of Alumni in Residence is always a highlight of the Graduation Celebration.  This year's advice seemed to focus on soft skills--the elements of professionalism that make a real difference in a career.  Here's the final "most important thing" from each of the five:

Jeff Bjustrom, Minneapolis tax market leader, PwC (Acctg '88): "Don't get buried in the details. Keep the big picture in mind."

Derek Thoms, Manager of inside sales, ESP International (Econ '02): "Your ability to make a positive first impression; you never get a second chance."

Rochelle Dotzenrod, Vice president, Wells Fargo (Finance & Real Estate '04): "You won't screw anything up. Take the step. There are enough checks and balances to keep the organization from breaking."

Mark Walter, Independent management advisor (Management '85): "Sell yourself. The biggest mistake is being timid. You have to act the role to convince others of your value."

John Hall, Founder, Goose Island Beer Company (Marketing '65): "Be engaged, and respect your co-workers. Every little thing adds up.

Check out the full story, including all the student, club, and faculty awards at the UNIBusiness website.

Great Books to Read

Bob Sutton's blog is one of those feeds any business professional can use.  He's updated his list of 11 books every leader should read.  For anyone interested in personal development these are great picks.  For current PRP participants looking for outside activities, don't forget that reading a book is a traditional---and still very useful---method of learning! 

Ordered your business cards yet?

As most of you know, Principal Financial Group is one of our very best (and biggest) employers, and one of that company's recruiters sent some advice after attending several career fairs last month. 

She says, "At the career fairs, PFG employees do not collect resumes since we want students to register and apply for jobs online.  But, without the resumes in hand, it’s hard for me to connect with students if they do not contact me personally after getting my business card.

"After spending some networking time at [another Iowa university!], I would recommend your students design and purchase business cards.  I am finding a distinct advantage in students giving me a card, and we can connect on LinkedIn.   The [other university's] students have done a thoughtful job in preparing, networking, and following up with me after each event.

"I recognize that there is some competition between the universities in recruiting, graduating, and placing college students.   Please consider me an interested third party (and UNIBusiness alumni) to help UNI students with their job placement efforts."

***

Did you know that you can order business cards with the UNI logo?  These will cost a bit more than designing your own and having them printed at Copyworks or Staples, but they do have a the advantage of a very professional design that includes the UNI logo.  You can order them on line at this link!

Attend a Workshop in South Africa!

The Professional Readiness Program continues to expand its technology options.  Next week, Level 3 and 4 participants will be able to attend a webinar hosted by Global Trade students on a Spring Break study abroad in South Africa.

Corporate and alumni partners continue to lead workshops, seminars, and presentations on campus, providing professional skill development along with outstanding networking opportunities for our students.

In addition, participants can take advantage of on-line learning modules through the UNI eLearning system, participate in phone, email, or skype mentoring relationships, develop networking relationships in a Professional Readiness Program Facebook Group, and of course, comment or contribute to this blog.

This semester, the program introduced its first virtual workshops. In January, a group learned time management skills over a week of participation in an on-line forum, and this month we try our first webinar.  Next fall, the PRP offices will be fully skype enabled, allowing more flexibility for meetings with our Executives in Residence.

Mini Internship Opportunities

No time to take a semester long internship?  Don't ignore the value of short term projects, shadowing opportunities, and community service.  These can get you some important job-related experience, and they look just fine on a resume. 

The Spring Break in the Cedar Valley program is a great example.  As an intern with a business in the Cedar Valley you'll spend one intensive week shadowing company executives, putting your professional skills to practice, and building your network.  It's a great resume builder without the expense of travel or out-of-town living arrangements.

Spring Break internships are available with three companies this year.

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance (GCVA) focuses on expanding and diversifying the economic base of the Waterloo/Cedar Falls, Iowa metropolitan area. Learn the ropes of economic development from the staff of the GCVA. A student with interest in marketing, sales or communications is preferred.

Ferguson Enterprises, Inc., a Wolsely company, is the largest wholesale distributor of plumbing supplies in North America. At the company’s Waterloo distribution center you'll gain experience in inventory management, supply chain, or warehousing/distribution. Supply Chain majors are preferred.

At the Target Distribution Center you'll work alongside a group leader on the front lines of a critical supply chain network, leveraging cutting-edge logistics technologies to help drive sales profitably and deliver on the brand promise. Freshman or sophomore preferred.

To apply, send your resume to Katie.Hillyer@uni.edu with a brief explanation of which organization you would like to spend your week with and why by February 28, 2013

Dan Moore Returning!

More than once a PRP participant has told me how great it was to hear

"that speaker from Tennessee or somewhere" or

"that guy who talked about treating school like a full time job" or

"the speaker who made me realize I COULD speak Portuguese... I just hadn't learned how yet."

That guy from Tennessee is Dan Moore, President of the Southwestern Company, and he'll be on the Level 3/4 calendar next week:

Thursday, Feb 28, 5:00 - 6:00 pm, CBB 109 (The John Deere Auditorium)

We don't normally put our speakers in such a large room, but those of you who've heard him before will probably want to come back for another dose, so we decided to make sure there was plenty of room!

Whether you're still in the PRP or not, you might enjoy the chance to hear Dan's thoughts on a new topic:  Assuring your Future in an Uncertain World.  If you're starting your career in the next year or two, he'll have some useful advice...and make you happy you came to hear him speak.

If you're only in Level 1 or Level 2, you are welcome to attend!  We were sad not to be able to work out a date for Dan to speak to you this year, but this way you won't miss out on hearing this attitude-changing speaker.  

Career Fair Crowds

The record number of employers at the UNI Career Fair last week made the news.  This is great sign of the returning health of the Iowa economy.

Here's the story from the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier.  We were pleased to see that four UNIBusiness majors were quoted in the story, and check out the photos of Brandon Honeyman and Erin Schon!

Of course, I like sophomore Paige Snyder's comment the best:  "I was a lot more nervous last time.  This time, I know the ropes, and it's not as nerve-wracking." 

She didn't mention that she was required to go as a freshman, which is probably a good thing considering she was talking to a newspaper reporter, but that is exactly the result we're hoping for!

Post-Career Fair tips:  It's never wrong to send a thank you to a recruiter for the time he or she took to talk to you. Email is fine, and you should refer to something specific or personal about the conversation you had.  You might have a follow-up question or some additional information to send.

Career Fair: Best Impressions!

Monday's Career Fair promises to be LARGE and thus exciting. 

Once again, we have more employers coming, and we've already heard that they feel they aren't getting enough applications.  This is shaping up to be a great year for job hunting, but don't think that means you can ignore the Career Fair. 

This is where the employers are, and now is when they are making decisions. Don't waltz in next May and expect to get anything but leftovers and crumbs!

 

*** Name Tags ***

***A brand new service from the Professional Readiness Program***

To go along with your spiffy coat and tie, elegant blouse, tasteful pumps, or classy haircut, we have made arrangements to provide UNIBusiness students with professional, printed name tags.  If you are currently enrolled in Business 1000 or Business 2000, you don't need to do anything else.  A name tag will be waiting for you at the PRP Table.

If you are in Level 3 or 4 (or beyond), you may contact us by FRIDAY, and we'll add a tag for you. (Reply to me, or send email to prp@uni.edu; give your full name and major.)

 

A few useful refreshers:

~where to wear that great name tag: Click here

~proper attire refresher: Click here

~planning your tour around the Fair: Click here for a list of employers with booth locations

~When and Where:  McLeod Center, Monday 2/18, 11 am to 3pm.  Be there!!

 

Courier Highlights PRP

The Professional Readiness Program is making a difference in the Cedar Valley!  This week the Courier highlighted the efforts of UNIBusiness to make graduates READY for the professional world.  Take a look at the Courier article here.

Facebook Group is OPEN!

If you're a Facebook fan, you might be interested in a (sort of) new tool for networking with your UNIBusiness (soon to be) alumni associates.

Several years ago, David Miller (Accounting '12) now at Target headquarters in Minneapolis, set up a Facebook group for participants in the PRP pilot program.  We closed the group down after Facebook made some changes, but it's now back up and open to new members.  There's not much to see right now, but if you step up, you'll be able to invite others to join you in whatever networking, socializing, or teambuilding you find useful.

Check it out!

Happy Holidays to you all.  Be happy.....build a snowman!

Picking University Electives

Every semester, the lists of available classes go out at registration.  Posters start to appear on the bulletin boards.  Maybe you'll even see an email or twitter announcement.  How do you choose? 

For many business majors, the top reason is eventual employability.  A skill (language, writing, communication, presentations) that can add something to the resume often rises to the top of the list.  Today I heard from UNI's Professional Writing Program where writing projects are done for real clients...always a good resume item...and pre-requisites can be "easily waived."  If you've got a professional skill area that you'd like to develop, be proactive about finding ways to get 'er done!

But, don't ignore other aspects of your personality.  Global corporations also appreciate employees who actually understand world history, international politics, and non-Western cultures.  Manufacturers like to hire folks who have a basic understanding of the science that goes into making their products.  A sales professional will certainly be more successful with a grasp of principles taught in basic psychology, sociology, and cultural anthropology courses.

In fact, a course in personal wellness that teaches stress reduction or healthful nutrition might make a big difference in your professional attitude!

Good News from the Career Fair

By all accounts, last week's Career Fair was a huge success.  As always, the Professional Readiness Program staff enjoyed meeting everyone one-on-one, and we thought you looked great.

Here's the great news though.  First, there were almost forty new employers recruiting this year, which is a very good sign for those of you looking for internships and jobs.  Second, several of the returning employers commented on how sharp the business majors looked and how polished they sounded when introducing themselves.

For those of you who practiced your pitch and made the effort to dress up---it worked! 

On Line Resources

First, a quick welcome to this year's new Professional Readiness participants!  If this is the first blog entry you've received, you might want to take a look at some of the earlier posts...especially those from our new alumna blogger, Brittany Covert.  She's reporting on her transition from UNIBusiness accounting student to young professional at Deloitte & Touche, LLC in Minneapolis. 

Today's news is that we're finally adding the on-line resources to the PRP website.  This will be an ongoing process, so as each segment comes on line, I'll announce it here.  The first section covers First Impressions, with sections on body language, professional handshakes, and business attire. 

As you'll see, much of the material has been covered in one or more meetings.  These on-line resources are meant to provide a quick place to review and refresh your memory.  However, you'll also find additional detail, extra hints, and sometimes links to other useful resources.

Hope you find this to be a useful resource in your ongoing professional development!

Welcome Brittany!

We’re excited to welcome a new blogger, our very recent graduate, Brittany Covert. She’s going to be reporting on her transition from college student to accounting professional with Deloitte and Touche, LLP.   Her start date is September 17 and she’ll be joining the Minneapolis office audit team.

“I am proud to be a UNI graduate, especially because attending UNI has helped grow so much as a person,” said Brittany, when asked whether she’d be interested in joining the Professional Readiness Program effort.  She jumped at the chance “to stay involved through blogging to help the current participants.”

Her goal will be to share the experience of starting a career, providing insights on what she took from her college experience.

Brittany is originally from West Des Moines.  She graduated with honors from UNI in December, 2011 and sat for the CPA exam in May 2012, passing all four sections.  Prior to graduation Brittani worked at John Deere Engine Works and was active with Alpha Phi as well as the UNI Accounting Club and the Professional Readiness Program.

Brittany plans to blog once a week or so as she makes the college-to-career transition.

Planning for Professionalism

You'll be back on campus before you know it!

As you're packing calculators and computers for classwork, shorts and sweats for workouts, and your favorite party outfits, don't forget your professional development tools.

Packing some business attire is an obvious first step.  You'll need at least one good business casual outfit and one professional outfit.  If you're a graduating senior starting the job hunt this year, it's probably time to start shopping for a corporate suit as well.

Of course, there is no dress code in the Curris Business Building, but if you're attending a meeting that includes a corporate executive or recruiter, it just makes sense to think about that first impression.  Take advantage of Iowa's tax-free back-to-school shopping days to get a real pair of khaki's* and a proper  long-sleeved, button-down collar, business casual shirt.  Ladies can go for the same look, or invest in a pair of slacks* that will also work for professional attire.  Once you get to campus, plan to purchase a UNIBusiness polo shirt from your own student organization, and you'll be good to go.

For those of you heading to the etiquette dinner or job hunting at the career fair, be prepared to step it up to professional attire.  This means a jacket* for both gentlemen and ladies.  Workers at desks (or boys in school) wear a tie and dress shirt; professionals put on their jackets before they see a client or executive.  Clerical workers (and girls at parties) wear stretchy pants and tops; professional women wear coordinated outfits that include structured, hip-length jackets.

Second step?  Along with the calculator and computer, consider your calendar and contacts systems.  If you've made any resolutions to get better organized (and who hasn't done that once or twice?), make sure you've got the tools to make it happen.  Whether you opt for smart phone or Dayrunner, make sure you have a calendar system that allows you to budget your time, not just write down due dates.  For networking, you can collect paper or electronic business cards or notes on bar napkins, as long as you have a place to keep those contacts and make notes of your ongoing conversations.

*Still not sure about the difference between khaki's and cargo pants, slacks and pants, jacket and sweater?  Check out the business attire page for more.

Professional Development Never Stops!

Kim Recker, Program Manager at UNI's Executive Development Center called the other day with information about some upcoming professional development opportunities: three-day seminars in July and September that lead to certifications in Project Management. 

The interesting part of the conversation was her target market.  She assumed that recent graduates with PRP certifications would be the "right" kind of young professionals: people interested in professional development opportunities.

I hope she's right!  There's no way a college student can possibly learn everything there is to know about career management, organizational politics, strategic communication, or innovative problem solving.  But, those who've taken full advantage of the Professional Readiness Program should at least realize that taking proactive professional development steps will always lead to greater career success.

By the way, if a PMP or CAPM certification will help get you READY! for the next professional step, more information is HERE.  

Read your transcript!

In case you hadn't heard, Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson is now the former CEO.  He was inaccurate about the exact degrees he earned in college, and that is, as they say, a firing offense. 

Students can take away two important points in this story.  First, Thompson is not unique. A recent Wall Street Journal article named seven other CEO's and CFO's with the same outcome.  The damage of a fudged, inaccurate, or non-existent degree doesn't go away after the first job.  Even if it takes 20 years for a disgruntled stockholder to look up the truth, you're out.

Second, little discrepancies can be just as bad as big discrepancies, especially when there's a disgruntled stockholder involved.

  • A double major in Accounting and Computer Science is not the same thing as a degree in Accounting plus a minor in Computer Science.
  • A degree in MIS is not the same as a major in Management with all but one of the courses required for an MIS degree.
  • A degree in Human Resources is not the same as a degree in Management with an emphasis in Human Resources.
  • A degree in Business Administration is not the same as a degree in Management with an emphasis in Business Adminstration.
  • A double major in Finance and Real Estate is not the same as a Major in Finance and a second degree in Real Estate.

Don't laugh!  These are just a few of the errors we've seen on UNIBusiness resumes. Simple mistakes, you say?  Tell that to the disgruntled stockholder. 

Self-talk and Self-image

Some of you have heard Dan Moore, President of Southwestern Company speak to a PRP meeting.  He is dynamic and fun to listen to, and he provides incredibly useful information.

This spring Mr. Moore talked to our Level II participants about "self-talk" and its effect on a person's self image.  Later, we asked him to recommend additional resources.  He responded, "the best two books I know of in these areas are What You Say When you Talk to Yourself, by Shad Helmstetter, and substantial portions of Awaken the Giant Within, by Anthony Robbins."  (Robbin's book is available at the Rod Library, by the way.) 

Dan's final words: "simply notice examples of good and poor self-talk in the world around us...(especially the things that come out of our own mouths). They are everywhere, and are very instructive!"

Registering for Useful Classes

Students often say they wish they could get academic credit for their professional development, and sometimes a wish comes true!  The Professional Readiness Program guarantees that all business majors are introduced to the basic expectations of their future employers, but that's just the beginning.

You can take advantage of University Electives to add some real expertise in areas that employers value.  This Fall, for example, you could take academic courses in writing and communication skills:

English 4775/5775: Applied Writing: Technical Communication

Communication 2255: Public Speaking

Communication 3155: Business and Professional Oral Communication

Communication 4333: Communication and Conflict Management

Or, think about a little more expertise in a language (or even adding another language!).  How about boosting your own creativity with a class in the arts?  Employers greatly value the critical thinking skills that are developed in history and philosophy courses. 

You're already going to show credit for the Professional Readiness Program on your transcript, but think how much more you could add with some carefully chosen academic courses as well!

Not just for seniors!!

You're starting to see notices for the upcoming Class of 2012 Graduation Celebration.  This is not just for seniors!!  Come on down! Bring your friends! 

Very nice snacks will be served.
Very smart people* will be speaking.

Even if nobody makes you go, this is your chance to "dress to impress" (business casual attire is a good thing), meet a few very interesting UNIBusiness alumni, and have an informal chat with your favorite business professor.

Need some extra motivation?  This is a PRP event for ALL levels, including previous semesters!  Need a makeup for any meeting?  This panel counts!!

Got a calendar?  Enter this now: April 12, 6-7pm, John Deere Auditorium (mixer at 5:30, Hall of Flags)

 

*2012 Alumni in Residence:

  • Accounting: Brenda Clancy (Accounting ’75), COO, Transamerica
  • Economics: Jeff Scudder (Economics & Finance ’03), associate, Snell & Wilmer L.L.P.
  • Finance: Ben Fogle (Finance ’99), director of capital strategies, Jasper Stone Partners
  • Management: Kate Washut (Psychology ’90, MIS ’98), vice president, Far Reach Technologies
  • Marketing: Mary Mehrtens-West (Marketing ’81), president, The Roy West Companies

Internships Won't Wait for You!

Just about this time last year, we had over a hundred job and internship postings that expired before UNIBusiness students got around to applying.  Don't get left in the dust!  You KNOW you need an internship on your resume. Go to career cat today, and apply for one of these great internship opportunities:

Communication, Marketing, & Public Relations

  • Communication Intern, Kum & Go (West Des Moines)
  • Promotions & Sponsorship Intern, Kum & Go (West Des Moines)
  • Outreach & Event Intern, Alzheimer's Association (Cedar Falls)
  • Marketing & Communication Intern, LSI (Waverly)
  • Social Media Intern, American Marketing & Publishing (IA)
  • Marketing Assistant, Waterloo Leisure (Waterloo)
  • Marketing Intern, Power Engineering (Waterloo)
  • Design & Sales Intern, Splendor (Cedar Falls)
  • Marketing Intern, Hansen Dairy (Hudson)
  • Marketing Intern, Iowa Golf Association (Urbandale)
  • PR & Marketing Internship, ASPIRE (Cedar Falls)
  • Marketing & Communication Internship, Science Station (Linn)
  • Multimedia Internship, College of DuPage (Glenn Ellyn, IL)
  • PGA Internship, Iowa PGA (Riverside) 
  • Project Management Intern, City of Dubuque (Dubuque)
  • Promotions Intern, KZIA (Cedar Rapids)
  • Marketing Research Intern, Kinze Manufacturing (Williamsburg)
  • Marketing Intern, Lansing Housing Products (Lansing)

Event Planning/Recreation

  • Intern/Head Counselor, YMCA (Albert Lee, MN)
  • General Intern, Hartman Reserve (Cedar Falls)
  • Event Planning Intern, Dan Gable Museum (Waterloo)
  • Disney Internship, Disney (FL/CA)
  • Recreation Services, Americorp (Waverly)
  • Leadership Mentor, Iowa 4-H (Boone)

Human Resources

  • Training & Development Intern, Principal Financial (Des Moines)
  • HR Internship, CBE Group (Cedar Falls)
  • Human Resource Intern, Kum & Go (West Des Moiens)
  • HR Recruiting, First Heartland (Clive)

 Retail Management & Sales

  • Retail Management Internship, Dillards (Waterloo)
  • Summer Intern, AFLAC (IA)
  • Management Trainee Internship, Enterprise (IA)
  • Account Manager, Main Street Mailers (Cedar Falls)
  • Mortgage Intern, Wells Fargo (Des Moines)
  • Sales Intern, Uline (MN)
  • Sales & Management, Buckle (Cedar Falls)
  • Sales & Leadership, HON Company (Muscatine)

Other

  • US Senate HELP Committee, US Senate (DC)
  • Senator Harking Internship x2, US Senate (Iowa/US)
  • Resident Assistant, Friendship Village (Waterloo)
  • Field Operations Intern, FedEx (MN)
  • Research Intern, Merritt Research (Cedar Rapids)
  • Financial Advisor, ING (Des Moines)
  • Quality & Process Intern, Kum & Go (West Des Moines)
  • Haiti Intern, World Wide Village (Haiti)

A chance to shine!

UNIBusiness students have a reputation for "knowing their stuff," and we show off the pass rates, certificate numbers, and rigorous GPA every chance we get.  It's just as important to show off professional polish, and here's a chance to test your writing and customer service skills against other business students across the nation.

All students currently participating in any Level of PRP are eligible, and the two top finalists from UNI will be entered in the national competition, which offers cash prizes.  

Read this customer service case, and submit your email response by midnight on Tuesday, April 17.  Send the email directly to me at dale.cyphert@uni.edu.  No late entries will be accepted and the finalists will be notifed on Thursday, April 19.

Responses will judged on whether they

1. Exhibit a clear understanding of the audience, use an appropriate tone and style, establish the desired relationship, and motivate the desired outcome.

2. Accomplish the purpose of the message by stating a clear position and supporting that position with logical points/sub-points, insightful reasoning and/or persuasive examples.

3. Are well organized and easy to follow, include appropriate headings/bullets/lists, and use smooth transitions.

4. Demonstrate superior mastery of vocabulary and superior facility with conventions of standard written English (grammar, usage, and mechanics) and use generally accepted U.S. business writing practices.

5. Use an appropriate format and document design.

Good Luck!!

A chance to serve

Most UNIBusiness students get actively involved in volunteer work, service projects, and community organizations.  What you might not realize is the importance of community service to your professional career.

These days, every company is judged on its social responsibility. Many organizations are proactive about supporting their employees' service to the community; those personal connections become the company's public image. Once you are an employee, organizational citizenship includes participation in the company's efforts to support the wider community.

So, keep on practicing your community service skills at every opportunity!

Right now, Cedar Falls is asking UNI students to support its efforts to be recognized as a Blue Zone Community.  As a finalist community, the push is on to get Cedar Falls residents to support the project online at www.bluezonesproject.com

You can also support President Allen's presentation to the award committee by showing up at the Cedar Falls Library at 7:15am (wow!!) next Tuesday morning. Wear your Panther purple! 

The short internship solution

What if it's a choice between doing an internship or graduating on time?  What if an internship means paying for rent on two places?  What if family responsibilities just don't leave time for a commute?

If you realize an internship is a crucial piece of professional readiness but can't afford the full summer or semester-long experience, consider a short internship! 

UNIBusiness coordinates a program, Spring Break in the Cedar Valley, to place students into week-long internships with local businesses. Stay in your own campus housing, don't lose a bit of time toward graduation, and still gain the benefit of an internship. 

To apply (or just get more information), email Katie Noonan, Corporate and Community Relations Coordinator, at katie.noonan@uni.edu.  Send your resume and a brief explanation of why you'd like to work with one of these great organizations: Ferguson, Greater Cedar Valley Alliance, John Deere, or Veridian Credit Union.

Got an opinion?

This semester, students taking the Training: Design and Delivery course are working with the Professional Readiness Program to create effective training in several areas of business writing.

They are now looking for UNIBusiness students who can participate in a focus group.  If you have ever had to write for a business course or on the job, ever struggled with any aspect of good writing, or just have an hour to help out your colleagues, you qualify!

The groups will meet on Monday, 2/13 and Wednesday, 2/15 from 11:00 to 11:50 am.  If you would like to participate, please contact me directly with a reply.

Is there a reward?  Of course!  If you are currently participating in Level III, this does count as a writing event.  If you will be participating in Level III next year, we can even "bank" the activity for you!  If you're not in PRP, you'll have to settle for a dip into the candy bowl.

Don't forget your jacket!

Going home this weekend?  Don't forget to pack for the Career Fair!  It's coming up soon: February 20 at the McLeod Center, 11am - 3pm.

We encourage UNIBusiness students to dress for success.  Even if you are not job hunting this semester, you ARE building relationships with recruiters.  Yes, they do remember you! Professional attire will make them remember you as a mature, ready-to-hire prospect.

You're also representing the College, and all those who are job hunting will appreciate your help.  The better we all look, the more favorably the recruiters remember UNIBusiness as a great place to find employees.

So, please remember to pack your dress shoes, your jacket, and your belt.  Ladies too! 

We've just updated the business attire portion of the PRP website.  Take a look!  If you have any questions or comments, please post them here!  We'll answer them and update the website too!

The One Minute Pitch

Are you ready to quickly and clearly introduce yourself to a stranger?  Not just your name and major, but your business self: the details of who you are, what you do, and what you want. 

The prepared "elevator speech" or one-minute pitch has long been standard practice for business people, and now job-hunters are creating videotaped versions, sometimes called a video resume, to take the place of a boring, printed cover letter.

Dr. Patrick Langan, a friend of UNIBusiness with twenty years of recruiting and organizational development experience, spoke to the Level II participants last week.  We've uploaded his examples and hints, including a link for the latest twist: a QR code on the back of your business card that takes a recruiter to a video of your one-minute pitch.  Check it all out at the PRP Website.

Resume Tips

A good resume uses "hot button" words that hiring managers recognize and respond to.  Now, resume writers also have to think about words that resume screening software will recognize!  Check out this Wall Street Journal article  for an update on these tools and some tips to avoid the "black hole" of resume oblivion. 

Thinking about writing

I never really thought about writing as a professional skill until I was hired to write advertising copy for a catalog. It was the single most boring job of my life, and it brought me face-to-face with the tedious work involved in putting one word after another.

Later, as a retail operations manager, I discovered the fun. Every month I wrote my variance explanations and had only a few sentences to deflect criticism, gain political allies, and pin blame on others. The thrill of victory was addictive and led to a lifelong habit of thinking about writing as a tool of professional success.

I've put an event on the Level III calendar that ought to be an entertaining evening full of words.  Performance poet Taylor Mali is going to be in Lang Auditorium this Tuesday, January 17, at 8:00 p.m.  Even if you can't go, check out his YouTubes.  You might never think about writing in quite the same way again.

More free newspapers

One of our majors, Chris Miller, points out that the UNI student government has started a program to give UNI students  a chance to read the New York Times. Copies of the paper are available in the Union every day for the next 8 weeks on a first-come, first-serve basis.

As Chris says, the NY Times is "no WSJ" in terms of business news coverage, but it does have interesting content that many students will enjoy. 

Business professionals often read two or three papers each day to stay on top of things.  Take advantage of both free newspapers and jumpstart your semester!

Free Wall Street Journal!

If your new year's resolutions involve staying on top of the business news, take advantage of a free copy of the Wall Street Journal for the first two weeks of the semester.  Stop by the Professional Readiness Center to get your copy. 

From 8 to 10am each morning, staff will be available in the conference room (CBB 7) to chat about the news.  If you've felt like you don't quite know where to start, this is a good opportunity to learn some tips for staying ahead of the curve on economic developments, industry trends, and your own personal career management.

Things to tell your interviewer

“Set yourself apart” is standard advice for business graduates.  Especially in a tight economy, it’s important for prospective employers to know how your contribution will be special. 

If you are completing all four levels of the Professional Readiness Program, you have a lot to say!  Even if you finish only the two required levels, you’re better prepared than most university graduates.  Don’t be shy about your accomplishment!

Here are three things you can (and should) tell interviewers about your UNIBusiness preparation:

1. In addition to a rock-solid business degree, you have learned how to apply that knowledge in a business environment. No other university in the country requires every business major to develop the professional attitude, communication and presentation skills, writing and reasoning skills, and organizational awareness that allow you to contribute to an organization right away.

2. Your professional development activities have introduced you to the perspectives of every business discipline.  The business knowledge gained through your major reflects the expertise of just one specialty, but UNIBusiness provides both a core-curriculum of essential business principles and a Professional Readiness Program that guarantees you access to professionals in all areas of business.

3. You’ve had the opportunity to evaluate your own skills and abilities and to develop in the areas that are most important for your own career plans. Any student can participate in extracurricular activities, but the Professional Readiness Program provides feedback, resources, and mentoring to make sure you’re getting the most out of those experiences.

Your professional readiness sets you apart.  Make sure the topic comes up by putting your accomplishments on your resume.   Here are a few ways that might look:

Certificate of Completion, Professional Readiness Program, Advanced Level

Professional Readiness Program, Completed Levels II and III

Professional Readiness Program: Completed with Advanced Level projects in Leadership, Presentation Skills, and Entrepreneurship

Flexible, adaptable, open to change.

When describing a professional attitude, employers nearly always mention openness to change.  As one appraisal form puts it, the excellent employee “recognizes and responds to the need for change and uses it to improve organizational performance.”  Meanwhile, resistance to change can be the basis for poor appraisals and a stalled career.

If you’ve been a little frustrated with UNI’s new registration system, new eLearning system, and new email system, this could be a good moment to think about your own professional skills. Do you know how to act professionally in the face of frustrating changes? Some people seem to never get frustrated, but the professional solution is obviously not to just turn yourself into a laid-back personality that doesn’t care. If you’re the kind of person who likes things to get things done and has a system down for getting them done right, any change is guaranteed to create some frustrations.

The person who refuses to be part of a change, won’t listen to the reasons for making a change, and talks negatively about the changes will probably be dismissed from the organization, but, the professional response involves more than just keeping one's mouth shut. The professional takes some specific steps to turn those sources of frustration into sources of organizational improvement.

1. Develops new systems and procedures.  One source of frustration is that old, comfortable ways of doing things simply don’t work anymore. Adapting to a new system or environment means thinking about goals and discovering how to achieve them in a new way.  It isn’t enough to “grin and bear it” while ignoring the potential of the new system.  The professional works out a new method, taking advantage of new tools, resources, or relationships that are now available, and comes up with a system that is even more efficient than the old way.

2. Speaks positively of the change.  Change seldom happens to just one person, and an important professional skill involves encouraging others.  When a group of people face the same frustration, they quickly look to each other to determine the “right” response.  Will that be a gripe session or a problem solving discussion? Obviously a professional would never drag the group down by whining, but he or she also takes the initiative to figure something out or uncover benefits of the new system.

3. Shows kindness to others.  Frustration is never pleasant. The process takes time and effort. People are asked to do new tasks that require learning new skills or fall outside their comfort zones. None of this makes people happy, but professionals use kindness to keep every member of the organization healthy and headed in the right direction. This is not the time to berate those who are tired, frustrated, or frightened.  Instead, a professional response includes a kind word to acknowledge others' feelings and an attempt to understand their concerns. Team relationships actually get better during changes because people have paid attention to each other.

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This seemed like a good topic for the first blog since UNIBusiness redesigned its website.  There have been some frustrations, but the outcome is spectacular!  Everyone who has registered should now be able to comment on the blog. (Please test the result!) All new PRP participants have been subscribed. (Welcome!)  Professional Development resources should now be coming to you on a regular basis.  Hooray for change!

Welcome back--more professional then ever!

The beginning of a new academic year is a great time to take stock of your progress in developing contemporary professional skills.  Just as you set goals for your academic progress, you should be setting goals for your professional development.  As you meet those goals, you can document your skills on your resume, include them in your answers to interview questions, and count yourself that much closer to contributing to an organization immediately upon graduation.

As you’re making the transition from internship or summer job back to campus, reflect on the skills you’ve developed in communication, critical thinking, time-management, networking…the list goes on!  Take a minute to review that list.  The more aware you are of the skills you’ve learned, the more you will be able to apply those skills in the next situation.

Then, while your new skills are fresh in your mind, review your personal goals again.  Did you meet one that turned out to be relatively easy?  Maybe you made a presentation to management for your internship, and it wasn’t so scary after all!   This would be the perfect time to set the bar a little higher.  Maybe you saw others use PowerPoint more professionally or create a really compelling narrative.   Make that your next goal, and make a point of finding resources at the Professional Readiness Center.

Maybe you realize you didn’t even have a goal in an area.  Or you really are less sure than ever about how a skill fits into your career plans.  You might even have tried something and realized you need to set some goals in another area. If you’d like to discuss your own development plans, make an appointment—or just drop by the new offices at CBB 5

Thinking twice about that missed internship?

After I wrote about missed internship opportunities last spring, quite a few students admitted that they really should have applied for one.  Well, here’s your second chance!  As of today, there are nine internship openings for the Fall semester, right here in the Cedar Valley:

Outreach Intern, Alzheimer Association
Community Relations Intern, American Cancer Society
Business Co-op, Denso
HR Recruiter, GMAC Mortgage
Real Estate Appraiser, Mike Lockey & Associates
Media Intern, Mudd Advertising
Financial Representative, Northwestern Mutual
Executive Intern, Target Distribution
Event Manager, Veridian Credit Union

Check in at Career Cat for details!

Just in case you hadn’t heard about the importance of getting at least one internship on your resume (and preferably a couple), here’s a short list of the reasons your professional success depends on it:

1. Internships are crucial for developing the professional skills employers expect of business grads.

A recent study done by Iowa State* showed that entry level jobs now require professional savvy that used to be developed in the first few years of a job. These days, the first promotion typically comes after just a couple of years with a company, rather than five.  In essence, new employees are expected to act like the third year employees of the 1980’s.  The difference is internships, where college students are now expected to learn the ropes.

2. Internships are crucial to the job-hunting process.

Companies that offer internships consider them to be their #1 recruitment tool, and nearly 80% of all companies offer internships. Yes, it is still possible to get a job by answering an ad or attending the career fair, but personal networks and internships are the path toward good jobs.  An internship is the best way, by far, to start a successful career.

3. Internships are the first step in building a professional network.

Building a circle of professional contacts is something a lot of students don’t realize is an important task to be accomplished during an internship (the topic of another recent blog).  Some of the people you meet will continue to be your business associates, and these will be the people you’ll call for advice, references, and resources as you get your career going.

4. Internships teach you what you really want to know about the prospective employer.

Even if you just find out that the industry or job is not for you, that knowledge will help you get on the right career path.  No recruiter can ever give you first-hand knowledge of the organizational culture, co-worker personalities, or day-to-day frustrations of the business. An internship is the only ethical way to test-drive a potential employer.

5. Internships are crucial to your own competitive position.

The real bottom line is that an internship makes you competitive in the job market. More than half of all new hires have an internship on their resumes.  If you expect to be competing for a better than average job, you’ll need a better than average resume…and that means you need to be in the top half, which has an internship listed. Even better, be one of the smaller, more select group that has two!

*Hanneman, L. and Gardner, P. (February 2010) “Under the Economic Turmoil a Skills Gap Simmers” CERI Research Brief 1-2010

Getting the most from your summer?

Getting the most from your summer?

A month ago you started your summer with a plan, and whether you realized it or not, an opportunity for professional development.  If you have an internship, you probably went into this with your eyes wide open.  There’s plenty of advice around, although mid-summer is a good time to refresh your memory and enthusiasm with these recent articles from Money and Quintessential Careers

If you’re spending the summer working at your “regular” job or engaged in a study or service project, you might not have thought much about the professional development aspects.  Now that you’re half way through the summer, you might be realizing there’s a lot going on.

Take a minute for this mid-summer review, and make the most of this checklist to reach your long term professional goals.  If you have questions, comments, or advice from your own summer experience, register now and post a comment!

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__Have you found a mentor?   You will learn the most from any activity if you have someone to tell you the “hidden” rules and show you the “secret” tricks—or just give good advice.  If you haven’t already found a supervisor, co-worker, or older worker who’s taken you under his or her wing, now is the time to identify someone.  Don’t be shy!  Just think of a question, and ask that person for a minute to “pick her brain” or “run something by” him.  People love to give advice, and next thing you know, you’ll be getting a lot of it.

__Have you become part of a peer network? Some of the people you meet this summer will continue to be your business associates, and you are creating a professional network of people that you can trust—and who can trust you.  These will be the people you’ll call for advice, references, and resources when you get your first job and need to “hit the ground running.”  Make sure you’re keeping track of names, phone numbers, and email addresses.  If you don’t already have a solid method for saving contact information, buy a system now.

__Do you like the job? Whether you answer yes or no to this question, you should be thinking about why you answered the way you did.  What are you learning about the company, the industry, the job, and your boss?  What are you learning about your own personality, preferences, and skills?  The answers become a blueprint for things you need to do or learn next year.  Whether you decide to change majors, read a book on dealing with difficult bosses, or just brush up on your office manners, you will have learned something from the summer experience.

__What are the company’s expectations of professional behavior? Sometimes you learn the most from mistakes, but even if you are getting lots of positive feedback, take a little inventory of the communication skills, organizational awareness, reasoning skills, and attitudes around you. 

  • What kinds of communication skills are expected?  Does everyone seem to know how to give a polished sales pitch? Are active listening skills something a new hire should have?  What are the non-verbal messages being sent by attire, postures, manners, and vocal habits?
  • How much organizational savvy does it take to be successful? Are there a lot of unwritten rules and unstated assumptions?  How and why do people get rewarded? What does a person have to pay attention to in order to be successful?
  • How do decisions get made?  What kinds of evidence and reasoning are used to convince others? Do people write convincing memos or comprehensive white papers?  Are decisions made alone, by committee, or on the shop floor? What does it take to get what you want?
  • What kind of attitude do professionals have?  Are they going the extra mile, or only doing the bare minimum to keep the job?  Do successful people have a positive, optimistic attitude or a negative outlook?  Do letters, worksheets and reports get sent back for corrections, or do folks take the time to submit their best work from the start?

Everyday Professionalism Awards

As we wind up the semester, I am in the process of creating Certificates of Professional Readiness to recognize those who have completed all the requirements of the Professional Readiness Program at the Advanced Level IV. If you're on this list, you can be proud to have completed this first step toward professional excellence.

These certificates are important for job applicants’ portfolios, of course, but they don’t really say very much about the “everydayness” of true professionalism.   A professional business person practices a thousand tiny acts of problem solving, conflict resolution, communication, and emotional intelligence every day, just walking around the office, taking clients’ phone calls, and accomplishing the job.  There is no award ever given for any of that…just the opportunity to keep the job! 

I thought it would be appropriate to recognize the many students who are developing that kind of “everyday” professionalism.  This goes well beyond attending a few workshops to learn about professional skills and gets to the nitty-gritty of practicing professionalism as a way of life.

So, a hearty “good job” goes out to

  • all the students who made eye contact and said good morning to their co-workers in the Curris Business Building hallways,
  • all the team members who pulled up the slack when another member slipped up,
  • the student organizations that made a point of thanking  their advisors, supporters, and others who helped them get the job done,  (Nomination letters and cookies were especially noted!)
  • all the students who sent personal thank you notes to recruiters, interviewers, faculty members, UNI staff, or references, 
  • all the students who worked in town giving outstanding customer service to members of the community (and sometimes their professors!)  It gives UNIBusiness a good name.
  • everyone who practiced a presentation one extra time to make sure it was perfect,
  • everyone who proofread a paper one extra time to make sure it was perfect,
  • all the students who went out of their way to make an international or out-of-state classmate feel welcome at UNI,
  • everyone who didn’t complain about something—even when you had a right to be annoyed,
  • everyone who didn’t give up on a project, paper, final, or presentation.  You get extra recognition if you carried on with a good attitude and helped your co-workers get through as well.
  • everyone who was tempted to cheat but didn’t,
  • all the students who took on a service project of any kind,
  • everyone who used the right fork at dinner, kept your coat on in a warm room, stood in pumps all evening, or otherwise had to suck it up for the sake of professional manners.

I’m sure I’ve left out something…add a comment if you’d like to give a shout out to a UNIBusiness colleague who was “>READY>”  this semester.

What's in YOUR profile?

We heard a great talk from Wade Arnold the other day, and he had a few thought-provoking things to say about a job-hunter’s on-line presence.  Wade is CEO of T8 Webware, a growing Iowa company that seems to be in perpetual hiring mode.  Like many executives, he recruits from his network, but what happens when he does get a resume in the mail?  He checks the candidate out on line!  If a person doesn’t “exist” on Linked-In, the bulletin boards for the local professional groups, or perhaps with a portfolio in a Google search, the resume goes in the trash. 

These days, a person who can’t be “found” on line isn’t someone to consider for a job.    

Students hear so much about the dangers of having a negative on-line presence, you might not realize it could be just as bad to have no presence at all.  The world is changing.  It’s not enough not to have a negative image.  Professional success requires a positive, professional, and engaged on-line persona.

How to create that professional image? 

  • First, do create professional Linked-in and Facebook profiles.  These should not be hidden from the world.  Instead use your privacy controls to make sure the public page is crisply businesslike, informative, and professional.
  • Next, Google yourself to insure that you do show up in positive contexts.  Your grade school soccer matches might show up, and that’s quite all right.  Tagged photos with your drinking buddies?  Not so much.
  • Most important, start to get involved in the professional groups that pertain to your own professional path.  Not only can you learn a lot about the field, but you’ll be building the best network possible.  Get involved in projects and on-line discussions to demonstrate your great attitude, work ethic, and desire to learn.  You don’t need to be an expert to get involved, but staying involved will eventually make you an expert.

Get Credit for Helping Out!

A big part of professional success is often called “organizational citizenship.”   People who are contributing members of the team are generally happier with their jobs, and they are also the people who get selected for leadership roles, stretch assignments, and promotions. 

This week UNIBusiness is frantically looking for more students to participate in focus groups for an important marketing project.  As with most corporate focus groups, the participants even earn rewards—in this case a Panera gift card!    If you are willing to help out, please send an email to Reilly Zlab at reillyzlab@gmail.com.

So, how does something like this translate into professional success?   Word gets out.  Your co-workers, bosses, and customers see you going that extra mile.  They’ll assume you’re the kind of person who can be trusted to do the right thing.  Next thing you know, you’re getting some kind of reward, extra responsibility or promotion.   Career progress is being made!

In this case, all three PRP coordinators are aware of the dean’s last minute efforts to collect more data.  If we find out from Mr. Reilly that a PRP student had helped the college, we will all be very happy to consider a request for a meeting make-up at Levels I and II or an event credit at Levels III and IV.

Is this still an opportunity for organizational citizenship?  Or, is this now a bribe?  Is an offer of PRP credit just like an offer of “extra credit” in a class?  So many students refuse to budge unless they’re offered some sort of reward.  So do a lot of corporate workers.  For these anti-citizens, the only important reward is an extra few points on the grade sheet or an extra few dollars in the paycheck. Even when they see something that needs to be done, they wait to be bribed.   So, why is an expectation of a good review at the next appraisal so different from asking for money in the paycheck instead?  Why is asking for that extra bonus a sign that the employee is a slacker, while doing the work with an expectation of bonuses to come is a sign that the employee is a rising star?  It’s all about citizenship--helping out because the group needs your help, not just for your own personal gain.

Last week, a surprising number of UNIBusiness students refused to help our corporate guests, Lee and Kathy Rainey of C-Level Consulting in Minneapolis, with a short demonstration.  Would they have done the job if they’d been bribed with extra credit?  Who knows, but we do know that the students who stepped up made a much better impression on these potential references and took another short step toward a successful professional career.

Today you have another chance to help out. The boss (in this case UNIBusiness Associate Dean, Leslie Wilson) has asked for help, and the professional answer is yes!  Don’t ask for a bonus (although there is a Panera gift card in it for you).  Don’t ask for a favor in return (although Smothers, Langley and Cyphert have already agreed to give credit).  Just be a good professional citizen and help the organization get the job done. You’ll be happier for it, and yes, good career rewards will come your way.  Email Reilly Zlab at reillyzlab@gmail.com right now!

Fall Registration is Here!

As you register for your fall classes, don’t forget to put your own professional development on your calendar!

Since we're all thinking about registration, this seems like a good time to answer the questions about the transition from the Professional Skills Initiative to the Professional Readiness Program, as well as questions about PRP Levels, registration, and certificates for graduating seniors!

1.       What is the difference between PSI and PRP? With a generous donation from alumnus Kevin Steere, UNIBusiness did a pilot program, which was called the Professional Skills Initiative.  When the College decided to turn the initiative into a permanent program, the name was changed.

2.       Why is there no course credit for PRP? Because these meetings are not a course and not a part of your academic major.  Professionalism is crucial for your career success, but it is separate from learning the essential business knowledge covered by your academic courses.  In the same way, traditional work values are crucial to success, but they are not taught in any class.

3.       Do I have to register for PRP?  All business majors who entered the college THIS YEAR are required to complete two Levels of professional development prior to graduation.  This is part of the promise we’ve made to everyone who earns a degree from UNIBusiness. We’ve designed the curriculum to make sure you get the essential business knowledge needed for a business career. The faculty sets high standards and sticks to them, insuring that you’ll maintain the strong work ethic that makes our graduates highly valued.  Now, we can also guarantee that you’ll be introduced to the professional expectations of the contemporary business world.  

4.       Which Level should I register for?  If you have finished Level I (Bus 1000), you may enroll immediately in Level II (Bus 2000).  This will give you a head start, allowing you to finish all four Levels of PRP and still leave time for an internship or semester abroad.  If you transferred to UNI this year, you should have taken Level II in your first semester here.  (If you didn’t, register now!).  Once you have completed Level II, you can register for Level III (Bus 3000).   You should register for Levels III or IV (Bus 4000) until you’ve completed the requirements.  If you will finish Level III by the end of this semester, go ahead and register for Level IV in the Fall.

5.       Where do I go for Bus 3000 or Bus 4000?  The schedule shows no regular meetings for these advanced PRP Levels, and students are expected to attend meetings, events, and workshops that fit into their own schedules.  You’ll find Bus 3000 or 4000 listed in your own eLearning account with all the instructions and a link to the PRP event calendar.

6.       How many events do I have to attend to get credit in a Level?  Levels I and II require sixteen meetings during a single semester, including weekly meetings as well as attendance at the career fair.  Levels III and IV require twenty events, with a minimum of three in each of the six professional skill areas, but a student can take as many semesters as he or she needs.

7.       How do I get a Certificate of Completion?  Everyone who completes Level IV receives a certificate from UNIBusiness.  Those who’ve already completed the Level by the time of the Graduation Celebration on April 14 will be invited to a special event that day.

Conversations on Leadership

This week's PRP calendar featured a number of events focused on leadership, which has created a kind of on-going conversation about the relationship between personal values and effective leadership.  The conversation is sure to continue with a visit from Derek Drahn, Director of Leadership and Development at Aegon.  Join us on Thursday!

Here for two days of meetings with the Level II Business Professionals in Training groups, Danyelle Kunkle and Ross Mecham offered a series of office hours and lunch opportunities for Intermediate and Advanced students. They started by explaining that authentic leadership comes from a coherent value system--and what really matter are the day-to-day decisions that a person makes.  They really got me thinking with a simple pie chart exercise: create slices for all of the things you're spending time on this week.  Then, make a list of the three things that are most important in your life.  You must know what comes next: compare the two.  All of us found ourselves spending sadly little time on the things that we said mattered most.  A second exercise brought home the point that day-to-day decisions always display a person's values. Again, it's what you do that expresses your values, and authentic leadership depends on them. 

The conversation continued during the Leadership Office Hours, when Kunkle, a former marketing exec for Red Bull, illustrated how the company's core values drove that brand's unique marketing strategy.  The topic shifted to the similar leadership development paths in Singapore, a former client of Mecham's, and small communities in Iowa, where I have been working on economic development issues. But that just wound us back to values and the strong link between a community's long term health and its willingness to spend resources on developing leaders.  A community, country, or company, can't survive without leaders whose values include commitment to the organization.

Then, on Thursday evening, Deb Damge, from Ferguson Enterprises, provided a workshop on Leading with Optimism, a step-by-step program for developing the positive values of tenacity and resliance.  Associated with greater productivity and employee relationships, these traits are a "must have" for professional success, but Damge pointed to all the research that says they're the foundation for personal happiness as well.  It was another thought-provoking session, with the conversation centered on building on our own personal strengths (we all took an on-line assessment before the workshop).  It turns out that practices that build a solid set of personal values (mediation, prayer, showing gratitude, journaling, and quite few other very nice things) are also the tools that create important elements of professional leadership.  Go figure!

If you missed these session, we'll be putting some reading lists at the PRP website, but watch for them all on the calender next year.  They'll all be back! 

 

Can you afford not to apply for an internship?

Last week, 103 job and internship postings on the CareerCat system expired,  It’s too late to apply, but you missed a real opportunity.  Nobody at all applied for 73 of them, and YOU would have been at the top of the list!  What were you waiting for?

This is a serious question, and I hope you'll comment.  Internships are important for UNIBusiness students, and they're important to UNIBusiness's reputation with the business community.  If there's something getting in the way of your career success, we've got a problem to solve!

First, let's make sure we're all on the same page as far as the importance of internships to your success. They are crucial for developing professionalism, as networking opportunities, and for gaining knowledge about a prospective employer.  The real bottom line, however, is being competitive in the job market.  The numbers go up every year, and now more than half of all new hires have an internship on their resumes* .  Even more to the point, a whopping 87% of those who graduate from college with a job in hand have done an internship.  So, if you expect to be competitive on the job market...with the desired mix of professionalism, business knowledge and experience... you pretty much have to do an internship before you graduate.

The other half of the partnership is our reputation as a place to recruit great employees. The companies that offer internships consider them to be their #1 recruitment tool. This means a company that offers an internship to UNIBusiness students but gets no response will conclude there are no students available.  Next year, that company will recruit somewhere else.  But wait for this: nearly 80% of all companies offer internships. This would be like having a Career Fair with only 20 booths, with all the great companies recruiting elsewhere! UNIBusiness has a serious responsibility to provide business talent for the State of Iowa.  If we produce no students who want to be recruited, we've failed in that mission.

So, let's talk about this!  Register for the blog, and leave a comment.  Did you already have an internship lined up?  Have you won the lottery and are no longer looking for a career?  Did you look at the internships offered and decide you didn't want to work for Aegon, HyVee, Target, or Nestle? Taking so many summer classes you can't work?  Heading off to a study abroad instead?

Our corporate partners are asking...what is the answer?

 

*All the figures here are from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) and US News

Freshmen and Sophomores Welcome!

Tomorrow Principle Finance presents a workshop on cross-functional professionalism in a corporate environment.  Take advantage of this opportunity to think about the importance of doing well in the UNIBusiness core courses.  When earning a business major, many students develop a strong set of skills in their own disciplines, but many think of those core pre-requisites as obnoxious, boring courses to get out of the way before learning the important stuff.  

Employers don't see it that way!  Once you're on the job, you can't get anything done without the rest of the team, and the more you understand about how your team members think, the better you'll be able to function.

One of the reasons UNIBusiness grads have the reputation for a solid grasp of essential business knowledge is that every major includes the foundations of marketing, management, accounting, finance and economics.  Putting that knowledge together in a professional way takes another step: paying attention to the functional relationships within the corporate environment.

Josh Ingalls, Campus Relations Manager for Principal Finance, has invited those who talked to him at the Career Fair to join this session, which will be held from 5-6pm on Tuesday, March 1, in CBB 1 & 3.  A panel discussion of professionals in marketing, accounting, finance, information systems, and human resources will be followed by breakout sessions for the majors from 6-7pm.  That invitation is now being extended to all UNIBusiness freshman and sophomores as well.

Take advantage of this unique opportunity to find out how the "other side" thinks! 


Professional Emails Matter!

Getting ready to follow up on that conversation at the Career Fair?  Thinking about asking your former employer about an internship?  Wondering whether your professor will write you a letter of recommendation?  If so, you're probably thinking of writing an email.  Think about writing one that highlights your professionalism!

You've probably thought of the obvious things...using a professional email address rather than "HotBabe@College.com"....Starting the message with "Dear Mr. Smith" instead of "Yo!"... Spelling words out and avoiding emoticons or "text talk".   These are mistakes that can get an email deleted unread, and this is basic good sense.

Now, raise the bar another notch, and use the email to showcase your professionalism.  Business readers get used to reading well-organized emails with complete signatures.  If yours rambles on and leaves out your contact information, it sends the message that you aren't yet a professional! Here's a quick checklist: 

1. Write an informative subject line. That recruiter will get hundreds of messages, and one titled "About Your Opening" is not going to stand out.  Something like "Sending the Resume You Requested at UNI Career Fair" is more helpful!

2. Start with a summary paragraph that provides the purpose of the email and your main points. Don't ramble on through a few points, finally ending up with the question that you actually want answered. Start with the main point, followed by supporting details or explanations.

3. A business email always ends with a complete signature, which includes name, title, and full contact information.  If that recruiter wants to call you back, she'd better be able to find a phone number to do so, and the place she'll look is in the signature.

By the way, UNI professors also respond better to professional emails.  A recent study conducted in the department of Communication Studies* found that professors are "often frustrated or annoyed by emails they deemed ‘unprofessional."  If you want to be persuasive with the professor and develop a professional reputation that will get you that letter of recommendation down the road, practice your professional emails while you're still at UNIBusiness!

*Wetlaufer, T. "Professors’ Perceptions Concerning the Effectiveness of Email Communication with Undergraduate Students: A Qualitative Study"

What NOT to Wear!

As recruiters set up for a Career Fair, they start swapping stories--horror stories, sometimes--of students who wore, said, or did something outrageous. So, as you start getting ready for next week's event, you might want to review the expectations...and take a peek at some of the mistakes made last Fall. Today's topic is attire.

If you are a junior or senior looking for an internship or employment, you should be wearing corporate attire: a properly fitting suit with dress shoes and appropriate accessories.  Take a look at the attire website for specifics. 

Of course, not everyone seems to check out the expectations, and we always see a few examples of what NOT to wear.

*The most common error is probably wearing casual shoes with a business suit, which includes any kind of sandal or open-toed shoes as well as shoes with heavy, treaded soles.

*If you don't yet have a suit, it is acceptable to wear slacks or skirt with a jacket.  Men should NOT wear a tie without a jacket, and women should NOT wear a dress or skirt without a jacket or dressy sweater. This creates a half-dressed look that sends a message that you don't understand business attire.

*Nobody should show up in casual attire.  Denim, shorts, sandals, t-shirts, and athletic attire should all stay in your closet. Instead, wear slacks (think dockers, not cargo or stretch pants) with a conservative shirt, sweater, or blouse, which creates "business casual" attire.  Gentlemen should make sure the shirt fits properly and stays tucked into their trousers. Ladies should avoid any kind of clingy, sparkly, or lacy fabrics, as well as flower prints and bright colors.  

Developing your Personal Brand

This is a great week to check out the careers section of Pricewaterhouse Cooper's website.  This week is Personal Brand Week 2.0.

The company is a major recruiter of UNIBusiness grads, and the advice is great! Check out the web page full of tools, recommendations and information on creating your own personal brand.  You'll find tips and information, with profiles and interviews posted throughout the week.

Here's a quick link to the week's goodies, but if you're at all interested in an accounting career, you should be looking at the whole website regularly.  You can also find PwC on Facebook.

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Welcome aboard to the newest group of subscribers from the Professional Readiness Program's Freshman Seminar and the Level II Business Professionals in Training.  This is the long-promised blog, designed to keep you posted on opportunities and resources to manage your own professional development process.

Professional-ism beyond professional

Every graduate of UNIBusiness expects to be a professional upon graduation--professional accountant, professional real estate portfolio manager, professional logistics specialist--and being professionally prepared means knowing the content of each field.  The expectations of professionalism are not career specific, however, and that means they are never taught in any classroom.

So, here's a quick take on Professionalism 101: Things they didn't tell you in the classroom.

1. Business people are expected to have a calendar (and to use it.)  The business world is schedule driven, and professionalism means knowing and meeting deadlines, showing up on time to meetings and appointments, and allocating enough time to accomplish quality work.

2. Business is conducted collaboratively. Professionalism means an ability to locate and reach a network of resources.  One of the most unprofessional excuses for failure is that "I couldn't get ahold of anyone...."  Part of any job is knowing how to contact the people that help you get that job done.

3. The business world is rule-governed.  Professionalism includes reading (and understanding) job instructions.  If you can't find instructions, professionalism means going out of your way to find them!  Same with missing data or tools: don't stop working because you don't have them.  Go find them!

Employers are expecting more

Recent grads are happy that job openings are finally on an upswing, but that isn't translating into an easy job market.  In fact, U.S. businesses are actually leaving more positions unfilled.  A recent Wall Street Journal article blames some of the foot-dragging on economic issues, but also identifies a trend for employers to be "pickier" about who they hire.

According to the article, companies complain that they have a hard time finding "the right people" when they do try to hire, while some job seekers claim the companies are holding out for "ridiculously awesome" candidates.

There's no question that current job seekers are competing with larger numbers of qualified candidates, including some with years of professional experience.  For those with an option, it's more important than ever to develop the skills that employers find awesome: communication, critical thinking, adaptability, and strong work values.

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Welcome to the UNIBusiness freshman class! These posts provide resources, explanations, and comments on professionalism and the process of becoming a professional.  As you take steps to develop your own skills, please join the conversation!

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