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Connect with your HBCU alumni office

For almost two centuries, since the founding of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania in 1837, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s), have been educating students who go on to be successful alumni.  HBCU alumni are successful career professionals who are fully integrated into America’s diverse workforce.

As an example, in 2013 the top feeder schools for African Americans into Medical schools were colleges with the HBCU designation.  So, if you are one of the numerous college graduates in the HBCU community, who owe your career and professional success to someone on those college campuses, maybe you can consider giving back to your campus.

There are many ways to give back, especially through your campus career center.  For example, as an alumni you can share internships, job shadow opportunities or career positions with your campus.  You can volunteer to participate on employment panels, advisory boards or even do mock interviews in the career center.  Of course you can donate your time to mentor students or advise campus clubs and you can most definitely donate funds to support scholarship programs.

Here is the list of HBCU alumni offices.  Find your alma mater and think about how you can help.

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Build your Writing Skills

Better Writing Skills“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Just as college professors complain about the writing skills of their students, so do managers complain about writing skills of their employees. The difference? While your college professor will have to tell you about it; neither recruiters nor your managers are obligated to let you know.  I can tell you that throughout my assignments working in four different college career centers and since I started The HBCU Career Center a decade ago, poor writing skills from job applicants or new hires, is routinely one of the biggest complaints I hear about from HR managers.

One of the reasons that writing skills are so important is that our written documents have a way of getting into places before we actually do. It is therefore very important that our written words always represent us well, and we look good to the reader – at least on paper.

Think about it, some of the first writing samples a potential employer will see from anyone includes a resume, a Linkedin or other social media profile, job application and maybe a cover letter. A few employers may even ask applicants for writing samples.  We will deal with social media writing later, but for now, I can’t stress enough how important it is that you look good on paper through these documents. 

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Career Assessments Gives Insight

Career Assessments“It’s not hard to make decision when you know what your values are” ~ Roy Disney

How much work have you done to know more about your personal values, interests, skills and abilities.  I refer to this as your V.I.S.A. Knowing who you are and what you have to offer must be considered as you contemplate any career choices or decisions.

There are many career assessments to help you get started and costs range from free to very expensive.

Remember that no career assessment will tell you what you should be or what you should do. The results, however, can offer you a framework within which to start exploring options or help reinforce your current choice.  The results can tell you more about who you are and act as a filter as you evaluate options.

Career Assessments:

O*NET Interest Profiler – Find out your interests and how they relate to your work.  This Interest Profiler helps with decisions about what careers to pursue.

Myers Briggs Type Indicator – One of the most well-known assessments which results in a four-letter “type”—INFP or ESFJ, for example. The test helps to identify basic preferences for each of four dichotomies (such as introvert and extrovert) and describes 16 distinctive personality traits.  Contact us at thehbcucareercenter@yahoo.com if you are interested in taking this assessment.

MAPP – The MAPP career assessment is perfect for students, graduates and working adults. You’ll get a wealth of information to help find the right career that matches your unique assessment profile.

Values Assessment – The Values Test can help you learn more about your underlying work needs and motivations, and can help you decide what is important to you in a job.

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Start Curating a Virtual Professional Portfolio

Virtual Online Portfolio

Where is the evidence of your potential?

Where is the evidence of your potential?

“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do” ~ Henry Ford.

Creative professionals like artists and architects have used career portfolios, sometimes known as the “the book”, to promote themselves and their skills for decades.

In today’s competitive, knowledge-based labor market, other professionals are discovering the value of portfolios.  They don’t always have to be a physical book, and with online resources, anyone can create a  virtual professional portfolio.  That is actually how I see LinkedIn – as a museum where people display their lives through a virtual professional portfolio.  Curating that just means adding items and information about who you are, what you have done, where your interests lie and how others in your orbit see your work.

Value of a virtual professional portfolio

If well thought out, the act of putting together your virtual professional portfolio can help you reflect on your work as evidence of your values, interests, skills and abilities.  It can help you clarify and filter what’s important to you in current and future opportunities.  It can help you develop a tool which is strategically laid out to influence others about past successes and future potential.

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Posted in Career Advice, Career and Industry Awareness, Career Tools, Employment Trends, Life After College, Millennials at Work, Professional Development, What Employers Want | Comments Off on Start Curating a Virtual Professional Portfolio

Get a Handle on Workplace Stress

Manage Workplace StressWorkplace stress is real.

“Brain cells create ideas. Stress kills brain cells. Stress is not a good idea”  ~ Doug Hall

The Mayo Clinic educates us to some of the silent signals of stress.  From headaches, stomach cramps, overactive sweet tooth, heart palpitations, anxiety or shedding hair – your body can have a physical, obvious or not so obvious, reaction to stress. All of us have our “pain points” or triggers that cause some kind of involuntary stress reaction.

Spend sometime today thinking about your triggers.  There may be more than one.

Do you feel you have limited control over your work?

Do you feel like you are being pulled in too many directions?

Are your personal and professional values out of sync with your employer?

Are you working really long hours? Putting in a lot of overtime?

Are you relocating or thinking about relocating? Is a spouse relocating?

Do you work on shift?

Are you worried about job security?

Are you overdue for a vacation, but can’t leave?

Do you get along with your colleagues or your boss?

Do you have a jerk, bully, narcissist, Machiavellian for a boss?

Manage difficulty subordinates?

Unstable work environment waiting for the “other shoe to drop”?

Unrealistic project deadlines?

Constantly changing priorities?

Worklife/Balance out of whack?

Find yourself calling out sick more often than you used to?

Today is the day to start the personal exploration and acknowledge what might be causing your workplace stress.  You don’t necessarily have to find a solution today, but you need to at least acknowledge it.

These three resources can help provide some answers and offer great short term or long term ideas for lowering stress – even right at your desk.



Marianna Paulson (Auntie Stress)

Please share other resources you use.

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Join professional associations; Membership has rewards

Join Professional Associations

Professional Associations

Membership has its rewards.

Man is a tool-using animal…Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all” ~ Thomas Carlyle

We spend a lot of time being members of groups whether we define ourselves that way or not.  As children, we joined play teams, in high schools we were in sports or academic teams; in college we added Greek Life or clubs and as adults we are members of churches, community groups, alumni and civic associations. Memberships work because we are social creatures and as the quote suggests, memberships are tools that we routinely use in our lives – to belong, to nurture, to support and to feel we are part of something.

In your professional life, it is always a good idea to consider your  membership presence in professional associations. Are you currently an active member of any professional association or group? Notice the emphasis on the word active. Many of us even pay dues to belong to associations, but really do not take the time to even read the monthly magazines or any subscriptions we receive.  If you are a student, the same principle applies to campus clubs or chapters of professional associations.  Are you there, but not really using it as the tool to build leadership or administrative skills as you should?

Why join a professional association?

Aside from the obvious networking possibilities with people in the same profession, which could lead to great opportunities, there are other benefits:

  1. Building new skills through on line or in person workshops or webinars.
  2. Helping to shape the future direction of your occupation.
  3. Developing leadership skills through committee involvement.
  4. Staying ahead of trends in your occupation or industry.
  5. Inside information on jobs and internships.

If you are a seasoned professional exploring career changes, or a student expanding your career and industry awareness, joining a professional association should be a no-brainer.  Students should know there are usually significant discounts for membership.

Wikipedia has a great list of professional associations with links to each.  Find a few that you can further explore and possibly join so that you can maybe attend a national conference next year.

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