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NoVo Foundation Invests in Women of Color

It is probably the largest ever such gift specifically designated to the “dismantling [of] the barriers that prevent them from realizing that potential and leading us toward a truly transformative movement for change.”

The “them” in that sentence is girls and young women of color and the gift refers to a $90 million pledge from the NoVo Foundation.  After a series of community conversations with young women and girls during the summer of 2016, the foundation expects to formulate a final strategy in 2017.  In the NBC news piece, the NoVo organization says that “the goal will be a funding strategy that is truly shaped by girls themselves,” and that is accountable to them.

The organization making this pledge to invest in women of color, was founded in 2006 by the son and daughter-in-law of one of America’s richest men, Warren Buffet.

“We hope this kind of broad-based, fundamental change will impact girls and young women in communities of all kinds across the country, with the ultimate goal of ensuring that all girls and women can unlock their full potential,” said Shifman. “Now is our chance to work together to harness this moment and ensure it is translated into long-term, meaningful change.”

I can see this as something our currently First Lady, Michelle Obama, would probably be involved with, since it looks like a project just up her street. (;>

More about the NoVoFoundation here!

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Why Informational Interviews are so POWERFUL!

Winformational interviewse are almost at that time of year when millions of new college grads will walk across the stage without a plan for next steps.  The AfterCollege.com survey for 2014 college graduates showed that 80% graduatedwith no job or career lined up. The bigger issue is not just that they don’t have jobs lined up, is that most, don’t know which careers are in their futures.  The informational interview is a quick way to learn about careers from people on the inside.  It’s one of the reasons that career centers love to recommend this strategy to new grads.

What is an Informational Interview?

Do you want to find out more about a specific career or job? What people do in the day-to-day activities in a certain occupation? One way to do that is interview people who already work in that occupation. This type of interview is called an informational interview.

Print this list of questions to ask in your informational interview. How do you find someone to interview? Contact the staff in the Career Center on your #HBCU campus and I guarantee they can help you connect with an employer, alumni or professional in the field of interest.  If that doesn’t work, reach out to someone on social media.  You can find professionals on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.  They probably won’t have a sign that says they are open for interviews, but do your research and ask questions or ask for referrals.

Sample Informational Interview questions:

1. What do you do in a typical day on your job?
2. What training or education is required for this job/career?
3. What personal qualities or abilities contribute to success in this job/career?
4. What do you find most satisfying and most challenging about your work?
5. What was your career path after you graduated from your vocational program?
6. What opportunities for advancement exist in this career?
7. What entry-level jobs in this industry would you recommend as the place to begin a career?
8. In your opinion – how has this job/career changed over the last 5 or 10 years?
9. How do you see the job/career changing over th next 5 years?
10. Which professional associations or journals would you recommend?
11. If you could relive your career path in this industry, what would you change? Why?
12. Do you have any advice for me on my resume?
13. How can I change it to improve responses from employers in this field?
14. Who would you recommend I speak with to get more information about this job/career?
15. May I use your name when I contact the person you recommended?

This information fits the Career and Industry Awareness section of the career development model.

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The Secret to Getting that First Job

land first job after graduationEvery year another group of anxious, yet excited, graduates get ready to receive to walk the stage and hold those diplomas high. Some of these grads will be wise and visit their campus career centers early to get a jump start on the job search to get that first job.  Unfortunately, most new grads will walk away from campus with a lot of debt and no job.  The Washington Post actually reports that four out of five students graduate without having that first job.

After working for 15 years with college graduates on the college to work pipeline, there are definitely some strategies that will help new graduates land that first job after graduation.

How to land your first job after graduation

1. Seek career counseling or coaching. Some students don’t like the word “counseling” so I would rephrase that to say – seek career and job search help in the career center on your campus.  If you are graduating from a HBCU, you can find links to the HBCU career centers here.

2. Prepare effective introductory correspondence. In other words, get a good resume, cover letter and/or portfolio together.  Please look for our Resume Guide which will be published this year.

3. Prepare for and participate in on-campus recruiting opportunities. This means that your job as a college senior is to find your campus career center and get to know the staff.  Better yet, get the staff to know you.

4. Know how to interview and practice interviewing. If you impress employers on campus, they will invite you back to their site. Here are tips on how to succeed on the second interview.

5. Follow up and continue your job search efforts. The real secret to getting that first job is being persistent and professional with follow up.

Students who succeed and get that first great job after graduation know they have to follow this process and connect with many employers. It’s a good job market, but very competitive.  If you stay positive, work with your career center and stay focused you can do well.

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A Good Employment Reference Brings Value

professional references on campusValue of a good employment reference!

Everyone knows the value of a good employment reference to help you stand out in a job search. Lining up a good employment reference is a key part of an effective job search and you want to do it before graduation.

A good reference, of course, does not only have to come in the form of a letter, but can be via conversation with a recruiter, an endorsement on LinkedIn or just in the fact someone refers you for a job.

Many of us who hire people for a living as HR professionals will often say that the reference letter might actually be worth less than the piece of paper on which it is written.   Let’s face it, although it does happen, most people who commit to being an employment reference will only say good things about you.

This article by Lindsay Olsen addresses, what she calls The Ins and Outs of Providing References.  Olsen recommends that you create a separate list of references after asking your contacts to support you this way.

Knowing how and who to ask to be a good employment reference for you can really take a job search to the next level.

Additional reading on references:

9 Key Elements to a Good Cover Letter

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Avoid Dead End College Majors

Lists of hot careHate my jobers are often a favorite of college students as they make decisions about choosing a college major. Since some dead end college majors can lead to dead end careers, it’s a good idea to use these lists to explore potential careers.  No one wants to end up in a dead end career.

However, a word of caution about using these lists.

As college students peruse these hot career lists with dying or growing occupations, they should know that there are many careers and occupations, NOT on these list which could still lead to a dead end career … for them.

College students should know that they can end up in a dead end career, not only because they picked dead end college majors, but because they chose a college major and career that was not a good fit for them.

Just as every career is not for everyone, even if the career is the hot career list, not all college majors are for everyone. Too many college students who turn to these lists for career planning advice, regrettably end up trapped in the wrong majors for them.

Without intervention and changing majors, these students can end up trapped in the wrong careers.

For these college students, a bad choice of college major can lead to a profession where job satisfaction is almost impossible.

3 clues to knowing when you are in a dead end college major?

You have no passion for the subjects in your core classes

If you are a psychology major and not enjoying or doing well in Psych 101, or the basic Psychology course on your campus, this major may not be for you. If you find that you are not reading assigned texts or participating in class discussions, this college major may not be for you.

You have zero curiosity about what’s happening in the occupation

If you have no interest or curiosity about the careers that emanate from your college major or if you have no interest outside the classroom about the major, then you may be in the wrong place. If you are not interested in talking to people in your major, learning more about the major outside of class and finding out about successful career paths for students in your major; you may be in the wrong place also.

You were pressured to choose your college major to fulfill someone else’s dream?

This actually happens a lot more than you think.  Many times college students end up in majors that will dead end for them, because parents, teachers or friends told them it would be a good choice. There is no way to avoid doing your own research to find your own passion.

Choosing a college major is a serious decision and students owe it to themselves to make a thoughtful choice.  If you think you are in the wrong major, please visit your campus career center. (Check out career resources on our site to find a link to the Career Center on your HBCU campus).

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Build a Career Advisory Board

Career advisory boardTime to hail your C.A.B.

If you have followed my blogs for the last several years, you know that I am a fan of developing quick and easy acronyms to reinforce career management ideas. I started to do it when I moved from the corporate world into higher education and students and faculty seemed to remember my little phrases and so they just stuck. The C.A.B concept is one of those little acronyms that I have used for years to explain the concept of a Career Advisory Board.

Imagine a cab (taxi, Uber, Lyft – you name it, the principle is the same) ride that will get you from point A to point B. The concept of this C.A.B. is the same – it is a vehicle or a method that will help you get from one point to the next point in your career. Whether you are a new, emerging professional or an experienced professional, there is value in developing your own CAB. If you have to grow or change in an ever evolving workplace, you will need all the help and support you can get. That is the value of a Career Advisory Board.

You decide who will ride in your CAB?

Success in today’s workplace requires that we are able to evaluate information from multiple sources and come up with the best course of action for us. Today’s workplace requires us to spend a lot of time on projects with exactly that same concept of getting ideas from multiple sources. If you follow that same principle, therefore, there is room in your CAB. for many people. Potential riders could include former supervisors, team coaches, mentors, career coaches, professors, pastors, parents, entrepreneurs or human resource managers.

Your goal should be to evaluate the advice and perspectives coming in from your Career Advisory Board members and filter out the best, most relevant information to use and apply. Just like the Google map application, your CAB can help you take detours, identify short cuts or show you many ways to successfully navigate your route.

Your Career Advisory Board doesn’t have to be large. My recommendation would be between five and ten persons. These are folks you will tell about your professional goals, your milestones and who you know you can count on to support your initiatives and goals.

If you want to step up your networking game too, invite them all to dinner or find a way to connect them to each other. Let them know they are riding in your CAB with you and show your appreciation often and in meaningful ways.

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