The Career Shuffle


As a career coach, I have learned the importance of listening to the needs of my students. This workshop came from listening to my first year students and the challenges they faced adjusting to college and making time for their career development.  

How many of you listen to music during the day?  Do you have playlists? Do you ever skip  songs or put your device on shuffle to get a random mix? There are times that you listen to a great variety and mix and there are times that shuffle is not shuffling as you want it to.   This can happen in your first year of college. You may feel like you are shuffling a lot but not always obtaining what it is you want.  You may wonder how to get what you want and need in your first year.  Think of college as your iPod and all the things you need from college as your various playlists.  My role is to help you with the career development playlist.  You have other playlists such as student organizations, friends, being on your own, attending class, making good grades and freedom. It’s all new and exciting, but can be overwhelming.

Millennials are multi taskers. You are always doing something, whether it’s joining a club or organization, creating a budget, or attending class, and on top of that you are also supposed to be focusing on a future career.  You may feel you cannot really focus past first semester, much less graduation in four years.  The key is to prioritize and use time management skills. What’s most important in the first few weeks or month of school? What do you want to accomplish?

There are many things you can do to manage your time. Invest in an alarm clock; it can be an actual clock or your phone. Use a daily planner to keep track of your activities like softball practice, meeting with your career coach, dinner with friends. Write down assignments and due dates or refer to the class syllabus. Set aside time to study, eat, exercise, and time for yourself doing something you enjoy.  These activities may sound simple, but they will make a big difference

Let’s get back to your career development playlist and where that fits in exactly.  As you are deciding on or pursuing a major you will need a career coach to assist you. Think of the career coaches as your personal DJ’s. We will help you with putting together or updating your resume, exploring your career interests, finding a job, and more. We administer various career assessments to help you learn more about yourself and how to use this information for future internships, jobs, and careers. How many of you have heard of LinkedIn?  LinkedIn is a professional website that connects you to people in your field that you are able to network with. We will help you create your account so you can begin making connections. There are career workshops to attend on various topics such as finding your career passion, soft skills,   the interviewing process, and resumania.    Make time to meet with your career coach and attend workshops, this will help the career playlist not get lost in the shuffle.

The best part is that career development is done on your time; the ball is in your court. You schedule when you want stop in or meet, anywhere from a brief 15 minutes to an hour depending on your needs. As career coaches we look forward to meeting with our students- you are the reason we are here.  We have the knowledge and resources to help you move forward in your career and look at it holistically. There are many factors that aid in selecting a career from the type of environment you want to work in, to where you want to live, or the type of income you want to have. There are many career options as well as graduate school, we can assist with all of this and prepare you for what comes next.

     Don’t feel that you must do everything at once.  The shuffle is real, prioritize your playlists according to your needs. Your first year  you should focus on creating a resume, setting up  LinkedIn, exploring career interests, and attending career workshops. You have four years to become prepared for the workforce and your first year is the best time to begin.

Let’s Chat

women at salon

The school year has officially began and I couldn’t be more excited! I love meeting with new students and reconnecting with returning ones. It’s always a fun time to hear about students’ experiences and summer opportunities. It’s important to begin right away to develop a rapport with new students and continue a positive one with others.  As a career coach, I need my students to know from day one that career development is important.  There are many activities we do as coaches to meet with our students.

  1. We send a welcome letter before students arrive on campus to let them know we are here and ready to serve. I make sure to include their major and how I am looking forward to helping them reach their goals in that major.
  2. We host a career lunch party as an informal “meet and greet” for students to stop by and see who we are and learn about what we do. I follow up with a thank you letter to all of “my” students who attended.  This followup has opened the door for students to set up our first meeting.  In this thank you letter, I also ask students to send me back a mini bio about themselves: major, subjects they enjoy, hobbies, other interests in music, movies, and anything else they feel I should know. I also share these things about myself so they are able to get to know me as well.
  3.  At my first meeting with new or returning students, I make it informal. We talk about the summer, what’s new, how they chose our school, etc.  We do delve into how I can help them this year and what their goals are.  I have my new students get set up to take our career assessments and that gives us an opportunity to meet again and discuss their results.
  4. I participate in an activity we do called House Calls where various faculty and staff go around students residence halls and “check” on how they are doing.  This helps students become familiar and see me outside of my office.

5. Lastly, I have opportunities to go into classes and speak with students on various career topics such as resume writing, interview tips, and how to market yourself.  This is a great way for students to ask questions and see my credibility as a career coach and a resource for them.

All of these opportunities involve talking to students and opening up the communication lines.  Students want to know that you care and when they understand that, they will be willing to start a conversation. They will want to meet with you and share their goals and dreams. They will seek out your advice and help.  They will also tell their friends about how their career coach has helped them and you will meet even more students.

What have you done as a career coach or educator to start the conversation?

Women Chatting

What I Learned When My Laundry Detergent Let Me Down

4 Bottles Laundry Detergent

Think for a minute about your favorite brand or brands. Is it a drink, food, product, or person?   What does it represent to you? Why do you like that brand?

I cannot live without my classic cherry chap stick, Neosporin, I carry a small tube in my purse because you never know, Malcolm Gladwell books, and Dixie Cup products. My daddy has worked at Dixie Cup since I was in 4th grade, I am attached to the brand because it ties me to him.  Neosporin has healed many of my  skinned knees, killer  paper cuts, and various other injuries through the years. Cherry chap stick has been with me through high school, first dates, and the winter which can do a number on my chapped lips.  Malcolm Gladwell was introduced to me in college via The Tipping Point that I read for a marketing class. Years later I  picked it up again and fell in love with his writing. I love his candor, wit, and stories. I read everything he writes and am now wondering when his next book will be written.  I trust these brands because they are reliable and safe.  Now to the laundry detergent. culprit. For years I have used a trusted brand that has not only washed my clothes, but kept my sensitive skin safe until a few weeks ago.  I purchased my safe brand, but in a new  and different scent.  BIG MISTAKE! You never realize how much your life revolves around a good laundry detergent until you cannot comfortably sleep in your sheets because they now make you itch and  your clothes now irritate your skin!  How did this happen? Yes I know I have sensitive skin, but it’s MY detergent- my safe, reliable, trustworthy detergent and now I am  supposed to go find a new detergent?

Obviously, we become attached to our brands.  If we didn’t, I wouldn’t have gotten insulted last week when I asked for coke,  the lovely waitress offered that “other beverage”, and  I (chose water instead. (True Story).  Companies and organizations wouldn’t have to compete for consumers, there would be no need for logos, or millions of dollars spent on advertising, and I would be okay drinking that “other beverage’ that is not coca-cola.  That is not the world we live in. We live in a world of preferences, choices, and knowing what we like and trust.  When I was buying new bed sheets for my first apartment, my mama let me know what thread count Oprah approved, Oprah.  Women trust Oprah. Our brands whether it’s a product, person, or a chap stick become part of our lives without us even realizing it.

What does this mean for us? It means that we need to be consistent in our own branding and tread carefully when trying new scents. We need to realize that brands are a part of people’s lives, their memories, and experiences. Always remember our audience and do our best to give them our very best.

What are your favorite brands?

The Tipping Point

Work Life Balance and Your Heart


I was able to attend the  Midlands Go Red for Women Luncheon yesterday. It was a fun event that I enjoyed very much.  The American Heart Association is close to my heart as they are part of the reason I am alive today- that in and of itself is different story and post altogether.  The American Heart Association does so much for so many and they encourage everyone to live heart healthy. Since Go Red for Women was launched a decade ago, women’s heart death rates have declined by Thirty four percent.”  As women we try to do it all, but to do all the things we want to do, we have to take care of ourselves. This could be the result, if we don’t start doing this!

As we try to live each day, we really have to do our best to be heart healthy. We talk a lot about work life balance and that goes along with being heart healthy, although I think often times when we speak of work life balance we are speaking of mental health.  Our mental health is very important,but just as important is our physical health.  We know that when we feel good, we are happier and healthier which effects our work life as well. When you aren’t healthy, you can’t work.  Being stressed at work is normal, but when you can’t focus or it effects you daily, you need to make changes. Are you getting enough exercise, enough sleep, you know the drill, but really take a minute to reflect.

This is when work life balance really comes into play.  In the book, How Women  Lead, the authors give  this advice, “The ROI on a health body can’t be overestimated.” (Hadary, Henderson,2013, p.159).   They go onto say that what you really need is not work life balance, but work life integration. You need to be sure to integrate your values in your life and making those values your priority.   Katie White author of , I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This, says to not see stress as a demon because it’s not going away and to stop multi tasking.  We all have to determine what work life balance  or work life integration means to us and our organization and we have to put our health at the forefront.  It is so easy to get caught up in life and work and children, but if we don’t take care of ourselves, then we cannot take of others.  You are your best advocate for you and your heart so take care of yourself.  As you do this, you will be able to achieve your goals and be the successful person you want to be.

Cut the Crap Get a Job

With summer fast approaching, many of you are looking for a job, right? Are you having any luck? If not, pick up “Cut the Crap, Get a Job!” by Dana Manciagli.

This book takes you step by step through the job search process. It requires a lot from you the reader, looking for a job will become your job. Manciagli is a global career expert with an M.B.A., and her strategies have been successful for many of her clients. Now, she is sharing her secrets with you.

The book is broken up into three sections: the first section is about you being committed to job search, the second section is preparing to win a job and the third is about applying, interviewing and follow-up. Manciagli explains that the way to obtain employment has changed, so your job search must change, too.

“Regardless of what type of job seeker you are, I have good news and bad news. The bad news first: The entire landscape of job searching has changed. It’s a new era and you are not current. The good news: There are experts who want to see you win the job you want in this highly competitive market,” Manciagli wrote.

Manciagli’s goal is for her readers to find a job that they not only need, but want as well.

This is not your typical job search book with tips and tricks; they are included, but the reader has homework assignments to carry out that will help enhance their job search. There is no room for excuses with this book. You are either fully committed to obtaining employment or not.

Each chapter is a progression from the last one. For example, chapter four is to create an outline for your job search and chapter five is to build your job-tracking tool, which is a part of your outline. There is advice on how to use social media to help your job search, along with how to network for jobs, resume tips and tricks and more. Manciagli also offers access to her Cut the Crap website for even more help and info.

“Cut the Crap, Get a Job!” can help you find a job if you do your part. This is what Manciagli wants everyone to understand: your job search is yours, and what you make of it is up to you. If you do not apply the strategies in the book or take the advice, then stick to summer reading.

The book is a helpful and insightful tool for anyone looking for a job. If you are serious about a summer job or a long term one, read this book today and get started with your successful job search.

Getting from College to the Real World- The Basics

Presentation I Gave to a Senior Arts Class 
Dream Job Exit Sign

As many of you know graduation is right around the corner! The next chapter of your life is beginning and it’s exciting and scary all rolled into one.  Do you feel ready? What are your goals? What type of jobs are you looking for?

One of the best ways to find a job depends upon your ability to network.  Networking accounts for 70-80% of jobs today. So start talking! It’s not just about talking; it’s about what you say.

Do you have a 30 seconds about me prepared? How do you introduce yourself? How you present yourself is HUGE and first impressions count!

If you are able to know and understand your audience, then you can successfully market yourself. In the book, BRAG, The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It, Peggy Klaus discusses brag bites and bragologues. The purpose of them is for you to be able to discuss your goals, interests, and accomplishments in a story like manner. It’s important that you are always ready to brag. Brooks Harper, author and speaker says that every day is an interview and it’s true because you never know who you are going to meet.

Another way to network is to utilize LinkedIn!  It’s a wonderful tool that helps you find jobs, connect to other people in your field, and stay informed about your career field of interest. One of my coworkers got her job because of her Linkedin profile.  It’s a very professional website.  It’s easy to set up and easy to use- it’s a great way to communicate with others in your field in your city and state.

Volunteering can be another way to meet others and connect with them. Employers love to see that potential candidates have consistent volunteer experience. Make sure to volunteer in an area of your interest and to add it to your resume. You never know where or what volunteering can lead to especially in the arts field where so many opportunities are volunteer-based.

These are all general job search strategies; let’s get more specific to the arts.  For those interested in non-profit go to You can join for free and post a bio about yourself related to your work. You can find internships and volunteer experiences.  Americans for the Arts is another non-profit organization that lists available jobs. They also have an organization entitled, Young Arts Professionals- it does cost to join both organizations. Searching for jobs and posting your resume is free! Creative Hotlist is another website to search for jobs and post your resume. USAJOBS is where you can search for jobs by state or occupation. These are just a few.

Once you’ve found a job that you are interested in, you have to have an all impressive resume.  Resumes are not a one size fits all. There are basic elements needed in a resume.   Use keywords from the job description in your resume. Many companies use an Applicant Tracking System to weed out resumes that do not have enough keywords before an actual person sees them. The format needs to be clean and easy to read. There needs to be white space and 1 inch margins all around. For each heading, you don’t need more than 6 bullets to talk about the experience. All the important information needs to be at the top 1/3 of the page. This is the portion that gets scanned by the reader. Use quantifiers in your descriptions, people pay attention to numbers. Use a profile summary, not an objective. You need a separate reference page. Be consistent throughout your resume as far as font, size, and bullets. Tailor your resume to the position. Lead with results, include your LinkedIn profile link if you have one, and don’t use repetition on your resume, get a thesaurus. Your resume needs to tell a story about who you are professionally.  Another piece to the puzzle of obtaining a job is the cover letter.  The truth is, no one enjoys writing a cover letter, and it’s the wicked stepmother or odd relative to the resume. No one understands them. The most important element of a cover letter is to explain that you know about the company- what they do, what they stand for, and how you are a good fit for them.  You are selling yourself, but in a way that shows that you care about the organization, not just about yourself. You do want to share your experiences, but always connect it to how it will help the organization.

Resumes get you an interview, but an interview can get you a job.  Peggy Klaus says that an interview is one of the best times to brag about yourself, it’s where you bring your resume to life.  You need to have concrete, specific examples and stories to share. Brooks Harper who wrote “Why Should We Hire You said “That’s all interviewing is: Telling your story in a manner that persuades someone to hire you.”   Practice for your interview with your career coach or a trusted friend.  Video yourself practicing, from experience I can tell you that you will notice things you don’t notice when practicing in the mirror.    During an interview, you are being looked at from the minute you walk in until you exit the parking lot. Be sure to make a good positive impression by dressing properly, arriving at least 15 minutes earlier and being confident and kind.  Dress for the job you want, not the one you have. Pay attention the way people are dressed at your interview, always ere on the more conservative side even if it’s a more casual place.  Stick to neutral tones such as black, navy, gray, white, and khaki, bright colors can be distracting.   There are 4 types of questions that interviewers typically ask:  straightforward, behavioral type questions, situational, and brainteasers.  If you understand what the questions are really asking, you will be better prepared to answer. Many people make the mistake of not answering the question that was asked or being vague in their answers.  Remember to use the STAR method when answering questions, describe the situation, the task, the action taken, and the results.  Employers want to see that you can get results and solve problems.  Be sure that you have at least 2-3 questions to ask the employer that are about the job- what are the immediate goals for someone in this position, what is the typical day like in this position, ask questions that show you are interested in the position and the company.  At the end of the interview be gracious, say thank you and within 24-48 hours send a snail mail thank you letter.

Graduation is an exciting time and the next chapter in your story is about to begin. As you prepare, be sure you are networking with people in your industry, volunteering, and doing all you can to find a job that you want and will be excited about. You are on your way!

Five Books Every Student Should Read


As a life long learner and avid reader, I could not agree more!

Originally posted on The NACE Blog:

Lakeisha Mathews

Lakeisha M. Mathews, Director, Career and Professional Development Center, University of Baltimore
Twitter: @RightResumes_CC
Blogs from Lakeisha Matthews.

A few months ago I wrote about 10 must-read books for career professionals. Now I would like to draw attention to a few must-read books for any student who aspires to be successful, a leader, or simply to be ready for the world of work.

With information always at their fingertips, students can access tips, samples, and information on career and professional development in a split second on Google, YouTube, Pinterest, and so forth. However, many professionals can attest to the bookthat changed our lives, or the authorthat helped us mature and think differently about ourselves. Our students should be encouraged to have the same encounters with books that help them grow and mature professionally. Whether it’s a hard back, soft cover, or e-book, books…

View original 405 more words

Don’t Forget Your Cup!

Southern Belle

Don’t forget your cup that is what I have to tell myself everyday or hear my coworker tell me. You would think I’d remember by now, but some days my hands are full or my mind is on something else and I just forget. It’s a part of my everyday routine and I  can’t function without it, yet I still remind myself to take it with me. It made me think, what else do we forget that we shouldn’t? Did I lock the door? Did I turn off the oven? Do I have my keys? There are so many things we do and so many places we go no wonder we forget things. Life seems so rushed now and we have to remember to slow down.

I think it applies in our careers as well. Are we rushing through it? Are we so busy trying to get to the next level that we don’t appreciate where we are?  Are we enjoying what we are doing or just going through the motions?  What are our priorities or values?

It’s so easy to get bogged down with what we have to do and what’s next that we forget the present. In my job as a career coach I am always learning new ways to help my students and want to be able to carry all of them out, but I have to remember that my most important job is to meet students where they are and go from there.  My students are my priority and as long as I am serving them I know I am doing a good job- they are my cup- I cannot forget them.  There are days I have to work on other things like reports or attending meetings, but all of these things circle back to my students and how they are affected.Ruts are inevitable, we will all have times of going through a rut. During a rut, we have to remind ourselves why we are where we are and why we do what we do. We have to remember our cup.

Tell me what your cup is in comments below.

The Ever Effective Job Hunt

Job Search

Every day we hear how difficult finding a job can be, but in the same breath, we hear of someone obtaining a new one. How does that happen?  I believe there are people who search for any job, no job, or the right job.  How do you decide what jobs to apply for?  What about all those job applications you have to fill out, then tweaking your resume to fit each job description, and finally you play the waiting game.

To begin, you need to have an idea of the types of jobs you want to look for. This means the type of environment you want to work in as well as the hours you want to work, and if it’s a job that you will enjoy.  You want the job to be a good fit so think about what you bring to the table what S.T.A.G. you have,S.T.A.G. being your Skills, Talents, Abilities, and Goals. In her book, Cut the Crap, Get a Job, Dana Manciagli said, “Industries are not jobs. But it is a start as it is good to have some interest in an industry or two. However, much more important is to know what type of job, based on the skills you have from your past experiences(including what you are not good at).  Focus more on the function or department you see yourself working in.”   It’s vital when looking for a job to really know yourself and what you want from your job and to not just take any job, but one you will enjoy.

As you look for jobs on LinkedIn or read through the job descriptions carefully and look at what the job is really asking for.   Does the company want someone with good communication skills, or a lot of experience in the field?  Think of the job description as a contract where reading the fine print is a MUST!

Let’s say you found 2-5 jobs to apply for and then you start filling out job applications and they are asking for TMI, things you don’t remember and you realize that you don’t have all the answers!  What do you do?  Most online jobs have a short form you fill out and many require that you create an account with their site and then take you to the actual application.  What I have learned from employers is that one of their pet peeves is when applicants fail to completely fill out the job application, this takes it to the discard pile immediately.  Be sure to complete the application to get you one step closer to a job.

Now that you understand job apps, let’s look at your resume.  Your resume needs to be tailored to every job you apply for. This means that you will tweak it with keywords from the job description.    Your resume needs to be neat, clean, and easy to read.  The format should be consistent, your name should stand out, and remember include a profile summary, not an objective.  Your reference should be on a separate page with your contact info at the top.  (For more info see my blog on resumes)

Congrats! You have sent off your job applications along with your proofread by someone other than you resume.  Does this mean that you now do nothing but sit around in sweats watching Netflix?  No, it means you are proactive!  You are now making connections on LinkedIn, networking and talking to people about your  job search process. This is a time that your elevator pitch really comes into play During this time, you may apply for more jobs or volunteer to gain experience, don’t be idle.

Applying for jobs can be tedious and time consuming so make sure you apply for jobs you really want so you make the most of your time.  The process is so worth it, when you land a great job. It’s important to be active in the job hunt and let everyone know about it. As you go through the process, you will learn new things and be on your way to a finding the job that is right for you.