What You’re Doing Wrong at Your First Job

careertips13-150x150Employers are looking to hire talented and motivated students and new grads for internships and full-time careers, but they cringe when they see these common mistakes.  Avoid the five common errors listed below and make yourself more competitive among your peers!

“Nobody asked me to do that”

Passing off blame is not a way to garner greater responsibility in your new position.  Instead, keep your head up and eyes open, and see how you can contribute, even if you are not explicitly asked to do so.  If you make a mistake, don’t waste time trying to justify it.  Correct your error, learn from the experience, and move on.

“I work best late at night”

Although it’s a good practice to not be the first one to leave, there’s no prize for being the last one at the office.  Studies show that people are most productive in the morning, so you’re not doing yourself or your company any favors by closing up shop at 3 a.m.  Instead, try arriving at the office earlier in the day when you are best able to complete complicated tasks!

“I emailed him, but I haven’t heard back”

If you want to talk to someone, pick up the phone!  It’s much easier to ignore an email, especially when studies show most people can only process 50 emails a day but receive an average of 150.

“I feel pretty confident about my career prospects”

No matter how talented you are, you can always learn new skills to make you more competitive in you field.  This may mean learning new technical skills like computer programming and web design through online programs, or buffering your analytical abilities by keeping up on the news and reading books for pleasure.

“I figure I’ll leave in a year or so anyway”

Jumping between short-term jobs puts you at a disadvantage for a number of reasons.  Not only are you less invested in building relationships with your colleagues or seeking out mentors in your field, you are neglecting valuable skill acquisition that experts say does not come until after two to three years on the job.  Future employers will also want to see that you can demonstrate loyalty to their company, which will be hard to do if you have a history of jumping between firms.

Adapted from “20 Things 20-Year-Olds Don’t Get” by DocStoc founder Jason Nazar.

Interested in Diversity & Social Justice? Check Out Harvard Divinity School Seminar

education-150x150Interested in a career relating to issues of diversity and social justice?  Sign up to attend a three-day expenses paid introduction to the graduate program offerings at Harvard Divinity School.

The program, Diversity and Explorations Program or Div-Ex, runs from Nov. 5 to Nov. 7 at the HDS campus in Boston. Applications for the program are due Sept. 16, and an online application is available on the HDS website.

HDS classes span religion, theology and ethics, studies that may be applicable to a wide variety of careers including a career in ministry.

The Div-Ex program will give undergraduate students a chance to attend HDS classes, network with the campus community, and ask specific questions about the HDS application and financial aid. There is also a faculty dinner, which will be hosted by Ahmed Ragab, professor of science and religion at HDS and a specialist in the medieval and modern Middle East.

It’s the Little Things

Photo courtesy of Steven Depolo.

Courtesy of Steven Depolo.

Having trouble balancing your job search with a full schedule of classes, clubs, sports and other engagements? Try implementing a few tips from Laura Vanderkam’s recent book, “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.”

In her book, Vanderkam chronicles how she reclaimed less productive hours from her day – usually late at night – by restructuring her schedule so that she would have more time in the morning for tasks that were important to her.  Vanderkam makes the point that there are 168 hours in every week – enough for school, activities and “me time” as long as you are careful about how you schedule this time.

Top 5 Tips from Vanderkam’s book about how to reclaim lost hours in your week:

1. Track your time

Vanderkam says that the first step to a more efficient week is to better understand how you budget your time. Keep a log for a week and record when you wake up, attend class, go to bed, and everything in between.  You may be surprised to find “lost hours” throughout the day – time spent browsing the internet or clearing emails –  especially late at night.

2. Imagine your perfect day

What time would you wake up and what would you do before class? Would you go for a jog or read the newspaper with breakfast?  How much time would you spend studying and searching for your next internship versus eating meals with friends or catching up on your favorite show?

3. Think about how to implement these changes

Look at your typical day and re-evaluate how you can better achieve your ideal schedule.  If you’re losing productive hours late at night, try going to bed 15 minutes earlier and waking up 15 minutes earlier and slowly adjusting to a different sleep pattern.  Try setting goals like watching your favorite show over the weekend instead of staying up late on a Tuesday night, or enrolling in a class with friends if you have trouble motivating yourself to go to the gym.

4. Establish routines

Get into habits that help you achieve more elements of your ideal day. Just like you meet for classes and clubs at specific times of the day, do the same for completing other tasks.  Maybe this means setting aside three hours throughout the week for your job search or designating which days you plan to practice piano.  Whatever you decide, stick to that schedule for two weeks and you’ll already be adapting to new habits!

5. Reflect and re-evaluate

Don’t take on too much at once! Concentrate on adding one new habit at a time, and reflect on your progress.  Strive for regularity as a means of reducing stress and staying on track.

Adapted from “What Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast” by Laura Vanderkam, excerpt here.

Trends in Medical School Enrollment

M.Megill_2Interested in a career in medicine?  You’re in luck – according to a recent news release by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), U.S. medical schools are on track to increase enrollment 30 percent from 2002 to 2017, a goal that AAMC had called for in 2006 in order to meet the medical demands of aging baby-boomers.  AAMC has projected that there will be a shortage of 90,000 primary care and specialty doctors in the U.S. by 2020.

The news was not all positive, however, as federal funding for residency positions has remained stagnant.  According to AAMC President and CEO Darrell Kirch, this is a problem because students studying medicine are required to complete these training programs in order to become practicing physicians.  Congress’s failure to increase funding for residency programs has caused the enrollment increases at medical schools to have only limited effectiveness at increasing the number of practicing physicians.

Given the highly competitive nature of medical school admissions, how can you best prepare yourself for acceptance?  Check out these trends in medical school admissions for some helpful hints:

1. Medical schools are implementing holistic review

While medical schools traditionally relied on GPA and MCAT scores to evaluate applicants, new research that found MCAT scores highly correlated to test takers’ race, gender and socioeconomic background has caused schools to re-think the way they review applications.  Groups like the AAMC have promoted holistic review processes where applicants’ intellectual achievement, employment experience, personal background, community service and leadership qualities, among other intangibles, are evaluated as well.   According to a recent article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, an early proponent of holistic review, saw its 2012 entering class GPA and MCAT scores rise to 3.66 and 33.62 from 3.57 and 31.68, while students underrepresented in medicine rose to 20% from 12%.

Take away: Get involved in community programs and volunteer groups that match with your interests, especially if they are relevant to your future career in medicine. Think about attending events run by Globemed, a student group that addresses global health inequity, becoming involved in Dartmouth’s Emergency Medical Services, or volunteering at events run by the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical School in order to round out your classroom interests with relevant extracurricular programs.

2. “Early assurance” programs are expanding

Schools like Dartmouth, Georgetown, Northwestern and Tufts, offer undergraduate students a chance to apply to their affiliated medical schools as rising juniors.  The goal of such programs is to allow students a chance to broaden the scope of their college academic pursuits and avoid the substantial time and energy investment students usually make studying for the MCAT exam.  Dartmouth began offering an early assurance program to Geisel in 2012-2013 and extended admission to five members of the class of 2014 through the program.

Take away: If you are sure you want to pursue a career in medicine, check out Dartmouth and other programs that offer early assurance admission as a way to reduce stress during your senior year and avoid preparation for the MCAT exam.

3. More students are taking time off before medical school

80 percent of Dartmouth students take at least one year off before attending medical school, a percentage that pre-health advisor Sarah Berger said she expects to see grow in coming years. Some students pursue academic programs to help round out their medical school applications or gain further research and lab experience, while others take time off to pursue opportunities unrelated to medicine, Berger said.

Take away: If you know you want to attend medical school, think about whether it would be helpful to take a year or more off.  This time might contribute to stronger professional skills that you can list on your application, or it might help you narrow the focus of your medical studies.

Looking for further advice about pre-health academic advising? Visit Berger at the student advising offices located on the first floor of Baker-Berry library or her colleague, Lee Witters, at his office in the Life Sciences Center.  Career services can help you to navigate your search for off-term or post-graduate internships and fellowships related to health, but see Berger and Witters for specific MCAT test preparation practice or pre-health academic planning.

Alumni Story: S. Caroline Kerr ’05, CEO for Joyce Ivy Foundation

Courtesy of S. Caroline Kerr.

Photo courtesy of S. Caroline Kerr.

S. Caroline Kerr ’05 is the Chief Executive Officer and founder of the Joyce Ivy Foundation, a non-profit organization that offers programs and scholarships to help young women from the Midwest attend college. At Dartmouth, Kerr majored in Sociology major modified with Women’s and Gender Studies. She also earned a minor in Education. She was also a member of Palaeopitus senior society, competed on the women’s crew team, and was Dartmouth Rainbow Alliance co-chair, among other activities.

Kerr is president of DGALA, Dartmouth’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender alumni association. She has previously worked in Dartmouth’s admissions office and recently completed a master’s degree at Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Please provide a two sentence description of what you do.

I lead a non-profit organization that seeks to raise and broaden the college aspirations of talented female high schools students. The Joyce Ivy Foundation works with a variety of partner organizations across different sectors as we engage in our work.

What is most satisfying about your current work?

I believe in the mission of helping to connect talented youth with educational opportunities at highly selective colleges and universities (such as Dartmouth.) I enjoy the variety in my work: developing strategy, launching new initiatives, managing a team, and thinking creatively about how we contribute to the national landscape of college access.

What’s the best way to enter your field? Any essential elements of preparation?

The Joyce Ivy Foundation works specifically in the realm of college access, and I have previously worked in college admissions and college counseling. In an entrepreneurial setting, thinking creatively about partnerships and bringing an enthusiasm to relationships with potential partners, donors, and other supporters is invaluable.

What advice would you give to others seeking opportunities in this field?

Take advantage of volunteer or internship opportunities as a way to gain exposure to the field or work of interest, and use those opportunities to build your network.

How has Dartmouth supported you in your career development?

My undergraduate courses, jobs and internships, and involvement in student organizations prepared me to work effectively with a range of colleagues. I worked in the Undergraduate Admissions Office after college, and the work environment and mentoring I received prepared me well for graduate school and other professional roles. I have also been active in Dartmouth alumni leadership, such as the Alumni Council and affiliated groups, which has significantly contributed to my leadership development as well as provided me an opportunity to  stay engaged with Dartmouth.

A Look Toward the Future

Photograph courtesy of Sam Howzit

Photograph courtesy of Sam Howzit

Flying cars, hotels on Mars, instant and microwaveable gourmet food… maybe not by 2020.  But experts do have predictions about job market trends for the next ten years.

1. Increased importance of higher education
There is already a substantial wage gap between college and master’s degree recipients and their peers, and experts expect these gaps will widen.  The Bureau of Labor statistics estimates that jobs requiring at least a master’s degree will grow by 21.7% by the decade’s end, and McKinsey & Company predicts a shortage of 1.5 million college graduates to fill jobs requiring such a degree.

2. Demand for science and medicine

With the aging of baby boomers and demand for clean energy, experts predict a strong demand for STEM degree recipients.  Fields like healthcare, counseling and health management are predicted to grow as are scientific research, computer engineering, environmental and conservation science.

3. Growth of entrepreneurship
Especially in information technology and health services, there is a strong trend of young professionals working with Angel investors and venture capital firms to develop their own products, be it new applications and software or new health care delivery mechanisms.  Experts suggest a basic background in coding and computer science will be increasingly helpful to laborers entering the work force over the next ten years.

4. Plan for your first job to be in a city
The Brookings Institute, a non-partisan think tank, predicts that urban areas will continue to have the strongest job markets in future years.  The demand for laborers is not, however, limited to just New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Seattle, and Atlanta. The group also predicts strong job markets in California (San Jose and San Francisco) and Connecticut (Bridgeport and Hartford).

5. Decline of gender divisions in the work force
Men and women are increasingly breaking down barriers in fields traditionally dominated by workers of a single gender.  Men, for example, are increasing entering jobs like health support and dental assistance – fields with strong predicted growth in coming years.  Experts expect continued integration in fields traditionally dominated by workers of a single gender.

Adapted from Jada Graves’s “What Will the Job Market Look Like in 2020?” published online by  U.S. News.

Tips to Ace the Interview – Research, Research, Research

If you want to start a business, it’s often said that the secret is “location, location, location.” careertips13-150x150If you want to interview well, one of the best ways to prepare is to “research, research, research.”

When applying for positions, it is easy to forget that the process is always one of mutual selection: You choose where to apply, and the employer chooses a candidate to hire. Often, a key factor in the employer’s decision is the answer to a simple question: How well does the candidate understand the position and the organization?

With a small investment of time, you can equip yourself with the knowledge you need to show you’ve done your homework on the role of the position, the industry, and the organization.

Here are a few recommended resources for your research.

  1. The organization’s website. Most organizations have an “About Us” section on their website that provide a quick overview of what they do and their history. In addition “News” or “Press” sections of sites often include information about events, partnerships, or new product features. This can provide you with a sentence or two in your cover letter. You can also use this information to formulate interview questions specific to the employer.
  2. Vault Guides. Career Services subscribes to Vault, a provider of “in-depth intelligence on what it’s really like to work in an industry, company or profession—and how to position yourself to land that job.” You can access Vault through DartBoard‘s Resource Library. Once you log into Vault, visit the Guides in the right hand menu to see a range of resources ranging from how to handle a case interview to employer profiles and guides for careers in industries including energy, film and healthcare.
  3. Use databases available through the Dartmouth Library. From the library’s homepage, search the Library Catalog for Databases.If you are applying for a position with a nonprofit organization, use GuideStar to search for information ranging from mission and impact programs to number of employees and financial health.If you are applying for a position with a for-profit organization, check out MarketLine Advantage, you can search for companies by name and industry. Results often include news updates, history, financial reporting, and listings of senior leadership.
  4. Take notes on information you find, keeping a close eye on three areas.

    • Organizational culture: Do you have a feel for what the organization does and their general operating philosophy?
    • Fit: Do you understand the position that you’ve applied for? Can you see how your skills and experience would be a good fit for the organization?
    • Items of interest: Have you gathered any fun facts or information that you can use in an interview question — or mention to demonstrate your interest in the organization?

    You are doing well if you emerge from your research with the ability to tell a friend, professor or your grandmother what the company does, what you’d be doing if hired, and what’s exciting about the opportunity. You will also be ready to demonstrate your clear understanding of what the job is and why it is the right opportunity for you.

    Good luck!



Idealist Career Fairs

careertips13-150x150Think you may want to attend graduate school after college?  Looking for more information about which schools and programs best suit your interests?  Idealist is hosting graduate school fairs this fall where interested seniors can meet representatives from a range of schools and ask questions about their respective institutions!

The fairs will take place at major cities across the country and run from September 16 through November 7.  The Boston graduate school fair is scheduled for September 25, so mark your calendar now! Currently representatives from 176 graduate institutions have signed up to attend.

Never been to a graduate school fair? Here are a few tips for attendees:

1. Check which schools are attending

Looking to compare schools from a specific geographic location or offering a specialized program?  Make sure the schools you are most interested in are attending the graduate school fair you plan to attend.

2. Dress in business casual attire

Representatives will likely not remember exactly what you are wearing, but they may remember if you are the only attendee outfitted in your favorite band’s t-shirt, ripped jeans and flip-flops.  Think ahead about the details if you are traveling longer distances – you will want to remember proper shoes and a garment bag.

3. Pack a bag, business cards, and notepad

You’ll need a way to carry pamphlets you collect from schools, and if you have business cards, they can prevent you from filling out the same contact information forms for multiple schools.  You’ll also want a notepad to jot down information about schools and programs or to log contact information for representatives in case you have follow-up questions.

4. Leave your resume at home

It will be better for you to submit this information when you apply to a school and can tailor your work experience to the programs that you are interested in.

5. Remember buffer time

Plan to get lost, not be able to find parking or miss a connecting train.  If you give yourself extra time, none of these mix-ups will throw you off or cause you to miss the graduate school fair!

Tips adapted from Idealist’s “Tips for Grad Fair Attendees”

Start @ a Startup Conference in NYC (1st App. Deadline Friday 7/19)

Courtesy of Brazenlife.com

Image courtesy of Brazenlife.com

Interested in information technology and working at a startup company?  Sequoia Capital, Dropbox and Business Today have teamed up to help you break into the field!  Students from top East Coast school are invited to apply for an October 5-6 (Saturday to Sunday) conference at the Grand Hyatt in New York City, the second such conference ever.

Students must apply in advance in order to attend! Apply here, using the Start @ Startup website. The first application deadline for prospective attendees is Friday, July 19, and there will be a second application period that opens July 19 and ends August 10.  Decisions for both application rounds will be sent out on September 6.

On the first day of the Start @ a Startup conference, attendees will attend talks by industry leaders as well as participate in workshops and discussions relating to information technology and related fields. On the conference’s second day, participating organizations will hold interviews with attendees for full-time positions and internships.

This is a great opportunity to network with professionals and students interested in information technology and startups, as well as launch a career in the industry! So far, over 20 organizations have signed up to participate in the event, including Dropbox, Hubspot, Kayak and Sequoia Capital.  Travel and other expenses for attendees will also be reimbursed by the conference’s sponsors for up to $100 total! Apply now!

For more information about the event and testimonials from past student participants, check out the Start @ a Startup website or post about the event on Business Today.

Put Your Best Foot Forward on LinkedIn

careertips13-150x150If you’re applying for a job in today’s highly competitive job market, you need a LinkedIn account.  Given the importance of social media as a networking tool, LinkedIn is right up there with the resume and cover letter as far as important information that you should be updating regularly for potential employers.

Already have a LinkedIn account?  Double check that it does not include any of the following four deadly sins for LinkedIn pages. (If it does, consider stopping by Career Services for a LinkedIn workshop session.  Workshops are designed to cater to both new and experienced LinkedIn users, though we do ask that you create a profile before attending the advanced workshop. Upcoming sessions include an advanced workshop on July 9 at 4:30pm and introductory workshop on July 11 at 12:30pm.  Check the office’s calendar page for more information about upcoming workshops!)


Your name is in all lower case.  Your high school is misspelled.  You do not link your resume or provide a professional photograph on your profile.  All these characteristics demonstrate that your job search is not very active, as you have not fully activated your account

Low self-confidence

List only three skills or talents on your page?  This is not the place for self-deprecation!  This section of Linked-In should reflect your full range of job experiences and academic skills.  If you are having trouble thinking of qualities, ask former employers or friends for suggestions. (Note: To access the Skills section on LinkedIn, edit the “Skills & Expertise” section of your profile.)


Haven’t checked your profile in months?  You’re missing valuable messages and requests for network connections.  Get in the habit of checking your LinkedIn at least once a week or update your account settings to receive email notifications from the website.

If you want to be more active, join LinkedIn Groups — accessible through the Interests section of your LinkedIn homepage. To get started, sign up for our LinkedIn group — you’ll be in good company with over 500 students, alums, faculty and staff.


Update your page regularly to reflect new job experiences, skills and professional contacts on a regular basis so that your account best reflects the value you can add to a potential employer.  You’ll also want to weed out old or irrelevant information to streamline your profile!

Adapted from Dawn Boyer’s “8 LinkedIn First-time User Mistakes.”