Tips for Doing Your Best at UIUC’s Spring Career Fairs

It’s a big week for career fairs at the University of Illinois! The Business Career Fair takes place at the ARC this Wednesday, Feb. 3 and Thursday, Feb 4 from 2 to 6 pm, and the Arts and Culture Career Fair takes place in Chicago (UIC Student Center East (3rd Floor)) this Friday, Feb. 5 from 12 to 2 pm. And there’s a host of other career fairs scheduled later in February and March, which we encourage you to attend!

Arts and Culture Career Fair banner headingPNG

Last week, Laura Miller, a senior in English; Kenny Miller a senior in Creative Writing; and Kirstin Wilcox, the English Department’s Director of Internships offered some advice about how to be successful at the upcoming career fairs. Here’s what they had to say:

Start going to career fairs early in college, and go multiple times

As with most things in life, you’ll perform better at career fairs with experience. So don’t wait until Spring semester of your senior year to dust off your professional attire for your Continue reading “Tips for Doing Your Best at UIUC’s Spring Career Fairs”

Five Ways to Develop Professional Skills While Strengthening Your RSO

It’s a new semester, the perfect time to explore new opportunities on campus. Whether you’re graduating in May or hoping to apply for a summer internship, you’re likely beginning to think about expanding your résumé and preparing for interviews.

photo 1(1)Involvement in Registered Student Organizations can provide a multitude of professional benefits in addition to being a fun, social experience. If you’re already involved in a student organization, increasing your involvement this semester can allow you to build valuable real-world experience that you can draw on in interviews or cover letters. And if you’re looking for an organization to join, the RSO Involvement Fair this Wednesday, Jan. 27 from 11 to 3 in the Illini Union (Illini Rooms A, B, C, Courtyard Café, and South Lounge) provides the perfect opportunity to begin to capitalize on personal strengths, expand your skillset, and make new connections.

As you plan activities for your RSO in the semester(s) ahead, keep in mind that serving your RSO can also serve you in your future career search. Here are 5 ways that you can develop valuable professional skills while strengthening your RSO:

1. Master social media skills Continue reading “Five Ways to Develop Professional Skills While Strengthening Your RSO”

Planning Backwards from the Interview; Or, Why Group Projects Matter

monsters incBelow is a list of interview questions that a human resources specialist at a major west coast media company keeps in rotation for evaluating potential hires.

Note that none of these ask about your major, your GPA, the specific jobs or positions you’ve held, your awards, or your coursework (though some of these elements of your resume might help you get the interview).  They all ask, one way or another, “how do you interact with people? how do you cope with conflict and stress? can you pull your weight without being annoying?”

The only way to prepare for questions like these is to have good stories to tell about your experience. The more experience you have, the more stories you can tell.

  • Tell me about a time when you were “thrown in the deep end.” What did you learn about yourself as a result?
  • What’s given you your greatest sense of accomplishment or been your greatest achievement so far? Why?
  • Tell me about a time when you saw a potential problem on the horizon. How did you recognize that the problem was going to occur in the first place? What did you do to try to prevent this problem from occurring?
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to absorb complex information or learn a complex task. How did you go about learning it? What did you do to ensure you learned it?
  • Tell me about a work-related mistake you’ve made and how you learned from this.
  • Tell me about a time when everything around you was going wrong. How did you deal with the situation?
  • Tell me about a time when you worked in an environment that was inhabited by people with a negative attitude. How did you react and cope with this?
  • How would people who have worked with you describe the way you handle stress and pressure? Give me an example of a time when you were under stress and pressure to deliver results. What could we expect if you were under stress and pressure here at work?
  • Tell me about a time when your manager asked you to do something with which you did not agree. What did you do?
  • Tell me about a situation where you went out of your way to spend extra effort or energy on something. What was it and what made you do this?
  • Give me an example of time when you worked within a team that was dysfunctional and wasn’t operating effectively. What was your role? What did you do to make things better?
  • Think about the most challenging colleague you have had and tell me how you handled working with that person. What would you have done differently in retrospect?
  • Give me a specific example of a time when you were involved in a workplace conflict. What did you do to resolve the conflict?
  • What types of people do you prefer to work with? Which kinds of people do you like working with the least? Why? How do you make yourself cope with people you don’t like? How do you handle people that don’t like you?
  • Tell me about a time where you had a manager who wasn’t particularly good at motivating you. How did you motivate yourself? What did you wish your manager did to help you feel motivated?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to persuade or influence a peer. How did you go about doing this? What was the result?

Even if an actual job interview is a long way in your future, it’s worth thinking about how you would answer these questions now, based on your life experience so far.  Then ask yourself, how can you acquire better stories to tell?  What opportunities do you have to learn more about how you work with other people?  What are your strengths and weaknesses as a team member and how can you build on them?

Yes, English/CW Majors Can Find Jobs or Internships at Career Fairs

Career Fair season is upon us.early-job-fair

If you’ve been anywhere near the English department, you’ve seen signs for the Arts and Culture Career Fair in Chicago on Feb. 5, but that is by no means the only one!

* more information available on I-Link

How do you find “more information…on I-Link”?  Log onto I-Link and then click on the blue “Events” tab at the top of the page.  Click “Career Fairs” on the pull-down menu, then click on the particular fair that interests you.  You’ll find information on who is coming and what kinds of positions they are seeking to fill.  Use this information!  Advance preparation is the difference between a good career fair experience and a bad one.

There are LOTS of ways to start getting ready for a career fair, particularly the Business Career Fair, which is coming up quickly.

English, Creative Writing, and ToE majors should plan to attend How to Sell Your English/CW Degree at a Career Fair on Wed., Jan. 27, 5 – 6pm in EB 104.  Learn how to find a job or internship at the Business Career Fair (Feb. 3 and 4) and the Arts and Culture Career Fair (Feb. 5) at this event. Hear from students who’ve been there and get advice on what to wear, what to bring, how to prepare, how to “pitch,” and how to hold your own as an English or CW major at these events.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is also holding two sessions (same content, different times), “How to Sell Your LAS Degree at the Business Career Fair and Engineering Career Fair”: Tues., Jan. 26, 12:30-1:30 p.m., 1002 Lincoln Hall
or  Mon., Feb. 1, 4-5 p.m., 1002 Lincoln Hall.

Can’t attend any of these sessions?  Read up on what to expect!  We have advice on attending the Business Career Fair and advice on what to expect at the Arts and Culture Career Fair.

Don’t have an interview suit?   Doesn’t mean you can’t go (and in fact, if you have your sights on the Arts and Culture Career Fair, you’re probably better off without a suit).  The Career Closet at The Career Center offers gently used clothes for students; it’s open Thurs., Jan. 28, noon – 3pm and Fri., Jan. 29, noon – 2pm, The Career Center’s Interview Suite, 616 E Green St, Champaign, Room 213. (Enter the Kaplan door by McDonald’s.)

If you’d like to review your resume, practice your pitch, discuss the pros and cons of attending, or practice parsing job descriptions, make an appointment with Kirstin Wilcox by emailing