Getting Ready for the Illini Career and Internship Fair

Illini Career Fair 2016

Are employers interested in talking to you?

YES.

Desirable English/CW major skills

  • Communication (both oral and written)
  • Knowledge about cross-cultural issues, diversity, inclusivity
  • Research and information retrieval
  • Analytical thinking
  • Creative thinking and problem-solving
  • Effective with ambiguity, uncertainty, incomplete information
  • Learning and synthesizing new ideas
  • Teamwork

(English majors: You’ve explored 1500  years of the written word, from Beowulf to Derrida, some of the densest and most challenging prose ever written: complexity doesn’t scare you.)

(Creative writing majors: You’re skilled at working with groups to bring out the best in yourself and others; you know how to bring creative rigor to any problems and how to hold a team to high standards.)

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From the other side of the table: Why those in positions to hire people should NOT agree to informational interviews (and why you should ask for them anyway).

Today in Slate, associate editor L. V. Anderson, describes her own experiences with giving informational interviews and makes the case for why people in positions to make hiring decisions should NOT agree to take part in them.  Her bottom line?

It’s anti-meritocratic. It’s impossible for everyone who’s searching for a job to land an informational interview with a helpful candidate…The people who get informational interviews—and the benefits they confer—tend to be people who have something in common with their target: a mutual friend, a family connection, an alma mater in common. Informational interviews are like unpaid internships and hiring for “cultural fit”—they encourage bosses to hire and promote people from the same background as their own, which effectively cuts off job opportunities for minorities. Put another way, informational interviews give a leg up to people who don’t need a leg up.

Anderson’s advice is disconcerting for anyone entering a daunting job market and, quite reasonably, seeking any “leg up” they can find (however much one wants to see the 21st Continue reading

Uncovering the Cover Letter

A cover letter is the letter that you send an employer along with your resume.

When you’re explicitly asked to write “a cover letter” to apply for a job, the letter should be a business-style letter, complete with formal salutation and signature. It should convey your enthusiasm for the position, along with your understanding of what they job entails.  It should also draw connections between the experience you’ve outlined on your resume and the requirements of the position you’re applying for.  Sometimes such a letter is called a “job application letter” or a “statement of interest.”  If you’re explicitly asked for a cover letter, it’s probably best to make it an email attachment, like your resume, rather than writing an email that serves as a cover letter.

Sometimes job or internship ads do NOT explicitly ask for a cover letter–they ask you to fill out an online application, download a resume, email a resume, send in writing samples, or Continue reading

Alumni Profile: Austin Millet, Project Operations Coordinator for VelocityEHS

One of many reasons why studying English is great is that it provides an adaptable skill set that can be applicable to nearly any field. While some English majors may know they want to go into careers traditionally associated with the discipline, like editing or teaching, others may be drawn to the major for different reasons and may choose careers in business, Austin Millet phototechnology, or the sciences. To learn about alternative career paths, I recently talked with Austin Millet, who graduated with a degree in English in 2010 and currently works as a Project Operations Coordinator at VelocityEHS in Chicago. Here’s what he had to say about his experiences after college:

 

VO: What did you do after graduating from U of I?

Austin: I worked a few jobs part-time: temporary manual labor, at a bar, and as a content/marketing writer at a small business in Chicago. After about a year, I went to teach English in the Republic of Georgia for a year.

VO:  Interesting! Was that through a school or organization? What was that experience like? Continue reading