Every Sunday, the New York Times business section publishes an interview with a CEO. The feature is called “Corner Office” and is well worth following to understand what people mean when they talk about “company culture” and “fit.” Towards the end of the column, the interviewer always asks about the specific interview questions that CEO uses for hiring. Here’s the answer in last Sunday’s column, with Don Mal, the CEO of a software company,
To understand their work ethic, I do ask this question: Would you be willing to leave your family at Disneyland to do something that was really important for the company?
Some people have said no, and I haven’t hired them.
It’s interesting because I did leave my wife and kids at Disneyland once. It was to close the biggest deal of our company’s history. I left for two days. It wasn’t like I was leaving them there for the whole vacation.
To me, it’s not so much a loyalty question. It’s more of just trying to understand their work ethic.
There are a number of takeaways here.
- To work at this company, you have to be able to answer “yes” with sincerity.
- If your answer would be “no,” you wouldn’t get the job. But that could be a good thing.
- It might be worth asking yourself: what is the work for which you WOULD leave your family at Disneyland for two days? A career-making writing opportunity? The chance to do some game-changing fundraising for your nonprofit? An international conflict that needs your particular skills?
- If you can’t imagine the career goal that would take you away from a family vacation, that may be a non-negotiable core value that will shape your career decisions. Or it could mean that you haven’t yet discovered the work that means that much to you.
There is no “right” answer to an interview question — there is only the answer that accurately conveys whether or not you would be a good fit for that organization (and by extension, whether the organization is a good fit for you).
This summer, the Career Center is transitioning to new online career platform, Handshake. Those of you returning to campus should be relieved to know that Handshake is replacing I-Link, the jobs search database that the U of I had previously used to connect students to employers. Handshake is in every way an improvement over what came before: it’s structured around skills, not majors or departments, and it’s much easier to shape to your interests.
A few things that English and Creative Writing majors should know about Handshake:
- This resource will be helpful to you, no matter where you are in your education, so take some time this summer to log on and start checking it out.
- It’s a good idea to start building your profile. Employers use Handshake to seek out students, and they will be able to find you more easily if your information is online.
- If you’re looking for work experience while you’re on campus, Handshake lists local part-time jobs and internships, many of which do not appear on the Virtual Job Board or the Research Job Board. Click “Jobs and Internships” and set the filter to “part-time” with a location of Champaign, IL. There are also some unpaid internships listed there, but think hard about the conditions under which you are willing to work for free.
- If you’re NOT looking for a job or internship now, Handshake can help you with your career exploration. Every student can see every job on the site, depending on how far you are willing to scroll. Handshake will order job openings to reflect the information in your profile, so that the jobs that appear first will vary from student to student. This customized list of openings is a great resource for figuring out what kinds of jobs appeal to you and what you’ll need to do between now and graduation to demonstrate your “fit” for them. You can start learning about potential careers and companies by not only reading a lot of job ads, but also bringing to your reading the same critical and self-reflective eye that you bring to your academic work.
Video games involve narrative, dialogue, text, instructions. Someone has to write that stuff. Could it be you? Breaking into the video game industry is difficult, particularly for those whose strength is crafting stories, not digital animation or coding. That said, it’s also a growth industry where new opportunities arise all the time.
Here’s a thoughtful overview of trends in video game writing.
Some practical advice on breaking into the industry:
If reading those links hasn’t scared you off, here are some places to start looking for opportunities.
If you’ve read the advice above carefully, you’ll know that your best strategy may involve networking, seeking contract work with a small company, or creating your own game. Internships at the big-name video game companies are highly competitive, but that’s not a reason not to compete. Here are links to a few that have internship programs OR extensive online job boards. As with any big-name internship, it’s a good idea to start your search for a summer 2018 internship in summer 2017.
A resume is neither a really long business card, nor a really short autobiography. It’s an advertisement for yourself. A good resume is never a single static document. It should change all the time, depending on whom you are advertising TO and what parts of your background will be most relevant to that person.
The effective resume has one purpose: to get the reader to request a face-to-face meeting in which you can convey your full value.
Entire books, websites, library sections are devoted to the craft of resumes. For English/CW majors who are trying to put together their first resume — either to apply for a job or to have it handy in case a job comes up — we offer three “recipes” that range from easy-but-not-necessarily effective (“the resume kludge”) to hard-but-more-likely-to-advance-you-towards-your-goals (“the resume design”).
Have you been reluctant to develop your resume because you don’t yet have relevant work experience? You can find some advice to get you started here, here, and here.
Recipe 1: The resume kludge. Continue reading