Career Fairs and English/CW Majors

The fall career fair season will start up almost immediately when your return to school in the fall, with the Business Career Fair taking place on Sept. 19 and 20, the largest and most bustling of all the campus career fairs. It will be followed by the Illini Career and Internship Fair a month later.

Yes, you should go, even if you’re not immediately in the market for a job. (Definitely go if you’re a senior planning to work after graduation!)

Here’s why you should go:

  • You can start learning about possible employers and openings.
  • You can get comfortable with the version of yourself that puts professional clothes and seeks out opportunities.
  • You can get practice talking to employers (introducing yourself, asking smart questions, getting insights into the organization).
  • You can start a conversation that will get you closer to a job when you ARE actively looking.
  • You might get an interview…and a job.

Here’s why you might not want to:

  • You have to dress professionally.
  • You will be asked for your resume, so you’ll need to bring several copies with you.
  • Striking up conversations with strangers is uncomfortable and weird.
  • Career fairs are hot, noisy, and full of stressed out people who you will be convinced are more qualified that you.
  • Big corporate employers dominate such events — and you may not want that kind of job anyway.

You should go anyway. All the things that make a career fair difficult are things that make finding that first post-college job difficult. They also get easier with practice (really!)

A great way to get the most of the campus career fairs is to take Career and Internship Preparation, an eight-week one-cred online course in the first eight weeks of the semester. In this course, you’ll put together your resume, practice your “elevator pitch” and other conversational tactics with employers, and identify some promising ob/internship openings to pursue. You’ll make a “field trip” to the Business Career Fair so that you are ready to talk to employers in earnest at the Illini Career and Internship Fair. Register for ENGL 199-CIP (CRN 65563).

Handshake for English and Creative Writing Majors

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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So You Want to Write for Video Games? Some Resources.

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.

 

How to Write a Resume

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