Jobs for Those with People Skills

First Job: Human Resources

Consider the following list of qualifications:hr-jobThis is an entry-level position in human resources, a field for which English and creative writing are always “related majors.”

Human resources is the work of recruiting potential employees, hiring them, getting them started in their jobs, and then resolving problems that arise. If you’ve helped a friend get hired at your work, if you’ve trained a new employee, if you’ve helped someone in trouble keep their job–you’ve already done work in this area.

Alumnus Theo Long, the Associate Director of Talent Management (“a fancy way of saying human resources”) for the U of I Office of Advancemtheodore_longent was in the English department yesterday to talk about his own experience. It was a field he stumbled into, but the point where it became a career path, rather than simply a way to pay the bills, was the point where he realized he could make a difference in the lives of other people. Having seen on-the-job conflicts be mismanaged (“some managers just love to fire people”), he sought out a managerial role where he could help resolve conflicts supportively and constructively.

There are a lot of entry-level roles in HR that do NOT require a graduate degree, particularly recruiting new employees. For those who want to advance in the field without committing to a graduate program, the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM) offers a certification program, which involves self-study, an exam, and a fee.

Theo also noted that an entry-level HR job can be a point of entry into an organization or an industry in which you may ultimately pursue other career paths: project management, communications, public relations.

Second Job: Advancement/Development/Fundraising

Higher education, not-for-profit organizations, philanthropy, social justice and political activism…all these kinds of organizations require donations to stay afloat. The work of of obtaining and managing those donations goes by many names.  Theo Long’s HR job falls within the University of Illinois’s Office of Advancement which works with donors. Theo offered insight into the kinds of skills that are key for jobs in this area: not just the ability to ask people for money (though that is important) but also–a strong commitment to the mission of the organization that you’re raising money for, excellent listening skills, and curiosity. He also noted that advancement takes a lot of different forms: there is need for event planners, project managers, and researchers. A background in sales, customer service, organizing events for your RSO, and helping with fundraising in any capacity can make you eligible for an entry level job in this area. Theo also noted that the University of Illinois Foundation regularly seeks student employees to call alumni and seek donations. It’s not work that everyone takes to, but for anyone thinking about a career in the non-profit realm, it’s valuable experience.

Theo is a member of the Alumni Mentoring program, so feel free to contact him using your Alumni Mentoring Directory (and if you haven’t yet signed up for the Alumni Mentoring program, please set up an appointment with Kirstin Wilcox by emailing kwilcox@illinois.edu or calling 333-4346).

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When to Start Applying for Summer Internships?

clock-474128_1280It may be a peculiar question to ask when we’re nearly eight weeks into the semester but it feels like summer has barely ended. Nevertheless,it’s the time of year when students in business and engineering start nailing down their plans for the following summer. If you’re an English or CW major with friends weighing summer internship offers from Monsanto and Boeing you may be worrying that you’re already too late.

Rest assured: you’re not.

“Internship” can mean a lot of different things. In fields where the undergraduate degree confers specialized training for particular industries, large companies compete to test-drive the best students in summer internships, creating the talent pool from which they will eventually select full-time employees. They want to lock down commitments quickly, which is why the Engineering and Business Career Fairs take place so early in the fall semester.

Chances are, however, you’re majoring in English/CW because you have dreams beyond the kinds of jobs that pay well because no one would do them if they didn’t. Those kinds of jobs tend to have a slower hiring cycle.

That said, it doesn’t hurt to start looking now.

  • Companies that are recruiting intensively now for accounting, finance, computer science, and engineering interns sometimes also have opportunities in communications, marketing, sales, and research, which get posted at the same time. Even if you missed the Fall Business Career Fair, you can still apply online for marketing, communications, media, and sales internships at at companies who recruit there like Caterpillar and Textron.
  • Media and entertainment companies are only just beginning to post summer internships: Blizzard Entertainment is already recruitng summer interns, for example, but the Disney Corporation (which includes ABC, Marvel, ESPN, and Pixar) and Simon and Schuster are still mostly recruiting for spring interns. It doesn’t hurt to check the “Careers” page on any company that particularly interests you to see if they have internship openings yet.
  • For those interested primarily in print media, Bookjobs.com is an excellent resource for summer internships..
  • Local organizations looking for summer interns will be attending the LAS in CU Internship Fair on Oct. 19 from 1:00 – 3:00pm in the second floor ballroom at the Illini Union.

But–it’s entirely possible to do nothing this fall and still have a summer internship lined up by the time you leave campus in May. Many companies don’t start advertising summer internships until March or April, and the UIntern program through the University of Illinois Career Center (which matches students with local nonprofit organizations) starts recruiting students in early spring.

The key is to know what kind of experience and skills you’d like to acquire in a summer internship and to start looking for opportunities. We’re here to help you identify your options and craft a resume that will give you the best shot at them. Call 333-4346 to set up an appointment with Kirstin Wilcox, Director of Internships.

FOCUS Part-Time Job Fair, Sept. 21, 6 – 7:30pm

13517497_1042158995820602_4150202462305579136_oIf you’re looking for part-time work on or around campus that will help you to build your professional skills, this is your job fair.

It’s a good idea to register first on I-Link, but you can attend even if you don’t register. To register, log into I-Link, click the “events” tab on the left-hand side of the page, then scroll down to “FOCUS: The Job Fair for Career-Focused Paid Campus Work.”  Click on that link and then on the box marked “RSVP.”

How to Prepare

You’ll need a resume. If you’ve never written one before, the Career Center has lots of helpful advice. Walk-in resume review is available tomorrow, Sept. 20, between 4 and 5 in 2040 Lincoln Hall.

You should plan to dress professionally. Don’t stress if you don’t have a suit–just wear nice slacks or a skirt with an appropriate shirt, blouse, or sweater, preferably with shoes that aren’t athletic shoes or flip-flops. Avoid tank tops, jeans, shorts, sweats, and anything with a logo.

Whom Will You Talk To?

On I-Link you can find information about the employers who will be coming to the FOCUS part-time job fair and the jobs they are seeking to fill. Of particular interest to English and CW majors are Gaggle (they are VERY keen to meet English majors), Human Kinetics (a local publishing house), the University of Illinois Foundation, and FAA Advancement. But check the list for yourself.

What Do You Do at a Job Fair?

You introduce yourself to employers, ask an intelligent question about the positions they have advertised, and offer a resume that spells out your qualifications in greater detail.

If It Matters for Your Life, It Can Matter for Your Career

Is volunteering part of your life? Have you always sought out service opportunities? Are you hoping to make it a part of your routine if it hasn’t been before?

Service can be a way of life, not just an extracurricular activity. A great way to explore careers in the nonprofit sector, jobs that involve making positive change in the world is to get involved. Here are some ways to do it.

  1. TOMORROW, Sept. 15, 10:30 – 1:30 in the Illini Union, the Community Service and Volunteer Fair will give you a chance to find out about the wealth of opportunities available on this campus and in this area.

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2.  Every semester, The Community Learning Lab in the School of Social work identifies projects that draw on the communication, research, and problem-solving skills of English/CW/ToE majors and matches those projects to interested students.

 Projects often include tasks like grant-writing, information gathering, web content development, marketing and outreach, event planning, and assessment.

Students should expect to spend no more than 25 hours over the course of the semester completing the project, which will include a brief self-assessment and reflection at the end.

To take part in this opportunity, send an email ssw-cll@illinois.edu, explaining that you are an English department major interested in working with Community Learning Lab partners.

You will receive a list of available projects and a link for signing up for the projects that interest you most.

3. The upcoming LAS in CU Internship Fair offers a wide range of internship opportunities for the spring and summer, many of them with local nonprofit agencies.

 

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