Category Archives: SELP Help

SELP Help: What is Networking, and How do I do it?

What is Networking, and How do I do it?

Written By: Katy Hinz, Office for Student Engagement

Networking is one of those intimating words, but really what it means is connecting to people to build professional relationships. Does that sound less scary? I hope so. As CLA Career Services puts it, “When you meet new people and discuss mutual interests or goals, you’re networking spontaneously. You’ve probably been networking for years without realizing it.”

So, why network? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of all jobs are found through networking.

Featured image

Image source:

How do you find people to network with?

GoldPASS: GoldPASS, a free database for U of M students of jobs & internships, now offers a professional networking database. Using keywords or your major you can find professionals that work in the fields most relevant to you. On Goldpass there is also an “employer directory” where you can find a lot of contacts at companies you may be interested in.

Linkedin: Linkedin is the world’s largest online professional networking website, and since networking is so essential to professional success, we’ve made creating a profile one of SELP’s requirements. To best utilize Linkedin for networking, start by connecting with people you already know: your work supervisor, professors, co-workers, friends, family members, advisors, coaches, former supervisors, neighbors. Even if the people you know aren’t in fields or jobs you are interested in, they are still valuable to connect with as you never know who they are connected to and how they could help you.

Next, Join groups, such as your college’s group, the University of Minnesota Alumni Association, SELP, and groups related to your field of interest. Once you are in a group go to the members tab and use the search function, you can search any term you’d like, such as by company name or job title to find individuals to connect with.

Tip: when you request to connect with someone on Linkedin write a personal message and explain why you want to connect, especially if it is someone you don’t know. For example write, ‘I see that you graduated from the U of M, I am a current student there and am really interested in nonprofit management too. I was hoping we could connect on Linkedin, thank you for considering.’

Featured image

Image source:

Career Fairs and Events: There are several career fairs hosted throughout the year, including the U of M Job & Internship Fair taking place on Feb 20, 2015 where you have the opportunity to meet with a lot of employers during a short period of time. There are also career panels and company information sessions hosted quite often, go to the events page of GoldPASS to stay informed of these opportunities.

Student Groups & Professional Organizations: Joining a student group related to your professional interest is a great way to network, not only will you meet other students with a shared interest but often these groups offer networking events and bring in guest speakers. You can find student groups that match your interests here. Also, chances are that your field of interest has one or more professional organizations and these groups often have student (discounted) memberships and offer mentoring and professional development opportunities. Find professional organizations here.

Mentor Programs: Many colleges have alumni mentor programs that you can get involved with, find out if your college has a program and how to get involved here. These programs offer a structured way to get connected to professionals.

Informational Interviewing

Once you have contacts one of the best ways to build your professional network is to conduct informational interviews. Basically an informational interview is having a conversation with someone in a field or organization that is of interest to you. It may be nerve-racking to ask someone to do an informational interview, but most of the time people love to talk about their work and are eager to help. Think about it this way, if someone from your high school contacted you and wanted to ask you some questions about the U of M wouldn’t you say yes?


How do you set up an informational interview?

Contact the person you are interested in meeting with via phone, email, or Linkedin. Be sure to state how you got their information. Introduce yourself, such as: your major, year in school, and professional interests. Ask them if they would be willing to do an informational interview with you and include what it is you would like to discuss, such as: their career path, their current job, advice they have for getting experience in the field, etc.

What to do at the informational interview

  • Dress business casual (dress shirt & dress pants) and arrive 10 minutes early to your appointment. click here and here for examples of professional dress.
  • Come prepared with some questions based on the research you did on them and their organization, such as: what are the rewards and challenges of this field, how would you describe this organization’s structure, what is a recent project you have worked on. Always ask if there is anyone else they would recommend you could talk to, this is how your network really starts to build! Click here for more question examples.
  • Bring a copy of your resume—your resume will help them get to know you a little better and you may have the opportunity to ask for their feedback.


What to do after the informational interview

  • Send a thank you note that states what was helpful from the meeting.
  • Contact the people they refer you to and keep in touch with them.
  • Reflect on what you have learned and how you can best use the information.
  • Stay in touch! Send occasional updates, ask them further questions, send articles that you think they might be interested in.

How Can I Rock My Next Interview?

How can I rock my next interview?

Written by: Katy Hinz, Program Coordinator

From a company standpoint, an initial interview should answer four basic questions:

  • Is the candidate ABLE to do the job effectively?
  • Is the candidate WILLING to put forth the effort required to be successful in the position?
  • Is the candidate MANAGABLE?
  • Is the candidate a good FIT for the organization?

Following these tips for what to do before, during, and after your interview will help to make sure an employer answers YES to these four basic questions.

Featured image

Image source:

Before the interview

Research yourself:

  • Know what skills, strengths, and experiences you have that make you stand out. You are in luck because your student job has helped you to develop many transferrable skills you can apply in your chosen profession. In fact, many of the top skills employers seek you already have! Use this list to help you determine what those skills are that you feel the most confident in.
  • Know your resume inside and out: be able to expand on what is on your resume.
  • Find out the basic information about the company (services, products, and mission). You can find this information through their Website, their Linkedin Page, a Google News Search, and by talking to people at the organization. Get more tips and tools for researching companies here.

Practice Interviewing:

  • The more you prepare the less nervous you will be! You can practice interviewing through a free resource offered at the U of M called InterviewStream or by setting up a practice interview with your career center.
  • Practice responses to interview questions. Click here to learn strategies for how to answer different types of interview questions. One of the best ways to prepare is to think about experiences (clubs, jobs, courses, volunteer work) that demonstrate the skills the employer is seeking and then practice talking about them out loud. Use the job description as your guide, for example, if they are seeking someone with great communication skills then make sure you have an example that demonstrates your communication skills. Use the STAR (Situation/Task, Action, Result) method to format your responses, learn more about this technique here.
  • Have several questions prepared for the interviewer. Some examples are,
    • What do you enjoy most about working here?
    • I saw XYZ on your website, can you tell me more about…..
    • What are the characteristics of someone that is successful in this role?
    • Get a full list of questions here.


  • Print copies of your resume & bring with you.
  • Map out the location of the interview and plan for how you will get to your interview on time (10-15 min. early).
  • Plan out a professional outfit,  get ideas here and here of what to wear.

During the Interview

  • First impressions are important, be sure to engage the interviewer right away by smiling, making eye contact, and showing an interest in them, the position, and the organization.
  • The interviewer will ask you a series of questions, depending on the interviewer’s style this could be very conversational or it could be a Q&A. Follow the lead of the interviewer.
  • You will be given the opportunity to ask questions, be sure to prepare these questions in advance, use these suggested questions as a guide!
  • At the end of the interview often the interviewer will discuss the next stage of the process, if they don’t give you a timeline, ask! Be sure to end on a courteous note and thank the interviewer for the opportunity.

After the Interview

  • Reflect on what went well in the interview and what you want to improve on.
  • Reflect on what your overall impression is of the organization and the position.
  • Within 48 hours send a Thank you note! Email is an acceptable method, especially if you know they are making a quick decision. Be sure to mention something that will remind them of you and your particular interview, be as specific as possible.
  • Be sure to follow up with the organization if you are still interested in the position. If they said they would contact you by a certain date and you haven’t heard from them, be sure to contact them!


How to Deal with a Bad Performance Review?


How to Deal with a Bad Performance Review?

Author: Catherine Cantieri, SELP Training Coordinator

Dealing with positive performance reviews is always an easy task. But what do you do if the review involves more constructive criticism than you had hoped? Feedback (positive or negative) from your supervisor can be very helpful when developing your skills and knowledge within your job position. However, this doesn’t always make it easier to deal with criticism.  If you ever find yourself having to deal with criticism from your supervisor, here a few tips that will make the process a little smoother, and help you focus on the chance this criticism gives you to develop your skills.

  • Make sure you understand your supervisors concerns. It is important that you completely understand why your review was poor because then you will be able to address your supervisor’s concerns properly.
  • Ask for clarification on points or issues you do not understand. However, try not to use this as an opportunity to argue the points your supervisor is making. Keep your mind in the future, rather than starting a debate about situations of the past. Ask for clarification on your supervisor’s points so that you know how to accurately address them in the future.
  • If this bad performance review was a complete surprise to you, make sure to ask your supervisor for performance reviews more frequently. This will help you to be able to address performance problems quickly after they have occurred.
  • Come out of the meeting with clear expectations from your supervisor. Ask your supervisor to clearly state his or her expectations so that you know what is needed from you.
  • Develop a plan for your future next steps. After you’ve done so it may be best to ask your supervisor look them over so that you know you both are on the same page.
  • Keep an open mind. Think of the opportunity to get feedback as a chance to grow your knowledge, skills, and abilities.
  • Thank your supervisor for the feedback. Believe it or not, they are only trying to help you succeed. Thanking your supervisor for their constructive criticism shows him or her that you understand where they are coming from, and plan to make a change.
  • Remember that nobody’s perfect. Everyone is prone to make at least one or two mistakes. Don’t let this negative review define your outlook of your entire job performance. Take this feedback as an opportunity to better your performance in the future, rather than to dwell on the past.

SELP Help: How do I create a 1 page resume?

Author: Catherine Cantieri, SELP Training Coordinator

Resumes can be one of the most important parts of your first impression when applying for a job! Trying to have the perfect resume is an ongoing task that requires a lot of revision. One thing that seems to be a common theme among recruiters for entry level positions is that they tend to prefer one-page resumes compared to a two-page resume. However, it can be difficult to cram all of your information, skills, past positions, etc. on to one page! Here are my 5 tips for how to keep your resume to one page:

  1. Design your resume around a job posting

This is very important when applying to any job – no matter if you have a 1-page resume or 3-page resume! Look for key words in the job posting and try to mimic them on your resume (note: only do this if you have the skill or experience they are seeking, remember you never want to lie or exaggerate on your resume). When trying to shorten your resume something that might be helpful is to look for skills and abilities you currently have on your resume that are not related to the job posting and remove them. The more you can tailor your resume to each specific job the more successful your job search will be.

  1. Do you need an objective/summary?

Sometimes an objective can hurt more than it helps. When listing an objective on a resume it is essential to be extremely specific to the job you are applying for and to be concise. This is not an easy task, and if not done correctly it can hurt your resume more than it can help. If an employer reads an objective statement and it is not specific enough to the job that they posted, they may completely disregard your resume. Also, often when you apply for a job you need to include a cover letter, which basically is a longer version of an objective statement, in that case an objective statement isn’t necessary to include. Bottom line: if it is not a well written objective statement than it is just a waste of space!

  1. Repeating points

Look for repeating ideas in your bullet points. The bullet point listed under each position should demonstrate different accomplishments, abilities, and skills you have. You may find that a bullet point under one position exhibits the same skill that you’ve listed in a different bullet point under another position. If this is the case – remove one of the two bullet points! When working with such a small space you need to be selective with all the information you include on your resumeand can’t afford to have repeated ideas. If you need help differentiating skills and abilities, here is a list of action verbs that you can use on your resume.

  1. Formatting is your friend

This should be the last step when looking at your resume. If you have tried all the aforementioned tips, try re-formatting your resume. This can be as simple as changing a 12 pt. font to a 10 pt. font (it is advised to never go under a 10 pt. font size), or changing the margin sizes. This can also mean making bigger changes like rearranging your header or re-formatting your sections. CLA Career Services website has some great tips when thinking about formatting your resume differently and there is also an online resume workshop you can watch. Just remember, the goal with formatting is that your resume should look clean and consistent, and be easy to read.

  1. Should you stay within 1-page… Ask your career center!

The one-page standard is usually preferred for entry-level jobs. If you are applying for an upper level position, maybe a two-page resume would be more appropriate. However, if you are in fact applying for an entry level job and have considered all of these tips and still are having trouble fitting your resume onto one page, having a two-page resume may be most appropriate. Visiting your career center will be most helpful when asking yourself these questions about your specific experiences and career path. So stop by your career center and get a resume critique! Fill out this resume critique form when you do and turn it into in order to fulfill your resume critique requirement for SELP!

SELP Help: What is email etiquette in the workplace?

Author: Katy Hinz, Program Coordinator, Office for Student Engagement


Use these 8 tips to impress your supervisor and co-workers with your emails:

  1. Follow the lead of your supervisor. Do they always have a greeting and closing? Are their emails short and to the point or longer and more personal? Respond back to them in the same manner they emailed you, it will ensure that you are communicating according to their preference.
  2. Have a descriptive and concise subject line. Don’t be vague! Are you requesting time off? Submitting a report? Need feedback on a project by a certain deadline? Make it clear in your subject line what you need.
  3. Respond within 48. It is a good rule of thumb to respond relatively quickly to an email, even if it is just to let the sender know that you got their message and giving them a timeline for when you will get back to them.
  4. It’s better to be formal than to be sorry. When in doubt, be formal in your email communication. It is almost impossible to come across as “too professional” over email.
  5. Don’t let your emotions seep into your emails. If you get an email that upsets you, don’t respond right away, instead take some time to process it and craft a message when you are feeling more level-headed. Email is not a good way to resolve conflict, so if you have an issue with someone be sure to confront them in person.
  6. Use “reply all” sparingly. Before you hit “reply all” consider if everyone really needs to know your response or not, often times you only need to respond to the sender. People will appreciate that you don’t fill their inboxes!
  7. Proofread and spell check. Remember that you are not texting your friends, in the professional world writing full and coherent sentences is important.
  8. Organize your message. Bolding and/or underlining key information is helpful. If you are writing a long email consider having bulleted statements, headings, and/or numbered lists.

Bonus Tips, how to manage your email:

  1. Use google tools. Activate “canned responses,” set up your email box so that unread messages are listed first, create labels so you can organize messages, and if you think you will ever possibly need an email again hit “archive” instead of “delete.” Also, be sure to set up an out of office response if you will be away.
  2. Inbox Zero. If you like to keep the amount of messages low in your inbox, click here to get tips for how to get your inbox messages to zero. Really, it is possible!!

SELP Help Question: How do I build professional relationships with professors?

Author: Catherine Cantieri, SELP Training Coordinator

Do you want to start building your network? Do you want to have a great network of professionals after you graduate college and continue life in the real world? Well then, I suggest you read this SELP Help blog post! Connecting with professors is a great way to meet professionals that share a common interest and have a great deal of knowledge in your area of interest! How to build professional relationships is a question we get very often from students. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say, or how to start a meaningful relationship with professors, and that is why I am here to provide you with a couple tips on how to do so!

Tip #1: Introduce yourself and prepare something to say
The best way to start off a relationship with your professor is to personally introduce yourself. Whether it’s a large lecture hall with 100 students, or a smaller classroom with 30 students, it’s always a great idea to introduce yourself in person. It’s never too late in the semester to just say hi and introduce yourself to the professor. The second part of this tip is to make sure you have something to say! Whether it’s a question about the material, a comment you had about class, or a genuine interest in what research or work the professor is doing – make sure you have something prepared! You can often find a lot of information about a professor’s research interests by visiting their department’s webpage or simply googling their name. Having something prepared is the easiest way to ensure you sound professional, and genuinely interested in the class content or the professor. Also, professors love when students visit their office hours, so take advantage of those!

Tip #2: Say Hello to them outside the classroom!
If you see your professor outside the classroom make sure to say hello! Even if it’s a class with 50 students and you’ve only talk to them once and maybe not at all, take a chance and say hello. It’s always great to see a friendly face, and your professor might be more likely to remember you when you approach them about a question you have after class.

Tip #3: Talking to your professor once is not enough.
Some professors have over a hundred students, multiple sections, or even different classes they teach on campus! In the midst of all these students, it isn’t the student that stops by only once that stands out – it’s the students who stop by multiple times! To maintain a good relationship with your professor you need to visit office hours more than once, or stay after/come before class to chat with the professor. However it is important to make sure you keep your interactions professional. Don’t overuse your privilege to contact your professor, because that could potentially hurt your professional relationship rather than boost it.

Tip #4: Put in the work
Professors like when students are actually engaging in the class material, and are putting effort into their work. Simply showing up to class isn’t good enough – you need to be prepared, stay focused, and engage in the material. A great way to show you are engaged in class is by raising your hand during class, or answering questions. Going above and beyond the expectations in class is a great way to get noticed. Doing these things also creates a mutual respect between you and the professor.

I hope these tips will help you create a great professional relationship with some of your professors! And remember it’s never too late! If you want to get to know one of your professors this semester, start now!

Thanks for reading the blog post this week! Make sure to check back for more SELP Help questions, Workshop recaps, and next month’s SDO: Independence and Interdependence.

SELP Help Question: How Do I Gain Experience?

There was once a day when a strong GPA was enough to land that dream job. That day has come and gone. With that being said, if you want to work in your desired field upon graduation, then you need solid experience along with a strong GPA. Most employers agree that they would rather take someone that was heavily involved on campus with only a 3.0 GPA over someone with a 4.0 but no involvement or experience. The purpose being that, experience makes you well rounded and thus more reputable for various companies and organizations.

So now the big question is how do I get involved, right? Well I’ll tell you. Start by utilizing the engage search tool on Here you will be able to search for groups, internships and other involvement opportunities that interest you. If this still isn’t doing it for you, then go to the involvement fair that is held at the beginning of the semester in or around Coffman. There are a number of clubs and organizations present and there is bound to be one that interests you. Also if you have an idea for a group that you would like to start then gather five friends and $25 and begin the process.

Another way to gain experience is to volunteer. Habitat for Humanity, among other organizations, is always looking for volunteers and it is great experience as well. A lot of companies pride themselves on their community involvement so if you are able to highlight some volunteer experience on your resume, this will definitely set you apart.

The great thing is that since you are a student employee you already have a wonderful experience that will set you apart when you are applying for jobs. You are learning so many transferable skills that you can use in your career, so kudos to you!

It doesn’t matter what you decide to get involved in, just make sure that you do something. A degree makes you eligible to apply, but it isn’t what gets you called in for the interview. Being involved is fun and creates a better overall college experience while also making you more marketable. Now get out there and do something!


Image Source