March 2012 Archives

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"I only use the phone to order take out and call my mom," the job seeking student responded to me when I asked her if she had called the potential employer to get answers to questions she had about the advertised position. Her response isn't surprising.

According to a report from the Pew Research Center, "Teens, Smartphones & Texting," (March 19, 2012), texting is the way most of you communicate. Voice calling using a cell phone is down too.  When I probed further to understand why my job seeking student didn't call, she said, "I can't believe I didn't even think about picking up the phone and calling. It just never occurred to me!"

She also admitted to feeling somewhat uneasy about using the phone to call her potential employer because she didn't know what to say. Many of you have told me "it feels weird" to call someone you don't know because you don't do it very often. You'll feel more confident if you prepare first.

In other words, research the company, so you don't ask questions that are easily obtained by reading its website. There are also many useful links to career and job search preparation. I'll tell you more about my favorite two sources of job preparation information next week! Before you call, make sure to be well informed about your audience.

Step two is to refresh your memory about what makes you unique and what you have to offer this employer. Think in terms of the company's specific job description. If the employer wants a candidate with strong analytical skills, consider how you've demonstrated these from both your experiences and education. In other words, know your elevator speech. I've written before about "Getting the Perfect Tone for Your 30 Second Pitch." Don't forget to rehearse it!

Now conquer that inertia and shyness and pick up the phone. You might say the following:

Hello. I'm <name>, a student at Penn State University in my <year> studying <major>. I recently saw the <name of position> you advertised on <where you found the position>, and I'm interested in applying. I do have a few questions, and I was wondering if you could tell me to whom I should direct these.

From here, the person may say, "Let me connect you to <name>. He/She is handling this vacancy." If this happens, you could be lucky and actually get to speak with one of the decision-makers. Always make sure to get the correct spelling and name of the people with whom you speak. You may need them for follow-up communications.  Once the call has been transferred, start with the first two sentences above again. This time add some of your 30-second pitch. Be concise and don't ramble.

If the person who answers the phone says he/she will try to answer your questions, this is fine too, although it's less likely you're speaking to one of the decision makers. It's always important to be respectful and polite to everyone you meet. It may be that the person with whom you're speaking will be the one tasked with weeding through the stack of résumés for the first pass.

Most importantly, remember the phone can be a cool tool. Use it to get a pizza and a job!


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Holding jet fuel, hand-blown glass, and a piece of Marcellus Shale in his hands as props to illustrate the diverse study opportunities available to students of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS), Dean William Easterling kicked-off the College's annual recruiting event held on March 16-17 this year. All students who are considering an EMS major are invited to attend the Earth and Mineral Sciences Exposition (EMEX).

"This is the college you can study everything you want about the Earth and do ground breaking research while enjoying a small college atmosphere within a big research institution," Easterling told prospective students and their families who came from all over the United States including Texas, Idaho, and California.

This year's overall chair, Erica Marden (senior, Material Science Engineering) recalls the influence EMEX had on her decision to enroll. As a local from State College, Pennsylvania, she didn't think she wanted to come to Penn State University because she thought a small liberal arts college would be a better fit.

"I came to EMEX and loved the feel of this college--very small and personal--it changed my mind." said Marden.

She admits to being envious of those just starting out on this journey. "Looking back four years ago, I never would've thought I'd have the chance to study abroad, participate in research, and do an internship in Africa. They're in for a treat," she said. This year's EMEX is a swan song for Marden as she is graduating in May and has been accepted by two medical schools. 

"The biggest challenge of putting on EMEX which is all student-led," said Marden, "is making sure the communication among faculty, students, alumni, and staff is strong. She credits her co-chairs, Natalie Gerber (sophomore, Energy Business and Finance), Nolan Maynard (sophomore, Environmental Systems Engineering) and Everleigh Stokes (freshman, Geography) with keeping everyone in the loop.

Seventy-two prospective students came on Friday to attend classes and shadow their student sponsors, meet with Penn State alumni in their fields, and speak to faculty and staff. Friday night, the residents of Irvin Hall, the Special Living Option for EMS, sponsor an evening of ice-breaking activities and help prospective students learn more about college life. While students socialize with their peers, parents and their families are treated to a dinner at the Atherton Hotel where they can ask questions of the deans, faculty, staff, alumni, and EMS students.

Andrew Paul (junior, Materials Science Engineering) had a student shadow him. He ended up not going to sleep until 2 a.m., yet despite having little rest, he arrived early Saturday morning to help with EMEX. More than 375 people came for the day-long events, and Paul was a guide for one of the most popular features of this year's EMEX:  a tour of the new Millennium Science Complex.

He gave a demonstration of the Molecular Beam Epitaxy machine and explained his participation in research on micromagnetic simulations. Afterwards, Sampath Kethavarapu (junior, Materials Science Engineering) led the group to the Materials Characterization Lab. He pointed out the methods that provide low acoustic and electromagnetic noise to create an optimal environment for imagery analysis techniques such as Scanning Electron Microscopy.
 
Throughout the day attendees had the opportunity to pick and choose among a variety of activities according to their interests and get more information on all five departments: Earth and Mineral Engineering, Geography, Geosciences, Materials Science Engineering, and Meteorology.

Kyle Spataro, a senior in high school, flew to State College, Pennsylvania from Braintree, Massachusetts to find out more about the Petroleum Natural Gas Engineering curriculum and to learn more about Penn State.

 "There's a whole lot more here than I realized!" he said at the end of the day.


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