Thursday, September 29, 2011

Prepare for the job recruiting season

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Bradshaw College Consulting

(219) 663-3041

Dear Mr. Bradshaw: I am a senior at Northwestern University and it is the beginning of job recruiting season. Several top companies will be represented on campus and they all seem to look for the same qualities in a job candidate: Top grades and copies of your SAT scores. I can hold my own in both departments with a 3.6 GPA in economics and 2200 SATs.

I’m more concerned about the intangibles. This many sound silly but how should I dress for the interviews? And what questions should I be expected to answer in the interview?

Signed: Student

Prepare for the job recruiting season

Dear Student: You will need top grades as well as a record of participation in campus activities and prior work or internship experiences to get your foot in the door in today’s job market.

Corporate human resources people also tell me that in order to make a great first impression you should research the company and know about the markets the company competes in. That is easy to do with Google’s ability to do a word search in milliseconds on just about any subject. I would suggest that you take your iPad with you and Google for any late-breaking news about the company before meeting your interviewer.

Business casual dress is acceptable at most companies. A sport coat and collared shirt without tie for men and a tailored dress or pantsuit for women is appropriate. This is not the time to show off that great tan that you worked on over the summer. Proper footwear is a must.

You need a firm handshake because you don’t want to give the impression that you are a dead fish. On the other hand no high fives or knuckle touches if the conversation went well. Don’t forget to thank the interviewer, and make sure that you get their contact information. A thank-you email would be a nice touch.

Avoid buzzwords such as “Hiring me is a win-win situation going forward, proactive matrixes are my skill-set, and I bring lots of synergy to the table.” Use plain language and try to educate the interviewer on your important strengths.

You should bring copies of your resume and be prepared to walk the interviewer through it. This is your opportunity to shine. Make your resume tell a story rather than relate a series of unconnected events.

Focus on upward progression — previous internships, student advisory committees, and special research projects. Keep your “walk through” to five minutes, and don’t spend all of your time in one area.

For example, don’t dwell on your college experience to the detriment of actual work experience.

Be prepared to respond to this: “Forget that I read your application, and tell me about yourself.” Rehearse your response to this query over and over prior to the interview.

You know you’re going to get some kind of question that is specific to you and to your story, so practice. If you have one minute what are you going to tell someone about yourself?

Stay focused on specifics in your answers. Employer interviewers expect applicants to state their answers tersely and not ramble.

You need to be able to convey your thought process in three bulleted points. Staying focused with your answers is the best way to show an interviewer that you are the right candidate for the job.

If asked about a major decision that you have made, tell them about why you selected your major.

The employer interview is all about assessing how well you might work together for the greater good of the company. Keep that in mind as you prepare for the interview.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Advice for avoiding freshman jitters

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bradshaw College Consulting
(219) 663-3041

As an adult it has always been difficult for me to understand why perfectly smart young people who are admitted to the very best colleges and universities fear their first experiences on campus.

These students talk intelligently, scored off the board on admissions tests and are ranked at the top of their high school classes.

Why then, do they freak out at being on their own for the first time?

Here is one way to avoid the freshman jitters and have fun doing it. I take as my guide the helpful experiences of a perfectly normal freshman at Harvard who wrote about her experience in an alumni newsletter. Let’s call her Carol.

Carol’s first weeks at Harvard were packed full of activities. Placement tests, proctor meetings, dorm socials, losing her cell phone and finding it, she says, picking classes and feeling lost, overwhelmed and homesick. These comments pretty much summarize the experiences that most freshmen have during their first weeks on campus.

To add to Carol’s stress, she ran around frantically auditioning for a number of different singing groups. She was accepted by several and then faced the “agonizing” decision of which one to choose. As fate and good fortune would have it something happened that made her selection obvious and easy. It was called a “sing-in.”

As Carol told it, one Sunday night, two students knocked on her door, blindfolded her and guided her down four flights of stairs and outside, where they removed her blindfold. In front of her were 60 students holding candles and singing Claude Goudimel’s “O Combien est Plaisant.” They then walked to a reception for more singing. Carol returned to her dorm that night knowing she would join the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum.

The “sing-in” was only the beginning. She met a wonderful group of friends and decided to live with some of them her sophomore year. She became involved with the Collegium Executive Committee and later auditioned for and joined the Chamber Singers, a 12-person subset of Collegium.

The point is that it is easy to get lost in the whirlwind of first-week college activities and intimidating, brilliant colleagues not to mention the universal difficulty of making a transition to college life.

To any incoming freshman Carol has this sound advice: “find something you love doing and can wholeheartedly devote yourself to.” Immersing herself so completely in Collegium provided relief from the stress of academic work, insights into the field of music administration and a possible career path. Most of all she met a wonderful group of friends and found her place at Harvard.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Second-tier colleges ‘The New Ivies’

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bradshaw College Consulting
(219) 663-3041

Dear Mr. Bradshaw:

I am putting together a list of colleges to apply to this fall and I have heard that I should consider a few backup college choices, in the event that I do not get admitted to one of my top choices. So far I have 20 top tier colleges on my list, but I plan to pare that down to 10 or 12. My concern is that all of them rank at or near the top in the college rankings. My guidance counselor tells me that even second-tier colleges are becoming more selective and suggested that I take that into consideration when I select my backup schools. I would like to hear your thoughts.

High school senior

Second-tier colleges ‘the new Ivies’

Dear High School Senior: arvard, Yale, Dartmouth and the other Ivy League colleges are considered first-tier schools and are very difficult to gain admission to even with an outstanding academic record. Admission rates range from 6.1 percent at Harvard to 13 percent at Dartmouth.

Many students fail to realize that second-tier colleges can be as admissions-competitve as first tier schools and that each year the gap in admissions percentages is narrowing. Northwestern and Notre Dame are generally considered second-tier colleges with admission rates of 27 percent and 29 percent, respectively, but many students who apply to these schools as backups are rejected even though they have records similar to those of students admitted to the Ivy League. With the huge increase in outstanding international applicants at top colleges, second-tier colleges are now considered “the new Ivies.”

Most estimates are that 30 to 40 universities like Northwestern and Notre Dame actually benefit by admitting students turned down from schools like Harvard and Princeton because the academic records of these students have helped them climb in the overall rankings.

Many students are shocked when they are rejected or waitlisted by a second-tier college. Students who may not get admitted to Northwestern, Notre Dame, NYU, Washington University in St. Louis, Rice, Emory or Georgetown are grateful that they picked backup colleges where admission is all but assured.

One of the reasons that admission to top tier schools is getting more difficult is simply one of supply and demand. The number of students graduating from high school has been increasing, and more students are interested in applying to top universities. Many high achieving students also are applying to more colleges than in the past — hedging their bets due to the uncertainty of admissions.

The overflow of students applying to second-tier colleges also has created its own spillover. Many state colleges and universities are seeing their rankings increase because students with higher grades and test scores are enrolling.

Listen to your high school counselor and think more broadly about the college application process. You need a good backup school to depend on.

College Admissions Consulting Articles - Second-tier colleges ‘the new Ivies’