Monthly Archives: March 2013

LinkedIn Info: Read for Wed. + Google Yourself

LinkedIn is a social media website dedicated to professional networking. Much like Facebook or Twitter, you create a personal profile, and can adjust what information you provide.

Making a Profile

Sign up and create a profile under your name. Add things like your degree, past jobs (that are applicable, or framed in a way that makes them applicable, to where you want your career to go.

For instance, I worked as a server and bartender at a Mexican restaurant for a few years during college, but I don’t list that on my LinkedIn page because it’s not appropriate to the direction my career is headed now – towards teaching and editing.

However, five years ago when my career path was much less established, I might have listed that job to show I could keep a job for extended periods, and I might have framed my skills broadly so they could apply to where I wanted to go – able to multi-task and listen carefully, worked my way up the restauranting hierarchy from host to server, able to remember complicated formulas and rules like when mixing drinks, etc.

If you don’t have much of a job history, similar to resumes, your volunteer work or college activities become more important. So does your “Summary” section – this is where you can orient people who visit your profile.

When you edit your profile, you’ll see you can also list things like certifications, awards, organizations, languages, etc. Make use of those when appropriate. As you build your profile, you can adjust it by altering the order of information, adding details about your different positions, listing skills you have, and so on. Make sure you add a picture, and try to have it be a professional-looking photo (mine is not a great example of this). Forbes recently had some good advice about using the site.

Using LinkedIn

Let’s say you’ve made your basic profile: now what? The next step is to find connections and people/organizations/places to follow. This is the “social” aspect of the site. Others look at your profile, endorse your skills, recommend you for jobs, and so on. On your LinkedIn homepage, these different entities will update you, much like a Facebook newsfeed. Keep in mind that when you visit other profiles, they can often see that you’ve done so; this is why it’s a good idea to have your profile reasonably filled out and prepared for viewing before you explore the site.

Only connect to people you actually know, and who have a real relation to you career-wise. This isn’t like Twitter where you might follow people who look interesting. This is virtual networking. This is building a professional persona. I can’t stress enough that this site is public. What you post on here is easily searchable by potential employers, strangers, your friends, everybody. A google search of your name will yield this profile as a top result (usually). Therefore, the rules for crafting a good resume and proofreading it apply doubly here. If, for some reason you decide you don’t want to ever deal with LinkedIn again after this class delete your profile. You don’t want an out-of-date page lingering in your search results. This is a profile you should update semi-regularly: not every day by any means, but any time you have a professional development or something worth adding, you should change your profile. You should also periodically connect to new people.

Connecting: when you ask to connect to someone, it’s best to add a personalized message rather than the default connection request LinkedIn provides. This is just like cover letters – if you show you’ve taken the time to address the person/position directly, it seems like you care more.

Assignment for Wednesday

Please start your profile before class on Wednesday. We’ll be looking at different examples of LinkedIn posts and we’ll workshop some of your pages in class. Try to find an example of a “good” page to discuss. Be ready too to discuss the results of your google search. Your final LinkedIn profile will be due Friday before class. Please post a link to it, with your name, in the comments of this blog post. 

Also for Wednesday, please bring questions or concerns about LinkedIn and building your profile.



Filed under assignments, Job Search

Job Search Tips

Forbes had a helpful article last week about things to avoid during your job search. Unsurprisingly, guess what was #1?

1. Failing to proofread job-hunting materials.

The second piece of advice, don’t ignore your online footprint, directly addresses your Linkedin assignment this week. The entire article is worth a quick read if you have time.

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Final Presentation Assignment

As per your votes before break, the theme for final presentations will be Inventions. Since two related categories tied, I’m willing to keep it broad: you may either 1) discuss an important invention in your field or 2) propose a needed, non-existent invention in your field.

Purpose: to have you prepare for and understand the relationship between written and spoken text. Also, you will need to competently speak to colleagues at some point in your professional life, so now’s a good time to practice.

Assume a general audience for your presentation. Your delivery can be somewhat informal, but should stay within the bounds of professional conduct.

You need to give an idea of what your field is, why this invention is/would be important, and what led up to its creation. Pick a narrow enough topic for the time allowed.  If you’re imagining an invention, you should likely address the probability of creation. If you’re telling us about an existing invention, make sure you don’t just give a historical lecture. Keep in mind the 5 Ws of contextualizing information: who, what, where, when, why (and often, how). Regardless of your invention, your goal should be to make us care about your topic as you inform or persuade us.

You’ll have 7 minutes (+/- 30 seconds) to present. This includes set-up time. Going outside this range will result in a full letter drop in your presentation grade, so practice your timing. To help you with this, I’m requiring you to hand in a draft of your presentation on the day you present. This could mean a write-up, copies of your notecards, a detailed outline of what you’re going to discuss, your drafting pages…whatever you used to prepare and give your presentation. This should include a Reference page in APA style with the sources you used for your presentation.

Other requirements:

  • Don’t be boring. Seriously: find something to talk about that interests you.
  • Use visual aids when appropriate.
  • If you use PowerPoint (NOT required), do not fill your slides with text.
  • Speak extemporaneously, meaning, DO NOT read your presentation to us. This takes practice.
  • Speak loudly, clearly, and at an appropriate pace for your topic.
  • Listen closely to other speakers. If I get a sense that you’re not listening, I will quiz you on the information presented that day.
  • Read ch. 14 for more suggestions about presentations.

We will sign up for presentation times and topics the week after conferences. During presentations, listeners are expected to give feedback (more on this later).

REMEMBER: You must bring ideas for your final presentation to your conference with me.

By way of example:

Here’s one model of a talk that’s engaging, incorporates technology, and manages to explore field-specific research. Amy Cuddy teaches us about the importance of non-verbal language.

Here’s another fairly engaging speaker, Dr. Russell Barkley, who uses PowerPoint (sparingly). I’d argue, however, that he speaks a bit too quickly for his subject matter.

You can find other good examples all over the internet, but here’s one site that compiles some with commentary. And in the context of political speeches, here are some more examples.

Conversely, here’s a rather boring introduction to an equally lackluster speech, mostly due to its improvisational nature.

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Presentation Voting

As we discussed, in class, you must vote on our final presentation project. Head over to Lauren’s blog to cast your vote. If you’d like to argue for one assignment over the others (or against a particular option), please do so in the comments. Please argue and cast your vote by the end of this week (so before 11:59 p.m. on Saturday).

Whichever suggestion gets the most votes will likely be your final presentation assignment. Please check the class blog before your conference for more specific guidelines. Remember that you need to bring ideas for your presentation, plus goals for the rest of the course, to your meeting with me. 

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Reminder: Job Shadow Project Guidelines

WPC Job Shadow Project
Due Wednesday, March 6, hardcopy in class

“How am I supposed to know about a culture I’m not already in?”

That’s the question many new graduates have when applying for that first post-college job, or when listening to career counselors speak about “knowing your field.” If you aren’t yet in a career path, how will you know the right things to say, the people to know?

This project is an opportunity for you to gain entry into your prospective field, or to learn about a career you are interested in. It’s also a chance to network.

Your assignment is to interview a person who has a job you’d like someday and find out just what it is s/he does. This project is predicated on a face-to-face meeting with this person so you can learn not just procedural information, but also see what his/her office looks like, how the person acts in said work environment and how you react to the work place. If you can follow the person for a part or the entirety of their workday, that would be ideal.

You will develop a list of questions to ask this person. See the class blog for tips on interviewing, in addition to the advice in your textbook. Keep in mind you may want to give your subject the list of questions ahead of time so s/he can prepare. (I am also happy to look at your questions beforehand and offer suggestions—just ask!) What you’ll find more and more is that everyone is busy, no matter what their job, so do as much as you can to help this person help you. Arrange this meeting with plenty of notice so you can meet the due date.

What your paper MUST have:

  • The person’s name, place of work and position in the company—the basics
  • A detailed and critical description of the place itself
  • Some sort of explanation of the job
  • Your perspective on what you observed
  • At least two sources beyond your interview contact that contextualize the job, the company, the field, etc.
  • A separate sheet that lists the times you visited and the person’s contact information
  • Been proofread

Your paper should be 5 pages in length (approx. 1500 words), double-spaced, 12-pt. font, 1 inch margins. Use APA style for formatting and citing your sources.

The way you organize and present this paper is up to you. The only format I will not accept is a transcript of your interview; there’s not enough room to show critical thinking in that context. You should be reflective and critical about your experience, not simply saying that it was “great” or “unexpected,” but show that you’ve thought about what it means to enter a career culture and what you might need to do to join that group. If the job is somehow related to your major here at Pitt, what did you think about the workplace application of your education? Are you prepared to enter that world? What might you need to do or learn? How can you further prepare for that career?


What you will be graded on:

  • Did you explain the job—a typical day, main responsibilities, annoyances and great parts?
  • Did you characterize the person you interviewed?
  • Did you describe the place in such a way that is telling of the atmosphere and so that your readers can picture it?
  • Did you explain the job in context of your studies or what you already know about the field?
  • Did you reference at least two academic, governmental or other reputable sources (NOT Wikipedia) to help contextualize the job in the wider world?
  • Have you spoken from your perspective? What did you expect? What surprised you? What did you leave excited (or upset) about?
  • Did you address how this experience might affect future actions toward your career goals?
  • Is the paper proofread, in APA style and error free?
  • Did you avoid interview format and craft a standalone, interesting piece of writing for an audience beyond this class?
  • Did you include a separate sheet detailing when you visited your subject and his/her contact information?
  • Did you post an excerpt of your project to your blog, if relevant? This does NOT count as a regular blog post.)

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