Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fall 2013 Career Services Update: Advice from HNC Career Counselor Robbie Shields

HNC provides a variety of career development resources and an on-site career counselor to help students market their unique skill sets to employers around the world.  Career Counselor Robbie Shields has organized a number of events this fall to help students better understand their career interests and how to pursue them.  Read his guest post below to learn more about the many career development opportunities available at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center:
"Mark Twain once stated that 'the two most important days of your life are the day that you’re born and the day you learn why.'  As the Career Counselor at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, I couldn’t agree more.  This fall the HNC Career Service office has had several events designed to help students develop an understanding of their career interests and how to best pursue those interests.  I’d like to take a moment to share with you some of the highlights. 

At orientation, students learned about the importance of investing time in your career development.  Whether you go into careers in government, consulting, law, finance, non-profit, education, entrepreneurship, or energy, you will need to identify your career interest and develop a strategy to pursue it.  We work with students in this process, through one-on-one appointments, group workshops, employer visits, and career treks, but ultimately it’s up to the student to invest time in self exploration. 

After learning about Career Services at the HNC, I presented a resume workshop designed to assist all students in writing their resume.  While there is too much for me cover in this post, I would encourage you to remember three things.  First, the resume is usually the first example of work product that employers receive from you.  If it has errors, the employer will think that this is indicative of your work and you won’t get an interview.  Second, don’t go past one page for your resume.  Only seasoned career professionals should prepare multi-page resumes.  For entry-level positions, one page is preferred.  You may ask yourself, 'how can I fit all my experiences onto one page?'  The answer is you probably can’t. Most employers spend less than one minute reviewing your resume and so you have to learn what is important from your background that is relevant to the position of interest and omit what’s not.  Finally, quantify and qualify your accomplishments.  Saying you’re good at something is not the same as proving it.  For example compare these two bullets

·         Responsible for marketing and recruitment of a student organization

·        Implemented marketing and recruitment strategies for a student organization, resulting in a 35% increase in member enrollment

Hopefully you can tell which is better.  If not, we’ll talk when you are in Nanjing.
On Wednesday, October 9, the Center welcomed HNC alumna Brantley Turner-Bradley to discuss her career insights.  Ms. Turner-Bradley shared with students that in her experience, your career is not a linear progression but a more winding road.  As time develops, each position will teach you things you like/dislike and that you can use these experiences in a variety of industries.  In her own career, she has gone from consulting to market research to entrepreneurship and education.  
After the October holiday, I presented a workshop on choosing your career path.  Students frequently ask me, how should one choose what to do for a living?  It is difficult to give a succinct answer suitable for a blog post, but I think it starts with knowing yourself.  We all have interests, strengths, needs, and priorities.  For some, the most important thing is to be in China.  For others, the most important thing is to be working for an NGO that deals with the environment.  If you start by identifying what’s important to you and working from there you’re off to a good start.  I can fill you in on more when you arrive in Nanjing.
Fall 2013 Consulting Panel
Our next employer event happened on Saturday, October 19.  From 13:00-16:00 the HNC hosted five alumni working in management consulting for our consulting panel.  Luke Treloar (KPMG), Xu Jiahong (Accenture), Andres Perea (Bain), Pu Yang (LEK), and Meng Meng (KPMG), spent the afternoon sharing their insights into a profession that is among the most popular for Center students.  Andres reminded students that the hours are demanding, roughly 75 per week, but that there were many rewards because you’re surrounded by intelligent and motivated people.  When asked to give students one suggestion of something they should all know for their careers, Xu Jiahong told students to always focus on reputation.  No matter where you go or what you do, your reputation is essential.
The following day, Professor Paul Armstrong-Taylor and I hosted a workshop on cracking the case interview, an essential skill for anyone interested in management consulting.  During this presentation, we discussed essential qualities necessary for success in consulting, how to prepare for interviews, and practiced three sample cases.  Among the most interesting was a market sizing question, 'how many chickens are there in China?'  If you’re curious, the answer is somewhere around 50 billion, but remember the important part for a case interview is the analysis of how you reach your conclusion. 
In the weeks to come we have several other exciting career events.  On Thursday, October 24 we will host Yang Xiaoming, a Brand Manager with P&G in Guangzhou, to discuss his career path and insights for students interested in marketing and consumer goods.  On Tuesday, October 29th HNC alumna Christie Caldwell will come to the Center to talk with students about career opportunities at Aperian Global, a consulting company focused on developing the capabilities of individuals and teams to increase performance.  Then on Friday, November 1, the HNC will welcome back alumni, who will conduct two career panels as part of our annual Alumni Weekend.  These events should provide students with many useful insights and opportunities to meet alumni and non-alumni professionals successful throughout China.
Thanks for taking time to read my blog post.  I look forward to writing to you again following our upcoming employer visits and Alumni Weekend."