Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Empowering your Inner Husky



To me, attending the 8th annual Husky Student Leadership Summit was one of the most valuable ways I have spent a Saturday during my career at Bloomsburg University. Notice I said the 8th annual summit? Yes, this summit has been going on for the past eight years, and as a senior I could slap myself for not becoming a part of this incredible experience sooner.

But I won’t allow myself to complain; one days’ worth of speaking with prominent alumni, hearing networking tips, and attending speaker’s panels was enough to make me feel super inspired to become the professional I seek to be.

Leading up to the summit, I was provided with a list of session options to attend throughout the day. I decided to go with sessions covering topics on networking, professional development, and leadership, which I believed would help me in my quest to improve my overall professional skills. Each session offered students with a chance to hear real world career advice from BU alumni through their personal stories and experiences.

Each session, I made sure to scribble down some quotes I felt were great tips from the alumni staff. In the second session of the day, ’87 Husky alumni Alana Gallo talked about her positive and negative experiences reviewing student resumes throughout her career. “Everyone looks the same on paper…so what makes you stand out?” This quote could not be more spot on to my life right now. Over the last month or two I have been in the process of sending out my info to several companies and organizations and have only heard back from a few places. I’ve been thinking - is there something wrong with my resume? Am I too standard among my competition?

So I’m sitting there in Gallo’s session, contemplating what my next step should be to become a more unique electronic applicant. And that’s when it hit me – I was doing it right there and then! By attending the Husky Leadership Summit, I was able to gain ample experience and opportunity that my competition may be lacking. Networking with alumni is such a crucial factor in the job search process and is something I need to continue to take advantage of as I journey through life as a pre and post-grad.

Gallo also talked about employers who would rather have more resumes in the NO pile than the YES pile. Upon hearing this, I looked around to find the student audience with awestruck faces. But she’s absolutely right - if employers have any immediate doubt in your potential, you have some major work to do on your resume, your cover letter, and your overall digital presence.

I can’t imagine how many resumes and cover letters employers have to look at each year. Imagine if that was your job and everyone’s resumes were extremely similar. Pretty boring, I would think?

And I’m sure it is difficult to narrow down the applicants when no one is really standing out. Employers don’t have the time to sit there and slowly dissect what you’ve sent them. So it is important to leave a memorable impression that will immediately catch their attention, whether that be through your outstanding GPA, your involvement in clubs and organizations, your digital portfolio, leadership positions, or relevant internship experience. Make sure to highlight what makes you YOU! With a fantastic digital impression, employers will be curious and excited to meet the real deal in an interview.

Midway through the day, the alumni already had me feeling so enthused to make a name for myself. Because of the useful tips I received while attending the summit, it has become my mission to have no red flags and no questions asked. My goal is to work towards being placed, without a doubt, in an employer’s YES pile based on their overall first impression of me.

Other advice I took to heart came from Kristin Austin, ’02 Husky alumni who spoke with us about her experiences networking and developing her personal brand over the years. Austin, who is currently coordinator for new students at BU, brought to the session her excitement and enthusiasm for student triumph by telling her humorous yet successful networking stories. Austin’s advice - you have to be courageous and open to stepping out of your comfort zone if you want to make potential networking connections.

Networking is not fast and it is certainly not easy. But it is an action that is entirely up to you. It is your choice whether or not to start a conversation with a potential contact. It is your choice to ask for help from a family member with prior experience in a company of interest. Austin preached that without physically taking action, no one will be there to help you. And most likely these networks who were once in our shoes would be pleased to help.

By keeping an open mind and a positive attitude, networking can become a prime factor in any student’s progression towards landing a job post-graduation. Although my attendance at the summit was mostly for my personal benefit, it also allowed me to participate in the Student Involvement Resource Fair luncheon with Communication club NCASC aka the National Communication Association Student Chapter.

There, I met with our student president Kate Armstrong, and together we spread the word to the hungry crowd of leaders about the benefits of joining the club. I was also able to snap some photos for the BloomsburgU Instagram account, capturing lively and interactive moments throughout the summit.

Overall, my participation in the summit provided me with a chance to really reflect on what I have been building for myself at BU. A memorable moment from one of the alumni speakers was when she compared the student audience to products and that each of us were products in the process of development.

By the time graduation arrives, I hope to have created the best possible self-product imaginable based on the classes, professors, employers, and experiences I have utilized while at BU. By attending professional events such as the Husky Student Leadership Summit, I have been able to continue working towards preparing for the world outside of Bloomsburg.

A huge shout out is in order for all of the Husky alumni who took the time to support the students at this event, along with the hardworking staff of BU leaders who made this unique experience possible.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams.

— Rachael Scicchitano, senior communication studies major #HuskyLife #ProfessionalU

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