Archive for the ‘Guest Post’ Category

An Employer Perspective by Skye Bigari, Talent Acquisition–Galileo Camps


 You’ve researched the company, found a job that you really want, adjusted your resume to highlight your complementary skills, and taken a big leap by applying for your dream position. Now, you have an interview scheduled and the excitement is brewing, but how should you bring your best self to this crucial next step? Galileo receives thousands of applications annually and, like many companies, our team has an intentional approach for hiring the best.  Here’s how we do it, and how you can wow your next interviewer.

First, realize that your interview is a two way street. This is an opportunity for you to strut your stuff, and at the same time, a chance for your potential employer to show you why their company and mission are relevant.

My career with Galileo started as a summer job—a way for a wide-eyed boy from Colorado to stay in San Francisco for the summer and take in all that the big city had to offer. I felt immediately connected to Galileo’s mission to develop innovators, and when I received an invitation for an in-person interview, I was downright terrified.  I pictured a panel interview at a big round table with a bunch of bigwigs judging my every word and move. Turns out, it wasn’t that at all. There were camp activities, challenges, and a one-on-one interview.  In that short amount of time, I fell in love with Galileo. And I really wanted them to fall in love with me, too.

After nine year in various roles at Galileo, I can look back on that initial interview and see what actually made Galileo say yes to me. I’m going to share a few recruiter tips that may help you nail your next interview—especially if it’s for the Galileo team!

We know that our teams have enormous impact on our success. That’s why our hiring philosophy is inspired by and firmly rooted in our core company values. The phases of our process are primarily designed to explore a candidate’s alignment with our mission.  The interview process is an opportunity to reflect on and discuss past examples which exhibit these values—being visionary, courageous, collaborative, determined, and reflective.

Candidates we hire are:

  • Courageous: Participatory, fun, willing to step up, and willing to take personal risks.
  • Determined: Take initiative, improve what exists, and solve problems.
  • Collaborative: Able to work well with others, desire to support and are positive.
  • Visionary: Dedicated and mission-aligned. They want to do the work we do.
  • Reflective: Feedback-oriented; listening to feedback with a level of curiosity and openness.

When interviewing, my colleagues and I observe how candidates demonstrate these attitudes and traits. Here are some examples of how candidates showcase these skills:

  • The person who comes in and introduces themselves to other candidates
  • The person who picks up a piece of trash on the floor that wasn’t theirs
  • Someone that shares their ideas freely and listens when others do the same.
  • A candidate who gets genuinely excited when we discuss our mission, and how their role would serve that very mission and our campers.

These traits are valuable not just to us, but at so many forward-thinking companies. And if you find yourself particularly drawn to the Galileo mission and workplace I’ve described, we’d love to learn more about you! Check out our unparalleled summer experiences here.

skye galileo


Skye Bigari is a Galileo Camp Director in San Francisco during the summers, and an avid talent seeker for Galileo Camps throughout the rest of the year.


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A student perspective by: Aryton Oliver

My Name is Aryton Oliver, and I’ve always wantarytoned to find a career that focuses on trying to make people’s lives better. I’m a recent SJSU alumnus of the Political Science department, and I chose that major because it naturally fit with my interests. Before I graduated, I knew it was important for me to get internships to make me more marketable for a full-time job after college.

During my time at SJSU, I worked part-time at the Career Center as a peer advisor. From my work there, I learned about the different type of programs and employer connection events.  That’s how I obtained my first internship with Justice Corps.  The Career Center was hosting Drop-In Interviews, where I was able to meet directly with the Justice Corp’s recruiter. As my internship came to an end, I was inspired through some of my government and politics courses to pursue another internship at San Jose City Hall.

Since my political science professor had a lot of strong connections in City Hall, I reached out to him to see if he could help me out. After sending him my resume, I still did not receive any responses. It wasn’t until my professor saw that I scored a 96% on his midterm, exceeding the class average, that he saw my potential. I finally received a response from City Hall, and scheduled an interview with one of the executives for the following week.  I polished up my interviewing skills with some of the career consultants at the Career Center and eventually landed the internship with City Hall. At that internship, I assisted with policy research and I was exposed to the powerful effects that nonprofit organizations have on the communities they serve. It was very inspiring, and the internship experience also helped me develop professional skills that I can use in future careers.

In my last semester at SJSU, my job search strategy was to talk with all my connections: professors, past supervisors, and professionals at networking mixers. I made sure that I tailored my resume to specific positions and had other people review my resume for feedback (professors, career center staff and friends). I also kept my options open by applying to government, nonprofit, and even some private sector positions too. My planning paid off– I landed a job with Teen Force , a local nonprofit that helps foster youth find jobs as well as promote work-readiness training and skills development.

My current job title is Staffing Specialist, and my experience has been nothing but spectacular.  My work is very hands-on and I enjoy working with foster youth in helping them succeed in life. The work I do with the foster youth includes interviewing them for the program, reviewing their resumes, and trying to help them get a job. I also talk with business owners in the area about their hiring needs, and try to match them up with the youth in our program.

I’m really having fun with life after college, and I don’t think I could have made a better transition because my daily commute hasn’t changed that much and working 40+ hours a week feels way better than staying up late doing homework (believe me). Though in all seriousness, I’m grateful for having a job that’s aligned with my interests, and I can confidently say that the work I’m doing gives me a great sense of fulfillment.

So, that’s my story, and I hope it gave you some ideas for your own career journey. Here are my top four tips for success in the job search. Work hard and I wish you all success!

  1. Seek internships early, especially at the freshmen grade level because those experiences are priceless.
  2. Don’t just apply to positions online. Network and find ways to use the side door rather than always trying to go in through the front. Maintain strong relationships with professors, because they can offer great career advice and connections.
  3. Have an open mind. Don’t just apply to one specific type of job. Have a Plan B and C.
  4. Utilize the Career Center’s resources.

Are you also interested in pursuing a career in nonprofit or government?

If so, come to the Nonprofit and Public Service Job, Internship and Volunteer Forum on October 8 in the Student Union Ballroom from 12:30pm – 4:30pm. There will be a panel from 12:30pm – 1:30pm about finding a career in nonprofit or government. Then from 2:00pm – 4:30pm, there will be 40+ organizations you can network with for information as well as job, internship and volunteer opportunities.

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Student Perspective by: Michael Ching

Freshman year can be TOUGH. As a former freshman, I can tell you that it is a time filled with excitement, curiosity, and most of all, rigorous coursework. At the time, thinking about a career, let alone a job, was the last thing on my mind. Some common phrases I used, included:

“I don’t have time for internships. I have too much work.”

“I have no idea on what I want to major in, let alone find an internship.”

Or my personal favorite: “No one is going to hire me; I don’t have any work experience!”

Fortunately, the SJSU Career Center is here to help students get internships as well as know more about career related skills and opportunities. It is an extremely valuable resource to all students, especially incoming freshman and transfers.

Their mission is to help students create meaningful lives by providing the tools to guide students in identifying their strengths and goals, market their unique skills, and obtain relevant real world experience. Here are their top 5 services that I feel have the biggest impact on supporting incoming students in starting their careers:

  1. SpartaJobs: Access Thousands of Jobs and Internships at Your Fingertips

At some point in your college life, you will need/want a job and want to know what opportunities there are in the job market. SpartaJobs is a job and internship database found on the career center website that contains thousands of opportunities for SJSU students. All job types can be found in SpartaJobs including: Internships, full and part time jobs, on-campus jobs, seasonal and even work study.  You don’t have to be a senior to start checking out what jobs and internships are available.  All you need to login is your 9-digit tower card number (as your username & as your password) and your in!

  1. Career Workshops/Online Resources: Learn the Career Hacks to Land You A Job

The Career Center provides many workshops/webinars both in person and  online to help students in their career exploration. Workshops give you the tips you need to build a great resume, develop interviewing skills (i.e. Big interview), and learn strategies to connect with employers successfully, all from the comfort of your home, dorm, or local coffee shop. Check out the latest topics and tips on our virtual resource page.

  1. Major and Career Exploration: Figure Out What You Want To Do With Your Life

We have all been there. Being unsure of your major is a big issue that all first year students face. If you aren’t sure where to start, check out our online tutorial, “Choosing a Major at SJSU in Under 5 minutes”. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, set up an appointment with a career consultant to help you review your career options and develop a job search plan.

If you’ve pick a major but just don’t know what types of jobs are related to that major, then check out the “What Can I Do With This Major” tool, and discover all of the opportunities that you could pursue.

  1. Job & Internship Fairs: Connect With Employers Without Leaving Campus

So, you’ve polished your resume, have been coached in the secret and complex art of interviewing, and now want to get started on landing your dream job. Your next step is attending one of the many employer connection events hosted by the Career Center.  We offer multiple job fairs throughout the year to help students get connected with hundreds of recruiters both nationally and globally to launch your career/internship journey. The Career Center also provides drop in interviews for students who want to have a one on one with hiring employers.

  1. Challenging Situations: Professionals Who Advocate For You

Whether you are an international student feeling like you need some extra assistance, or a student with a need for accommodations, the Career Center staff is here to help.  There are professionals on staff to help with almost every unique situation, including how to disclose a disability, accommodation requests, and veterans’ services.

So from a seasoned Spartan to all the new Spartans on campus, I welcome you, wish you a great year and hope to see you at the Career Center!  We’re here to help and make your transition to the university and the world of work a lot smoother and stress free.  Be sure to stay connected and get the most updated career information and trends by following the SJSU Career Center on this blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 michael chingMichael Ching is an intern for the SJSU Career Center, supporting the Job Internship Initiative Group. Michael is currently a senior at San Jose state University. His background in Business Marketing gives him a unique perspective when focusing on Marketing campaigns, social media, and innovative ideas in working and understanding students with where they are at with career education.


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Interview by: Moira Srago, Employment Specialist


Kara Montermoso, HR and Operations Manager for Idealist.org, was back on campus today sharing the latest and greatest updates on the nonprofit job search. We have updated this interview with her newest presentation slides!

Don’t miss out on next week’s Nonprofit and Public Service Forum, taking place on Wednesday, March 13, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., in the Student Union Ballroom. Connect with 24 different organizations, from nonprofit, local and federal government organizations. For a full list of attending organizations, check out the Career Center’s website!

Want special recognition with employers when you attend? There is still a chance! Attend “The Federal Government Job Search and Navigating USAjobs.gov”, sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency on March 6, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., in Mod A. SJSU students and registered alumni are welcome to attend!

Here are some very insightful answers from Kara:

1. What should a student consider as they explore a career in the nonprofit sector?

No matter what sector you want to work in, know thyself!  The nonprofit sector is vast. While the term “nonprofit” may at first conjure up images of animal shelters and soup kitchens (and we love those!), nonprofits also encompass many types of schools, research and policy institutions, foundations, as well as a host of organizations that address specific community needs.

Summary: The term “nonprofit” encompasses many different types of organizations! Assess your interests are as you explore!

2. What is unique about the nonprofit job search?

Kara: Nonprofit organizations are almost universally very mission-driven. They are passionate about their issue and the ways in which they choose to address that issue. So while finding a candidate with the appropriate skills and knowledge for a particular position are important, a candidate’s passion, energy and engagement with an organization’s mission is often also a point of consideration.

Finding an organization whose mission, structure and culture is a good fit will definitely have an impact on your sense of satisfaction. Nonprofits, just like any other industry, are not all alike. Smaller organizations can sometimes have a “start-up” type feel and you may be asked to wear many hats and chip in throughout the organization. Sometimes that may feel limiting due to a lack of resources. Larger, more established organizations may have a lot of brand recognition that opens up opportunities in terms of program reach, envisioning career paths or finding mentors, but they may also feel bureaucratic or hierarchical.

Summary: Know your values and that of the organization you want to work for…do they match?


3. How can students get their foot in the door?

Kara: Volunteer work and internships are often a great way to get your foot in the door. Not only will you gain some exposure into how a particular nonprofit may operate and its unique work culture, but we’ve also heard from hiring managers that if you are already engaged in the nonprofit sector, that can make your resume stand out.

It is also valuable to stay in the loop in a community of nonprofit professionals. Such groups provide local and national resources for those looking to get into the nonprofit sector as well as support for each others’ work once you are with an organization. Alumni groups and the Young Nonprofits Professionals Network can be good places to connect. Check out the local Bay Area group here.

Summary:  Volunteer work, internships and professional networks are a great way to start your career!


4. What are the top things students can do to set themselves apart from other candidates?


Write a great cover letter. This does not mean that your cover letter has to be long, overly detailed or portray you in a glowing light. Great cover letters are succinct, highlight how one’s skills/knowledge will bring value or fill a need for the organization, and illustrate why you want to work for that particular organization (i.e. demonstrate passion for the issue).

Do your homework. Show up at an interview knowing that organization’s main areas of focus and their related programs. Have some knowledge about how their mission relates to current events. Be prepared to talk about your past work experiences and provide examples of successes and challenges. Hiring managers will want to know that you are serious about the organization’s mission and they also want to know how you work on your own and with others.

Ask questions. An interview is an opportunity for an organization to find out if you are a good fit for them, and it’s also a chance for you to see if they are a good fit for you.

Depending on the position it may be appropriate to come in with an idea or two that you might want the organization to consider. You could say something like, “I was wondering if you’ve ever thought about _________ as an outreach strategy as that might _________.” This may be another way to demonstrate that you are taking the organization and their mission seriously.

Say thank you. Politeness can go long way. I wouldn’t say that a thank you note/email will make or break your chances of being hired, but it can’t hurt.

Additional resources: Idealist has two great (and free!) resources for first time job seekers and sector switchers.  These resources cover everything from self-assessment, research strategies, resume/cover letter writing to salary negotiation in the non-profit world.  Also be sure to check out their Career Guide.

About Kara Montermoso HR & Operations Manager

Action Without Borders/Idealist.org

idealist kara image

Kara’s experience in the nonprofit sector has spanned over 15 years and various roles, including: Development, Program and Project Management, website User Experience and Support, and Administration. Eight years ago, after briefly flirting with a career in the Culinary Arts and obtaining her license in Massage Therapy, Kara landed at Idealist. After completing her Professional in Human Resource (PHR) certification, she now supports an amazing staff and builds community among nonprofit HR professionals.

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By Lee Weiss,  Director of Graduate Programs at Kaplan Test Prep

A terrific question was recently asked at a Kaplan graduate school event focusing on Master of Education programs.

“I’m just out of school—how do I compete against applicants with years of work experience?”

It’s a legitimate concern, but it definitely should not stop you from applying.

What we’re hearing from admissions departments of graduate programs across the country is that the average age of those applying—and those accepted—is trending younger.  Top programs in business, education, engineering and public policy are seeing younger, less experienced applicant pools.   For less experienced applicants who want to stand out, it’s important to make sure you are highlighting your commitment to your chosen graduate discipline.  Your story should communicate why you need to study this particular subject at this particular school and why now.

This doesn’t have to be demonstrated through years of experience, but rather, through your qualitative admissions factors, including your personal statement, essays and interviews where you can demonstrate your passion and commitment.  Success in undergraduate coursework relevant to what you’re planning to study also bolsters your argument, as do internships and volunteer activities that showcase your leadership, research capabilities and dedication to your future.

It never hurts to have strong quantitative factors.  Top GRE scores are a key differentiator, as they are one of the few data points with which admissions departments can compare everyone who applies.  Studies show that the highest median GRE scores are achieved by those aged 22-23, so college is a great time to take the GRE—especially because scores are good for 5 years. A strong GPA also proves you can excel in the classroom—a great indicator of graduate school readiness.

A recommendation to all graduate school applicants, no matter your experience or background: get in contact with programs that interest you early and attend open houses, tour these programs, sit in on classes, and speak with all students, alumni and professors that you can.  This allows you insight into whether the program will be a good fit for you.  And it always helps you if a program can associate your face with your application, and it will help separate you from the pack.

Lee is Director of Graduate Programs at Kaplan Test Prep. He graduated from Cornell University with a concentration in international and comparative relations and a minor in literature. He has been teaching and tutoring for Kaplan since his college days. He had a nearly perfect score on the old GRE and has spent countless hours analyzing the new GRE. Still an active GRE instructor, Lee has helped thousands of students, and has won numerous awards for his teaching and tutoring. For more information on Graduate School, the GRE, and  courses offered by Kaplan visit: kaptest.com/GRE


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by Ashley Knezevich, Campus Recruiter, Walgreens

What is a social media “presence” and how do you build yours effectively to utilize in your internship and full-time job search?  Here are some tips on how to create and leverage your presence online.

Develop a digital brand

A social media presence is your digital brand that communicates to others externally about your personality, your qualifications, even your likes and dislikes. Most of us already have a social media presence due to Facebook and Twitter – where we share personal information via the internet to our friends and family.  Your personality comes out through the groups you’re a member of, companies that you “Like” or “Follow”, and even your status updates communicating your daily experiences.

Join professional networks

You may want to keep your personal social media presence separate from the workplace. Professional social media can be used to build out your brand professionally to catch the eye of potential employers, as well as allow you to learn more information about opportunities available at different companies.  LinkedIn is a professional networking site with over 175 million users globally.  Through this site, potential candidates can list their qualifications and past job experiences (much like a digital resume) for the purpose of connecting with other professionals online.

Through LinkedIn, I recommend building out your profile until you reach 100% completion. Don’t have enough material to complete your profile? Not to worry! Keep working on your industry experience and qualifications and eventually, you will get there.  Don’t forget that LinkedIn is student or new grad friendly and has sections where you can outline your class projects and coursework as well.

Start connecting

The next step is to build your army! Once you have a profile that sufficiently reflects your past experiences, start searching for connections that you may know. That can include past or current employers, professors, and even classmates and alumni.  These are people that you know and have worked with (i.e. professionally or on a class project), or that you’re interested in further networking with (i.e. friends, an industry professional that you admire).

After you have built your army, start thinking about asking for endorsements via LinkedIn. Endorsements are a great tool to receive recommendations on your quality of work from those you have reported to, services you may have provided to clients (maybe you built an amazing website for a friend), and even classmates that you’ve worked on projects with.  Endorsements can show potential employers that you produce great work and that the people you have worked with value your contributions.

Participate in groups

Lastly, begin to leverage groups as a great resource for networking and potential job opportunities.

You can join groups specific to your industry of choice, companies that interest you, and even topics that you may enjoy (i.e. finance, digital marketing, C# experts, Adobe Photoshop ).  Some companies (including Walgreens) have groups that are specifically targeted to providing company and job/internship information to students, as well as provide a way for students to contact recruiters directly for more information.  This is especially important if you’re really interested in a specific  company that may not recruit on-campus at your school and enhance your presence on their radar.

True story…it really works!

Last summer I was able to connect with a Marketing student via LinkedIn, who was interested in our corporate internship program. The student noticed my internship posting and sent me an InMail message to inquire further about qualifications.  I directed her to apply online and then set up a phone call to discuss further and the rest was history—she landed the internship!

Ashley Knezevich is currently a Campus Recruiter with Walgreen Co., who maintains the Company’s LinkedIn student page, Walgreens Student Lounge.  She graduated from Millikin University with a degree in English-Writing and recently earned her PHR certification.

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Synopsis by Sheree Pettigrew, Employment Specialist Intern

For those of you who missed Grad Blast 2012, we wanted to share insights that employers from, Enterprise Rent a Car, Plantronics, Robert Half International (Accountemps), Sybase, Target, and Volt Workforce Solutions, made about five key questions on successfully landing a job in a competitive environment.

What makes a resume stand out?  It was agreed that skill set, experience, GPA (if it’s above 3.0), format, no errors and honors etc., were all very important but what puts a candidate over the top is showing your personality.  They look at the whole person, personality/character 80% and skills 20%.   Give examples of your uniqueness, perhaps by mentioning the volunteer work you do.  In addition, update your resume every six months, create a master resume, (use the most relevant information to the job description) and keep a professional journal including tools you used, projects and continuing education. Check out these additional resume examples.

Should you use an objective or subject line on your resume?  If you are applying for a specific job or sending it to the hiring manager, then yes.  It’s not needed if you include a summary statement listing your skills that are related to the role you are applying for.  Or just leave it out altogether and write a rockin cover letter.

What key things are you looking for in a phone interview?  First is accessibility. An employer schedules a select  time out of their day to contact candidates.  For example, if  35 posted positions will bring 2,700 applicants (out of 2,700 applicants, typically 1500 are viable candidates) it is imperative that the recruiter be able to contact viable candidates efficiently.  If an employer can’t reach you, it is possible that you will get cut off the list given the volume of candidates that must be contacted.  Always leave a specific time for them to call!

Be prepared; choose a quiet place to talk, no pets, kids or chewing. Stand up and smile, they can tell.  Practice by being able to answer questions with specific examples (like the time you led a team, gave a presentation, resolved a client issue etc.) and be able to elaborate on your experience.  Be ready to describe the role you applied for and research the company so you can ask great questions.

Student Questions for the Employer Panel:

  • What attire do you expect a student to wear to an interview?

 A dark suit, professional dress, jacket, ladies cover up!  Dress for the position higher than the one you’re applying for.  Take out piercings, cover tattoos, no big jewelry, purses, and conservative nails.  Fit into the culture, when in doubt, ask.

  • Should I disclose a disability in an interview?   Wait until an offer is made. (You can learn more about disclosure and requesting accommodations through the Workability IV program at the career center)
  • What are the key things you look for during the interview?

Be present, listen carefully and answer the questions, don’t say what you think an employer wants to hear.  Bring a note pad and pen, a positive attitude, enthusiasm, and good communication.  Be human, the conversation goes both ways.  Treat everyone in the vicinity with respect, the interview starts as soon as you walk into the organization.  If English isn’t your first language, speak slow and clear.  Be prepared to answer common questions like:  Tell me about yourself,  Describe your greatest impact or contribution to a project.

  • Should you send a thank you after an interview?

Yes, within 24 hours.  It also helps branding and builds a relationship–a hand written thank you is appreciated.  At the end of the interview, ask what the time frame is to follow up or what the next steps are.  Do join social networks, 80% of jobs are found through networking and by word of mouth.  *All employers on the panel checked LinkedIn but not all checked Facebook.  Bottom line is, don’t write, say or do anything you don’t want made public!

All Grad Blast employers are currently hiring and they agreed that the job market in Silicon Valley is looking up!  Check SpartaJobs to apply. 

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