Resource Library

Start Planning Your Career

This resource guide can help you determine what job roles and industries you’re interested in, how to create and achieve your goals, and steps you can take to create a resume and cover letter, attend a job fair, and prepare for an interview. There’s no need to start from the beginning — jump around as it suits your individual needs. You can also print all or part of the Career Planner by downloading the PDF.

Download the PDF


Keys to Career Success

Career planning can feel stressful, messy, and undefined. At the Walter Center, we help you navigate this process by showing you how to…

Pursue Impactful Experiences
Image of Mountain with cascading words internships, research, part-time job, student organizations, volunteer and job shadowEven if you don’t know what you want, start getting experience! You’ll develop self-knowledge about your likes, dislikes, and “must-haves” in the world of work. You’ll acquire marketable skills, too. It can be low commitment, like a job shadow, or more involved, like an internship.

Design Your Life
Illustration of trailhead sign
What about your experiences engaged and energized you? What themes emerged? How do they impact what you want to do after graduation? It may be tempting to settle on one answer, but because the future is unpredictable, we encourage you to be flexible and develop multiple plans.

Share Your Story
Illustration of a mailbox
Connect the dots between the experiences you’ve gained and the places you want to go. You’ll tell your liberal arts story — how you came to your major, what you learned from your experiences, and why you’ve decided on a particular destination — through application materials, networking and interviewing.

Build Meaningful Connections
Image that illustrations you can network with alumni, employers, faculty and staff
You want to keep in touch with people like the faculty you speak with during office hours or staff (like career coaches!) who help you make decisions or most importantly, IU alumni you reach out to for guidance and employers you meet on campus. These individuals are transformative to your success.


Pursue Impactful Experiences

Even if you don’t know what you want, start getting experience! You’ll develop self-knowledge about your likes, dislikes, and “must-haves” in the world of work (you’ll acquire marketable skills, too). It can be low commitment, like a job shadow, or more involved, like an internship, depending on your confidence and preparation.

How Confident Are You?

Think about the potential field in which you would like to gain experience. How confident are you in pursuing this field post-graduation? How you answer this scaling question may help determine the level of commitment you are seeking with this experience.

If you're not sure what you're interested in, try informational interviewing or job shadowing. If you think you like a field, try out Community Volunteering, Student Organizations, Part-Time Jobs, or Faculty Research. If you're confident in and committed to a field, you're ready for an internship.

What are these Experiences?

Job Shadow

A job shadow is the opportunity to spend time observing someone working in a field you find interesting. While you won’t be doing hands-on work, you’ll get a chance to preview the work and see what a day in the life of the career looks like.

Informational Interview

Whereas a job shadow is a chance to follow someone around while they do their job, an informational interview is an opportunity to ask someone a list of questions and have a conversation about their work. This is a good chance to ask specific questions you have about a career field and how to best enter the field, as well as information about the tasks, duties, perks, and challenges of working in the field.

Find Someone to Job Shadow or Interview

  • Asking people you know. Do you have any personal connections to this industry? If not, ask your friends, family, and faculty — you’ll be surprised how easy it is to find someone working in your industry of interest!
  • Using LinkedIn or the Walter Center Success Network to discover IU alumni. Learn more about this in the “Build Meaningful Connections” section.

Don’t Forget to Do Your Research

It’s important to prepare for your informational interview by writing out specific questions you’d like to ask. Ask whatever you are curious about, but don’t ask about anything too personal, such as compensation.

Where Do You Find Opportunities?

Volunteer Positions 🔗

The City of Bloomington Volunteer Network posts a variety of volunteer opportunities all year long. If you’re looking to volunteer in a different city, search for a similar network for that area.

IU Corps is a network of IU Bloomington students, campus stakeholders, and community partners who have joined forces to create positive social change in local neighborhoods and around the world.

Student Organizations 🔗
Each fall semester, the Student Involvement Fair brings together the hundreds of student organizations on campus, but you can see the complete list of IU student organizations through BeInvolved.This fair a great time to check out all of the opportunities at once and talk to other students who’ve been involved in the groups before committing to one organization. Many departments have student organizations under their umbrella — ask your academic advisor and faculty for organizations in your major.

Part-time Work 🔗

Handshake
Handshake the #1 career site for college students. You can discover jobs and internships for students at your IU, receive direct messages from employers about new jobs and events, connect with alumni and other employees at organizations that interest you, and you can get an inside look at employers and jobs with student reviews. To access Handshake at IU, just log in with your IU username and passphrase. View our Start Using Handshake page for more tips and tricks.

Fall Part-Time Jobs Fair
The IU Career Development Center hosts a part-time jobs fair each fall. View their website year-round for more resources on finding part-time jobs on campus and in the Bloomington area.

Jobs at IU
If you’re looking for a part-time job on campus, you’ll want to head over to Jobs at IU. From there you’ll be able to browse the “student temporary jobs” on campus.

Research Positions 🔗
Start with an IU Department or Office
Start by asking the academic advisors and faculty in your department about potential opportunities. Departments may have different timelines, so know when applications are accepted and how to apply. Don’t hesitate to reach out to faculty in other departments and majors, especially if you are interested in their research. Many offices on campus not affiliated with an academic department also offer research opportunities.

Jobs at IU
As with part-time on-campus jobs, student research positions will often be listed on Jobs at IU as well.

Hutton Honors College and the Office of Scholarships
Organizations such as the Hutton Honors College and the Office of Scholarships have research funds, grants, and scholarships for undergraduate students – check their websites to see what is available.

Internships 🔗
Handshake
Handshake the #1 career site for college students. You can discover jobs and internships for students at your IU, receive direct messages from employers about new jobs and events, connect with alumni and other employees at organizations that interest you, and you can get an inside look at employers and jobs with student reviews. To access Handshake at IU, just log in with your IU username and passphrase. View our Start Using Handshake page for more tips and tricks.

Attend a Career Fair
The Walter Center hosts multiple career fairs each semester, where we invite organizations especially interested in hiring College of Arts + Sciences students. You can also attend any career fair hosted by other career services offices at IU Bloomington. Browse the Events Calender in Handshake.Ascend Indiana
The Ascend Network is a service that helps thousands of college students and recent graduates find a job or internship in Indiana through a unique combination of one-on-one guidance and an easy-to-use website – at no cost.

Find a Paid, Remote Micro-Internship The Walter Center launched a partnership with Parker Dewey to provide opportunities for paid, remote, short-term, project-based micro-internships.

Network
If you’re interested in an organization that doesn’t have any positions posted, don’t hesitate to reach out to them. You never know when they might be willing to create an internship opportunity just for you.

LinkedIn for Students
Learn the benefits of having (and using!) a LinkedIn account, then get started on curating your profile.

CEI Internships
Log in using the username Indiana and the password Hoosiers.
This site provides up-to-date information on over 3,000 organizations offering internships and summer jobs for students.

Ascend Indiana
The Ascend Network is a service that helps thousands of college students and recent graduates find a job or internship in Indiana through a unique combination of one-on-one guidance and an easy-to-use website – at no cost.

Have an internship? Apply for our scholarships!
The Walter Center for Career Achievement is excited to offer over $100,000 in scholarships to eligible College of Arts + Sciences students planning to complete an internship to help defray the cost of travel and housing during an internship. By completing the application, you will be considered for each scholarship the Walter Center has to offer! Learn more about the center’s scholarships.

Full-Time Jobs 🔗

The resources below are designed to help you prepare to find full-time work opportunities in a variety of industries and fields.

Handshake
Handshake is the most important place to start looking for jobs or internships. IU Career Offices curate the jobs you see in Handshake so they’ll be extra-relevant to you. This page dives into how to get started.

Ascend Indiana
The Ascend Network is a service that helps thousands of college students and recent graduates find a job or internship in Indiana through a unique combination of one-on-one guidance and an easy-to-use website – at no cost.

Associations Unlimited
Find a professional association across industries at the local, global and national levels. Requires sign-in.

Glassdoor
Find employee reviews of companies, salary and benefits information, interview questions, and job postings.

GoGovernment
Go Government is a website hosted by The Partnership for Public Service, a non-profit, non-partisan organization helping everyday job seekers understand the federal hiring process so they can launch their career in government. Helpful resources include tips for applying for federal jobs and career guides helping match skills and interests to government opportunities.

Guidestar
An easy-to-use tool for comparing thousands of non-profit organizations.

Idealist
This search engine can help you find volunteer work, non-profit jobs, and internships with organizations who seek to change the world.

Indeed
This job listing aggregator can help you find postings across the web by using keywords and locations.

  • TeamWork Online
    TeamWork Online is a Recruiting System designed specifically for sports and live events. When you create a profile, be sure to modify all ‘notifiers’ and add your education to your profile.

USA Jobs
Use the U.S Federal Government’s official job search system to search for employment, get tips on your applications, and receive veteran-specific information.

 

Resources for Students of Diverse Backgrounds

African-American Students 🔗
Job, Internship, Fellowship & Networking Opportunities

Career-Related Websites

American Indian & Indigenous Students 🔗

International Students 🔗
These resources are designed to help students research and explore international careers – both U.S. students seeking opportunities abroad and international students seeking opportunities in the U.S.

Latinx Students 🔗
Job, Internship, Fellowship & Networking Opportunities

Career-Related Websites

LGBTQ+ Students 🔗

Students with Criminal Records 🔗

Students with Disabilities 🔗
IU students with disabilities are encouraged to register with IU’s Disability Student Services.

Career-Related Websites

United States Military & Veteran Students 🔗

General Resources for Students of Diverse Backgrounds 🔗


Design Your Life

Before you know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve been. It’s important to examine and reflect on your past experiences, both professional and personal. What about your experiences engaged and energized you? What themes emerged from your various experiences? How do they impact what you want to do after graduation?

It may be tempting to settle on one answer, but because the future is unpredictable, we encourage you to be flexible and develop multiple plans. You’ve probably figured out by now that the best way to plan for unpredictability to embrace flexibility and adaptability.

Additional Career Exploration Resources
The resources below are designed to help you explore and narrow down the massive variety of career options available to you as a liberal arts and sciences student.

  • Listen to All Careers Considered
    All Careers Considered is a podcast to help you explore and achieve your career goals. Each episode focuses on conversations with alumni about the coolest jobs and the best ways to land them.
  • IU Edge Modules
    A self-paced online career workshop that allows you to build a foundation for your future career paths and supplements the resources offered by IU’s career centers and our career advising staff. Upon completion of this course, participants should be prepared to successfully transition from college into a career or further graduate or professional study.
  • Indiana Career Explorer
    Indiana Career Explorer will help you explore a world of career possibilities, make decisions about your future, and prepare for the next step in your education and career planning journey. Depending on your grade level, you’ll use Kuder Navigator or Kuder Journey, which is your solution for selecting the right major and preparing for your first career. You can make a unique non-IU account for this resource to get started.
  • Major Choices Podcast
    Are you feeling overwhelmed about figuring out your career path or wondering how to choose a major? If so, subscribe to the IU Career Development Center’s podcast Major Choices. Career coaches Nathan Langfitt and Rachel Gerber will guide you through exploring options, discovering strengths, and revealing what truly motivates you.
  • College of Arts + Sciences Major Guide
    Explore the courses, skills, opportunities, and careers related to the 80+ majors in the College of Arts + Sciences to fit your unique dreams and goals.
  • O*Net Online
    Get information on hundreds of occupations! This resource is frequently updated through surveying a broad range of workers across industries.
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook
    The OOH is the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ guide to career information regarding duties, education, training, pay and future outlook for hundreds of occupations in the United States. Alternatively, you can download their CareerInfo app.
  • Vault
    Sign up for your own unique non-IU account to access research and articles on specific organizations, occupations, and workplace situations.
  • Vocational Biographies
    Access over 1,000 informational interviews with professionals in a variety of career fields by logging in with the username IndianaUniv and the password zSQhK.
  • What can I do with this major?
    Whether you are exploring multiple majors or searching for information about your chosen field, this site will help you connect majors to careers by showing you a variety of industries related to specific disciplines.

The activities outlined below and on the following pages are designed to help you reflect on your past and brainstorm for your future.

✍️ Activities

Wayfinding Journal

What’s this for?

This journal activity will help you process your current experiences to find patterns and think about next steps. Perfect for: Students who need direction and aren’t sure what comes next.

Have you ever had your phone or car GPS fail while you were driving somewhere unfamiliar? What did you do? Maybe you pulled into a gas station to ask for directions (or get a phone charger) or maybe you just kept moving toward your destination by following roadsigns and trusting your sense of direction.

We can use these same ideas to navigate our lives. Paying attention to the times in your daily life in which you are engaged and energized can help lead you in a direction that brings you closer to your goals.

Starting Your Journal

By completing the exercise below and tracking your activities for a week, you can narrow in on a direction you’d like to take in order to get closer to a destination in your career development. Trust your internal compass to help you steer yourself and consider meeting with a career coach to share your reflections.

  1. Grab a notebook or open your notes app and write “Wayfinding Journal” at the top. You can also use the worksheet.
  2. For a week, track your daily activities — class, work, student organization or volunteer meetings, social activities, etc.
  3. Next to each item, note if you feel particularly energized or engaged in the activity you’re doing, or if you reach flow, which occurs when you get so involved in an activity that you lose track of time, reach inner clarity and feel calm.

Journal Entry Example:

Image reads Activity: Volunteering at IU Auditorium. Medium Engagement. Low Energy. No Flow. Notes: Ushered auditorium guests. I liked being able to be involved with the arts but I didn't feel energized interacting with so many people.

After you complete the week, take some time to review your journal and answer these questions:

  • What patterns do you see?
  • What surprises you?
  • Which activities flowed effortlessly for you?
  • Which activities left you with more energy than you had at the start?
  • Which activities drained energy from you?

Life Plan(s)

What’s this for?

This planning activity encourages you to think about alternative career goals and stretch beyond a singular post-graduation plan. Perfect For: Everyone – life can throw curveballs to us all and it’s always good to be nimble and flexible with our career (and life) plans!

We sometimes think about our life plan in a singular, linear way. We often think about our “Plan A” as being the absolute goal and our “Plan B” as a back-up if things don’t go according to plan. In reality, life doesn’t often unfold in such a neat, orderly way. As someone on the cusp of beginning a post-college career journey, it’s important to keep an open mind and brainstorm multiple plans for the future – not just committing to one path forward.

In their book Designing Your Life, Bill Burnett & Dave Evans introduce the idea of Odyssey Planning, which requires readers to create three separate versions of their lives for the next five years. Get the worksheet. (Burnett, B., Evans, D. (2016) Designing Your Life. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knop)

Odyssey Planning 101

Create three alternative versions of the next five years of your life. Each one must include:

  1. A visual/graphical timeline. Include personal and non-career events as well – do you want to be married, train to win the CrossFit Games, or learn how to bend spoons with your mind?
  2. A title for each option in the form of a six-word headline describing the essence of this alternative.
  3. Questions that this alternative is asking – preferably two or three. A good designer asks questions to test assumptions and reveal new insights. In each potential timeline, you will investigate different possibilities and learn different things about yourself and the world. What kinds of things will you want to test and explore in each alternative version of your life?
  4. A dashboard where you can gauge:
    • Resources: Do you have the objective resources – time, money, skill, contacts – you need to pull of your plan?
    • Likability: Are you hot or cold or warm about your plan?
    • Confidence: Are you feeling full of confidence, or pretty uncertain about pulling this off?
    • Coherence: Does the plan make sense? Is it consistent with your Workview and Lifeview?

Graphic that shows an example of what a student could be doing now versus in 2 to 3 years.

Decision Making

What’s this for?

It can be hard to trust our own judgment and weigh our options objectively when making big decisions. You may have used a pro-and-con list in the past — this can be helpful, but it doesn’t tell you how positive a pro is or how negative a con is. Using a weighted decision-making matrix is the best way to make a distinction between those elements.

This decision-making activity allows you to rank and analyze your potential choices to gain clarity around the next steps in your career plan. It’s perfect for students who are stuck in the decision-making phase of career planning and have a hard time making big decisions.

How Does this Help Me Make a Choice?

When you complete your chart, you aren’t locked into choosing the highest scoring option. This strategy allows you to think strategically about what you want and value. We hope thinking through these scores gives you clarity about the option that’s right for you. It’s possible you’ll see the scores and be disappointed that option 2 scored higher than option 3 and decide to follow your gut.

This tool will help you look at your options from multiple angles and help you feel more informed about why you think a certain way about a choice and why you are leaning a certain way. You may want to use it when deciding which course to register for, or what internship or job offer to accept. It can be applied to many scenarios.

In this example, a student is trying to decide what institution they want to attend for graduate school. The student knows that faculty, location, cost, graduate assistantship options, courses offered, and program prestige are important.

Getting Started

  1. Decide on the 5-8 factors that will influence your decision.
  2. Split 100 percentage points to indicate how much each matters.
  3. Make vertical columns and list each of the potential decision choices you are considering.
  4. Rate each factor (1-10) by its level of appeal (1 = not appealing at all. 10 = extremely appealing.) in each of the potential decisions you are considering.
  5. Multiply the percentage for each factor by the rating given to each option. For example, the 20% given to faculty multiplied by its 7 rating for option 12 equals 140. The option 2 column further demonstrates how this works.
  6. Add the results for each factor to get the total scores for each option. For example, in option 2, adding the results 140+80+120+120+60+35 = 555

Graphic shows an example of a decision matrix.
Graphic shows an example of a decision matrix.

You can either sketch out your own Decision Matrix, or print out this worksheet.


Share Your Story

Once you’ve designed a few potential plans for the future, it’s time to connect the dots between the experiences you’ve gained and the places you want to go. How do you do this? You tell your liberal arts story: how you came to your college major, what you learned from your experiences, and why you’ve decided on a particular destination. We’ll help you tell this story through the job search process, which is outlined below.

What makes a job search sucessful?

As you continue through this section, you’ll learn step-by-step what materials you need for a successful job search, how to create them from scratch, and how to present them effectively to an interviewer, recruiter or potential employer.

  • Create a Cover Letter: A successful cover letter conveys your unique voice to employers and adds context to your resume.
  • Create a Resume: A successful resume strengthens your chances of securing an interview.
  • Attend a Career Fair: On-campus events like career fairs provide a great opportunity to meet potential employers and share your story.
  • Interview Successfully: Interviewing is one of the most stressful parts of the job search for many students, but a few simple steps can greatly improve your chances of getting an offer.

Where should I start?

Many students think the best way to find opportunities is to continuously apply for many different jobs and internships over and over again. In reality, job and internship seekers should divide their time between researching opportunities (30%), Networking with colleagues or potential employers (60%), and applying for opportunities (10%). The job and internship search process is generally nonlinear and you may revisit these three steps multiple times during your search.

Graphic displays division of time spent.

How to Research Effectively

You will need to do some research to make sure an organization is a good fit for your needs and experience. You also need to be informed about the company in order to prepare your application materials.

Company Websites
Doodle of a cellphoneMost organizations have an official website where you can find mission statements, statistics, current initiatives and other useful information.

Search Engines
Doodle of an arrowSee if there are news stories about the organization. Did they do anything newsworthy lately? It is important to be aware of both positive and negative news stories related to organizations.

Salary Websites
It’s good to know average salaries in your industry and, if possible, your organization of interest. Look at Onetonline.org for nationwide salary statistics and sites such as glassdoor.com for specific company statistics.

Informational Interviews

If you can find someone, an informational interview can help you learn about the inner workings of a company through someone who already works there — and you’ll gain a new contact!

 

Creating Application Materials

For most applications, you’ll need at least a cover letter and a resume. Each job posting will list additional content you may need, such as a letter of recommendation or a portfolio. You can always ask a career coach for help tailoring your application materials to your specific industry. A cover letter allows you to express your interest in and enthusiasm for the position and the organization. It also allows you to highlight skills or experiences that are especially relevant to the position, demonstrate your written communication skills and strengthens your chances of securing an interview.

✍️ Activity: Build Your Cover Letter

Introductory Paragraph
  • Briefly state why you’re writing
  • Mention the specific job title and how you heard about the opening
  • If you have a personal connection to the organization, mention that person’s name
  • Mention something you know or respect about the organization

Body Paragraph
  • State how your skills, education, or experience match the requirements of the position.
  • Use one or two specific examples and short stories to provide evidence of relevant skills, strengths, and accomplishments, without repeating your resume word for word.
  • Mention how the experiences you wrote about will let you help the employer.

Closing Paragraph
  • Refer to the enclosed resume and provide your phone number and email address to make it easy to contact you.
  • Express your appreciation for the employer’s time and consideration.

Additional Tips and Questions to Answer
You’ll want to answer these questions:

  • What is something unique about this organization that appeals to you?
  • What is a skill you want to highlight? (i.e., ability to work in a team)
  • What is an example or story that demonstrates that skill? (i.e., student research experience in a lab with seven other peers)

And remember to do these things:

  • Remember to save the file as a PDF and include your name in the file name, like Smith_Katherine.pdf.
  • Use block formatting, which is left-aligning the text with double spaces between sections.
  • Match your resume and cover letter by using the same header on each document.
  • Make sure you proofread all application materials before submitting.
  • Remember to avoid restating your resume.

✍️ Activity: Create a Master Resume

When creating a master resume, you want to write down everything you have done since coming to IU. If you are a freshman or sophomore, you can still include experience from high school (only very relevant high school info should be used after sophomore year). List everything, including volunteer experience, internships, jobs, relevant coursework, student clubs or groups, and study abroad. You will tailor this master resume to a specific position.

When you’ve finished creating your resume, use the Walter Center’s Resume Upload Tool to recieve a critique on your resume.

Header
  • Make your name stand out.
  • Include email, phone, address.
  • Can include permanent/home and current/school address.

Experience Blocks
Always include:

  • Name of organization/company
  • Location and dates
  • Your position title
  • 2 to 5 bullet points (accomplishment statements)
  • Past or present? If you are still doing the job or internship, write in the present tense. If you no longer hold the position, write in the past tense.
  • Include jobs, internships, volunteer or leadership experience, study abroad, coursework, and student clubs or groups

Tailor your Experience Blocks Headings:

  • Don’t be too generic. Headings like “Experience,” “Relevant Experience,” or “Activities” don’t help guide the employer.
  • Consider how to frame your experience to make it relevant to the position for which are applying.For example, the heading “Graphic Design Experience” tells much more than just “Experience.”

Including Research Experience
  • Research experience and skills can also be highlighted in these blocks
  • Write about these experiences just like a job, internship, or club
  • Explain what you were researching by answering “how” and “why” for each of your skills
  • Don’t forget: you need to focus on skills.

Including Coursework
  • Include only classes that are relevant to the position you want
  • Consider projects, research, group work, industry knowledge, or skills you gained

Including Education and Honors
  • Include Indiana University and Bloomington, IN
  • Include the name of your degree (spell out Bachelor of Arts, Science, etc.)
  • Include major, minor, concentrations
  • Include GPA (only if above 3.0)
  • If you include scholarships/honor societies, be sure to specify what you received it for or why you were inducted
  • No need to mention your high school. After sophomore year, only college experiences should be on your resume (unless your high school experience is uniquely relevant to the position)

Including Study Abroad Experiences
Sample Experience BlocksUniversidad de Sevilla, Seville, Spain | Jan.-May 2017

  • Adapted to Spanish Culture and developed Spanish fluency through daily interactions with host family and community
  • Led a research team on developing social programs and presented findings to the class in Spanish
  • Enhanced communication skills by interacting with people of different cultures and languages

Paul Valéry University, Montpellier III, Montpellier, France | May-Dec. 2017

  • Increased French language proficiency through daily communication with French peers
  • Bolstered knowledge of French culture through extensive classroom study and host family experience

Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand | July-Oct. 2016
Research Assistant

  • Conducted research and implemented surveys to learn teaching habits of Thai educators
  • Developed training materials in Thai for educators in public schools focused on improving teaching methods and active learning strategies
  • Presented finding of research to educators from various countries in East Asia at an annual committee meeting
  • Immersed in culture and language of Thai daily life, gaining leadership, cross-cultural communication, and problem-solving skills.

How to Articulate Language Proficiency According to Linkedin
Level 0: N/A
Level 1: Elementary Proficiency
Level 2: Limited Working Proficiency
Level 3: Professional Working Proficiency
Level 4: Full Professional Proficiency

Sample Skills + Abilities Gained

  • Adaptability
  • Cultural Sensitivity
  • Problem Solving
  • Communication
  • Confidence
  • Organizational Skills
  • Teamwork Skills
  • Independence
  • Perseverance
  • Dealing with ambiguity
  • Flexibility

How to Write Accomplishment Statements
Use the formula Skill Verb + How + Why
An example of a completed accomplishment statement would be “Plan educational experiences such as museum trips for group of five to increase cultural engagement.”

  • Start with a strong action verb for each bullet
  • Explain how you demonstrated this skill: What did you do? Who did you work with?
  • Explain why you used the skill or the result: What did you accomplish? How were people impacted?

Adding the Skills Section
Should you include a skills section?
In the resume examples, we have included the technical skills this student has gained through
her science major and experiences. Employers will often reference this section to learn about your technical skills.
Your transferable skills, such as written communication, teamwork, and leadership skills should be highlighted in your
accomplishment statements. By including them in your accomplishment statements, you have more space to expand on and
demonstrate those non-technical skills.How to Explain Language Skills

  • Literate: Can comfortably read and write the language.
  • Conversational: Can speak the language.
  • Proficient: Can read, write, and speak the language well.
  • Fluent: Can read, write, and speak the language with similar skill to a native speaker. (You must be prepared to be interviewed and work in this language.)

Computer Skills
Include software, languages, and hardware experiences required for the job, as well as your skill level.

Laboratory Skills
Include information about laboratory procedures or techniques you can conduct or equipment you can operate

Formatting Tips
  • Keep your resume to one page; it is a summary of your most relevant experiences (the length may vary from industry to industry; it is important to do research on industry standards).
  • Keep it simple. Use the same formatting throughout to make your resume easy to read.
  • Spell check: errors do not make a good first impression.
  • Do not include personal information such as birth date, ethnicity, interests, or hobbies.
  • No need to mention that you have references; employers will request them.
  • Spell it out: no abbreviations.

 

Interview Successfully

Make a good impression, ace the interview, and secure an offer by following these four steps:

Research Effectively
By investigating potential employers, you can discover details about the employer that will help prepare you for an interview. You’ll be able to learn about what qualities they look for in their employees to better present yourself as the best candidate. Learn as much as possible about the organization:

  • What is the mission, goal, or purpose of the organization?
  • What kind of content do you see on its official website?+Has the company been in the news recently?
  • What projects or initiatives are they currently working on?+How much do you know about the culture of the organization? How big is the organization? How many employees does it have?

Talk to anyone you know who works at the organization/company or check the Walter Center Success Network or LinkedIn to see if there are any alums working for the company you could speak with to learn more.

Prepare + Rehearse
Prepare to Answer Questions
With the skills and important aspects of the job description in mind, use the SPAR acronym (Situation, Problem, Action, Result) to develop examples that illustrate those skills. You can use SPARs to answer interview questions. When you use SPAR, you can develop a few examples that can be used to answer multiple possible questions.Situation: I was participating in a research project in the Cognition and Action Neuroimaging lab where we manage toddlers’ interactions and behaviors.
Problem: One of the children got really sick during one of our sessions.
Action: I took initiative and went to our emergency contact information database to contact the child’s parent.
Result: I was able to calm the child down without upsetting the other children and her father was really thankful for the way I handled the situation. He ensured us his daughter would be back to participate as soon as she was feeling better.It’s best to prepare for an interview by compiling your list of SPARs so you’re ready for whatever might come your way. However, here are a few typical interview questions:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why are you interested in working with our organization?
  • What is one of your greatest strengths?
  • What is one of your greatest weaknesses?
  • You can always use the career guides online or Google to find industry-specific interview questions as well.

The example above relates to the following questions: Tell me about a time you had to handle a difficult situation? Describe a situation in which you worked as part of a team and what role you had within the team. Can you give me an example of your problem-solving capabilities?

Prepare to Ask Questions
At the end of the interview, you will have the opportunity to ask the employer questions. Try to ask questions that genuinely interest you, as well as display your knowledge of the organization. This could include questions like:

  • What is the culture of the organization?
  • How do you see new staff contributing to the (initiative, project)?
  • What are your goals for this position in the first year?

The formula for brainstorming questions is what I know + why I care + tell me more about:

  • What I Know: I read that your company is increasing its philanthropic contributions by 20 percent
  • Why I Care: I have always been passionate about fundraising for nonprofits
  • Tell me more about: Can you tell me more about this new initiative?

Before Going to the Interview:

  • Bring a portfolio or notepad, extra copies of your resume, and a list of questions to ask the employer.
  • Give yourself time to travel and arrive a few minutes early. Look up the parking situation, building address, and directions before you’re in the car.
  • Have the office phone number handy in case you need to contact them.

Dress Professionally

Your best outfit + your confidence = a great first impression. These tips outline commonly accepted attire for interviewing. However, you may want to tailor your outfit depending on what industry you hope to be working in and your personal style.

General Guidelines

  • Tops: Collared button-down, blouse, sweater
  • Bottoms: Appropriate length and neutral colors
  • Suits: Matching neutral colors
  • Shoes: match belt, walk well in them
  • Grooming: Clean and neutral
  • Avoid: Bold makeup, strong cologne or perfume, shorts, and casual shoes

Say ‘Thank You’
By sending a thank you note, you show your interviewer common courtesy and respect for their time. Since so few applicants send a thank you note, you’ll automatically stand out if you do.Example
Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name,I enjoyed speaking with you about the research position. I’m excited about the potential opportunity to work with such an excellent company.

As you recall, we talked about how I worked on similar research projects while studying for my master’s degree at Indiana University, as well as my suggestions for statistical analysis that proved to be valuable.

Thank you again for taking the time to interview me. If you have any questions or need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me at janesmith@email.com or at 812-123-4567.

Sincerely,
Jane Smith

Thank You Note Tips

  • Before you leave the interview, get business cards or write down names to ensure accuracy.
  • Send thank-you letters to each person who interviewed you within 24 to 48 hours of the interview. These can be handwritten or emailed.
  • Be sure to thank your interviewers for their time, restate your interest and enthusiasm for the position, and mention something you discussed with the interviewer.
  • Finally, check for spelling mistakes and typos before sending!

 

Attend a Career Fair

Regardless of your major, year in school or future goals, there are many benefits to attending a career fair. At our Career + Internship Fair, which happens each fall and spring semester, you can:

  • Investigate positions and career fields you could pursue with your major and background
  • Meet representatives from organizations for whom you are interested in working
  • Get more information about specific companies and organizations
  • Gain valuable interview experience
  • Increase your chances of interviewing with an employer
  • Receive sound job search advice from seasoned company recruiters
  • Develop your network of contacts

What to Ask a Recruiter
Do your homework before you attend the fair and find answers to as many of these questions as possible — it shows the employer you are serious about your candidacy.Internship Seeking:

  • What experiences might I have as an intern in your organization?
  • Do you offer both paid internships and internships for academic credit?
  • Do many of your interns become full-time employees after their internship?
  • What is your favorite part about working for [name of organization]?

Job Seeking:

  • What skills do you look for in potential candidates?
  • What type of previous work experiences do you look for in candidates?
  • What’s the best way to apply and how long does the process usually take?
  • Will you be on campus to interview?

Questions a Recruiter Might Ask You
  • When are you available to begin working?
  • Are you interested in full-time or internship opportunities?
  • What kind of position are you looking for?
  • Which geographic areas are you interested in?
  • Why did you stop at our table today?
  • May I have a copy of your resume?

Follow Up Within Two Weeks
Follow up with the representatives you spoke to unless you have discussed an alternative arrangement. Employers may leave a fair with hundreds of resumes, and they report that less than 5 percent of students follow up after a fair. This simple step can give you a big advantage!

Developing Your ‘Pitch’
Don’t ask what positions the employers have; tell them what you’re seeking. The best way to do this is with a prepared “pitch” or elevator speech. Your pitch is a 10-to 15-second introduction that includes:

  • Who you are (your major, your interests)
  • What you offer (skills, experience)
  • What you’re looking for (a good opportunity to show tailored interest in the company)
  • A good follow-up question

Example:
Hi, I’m Bob Marks. I’m a junior at IU majoring in apparel merchandising. I did an internship last summer with a designer in New York and that really piqued my interest in clothes designed for customers with disabilities. I’m hoping to complete another internship in a related area this summer. I know your company recently developed a line of activewear for customers with disabilities. How did this innovative line come about?

Try Writing Your Own Pitch:

  • Who you are (your major, your interests)
  • What you’re looking for (a good opportunity to show tailored interest in the company)
  • What you offer (skills, experience)
  • A good follow-up question

 

Negotiating a Job Offer

Negotiation is a process during which you and an employer come to a mutual agreement about the terms of your employment or your compensation package. Every job seeker can negotiate, but not every job seeker should negotiate. When deciding what is right for you, it is important to first have a clear understanding of your “market value.” Consider what skills, knowledge, and experience you offer an employer, then consider how your profile satisfies the needs of the organization.

Step 1: Research
First, you want to determine what your offer is worth, and any additional expenses you might have. Knowledge of the position, its requirements, and the organization will help you place value on the offer. The following resources can assist you with researching aspects of an offer:

Step 2: Evaluate
Many organizations do not negotiate entry salaries. However, negotiations can focus on many aspects of an offer. Health and retirement plans are usually standard for all employees, but (generally speaking) the following aspects of an offer are potentially negotiable:

  • Salary
  • Location
  • Relocation Expenses
  • Start Date

Step 3: It’s Time to Negotiate!

How you negotiate, rather than simply what you say when you negotiate, may make the difference when an employer decides on a final job offer. If you conduct yourself with confidence, realism, and grace as you present your research, you will be far more persuasive than if you lacked an understanding of industry standards and organizational resources. Simple and direct inquiries tend to yield the best results.

The employer should be the first to introduce the topic of compensation. Once this topic is broached, however, you should feel free to inquire about various aspects of the compensation package. These tips can help you prepare your negotiation delivery:

  • Strike when the iron is hot—when an employer has decided you are essential to the organization and has offered you a position. Discuss a desirable decision date with your employer, so you have time to investigate the offer.
  • If possible, negotiations should be conducted in person or over the phone, and then summarized in writing. A written record is more binding and allows you to examine both the salary and benefits.

Example Negotiation Topic: Relocation Costs

  • Scenario: You have been offered a full-time position across the country, and will need to end your lease early, and pay to move all your furniture and belongings to your new city. After careful research, you have determined this will cost more money than you have and will be making in the first few months on the job.
  • Preparation: Assess relocation expenses by considering gas prices, moving company fees or similar fees, travel time to the new city, lease termination fees, and security deposits for a new living arrangement. Outline this budget concisely to present to an employer.
  • Script: “After researching moving costs, and creating a budget for relocating to your city, I’ve realized that I will be struggling to cover expenses the first few months of my employment. Would it be possible for me to receive reimbursement in addition to my starting salary?”

Example Negotiation Topic: Starting Salary

  • Scenario: You have been offered two full-time positions. After careful consideration, you conclude that Firm A matches your career objectives and values closer than Firm B; however, Firm B offers a significantly more competitive salary.
  • Preparation: Research entry-level salaries for your career field; factor in the location of each job and cost of living. Compare Firm A’s and Firm B’s offers to the average salary. Outline this research concisely to present to Firm A.
  • Script: “Thank you so much for offering me a position at Firm A. I have received another offer, which seems to match the average compensation in this career field, while Firm A’s offer is lower. Would we be able to negotiate my starting salary or an incentive/retention bonus?”

 

Considering Graduate School

Before starting your application, talk with professors, academic and career advisors, professionals in the field, and current graduate students. Consider these questions:

  • Why are you interested in going to graduate school?
  • What are your career goals?
  • How will an advanced degree help you attain these goals? Is an advanced degree required?
  • Do you have the academic stamina to continue your education or do you need time off?
  • Do you have the grades and test scores needed for admittance? (Most programs require a 3.0 GPA)
  • Will full-time work experience enhance your candidacy for graduate school admittance?

Choosing a Program
Now that you’ve decided that graduate school is the next step for you, it’s time to begin looking for programs. Your professors and advisors are great resources. Also, try looking at graduate school directories and websites to explore programs.

Some industries prefer graduates from accredited programs, so be sure to check on hiring practices in your industry before choosing programs.

More Resources
These resources are designed to help you make decisions about graduate study and continuing your education beyond your undergraduate career.

  • ImaginePhD
    A free online career exploration and planning tool for Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scholars in the humanities and social sciences.
  • Health Professions and Prelaw Center (HPPLC)
    This IU office provides advising and other services for students who want to pursue careers in law, medicine, and other health professions.
  • Jobs on Toast – Resources Page
    This resource is a blog and collection of resources for current graduate students, researchers and academics who are interested in pursuing careers outside of academia.
  • Peterson’s
    This resource features detailed information on over 4000 colleges and universities, online schools, and graduate programs. Also provides financial aid and test preparation information.
  • Versatile PhD
    Versatile PhD is the oldest, largest online community dedicated to non-academic and non-faculty careers for PhDs in humanities, social science and STEM.

Application Process
Use this list to make sure you have these materials ready for your applications. Be sure to carefully review the application checklist for each of the programs to which you are applying (the examples below are general guidelines). You should carefully devise a system of record-keeping, maintain copies of everything, and begin talking to your professors, requesting letters of recommendation, and researching programs during your junior year.

  • Application Form
  • Test Scores: Different fields require different tests. Give yourself several months to prepare. The GRE is the most common exam for graduate school; for specific information visit ETS.org
  • Official Transcript
  • Recommendation Letters: It is vital that you get to know your professors and other supervisors well. You will need approximately three letters of recommendation. Give recommenders at least a month to write the letters. Provide them with your resume, a statement of your experience and goals, any necessary forms, and a stamped, addressed envelope (if necessary).
  • Personal Statement. Visit Writing Tutorial Services, the Career Development Center, Health Professions and Prelaw Center, Walter Center for Career Achievement, and your professors/academic advisors for help composing your personal statement.
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Financial Aid
Opportunities for financing your graduate school education vary greatly, depending on the program and the field of study. While working on your application materials for graduate school, you should be asking the specific programs about potential merit-based scholarships, graduate student loan programs, and graduate assistantships, which include research, teaching, and administrative positions. Sites such as U.S. News and Petersons have additional information on types of aid and how to finance your graduate school education. Be sure to ask the program you plan to attend about options for paying for graduate school.

Don’t Go to Graduate School Just Because…
  • You don’t know what you want to do for a career
  • You are avoiding the job search
  • Your parents say you need to go
  • You want a way to defer student loan payments
  • You are unhappy with a current job

Writing a Personal Statement
There are two types of personal statements (statement of purpose): those that require you to answer prompts and those that provide few or no directions. If not specified, your personal statement should be approximately 1.5 to 2 pages in length. Before you begin writing your personal statement, take time to reflect on your past experiences, reasons for applying to graduate school, and what makes you stand out from the other applicants. Answering the questions below will provide a strong foundation for writing your personal statement.

  • What is missing from your application packet that you want the committee to know about you?
  • What is unique, special, and distinctive about you or your experiences?
  • How did you get interested in this field and what has been the impact of the field on your life experiences so far?
  • What are your career goals?
  • Are there any gaps in your academic record to explain?
  • What personal characteristics and/or skills do you possess that will help you succeed in this profession?
  • What have you learned about this field throughout your various experiences and education?
  • Have you overcome any hardships or obstacles?
  • What makes you a strong fit for this program?
  • Why are you interested in this specific school?

General Guidelines:

  • Tell a Story and Concentrate on Your Opening Paragraph: Make your statement memorable by writing a story with concrete details that are unique and lively. Draw the reader in with your unique story and build upon this throughout the statement.
  • Be Specific: What skills have you developed that will allow you to succeed? Also consider what you are going to do after graduate school and what skills you will learn from the program that will make you a great advertising executive, English professor, or researcher, for example.
  • Research and Know Your Audience: Mention parts of the curriculum that are in line with your areas of interest and specific faculty with whom you want to do research.
  • Avoid Certain Subjects and Clichés: If possible, avoid talking about experiences from high school or other controversial topics (religious/political issues), unless they are relevant to the program to which you are applying.
  • Avoid generic reasoning: (such as attending art school because you are creative) whenever possible. Answer the questions on the previous page to help you avoid clichés.
  • Showcase Your Fit: Make sure that you explain why you are a good fit for the program as well by doing research about the program, classes offered, and faculty members in the department. Demonstrate through your personal statement that you and the program are a good match by providing examples and tying together your experiences.

Personal Statement Formula:
The following diagram is one popular way of formulating your personal statement.

  • Where You’ve Been: It is important to include a paragraph or two stating your past experiences and qualifications for the graduate program. This can include discussing past coursework, research, internships, and volunteer activities that tell a story about the background you are bringing to the program
  • Where You’re Going: Be sure to highlight how receiving this graduate degree factors into your long-term goals.
  • Why This School: Describe how the coursework, research opportunities, and faculty mentorship that the particular program offers are related to your long-term goals.

Schedule an appointment with your career coach to discuss your personal statement in detail.


Build Meaningful Connections

While pursuing experiences, designing plans for the future, and sharing your story, you’ll also want to keep in touch with the connections you make along the way – these can be faculty you engage during office hours, staff (like career coaches) who help you make decisions, and – most importantly – employers you meet on campus and alumni you reach out to for guidance. These individuals will be transformative to your future success!

Networking Relationship Building

For those of you who get chills at just the thought of networking, fear not, your day has come. We want to help you use your natural skills of building meaningful relationships to help you in your career development process.We’re not talking about asking someone for a job, or introducing yourself with the hopes of getting a business card. We are talking about getting to know people and letting them get to know you. Don’t worry about how much or where you do it – whether one-on-one or in groups, it is more important just to start.

As Lindsay Pollack, author of Getting from College to Career explains, “I encourage you to drop any negative connotations you associate with networking – images of schmoozy guys shaking dozens of hands and giving out their business cards like free samples at a supermarket. In my definition, networking is about building and maintaining relationships. (p.89)” You’ll be able to rely on the connections you build for company, emotional support, to obtain help, gain and share information, and form alliances to better your life.

Why should I build relationships?
There are many reasons to develop relationships throughout life. Right now, one of the most valuable reasons is the chance to get to know others who share your passions.

On top of that, did you know that most jobs are not posted or advertised publicly? According to Matt Youngquist, the president of Career Horizons, “At least 70 percent, if not 80 percent, of jobs are not published. And yet most people — they are spending 70 or 80 percent of their time surfing the net versus getting out there, talking to employers, taking some chances [and] realizing that the vast majority of hiring is friends and acquaintances hiring other trusted friends and acquaintances.” [Relationship building] is not contacting everyone you know when you are seeking a new job and asking if they know of any job openings. Instead, it is an exchange of information. When you develop a career networking contact, you may not have any pertinent information to share immediately; however, you can always be available to help in the future.

Where can I do it?
Everywhere! There is no bad place to start building a relationship with people around you. Think about people you meet on campus, at work, in classes, during community events, etc. These are all great places to build relationships.

When should I do it?
Always! Whether you believe it or not, you are always building meaningful relationships with people around you. It is what you do with them and how much you invest in them that matters.

Who’s in My Network?

There’s a little bit of prep work to do in order to find out who’s already in your network. These are probably people you see quite often. Let’s get started.

1. Brainstorm Your Relationship Circles
Fill out the Mind Map with the names of people you know and who you might go to for help or advice. Friends, family, classmates, acquaintances—anyone is fair game and no one should be left out.

Note: The Mind Map is courtesy of Indiana University Edge.

2. Find People
Now that you’ve had a chance to think about some people in your circles and what speed you want to take, let’s talk about how to find more people and expand your circles.

  • LinkedIn and other social media: make sure your profile is professional and that you always attach a personalized note to your “connect” requests.
  • Walter Center Success Network: start with the IU alumni who have already said that they want to help you!
  • Look at your relationship circles again: review who you wrote down during the brainstorm. Who can you start contacting now?

3. Now You’ve Find People. What’s Next?

  • Reach out to schedule an informational interview.
  • Have some questions prepared that show you have done your homework
  • Tip: stay up to date on the news. Current events in news and in your industry are great conversation starters and may even connect to the organization or person you are interested in.

4. Remember the Golden Rule
Building a meaningful relationship means that you both are there to help each other. +Share your insight+Share useful resources+Offer to help answer questions they may have or use your expertise to help them

Relationship building “is not just about who you know; it’s about who knows you. You’ve got to get out there, introduce yourself, and become known and respected.” (Pollack, p.89)

5. THANK YOU!
Remember to always send a thank you letter to the person you talked to. Thank them for their time and reference a specific piece of advice they gave you.

Expand Your Search:
In a Classroom Setting:

  • Get to know faculty who interest you.
  • Faculty are very well connected on campus and can make simple referrals to another faculty member who shares your interest.
  • Ask good questions.
  • Share academic and career interests.
  • Ask about faculty members’ fields of interest.

In a Club or Student Organization:

  • Join an academic or professional club that attracts students of like interests.
  • Get involved in school governance.
  • Join a multicultural group to expand your understanding of another culture.+Find a special interest group.
  • Many upperclassmen have asked the same questions you’re asking and may have already learned “the best person to talk to” about your area of interest.

In an Advising Appointment:

  • Your academic and career advisors are terrific resources for academic and career information because that’s what they do best.
  • Tip: Club advisors (typically faculty and staff with an interest in the organization) and special program directors can be very helpful to you as well.

At a Panel or Workshop:

  • Academic and career advising offices, academic departments, and student organizations host many opportunities for you to learn more about careers. Opportunities include information sessions, career fairs, workshops, and expos.
  • Learn more from faculty, community professionals, and alumni.

Note: This section is courtesy of Indiana University Edge.

Informational Interviewing

Informational interviewing is one of the best ways to make your growing community work for you. It is your opportunity to begin building your community with professionals in your field and learn about what the work is really like. An informational interview is not an opportunity to ask for an internship or a job. Rather, it is a fact-finding mission about the career, industry, or company you are interested in. Talk to as many people as you can – there is always more to be learned about your chosen field based on the diversity of work settings, different organizational structures, and visions and missions that drive different organizations. Many professionals are happy to share information on their jobs or the industry. You just have to ask!

What Does it Look Like?
An informational interview is a 20-to-30-minute conversation between you and a professional in a career field of interest. Use these resources to find professionals to contact:

  • Walter Center Success Network
  • IU Alumni Association
  • LinkedIn
  • Campus organizations
  • Professional organizations
  • Chambers of Commerce

Joining a professional association is a great step toward developing a large network of potential colleagues. Here are some resources that can help you learn about associations related to your career goals:

  • Go.iu.edu/careercommunities
  • Associations Unlimited (IU Libraries)
  • Google or other search engines

I Found Someone. Now What?
When you find someone to contact, send an email similar to these examples to ask for some of their time. During the meeting or phone call, you can ask questions about their background and what led them to their current position. You can also ask about the culture of their organization and any advice they have for entering the field. It is not acceptable to simply ask them for a job; this conversation is about gathering advice and information.

Don’t Forget to Stay in Contact
Stay in contact with new connections after completing informational interviews. Many students keep a Microsoft Excel file of their connections to help them keep track of new contacts.

You should track the date of your last contact with each person. You could use LinkedIn to manage your connections. You should periodically connect with important members of your established network – such as former supervisors or professors. You never know when you might want to ask them for a letter of recommendation or reference!

I Did It, Now What?
Based on what you learned and what you know about yourself, do you think this industry or company is a good fit for you? Do you have the necessary skills? Does it fit with your values and things you enjoy doing? If there are differences, how much of a problem will those differences be for you? Are you going to continue to pursue and/or research this career more? If NO, ask yourself why? Did you not like the person interviewed? Did you not like the job itself? Did you not like the environment?

In your follow-up thank-you note, acknowledge how appreciative you are of their time and help and share how the information helped you make any decisions or take further actions on your own career path.

Example Request Email 1
Dear Ms. Julien,

My name is Katherine Taylor. I’m a Psychology and International Studies major at IU researching a possible career in healthcare. I found your name using the IU Alumni Directory. If you have the time, I would like to meet with you for 20 minutes to discuss your field. If you’re unable to meet, perhaps you could suggest a co-worker or someone you know for me to contact. I appreciate your time.

Thank you,
Katherine

Example Request Email 2
Dear Mr. James,

I’ve been researching public relations professionals on LinkedIn who have experience in campaign planning, and your profile caught my attention because we both studied at Indiana University and have similar interests. Would you have a few minutes that I could talk to you more about your experiences in campaign planning?

Thank you,
Eva

Example Follow Up Email

Dear Ms. Smith:
Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you last Tuesday to share your insights on your career. Our discussion was most helpful and has confirmed my interest in pursuing a [major] degree at [university]. I will definitely be [action you’ll take, given the information you’ve learned] and will follow up with [contacts they gave you]. The information you shared has been of great value to me. As you requested, I will let you know of my progress. Again, I deeply appreciate your time and consideration.
Sincerely,
Your Name