Making the Most of LinkedIn in College

According to their website, LinkedIn “operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 500 million members in over 200 countries and territories.”  Sounds like you should create a LinkedIn account when you graduate from college and begin your career…right?

Wrong.  Here’s why:

  1. There are over 500,000,000 people on LinkedIn.  This means one thing:  networking.  As we say here in the Center for Career Planning, “You get jobs by talking to people.”  What better place to start than the place where 500,000,000 people are a click away?  LinkedIn updates you on your connections’ activity and makes it easy to reach out to professionals in your field for advice.  On LinkedIn, opportunity can find you instead of the other way around.
  2. “There are more than 40 million students and recent college graduates on LinkedIn. They are LinkedIn’s fastest-growing demographic.”  Your peers are joining LinkedIn and making connections before they graduate.  Stay ahead of the game by joining now, and help each other out by giving each other recommendations and endorsements for their skills.
  3. Many companies post their job openings on LinkedIn.  Not only does this make your job and internship search easier (think of the countless hours you’ve spent on Indeed or Monster), but it allows you to explore career paths and learn more about what you can do with your Bachelor’s degree in a given field.  Because your LinkedIn profile is essentially your online resume, it’s easier than ever to see how a business management professional started out as a graduate with little experience and climbed the ladder to become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
  4. A new feature called allows you to watch videos and learn valuable skills using your LinkedIn account. gives you access to over 5,000 online video courses in business, technology, and creativity.  Not only can you market yourself on LinkedIn, but you can also make yourself more marketable by learning new skills from these courses.

So get out there, create an account on LinkedIn, market yourself and your experience, and connect with people you know!  Don’t wait until graduation.  Start your professional career now!

Life as an Intern: Paige

Internship Update 3: What is life like as an intern? Are you meeting other interns? What types of social activities have you participated in? What are some things the company/site has done to make you feel part of the team?

The intern life is a rewarding one.  It can be tiring and difficult to work on many projects and tasks each day, but it is very nice to be supported, encouraged, and affirmed by my supervisors and fellow intern.
I am one of two interns.  Jasmine, the other CCP intern this summer, has become a good friend of mine over the two months that we have been working together.  Although we are sometimes given separate projects to work on, we often share the same project in order to make each project a little less daunting, have two pairs of eyes double-checking for mistakes, and obtain a wider range of experience in our position.  Jasmine and I get along well, communicate effectively, and pick up on each other’s emotions well.  Life is a lot easier when you have a friend in the office!
As an administrative office, the Center for Career Planning must be open and staffed by at least one person every day from 8 AM to 5 PM.  This means that there is not much opportunity to do team-bonding activities outside of the office with everyone together.  The only social activity we have had was Sarah’s birthday celebration a few weeks ago with ice cream birthday cake!  However, there have been plenty of opportunities to bond with my coworkers and supervisors in smaller, more intimate settings.  I am grateful to have gotten to know everyone here on a more personal level.  The dynamic here is awesome:  Andy is full of dad jokes, Libby loves puns, Polly’s laugh is infectious, and Sarah is wonderful to chat about anything with!  Soon we will be adding Lisa and Christina to our staff, and I know they will be great to get to know as well.
Intern life has been great, and I am excited for what is still to come!

Life as an Intern: Ashley

Internship Update 3: What is life like as an intern? Are you meeting other interns? What types of social activities have you participated in? What are some things the company/site has done to make you feel part of the team?

The office that I am working at is very small so there is only one other intern with me.  Her name is Dina and she goes to ODU.  I have really enjoyed getting to know Dina and have appreciated having another person to go through this journey with.  Dina and I were able to collaborate on projects and participate in activities together.  I also meet with the other claims interns who work in our locations in Texas, Colorado, Tampa, and Phoenix on a weekly basis via skype.  We are all currently working on a end of the year project that we will present to executives in two weeks!  Dealing with different time zones and schedules among the offices is difficult but it has taught me how to effectively communicate with others online.
USAA is big on team bonding and networking.  They offer several different forms of social activities.  For example, Dina, my managers, and I all went to Top Golf today.  We went into the office for half of the day then headed over to Virginia Beach to eat and play some golf.  It was nice to be rewarded for the hard work that we have done and it was great to socialize with my managers in a more laid-back environment. We also volunteered at the Boys & Girls Club this week which was a lot of fun.  Giving back to our local community was very rewarding.  Throughout the past eight weeks, USAA has gone above and beyond to make me feel part of the team.  From getting me a birthday cake to inviting me to weekend trips with my team, they have been so welcoming and inclusive.

Internship Update from Harris

Describe a typical day/your major projects/responsibilities on your internship.

I’ve been interning at USAFRICOM for over a month now, and a typical workday goes something like this: I am up by 5:00am (0500 in military time), a German breakfast, walk my dog, dress in a suit and tie, and walk/bicycle into work around 7:30.  As an intern, I’m not required to clock-in until 9:00, but I choose to arrive at ~8:00 along with the majority of the workforce; my intent is to be held to the same standards as everyone else. When I arrive at my desk each morning, I first check-in with my supervisors for a status update about all of the projects I’m working on, and get a verbal update on periphery projects. On most days, nothing catastrophic has occurred in the twelve hours I’ve been away from my desk, so I proceed to pick-up where I left off the day before. 

Describe the workplace culture/environment.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of working in a U.S. regional combatant command thus far has been the variety of tasks assigned to me; nearly every week is different from the last in terms of the type and scope of work. For instance, the first project assigned to me was a Coast Guard Memorandum of Understanding (colloquially known in military acronym lingo as an MOU).  As I mentioned in my fist blog, an MOU is typically a legal document detailing the exchange of goods or services for money.  As a new intern with absolutely no previous experience in such matters, it seemed like a monumental task – one that didn’t necessarily align with what I initially thought comprised the work of the Maritime Security directorate at AFRICOM. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy working on that particular project, it was just very different work than what I was expecting. 

In contrast, after I finished the MOU, I was immediately assigned my next major project: arranging the travel for over 40 African county representatives to attend a conference about Maritime Security in Yaoundé, Cameroon.  Nothing could be more drastic in terms of a change in daily routine. Instead of quietly perusing legal documents and double-checking cost calculations, I was suddenly calling desk officers at African embassies and establishing contacts with people all over the world.  Over the course of my internship, I have come to understand many positions in the Department of Defense share this otherwise unique feature of work diversity. I find the promise of a continuous variety of different jobs to be one of the most alluring aspects of Department of Defense work.

Share what you are using from your classes, things your involved in, etc.

As a psychology major, the most major-relevant skill I have been able to incorporate into my daily life working at AFRICOM is a mastery of interpersonal communication.  In an environment like AFRICOM, you are constantly interacting with people from myriad backgrounds, cultures, and societies where language may very well be a complicating factor.  It is imperative that one is able to communicate effectively with professional people from disparate backgrounds, and vastly different work experiences and occupations (lawyers, doctors, special forces infantryman, logisticians, ship captains, etc.) with a shared pursuit to accomplish the mission at hand.  

Internship Update from Kayla

Describe a typical day/your major projects/responsibilities on your internship.

My typical day starts at 6:15am. I have to be at the Martha Graham School of Dance by 8:00am and I have a thirty-five minute subway commute ride. In the last three weeks, I have come to love the commute though. Since I am not the one driving, the ride is a great time to catch up on finishing books, discovering podcasts, and listening to new music. My morning class switches every other day between contemporary dance and ballet. There are seven other girls in all my classes.

After my morning class I have a small break where I help out wherever I am needed that day. The teen intensive program just started so I recently did a lot of work with studio schedules so everyone had a place to practice and making sure the room size was appropriate for the number of students in each class. In the afternoon I commute again to another location where the school has studios on the upper east side. Then I am in classes from noon until 4:30pm. I have a Graham technique class and a Graham Repertoire class every day.

Describe the workplace culture/environment.

It is really neat because the building where the studios are is also residential, but you have to be an artist or work in the arts in order to live there. Merce Cunningham, who was a post-modern choreographer lived in that building at one point!

Share what you are using from your classes, things your involved in, etc.

I have really enjoyed my contemporary classes so far because I am really getting to put into action what I learned in my modern dance class at CNU. I am getting an amazing hands on look and being able to participate in the techniques that post-modern dancers and choreographers developed as they pulled away from the ballet world.

I am extremely lucky and each week get to study under and train with some of the most knowledgable and talented Graham dancers. While the hours of dancing and working are long and very tough on the body and mind, I am surrounded by the best group of girls! We are all learning together the behind the scenes work to what makes a company run while also getting to push and encourage each other in the dancing classroom. These girls are truly helping me understand that while I may not feel like I performed my best each day, by giving everything I have to give in that day and that moment means that I am still gaining and still advancing in my technique.

Why Mock Interviews Are Important

Do you get stumped by the tell me about yourself question? Not sure how to respond when asked where you want to be in five to ten years? Learn how mock interviews can help and schedule one with the Center for Career Planning!

Mock interviews are extremely beneficial for multiple reasons:

  1. They help you become more comfortable with the interview process. They allow you to detect your mistakes and pinpoint your strengths. Not only will you become more self-aware, but you will also become more self-confident with each mock interview you do.
  2. If you already have some experience with being interviewed, mock interviews can help hone your skills and allow you to become even more comfortable and ready for that next interview in the future.
  3. Mock interviews will also allow you to receive constructive criticism. Constructive criticism is an essential part in progressing forward and, as stated above, will help you craft and hone your skills.
  4. Lastly, mock interviews allow you to become generally more knowledgeable about the interview process. From body language tips to standard interview questions, a mock interview will help prepare for anything that will surely be observed or be present in an actual interview. 

Internship Update from Grace

Describe a typical day/your major projects/responsibilities on your internship.

So I work 8:30 – 5:30 pm each day. I get to the office around 8 am and check my emails and what meetings I’ll have that day. From there, I’ll dive into an assignment if I have one. Working as an intern in the Performance Reporting Group (PRG), I utilize a lot of statements from previous months to create deliverables that detail a client’s monetary performance. The internship is integrated with presentations so part of my afternoon is spent in meetings with the intern class to prepare.

Describe the workplace culture/environment.

Cambridge Associates has a very collaborative culture. Given that there are multiple groups that perform different tasks to service various clients, it’s important that communication occurs smoothly between both departments: MIG and PRG. On a more shallow level, the Arlington office of this company is thriving with young people and I’ve seen that a lot of lighthearted activities tend to be included on a regular basis. For example, each week, a toddler picture of someone in the office is emailed out and the faster you respond with your guess, the more points you win.

Share what you are using from your classes, things your involved in, etc.

One of the reasons I applied for this internship is because they advertised that they were open to students of all majors. It’s been 6 weeks and I can confidently say that my psychology background hasn’t really come into play, however, I think it aids in my interactions with supervisors. I think my role as a Student Assistant in the Media Center has come in handy. Though my job in the library is very individualized, collaboration is necessary for mundane activities such as shelving movies and such. Coming from that background and experiencing collaboration on a much bigger scale has been an eye-opening experience for me.

Internship Update from Ashley

Describe a typical day/your major projects/responsibilities on your internship.

I start everyday by checking my email and issuing any outstanding payments that need to be sent. After this, I get on the phones and assist members in various ways. I was hired as a non-injury auto adjuster so when our members get into an auto accident, my responsibility is to start a first notice of loss. This means I take all information from the accident including recorded statements from all parties involved, details of the damages to vehicles, and other relevant information. I then take a look at their policies and get them set up with a shop to repair their damages and put them in a rental vehicle if applicable or needed. Some days I even get the opportunity to go out to the fields to inspect and asses damages on our members’ vehicles.

Describe the workplace culture/environment.

USAA is unlike any company I have ever worked for. Even though it is a fortune 500 company, it has a small company environment in the sense that it feels like a tight-knit community. Everyone, including executives, are referred to on a first name basis. The executives meet with all the interns and share their insights and truly value any comments or questions we have for them. The Chesapeake office also offers perks like our energize and relax rooms (see pictures below) that allow us to take a break and either relax or re-energize. USAA treats their employees so well with both the benefits and work/life balance that they offer.

Share what you are using from your classes, things your involved in, etc.

Since I am a Marketing major, transitioning to the insurance world was very difficult. However, there were a couple things that helped me prepare for this internship. The first was my Interpersonal Communications class. Working in a call center environment, a major aspect of my job is talking to people on the phone. I am the first person to talk to members after they have been involved in a car accident so effective communication is important in this high stress environment. Therefore, it is essential to posses interpersonal skills in order to succeed in this field. At CNU, I am involved in sideline and competition cheerleading. Being apart of a team, and having to learn how to effectively work with others for one common goal has helped me become a better team player and develop leadership skills.


Internship Update from Rob

Describe a typical day/your major projects/responsibilities on your internship.

Every day at Redskins Park is a new adventure, but I start my shift every morning checking the online content that has been syndicated to us from our partners. The team has partnerships with Comcast Sports Network, ESPN 980, which is a local am radio station, and NFL Films. Periodically these partners will send us content pertaining to the team and as interns, we review the content and determine whether it is appropriate for the website.  Website appropriate content provides both a positive outlook on the team and is something our fans would want to watch. While the Redskins Broadcast Network is a news organization, we also serve a public relations role for the team as well.

Beyond the daily maintenance of the website, we spend most of our time editing our own content, or filming interviews with players. Currently we are finishing up a segment that will likely be used on a TV show during the year and eventually published on the website called ‘Meet the Redskins’ where we interview players about their lives off the field. Meet The Redskins interviews were conducted throughout the month of May and early in June and are now being finalized in post-production for publishing.

Describe the workplace culture/environment.

Things are relatively laid back in the office on most days around this time of year just because we are in a slow period between the end of Mini-Camp and Training Camp in July. When we have things to do, the office is still a fun place to be, but is a place where productivity and efficiency are necessary for success.

Share what you are using from your classes, things your involved in, etc.

There have been plenty of instances where I have been able to connect my internship with the Redskins back to my time in class here at CNU. From learning about lighting schemes and framing in Dr. Center’s Media Aesthetics’ class, or the most efficient ways to make content go viral from Dr. Billinson’s Communication and Social Media course. There have been plenty of things that this internship has validated for me but I think the biggest one is that you should definitely get involved in clubs and organizations that will help you further your career goals. Social organizations and intramural sports are all well and good, and I have had a blast participating in these things though out my time at CNU. However, I can say without a doubt that my experience in CNU TV, The Captains Log, and working in CNU Sports has given me much needed skills and preparation to be successful in supplement to what academics have given me as a base.


Professional Attire

The first steps are complete:  You created a stellar resume, applied for a job, and now have an interview this Friday!  Then… this crisis happens.

Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, friends.  The Center for Career Planning is here to help you dress for success!  Here are our tips on wearing professional attire:

  1. Research the company to figure out how they dress on a day-to-day basis.  While wearing a suit is impressive, it’s a little too over-the-top for a cashier position interview.  If the company’s norm is casual, dress a little more tailored – think back to what you wore for your CNU admissions interview.  If the company norm is dressy, make sure to match that.  What you wear says a lot about you.  If you don’t know, it is better to ask your interviewer ahead of time about their ‘dress code’ than just to guess.
  2. Stick to neutral, dark colors like navy, gray, and black.  While bright colors may be in style, you will stand out to your employer by blending in.  The focus should be on you, not your hot pink blazer.
  3. If something is obviously too large or too small, elect against it.  Similarly, do not wear a skirt that is too short – it should hit just above, at, or right below the knee.  Make sure your clothing items are not wrinkly.  Even the most professional-looking outfit will fail if it doesn’t fit correctly or match conservative business norms.  Remember, the goal is to look professional, competent, and capable.
  4. If you love jewelry, pick one simple necklace or bracelet and/or simple earrings.  Again, a job interview is not the time to be flashy.  Your outfit should not be distracting but rather should make you look ready and put-together.
  5. Black, not white, socks.  Don’t forget this, gentlemen!
  6. It is important to appear well-groomed.  Although your attire makes a great first impression, that goes out the window if you look messy.  Keep your hair neat and short, makeup to a minimum and neutral, and nails and facial hair trimmed.  Avoid wacky colored hair dye and shower at least the day before.  Don’t go crazy with perfume or cologne.  Brush your teeth and remember to put on deodorant!

As always, you are more than welcome to stop by the Center for Career Planning (CNH 305) if you would like our second opinion on your interview outfit.  Good luck, Captains!