Expert tips from the College of Business and Economics’ Career Development Center
Robert Summers (B.S. ’16, Business), a former high school dropout and construction worker, says that after applying to more than 30 jobs and going on countless interviews, it was Travis Nelson’s mentoring that made the difference. “I was just telling interviewers what I thought they wanted to hear,” the accounting and finance major says. “And Travis told me, ‘What are you doing to stand out? Go in there and tell your story.’”
Nelson, the manager of the new Career Development Center within Cal State East Bay’s College of Business and Economics, spearheads the effort to offer employment resources to students and alumni, free of charge. “You’d think that any firm would be happy to have this guy working for them,” he says of Summers. “He had experience [as an intern] working with a billion-dollar budget for the Veteran’s Administration, a high GPA — but he wasn’t getting past that first interview. For most college graduates, the how and what are the same. It’s the why that’s different, and that’s what they need to focus on.”
His advice is working. Through a variety of workshops, prescreening candidates for interviews, marketing jobs on campus, and working diligently to build relationships with regional companies, Nelson is preparing more and more newly minted alumni for life after graduation. In just 12 months, 40 percent of 180 jobs the CDC promoted were filled by Cal State East Bay students — including Summers, who was recently hired at Maze & Associates, an accounting firm.
“For the first time, I didn’t wait to be asked questions,” Summers says. “I sat down and immediately started with why I had applied and why I was excited to work for that company. I had never had an interview like that before — it felt amazing.”
Have your resume reviewed by AACE — early.
“Early is key,” Nelson says. “Our workshops and other services are booked in spring because students get close to graduation and panic. Don’t wait.”
Attend career workshops and take advantage of your resources.
“My biggest mistake in college was not taking advantage of any career resources. I didn’t know I needed them until I graduated and by then it was too late,” Nelson admits. “The only person who can guarantee your success is you; give yourself the best chance by going to as many career workshops as you can. Especially if you don’t think you need it. I can promise you will always learn something new and useful.”
To stand out, personalize your story.
“You can do what 90 percent of people do — walk in, say your name and sit down,” Nelson says. “Or, you can start turning the interview process into a conversation, because after you introduce yourself, you have the opportunity to keep speaking. To tell your story.”