Top Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Go To A Career Fair

As you may have already learned, job-hunting as a student can be extremely challenging. How do you find out what learnerships are available? What companies should you apply to? How do you stand out above the rest of the applicants, when there are 100 others who are just as qualified as you?

There are so many questions to ask and even more answers to give. That?s what career fairs are for. Career fairs are a perfect way for students and job seekers to meet with recruiters, learn about job openings, pass along their resumes, and (hopefully) get their foot in the door. The best thing you can do for yourself is to go prepared.

Here are 5 big questions to ask yourself before attending a career fair:

Is My Resume Updated?

The very first thing you should do when you are on the lookout for a job ? any type of job (part-time work, learnership, post-university career) ? is review and update your resume. This includes jobs you have worked, organizations or clubs you have participated in, your objective, your education, awards and achievements, and maybe even relevant classes and seminars. As a student and/or learnership seeker, you will find that there is more flexibility in terms of what type of content you can use on a resume. This is because you are young and learnerships are technically where the most valuable resume line-items begin.

What most don?t do ? but should ? is tailor their resume to the job they are applying for, if able. This is something that becomes more necessary with time and experience, but it?s a good thing to practice as you search and apply for learnerships. What does tailoring your resume do for you and your prospective employer? It shows what specific experience you have that relates to the job you are applying for, rather than listing each and every role, class and achievement you have had. For example, if you are applying for a learnership at a local newspaper, it would be smart to list the relevant writing/journalism/reporting courses you took at university. Don?t go overboard with that, though.

Before attending the career fair, be sure to print 10 to 20 copies of your updated resume to distribute to representatives you are interested in working with/for.

What Companies Are Attending?

Career fairs vary in size and can be surprisingly big. Really big. Depending on the location and regularity of fairs in your area, there could be hundreds of companies participating or there could be 30-50. There could be a couple hundred prospective employees in attendance or there could be thousands, all doing the exact same thing you are. Because time is limited, and because it?s best not to wander around aimlessly, do your research before you button up your blouse and head on down to the fair location.

First, ask yourself what type of position(s) you would be interested in learning about. Are you hard-set on getting an accounting job? Or are you exploring the business world in general, open to learning about other fields such as finance, economics, actuarial, and marketing? Next, find a list of companies that will be there and determine what jobs have openings. A major insurance company could be coming but they may only be offering general business learnership positions rather than insurance-specific learnerships. Strange, I know, but it happens.

Compile a list of no less than 10 companies that you want to talk with and submit your resume to. You may even find a fair map to figure out where their stands will be located so that you don?t need to waste time searching them out.

What Is the Schedule?

Career fairs typically operate for a good portion of the day to accommodate the busy schedules of students and workers. Sometimes they are even multi-day events. This is because recruiters want their pick from the cream of the crop just as much as you want them to notice you.

The next time a career fair comes to town, find out what the schedule is and determine how it fits into yours. If you can be there at the very beginning, do it. When people are introduced to large groups, they tend to remember the first and last people that they meet. This is not to say that a recruiter won?t remember you if you meet them mid-day, it just means that you may have to work even harder to stick out to them. Arriving in the hustle and bustle with ten other candidates to your left and right can be intimidating. They are your competition, after all. Rather than putting yourself in a situation where you feel like you have to throw elbows to be seen, show up as the fair is opening and be among the first to hit your top companies. It goes hand-in-hand with making a good first impression because it shows that you are punctual and determined.

What Do I Want To Know & What Do I Want Them To Know?

Conversations with recruiters can happen very fast. One second you are next in line to talk to the company representative, and the next you are shaking their hand, passing off your resume and telling them it was nice to meet them. This is especially so when career fairs are at their peak, with hundreds of candidates milling around, waiting for their turn.

Alongside your ?companies, I want to hit? list, write down what you want to learn about the company and the learnership position. Additionally, think about what key characteristics and experience you have that makes you the best fit for the role. The conversation you have will serve as a sort of cover letter. You need to sell yourself and fast. Know what you are going to say and what you want to know before you even arrive.

What Am I Going To Wear To a Career Fair?

First impressions mean a whole lot in the learnership world. While recruiters are a bit more understanding that young students may not have the most impressive professional wardrobe, you should still try to dress your best. Now, what is appropriate dress for a career fair? Easy. Wear what you would wear to the office. For men, slacks, a button-up shirt, loafers and a tie would be perfect. For women, a conservative blouse, a pencil skirt or slacks, and a pair of heels or flat shoes would work well.

Only have one business-style outfit reserved for church and the holidays? That?s what you should wear, even if it feels dressier than what others are wearing. It?s better to be overdressed than underdressed. Don?t own anything appropriate enough for a career fair? Ask a parent, aunt, uncle, sibling, cousin, ANYONE close to you if they have something you may borrow for the big day. They?ll likely be happy to support you as you prepare to enter the working world.

My mother always told me, ?dress for the job you want, not the one you have.?

How To Stay On Your Boss’ Good Side

Your relationship with your boss can make your break your learnership. It?s simple. If you don?t work well together or lack a respectable camaraderie, you will have a hard time getting through the experience, and your work may ultimately suffer. If you stay on his or her good side, you will be able to get the most out of your time.

Make a lasting impression on your boss by following these 5 simple rules:

Always Meet Or Beat Your Deadlines

A job done on time is a job well done. You may be assigned tasks that take you far less time than you were given. That?s normal, particularly at the beginning of your learnership as your boss gauges how much work you can handle. Rather than milking the time, get the work done in a reasonable fashion. If you finish ahead of schedule, make a point to ask what else you may be able to help with rather than slinking back to your desk and waiting to be told what is next on the agenda. Your boss probably has a long to-do list that he?d be thrilled to share.

It probably doesn?t need to be said that meeting deadlines are a major part of any kind of job. It?s like school: you get an assignment that must be completed by a certain date. But in the professional world, many other people rely on said assignment being done on time. It isn?t just about you and your grades anymore. Often, another person or people cannot complete their part of a project until you complete yours. In terms of a learnership, that person is likely your boss, and keeping him or her happy is meeting your deadlines.

Demonstrate Your Enthusiasm To Learn About THEM

Let?s be honest: everyone likes to have their butt kissed and their egos boosted every now and then. Show your boss that you are eager to learn about them and from them, specifically. After all, it is a learnership. If you have spare blocks of time between tasks, ask if you can shadow them on their meetings and day-to-day goings on. Express your interest in seeing how they operate to better prepare yourself for a future in a similar role. Chances are they will be flattered that you want to see what their world is like, and happy to show you the ropes. Don?t forget to take notes!

When it?s all over, thank them for being a role model, for taking you under their wing, for teaching you, and for helping you prepare for something much bigger. They will keep you in mind down the line.

Be Hands-On & Speak Up

As mentioned previously, there will be times when you finish your work ahead of time. There may even be times when you feel like you are doing more sitting around than you are actual work. It?s OK to speak up! You are there to learn, and your employer is there to teach you as per your learnership agreement. Your boss may find themselves so wrapped up in their own work that they forget to divvy out the responsibilities.

Rather than sitting on idle, ask them what you can do to help. You may even take notice of the to-dos that they have and say, ?hey, I can take XY or Z off your hands if you are comfortable with me working on them.? Or, perhaps there is a table of neglected files that need to be put away; organization may not be a bullet point on your job description but taking care of it will definitely be a brownie point to your boss. Successful people are proactive and don?t wait to be told what to do.

Network But Don?t Be Clique-y

If you follow this blog, you know that networking is an important part of the learnership experience. The people you meet on the job can be extremely beneficial to your career in the future. Concurrently, they often become close acquaintances and friends, as you spend 8+ hours a day together. You work together, take breaks together, eat lunch together, see each other?s highs, see each other?s lows etc.

However, it is important to note that there is a fine line when it comes to appropriate socializing in the workplace. Make friends with your colleagues, but keep the gossip and casual conversation to a minimum while at the workplace. It is easy to get absorbed in conversations about the stresses of work, or what?s going on in your peers? lives. And let me tell you, your boss will not be a fan.

?Did you hear [BOSS] chewing out Paul? I?m willing to bet he?ll be fired within the month.?

?If Susan keeps submitting sub-par work I am going to go crazy. She?s so underqualified for her job, I don?t know how she was even hired.?

?Word on the street is that Adam and his wife are headed to marriage counseling. They?ve been on the brink of divorce for months.?

NO. AND NO. Do not participate in these conversations! Getting clique-y and personal is a surefire way to land on the not-so-good portion of your boss? radar.

Time Is Of The Essence

This one is easy and a no-brainer. BE ON TIME. It may be hard to believe but professionals and learners alike abuse their bosses? flexibility when it comes to their hours. Don?t be one of those people because it does stick out. Arrive early, not moments before you are supposed to be there. Traffic happens, weather happens, life happens ? don?t risk cutting it close. Give yourself enough room for the unexpected. At the end of the workday, stay as long as you need to finish your work rather than booking it out of the office as soon as the clock hits your official departure time. People (especially your superiors) DO take notice of who simply gets the job done and who goes above and beyond.

Give yourself enough room for the unexpected. At the end of the workday, stay as long as you need to finish your work rather than booking it out of the office as soon as the clock hits your official departure time. People (especially your superiors) DO take notice of who simply gets the job done and who goes above and beyond.

When all is said and done, this experience is meant to set the groundwork for your future. Maintaining a positive and healthy relationship with your boss will improve your experience overall.

The Art of Balancing Work And School

There is no denying that going to school while working is challenging. To improve your career opportunities in the future, you?ve got to complete your higher education. But you must also gain professional experience to reach said opportunities. How do you do both? How do you dedicate the appropriate amount of time and attention to school and work when both require so much? It?s called a Work And School BALANCE.

Working a learnership?while attending university is comparable to walking a trapeze. It?s scary, nerve-wracking, a bit exhausting on the mind and body, and requires major strategy. That?s where the all-important balance comes into play. Here are 6 easy and effective ways to get through your learnership while attending school.

Be Transparent From The Start with?Work And School

Before you even accept a learnership opportunity, it would behoove you to notify your supervisor of any and all other obligations you have. Being straight from the start will not only make it easier to navigate and negotiate your schedule, but it will also show that you are responsible. This gesture will be attractive to any superior because it demonstrates your cognisance for commitment. He or she will rest assured that you will treat your job and the company with the same respect.

If you have classes all morning on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, say that you are only available afternoon. If you must pick up and babysit a younger sibling at 3 PM each weekday, speak up. You don?t want to catch a new boss off-guard on the first week of work by saying you can only work until 2:30 when the rest of the office stays until 5. If they are made aware prior to hiring you, they will likely find a way to work with your schedule.

Make Time For Yourself

This is honestly one of the most important aspects of working a professional job while getting an education. Balancing work and school can be extremely taxing. It is important to go out of your way to make time for your mind, body, and soul. If you don?t, it WILL eventually hit you like a ton of bricks. Take an hour each day to perform breathing exercises, to read, to exercise, to do anything that doesn’t work. It doesn?t need to be a consecutive hour if you are truly pressed for time; it could be as simple as going on a 5-10 minute walk around the block every other hour to stretch your legs and get a breath of fresh air. Dedication to your work IS important, but so is your health and well-being.

Find Your Own Flexibility

A very common misconception is that in order to participate in a learnership, you must be available Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM. You don?t. Supervisors tend to be pretty understanding of students? schedules and are happy to accommodate. They?re there to teach you while reaping the benefits of your skills, right?
Propose your own schedule. Maybe you are required to work 30 hours a week, or 270 overall, to successfully complete your learnership program. The problem is that you have a jam-packed Tuesday and Thursday. What do you do? Pitch a Monday-Wednesday-Friday learnership program, at 10 hours a day. Or, maybe you are taking night classes but have availability during the daytime. Suggest working Monday to Friday, but at 6 hours per day. There are many possibilities; you just need to be open and communicative about your needs and schedule. Chances are your supervisor will be receptive and able to work with you. Creating your own schedule only makes life easier for them.

Explore The Remote World

If you are a student working a research and/or data-driven learnership, find out if there are any opportunities for you to work remotely. Most of this type of work is performed on a computer and can be done from the comfort of your own home and on your own time. Got some extra time after class? Perfect opportunity to put the finishing touches on your research. Not all supervisors are open to this type of suggestion, but it doesn?t hurt to ask. If they say they cannot allow it, don?t let it be the end-all-be-all. If they are ok with it, don?t bite off more than you can chew or take advantage of their flexibility.

Set Clear Goals for?Work And School

Time is valuable and it flies. Learnerships seem to begin and end quickly as it is; now imagine how fast it will go by if you are going to school at the same time! Before committing to a learnership while going to school, set goals for yourself. Determine what you want to learn on the job, how many genuine contacts you want to gain, what types of projects you want to be involved in, and how the experience would ideally enhance your education and career down the line. The more you plan and prioritize your goals, the more organized and successful you will be ? regardless of how busy school or career might get.

Master The Art Of Time Management

Scheduling and time management is a big part of being a professional. If you can?t allocate your time properly, how are you going to complete all of your work? Working a learnership while in school is the perfect opportunity to master this seemingly simple concept. Get a planner ? the kind with timeslots, not the kind small blocks for each day. Map out all of your classes, the learnership hours, and when you will work on each outside of the set schedules.
Rather than sitting at your desk after hours wondering what you are going to start with, sit down knowing that TIME A to TIME B is dedicated to completing homework for CLASS 1; TIME B to TIME C will be spent completing a task that you didn?t have time to finish at your learnership; TIME C to TIME D will be a dedicated gym break, etc. There is so much to be said for having a plan rather than diving in blind.

Work and school CAN work in harmony if you put your mind to it!

Frequently Asked Interview Questions & How To Answer Them ? Part I

All interviews are nerve-wracking, whether it?s your first or fifteenth. What are they going to ask me? What if I don?t have a good answer? What if I don?t have an answer at all? There is no telling what each hiring manager is going to ask or how many questions can be expected, but most do tend to lean in the same general direction.

Foreseeing potential interview questions and coming up with proper responses is a great way to avoid those uneasy ?hang on, let me think about that one? moments. Concurrently, being relaxed and natural is just as important as being prepared. Overly prepared responses may come off as scripted or fake, so it?s important to have an idea of what you would say if asked a certain interview question, rather than something you memorized.

We have compiled a list of 7 of the most common learnership interview questions and how to answer them in hopes of preparing you for the unexpected.

1. Tell me a little about yourself.

Most interviews start this way, no matter what position is up for grabs. Before you dive into any type of conversation about the actual learnership and what you can bring to the table, your interviewer will want some background on the person they are considering. The interesting thing about this interview question is that it seems super simple, but it isn?t. Many people get thrown off guard when they?re asked to talk about themselves right off the bat because they are under the impression that their resume and cover letter were sufficient enough. Wrong. They want to hear it from the horse?s mouth.

You don?t need to memorize and communicate your entire resume bullet point by bullet point. Rather, focus on the experience, skills, and accomplishments relevant to the learnership you are applying for to help illustrate why you are a great fit.

2. Why are you interested in this learnership?

This is your time to speak highly of the company and what you?d like to get out of your (hopeful) experience there. Hiring managers want to recruit people that are passionate about the job and motivated to learn and grow within their company. They want to hear specific details about your interest; they want to know that you?ve done your research and genuinely want to join their team, and for good reason.

Review the job description and the company?s mission and explain what factors stand out to you. If you?re reading this and your answer is ?I don?t know,? it probably isn?t the job for you.

3. Tell me about a challenge you have faced at work (or in school) and how you overcame it.

Interviewers use this question to gauge how well you may work under pressure or in conflict. They want to understand your problem-solving skills, your methods for assessing a situation and dealing with it, and frankly if you?re the type to crack under uncomfortable circumstances. Sure, you may be professional and able to sing your own praises in an interview, but what will you do when your workload triples? When your deadline can?t be met because someone else?s task wasn?t completed? When your co-workers aren?t easy to get along with?

Describe a work situation in which you were forced to stop, evaluate and come up with an effective solution.

4. Why are you the best candidate for this position?

Be prepared to sell yourself, and don?t be afraid to be confident. If there was ever a time to speak highly of your skills, it?s now. From this question, your hiring manager needs to be convinced that you are capable of the work, that you have the abilities to take it to the next level, and that you would be the smartest addition to the team.

5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

No, asking about your weaknesses is not their way of weeding you out of your candidacy. It?s a way of determining how self-aware you are. Being able to identify your struggles is key in any type of profession, and it is appreciated. It shows that you know where you need to improve rather than operating under the guise that you don?t need any type of refinement. A learnership is a place to LEARN and grow, is it not?

Strength examples:

  • I am really deadline-driven and tend to complete my tasks ahead of time.
  • I can be really persuasive, largely due to my involvement in my university?s debate club.

It is also important to note that when identifying your weaknesses, it is ok to back them up with something positive:

Weakness examples:

  • I am not the best public speaker; talking in front of large groups makes me nervous, but I am a great communicator in a smaller setting.
  • I am not very computer-savvy, however, I learn very quickly and am confident that my skills will improve in a short period of time.

6. Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?

This question can be loaded. It?s not only meant to get an idea of where you see yourself in the future and what type of goals you have, but it?s also intended to measure your fit for the job. Is this someone who, if successful, would be a good full-time hire after the learnership? Does this candidate see himself working in a completely unrelated industry, doing a job that we cannot prepare him for? Be honest and realistic. If you aren?t sure where you want to be in five years, it?s acceptable to say so and explain that this learnership is going to help you explore the field and figure that out.

7. What questions do you have for me?

Do NOT, under any circumstances, say that you don?t have any interview questions. One of the key things that interviewers look for is interest. If you didn?t ask questions throughout the interview, be prepared to ask questions afterward. This shows that you are intuitive, have the desire to learn more and can be analytical. Not asking interview questions may come off as though you don?t want to get hired as much as someone else may.

We hope that this installment of ?Frequently Asked Interview Questions And How To Answer Them? helps you prepare for your next interview! Stay tuned for Part 2!

Setting Goals: How To Get The Most Out Of Your Learnership

Goal-setting is important in all aspects of life, and it?s no doubt something that you?re privy to. Everyone has goals, whether they have to do with school, athletics , personal development or improvement, dream jobs, family, finances, you name it. Goals can and should be applied to pretty much everything in life because they motivate us to work hard, be better and push ourselves to accomplish difficult tasks.

A learnership takes place over a set period of time, and they are often short ? a semester, a summer? sometimes even an intensive week or two. Because they are not intended to be a long-term experience, you must enter it with a list of goals in mind and a strategic plan to meet them. From what you want to learn, to the people you want to meet, to the services you want to deliver, the goals you set and how you set them will largely determine if you actually reach them.

Here are four goal-setting tips you can utilize to get the most out of your learnership:

GOAL ONE: Figure Out How Your Learnership Will Jump-Start Your Career

First and foremost, why did you apply for this learnership? Is it because you are interested in the business or department? Do you want to work full-time for this particular company or one like it? Is it a project or task-focused? Do you need to improve upon certain skills in order to pursue a career in it? Are you simply trying to figure out what direction you want to go professionally? It?s important to grasp WHY you are taking on this job before determining what you plan to get out of it.

Before you even get hired for a learnership, chances are a hiring manager will ask you why you want the job, and why you think you are their best candidate. After answering that question and undergoing an interview, your response should have developed exponentially in your head. By the time you are preparing for your first day on the job, your knowledge of the company and the role you will play will have grown, thus allowing you to tailor your experience goals.

Create a list outlining your goals based on what you will learn, and how it will assist your career-track in the future. Examples:

I want to learn the basics of writing javascript and PHP. This goal can be applied to a career in web design and development, which I have been interested in for years.

The company?s marketing and product teams have tripled their sales in the last year. I am interested in learning from and networking with the people who made it happen.

I am joining a company-wide learnership program at an insurance company because it will allow me to explore all areas in order to determine if I am more interested in health, life, or general insurance brokerage.

GOAL TWO: Stay Organized and On-Track

As mentioned, the time spent at a learnership will fly; so fast that it is unlikely that you will learn as much as you were hoping to. Because of this, it is important to use your time wisely. Rather than starting with a laundry list of goals, sit with your supervisor to go over what can and can?t be accomplished in the given time. This is not to say that you shouldn?t have high hopes and standards, though. It is simply meant to help you have realistic expectations. This will allow you to monitor what you are learning and where your time is being spent over time, in order to gauge if and when you may need to revisit the conversation. Not all learnerships are created equal, so it?s better to eliminate any barriers before you even reach them.

GOAL THREE: BE PROACTIVE

Going above and beyond during your learnership will make you stand out as a key player who has the potential to excel on a professional level. Rather than doing the minimum amount of work requested, brainstorm the ways in which you can offer more than what was asked of you.

Say you are working on a small product development team that is looking to produce a new line of sneakers. Your task is to help determine which designs are the most popular by surveying constituents and gathering data on item-specific preferences. Take it to the next level by not only delivering constituent results but also researching the competition and its popularity. Whether the company has already done so or not, you are showing that you can figure out what questions to ask and what data to gather in order for your company to better achieve its own goals. It will end up being a win-win for both parties.

GOAL FOUR: NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK

The contacts you will make at your learnership are quite possibly the greatest thing you will walk away with. This is because at the end of the day, the larger your network, the more opportunities and assistance you will have in the future. Dually important is the impression you leave on said contacts. When applying for a job, you will often require a list of references and letters of recommendation. This is when your performance comes into play. If you worked very closely with a manager during your learnership, and you trust that they had a good experience with you, he or she is the exact person you will want to reach out to when you need a reference.

That said, you should always focus on meeting as many people you can meet, leaving a positive and lasting impression and maintaining contact with them by keeping their phone numbers and/or email addresses. Networking is a key element in the working world, and learnerships are no exception.

Setting concrete goals before walking into the office on the first day of your learnership will help you enter the experience with a plan and determination. Best of luck!

What Learnership Goes Well With My Major? Part I

Feeling stuck? Overwhelmed? Unsure of what path to take or learnership to apply to? That is NORMAL! Very few people know what they want to do professionally from the start and actually stick with it long-term. This is something we are looking to change.

Whether you are trying to determine what you want to study in college, or you are researching learnership opportunities that blend well with your major, it is important to explore. Far too many students waste months, even years of their lives studying a subject that isn?t for them or working a dead-end job that they don?t feel passionate about.

In order to make the most of your education and to help set you up for success professionally, we have compiled a list that should help you determine what types of learnerships would go well with your major.

JOURNALISM & ENGLISH

Many assume that to be in journalism and English is simply to write. While journalism and English majors often do cross paths while applying for learnerships due to their common ability to write well, there are far more options than just that. They involve gathering and distributing/communicating information over a variety of mediums.

Communication and social platforms are continuously growing, as is the demand for talented wordsmiths. If you are studying Journalism and/or English, you may consider applying for a learnership at a local news station, a radio station, the newspaper or even a literary agency. Another common match-up is journalism and politics or law. Are you capable of writing and delivering a compelling argument or idea? Perhaps law school is in your future!

ENGINEERING

There are many engineering specialties, the most popular being civil, chemical, electrical and mechanical. Students in engineering tend to have very analytical and complex ways of thinking, which is highly attractive to technical companies that rely on math and science. If you are an engineering major, chances are you are a problem solver. Now, what kinds of companies would benefit from your knowledge? Innovators, inventors, designers, researchers and more.

While the following companies are dream jobs for most engineering students, the focus here is the TYPE of company to apply to for a learnership. Think Google, Yahoo, Boeing, Facebook, Pinterest, and NASA, to name a few heavy hitters.

ACCOUNTING

A degree in accounting means a wealth of learnership and career opportunities. This is because it is a basic element of any business, as it ultimately determines its performance and bottom line. The demand for individuals with accounting expertise is high and showing no signs of slowing. Taking this track can mean a corporate career, a finance career, government work, a job at an accounting firm, the entrepreneurial track, and more.

As a current or prospective accounting student, you know that in order to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), you must study for and pass an exam. By the time you do, you will have a better idea of whether you want to work in budget analysis, company auditing, consulting, finance, etc. Accounting majors typically take the audit or the tax career route, often not knowing which direction is best for them until they participate in a learnership. Accounting firms or the accounting department of a large business is a great place to explore career opportunities.

MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS

Marketing and Communications are two other fields that can be applied to a very large variety of companies. How did you hear about that new line of clothing that you must have? How do you think those ads on your sidebar line up with your interests? How did you land on that website that told you about the big concert happening this weekend? Marketing and communications. Print ads, social media, TV commercials, radio bits, street banners, handouts, you name it? all with well-written and attractive content.

Marketing and communication majors are creative thinkers and producers. As a student exploring this field, you know that it evolves on a regular basis; sometimes so fast that it?s hard to keep up! The majority of companies out there have a marketing department, and if there isn?t a department then there is at least an individual responsible for getting the word out about their latest product or service. If there isn?t a particular type of company you?d like to work for (ie. a performing arts venue, an insurance company, a clothing company), start by looking into businesses with at least 50 staff members, as you?ll be more likely to find a department and learnership dedicated to this expertise. Or, apply to a marketing-specific agency.

BUSINESS MANAGEMENT

This area of study is a big one because it is meant for people who have a lot of ideas and are interested in a variety of career opportunities. Whether you want to manage a group of people, start your own business, or learn the ins and outs of how a company operates, this field covers a lot of ground. The business management major is likely to face a lot of competition when applying for learnerships for this very reason.

A learnership at a company with many departments (accounting, training, marketing, development, HR, etc.) is a great place to start because it will give you an opportunity to dip your toes in everything. You may spend a few weeks in Human Resources and realize you?re simply not a people person. Or, you may work in the training department and find that you enjoy teaching new team members how to help the company operate. There is a wealth of knowledge to be had in business management, and even more opportunities for jobs.

If we haven?t discussed your major yet, don?t worry! There is more to come. Stay tuned for the next installment of ?What Learnership Goes Well With My Major??

Benefits of Working for Free: Why An Unpaid Learnership is Worth Your Time

unpaid-learnershipUnpaid Learnership? Why in the world would I want to work for free? Isn?t the point of a job to earn money, make a living and support myself?

In the grand scheme of things, yes. But it takes some strategy, time and dedication to get to that point, especially when you are preparing to enter the business world. We know; no one actually likes to work hard and ?walk away empty-handed,? but hear us out. It isn?t for nothing.

Here are 5 reasons why unpaid learnerships are worth your time:

1. Getting Your Foot In The Door

Individuals who work for a company as a learner are often more likely to get hired for a full-time job after completing their education than someone who does not. They are also considered to be a much more valuable candidate when up against someone who simply applies for the same job but did not work for the company previously. This goes for paid and unpaid.

Many companies that offer learnerships have job placement programs. If you perform well and show potential in your role, there is a chance that the company will put you in contact with their recruiter to discuss permanent opportunities. You know the lay of the land, the company?s goals, what your responsibilities would be, and then some. They know your work ethic, what you contributed to the team during your learnership, and how well you picked up the necessary skills.

Now, this does not mean that doing a learnership translates to a guaranteed hire. You have to put in the time and show them that they need you to stick around.

2. It?s Humbling

Spending your summer or a semester working an unpaid learnership will humble you. You wake up early every morning, put on your work clothes, rush to get in on time, take care of your day-to-day projects and tasks, go home, eat dinner, and do it all over again in the morning. In between, you make mistakes, you generate new skills, you get intimidated by your higher-ups, you worry about taking on responsibilities that are out of your league, you get stuck doing tasks that no one else wants to do and you don?t get a single dime for any of it.

Sounds encouraging, right?

Trust us. It is SO worth it.

We genuinely think that everyone should work in food service at least once in their life because it teaches you how to treat people, and more importantly, how NOT to treat people. We feel the same about unpaid learnerships. This is because you are put in a position in which you have major responsibilities for a real company. You experience the stresses of genuine work life while attaining incredibly value experiences and skills that you wouldn?t have had otherwise. Not being paid for a job that you dedicate yourself to will make you appreciate a paid job that much more.

3. Networking

Connections are key in the business world. You may have been the top student in your class, with excellent grades and a long list of extracurricular activities, but if you don?t make connections, you will have a harder time getting hired. It?s an unfortunate (fortunate, if you?ve got them) reality that keeps many qualified individuals from getting the jobs they deserve.

Taking on a learnership, regardless of pay, will help you build up your rolodex. Working with seasoned professionals allows you to seek advice, information about future opportunities, and even get references. It is common for business people to hear about an open position and think about a former colleague from years past who could be the perfect fit. Networking and generating contacts is a regular practice for all professionals, including those who are in the early stages of their career.

4. It?s a Resume Builder

This one doesn?t take too much explanation. Learnerships look fantastic on a resume. When you are ready to apply for full-time work, hiring managers will want to see what you did outside of school to get the experience needed for a job in the ?real world.? They want to know that you took the initiative to gain marketable skills, that you have the proper work ethic, that you have achievements, and that you can add value to their company.

And you did it for no money? He/she must be really dedicated and driven.

5. More Options

Most major companies offer learnership opportunities, but not all of them. Some don?t have the funds, some don?t have the manpower to manage an unexperienced employee, and others simply don?t have enough tasks to keep an extra person busy for the day.

The best thing you can do when applying for learnerships is to do your research, put yourself out there and tell companies why THEY need YOU. ?Maybe there is a business that you are interested in that does not offer any programs. That doesn?t mean you shouldn?t try, right?

  • Beef up your resume
  • Write a cover letter selling yourself and explaining why you would like to work for them
  • Request an interview to discuss what you bring to the table

Basically, show them that it would be a good idea to take on a learner.

True Story: One of our team members applied to a non-profit organization that had never had a learnership program, but she was interested in their business. She wrote a cover letter explaining that she was pursuing a career in marketing, and asked if they would entertain the idea of hiring her for a learnership. They invited her in to interview, likely out of curiosity, and she explained what she wanted to learn from them and what she could offer professionally. Realizing that they could, in fact, use some help, they hired her for an unpaid summer learnership. One year later, upon graduating university, the company contacted her on their own accord to ask if she needed a job because there was a position available. She ended up working there for almost four years, full-time.

We understand that taking the risk of working for a company without pay is scary because you have bills to pay and your time is valuable. However, it will absolutely set you up for success down the line. Whether or not you walk out of the gate with a job lined up, you will gain an immense amount of skills, experience, and appreciation for hard work. It will also help you determine whether or not you are on the right path. You may even find yourself realizing that you belong in a different field. That?s the point of a learnership, right? To find yourself.

 

Get Hired With A Killer Resume

resumeA well-written resume is one of the most important elements of the job-hunting process. Why? It is what gets you in the door.

It is said that you only have 5 seconds to get the attention of a potential employer. Sounds scary, doesn?t it? Your resume is the very first impression he or she will have of you. You will be judged straight out of the gate based on its appearance, how much information is included and how it is presented, and of course, the content. Often in that order.

?But shouldn?t they care more about what I have to say than how a piece of paper looks??

In hindsight, yes. But the fact of the matter is that employers are sent hundreds of resumes for just one position. It is vital that you stand apart from the pack. If your resume doesn?t grab their attention, and fast, the chances of your opportunity being dropped in the ?no pile? are rather large.

So, how exactly does one write a killer resume? Here are 5 tips that will help you secure that interview:

1. Nail Your Layout To Get Hired

Remember when I said that the appearance of your resume is a key element? Potential employers often do judge a book by its cover. It?s their way of weeding through the giant stack of resumes on their desk. Your goal is to make sure that this person reads your resume from top to bottom. So, what should you focus on?

  • Length. The proper resume length is often a topic of debate. Some say it should be no more than 1 page, others say that it is OK to have 2. The major point is that if you are going to venture onto the second page, you need to make sure you have something worth reading.
  • Readability. Your resume should be neat, clear and legible. This involves the overall design, the size and style of your font, the spacing and the content arrangement. A disorganized and inconsistent resume will automatically raise a red flag; it could be construed as a direct reflection of who you are as a professional! Keep your sections organized in such a way that the reader knows what to expect from each. Don?t squeeze your margins, use erratic spacing or make your font tiny in order to get as much on the page as you can. If it doesn?t fit, you?re being too wordy!
  • Headings. Objective, Experience, Education, Skills & Qualifications, Clubs & Activities. The sections are yours to choose from based on what kind of information you have to provide, but Experience and Education should always be included. The further you get in your professional career, the lesser the need for Clubs & Activities.

2. Be Specific! Use Keywords To Get Hired

Spend some time researching roles similar to the one you are applying to, whether they are advertisements or job descriptions. What keywords are repeated? What skills are highlighted? Don?t be afraid to mimic what you see in the job description if it applies to your experience.

If the responsibilities read, ?manage billing and collections,? address the same keywords in your resume, whether you do so in your headings or in your experience bullet points.

Hiring managers will scan your resume very quickly, looking for words that tell them that you are worth a second look. Use keywords to emphasize your roles and accomplishments; ?deadline-driven,? ?self-starter,? and ?leader? are common.

3. Provide Information That Matches The Job You Want

Let?s create a hypothetical scenario:

You are applying for a Marketing Learnership position for which you would be doing data entry, social media, website updates and administrative tasks as needed by your manager. You have worked at an ice cream shop, as a receptionist, and you helped your friend promote his business on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. You also use Microsoft Office every day for university projects, you keep proper track of your finances, and write on your own personal blog.

Now, what would the hiring manager care most about? The summer you spent working at an ice cream shop, or your administrative experience and computer skills?

Your use of MS Office and your time tracking your personal finances may mean that you would excel at data entry. Your time as a receptionist means that you have performed some administrative tasks, whether it was scheduling meetings, taking phone calls or ordering office supplies. Your Facebook and Twitter promotions for your friend?s business show that you know how to use social media platforms, which is vital for marketing roles these days. Your personal blog exhibits the ability to write creative content and perhaps make updates to websites.

The point I am trying to make is that you may have dabbled in a handful of different job types or projects, and have skills and experience that could match the position you are applying for. Maybe not the exact line-items listed in the job description, but that is OK. The point of a learnership is to do just that? LEARN. A hiring manager just wants to know that you have some relevant qualifications for the field and role you are applying to before they invite you to an interview.

4. Talk Yourself Up To Get Hired

Hiring managers don?t only want to know that you have experience and qualifications. They want to know what you have accomplished. Not only should you write about what you did at your previous job, but you should be sure to include your successes, what unique contributions you made, and what sets you apart from the person who has a resume just like yours.

Did you solve a problem that had yet to be solved? Did you bring in new business? Did you point out a flaw and come up with a solution on your own accord? Examples:

  • Secured $10k more in annual debate club support
  • Generated 35 new accounts
  • Re-designed and developed company website
  • Launched personal blog that received 30k visitors/month

There are so many ways to highlight your achievements; don?t let them get brushed under the rug!

5. Don?t Let Your Lack of Experience Deter You

If you are new to the job world and do not have much professional experience to include, don?t fret! Everyone has to start somewhere. Some things you may list to Get Hired are:

  • Your GPA if it?s above a 3.0 (if you?ve been on the dean?s list, say so!)
  • Coursework that is related to the role
  • Clubs you have been involved in (debate, environmental, theater, music, etc.)
  • Sports/regular activities
  • Volunteer work

Why sports and clubs? Because it shows balance. Most learnership hiring managers understand that this may be the first professional job you will have, so they assess your initiative and involvement in activities outside of school as well.

A killer resume will increase your chances of getting face-to-face time with your potential employer. It is not something to be lazy with! Beef it up and get that dream job!

How To Prepare For A Learnership Interview

How to Prepare For A Learnership Interview?

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Preparing For A Learnership Interview

Going into your very first professional interview can be daunting, but there are many ways that you can prepare yourself to maximize your potential for success. By the time you shake hands with whomever is conducting the interview, you should already know what you are going to say, how you are going to carry yourself, and how you want to feel at the end: confident. This is the time to sell yourself as the best candidate for the role.

Here are 4 great ways to get ready for your big interview:

1. Dress For Success

First and foremost, it is important to dress appropriately. ?Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.? These are words that many job hunters and employers live by. Say you work in a more casual environment that allows you to dress down, but you are vying for a promotion. Well, you should dress for the role that you think you deserve, rather than settling and taking the casual route. The same goes for interviews. You are applying for a job that is not yet yours, so don?t show up for your interview in jeans, sneakers and a t-shirt. Wear a proper button-up, slacks and dress shoes. If you don?t have any, ask a friend or family member to lend you something proper. First impressions go a long way.

If you aren?t sure what kind of business attire is appropriate, be conservative. It is better to dress up than to dress down.

2. Do Your Research

There is nothing recruiters love more than an interviewee that is well-prepared. Before going into your meeting, dedicate some time to learning about the company, particularly the area or department you are applying to. Going in blind will not only be obvious but off-putting to anyone conducting the interview.

You will absolutely be asked, ?Why do you think you are the best candidate for this role?? or ?Why do you want to work for our company?? Generic answers with little substance will not get you very far. Alternatively, explaining your skills as they pertain to your potential role, and giving specific details about the company that is of interest to you will work in your favour. Remember, you are one of many people applying for this job. Use your time wisely, and don?t make them feel like they?ve wasted theirs.

3. Interview Your Interviewer

Yes, you read that right. You should spend just as much time interviewing the person or people you are meeting with as they spend interviewing you. Sounds convoluted, but it is a key element in the interviewing process. Not only do recruiters appreciate when you come prepared, but they love being asked questions. It shows initiative, interest, and potential in their candidate.

Intuitive candidates set themselves apart from the rest by creating a knowledge-based interview; they understand the job they are applying for, but know that there is more to learn. They take the time to ask questions that not only help them fully grasp the company?s mission, but also show the interviewer that they are insightful. Being able to take a small bit of information (the job description), do research, and deduce certain conclusions about the company?s goals and future exhibits a candidate?s potential in the actual job sphere. Asking unanswered questions about the actual position will also show that you?re really interested.

Examples of questions you may ask (customize to job/company type):

  • I know that [COMPANY] has set a profit goal of $X for the year of [YEAR]. What is the team doing differently this year as compared to [YEAR] to reach that number?
  • Who are your competitors and what are your key strategies for standing apart from the pack?
  • I noticed that you are utilizing [METHOD] as a marketing strategy. How is that going? Do you think [ALTERNATIVE METHOD] could work?
  • I read about [TOPIC] in [MEDIUM]. Can you give me a little more insight into this?
  • Is there anything about my experience and skills that are not directly related to this position that you think the company could benefit from?
  • Who would I report to?
  • How has this position grown over time?
  • Where do you see [COMPANY] in 3-5 years, and how does this role contribute to achieving that goal?
  • What challenges come with this role?
  • Are there any job placement opportunities upon completion of the learnership?
  • What do you personally like most about working for [COMPANY]?
  • What is the timeline for filling this role? When can I expect to hear from you?

As you can see, there are many routes you may take in terms of interviewing the person you are meeting with. Pay attention to their answers, TAKE NOTES, come up with follow-up questions if necessary, and remain engaged. Creating a conversation rather than a drill-down will work to your benefit and be more comfortable across the board.

4. Be the Best Version of Yourself

A person?s confidence, or lack thereof, is entirely evident during an interview. Do your best to enjoy the experience, feel good about yourself, and absorb the atmosphere. Your interviewer’s vibe will often be a direct reflection of how you present yourself as an individual. If you are visibly uncomfortable, unenthusiastic, and frankly bland, it will be quite difficult to steer the conversation in a positive and promising direction. Smile, maintain eye contact, sit up straight, be energetic and don?t fidget.

At the end of the day, you are one of many. There could be 5 other people hoping for the job, or there could be 100. While there are many elements to a successful interview, it is important to remember that you gave your all and to not get yourself down if the company decides to grant the learnership to another individual. Take the process as a learning experience; remember what went right, what went wrong, how you felt and what you learned, and use that as fuel for your next interview.

Best of luck on your endeavors!