The most daunting aspect of your senior year of college is not the heavy course load or the thought of no longer being a college student. Rather, it has to do with the job search – the long and arduous process of looking for a career that can simultaneously utilize your unique talents and your brand new $100,000 education.

I spent my formative college years doing all the right things – playing a club sport, working part-time jobs, applying for summer internships, getting good grades – and yet when I began to look for a job in my field – History – I found myself at a loss. I had labored under the impression that if I chose a major in an area that I enjoyed, there would be jobs in that field awaiting me upon graduation. Boy was I wrong.

After an initial and unsuccessful search, I realized that if I wanted to work, I needed to look for jobs that, while not necessarily in my academic field, required the same sorts of skill set that I already possessed. Though history is perhaps not the most glamorous or specific major, I knew that the skills I had learned in my classes covered a variety of areas that could help me to land a job. Though I would no longer be writing history papers or reading vast amounts of text, I knew that the skills that I had learned in those courses were transferable and could help me succeed.

To many, a history paper is bogged down with names, dates, and places, and offers little outside of an academic setting. However, I knew that they included much more. Time management, research and writing skills, and creating concise and influential arguments were all important lessons that could be transferred to other fields. The work it requires to successfully research and write a paper – for any class or major – is not one that should be viewed lightly. It takes a great deal of intelligence, self-discipline, and effort to succeed in college, and employers know that. All employers look for employees that can work with a team and independently, can organize their thoughts and their tasks to stay on track, and who remain vigilant and detail oriented to get the job done. In every major, though these skills are not explicitly taught, they are always gained.

Though I did not receive my dream job right out of college, I know that the skills I learned in and out of the classroom during my undergraduate years prepared me to succeed in a variety of disciplines. With the experience I gained in those jobs, I was able to strengthen my résumé, obtain an understanding of a variety of disciplines, and create professional contacts that eventually helped me obtain a job in my desired field.

Post by Peter Rumbles, Career Services Assistant and Oregon State University Graduate Student

Question: I applied to several jobs and have not had any calls. What should I do?

First off, you are not alone. It often takes a few months to find a job which is something many people do not realize. On the other hand, it is important to continuously reflect on the job search process and evaluate what you can be doing better or more effectively. Here are some of the reasons why you may not be getting any calls after you submit your application:

  • Have you been tailoring your resume for each job? First thing I would do is re-evaluate your resume. Has it been critiqued by multiple people such as career center staff, someone who works in the industry you are applying, a friend who is good at editing, etc.? It is always beneficial to have 3 or more people look at your resume. Also, you always, always, always need to tailor your resume to each job you apply for. It is pretty obvious when an employer receives a resume that is used for all job applications and that is not impressive. Keep in mind that most resumes get 15 seconds of the recruiter’s attention, so it needs to be easy to read, clear, concise, and make them want to read more about you! Check out this video for quick tips on resume writing and check out the Career Services website resume section for examples and more tips.
  • Are you following up? It is important that you follow up after submitting a job application, but you should do so only once by email and to make sure to be unobtrusive. Alison Green from Ask a Manager says, You can do that by sending a quick email saying something like this: “I submitted my application for your __ position last week, and I just wanted to make sure my materials were received. I also want to reiterate my interest in the position; I think it might be a great match, and I’d love to talk with you about it when you’re ready to begin scheduling interviews.” That highlights your interest without interrupting the employer or demanding an immediate response.
  • Are you spending most of your time applying online? Many people make the mistake of spending all their time online when it comes to the job search. 10% of your time should be spent online while 90% of your time should be spent on networking! Many jobs aren’t even posted (like 80%) and therefore it is all about getting referred or knowing someone. So, applying online is one strategy but make sure you are also networking…you will probably get a much better response rate!
  • Have you been networking? This is follow up from the question above. We are told to network but how do you do that? First, let all of your friends, family, acquaintances, professors, advisors, etc. know that you are looking for a job and give them some specific details such as the industry, any companies or organizations you want to work for, job titles, etc. It is hard to help someone find a job if you aren’t able to communicate to your network what kind of job you want. Also, try connecting with people who work where you want to work by doing informational interviews. This is a great way to find out information that you won’t find online. You may also want to join a professional association in your industry to meet people with your interests and definitely join LinkedIn. Find out more about networking using social media.
  • Is your online identity professional? Many employers are learning more about you by searching for you online. Make sure whatever they find is clean and professional. If they don’t like what they see, they won’t call you for an interview. So, clean up your profile on Facebook, be careful what you post, set high privacy settings, and get on LinkedIn since it is a more professional social media tool.

If you still aren’t sure why you may not be getting any calls and you are an OSU student or alum, then make a career counseling appointment with  Career Services. We can help you come up with some job search strategies.

Any other suggestions why someone may not be getting any call backs after submitting applications? Anyone have some tips for someone experiencing this frustration? How have you found jobs?

Jen Busick, Career Advisor & Outreach Coordinator at Oregon State University advises students about internships and the job search, applying to graduate school, resumes/cover letters, and interviewing. She also organizes and updates resources, manages social media for Career Services and coordinates outreach opportunities. She enjoys working with students in coming up with a plan to finding a job and assisting them with figuring out the next steps. She has a lot of international experience, including the Peace Corps, study abroad, and independent travel.

To view this job/internship listing, you must be a currently registered OSU student and have an existing Beaver JobNet account. If you are eligible and do not have an account, register now. Beaver JobNet is a great way to get your job or internship search started. Meet employers from a variety of organizations.

Software Engineer, Intern/Co-op

Facebook is seeking Software Engineering Interns to join our engineering team. You can help build the next-generation of systems behind Facebook’s products, create web applications that reach millions of people, build high volume servers and be a part of a team that’s working to help people connect with each other around the globe.

This internship has a minimum twelve (12) week duration.

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For more information including how to apply, go to Beaver JobNet.

The path may have many forks, bends, and waves, but the skies are clear!

Hi, OSU Career Beavers blog readers. It’s Finals Week of spring term 2012, and I’ve been writing to you all year about my changeable and wavy career path. I’ve taken many roads! Since graduating with my undergraduate degree, I’ve been an actor, a waiter, a receptionist, a creative writer, a college composition instructor, a gas station attendant, a high school drama coach, a substitute teacher, a real estate office manager, a writing workshop leader, a nonprofit program director, and now, while I’m in graduate school, I’m a career advisor! Imagine that, me with my wavy path, I get to help other folks figure out their paths, write their resumes and cover letters, prepare for their interviews, and search for jobs. One thing I’ve learned from helping students with these skills is that the better you’re able to articulate who you are and what your goals are, the easier it will be to explain those things to potential employers, through your resume, your cover letter, and in an interview situation. When I work with students that learn how to do this, they have the ability to land the jobs and opportunities they want.

If you’re still searching and your career path may be wavy like mine, you can still have goals and a strong sense of your identity. I needed to take the path I took in order to discover that advising at a college would be a great fit for my skills, my needs, my strengths, and my goals and priorities. But along the way, I was still able to tell others why the next experience, whatever it was, was the experience I needed to get me closer to my goal. Goals change, people change, but from where you sit right now, what is your goal? What is your dream job? If you could wave a magic wand, where would you work? Now, what do you need to do to get to that dream? If your dream changes in the process of getting there, that’s fine. The important thing is to have the dream and a plan.

In this swiftly changing economy, workers of the future will need to be adaptable. That is a given. So, why not look at change as opportunity, change as the ability to learn more, change as a way to explore another facet of who you can be in this life. I’ve always viewed change as positive and exciting. We only get one chance at this life thing; we might as well learn as much as we can!

Thanks for following my story this year. Good luck to you in your own path. May you be always learning more, about yourself and the world of work, so that you can create the place where the two meet and like each other a lot.

Jessica Baron is currently a Graduate Assistant in Career Services at OSU and a full time student in the College Student Services Administration Program.

Me Near the Colorado Sand Dunes After Graduating

Welcome back, everyone! Can you believe that we are already in the third week of spring term? Hope your courses are going really well, and you’re enjoying warmer, sunnier weather every day.

So, I’m the Career Changer, Jessica, and I’ve been writing all year about my wavy career path to illustrate that the straight path isn’t always the right path to a rewarding life’s work. The last time I wrote, I told you about how I was teaching composition and creative writing in an MFA program, enjoying my students, and learning about myself every day. Although stressful and busy, these three years were an amazing period of my life!

As I was finishing my thesis, (a 120 page book of poetry!) I began to realize that the moments I most enjoyed with my students were one-on-one. As part of my writing course curriculum, I had several conferences set up over the course of the term with my students, and I loved when they would come into my office and tell me what was going on in their writing AND in their academic lives. It was exciting to hear about the diverse paths, interests, and goals of my students, almost like getting to experience all these things myself by learning about their strategies to find their way in the world. I began to provide my students with feedback and resources so that they could make more informed choices, and it was really fun!

When I graduated from the program, I knew that what I really wanted to do was advising of some sort. At first, this was disappointing because I had spent the past three years preparing for a career in writing instruction. But I valued the experience, and I felt that a lot of to skills I learned in those three years applied directly to advising. But since this was a shift in my plan, I needed some time to regroup. I decided to go back to the Creede Repertory Theatre to work as an actor for the summer again; I’d figure out what was next after that.

What was next was a wedding and a winter in a very cold house and a couple of new jobs that taught me a ton along the way. I’ll fill you in on these next time.

Jessica Baron is currently a Graduate Assistant in Career Services at OSU and a full time student in the College Student Services Administration Program. Before making her way to Oregon State, Jessica worked as an actor, waiter, online tutor, receptionist, college composition instructor, creative writer, gas station attendant, nonprofit program director, writing workshop leader, high school drama coach, Hallmark card straightener, substitute teacher, real estate office manager, and SAT tutor, not necessarily in that order. Her “Confessions of a Career Changer” focuses on her wavy career path and the challenges and joys of wanting to do everything.

You’ve been offered a job that sounds fantastic – it pays a very good salary and the workplace has a great atmosphere. You’re eager to take it, but wait: thoroughly evaluate the benefits package before you accept the job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2010, the average employee benefits package comprised 30 percent of the total compensation package, and the average value of benefits was $8.11 per hour. You can try to calculate the value of the benefits on your own, but some experts believe the best way to put a dollar value on benefits is asking the prospective employer to do it for you.

Example: Job A and Job B

Let’s say Job B pays $2,000 more per year than Job A. You take job B because of this, but maybe you don’t realize that Job A covers 100 percent of the health insurance premium and Job B pays 75 percent of it. With Job B, $200 per month is deducted from your paycheck to cover health premiums and there’s a $500 deductible you’ll pay before the insurance covers the rest of the cost. You’ll pay a total insurance premium of $2,400 per year and you may have to pay a $500 deductible if you need healthcare services during the year. Although Job A pays less in terms of salary, it may be a better financial choice just based on healthcare benefits. And then there are also the retirement account and other benefits to consider.

Health Plans

Many employers are charging employees more for their health insurance than in the past, however employer-provided health insurance is still a bargain. Keep an eye out for potential costs such as:

  • Employee-paid premiums
  • Co-payments
  • Deductibles
  • Maximum annual out-of-pocket expense
  • Coinsurance, which requires you to pay a percentage of the total cost of healthcare
  • Healthcare services the insurer doesn’t cover


With a 401(k) plan your contributions are tax-deferred (except for social security taxes). Most employers match between 50 cents and 1 dollar for every dollar you contribute for up to 3 to 6 percent of your salary. For example, if you make $40,000 per year and you contribute $200 per month and your employer match is 75 percent for up to 6 percent of your salary, your employer is putting in another $150 per month, which works out to be $1,800 per year. Not taking advantage of an available 401(k) plan at work is like simply rejecting free money.

With a 401(k) plan you accept responsibility for the investment risks and potential losses due to fluctuations in the market. Typically, jobs which don’t offer a retirement plan are not worth considering unless the salary is high enough to allow you to easily contribute to your own retirement account.

Defined Benefits Plan

Some experts believe a defined benefits plan is better than a 401(k) plan because the defined benefits plan is not affected by market performance. Instead, the employer has all the investment risks and unless the company files for bankruptcy and can’t fund the benefit plan, your pension is guaranteed. Due to the costs and risks, fewer employers are providing defined benefits plans these days.

If a defined benefits plan is available, find out how long it takes to become vested. After you become vested you have a non-forfeitable right to benefits funded by the employer even if you leave your job and work for another employer.

Some people believe a defined benefits plan is risky because the employer may not be able to fund the pension plan. However, these plans are typically protected by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, an independent agency of the United States government. If the company goes bankrupt, your benefits may be reduced, but you are guaranteed to receive a minimum percentage of your promised benefits.

Flexible Spending Account (FSA)

A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is a pre-tax benefit account used to help offset the costs of healthcare and dependent care for you and your family. Money deducted from your pay and going into an FSA is not subject to payroll taxes. However, there’s a significant disadvantage of an FSA – the funds not used by the end of the year are lost to you.

Benefits in Private Industry

These 2011 statistics will help you compare the types of benefits and employer financial contributions you’ve been offered compared to all workers in private industry:

  • 73 percent of full-time employees had access to retirement benefits, 85 percent to medical, and 75 percent to paid sick leave
  • On average, single coverage employers paid 80 percent of the medical care premiums for full-time employees and 68 percent for family coverage
  • 7 percent of unmarried domestic partners (same sex and opposite sex) had access to retirement survivors benefits
  • 29 percent of same sex unmarried domestic partners and 25 percent of opposite sex unmarried domestic partners had access to healthcare benefits

(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Compensation Survey, March 2011)

Here’s a laundry list of typical employee benefits you should be aware of when job hunting:

  • Medical, vision and dental insurance
  • Health and wellness programs
  • Life insurance
  • Short-term and long-term disability coverage
  • Paid holiday, vacation and sick leave
  • Disability insurance
  • Retirement plans
  • Stock options
  • Severance package
  • Employer-paid day care center
  • Prepaid legal services
  • Education assistance programs and scholarship funds
  • Adoption assistance
  • Maternity leave
  • Flexible work schedule
  • Health club

After you graduate from college, benefits, such as a retirement account and health insurance, may not grab your interest. You may think benefits are the concern of older workers, but there are a lot of older workers who wish they paid more attention to benefits when they began their careers. Besides, asking questions about the benefits package makes you look smart to the person offering the job!

Brian Jenkins writes about many different college and career topics for He has contributed content to BrainTrack’s career planning guide.

Sometimes we need to stop and reflect about what comes next.

Career Changer, Jessica, here, ready with another episode in the tale of my wavy career path. Last episode, I was in Colorado, working at the Gifts & Gas, when I decided I would go to graduate school. I made this decision for a couple of reasons, some good and some not so good. First, as part of my winter in this small mountain community, my favorite memories occurred during a Women’s Writing Group that I helped create. Six or seven women would gather at one of our homes on a Tuesday or a Wednesday night, share things we were writing, respond to creative writing prompts, and share those impromptu writings as well. I really enjoyed coming up with writing activities for the group, challenging myself with writing, and the whole experience allowed me to share things through writing that I might not share in casual conversation. So, I thought, why don’t I go to school to do this as a job? Why don’t I get a degree in creative writing so that I can be a writing instructor and do this all the time?

I mentioned that there were good reasons for me to go back to school and a couple of maybe not so good reasons. One good reason was that I was truly going to pursue something that I loved doing. Another good reason was that I could see myself in higher education, working in some capacity at a college or university. I loved college towns, and I could see myself raising a family in a college-centered community. However, some of the other reasons I went back to school involved a lack of knowledge, about myself and about the field I would enter. I didn’t quite know what was next for me. I felt a little lost, and thought, why not more school? I wasn’t a person who was motivated by writing; I didn’t need to write, but I enjoyed it. Also, the creative writing instructor market is pretty saturated with MFA graduates trying to secure professorships. I didn’t know then that it can take 10 to 15 years to find a secure creative writing job at a college or university. I probably could have done a bit more homework investigating my own strengths and ultimate goals and what I could expect afterward.

Without acknowledging all my reasons, good or bad, I applied to 9 programs across the country. I applied so many places because creative writing programs can be competitive. Only three of the nine schools admitted me, and I decided to go to Colorado State University.

In August of 2006, I began my first graduate degree, an MFA in creative writing with a concentration in poetry. We found a house to live in, and I settled into the fast pace of graduate level coursework. Let me tell you – it was intense! I tutored for several hours a week in the writing center and spent all day Saturday and Sunday each week reading and writing. Remember that I’d been out of school for 6 years; it was difficult. But I eventually found my footing and made it through my first year, studying poets I’d never heard of before, writing my own poems and critiquing my peers work, and investigating theory, something I’d never engaged with before. Next time, I’ll tell you about my 2nd and 3rd years of school and what happened when I graduated. Have a great Week 8, OSU!

Jessica Baron is currently a Graduate Assistant in Career Services at OSU and a full time student in the College Student Services Administration Program. Before making her way to Oregon State, Jessica worked as an actor, waiter, online tutor, receptionist, college composition instructor, creative writer, gas station attendant, nonprofit program director, writing workshop leader, high school drama coach, Hallmark card straightener, substitute teacher, real estate office manager, and SAT tutor, not necessarily in that order. Her “Confessions of a Career Changer” will focus on her wavy career path and the challenges and joys of wanting to do everything.

Here I am in a musical called, "A Wonderful Noise" at the Creede Repertory Theatre

Hello, OSU Career Services blog readers. I’m back with another installment of “Confessions of a Career Changer”. I left off last time with the recent death of my mother, acting in a professional theatre company in Colorado, and wondering what to do next. The following winter I wanted to regroup, ask questions about who I was and wanted to continue to be, and plan my next move. I stayed in Colorado with my boyfriend (now husband) to reevaluate.

Of course, I still had to make a living. So, by virtue of the very small community I now lived in, which dwindled down in population to less than 400 full time residents within the city limits in winter, word of mouth quickly spread that I was looking for a job. But my situation was enormously lucky. We lived in a home owned by a good friend who charged us a miniscule amount for rent. Plus, there are very little opportunities to spend money in Mineral County, as the closest movie theatre is an hour and a half away and the closest shopping center even further. In Creede, Colorado during the winter months, people have potlucks and board game nights for their entertainment. So our expenses were very low, basically food and utilities. Also, my mother left me a legacy of support with her pension. She was able to will it to me, and I suddenly had a small but reliable monthly income, courtesy of my mother. So, I was looking for a part time job to help us fill the gap between the income I received through her kindness and our bills. And I found one at the Gifts & Gas.

The Gifts & Gas is the only gas station in Creede. It is more than a gas station; it is a hub of information sharing, community gathering, and social work. Most people who live in the county need to patronize the Gifts & Gas over the course of a week, and these people share stories and information as they come in to pay for their gas, their candy bars, their dozen eggs, or their lined notebook. Because there are so few shops open all year in Creede, the Gifts & Gas provided a lot more than just your typical convenience store fare. And the manager of the store at the time was a true local. A woman who taught me a lot about caring and communicating, Kris had lived in Creede most of her life. The wife of a retired silver miner, Kris ran the Gifts & Gas as the social institution that it should be. As my boss, she showed me how a community can use whatever means necessary to care for its members, including discussing the latest troubles of those who lived in the community, trying to get them direct help, and referring folks to the resources they needed (the health clinic, the sheriff’s department, the city council). She did all this while fulfilling her title as the manager of a gas station. I didn’t realize it then, but this is the kind of worker that I wanted to be in the world: engaged, compassionate, and interdisciplinary. We all need role models and mentors in our workplaces to see what is possible. I was lucky enough to watch and learn from Kris.

While I worked at the Gifts & Gas that winter, I began to apply to graduate schools, and I will tell you about this next step next time in “Confessions of a Career Changer”.

Jessica Baron is currently a Graduate Assistant in Career Services at OSU and a full time student in the College Student Services Administration Program. Before making her way to Oregon State, Jessica worked as an actor, waiter, online tutor, receptionist, college composition instructor, creative writer, gas station attendant, nonprofit program director, writing workshop leader, high school drama coach, Hallmark card straightener, substitute teacher, real estate office manager, and SAT tutor, not necessarily in that order. Her “Confessions of a Career Changer” will focus on her wavy career path and the challenges and joys of wanting to do everything.

Here I am in the Autumn mountains of Colorado!

Hello!! Jessica, the Career Changer here, and I left off last time with my first job experience as an actor in the mountains of Colorado. At the end of that summer in 2004, after some traveling and visiting with family and friends, I returned to New York City. I quickly found a job back in the restaurant business at a very fancy restaurant in the TriBeCa neighborhood. They trained me to be a hostess, and I had to memorize the faces of a slew of famous and not so famous but important people that would be seated first, treated better, and given whatever they asked. The whole thing made my skin crawl a bit. This was the first place I worked where they actually trained me to treat some people better than others, and I did not like the concept at all. I’m one of the people who wouldn’t get treated very well, and so are my parents, and so are my friends. I followed the procedures I learned, but whenever possible, tried to treat everyone, famous or not, the same. I went back to auditioning periodically and performed in a couple of small projects.

But here is where my story gets a bit dramatic and complicated. That year, my mother was pretty sick with cancer, so even though I was living in New York and working at this fancy restaurant and auditioning for theatre, a lot of my time was spent at home in New Jersey with her. And here is another lesson I’ve learned. There are more important things than work. I needed to work less that year and spend time with her more because I knew she might not be around much longer. So, I let my supervisor know this situation, and he was very understanding. I left that job and my apartment in February of 2005 to live with my parents and help take care of my mother. My plan was to return to Colorado for another season of acting in May.

In May, just before I was scheduled to leave for the summer, my mother passed away. I believe she did that on purpose so that I could be there with her and with my dad. I still made it to the beginning of my contract in Colorado, but I knew then I probably wasn’t going to back to the New York City area. I’d worked really hard to make a life for myself there, but in Colorado I didn’t need to work quite so hard at jobs I didn’t like or didn’t feel right about doing. The community in Colorado embraced me and took care of me through this grief, through a time of mourning, and also showed me where to go and what to do next. And I did figure it out… Next time, I’ll let you know what I figured out in “Confessions of a Career Changer”.

Jessica Baron is currently a Graduate Assistant in Career Services at OSU and a full time student in the College Student Services Administration Program. Before making her way to Oregon State, Jessica worked as an actor, waiter, online tutor, receptionist, college composition instructor, creative writer, gas station attendant, nonprofit program director, writing workshop leader, high school drama coach, Hallmark card straightener, substitute teacher, real estate office manager, and SAT tutor, not necessarily in that order. Her “Confessions of a Career Changer” will focus on her wavy career path and the challenges and joys of wanting to do everything.

Ever have the thought of, “Ah, I am so busy that I don’t have the time to job search before I graduate, what should I do”? Don’t worry you’re not alone. We are all busy with school and finding the time to job search in between classes isn’t an easy task, but trust me it isn’t impossible either.

No need to worry, there are some ways to get organized and motivated when it comes to finding a job during the process of graduating. Continue reading