Winter break is about to begin and it is a perfect time to get your job search checklist started. Whether you are a freshman needing a job during the break or a senior about to graduate and looking for the perfect career, a checklist is exactly what you need to get started. With four weeks of winter break this year, there is more than enough time to get your checklist completed. Below are just a few ideas on how you can get everything organized during the break. Continue reading

Jessica's Theatre Headshot

The last time we talked, it was 2001, and I mentioned that I had a job as a receptionist in New York City; I went to Texas to do a film for the summer, thinking that I would just slide right back into my receptionist job when I returned. But as I was returning, while I was driving through Nashville toward home, a couple of planes crashed into the World Trade Center in my city.

New York City in the aftermath of 9/11 was, as you can imagine, a chaotic place. For several days, no one was allowed into the city unless they were emergency personnel. I stayed with my parents in New Jersey, watching the unbelievable footage on television over and over. When they finally opened the bridges and tunnels, I went to my old job headquarters on 6th Avenue and asked when I could begin working again. I needed to work. I had spent most of my savings doing an unpaid, low-budget film. My previous boss, a nice young woman from Staten Island, said they didn’t need me, and in light of the recent events, they needed to downsize and cut costs.

Many events converged to put me out of a job in September of 2001, but half of the city was out of a job. Lots of people were volunteering at Ground Zero or around the city to help families find their loved ones. I decided this was the perfect moment for unemployment insurance.

So, this stuff is insurance, and our employers pay it on our behalf. Sometimes we need to use those systems that are set up as safety nets. Sometimes we fall, and a program like unemployment insurance is designed to catch us. I used the few months after 9/11 on unemployment insurance to audition vigorously for any and all performance opportunities. I worked a day here and there as an extra on several television shows. I spent time with actor friends, working on audition material and perfecting my acting resume. And this work actually did pay off.

In early December of 2001, I found out I got a really good tour gig. This 6 month tour would be a children’s theatre production in schools and venues across the country. We would get in a van, drive to St. Louis or Montauk or Ithaca or Cleveland, check into a cheap hotel, put up our set, perform our 60 minute musical, and drive on. Sounds like hard work, right? It was. But we were paid fairly well; we got to join the actor’s union, and we got health insurance because of the union. In all, it was an amazing break for me.

Next time, I’ll talk about what happened on the road. Hope your semester is going great and  that you’re enjoying “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.

A few times during the term we will highlight OSU alum who have been successful in the job search process and share their experience with you! They offer great tips and strategies that maybe you could implement as well.

A year after graduation I left Corvallis and moved back to my home town in Southern Oregon.  I graduated with a degree in Public Health Management and Policy with a minor in Business Entrepreneurship.  It was my goal to obtain a position where I felt I was helping others while using the knowledge I had acquired in my undergraduate studies.

How did you find out about the position?  What does your job entail?

Having heard a statistic stating 80% of jobs are found through networking, I thought it would be best to get the word out that I was looking for employment.  I started talking to family and friends about my skills and experience.  It was not long before a friend of the family let me know about an opening at the organization she worked for.  The opening was for a Health Screener at Early Head Start in Medford.  The position involves setting up health screenings at Early Head Starts throughout two counties, conducting the health screenings, completing data entry, contacting head teachers and parents with results, and referring families to various resources in the area.

How did you approach applying for the job?

I was excited to hear about this position and tailored my resume to the position description, wrote a cover letter highlighting my skills and interest, and completed the application. Next I got ready for the interview by researching the organization and preparing success stories from previous experiences that related to the job responsibilities in this position.  After completing the interview I also wrote thank you notes to each of my interviewers.  Fortunately, I was offered the position within hours of completing the second portion of a two part interview.  I happily accepted.

What advice do you have for others about the job search process?

My advice to those in the job search process is to use all available resources at your disposal. While the internet is a great place to search for open positions, be sure to let your family and friends know what experiences and skills you have to offer an employer.  Also, use Career Services for help tailoring your resume, creating your cover letter, and helping to prepare for your interview.  My last piece of advice is to stay positive.  Job searching can be a slow, tedious process but in the end it is worth all the hard work.

Posted by Rachel Erickson, 2010 OSU Alum

It’s less than a week away; are you ready? Whether you’re attending the fair to scope out potential future employers or to truly start the job hunt process, we hope you’re well on your way to getting prepared. Your resume should already be in tip-top shape. Your 30 to 60 second infomercial should be polished and practiced. You should have your goals clear in your mind, the employers you want to talk to mapped out, and your professional attire chosen.

But what should you do after the fair? Sit by the phone, pining for a call? Check your email every 20 minutes to see if they’ve contacted you? Visit the headquarters of the company in person to speak to the president directly, asking why they haven’t called or emailed you since the fair, angry and screaming?

Okay, maybe you can tell that these aren’t quite the right moves for following up with employers. They don’t give a very favorable impression. But following up after an event like a Career Fair in a professional way can be a manageable task if you do a little bit of planning.

First of all, while you are at the fair or very soon after, take notes on the back of employers’ business cards that you undoubtedly collected about the individual you spoke with, the conversation you had, and your initial impressions. (You can also do this in a notebook, but make sure you attach the correct business card to the correct page in your notes so that you don’t lose the contact information!) Next, use this information to write up professional and targeted thank you letters to the employers you have any interest in speaking with further. Use a detail from your conversation with the employer in your note to jog their memory. Something like, “Thank you for speaking with me at the Career Fair at Oregon State University. Our conversation about how a company mission statement can set a tone in a workplace really got me thinking,” will help an employer place you. And get those letters out quickly! Many people don’t send thank you letters, and it can make a huge difference between an employer remembering you and not being able to recall you out of the sea of students and alumni they spoke with. You can also call the employer 2 weeks after sending those letters to confirm that they received your note and to express your continued interest in interviewing with the company.

Finally, patience is a virtue when it comes to the fair. You made connections and increased your network by attending, but those connections may not pay off right away. You never know when that network will help you in the future. If you make a meaningful connection at the Career Fair, by taking notes and following up afterward, those relationships can eventually give you opportunities and open doors. Good luck!!

Posted by Jessica Baron, Career Services Graduate Assistant

Jessica Baron in one of her many roles. Currently, Jessica is a Graduate Assistant in Career Services.

My name is Jessica, and I’m a career changer.

What is a career changer? Well, I’d like to think that it’s someone who is continually searching and learning, about herself and about the world in which she lives. I’d also like to think that it’s someone whose experiences and interests are multiple and varied. But it’s also someone who wants to do everything. And can’t. So, we career changers hop from experience to experience, from job to job, searching for the thing that will fulfill all the aspects of our values, personalities, wants, and needs.

I started off wanting to be an actor. When I graduated from college in 2000, I moved to New York City to pursue this dream. Acting is a logical choice in some ways for someone who wants to do everything. With each role, the actor gets the opportunity to inhabit someone else’s life, even if it’s just for a short moment. I’ve played pioneer women and secretaries, battered wives and English country girls. For the duration of the show, I could feel what that person’s life would have been like, how their backgrounds and histories and present circumstances converged to create who they are in this moment of the play.

But acting sometimes doesn’t provide a steady paycheck. When I first moved to New York City, I needed to make some real money to pay my bills. First, I found a waitressing job at a restaurant in Soho. Soho is a neighborhood on the South end of the island of Manhattan. I lived in Queens. The trip from my work to home took about an hour by subway, and the restaurant was a late night place, so I often found myself waiting for the subway to go home from work at 4 am. I would walk down the stairs to the empty platform and wait for 30 minutes for a train to arrive, watching the gaping hole of the subway tunnel in anticipation, falling asleep standing up. I wasn’t making much money for the amount of time I spent there. Sometimes less than $100 in tips for 10 hours of work. And I was so tired during the day that I didn’t go to many auditions. I had to keep reminding myself that I was living in New York to be an actor, not a server. One of the other servers I worked with at this Soho restaurant was a writer, trying to write a novel during the day and make enough money to pay his expenses by serving fancy pink drinks to already drunk ladies in thigh high boots at night. He was having a hard time of it, just like me, but he kept plodding along. I didn’t last very long there, maybe a month.

When I left this unnamed restaurant, I signed up with an office temp agency, and within weeks, I got a job doing reception at a technology firm near Radio City Music Hall. Remember that this was 2000, and jobs felt plentiful, at least in New York. Many people moved from job to job easily, and I felt like I could pick and choose. I had a degree, and I learned things quickly. The world of work looks a bit different now that we’ve moved into a new era of economic downturn and uncertainty. Now, a degree is no guarantee since there are often hundreds of qualified applicants for each job. We have to be good self-promoters, with a strong resume, a well-written and specific cover letter, and a polished interview style. As I’ve moved from career to career, I’ve needed to become more adept at navigating the job market as times change and the working world shrinks. But that didn’t stop me from my career changer tendencies, hopping from job to job or from field to field. Look for my story to continue twice a month with more “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.

Below is an interview with a recent OSU alum, Maarja Simila, about life after college. She is now a Bilingual Family Educator at Community Action Head Start.

What does a typical day consist of for you?
A week after graduating I was offered a job as a Bilingual Family Educator with Community Action Head Start. I have a caseload of 40 families so most days I’m at my site in Woodburn working on making sure that all our Head Start kids and families have the resources they need. This might be helping parents schedule yearly physical and dental exams for their child or helping them work on their family goals. I’m not stuck at my desk all day, although some days I am out doing home visits or in the classroom helping with snack or mealtimes.

How is it like now working instead of going to school?
My first couple weeks of work felt overwhelming as I was learning the job and all my responsibilities and I missed having the flexibility of making my own class schedule. After a few weeks though, I began to settle in to the job and got to know my co-workers and then I really started to appreciate being able to come home from work and just relax and not having to worry about having homework to finish. Also, I really like having my weekends free; not having to schedule my plans around finishing homework or projects.

What has been the most difficult part of the transition?
The hardest part has probably been adjusting to waking up a lot earlier, usually around 5:30am, mostly because of the 45 minute to an hour commute that I now have. It’s not like the 15 minute walk to class I used to have. It’s also been hard getting home from work and not really having energy for anything else besides eating, relaxing and then going to bed.

What has been the most enjoyable part?

By far the most enjoyable part has been knowing that I’m making a difference, even if it’s just one child or family at a time. It is also definitely nice being paid for my hard work and not having to pay for it.

Posted by Silver Trujillo, Career Services Assistant

Does the thought of an 8:00 to 5:00 office job make you yawn?  Do you become restless thinking about performing routine tasks?  Perhaps you are in need of a unique job!  I recently stumbled upon the book Nice Job! The Guide to Cool, Odd, Risky, and Gruesome Ways to Make a Living. If you are determined to lead a less routine lifestyle, this book may be for you.  To peak your interest, I have included five of my favorite job positions for you to consider.

1.  Christmas Tree Farmer
A green thumb paired with a business savvy attitude makes for a successful Christmas tree farmer.  Today’s holiday trees sell for about $35 a tree.  Earning around $4,000 an acre, one could earn a comfortable living harvesting a 15 acre Christmas tree farm.  A successful farmer should be patient, have a background in marketing, and be knowledgeable of the land and farming procedures.  For more information, visit

2.  Product Name Developer
The best marketing strategy a company can have is to find a catchy name for its products.  In this position, you would be responsible for brainstorming and generating lists of names for the new products of companies.  While each name suggested only earns about $1.00 each, a full time namer employed for a high-level company could bring in a six-figure salary.  Knowledge of linguistics and languages is helpful, creativity is common, and working to meet deadlines is a must.  Flexible hours and working in any environment are enjoyed by employees of this title.

3.  The Real World & Road Rules Editor
MTV’s real life soap operas aren’t captured as they appear.  A skilled film editor works through hours of tape to determine the best segments to include in each 22 minute film episode.  A person in this position needs a great sense of drama and an understanding of human behavior.  An eye for juicy and interesting subject matter is a must with film and script experience being helpful.  A perk of the job: you always know what will be happening before the rest of the viewing audience!

4.  Ice Cream Flavor Developer
Perhaps my favorite job: tasting and evaluating lots and lots of ice cream.  Ice cream flavor developers begin at a starting salary of $25,000 a year with opportunities to grow to $50,000.  Candidates for this position have sensitive, evaluative taste buds, are creative, and have the ability to deal with media.  Developers are involved in quality control, product development, and the training of ice cream sales people.  However, four to five hours a day can be expected to be spent on the tasting of ice cream.

5.  Bicycle Messenger
Bicycle messengers serve in both big cities and small communities as quick deliverers of packages, letters, and time-sensitive documents.  They can expect to bring home $500 a week before taxes while putting on 20 to 60 miles of bike travel per day.  Agility, quick-wittedness, and a powerful survival instinct make up the best bicycle messengers.  Keeping fit while on the job is a welcomed perk of this adventurous position.

These unique opportunities are but five of many.  If you are interested in reading the full book, there is a copy available in the office of Career Services as well as the OSU Library.  You might also check out the following websites:

A unique job may be the perfect fit for you.  Be creative, be persistent, and be open to adventure!

Posted by Bobbi Meyer, Career Services Graduate Assistant

The Career Fair is a great place to talk to potential employers. You know you will have the opportunity to talk to many employers, but how exactly do you turn the Career Fair into a job? Below are some ways you can stand out!

  • Dress for Success- Appearance plays a big part in the way that potential employers sees you. Body language is 55% of what employers use to select who they want to work for them. When it comes to the Career Fair it is important that you are looking your best. You want to stand out from others who aren’t looking professional and make it easier for employers to lean towards you. For men, a suit would be ideal but slacks, a button up shirt and a tie also work. For women, a suit (pants or skirt are fine) are also ideal, but you can also pair pants with a professional-looking blouse, blazer or sweater and make sure to wear a comfortable yet classy shoe (either flat or pumps are appropriate).
  • Resumes and Cover Letters– Having a strong resume and cover letter gives you a chance to stand out after meeting employers at the Career Fair. Employers get stacks of resumes after Career Fairs and you want to make sure that yours stands out. Format is important but it is more important to tailor your experience to the company or organization you will be talking to.
  • Be Prepared– There are many ways you should prepare yourself for the Career Fair. Doing research about a company or organization that you are interested in is very important. It is not a good idea to approach an employer and ask them what they do. You want to be prepared to talk to them about why you are interested in their company or organization and the different ways that you can fill their needs. You also want to prepare your “30 second spiel,” which highlights your resume, skills, and interests and it is always good to ask questions.
  • Follow up – After talking to an employer, ask for his/her business card and make sure to follow up with an email thanking them for their time and that you look forward to talking to them again in the future. You could even set up an informational interview which could get you connected to even more people.

These are some ways that you can turn a Career Fair into a job. Don’t be afraid to think about it as you interviewing employers to see if they fit your needs. You want to make sure you go in with a game plan and confidence, once you do that you will be ahead of everyone else.

Posted by Silver Trujillo, Career Services Assistant

When I was ten years old my grandpa and I went to Honduras to visit my aunt, who was serving in the Peace Corps. During the two weeks I was there I learned a few key phrases in Spanish (¿donde esta el bano?), experienced a new culture, made new friends, learned how to make tortillas from scratch, and was awoken early each morning by a rooster. The experience made me look at the world from another perspective and made me appreciate many of the things I took for granted living in the United States, such as clean water, education, and paved roads. That trip was a pivotal moment in my life; I promised myself that I too would one day join the Peace Corps.

Realizing the Dream

In May 2006, my dream of serving in the Peace Corps came true when my husband and I departed the United States for Bolivia, a land-locked country in South America. We arrived in the city of Cochabamba, where we spent three months in training. Half the day we took Spanish classes and the other part we learned about Bolivian culture and gained more skills in our project areas. We were part of a group of 30 other volunteers.  Each of us lived with a different Bolivian host family. After those three months of training we were officially “Peace Corps Volunteers” and we were then sent to our sites, where we would spend the next two years. My husband and I were placed in Huacareta, in the region of Chuquisaca, a rural village of about 1,000 people.

Working in a Bolivian Community

My main project was to work with the schools in and around Huacareta. I worked with teachers, introducing them to a more interactive teaching style. I also taught children and women’s groups the importance of sanitation, nutrition, dental hygiene, AIDS/HIV prevention, and computer skills. One of the most rewarding experiences was working with a women’s group to start a peanut butter-making business. The women learned about proper food handling, the nutritious benefits of peanut butter, accounting methods, and working together as a team with specific roles. I thoroughly enjoyed working with them; throughout the process the women and I shared many stories and laughter, and I was able to learn so much about them. I also got to witness the empowerment that the women felt from earning their own money.

The Benefits of Service

Joining the Peace Corps is one of the best experiences of my life. I got to be immersed in another culture, learn a new language, make new friends, and most of all, I got to learn much about myself. Since being back home in the United States I have connected with other returned Peace Corps Volunteers and shared with others about Bolivia. Other benefits include a readjustment stipend, deferment of student loans, reduced graduate school tuition, noncompetitive eligibility for employment in the federal government, and of course the professional skills gained during service such as learning another language, cross-cultural understanding, and international experience.

Start Your Own Life-Defining Experience

I encourage anyone who has thought about living in another country and wants to share their skills and experiences with others to look into serving in the Peace Corps. Volunteers serve in 77 countries (Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Europe, and the Middle East) and provide technical assistance in six program areas: education, youth and community development, health, business and information and communications technology, agriculture, and environment. If you have any questions or concerns about the Peace Corps or the application process, please contact me, I would love to talk with you. The Peace Corps website is another great resource:

My advice is to do your research about the program and talk to as many returned Peace Corps volunteers as you can about their experience. I love quotes and one that I think about often is by Samuel Johnson – “When making your choice in life, do not neglect to live.” Each day in the Peace Corps definitely made me feel alive.

Jen Busick
OSU Peace Corps Campus Representative


Posted by Jen Busick, Peace Corps Campus Representative and Career Resource Specialist

Born and raised in small town Iowa, I grew up watching many people follow a similar path.  Most completed some form of college while also meeting a future spouse, found a job in the Midwest, and settled down in time to begin a family.  Beginning college at the University of Northern Iowa, I too thought I was destined for this type of future.  I pursued and received a degree in elementary education, and soon after took a full time job teaching 2nd grade in a near Iowa city.  I was well on my way to obtaining all the pieces involved in the traditional Iowa picture of adulthood.  However, I always felt like something was missing.
During college and my first year of teaching, I began to discover facets of myself different than the life ahead of me.  I became a camp counselor for the world wide organization Camp Adventure Child and Youth Services and fell in love with international travel as I worked in Hawaii, Japan, Spain, England, and Germany.  Through this travel, I also found I enjoyed being outdoors, and dreamed about living in a place with mountains, an ocean close by, and opportunities for biking and camping.  I began researching places in the Pacific Northwest, toying with the idea of uprooting my life in Iowa.  During the spring break of my first year of teaching, I decided to take a trip to Oregon to attend a career fair for teachers.  I hoped to find a teaching job in the northwest that would allow me to move to a place more conducive to the lifestyle I imagined.  Attending the fair, though, I realized very few school districts were in a position to hire, and without any contacts in the area, my chances of finding a job were small.
I decided to stay in Iowa for another year, understanding that moving across the country without a job would be foolish.  However, Camp Adventure had caught wind that I was interested in living in Oregon.  While teaching that year, I was offered the chance to take a side job as the Staff Development Coordinator for the state of Oregon.  I was tasked with the recruitment, training, and supervision of one hundred college students from the three state universities.  I spent the year teaching Monday through Friday and flying to Oregon every other weekend.  While working in this position, I found that even more than elementary students, I enjoyed working with the college age group.  Trying to juggle such a hectic schedule, though, I knew it was time to take a close look at my life and decide what I really wanted.
While recruiting at Oregon State University, I quickly grew fond of the city of Corvallis.  The charming city, the nearby Pacific Ocean, and the short drive to Mt. Hood were all characteristics that made me envy those who lived there.  In early October of that year, I decided to explore OSU’s website for potential graduate programs, hoping for a second try at moving west.  I stumbled upon the College Student Services Administration graduate program website.  The program would be two years in length, would prepare me to work in the field of higher education, and had opportunities to gain funding through assistantship positions.  I was immediately intrigued.  I emailed the coordinator of the program and set up a visit during one of my weekend trips.  I decided to apply and promised myself that if I were to get accepted and received funding, I would take a leap of faith and make the move.
I spent three months completing the application process.  The application itself was split into two pieces, a portion for the Graduate School of OSU, and a portion for the actual program.  The process involved creating a quality resume, working with my references to draft recommendation letters, researching the program and its competencies, creating a personal statement, and writing short essays.  I only applied to one graduate school, but it is more common for students to apply to many to ensure a successful outcome.
I turned in my completed packet of materials for review in January.  During the beginning of February, I was notified that I had been selected to interview for the program.  I spent two days interviewing in February.  To prepare for the interviews, I purchased a professional suit, practiced mock interviews with my mentors, gathered as much information as I could about the program to ensure I could tailor my interview answers, and created a list of questions I had for the interviewers.  Having taken a large amount of time to prepare, I entered the experience with more confidence.  The interview session was two days in length.  I spent the first day interviewing for assistantship positions, and the second day interviewing for the program.  All interviews were in front of a panel of representatives.  Upon returning to Iowa, I sent follow up thank you notes and then hoped for the best.
Near the end of March, I received word that I had been accepted into the program and was also offered an assistantship through the Career Services office.  I was hit by a mix of emotions: excitement, nervousness, anticipation, and a bit of anxiety.  Staying true to my promise, though, I accepted both offers and put in my resignation from my current teaching position.  I spent my remaining months in Iowa creating a budget plan, searching for apartments, and lining up summer work.
I moved to Corvallis in mid June to set up my apartment.  Once settled, I spent six weeks in Europe with Camp Adventure supervising the students I had worked with throughout the year.  I then began my assistantship and the first term of my program in September.  My first term consisted of four classes.  I took each class alongside 19 other students, forming a tight-knit cohort.  The courses were rigorous and involved a higher quality of reading and writing than I was used to, but I found the information to be extremely interesting.  I also found out how lucky I was to be offered an assistanship with Career Services.  I became a part of a very friendly office and now have the chance to advise students, give outreach presentations, and supervise the work of undergraduate employees.  Transitioning from my undergraduate years to graduate school, I am adjusting to and enjoying the higher expectations, being treated like a professional, personal responsibility, and a more focused curricula.  My life here has truly come together.  After finishing up my first term, I spent ten days back in Iowa for the holidays.  While it was wonderful to be home, I was reaffirmed that I had made the right choice.       Transitioning to a new location and into life as a graduate student can be a daunting experience, but with preparation and planning, the payoff is great.

Posted by Bobbi Meyer, Career Services Graduate Assistant