Making Connections

Guest post by JHU Alumnus Anand Narayan, ’04, who graduated from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 2011 and currently works at Massachusetts General Hospital. 

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Guest post by JHU Alumnus Anand Narayan, ’04. He graduated from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 2011, and currently works at Massachusetts General Hospital. 

Many people hold the view that there is an irreconcilable conflict between work and academics—the more time one spends working, the less time one spends studying for classes and engaging in extracurricular and social activities. Put crudely, the more you work, the more your academic and social life will suffer. Naturally, many students view work as an unwanted intrusion on their precious free time. For parents who can afford to finance their children’s education, in what ways can working benefit their student?

Before the beginning of my freshman year, my parents and I harbored similar concerns—I sincerely questioned whether or not I would be able to work and take classes at the same time. In my situation though, I wasn’t able to decide whether or not I wanted to work. I knew that I would have to work in order to help finance my education.

I began to work in the month of June, approximately 3 months before my first day of classes. I worked throughout the entire summer, 2 days a week at the Student Employment Office and 3 days at the Center for the Social Organization of Schools. After registering for my fall class­es, I filled up practically all of the remain­ing time in my weekly schedule with approximately 10 hours of work.

The semester began in early September and I began my new work schedule. For the first few weeks, many of my fears seemed to come to fruition; I slept irregu­larly and performed poorly in my classes. With time however, things began to change.

Because I had to devote time every week to work, I began to organize my time in a way that I never had done before. I thor­oughly scrutinized every hour of my day and plotted out my schedule weeks in advance. I began to use the hours when I was not in class or work much more effi­ciently, with focus and determination.

Thanks to my newfound discipline, I was able to adjust to my classes within a few weeks. The workload associated with class­es no longer appeared as daunting and my grades began to improve.

At the Office of Student Employment Services, I handed out paychecks, answered payroll questions, and helped Homewood students find part time jobs. With 10 hours of work in between classes, I was able to break up the monotony of a back-to-back class schedule. In doing so, I have been able to learn about different cultures from a diverse group of stu­dents and staff members, make a lot of friendships with student/staff members, and gain a lot of profes­sional experience in the process.

My work at the Student Employment office was extremely helpful to me in finding my second job as a Research Assistant at the Department of Radiology. In part due to the favor­able recommendation of the Director of Student Employment Services, I was accepted in a radiological research group, even though as a freshman I had no research experi­ence. At the Radiology Department, I helped conduct studies evaluating the clinical applicability of film digi­tizers in general radiology and mam­mography. One of the most reward­ing aspects of my work at the Radiology department over the last 2 1/2 years is the fact that. I have been involved with every single aspect of a medical research study from the arduous task of writing a grant proposal to the satisfaction of publishing and presenting a paper. In doing so, I have had the opportunity to get an in depth look at medicine from clini­ cal researchers and technicians. These experiences have piqued my interest in academic medicine and have given me valuable insights into scientific research and the field of Radiology.

With the passage of time, I began to participate in a variety of other activi­ties including volunteering at soup kitchens, local hospitals, political cam­paigns, etc.. These activities have enriched my undergraduate experi­ence and have given me the opportu­nity to learn about and give back to the community.

I have also been invited the last two years to speak to parents and students at Orientation on behalf of the Office of Student Employment Services. The concerns I heard from parents and students were familiar ones—Is there enough time in the week to work? Will I be able to work and have a social life? Will my son/daughter have time to work and do well in classes? These were the same con­cerns that my parents and I had at the beginning of my freshman year.

But I no longer harbor any of those concerns. Working has made me become a much more mature, focused student who is much more capable of handling numerous com­mitments at the same time. The numerous activities I have participat­ed in, in turn, have made my experi­ence here at Hopkins varied and interesting.

Student Employment and Learning: A Symbiotic Relationship

Guest post written by JHU Alumnus David A. Lefcourt, ’03, Student Employee of the Year and Maryland State Student Employee of the Year.

Guest post written by JHU Alumnus David A. Lefcourt, ’03. He was named the JHU Student Employee of the Year and received the NEASEA Award for being the Maryland State Student Employee of the Year in 2002. David is currently employed by SIGMET Weather Radar Data Systems in Westford, MA.  

Student employment provides students with an opportunity to learn things outside the classroom that directly enhance their in-class experience. Moreover, it offers the opportunity to apply what is learned in the classroom in a real world work situation. This symbiotic relationship truly enhanced my educational experience at Hopkins.

In the fall of 2001, I was enrolled as an undergraduate in a technical communications class at Johns Hopkins University. The final project was to write a proposal to improve one facet of campus life. Having always been interested in technology, I wanted to propose that every course have a web site. It was through my research for that project that I learned of a new center on campus geared towards connecting education and technology, the Center for Educational Resources (CER). I met with Candice Dalrymple, Assoc. Dean and Director of the CER. Thanks to her, I walked away from that meeting realizing that properly enhancing education with technology is a complex endeavor, and that requiring a course to have a web site might not necessarily add value to the student’s experience. Nevertheless, I was more intrigued than ever in the work that that the center was embarking upon.

Later that semester, I inquired about student employment opportunities in the field of educational technology with the hopes of working with Candice at the CER and was hired in January of 2003. Over the course of the last two years, the CER has grown tremendously and has helped to enhance the experience of students and faculty in many courses across the campus. During my employment with the CER I always believed that being a student employee was just as valuable as my academic endeavors. Some might question my reasoning — wasn’t I at Hopkins to learn… shouldn’t my courses come first? My priority was to learn and learning can happen in many different arenas. During my employment with the CER, I learned to work with different groups of people and handle many different situations. I was a little short for time every now and again, but because I had responsibilities to the CER and to my academics, I felt as though I managed my time more effectively than if I was involved in one and not the other.

Some people might have this perception of a student job as being mundane or a place where some extra studying can be completed, but in my situation and I am sure in countless others, there is an overlap of the learning process. Things I was learning at the CER and in my classes were transcending the boundaries of “school” and “work”. Specifically, I was involved with CER’s Technology Fellowship program — a mini-grant program that partners students and faculty to enhance a course with technology. The greatest part of being involved in this program was learning about all of the innovative ideas that students and faculty created to enhance their courses. One of the Technology Fellowship projects was to create a geographic information system (GIS) tutorial. I had never heard of GIS, but after the graduate students working on the project explained how GIS provides a graphic representation of data using some type of mapping system, I was intrigued and wanted to see if I could use it in one of my sociology classes. It just so happened that the next semester, in my Environmental Sociology class, I was able to use a GIS to investigate whether the racial makeup of a neighborhood determined the proximity of environmental hazards in Baltimore City. I used what I had learned at work to directly enhance my learning experience in the classroom.

In addition to a job expanding academic opportunities, things learned in the classroom can enhance a work environment as well. For example, during the fall semester of 2001, I was enrolled in an IT management course. Instead of focusing on the bits and bytes of technology, the course emphasized how to properly manage technology to produce the best results in efficiency and/or productivity. That course taught me about total cost of ownership and managing hardware and software assets, and that knowledge prompted me to create a technology plan for the CER to assist with it’s short-term technology planning.

The most important part of my experience was working with those University professionals who fostered the development of the relationship between my work and my classes. Student employers offer students an opportunity for growth and development, which complements their experience in the classroom. In my case, all of the people with whom I worked were my colleagues, my friends, and most importantly, my teachers. I cannot emphasize enough the value of opportunities offered through student employment that directly support academic studies and enhance a students overall college experience.

Refreshing Your Resume

Make an impression on paper

We’ve reached the point in the semester when students are frantically trying to find a summer internship or a full-time position. At the same time, it’s midterm season, and no one wants to spend hours working on their resume when that Nervous Systems exam is so soon. Here are some foolproof ways to give your resume a boost before you hit send on that next application:

  • Use bullet points! Large blocks of texts are confusing for employers who don’t have much time to sift through applications.
  • Get rid of articles (a, an, the). Resumes are supposed to be concise, so adding too many full sentences can detract from the point. Instead of saying “Implemented a marketing plan that included social media and a direct mail campaign,” be more direct and say “Implemented marketing plan including social media and direct mail.” The second version sounds more firm and direct, which employers like to see in candidates.
  • Don’t write in the third person. As a matter of fact, don’t write in the first person either. Remove the pronouns, since the employer can assume everything on the resume is your work. Your name is at the top! “I analyze incoming memos” doesn’t sound nearly as polished as “Analyze incoming memos.”
  • Remove the minute details. We’ve all had to spruce up our resumes with the little things we’ve done that don’t really matter. However, when you’re reaching out to employers, they will see right through the fluff and realize that your skills aren’t truly developed. Instead, highlight more of the responsibilities and accomplishments you’ve had within fewer roles, rather than listing all the different titles you’ve held.
  • Keep your font between 10-12 point and make sure your margins are within 0.5”-1”. Anything outside these parameters will stand out to employers, and not in a good way.

If you have time, be sure to visit the Career Center to find workshops and drop-in hours for resume review. Even if you’re not currently applying to jobs, it’s important to make sure your resume is always up-to-date, so don’t wait until the very last minute to update it!

Why You Should Work While You’re in College

The four R’s of student employment.

Working while you’re in college can seem like a handful. In reality, it can help you with your time management skills and give you something to look forward to. There are so many different jobs on campus that you are bound to find one you will enjoy, like being a photographer, lab assistant, or student DJ.

Here are the four R’s on why you should have a job while you’re a college student:

  1. Responsibility: As a student employee, you could learn to complete important tasks, lead a class, handle sensitive information, and more. Student employees are treated as any other working member of the team. You’ll be trusted with tasks that really develop your skills and strengths. Additionally, you’ll learn to better manage your time and be more responsible with your schoolwork.
  2. Resume: Employers love seeing students who take on responsibility during their college years. Summer internships are great, but employers will respect a student who took on extra tasks while getting through a semester.
  3. Recommendations: Whether you’re applying to grad school or not, you may find yourself needing professional recommendations down the line. Your boss can do that! If you’re a great employee and a valued member of the team, they’ll surely help you out. And who knows – maybe your boss has a close friend who works at the company you are dying to work for. Connections never hurt!
  4. Reward: Aside from the satisfaction that comes with completing something for your job, you get paid! Wages vary depending on the job, but it’s always nice to have an extra source of income.

If you’re looking for a job, be sure to check out the Job Search portal. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out!
Happy job hunting!

Three Things to Bring to Your Next Job Interview

Go into the interview prepared and ready.

Guest post by Alexandra Bessette. 

Okay, you’ve made it. You landed an interview for that job you want so much! But feeling prepared to put your best foot forward in front of your potential new employer can be one of the hardest parts of the job search process. Keep the 3 things ready in your tool belt, and making a great first impression will feel that much easier!

  1. Your resume. Sure, this one can feel obvious, but it’s easy to overlook the details when you’re wrapped up in nerves and excitement. Double-check the spelling of your name and your contact information. Summarizing all of your applicable past experience makes this the most important thing you can bring because it gives your potential employer a holistic look at you as the great employee that you are!
  2. Examples of your past work. Were the findings of a research project you contributed to published? Congratulations! Print a copy of that paper out to give to your interviewer. Did you write for a school newspaper, magazine, or blog? That’s awesome. Bring a copy of the piece you’re most proud of to your interview. Having a first-hand look at your impressive work will make you stand out to a potential employer.
  3. A letter of recommendation. While not all employers require this, it’s great to back up your experience, work ethic, and expertise with the testimony of someone who has worked with you and can attest to your great qualities. It’s important to demonstrate how great you are to work with, too!

If you have any questions about what to bring to a job interview, don’t hesitate to reach out to your College on the Clock bloggers or contact the Office of Student Employment Services.

Mastering the Four Stages of a New Job

Embrace the nerves and reach your stride in no time.

Starting a new job, whether it’s a temporary internship or a full-time gig, is an emotional mix of exciting and scary.  The rollercoaster that we experience is normal, though, and accepting that everyone experiences the same feelings makes your new start much easier. Follow us through the many emotions in order to understand how to best embrace each step of the journey:

  1. Excitement:

Congratulations on the new job! Call your parents! Tell your friends! As soon as you get a new job, it’s a sigh of relief and a weight off your shoulders. The dreaded interviews (which you nailed with our awesome interview how-to) have paid off, and you are done searching through the Student Employment Services Job Portal every day. Take some you-time and celebrate your accomplishment – you deserve it!

  1. Nerves:

 Maybe you have a pit in your stomach and you’re wondering if they made a mistake in hiring you. That anxiety is normal, but don’t worry – they did not make a mistake, and you are definitely qualified for the job! The company that hired you believes in you, so now it’s time to believe in yourself.

In order to combat the nerves, take some extra steps to prepare for your first day. Pack your bag with pens, a notebook, a folder, and your laptop charger if you need it. Don’t forget to throw in a snack in case you get hungry and can’t slip away from the office. Then, pick out your first-day outfit and call it a day. You’ve prepped, and now it’s time to take your mind elsewhere. Read a book, watch a funny TV show, or spend some time with friends. Relax before getting a good night’s rest and you’ll nail your first day!

Side note: if you have trouble sleeping the night before a big day (I do!) try to drink some chamomile tea before bed. It’ll help you wind down, and it tastes good!

  1. Confusion:

You made it to the first day and you can’t even find the bathroom.  It can feel overwhelming to be the new person at a job, and it’s easy to stay quiet and sink into the background. Speak up if you feel lost, though! The people around you want you to feel comfortable and are usually willing to take a second out of their day to help you with yours. Plus, it’s a great way to get to know more people in the office. That coworker who taught you to use the copy machine will become a new familiar face around campus!

  1. Hitting your stride:

When you’re in Steps 2 and 3, it feels like you’re never going to reach this one. But you will! Soon enough, you’ll feel comfortable in your new job and become a valuable member of the team. This is the most rewarding part of a new job, and sometimes the most difficult. You’ll be trusted with more work and responsibilities, but it’s because the company knows you’re capable of making a difference. You did it!

The Art of the Thank You Note

Once you’ve completed an interview, you can’t always do much to boost your chances of getting a position. However, the one thing you can (and really should) do is email a thank you note to your interviewer within 24 hours of the interview.

From applying to all kinds of positions on- and off-campus to running this year’s student blogger recruitment process (welcome aboard!), I’m always pleasantly surprised by the impact that a simple thank you note can have on the entire job search process. I can’t guarantee that it’ll always land you the job, but it never hurts!

Continue reading “The Art of the Thank You Note”