Category Archives: Dr. Kathryn Broyles

Ready to give Job Shadowing a Try?

What’s it take to be a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker? What are the real, day-to-day physical and mental demands? What are the emotional pitfalls and rewards you couldn’t anticipate without actually doing the job? How do you find out?

Dr. Kathryn Broyles, Ph.D., Program Director of General Studies at American Public University/American Military University, details an effective technique to “find out:”

A great strategy for answering all of these questions and more, and putting some “real” experience on your resume to boot, is to shadow a professional. Not as involved as an internship, but a chance to make professional connections and really get a glimpse of a job from the inside, job shadowing puts you in a better position when interviewing with potential employers. You’ll be able to point to your willingness to tackle new experiences, your willingness to network and learn, and you’ll also likely be able to ask a few savvy questions in the interview that you might not have had the insight to ask otherwise, if you had not shadowed a real professional.

Job shadowing is also a great way to explore a career you think you might be interested in before committing any substantial time or money into preparing for such a career. It’s a great way to get your questions answered about what it takes to be successful in that position or that field. It’s also an excellent way to gain first-hand knowledge of the culture of a company or field you might be interested in being associated with in the future.

Finding Job Shadowing Opportunities:

Locating opportunities to shadow professionals active in a field you’re contemplating entering may be easier than you think. The first place to look for opportunities is to visit your college’s Alumni Association or Career Services Office. In addition to frequently providing formal shadowing opportunities, they might also be able to put you in touch with fellow alumni who could provide you relevant connections. Does the field your interested in require some sort of professional membership, accreditation or certification? If so, the accrediting or certifying body or other related professional organizations could be a resource for you. Through such organizations you might connect with professionals who have already indicated they are interested in mentoring or hosting a particular period of job-shadowing.

If you’re not sure yet what sort of career you want, virtual shadowing can help you decide where to focus your “real time” shadowing. One website dedicated to virtual shadowing [jobshadow.com] provides a long list of interview with professionals in the field and can help you decide if a career interests you. The University of Chicago is another resource providing virtual glimpses into various career fields with their web page, Snapshots: Interviews with Professionals, providing multiple, downloadable pdf transcripts of interviews in more than 18 different job categories. [https://caps.uchicago.edu/resourcecenter/snapshots.html]

Making the most of Job Shadowing Opportunities:

Once you’ve arranged a shadowing opportunity, approach it like you would an important interview and your first day at a new job. Do your homework. Understand the basics about the job and the professional you’ll be shadowing as well as the company, school, or agency he or she works for. Do the research you would to be prepared for a real job interview for a similar position, and dress the part. Remember that not only are you the guest of a professional during your “shadow time” but you’re also making an impression on everyone you encounter and you want that impression to be a good one. You never know what opportunities could turn into job opportunities.

To help you get more out of the experience and to establish the best possible relationship with your host, Texas State University’s Career Services office has developed the following set of questions:

20 Questions To Ask To Better Know Your Host:

  1. What is your job title?
  2. What level of education is needed for this job? Is an advanced degree necessary?
  3. What were your interests in school? How did that lead to your career choice?
  4. What has your career path been?
  5. Why did you select this type of work?
  6. How long have you been in this position?
  7. What are your responsibilities?
  8. How would you categorize your work environment? Is it fast-paced? Do you have daily routine tasks?
  9. What is a typical day like for you?
  10. What do you like most about your job? What do you like least?
  11. How have you seen your career interest change?
  12. What skills do you think are required for this career that you think I should know? Are there any specific classes you would recommend that would prepare me for this type of job?
  13. How did your previous work experience or schooling relate to your career?
  14.  What is the path for advancement in your field?
  15.  What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your job?
  16.  What have you learned from some of the jobs you have had?
  17.  What kind of career advice would you give to a student who is interested in a similar career?
  18.  How has your job and your career field changed over the years?
  19.  Is there anything that you would do differently, if given the chance?
  20.  If you had only one piece of advice to give me, what would it be?

[http://www.careerservices.txstate.edu/Students/Internships-Experiential Learning/JobShadowing/Tips.html]

Now that you know what Job Shadowing is, how it can benefit you, how to arrange it, and how to prepare to make the most of it, go for it!  The experience may prove pivotal to your future.

Thanks Kathryn, your advice is greatly appreciated. For those interested in learning more about American Public University/American Military University, where they are expanding access to higher education with more than 100 affordable degrees and certificates to prepare students for service and leadership in a diverse and global society, visit their website at www.apus.edu.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
EducationCareerServices.com
Got Twitter? Shadow me @DannyatECS

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Writing Tips: Banishing Writer’s Block

Stuck staring at a blank page? Dr. Kathryn Broyles, Ph.D., Program Director of General Studies at American Public University/American Military University, shares techniques on how to transform the stare into a stellar document.

It’s 2:00 am. Crumpled paper covers your table; your pen is leaking onto the placemat, and cups of coffee, all at various stages of full surround you. Your eyes are bleary, your hair disheveled and despite your best efforts at super-caffeinated, latte-reinforced creativity, the blinking cursor on your lap-top has you hypnotized. You seem unable to make your fingers move it across the keyboard– or the cursor across the page—unable to compose the brilliant argument you’d hoped to as to why you should be given this job….

What do you do? How do you get past writer’s block? How do you get started on that cover letter, resume, or personal statement that may just change your life?

Tip #1NEVER stare at a blank piece of paper or a blinking cursor.

Humans are social creatures. We need interaction and conversation. Even in the solitary task of writing, we need to be in a conversation with ourselves and with the words on the page. So rather than shutting down that conversation with the blank stare of a blank page, get the conversation started! Begin in the middle, even at the end if you have to. Write anything, but write. You might even begin simply by writing that you don’t know what to write about– but the secret to getting past a block and getting words on the page is that you simply have to begin.

Once there is text, some text, any text, on the page, you’ll find that a whole different part of you can begin to interact, begin to have a conversation (in your head and on the page); essentially, you can begin to write. In fact, you’re already writing!

Tip #2DON’T censor yourself until it’s time to revise and edit.

Now that you’ve gotten words on the page, some words, any words. Now that you’ve begun the theoretical conversation with yourself, the page, and the future readers of your text, don’t shut down the flow of words with worry. Don’t worry about whether this is the best way to say that, whether you have any dangling modifiers or comma splices, whether you sound smart enough, or overqualified. Simply write. Write and write, addressing issue after issue that may be relevant to the task at hand.

It’s much easier to come back to a wordy rough draft later, to cull the best parts and delete the appalling. But don’t stop your initial flow of words to do it. Don’t censor yourself. Once you have everything down you might possible want to say, THEN you can become your own worst critic, but not before.

Tip #3Take advantage of relational thinking and logic.

You likely have much to offer a future employer. You’re more than likely qualified for the job you’re after and have a genuine interest in doing well in such a position. That’s why applying to it attracted you in the first place. To communicate most effectively with any reading audience, however, you want to provide illustrations and examples that support your claims. In this case, you’re claiming to be qualified! So, how do you prove it? What evidence can you offer?

If writer’s block has you struggling to come up with ideas, tap into the natural, relational order of an interesting conversation. Remember last week when you asked Joe what he had planned for the weekend and he mentioned going out with the kids for pizza and that led to a conversation on your favorite pizza toppings and on to an argument about who in town has the best pizza and then on to the time in high school when you ate 15 slices in one sitting, and that fact that now you gain 15 pounds just smelling good pizza, and boy, is staying fit while you grow older a challenge?

A conversation about the weekend somehow became a discussion of middle aged strategies for weight loss? It did! And it did so quite logically. You and Joe related one idea to the next, weaving your way through a fascinating conversation.  Use this same kind of idea relating to help you head in new directions on the page, working to pull out from your memory and into your writing all the great examples and illustrations you need to help you craft the perfect application documents and make the fullest case for why you should be hired.

It may sound simple, but honestly, the best way to get past writer’s block is to get writing! And use these three tips to help.

Thanks Kathryn, your advice is greatly appreciated as many of us, especially those writing career documents, blank-out, become frustrated, and give up before beginning. For those interested in learning more about American Public University/American Military University, where they are expanding access to higher education with more than 100 affordable degrees and certificates to prepare students for service and leadership in a diverse and global society, visit their website at www.apus.edu.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
EducationCareerServices.com
Got Twitter? Shadow me @DannyatECS

Career Breakout: Kickin’ It Old Skool

Dr. Kathryn Broyles, Ph.D., Program Director of General Studies at American Public University/American Military University highlights the benefits of organizing the old fashioned way, Index Card Cache:

In the 2007 comedy, Kickin’ It Old Skool, former 1980‘s break dancer Justin “Rocketshoe” Schumacher, emerges from a twenty-year coma to encounter a shockingly different world from the one he’d enjoyed as a boy- a boy bound for dance success. Fast-forward 30 years, you may find Justin and you may have a few things in common.

Your dismay at facing the job market–after a long hiatus as a stay-at-home parent or after a long-term job has disappeared in the latest economic upheaval–may not be quite as surreal as Justin’s, but no doubt you’re finding you’ve got a lot of adjusting to do and need some new skilz.

While there are many tools available to you to aid your search for a new job or a better job, many of which have been addressed throughout this column, there are still some Old Skool tools that should be in your tool box.

Career tip #1: An old-fashioned work ethic, a neat appearance, and a willingness to learn are all Old Skool moves that never go out of style.

An Old Skool tool that I want to bring back into vogue with this article is the lowly index card. Yes! That tiny 3×5, lined on one side, press of tree pulp you put to serious use back in the day–making cheat notes for tests, flash cards for spelling b’s, and categorizing quotes for a research paper too impossibly long to write well.

What can an index card do for your job search, you ask? A lot! Besides being a great place to jot down key contacts whose names you want to pronounce correctly in your upcoming interview, or serving as flash card reminders of the savvy questions you intend to ask if you make it past the headhunter and HR, and into a real interview with a real supervisor, index cards can help you on a daily basis keep track of all that you offer a prospective employer.

Creating your ICC (Index Card Cache)

What is an index card cache? It’s a collection of cards upon which you regularly record accomplishments in your work and private life. Any time you do ANYTHING, even if it seems unimportant at the time, goes on a card.

Got employee of the month? Goes on a card.
Offered a suggestion to a restaurant manager that, when implemented, improved your favorite buffet? Goes on a card.
Was dragged to a French language course by your girlfriend in preparation for a vacation or just because she thought it would be romantic? Goes on a card!

Hopefully, you can see where I’m going with this.

Career tip #2: Every event, every accomplishment, every award, everything that happens to you or that you happen to do worth noting goes on a card.

You never know what might be important in the future. Even when you’re not on the job market, keep your cards. Even when you’re in a job you love, keep your cards. What you’ll find over time is that any time you need to sit down to create or update a resume, write a letter outlining your accomplishments, or even make an argument for a raise or a promotion, you’ll have at your fingertips every detail you need to make a document (or an argument), that rocks! Why? It’s all in your ICC!

Thanks Kathryn, bringing back the basics is often the most effective method guiding success.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
EducationCareerServices.com
Got Twitter? Shadow me @DannyatECS

Career Breakout: Improving your Employment Situation via Mentoring

Dr. Kathryn Broyles, Ph.D., Program Director of General Studies at American Public University/American Military University, details how mentoring will benefit your career:

Maybe you’re on the job market for the first time. You’ve just finished high school or college and you’re ready to make your mark – ready to build a life for yourself and stand on your own two feet. Or maybe you’ve recently lost a job you loved and did well for many years and you’re working to retool your resume. Or perhaps you’ve determined you want more out of life and given the current economic situation you’ve decided to head your career in an entirely new direction.

No matter where you are in your career and no matter what your employment status, there’s a good chance that you could benefit from mentoring. Finding a good mentor is not always easy, but when you find one, their friendship and advice can be invaluable.

Catherine Apitz in a short article for the on-line journal Circles of Seven, lists a number of famous mentors and mentees from all walks of life. An example of note from the world of popular music is Jerry Wexler, music journalist, record producer, chairman of Atlantic Records, who mentored a number of musicians including Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Linda Ronstadt, Ray Charles and Willie Nelson. From the world of classical music, Israeli violinist and conductor, Isaac Stern, mentored the effervescent talents of cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Oprah Winfrey speaks often of the lessons she’s learned from Poet Maya Angelou.

What do mentors do? Mentors can introduce you to new acquaintances and new business contacts you might otherwise never have met. Mentors can help you avoid career mistakes by sharing with you their own stories and the processes and pitfalls they’ve learned from a long the way.

Mentors can challenge you to push yourself to new heights physically or intellectually – point you to the education you’ll need to succeed. Often, mentors are interested in supervising or helping you evaluate a particular project you’re working on or in answering questions and offering suggestions along the way as you work independently on that project.

Career Tip: In all areas of life, mentors can be of benefit to us, but they are an especially wonderful tool and support when we’re looking to improve our employment situation.

Who should serve as a mentor? Your big brother or your former football coach may be wonderful individuals, and great life coaches, but a mentor with experience in a field you’re seeking success within can offer insights and direction you often cannot anticipate needing. If you’re on a job hunt, or seeking to retool for a new career, look for a successful professional from whom you can learn. It’s important that you not only find someone that you enjoy working with but also someone who believes in your potential and has a vested interest in your success. It’s also helpful if your mentor is someone with concrete experience in the field you’re pursuing, though it’s not a necessity.

Career Tip: The traits of leadership and the habits that lead to success in one field will often lead to accomplishment in others.

How do I work with a mentor? When establishing a relationship with a mentor, it’s important to clarify whether he or she truly has time to help you and has the expertise to do so. Being clear about your needs and expectations and being respectful of their time is crucial if your work together is to be successful. You must also be willing to hear criticism, and to communicate clearly even in the midst of challenges in order to maintain a good relationship with another professional who has agreed to mentor you. Whether you meet with your mentor weekly, or Skype monthly, the encouragement and advice such a relationship can provide may be just what you need to get into–or move ahead in–a new career.

Where do I find a mentor? Good mentors are valuable. Be willing to work hard to establish a connection with a potential mentor. Think outside the box as well as look close to home for a professional you respect, from whom you can learn, and by whom you want to be guided or shaped. Ask friends, family, and colleagues if they can put you in touch with someone who might help you in your career.

If you’re just graduating, consider taking an internship (even an unpaid one) in order to gain experience in a field you want to pursue and from that experience you’ll likely gain not only a resume reference but a mentor in the form of a boss or colleague. Former professors can sometimes be great mentors as well. Social media sites like Linked-In can be another way to connect with a potential mentor. Don’t overlook mentoring networks maintained by professional organizations or alumni affairs offices as a source of valuable advice either.

Where can I learn more?

  1. A great interview with Lynn Chambers-Ketchens, published on-line by the Missouri Institute of Mental Health. discusses clearly some very helpful ways to understand a mentoring relationship:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBwSZpjh1yU
  2. Link to two articles on mentoring published by Law PracticeTODAY here: http://apps.americanbar.org/lpm/lpt/articles/mgt08041.html
  3. A lengthy but very readable article by Katherine Hansen, Ph.D. on finding a mentor can itself be found here: http://www.quintcareers.com/mentor_value.html

Thanks Kathryn, your advice is greatly appreciated. For those interested in learning more about American Public University/American Military University, where they are expanding access to higher education with more than 100 affordable degrees and certificates to prepare students for service and leadership in a diverse and global society, visit their website at www.apus.edu.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
EducationCareerServices.com
Got Twitter? Shadow me @DannyatECS