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Campus Community Profile: Kate Sheridan

Kate Sheridan is Associate Director of Career Development for the Falk School of Sustainability & Environment.

How long have you been at Chatham, and what brought you here?
I have been at Chatham for almost two years, having come from Carnegie Mellon University, where I provided leadership and organizational development for staff members. I really enjoyed it, but working with students is a much better fit and more vibrant space for me.

What services do you offer Falk School students?
My job is to provide a full-service professional development experience, from traditional services (e.g., resume and cover letter writing, interviewing strategies, job search resources) to opportunities such as workshops, student employment, and internships. I also work with our Employer Relations Manager to develop partnerships and host networking and other events.

Perhaps my favorite part of our approach is helping students explore and define their professional identities and the ways in which our careers can be an extension of ourselves and the values we hold.

What’s most exciting about your job?
There are many things I love about my job, and all of them relate in some way to its evolving nature. The position is new to the Falk School, so I get to help create and define it.  But in addition to that, the professional landscape is changing rapidly–our alums will have a direct impact on what jobs in sustainability and food studies will look like, and how they will create lasting change for our local and global communities.

I take so much pride in each job or internship students embark on, not because of any involvement I may have had– our students truly do the work of landing these opportunities – but because the potential for impact in these positions is so significant, and to know that I am even the smallest blip in the unfolding professional journeys of this population of students is easily the most gratifying and inspiring part of my job.

Is job-hunting for sustainability professionals in any way unique?
The biggest challenge is that it is still evolving, and jobs fit such a wide range of skills and experience. Sustainability professionals need to demonstrate not only technical knowledge but also what are sometimes referred to as “21st century skills”: interdisciplinary problem solving, the ability to integrate a range of perspectives, engage systems thinking, and work in truly collaborative spaces.

Students need to have an entrepreneurial spirit, be assertive and able to manage ambiguity in positions that might not be clearly defined, and develop large networks to advance professional opportunities. There is a lot of groundwork involved in job searching within these fields–I encourage students to attend as many industry events as possible, volunteer for every opportunity they can, and conduct as many informational interviews as possible to get insight into jobs and organizations, and also grow their networks. 

What is a misconception that people tend to have about landing a job or an internship?
That they will find them in traditional ways–seeing a position on a job board, blindly submitting an application, and getting a call. Certainly this does happen, but tapping into our networks, reaching out to organizations and individuals whose work inspires you, and attending events to meet professionals in your field are all important practices in finding that next opportunity, especially when it comes to internships, and particularly within fields related to food studies and sustainability.

Academic programs in the Falk School of Sustainability & Environment  produce sustainability leaders through the Master of Arts in Food Studies (MAFS), Master of Sustainability (MSUS), Bachelor of Sustainability (BSUS), the dual-degree Master of Sustainability-Master of Business Administration (MSUS-MBA), and the dual-degree Master of Food Studies – Master of Business Administration (MAFS-MBA). 

 

 

Cougar Career Launch Offers Students Career Immersion

Chatham-Students-at-The-Porch

Ninety-five percent of employers agree: relevant experience plays an important role in hiring decisions.  For college students, gaining this experience in their field during their time at college is critically important to meeting the needs of employers and securing a job after graduation. At Chatham, we believe that early and frequent exposure to work environments is one of the best ways for students to start gaining this critical experience while learning about work expectations and environments in the fields they are considering. 

The Chatham Cougar Career Launch Program was developed to give new, first-year students the opportunity to learn about careers at a broad range of participating employers while also starting down the path of securing the experience they need for their career.  From a list of 13 local companies and organizations, students chose one where they spent about two hours touring the facility, visiting with employees, and participating in a Q and A session. Options included:

Allegheny Department of Human Services

  • Center for Organ Recovery and Education (CORE)
  • Eat n’ Park Hospitality Group – The Porch at Schenley
  • GTECH Strategies
  • The Frick Pittsburgh
  • Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild: Youth & Arts
  • Pittsburgh Cultural Trust – The Byham Theater
  • The Pittsburgh Pirates – PNC Park
  • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
  • ReMed Recovery Center
  • Touchtown: Resident Engagement Solutions
  • UPMC Sports Medicine – Rooney Sports Complex
  • YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh

Kendell Kerr, a first-year student majoring in molecular biology, spent her time with UPMC Sports medicine. “One of things I took away from the experience was that science and medicine lead to extremely beneficial careers,” she said.”

“I learned just how important UPMC is in Pittsburgh, and worldwide. A career in medicine is an opportunity to be both innovative and helpful. During my trip to UPMC Sports Medicine, I met doctors and nurses who work one-on-one with the world’s top athletes.”

“Visiting the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette showed me that while the basic structure of writing and editing is the same in major newspapers as in smaller newspapers, the process is much more precise and involved,” said communications major Ross Hsu ‘18. “They take it extremely seriously, and they still have fun, but every single person coordinates with one another. It’s a huge collaborative process, and that’s daunting, but exciting to think I’ll be a part of in the future.”

Cougar Career Launch joins other initiatives geared to professional preparation, including the Chatham Plan, a five-step approach to post-school success. Learn more about career planning, internships and experiential learning, mentoring programs, and graduate and professional schools planning at the Career Development Office.

Much better Tips for a Successful Internship

Intern-MakeBadCoffee (1)

When it comes to acquiring hands-on work experience, learning about which professional environments suit you, and making industry contacts, there’s not much better than an internship.

Employers are keen on them as well – in fact, a recent survey of employers who hire recent college graduates conducted by The Chronicle of Higher Education and American Public Media’s Marketplace has found that:

  • An internship is the single most important credential for recent college graduates to have on their resume in their job search among all industry segments.
  • All industries and hiring levels place slightly more weight on student work or internship experiences than on academic credentials.
  • Employers place more weight on experience, particularly internships and employment during school vs. academic credential when evaluating a recent graduate for employment.
internships
Chart from “The Role of Higher Education in Career Development: Employer Perceptions”, by The Chronicle of Higher Education and American Public Media’s Marketplace, December 2012

It can be daunting to begin an internship, especially if it’s your first one. Here are a few tips to make it the rewarding experience that it should be!

1. Develop a professional persona.  Create a professional image, dress appropriately, and avoid “office gossip”. Be respectful, genuine, helpful, and always show gratitude.  Respond to constructive feedback in a positive manner  by reflecting, learning and growing.

2. Set personal goals. Think about what it is you want to have on your resume or to be able to talk about in future interviews with employers. Discuss these goals with your site supervisor, mentor(s), and your faculty supervisor. The more your supervisors know about your goals, the more they will be able to support you in reaching them.

Think of your internship as a long interview.

3. Maintain open and continuous communication. Ask your supervisors how they prefer to maintain communication with you. Try to set regular meetings, and spend them discussing and reviewing your goals, strengths, and areas of opportunity. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Supervisors prefer that you ask rather than guess or assume. This willingness to learn typically leads to more hands-on experiences and projects, leading to even more tangible accomplishments. Show your curiosity!

4. Have a positive and flexible attitude. Employers appreciate an enthusiastic, can-do attitude because it really impacts the office moral and environment. Keep in mind that things don’t always go as planned. Every experience is a learning experience. See unexpected situations and new projects as an avenue for developing more of your skills and adding to your professional experience.

5. Take initiative. As a student, it is easy to think of yourself as “just the intern.” Yes, you are the intern, but that doesn’t mean you should sit back and wait for projects to be handed to you. Your internship is technically a long-term interview, and your supervisors and colleagues are paying close attention to see if you have what it takes to be hired on permanently after the internship. Ask to take on big projects, or come up with your own project! As a student, you can offer new innovative ideas that may greatly impact the organization. By taking this type of initiative, you will make yourself known and will be remembered.

Treat your internship as though this is your career and think of yourself as part of the team.

6. Network network network. Studies have found that 80% of today’s jobs are landed through networking. This internship is your opportunity to develop and strengthen lasting professional connections that will give you that “edge” to your future career. If you leave a lasting impression with your supervisors and colleagues, these professionals will be more than willing to speak on behalf of your strengths and competencies to others. Leave your colleagues on a humble, thankful note, and give them a genuine goodbye, keeping the relationship open for your network. Send them a thank you card in the mail, expressing your appreciation and your interest in keeping in touch. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated and request to connect with your supervisors, colleagues, and anyone else you networked with during your internship. Most importantly, keep in touch, especially with those who will help you get to where you want to be!

 Crystal Vietmeier is Assistant Director of Career Development, Internships, and Experiential Learning at Chatham University, where internships are a vital (and required) part of a larger approach to professional preparation (learn more at chatham.edu/chathamplan). This summer, Chatham students are interning at companies including the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The League of Women Voters, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, UPMC, Forbes Regional Hospital, Pittsburgh Pirates, The Carnegie Museum of Art, Quantico Marine Corps Base, Ketchum Inc., The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh, Table Magazine, GNC Inc, Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse, Animal Rescue League and Wildlife Center, the Borough of Swissvale, the Musuneggi Financial Group, Drew Designs, Ltd, Mariani Landscape, and the University of Pittsburgh.

Image: http://sonoarts.org/seeking-energetic-interns-for-event-team/