Alumni - Career Services Center - St. Cloud State University

Career Services Center - St. Cloud State University

Career Services Center - St. Cloud State University

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Herberger Business School Success Stories

Have you heard that there are no jobs out there? These SCSU alumni have found great careers even in today’s economy. Read up on how they got their jobs, the essential steps that they took, and their advice for current SCSU students.

McGinty, Alicia
Alicia ‘09
Major: Business Management, Human Resources
HR Generalist, Amcom Software- Eden Prairie, MN

“I started working as the HR Generalist at a small company during my last semester of college. This job, my first career, was a wonderful learning experience. I was the only HR at this company so I had to jump in and take on all HR tasks. That experience really helped me put the classroom to life. I was there for a year when a wonderful opportunity presented itself.  I took a chance, interviewed, and was offered the position.  My new job is in Eden Prairie, MN.  It’s exactly where I wanted to be, close to my family.  I have such a passion for HR and my education helped me achieve my goal. Every day is a new learning experience.  I couldn’t be where I am today without the services that St. Cloud State University offered. 

I would recommend that all students make contacts and network.  Call companies and ask to meet supervisors from the company for coffee and take interest in the company. They will remember you. Get an internship!!! Without one, trying to find a position will be hard, but it will be even harder to survive in the real world without that experience.”

Anvik,  Ashlee
Ashlee ‘09
Major: Finance- Minor: International Business & Spanish
Underwriter- Securian Financial Group (St. Paul, MN)

“In a nutshell, I believe the reason I was able to get a job when it came time for me to graduate was because I spent four years surrounding myself with people and resources who essentially gave me any tool I could ever need to connect with an employer and get the job I wanted.

  1. Started searching in the early fall for openings & started networking. (But actually, steps started when I was sophomore- when I began seeking out internships & jobs that would prepare me for the search for my career).
  2. Applied via the Career Services website for positions.
  3. Did mock interviews offered through Career Services to refresh my interview skills.
  4. Networked with a few alumni who were working at companies I was interested in. In the last two years I also networked with older, experienced professionals within finance who REALLY gave me a lot of guidance as to how to prepare, what to look for, the job descriptions behind each position- which inevitably narrowed my search.
  5. Mid fall semester, I began the interview process, which seems like it went on and on…
  6. I used all the helpful tips I had learned through SIFE & Career Services (e.g. how to interview, etiquette, sending thank you’s…believe it or not, dining etiquette paid off)
  7. I was in third and fourth round interviews at some companies, and made it to the last round at Securian.
  8. I sent a thank you AND followed up with the recruiter after my interview.

Take your resume to career services (for obvious reasons). Learn how to interview. Do mock interviews in the Career Services Center. This is the absolute most important part, especially since some companies put you through a very strenuous interview process. Learn your skills, qualities, and personality traits like the back of your hand. Get familiar with typical interview questions and be able to tell a story behind each one! If they ask you to tell them of a time where you successfully demonstrated customer service....become animated and tell them a story that will both answer the question and get the employer picturing you working at their company.

BE CONFIDENT!!!!!!!!   Employers are VERY impressed with people who look, act, appear and ARE confident with themselves. Even if maybe you weren't involved in as many things as you should have been, learn how to support the decisions you did make and tell them how they are going to get you to where you want to be. Employers can tell when you've applied to a job just because it was posted and you have the matching degree (not because you are truly interested). You need to sound passionate about something, particularly about the position they are interviewing you for.”

James ‘09
Major: BCIS
Software Engineer at IBM in Rochester, MN

“I went to all of the internship fairs at SCSU, applied online through Career Services, put my resume on many job sites (, etc.), to try and find a job/internship. I randomly got an e-mail from a manager at IBM in Rochester, MN asking if I wanted an interview.  I never contacted them on my own or even had them in consideration. It turns out that they found my resume posted on the SCSU Career Services Web Site and contacted me.

I would highly suggest putting a resume in everywhere that you possibly can.  Maybe my story of Career Services will encourage more people to use that website because I didn't even have to do the work - IBM contacted me!  I would also say to keep applying even if you don't feel like it’s getting anywhere.  I applied probably to 50 different companies before IBM got in contact with me.  I think it is all about the effort that people put in when looking for a job.”

Jenna ‘09
Business Management - Human Resources
Human Resources Associate for the Good Samaritan Society, Brainerd MN

“I did my internship in the summer (2009) with the Lakes Area Human Resources Association (LAHRA) in Brainerd MN. The internship was with three different organizations for one month at each. As part of the internship, I did a project about the Latest Trends in Recruitment and then presented it at a General LAHRA meeting (where the Lakes Area HR professionals attended).
I firmly feel that by networking with this group of people helped me attain my job. I had about three different leads as I was graduating in December (thanks to my internship and meeting a lot of different people). I feel that my internship, being involved in LAHRA, and networking is what got me this job.”

Briant, Jason
Jason ‘09
Major:  Double major in Accounting and Finance
MN Department of Revenue, St. Paul, MN-   Revenue Tax Specialist 

“I went to the career day prep fair, with a draft of my resume.  By attending the prep fair I was able to sit down with actual recruiters and have them critique my resume.  I thought this was very helpful and was given good advice that I implemented into my resume. I would highly recommend going to Career Services and having them critique your resume for you, as well.  I would also recommend going to the seminars put on by Career Services about writing your resume.  They have some great pointers.

Someone should not apply for every single job out there.  It is a waste of valuable time and energy.  Instead I would recommend trying to narrow your focus on what you are looking for.
Network as much as you can, you would be amazed how many people there are who know people that are looking for someone to hire.  Jobs are out there, you just have to look.  Be PROACTIVE in your job search; jobs do not come to you, you have to go find them if you really want them!

For the positions that I interviewed for, this is how I prepared:
I did some research on the companies; typically through their website to find out the basics (what they did, when they started, how they operate, etc.) I tried to find at least one interesting fact that I would be able to turn into a question or a comment during the interview. I came up with a list of 3-4 questions that were specific to the job/company that I was interviewing with.  I would HIGHLY recommend that people try and stay away from the generic questions that are always asked.  The KEY to a successful interview is setting yourself apart from others.  One of the ways to do this is to ask non-generic questions.  For example: What would you describe as being the biggest challenge to being successful in this position/job? 

For the actual interview, here are some helpful hints:
In the job posting or position description, the company will key on certain qualities or characteristics that they are looking for.  Try and key on these items during the interview and give SPECIFIC examples! Make sure you are sitting up, leaning forward, and are engaged in the interview. If you are unsure on how to answer a question, give yourself a second or two to think over your answer.  It is better to think your answer out, than to try and answer the question right away. Make sure to bring extra copies of your resume and references if they require them.
The final key to everything is to WRITE A THANK YOU NOTE to the individual(s) that you interviewed with. Send them out RIGHT AWAY, do not wait!  This can be the deal breaker for many people who are being interviewed for a job.”

Grant ‘09                                                                                                                            
Major: Information Systems
Programmer/Analyst in Juneau, AK        

“I found this job through a local Craigslist listing. Keep on top of your resume - add important things as you do them (this way you won't forget anything). Be willing to talk to anyone about your job search and intentions; you never know who might have a contact at a company who is looking to hire. Use your major's club (in my case the BCIS club) as a way to connect with potential employers. Use the Career Services Center to touch up your resume/cover letter. Above all else - be patient in the job search, eventually an opportunity will present itself.”

Ellingson, Cody
Cody ‘09
Major: Accounting
Entry Level Accountant for TCF Financial Corporation in Wayzata, MN

“Make personal connections. Friends and associates can be the best place to start when trying to find a position.  Get in contact with anyone in your network that works for a company that you would be interested in working for, and merely ask them for the name and email address of an HR contact or hiring manager.  I copy and paste this contact information into an email addressed to them personally with a cover letter that addresses their specific company and posted position.  Try and keep your resume out of the middle of a pile of submissions and make sure it gets seen.

Be Prepared - Time spent preparing a professionally worded cover letter and resume are a key utensil in distinguishing yourself in the job search process.  Use the Career Services Center, writing center, professors, friends, and any other resource you have available. Keep your cover letters personalized to the company to which you are applying.  Let them know that you have taken the time to research their company and the specific position you are applying for by addressing the company’s strengths, strategies, and reasons you want to start a career with them.  Recruiters are pretty adept at picking out applicants who hide lack of experience behind a curtain of good grades. In listing your previous work experience, focus less on telling the reader what you did and more on what you learned and what you were able to accomplish.  Don't merely list the tasks you performed but explain what the job taught you, and if possible quantify your results.

Emphasize achievement in the workplace. A solid work history is the single most important and telling part of a resume.  There is no substitute for previous professional experience.  A professional internship on a resume is like gold, compared to a resume that lacks that experience.  You also want to highlight that away from work and school you are a well-rounded individual. Use a “leadership experience” or “achievements” section in your resume to let the recruiters know that you had a life away from the classroom or the work place. 

Nail the interview -   First impressions matter!!!  Do your homework on the company, the industry, and the position before you go to the interview.  Take a portfolio with a notepad and a few copies of your resume and cover letter along with you to every interview.  I have notes written down about the company as well as a list of descriptors I can use to describe myself or work experience if I get stumped on a question and need a place to start.  Have a list of questions prepared to ask an interviewer about the company.

Nothing prepares you for interviews quite like…interviewing! So evaluate yourself after every interview and look for places to improve.  The Career Services Center offers mock interview days (something I utilized myself) and this helped my interviewing skills.  In an interview you’re selling yourself, so make sure you don’t sell yourself short.  No matter the situation a well-fitting suit paired with a polished look will set you up for success.  Be prepared to take control of the interview process; an interviewer may not just ask you a series of simple questions for 45 minutes.  A good interviewer will throw the questions out the window and just ask you to tell them about yourself.  This is your opportunity to take the reins and dictate where the interview is going. Take the most time to highlight your work experience and what it taught you and how you can use that going forward.  Also explain why you chose the major you did and how you picked the school you attended.  Try to make connections as much as possible by talking about extracurricular clubs, organizations, or sports you participated in. At some point you will have had a similar experience with interviewer, so jump on the chance to make a personal connection by illuminating the subject. 

The impression you want to leave with an interviewer is: While they may have candidates with better GPA's, or more work experience, or better extracurricular activities- YOU are the most rounded candidate that offers skills and knowledge that translate to job results and better job performance.

I found my current position through the SCSU Career Services website. I applied to the TCF Accountant position posted and was called back within 3 days to do an interview.  I spent 3 hours interviewing at the Wayzata office and was called the following morning with an offer of employment.”

Justin ‘09                                                                                                                                               
Major: Marketing                                                                                                                              
Inbound Sales Specialist/Automotive Finance Loan Officer, Wells Fargo Corporate, Eden Prairie

“In order to get a job in this economy, it took a lot of patience and a lot of applying.  It took me about two months of constant applying and eventually I came across this job on the Wells Fargo employment website.  The best advice I can give is to not give up (it is a long and frustrating process). Search specific companies you want to work for; just relying on career sites such as Monster and CareerBuilder do not usually post the newest openings.”

BJ ‘09                                                                                                                                                   
Major: Accounting                                                                                                                                
Senior Accountant, Regulatory Accounting- UnitedHealth Group- Minnetonka, Minnesota

“I found UnitedHealth Group at the SCSU Career Day. They came on campus for job interviews and I applied and got one.  The interviewer remembered me from Career Day.  He said that I presented myself with confidence. Without the Career Center, I wouldn't have got this job opportunity.”

Bryan ‘09
Major: Finance
Scottrade, Broker Trainee- Eau Claire, Wisconsin

“I found the job with Scottrade as a broker because I was an intern with them for about the past 10 months.  I got along great with my manager and co-workers here and eventually the topic came up of moving into a full-time position.  It was really exciting to me because I never had the best grades during college, but still was able to find a job in my field. What I can suggest for future business undergrads is to take a part-time position with a company during school, work hard, and treat it as a future career.” 

Brian ‘09
Major: Business Management HR
Customer Care, Cold Spring Grt. Cold Spring, MN

“I found my job online.  I knew people working there and used them as reference when I applied. I was brought in for several interviews; I made call backs after interviews, and researched the company and the industry extensively.  I asked probing questions and dressed professionally for the interview.”  

Steinke, David
David ‘09
Major: Business Marketing
Premium Seatings/Sales Internship, Minnesota Timberwolves

“Keep building your networks and relationships, and never "burn bridges".  If no one is hiring right now, volunteer at events.  I had used some of my time volunteering at the American Marketing Association to meet people and try getting my foot in the door.  Keep building your resume, keep reading up on your major, study more, and keep learning.  Don’t get discouraged and give up. Be creative and impress employers, make yourself stand out from others.

I graduated from SCSU in December of 2009, and am now interning with the Minnesota Timberwolves.  I have been working here for the majority of the time post graduation.  I have not yet found a "real job", but have been talking with my boss here and they said they would like to hire me for a full-time position (Sales or Premium Seating) after my internship is done in April.”

Cherno ‘09
Major: BCIS
Software Consultant, Eaglecreek Software, Pierre, SD

“This company found my resume on SCSU Career Services website and contacted me. I had 3 interviews with them and was offered a job two weeks before graduation. I would definitely advise everyone to post their resume on Career Services because it’s very helpful.”

Anton ‘10                                                                                                                                              
Major: Entrepreneurship
Agency Program, Reality Digital, San Francisco, CA

“Basically, I got my job through networking (through a LinkedIn introduction). I worked for 4 months as an intern for next to nothing ($100 per week stipend).  I was just about to quit the internship when everything happened to work out perfectly in my favor. I found out my boss was taking a position with another company.  I took him out to lunch that day and convinced him that I would be a much better fit than an outside senior-level hire. That same day he brought it up to the CEO and then I had a sit down with her and presented my case.  She was impressed and hired me on the spot; full-time with full benefits.

The best advice I can give right now is to network, network, network!  I have no doubt in my mind that without intense networking I would not have a job today.  Employers, in my experience, are not even looking at resumes unless you are the top of the top.  Also, graduates need to lower their expectations a bit in this economy and be willing to prove themselves via a low-paid (or unpaid) internship like I did.”

Thomas ‘09                                                                                    
Major: Business Economics- Minor: Finance
Account Manager/Sales Rep, Blackstone Consulting

“I got the job through a series of interviews, and I was told that I was given the position based on my personality.  Students need to remember that they are in school to not only get a degree; they have to develop self confidence and a good work ethic as well.  Those traits are what sets you apart from the masses.”

Matt ‘10
Program Specialist Intern,VA Medical Center, St. Cloud, MN

“Specifically, I was told that I received my job over other people in part because I researched the VA prior to my interview. I think there were a few other key steps that helped me get my job.  First, I created a resume and I had people (including someone in Career Services) review my resume to help insure it would get the attention of employers.  Without a good resume it's hard to separate yourself from other people.  Another key thing I believe that allowed me to get the job was to attend a job fair.  I went to the job fair in Minneapolis.  To be honest, I didn't consider the job fair a success at first because most of the employers there didn't have a job I was interested in. But all of the interviews at the job fair helped me gain confidence in myself.  I was told that when I got my current job that there were candidates who had more experience and were better qualified than me; however I got the job because of the interview.  Along with knowing something about the company I was interviewing with, I let them know what I could bring to them.  Finally, I would say network as much as possible.  I was able to have a graduate assistantship for two years and I can honestly say the people I worked with changed my life.  These people also became great references and were able to help me look for jobs.

I would tell a student who's looking for a job to never give up hope.  I thought my first interview with an employer went great; however I didn't get the job.  At first I was very disappointed, but then I reviewed what I did during the interview to see what I could do better.  Always know something about the company you are interviewing with.  That is an absolute must.  Also, think of potential questions you might get asked during an interview and have a few examples ready that you can use to answer questions.  I would also tell students to be involved as much as possible with clubs and groups.  Employers are looking for people who took initiative and got involved.  It's a tough job market, but with a little research and confidence in yourself, I truly feel like there is a job available for each and every student at SCSU.” 

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