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Thread: Advice for a new ECU grad

  1. #1
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    Advice for a new ECU grad

    Hey Guys,

    I'm not going to Lie... i'm scared of the job market. I think I speak for most of my fellow senior planning majors right now. I, like everyone else, hope to get a job right after I graduate, (or maybe a job period) but I know i'm at best i'm in the 75th percentile of all graduating seniors this year across the country. With how slim the pickings are, I just don't like my chances on paper. I feel as though I have skills that aren't necessarily easy to put on paper that would show people that I would be a better co-worker than the 25% of grads that have better grades and experience than me. I know experience and who you know is key to being hired, but here are my questions:

    How much weight does G.P.A carry in a job interview?

    How much do intangibles come into play in a job interview?

    How do people see how well a person works with a group in the interview and resume process?

    How do people see what a person's beliefs are and how they affect his ethics and daily decisions?

    How can I show my potential employers that I am an excellent "people-person" on my resume with out using words like "great team player, strong communication skills... etc..." and show that I will be able to deliver in an excellent way when the planning dept needs me to present to the town council or planning board?

    Does charisma matter that much in planning?

    I would love any tips on how to make myself more "marketable" than just a G.P.A and a list of my work experience.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by NoHouse View post

    I would love any tips on how to make myself more "marketable" than just a G.P.A and a list of my work experience.
    I am going to be honest. Your chances are slim, very slim. How many internships have you had? Do you have good networking skills? Do you have a portfolio? All your questions that you just outlined pretty much throw out the door. The question you need to ask yourself is:

    Do i meet the minimum criteria for a job posted
    If so, how do i exceed them
    Sell my potential employer that I have valuable skills they need to bring in work or keep work in-house
    Research, Research, Research

    It is an employer's market. You must tailor you abilities to meet their needs. Quite frankly, many new grads are too "wet behind the ears" with the amount of experience and talent out their looking for a job. Good Luck!
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  3. #3
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    hmmmphhhh

    I had a summer long internship with Fairfax county, VA. That was it. I learned a lot and had great exposure to various kinds of projects, and absorbed all the information I could. I have been trying to land an internship with an AFB by school, but the funding hasn't come through the works and I will graduate before that becomes available.

    So basically not a ton of experience in a planning department, but then again, its not like I haven't had any...

    I have worked with a team of young life leaders,( an outreach ministry for high school kids), for the past 4 years and have learned about how to work with and lead people in a team-based organization. Do you think that will be applicable experience or should I talk as much as I can about my internship with Fairfax County?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by NoHouse View post
    I had a summer long internship with Fairfax county, VA. That was it. I learned a lot and had great exposure to various kinds of projects, and absorbed all the information I could.
    Can you go back?

    So basically not a ton of experience in a planning department, but then again, its not like I haven't had any...

    Quote Originally posted by NoHouse View post
    I have worked with a team of young life leaders,( an outreach ministry for high school kids), for the past 4 years and have learned about how to work with and lead people in a team-based organization. Do you think that will be applicable experience or should I talk as much as I can about my internship with Fairfax County?
    read my previous post.
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  5. #5
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    I might try to go back, but it was unpaid... and I would much rather be paid than live with my parents, but I guess I could.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Cloverhill's avatar
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    Jobs

    I sympathize with you. This is a terrible job market. It will be 2 years before we can think about funding a new position and we've lost 30% of our position in the last three years. Good time to go get a masters degree.

    How much weight does G.P.A carry in a job interview?

    A: If I'm interviewing you, not much. Your ability to navigate the shark tank that is college doesn't really translate well in our workplace. You can't be a slacker either, though. If you got good grades, pushed yourself with hard classes, and worked hard, that's usually enough to get in the door.

    How much do intangibles come into play in a job interview?

    A: My first criteria for a new candidate is how well a new person is going to fit into our group. I can teach plat review, planning, etc., but I can't teach you how to be respectful, responsible, or nice. So "intangibles" are pretty important. One poisonous team member screws everything up.

    How do people see how well a person works with a group in the interview and resume process?

    A: I can tell. I just can. I can tell if you are feeding me a honking big bs sandwich, too. I've had candidates that were great on paper that just came in to my interview and thought they could bluff their way through. Doesn't work. Shows disrespect. It isn't just a good idea to 'be yourself' in an interview, it is critical.

    How do people see what a person's beliefs are and how they affect his ethics and daily decisions?

    A: Careful here. If you are a supremely spiritual person, I think that is great. If you think your place of worship is the best, that's great too. In a professional office, though, you should keep it to yourself. Sometimes the law (especially land use law, and especially if you plan to work in VA) is at odds with your belief system. Planners have to obey the law. If I think you are going to end up being an activist planner, I can't use you. Professional and personal ethics are important, but respecting others is too.

    How can I show my potential employers that I am an excellent "people-person" on my resume with out using words like "great team player, strong communication skills... etc..." and show that I will be able to deliver in an excellent way when the planning dept needs me to present to the town council or planning board?

    A: Everyone uses those terms on resumes. At this point they don't mean much. Point to your experience. If you handed out fries from the drive-thru window tell me that. You've learned something from that experience. If you shelved books at the library, tell me that.

    As far as your ability to speak publicly, that is a matter of confidence. If you show me a composed, confident person during an interview, we can get through the rest. Very few people LIKE public speaking and almost everyone lies about it. That's ok, but again, I'm gonna know. If you fidget during an interview there is no way you are going to be comfortable in front of the Planning Commission. It is like poker. Everyone has a 'tell' and they get exposed during stressful times like an interview. You didn't realize you were [fill in with your favorite nervous tic] during the interview, but I did. If you are relaxed, composed, etc., I know you can handle the pressure.

    Does charisma matter that much in planning?

    A: Kinda. You have to be able to interact with people and sometimes convince them that they should do something they don't want to do. Charisma helps. We aren't making toothpaste commercials, but we do interact with the public.

    I would love any tips on how to make myself more "marketable" than just a G.P.A and a list of my work experience.

    A: Write a cover letter that shows me you can write and tells me interesting things about you. Tell me something no one else has and do it on one side of one sheet of paper.

    What else do you have? Did you volunteer? Did you travel? Coming right out of school, I bet your resume is fairly sparse, which is to be expected. Entry level jobs are geared for people with limited (or no) experience. People that complete internships score pretty high with me. Shows your commitment to planning and to learning.

    Do you speak another language? Do you play flag football? We look for well-rounded people that are well adjusted. People that are confident enough to know they have something to learn. People that want to succeed and get promoted. The person that says they don't know something in my interview (and I ask questions that most new planners do not know for this reason) shows me a level of courage and confidence that I can work with.

    I do not envy you and your cohort right now. That said, in a couple of years, things will be better and that is the perfect amount of time to get yourself a masters degree. My advice? Hunker down, get more education, come out of this stronger. That's what I would do.

    Good luck.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cloverhill View post
    I
    How do people see how well a person works with a group in the interview and resume process?

    A: I can tell. I just can. I can tell if you are feeding me a honking big bs sandwich, too. I've had candidates that were great on paper that just came in to my interview and thought they could bluff their way through. Doesn't work. Shows disrespect. It isn't just a good idea to 'be yourself' in an interview, it is critical.
    Wow, Cloverhill, what great advice! And I wanted to highlight this question because I can't tell you how many times I have heard about this happening. Being a good 'fit' in a department is critical, that is why planners are often subject to the group interview. If you can't fit in, it's not going to work out really. I was hired in at the entry level and I was told (after they hired me) that they liked me from the start, even from the phone interview stage. Its true though, I am a good fit here, I get along with everyone and have no problems working with the team...its very a intangible skill that you never learn in school.

    Best of Luck!
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally posted by Cloverhill View post
    ...My advice? Hunker down, get more education, come out of this stronger. That's what I would do.

    Good luck.
    Lots of good advice there. If you can afford another degree (or find a scholarship, or a school that works on Academic Common Market), it won't hurt to get it. It will add somewhat to the "experience" factor. Whether you get another degree or not, I would simply suggest taking the first opportunity in an interview to point out that you know what you have is "textbook experience," and that you are prepared for the fact that the "real world" is different. It's important to be able to translate school or internship experiences into hypothetical real-world situations.

    I think GPA is a necessary evil. A good one won't necessarily help you, but a bad one could easily torpedo your chances. The so-called intangibles are far more important, though. No one ever asked me what I got in History of American Architecture (or anything else).

    In interviews - it's just my opinion but I think the important thing is being yourself and being articulate. Good communication and comprehension skills will show in the interview and will say far more about being a "team player" than the buzz words on your resume. It will also show that you are comfortable in your own skin and that has a lot to do with how comfortable you will be with others.

    Most employers presume an applicant is ethical unless he or she reveals otherwise during the hiring process; do not appear to question their ethics by preemptively opining about yours. If they ask, give an honest answer. Keep quiet about your personal beliefs.

    I think charm and charisma do matter, but don't spread it on too thick. Also, you are interviewing the employer as much as they are evaluating you. Charm works both ways, and you're certain to run into interviewers who lack it. Other than that, dress appropriately, shake hands, make eye contact, don't slump in the chair, etc.

    It's sort of like dating; both you and the employer are looking for a good match. When it "feels" right both people can tell.

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