Friday, January 22, 2016


There is a sense of calling in each person’s life; a sense that there is something for each individual to do which is tailored to his or her own unique passions, talents, abilities, and sense of purpose.  This calling often drives people to choose a profession, to go to college, and to pursue a career path; the very fact of its existence can change the course of an individual’s life.
Which leads to the important question: how does one find their calling?  For a Christian, this question can go even deeper. How does one know what God has called them to do?  The uncomfortable ambiguity of these questions can be a major source of anxiety in many people’s pursuit of a vocation or career.
How to pursue your calling
There are no formulaic or universal steps to finding your calling and discovering what the Lord wants you to do with your life.  However, God tends to direct us best when we are in motion; it does very little good to be passive in pursuit of a calling. So what does actively pursuing your calling look like?
First of all, there is value in assessing yourself and your existing talents, passions, and personality traits.  From a Christian perspective, the Lord didn’t make you the way you are out of random happenstance.  While the Lord’s calling on your life is not limited to these things, and while not all your talents will always apply to your calling, the Lord may choose to develop your gifts and passions in such a way as to equip you for what you are called to do.  There are many valuable professional assessments, such as Career Key, that are listed on Crown’s Choosing a Major tool, which can guide you toward career paths suited to your interests, skills, and personality.
Another very important way to be active in waiting for God’s guidance is to try different options.  Internships are a wonderful way to do this! Not only will internships better equip you if you do decide to continue in the field, but they will also give you an authentic taste of what it would be like to be a professional in the industry.  Job shadows and informational interviewsare also very beneficial in getting an idea of what your future career would look like.
Peace in your calling through Christ.
Ultimately though, it’s important to remember that – when trying to pursue your calling – there is peace in the Lord.  Our first calling and our purpose in life are to love the Lord and be in relationship with Him, and to encourage others to do the same.  Our vocational calling is a tool to accomplish this higher calling; however, our vocational callings are not the exclusive means of accomplishing this goal.  If we are serving the Lord where we are at, and following Him where He is leading us, there is freedom in our pursuit of vocational calling.

Haley Jones in an intern in the Office of Career Services.  She is a Communication major graduating in 2016.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Tips for Networking as an Introvert

  • Being an introvert does NOT mean you don't have social skills. However, it does mean that being around lots of people at one time can be draining. I am what you might consider an "expressive" introvert, so I am often mistaken for an extrovert. While both preferences have strengths and weaknesses, I love the fact that I am introspective—enjoy real conversations (read: no small talk)—and can still make connections in a myriad of contexts. Here are the top 10 networking tips that work for me:
  • Join the crowd. If people seem to be congregating in one area, join them and strike up a conversation.
    Set reasonable expectations. When attending an event, prep yourself mentally for what you are there to do. Is your goal to meet more people? Is it to learn more about the organization's culture? Is it to meet one or two specific people? Make sure you set reasonable expectations beforehand, so that you have a goal in mind. It is a great way to keep you from getting overwhelmed, too.
    Start a conversation with a loner. It's usually easier to start a conversation with someone who is standing alone, because they will most likely be happy to have someone to talk to—and as a result, are often more personable and easier to connect with.
    Avoid barging into groups. A cluster of more than four people can be awkward—and tough to enter. Join the group on one side, but don't try to enter the conversation until you've made eye contact with each person at least one time. Usually, people will make room to add you to the "circle" of conversation, and you can introduce yourself then!
    "Look mom, no hands!" Keep at least one hand free at all times! This means no eating and drinking at the same time if you are at a networking mixer or conference reception. This way, you can still shake hands with people without being awkward and fumbling around.
    Be yourself. Networking events are meant as starting points for professional relationships. If you can't be yourself—and you aren't comfortable in your own skin, then the people you meet will be connecting with someone you're impersonating, and not the real you. Be genuine. Authenticity tends to attract much of the same.
    Be present and engaged. Ever talked to someone that acts like you're the only person in the room? Someone who listens, and makes you feel like everything you are saying is important? I love those people! They really make you feel heard. Keep eye contact, and lean in or tilt your body towards people when you talk to them. Not in a creepy way, but in a, "I'm listening to you, and I'm fully present" kind of way.
    Treat people like friends. Unless, of course, you are a terrible friend. Would you go to a friend and interrupt their conversation, hand over a business card, and walk away? No. Networking events are not transactions. Treat new people as you'd treat your friends—built rapport, be trustworthy, and then talk shop.
    Follow the 72 hour rule. After a conference or networking event, you have about 72 hours to follow up with a person on LinkedIn or via e-mail. Reference something that you talked about and ask what the best way to stay connected might be. After 72 hours, they just might have forgotten you.
    Practice makes perfect. Well, not really perfect. Progress is always better than perfection! The point here is that networking is a skill, like any other professional skill. It is a muscle that you have to develop and grow. While others may look like born networkers, they are more than likely just more experienced with it. Mistakes may happen, but the only way to learn is to get out there and do it!
    By Tiffany I. Waddell (Assistant Director for Career Development at Davidson College).
    Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tips From Employers That Are Hiring

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers:

The best job-search advice comes from the employers that are hiring. If you take the time to follow this advice, you'll be better prepared than your competition for your application and interview.

Here are some things you can do to aid in your job-search success:

Research the Company

  • What products or services does the company produce and sell?
  • Where is it located?
  • How well did the company do last year?
  • What activities by this company have been in the news lately?

Learn something about the company with which you want to interview. Read its website and its annual report. Search for news stories mentioning the company. Use this information to customize your resume and cover letter for the position you want. Impress the interviewer by knowing something about the company.

Perfect Your Qualifications

A high GPA is important. It means you know the subject matter. However, employers are looking for people with "soft skills," too—skills you can learn through extracurricular activities such as leading a team, taking part in a group task, or organizing a volunteer project. Employers want to find communication skills, a strong work ethic, teamwork skills, initiative, the ability to relate to co-workers and customers, problem solving skills, and analytical skills.

Get Experience

Year after year, the majority of employers taking part in a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) say they prefer to hire job candidates who have pertinent experience. For college students, typically, relevant experience is gained through an internship.
In fact, an internship can be the "foot in the door" to a job with many employers: NACE surveys show that newly hired employees often come from the organization's own internship program.

Build a Network

Whether you get the job you want—or even hear about the job opportunity you want—could easily depend on who you know.
Here's where you will find people to build your professional network: 
  • Business and professional social networking sites
  • Professional associations (online and in person)
  • Career fairs
  • Company information sessions
  • Your school's alumni network
  • An internship or co-op program
  • A student professional organization
  • Faculty contacts
  • Employee referrals
  • Parents of friends who work in your field

Apply Online

Few employers want a paper copy of your resume in the mail. Many employers want to receive resumes and job applications through their websites.
Here are tips to keep your resume from getting lost in a company's database of applicants: 
  • Load your resume with keywords: Add job titles and specific skills—especially those that are specific to your field.
  • Use jargon and phrases specific to your field.
  • List the names of companies you've worked for or interned with: recruiters may look for their competitors' names.
  • Post your resume on professional niche websites.

Make Career Services Your BFF

What is it worth to have someone who is in daily contact with potential employers show you how to write a winning cover letter, critique your resume, practice interviewing with you, connect you with people who are working in your field, and give you access to thousands of job opportunities?
Find the career center on your university or college campus today. Employers use this resource to find new hires, so shouldn't you be there?

Say Thank You

Stand out among candidates. Send a thank-you note to each recruiter you meet at a career fair; to the employer who practices a mock interview with you; to a hiring manager who spends a few minutes interviewing you for a job; to anyone who serves as a job reference.
  • Keep your message short and confirm your interest. "Thank you for the opportunity to discuss [name of the position] at XYZ Company."
  • Spell the recruiter's name and title correctly.
  • Send your message immediately.

Monday, June 16, 2014

What difference can a smile make in the workplace?

Accomplishments. Results. Production. Achievements. Profits. These are the words that tend to monopolize many workplace-legacy conversations.
Most of us would like to make an impact in our workplace. We’d like to contribute within our industry--make a difference—whether it’s finance, healthcare, higher education, construction, manufacturing, sports, etc. We’d like to leave a workplace legacy of sorts.
Today the sports world remembers one of its very best result-oriented producers; Tony Gwynn, who excelled in his workplace for decades, died at age 54 (much too soon).
Perhaps you’re wondering “Who was Tony Gwynn?”
Tony Gwynn was a Hall of Fame professional baseball player and one of the greatest hitters in the history of the game. A few highlights from his 20 years with the San Diego Padres (yes, only one team during his playing career) include:
  • 15-time All-Star
  • 8 National League batting titles
  • .338 career average
  • 3,141 hits
*Source (including additional bio information, testimonials, videos): ESPN
After he retired from professional baseball he transitioned to college baseball and became a successful coach at his alma mater, San Diego State University.
Yet, while Tony Gwynn absolutely accomplished A LOT during his playing and coaching career, it’s his character that has been touted by former teammates, coaches, baseball writers, college players, and countless other individuals. His personality, friendliness, smile, and laughter truly affected people.
I’m not surprised. We are relational beings. We value enjoyable interactions and moments with people. Doing one’s best in the workplace certainly matters, but being one’s best matters even more.
It is SO important that we engage with others. We shouldn't be afraid to smile and laugh.People, who make up our workplaces, are impacted. Lives are changed for the better.
Tony Gwynn’s workplace legacy reminds us that in our daily work environment we are capable of making a lasting impact in ways that have nothing to do with the bottom line or the final score.

Darren L. Noble, M.A.
Director, Crown College Career Services

Thursday, May 29, 2014

What Does a Pitching Machine Have to Do with Job Searching?

Louisville Slugger UPM 45 Blue Flame Pitching Machine

Recently, while at my son’s second Pee Wee baseball practice, I had an interesting experience.  I’m one of several volunteer coaches, and during batting practice it was my turn to use the pitching machine (which I was excited to try out by the way—what a cool device).  So, I would prepare, aim, and release--only to then watch my pitch fly wide left or low . . . or even come up short and explode dirt in front of home plate.  Fortunately, as I got accustomed to the machine and did some tweaking, a number of the pitches were pretty good—right down the middle for the boys to hit well.

My experience is similar to a typical job search.  We prepare (e.g. network, brand ourselves, leverage LinkedIn), aim (target specific employers/jobs and tailor our cover letters/resumes), and release (apply/see what happens).  If all goes well, we get an interview(s)--only to then hear a number of our answers go way off target or fall flat right in front of the very individuals who have the decision-making power to hire us.   

Yet, if we:
--truly know what an employer’s needs are (the obvious tip is the job description—the answers to the test; research the employer's website and other sources, speak with alumni at the company, etc.)

--have a good understanding of ourselves and can articulate how our experiences/skills can benefit the employer (see things from the employer's perspective)

--practice/do a mock interview beforehand (make any mistakes prior—and of course, be encouraged by good answers)
. . . then the questions thrown our way will indeed be hit well.

Interestingly, in baseball, players are considered really good if they get “3” base hits every 10 at-bats or 30 out of 100, and so on (that’s only 30% or .300); however, during the job search, frustrated job seekers usually lament they just don’t have what it takes when they only get a handful of interviews after many, many submitted resumes and applications.  Even those few interviews, statistics show, usually don’t lead to job offers.

During the job search, just like in baseball, we will “fail” much more than we will succeed.  Let’s mirror baseball and “stay in the box,” make adjustments, and remain focused on what we’re trying to accomplish.  Amidst the many frustrations of a job search, it’s far too easy to get discouraged.  The job search can be a long, challenging process; dig in and stay positive.  

All it takes is one “yes.”  10 employers may pass, but the 11th suddenly is ready to not only offer the job but a signing bonus as well.  Success won’t happen though if we don’t prepare, practice and really “get into the game.”  Finding suitable employment requires serious desire, time, and effort.  More importantly, how we handle adversity during the job search will often determine the end result. 

During my pitching-machine fiasco I could have asked my fellow baseball coaches to “bail me out” or take over for me.  Honestly, I almost did several times.  Instead, I resolved to somehow make it work; I made a few adjustments, re-aimed, and released again. Success followed.  Oh, and I tried not to get hit by a line drive.

Darren L. Noble, M.A.
Director, Crown College Career Services