Career Newsletter, 3/1/2018

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Professional Communication

In honor of National Grammar Day on Sunday, today’s newsletter is focusing on written communication skills!

Good grammar probably won’t get you a job, but it could cost you one.

Before you get to the interview stage of a job search, your candidacy will be judged almost entirely on how you present yourself in writing — whether it’s your cover letter, resume, or LinkedIn profile. Recruiters don’t skim these documents looking for the best writer in an applicant pool (save for writing jobs), but too many mistakes can be a red flag. They can suggest a lack of interest in the job,  poor attention to detail, or, worse, the absence of basic communication skills.

Editing your written materials will ensure employers focus on your skills and experience. Below are some grammatical and stylistic suggestions for cover letters, resumes, and LinkedIn, along with some general tips.

Cover letters

Structure your ideas. In my experience reviewing cover letters, many are bogged down by a lack of cohesion. Unrelated ideas are jammed into the same paragraph, claims aren’t directly supported, etc.

When writing a cover letter, use the first paragraph to iterate your interest in the position, then outline the three things that best qualify you for the job. These qualifications will be the basis for your three body paragraphs. For those, begin by reasserting the specific strength/qualification, then follow with a couple sentences substantiating the claim (i.e., “Through involvement with student groups, I’ve developed particularly strong leadership skills. As a senior, I was an officer for the Informatics Undergraduate Association, where I was responsible for…). Last, use the concluding paragraph to bring back all three strengths and say why, together, they make you the best candidate for the job.

This is essentially just the five-paragraph essay template, something taught in middle school. It’s simple, but tells the employer than you can communicate your thoughts clearly. Continue reading

Events: Nadine Strossen–2018 Mignon Distinguished Lecture

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Ed Mignon Distinguished Lecture with Nadine Strossen
HATE:  Why We Should Resist it With Free Speech, Not Censorship
Monday April 2, 2018
HUB South Ballroom
4:30 pm Lecture
5:30 pm Reception
Free and open to the public

Join us as we greet Nadine Strossen, the John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law at New York Law School. She has written, taught, and advocated extensively in the areas of constitutional law and civil liberties, including through frequent media interviews. From 1991 through 2008, she served as President of the American Civil Liberties Union, the first woman to head the nation’s largest and oldest civil liberties organization.

In her book, “Hate:  Why We should Resist it with Free Speech, Not Censorship”, she argues that our political and campus discourse are increasingly filled with charges and counter-charges of “hate speech” to stigmatize and suppress seemingly any speech whose ideas are viewed as hated and hateful.  Speech as disparate – and important in our democracy – as campaigning for Donald Trump and advocating for Black Lives Matter, has been denounced as “hate speech.”  Moreover, too many political and other leaders make erroneous statements about the legal status of such speech, declaring either that “hate speech is not free speech” or that it is absolutely protected.  To the contrary, U.S. law appropriately takes a more nuanced approach, protecting some, but not all, speech that conveys hateful or discriminatory messages.

This lecture will explain why the U.S. approach not only is consistent with core principles of liberty and democracy, but also is the most effective strategy for advancing equality, societal harmony, and individual dignity and psychic well-being.  It cites the many past and present social justice advocates, both in the U.S. and worldwide, who concur that these essential goals are thwarted by censorship, but effectively promoted through non-censorial strategies, including counter-speech.

Notice: Mental Health Resources for UW Students

If you are concerned about how stress is impacting your or someone else’s mental health, consider these FREE resources available for students.  No appointments necessary.  Students can just show up.  Flyers are attached lower in this post.

  • Mental Health for the People workshop with Andrea Salazar this Friday 3/2 at 3pm in 401 Schmitz Hall.  This is a new quarterly workshop series is focused on mental health topics from a social justice perspective. The topic for winter quarter is Navigating Mental Health as a Person of ColorIt will address stigmas and barriers to mental health services, as well as alternative ways of seeking mental health.
  • Mindfulness for Daily Living with Ron Ma, 1-1:45pm on Thursdays (through the last week of class) in 401 Schmitz Hall
    • Mindfulness meditation is a practice that helps reduce stress, anxiety and depression by cultivating greater self-awareness and a sense of inner peace.

Continue reading

Student Orgs: UW High Performance Computing Club resources


The High Performance Computing Club (HPCC) at the University of Washington is dedicated to helping students get free access to computing resources. There are three main avenues in which we facilitate this:

  1. On-Campus Resources – HPCC has purchases several hundred thousand dollars worth of computing equipment on behalf of all students. These compute nodes are part of the university wide compute cluster call Hyak. We train students on the basics of how to use this system, and grant access to our allocation of the cluster.
  2. Cloud Resources – HPCC is also the steward of a substantial grant of funding cloud computing projects. If you are interested in using the major cloud providers in your research, we have quarterly grant cycles to provide funding for these projects. Our current cycle is open, please visit (http://students.wa
  3. Mentorship Program – We have a quarterly mentorship program which pairs graduate students with undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing computational research. (

More information about to get access to these great resources is available on our website. (

Career Newsletter, 2/22/2018

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Job Search for International Students

Job searching is difficult no matter your connections or credentials. International students, though, face a unique set of obstacles that can further complicate things: confusion over work authorization, employers hesitant to do extra paperwork, concerns about non-native English-speaking abilities, and so on. These certainly aren’t always fair, but it’s important that international job seekers anticipate the challenges and prepare accordingly.

Challenge: The (assumed) complexity and resulting confusion of hiring international students

Many employers lack experience with hiring international applicants and, as a result, make incorrect assumptions — that the process is too time consuming, costly, etc. To counteract this, we recommend becoming informal experts on work visas. Attend F-1, Optional Practice Training (OPT), and Curricular Practice Training (CPT) workshops put on by UW International Student Services (SUDO is also hosting a CPT info session with an ISS adviser this upcoming Monday). You may also want to research the H-1B visa program. Practice explaining these topics in just a few sentences.

Here’s how you might approach the subject at a networking event (it probably fits most naturally after you’ve given your elevator pitch):

“Does your company hire international applicants on student visas?”


“Are you familiar with hiring students for CPT or OPT? I’m an international student interested in applying for a position with your company.” Continue reading

Funding: Apply by Feb 20 for the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge


Form a team. Shape the future. Maybe the idea came to you in a class, lab, studio, or on a hike. Whatever the source, the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge student competition is the place to use your skills to create innovative solutions to our pressing environmental problems. Bring your idea or capstone project to life!

Apply Here:
Deadline: February 20

The top 21 teams from the Screening Round advance to the Challenge on March 29, at Seattle Center Exhibition Hall.

Additional Resources and Opportunities to Support Your Team

Examples of Past Entries
So you want to enter, but you feel like the business part is intimidating—We can help! All students are invited to come by our office in Dempsey Hall 227 to view past entries. Bring a notepad and any questions you might have. And definitely review the rules beforehand under the “Entry Requirements” tab. There are also a few examples on the EIC website under the “Judging Criteria” tab.

2017 EIC Photo Diary
What is the competition experience like? Take a look at the photo diary from the 2017 EIC and read what students just like you had to say.

Drop-in or Stream Resource Nights
Attend, live-stream, or watch the recording of Resource Nights, covering various aspects of creating a startup venture, from idea generation to legal issues to raising capital. The classes are recorded and streamed live each Tuesday night starting at 6:00 pm during winter quarter.

A virtual platform where you can connect with professionals who are happy to advise you. Use your UW student ID.

Questions?  Email Lauren Brohawn at