Career Newsletter, 4/19/2018

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Alternative Summer Plans

Our last two newsletters have focused on topics related to summer internships and post-grad jobs. Today, we’re going to look at things you can do in place of working during summer break.

Enroll in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

MOOCs, for those unfamiliar, are online classes open to anyone that’s interested, and many are either free or inexpensive. Numerous sites offer MOOCs, though a few might be particularly helpful for iSchool students.

Codecademy offers courses on a variety of programming languages and components, including SQL, JavaScript, and HTML, all of which are free (there are also a couple premium options available at a cost). The content is more introductory-level, making it great for students who came to the iSchool without a lengthy technical background, or those just looking to diversity their skillset for developer jobs.

Coursera partners with colleges and universities, and features courses taught by instructors from those institutions. The classes on Coursera run the gamut from arts and humanities to physical science and engineering, but the site is still particularly well suited for the iSchool population. Among the most popular courses are Machine Learning from Stanford, Getting Started with Python from Michigan, and Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies from Princeton. MLIS students might be interested in Management of Successful Arts and Cultural Organizations from Maryland or Research Data Management and Sharing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and University of Edinburgh. Many of the courses on Coursera cost money, though you can apply for financial aid, as well. Continue reading

Career Newsletter, 4/12/2018

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Determining the Right Fit

Last week, we discussed the fact that many of you have recently received (or will soon be receiving) job and internship offers, and how to successfully negotiate those into more attractive opportunities. This week, we’re discussing the next step — how to go about deciding which opportunity to pursue. Below are tips on making a sometimes difficult task more manageable.

Determine your priorities.

Thank about what, right now, is most important to you in a job or internship. Are you looking to maximize income? Okay with taking on a lesser role at a more prestigious company? Willing ,or wanting, to relocate? Do you want work focused on a social good? Developing priorities will give you a set of criteria against which you can evaluate different companies.

Create a list of pros and cons.

Sometimes making your decision is as easy as doing a cost-benefit analysis. Think about all aspects of the opportunity and divide those into things you do and don’t find attractive. Some factors to asses include: pay, growth potential, nature and intensity of the work, vacation and benefits, (re)location, commute, team size and structure, and the presence (or lack thereof) of professional mentors. From there, tie the list back into your priorities — if salary is both your biggest priority and a “pro” of the given job, that’s more important than the fact the same job might pose a “con” with regards to one of your lesser priorities. Continue reading

Career Newsletter, 4/5/2018

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Many of you have recently received, or on the cusp on receiving, post-grad jobs and summer internships. It’s a great time of year that marks the end of the long, arduous job-search process.

It’s important, though, to not let the emotional relief of an offer lead to any hasty decisions. Before accepting, look at all facets of the opportunity — pay, location, start date, vacation time, and so on — and consider how they play into your future goals and current well-being. If there’s anything you’re not satisfied with, you’ll want to think about negotiating.

Why negotiate?

Negotiating, particularly with regards to salary and benefits, is fundamentally about ensuring your skills, experience, and education are fairly compensated. You deserve to be paid for the value you provide a company. Add to that, negotiating up front is not only easier than doing so after starting a job, it also helps ensure you aren’t caught off guard by any potentially unsatisfactory conditions of the position.

There’s more to negotiation than short-term satisfaction, too. As this blog post from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School notes, negotiation can set you up for long-term success:

“Instead of looking at the job you’re applying for as a final destination, think of it as setting you up for the next job and perhaps the one after that, Lax advises. This shift in mindset will allow you to notice the advantages of negotiation in helping you gain the tools you need to grow and thrive. These tools might include a strong support staff, training, or a job title that will set you up for a future career goal.” Continue reading

Funding: CoMotion Mary Gates Innovation Internship ($5000+course credit)


The next CoMotion Mary Gates Innovation Scholarship ($5,000+course credit) Info Sessions will be held at 12:30PM – 1:30PM, Thursday 3/29 and Friday 3/30 in Mary Gates Hall Room 171.

The CoMotion Mary Gates Innovation Internship Program is now accepting applications (apply here)!  Students can spend Summer quarter working as interns with UW faculty-led start-up companies, seeking to transfer research to real-world applications.  Participants will build upon their strengths and learn about intellectual property and entrepreneurship through hands-on teamwork with an emerging company. Continue reading

Career Newsletter, 3/29/2018

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Creative Ways to Job Search

Welcome back for spring quarter!

Before getting into the meat of this week’s newsletter, a quick update on career advising for the start of the quarter. Dean will be out of the office for a couple weeks starting next Wednesday, April 4. During that time, Wendie Phillips, our office director, will be holding career drop-ins on the following days:

  • Thursday, April 5, 2:00 – 4:00pm
  • Thursday, April 19, 2:00 – 4:00pm

Normal career drop-in hours (Wed. and Thurs., 2:00 – 4:00pm) will resume starting the week of April 23. Please note that Wendie will not holding her normally scheduled drop-in hours today, March 29.

While Dean is away, students will unfortunately be unable to make scheduled career advising appointments. You can continue submitting questions to, though responses may be delayed.

For more urgent assistance during Dean’s absence, we recommend making use of the main UW Career & Internship Center, located on the main floor of Mary Gates Hall. You can schedule same-day sessions (15 minutes) and standard appointments with their career coaches.

Now, to the actual topic. This week we’re proposing some creative ways to go about searching for a job or internship.

iCareers: Company contacts

Beyond listings of jobs, internships, and workshops, iCareers includes a “Contact Directory” section. It includes the names and emails (and, occasionally, job titles) of specific employers who have used the site to post opportunities in the past. (To find it, click on the “Employers” tab from the iCareers homepage.) Use the keyword search to find contacts from companies for whom you’d like to work — ask if they’re currently hoping to fill any positions relevant to your interests, or if they’d be willing to set up an informational interview.

If you pursue this option, make sure you adhere to the usual standards of professional communication. Additionally, be sure to let them know you’re an iSchool student and found their information via iCareers — it may have been a while since they last used the site. Continue reading

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

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