Helping Gonzaga University Students and Alumni Clarify and Achieve Their Academic and Professional Goals

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Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees, Right?


Finally I get to be sharing some good news to our recent graduates as well as any job hunter who is looking for the first “real” job.  (The lemonade stand in the 3rd grade just doesn’t count guys.)  Earlier this week, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) released a press statement that highlighted that overall starting salary offer has stayed fairly on par despite the tough economy.

NACE’s Summer 2009 Salary Survey report shows that the average starting salary offer for new college graduates now stands at $49,307. That’s off less than 1 percent from the average $49,693 that 2008 graduates posted last year at this time.

The statement goes to even break down data by school and major:

  • Engineering graduates enjoyed the highest salary increase with an average offer to engineering graduates rose 3.7 percent to $59,254.
  • Accounting majors also did better than the average, and posted a 1.9 percent increase for an average offer of $48,993.
  • The average offer to finance graduates rose 2.9 percent to $49,940, while marketing graduates posted a 3 percent increase for an average of $43,325.
  • For all those liberal arts grads, starting offers barely changed.  Their overall average offer fell less than 1 percent from $36,419 last year to $36,175.
  • Economics graduates also saw a decrease to their average salary offer, which fell by 1.3 percent to $49,829.

Although we all know the old saying, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.”  But is nice to know that the branches are not being pruned back to heavily for all those job seekers out there.

Tips for Recent Grads from HR Recruiters

CareerBuilder launched a study recently that caught my eye and could be consider “blog” worthy.  The idea of the study was highlight the highly competitive job market that the Class of 2009 faces.  Now you don’t need to have a Harvard Economics degree to find truth in that statement, but what is helpful are the areas of awareness for recent grads to consider when job hunting according to the survey.

1. Presenting Experience:

For recent graduates, one of the most challenging components of a job hunt is proving they have the relevant experience employers want in candidates.  Your resume should not only highlight tactical and tangible accomplishments like group projects, relevant course work or internships but also “soft” skill set.

Here are the top ten qualities and skills employers are looking for in new hires:

  • Communication Skills
  • Honesty/Integrity
  • Ability to Work in a Team
  • Strong Work Ethic
  • Flexibility
  • Adaptability
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Motivation/Initiative
  • Computer Skills
  • Detail Oriented

The majority of Gonzaga grads have a wealth of experience with many of these qualities and skills, the problem is how do you sell it.  If you have leadership experience in a club or organization that highlights one or more of these qualities, expand it on your resume.  This is not an economy to be humble about accomplishments.

2. Interview setbacks

The survey mentioned that 63%  of employers believed that the biggest interview mistake  recent graduates make is acting bored or cocky. How can you prevent that?

  • Once trick is to take notes during the interview (but no doodling!) and refer to them later when you have the chance to respond.
  • Listen for key words such as:  goals, accomplishments, objectives, visions, outline, overall, etc.  These words are indicators that the interviewer is mentioning a pivotal piece of information.  Perk up!

Other interview pitfalls included:

  • Lack of preparation.  (Yes, this keeps coming up over and over again.  Research really is that important.)
  • Professional dress and etiquette: Iron the shirt and pants, comb your hair and turn off your cell phone.   (All the way to silent please!)  Also 12% cited that forgetting to mail a thank you card can damage a successful interview.

All of this information shouldn’t be a suprise, but I guess when it comes to advice sometimes ithas more weight from a HR recruiter.  Keep it in mind job hunters!

Standing Apart in the Crowd

We all know that times are tough in this job market.  Positions are being filled quickly and with a highly qualified pool of candidates.   Recruiters are seeing more applications than ever in the thousands.  How does a job hunter set themselves apart from other seekers?  This can be an intimidating concept for recent or new college graduates  especially those who have never had a job hunt in a good economy.

Recently CareerBuilder launched the results of a survey highlighting interesting tactics job seekers have tried in order to gain attention of recruiters.  These are some pretty non-traditional methods of job hunting (to say the very least).

Some of the examples listed in the survey….

    • Candidate sent a shoe with a resume to “get my foot in the door.”
    • Candidate staged a sit-in in the lobby to get a meeting with a director.
    • Candidate washed cars in the parking lot.
    • Candidate sent a resume wrapped as a present and said his skills were a “gift to the company.”
    • Candidate handed out resumes at stoplights.
    • Candidate sent a cake designed as a business card with the candidate’s picture.
    • Candidate went to the same barber as the Chairman of the Board and had the barber speak on his behalf.
    • Candidate handed out personalized coffee cups.
    • Candidate came dressed in a bunny suit because it was near Easter.
    • Candidate told the receptionist he had an interview with the manager. When he met the manager, he confessed that he was driving by and decided to stop in on a chance.


Do I recommend any of these in catching the eye of hiring managers?  Probably not.

In the survey, one recruiter was quoted as saying, “While unusual job search antics may attract the attention of hiring managers, they need to be done with care and professionalism so that candidates are remembered for the right reasons.”

What then do I recommend for job seekers in this tight economy?  Think like the Boy Scouts. Always be prepared. When you step out of your house to the post office, bank or an interview be ready to potentially meet someone who can help you in your job hunt.  In other words, leave those sweatpants at home! (Along with your pink bunny suit.) I am not telling you wear a three piece suit, but clean and presentable outfits are always a minimal.  You never know who you will run into at the grocery store.

Follow Rudy’s Lead: Develop your Passion


Sticking to the theme of inspirational sports figures (fictional and real) I can’t help but pay homage to one of my personal favorites: Rudy.  If you have never seen the film, I order you to Netflix it right here…right now.  The movie will make you laugh and cry all while learning a great lesson.

The movie is the true story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger who, ever since childhood, has dreamed of playing football for the fighting Irish.  Rudy is not the typical football player type. He is small (you could consider him the runt of the family) and with little athletic ability he hardly has a shot.  With friends  and family not believing in him (everyone except for his best friend Pete), it would be easy for Rudy to just give up.  But his heart and passion drives Rudy to fulfilling his dreams.

After years of struggle and failure, Rudy finally finds himself on the football team for the fighting Irish.  Never missing a practice, Rudy is committed to his next dream: playing just one game.  Each day he arrives giving all his heart and passion.  Both coaches and fellow teammates recognize Rudy’s heart. In fact one coach commented on his heart to a player by saying, ” If you had a tenth of the heart of Ruettiger, you’d have made All-American by now! As it is, you just went from third team to the prep team! Get out of here!”

Rudy followed his passion and heart which lead him to work at 110% each and every day.  He gained the respect of his teammates and coaches, who allowed him to dress for the final game of his senior year.  I am not going to spoil the ending for those who haven’t seen the film, but the last moments will bring tears to the eyes of any cynic.

What does this have to do with you, the job hunter?  Simply stated: Find your passion, then follow it.  Some people are fortunate like Rudy to have discovered personal passion since childhood, while others have to discover passion through trial and error.  Don’t be discourage if the first career path isn’t a perfect fit.  That’s okay.  You will find over time what inspires you and what drains your energy. Once you develop your passion, surround yourself by people who believe in both you and your dreams.  Everyone needs cheerleaders!

Follow Rocky’s Lead: Do the Impossible


For a feel good cinematic moment, sometimes I refer to my favorite genre: “guy” chick flicks.  (AKA: Those great inspirational sports movies.)

I know that I may be dating myself here slightly, but there is something magical about the movie Rocky.  You know the classic story: a guy down on his luck is presented with the challenge  of defending his honor and integrity by overcoming great obstacles.   Rocky is a normal guy who is faced with the challenge of fighting the best boxer in the world.

Rocky, with the help of his trainer Paulie, sets goals for himself which are no convenient for fun to fulfill but 100% necessary to order to achieve success.   Remember when Rocky wakes up way to early to drink raw eggs then run in the freezing Philadelphia winter?  Pretty unforgettable, right?

At the end of the film Rocky is achieving greatness, he overcame major obstacles all while maintaining his integrity and honesty.  (And he also wins the girl.)

For many of those job seekers, I have to encourage you to do the same:  Identify a challenge and work with pure diligence in accomplishing them.  Set goals and hold yourself accountable.  If you don’t trust yourself to stick to deadlines, do what Rocky did….find a trainer.  It can be a buddy, a fellow job hunter, a professor or a parent.  (Remember, they want you out of the basement eventually…)

For example, if networking makes you uncomfortable, keep practicing and eventually you will be a pro.  Rocky didn’t enjoy drinking raw eggs for breakfast on a daily basis but he knew it had to be done.    (Note: I also find the term “networking” intimidating.  Consider it meeting new people, and that next social will be much more approachable.)

Achieving greatness doesn’t happen overnight.  But through diligence and hard work you can reach the top of the famed steps.

Honey, I Think It’s Time You Admit You Have a Problem


Don’t look away from the screen like I’m not talking to you. Yes you, reader whose face is slightly blue from the screen reflecting from your radiant skin. It’s time to admit that you have a problem along with the rest of the Northwest.

Diagnosis: Caffeine Junkie.

Addiction: Mass amounts of No-Fat Caramel Lattes, and Extra Espresso Shots fed scolding hot directly into your buccal cavity.

I know this may seem like a way to wake yourself up, but a recent article in the Wall Street Journal (click here for the full article) has recently linked coffee, along with several others, as hindrances of your regular sleep patterns. Here are few questions for you.

Do you find yourself sleepy after a long nights rest? This is probably because even though you slept you did not receive adequate REM or deep sleep in the night because you were too busy thinking of that paper due tomorrow, or that assignment at work.

Or, can you find that you can sleep anywhere at anytime? No, you are not just a very talented individual, you are sleep deprived. This can not only make you yawn endlessly throughout the day, leaving your mouth open to catch flies and airborne pathogens along with other things, but sleep deprivation has been proven to decrease college student GPA, your level of work performance, and make you hungrier and feel less full.

So what can you do to help get a better deeper sleep?

1. Reduce noise, light, and disruptive behaviors before bed. That way there’s nothing disturbing you before bed.

2. Have a “power down” hour before bed, removing things like your cell phone, blackberry, e-mail and Internet before bed. This stops your brain and slows it down before bed.

3. Create a “worry Journal” and when you can’t get to sleep write everything that you are stressed about at the time. This way all of your problems are on that paper, and not in your head.

4. Read a book. If you are really trying to get to bed, read a non-exhilarating book, say Fluid Mechanics or Anna Karenina, and it’ll put you right to bed.

So before you pick up that next coffee, think about your sleep and maybe go for a decaf. You’ll think about the wonderful sleep you had, before you started balding or going through menopause because your deep sleep only goes downhill as you get older.

Written by Marvin Dumas, Class of 2011

“Will you succeed? Yes, you will indeed (98 3/4% guaranteed).” – Dr. Seuss

dr-seussEvery once in a while I find myself needing to shake things up: Approach life from a new perspective or commit to a new challenge. Typically when this happens to me, I find myself making drastic changes in my life. From the small: learning how to knit, living in a barn, how to start a fire,shovel snow or cook (I am still learning how to master a few of these!). Or to the Big: changing careers, moving to a new city, traveling and working abroad on a cruise ship for two years. (That last change was a pretty drastic change… to say the least.)

By accepting new challenges (both the big and the small) you are constantly pushing yourself to discover what you are really and truly made of.

I have decided that the time has come to create a standing list, made famous by the recent movie, my personal Bucket List. We all know what a Bucket List is; it is your ultimate “Things to Do List” that trumps e-mails or memos. This is list about defining and redefining your life with goals, challenges and obstacles.

I have given this quite a bit of thought but to get my creative juices flowing, I looked up “100 Things to Do” and a great list popped up that inspired me to commit to finally write down the beginning of my Bucket List.

Here is my first 30, on my Bucket List.

1. Learn to play the piano.

2. Visit all Seven New wonders of the World: Machu Picchu, Peru; Petra, Jordan; The Great Wall of China; The Taj Mahal, India and Chichen Itza, Mexico. (I have 2 of the 5 down.)

3. Drive a race car.

4. Learn how to cha-cha and then maybe salsa.

5. Go on a safari.

6. Learn how to speak Italian.

7. Swim with sharks, and then dolphins.

8. Attend a NCAA Championship Basketball game. (Ideally, the one Gonzaga is playing at.)

9. Go sky diving.

10. Visit all 7 continents. (I have 5 down!)

11. Drink vodka in Russia.

12. Become a collector of glass art.

13. Spend days(s) at: the Louvre, Uffizi Gallery, British Museum in London and Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

14. Travel to all 50 states in the U.S.

15. Attend the opening ceremonies for both summer and winter Olympics.

16. Finally read War & Peace.

17. Scuba at the Great Barrier reef.

18. Learn how to fly a plane.

19. Ride on a motorcycle.

20. Enjoy Mardi Gras.

21. Bungee jump.

22. Get a Masters Degree.

23. Find the love of my life and get married.

24. Go to Disney World.

25. Learn how to take care of my car, including changing a tire!

26. Write and publish a book.

27. Watch the 100 greatest movies of all time. (I only have 30 left, I just need to finish it!)

28. Visit the hometowns of my paternal and maternal ancestors. (In Italy & Germany!)

29. Create a home with an inviting, joyous, comfortable, loving atmosphere.

30. Listen and document the stories of my parents as children.

And I am just getting started…

Still stumped?  Here are questions ask yourself when creating your bucket list:

  • If you had a year left to live, what would you do?
  • If you won the lottery, where would you go?
  • If you were lying on your deathbed, what would you most regret not having done?
  • If you had an upcoming high school reunion, what would you like to be able to tell your former classmates that you’ve accomplished?
  • What do you need to have more of in your life?
  • Who do you admire? Why?
  • You’re sitting with your grandchildren on your lap telling them about your exploits. What stories are you telling them?
  • You’ve died and are listening to your eulogy. What are your friends and loved ones saying about you?
  • If a genie granted you three wishes, what would you ask for?

Now here is the fun part. Start writing your bucket list, right now! Don’t wait or put it off. Creating new life challenges will inspire you to continually define who you are and what you want to achieve.

So I have to ask, what are you top 5 Things to Do? Post them here share them with the blogging world!!

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