Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Value of Joining a Professional Association

Professionals associations can offer a lot of value to their members -- as a vehicle to learn more about and/or make contributions to your chosen field, to network with other members or as a source out job opportunities posted by members for members. So think carefully about the association you join because some are more active than others, and the benefits do vary. Read on to learn more about associations and how they may be a helpful in starting or developing your career.

What Exactly is a Professional Association?

A Professional Association is a structured group of like-minded individuals who gather to pursue their common interests, exchange information, and network with each other, for personal and professional benefits.

There are professional associations for every career field, and some general associations that are focused on other criteria and accept members from all fields, such as the Rochester Women’s Network and Rochester Young Professionals.

Professional associations are an excellent resource for career exploration when you are starting out, and for networking as you grow in your new profession. They are also one of the most powerful networking and job search tools available. Student memberships in professional associations are often free, or at significantly reduced rates compared to professional memberships.

Professional associations serve a wide variety of purposes, including establishing and monitoring industry standards and professional codes of practice, promoting the profession in the community, producing professional and industry publications, and maintaining a professional library for members. One of the main goals of many professional associations is to promote the career advancement of their members. Many offer career development information, networking opportunities between members, conferences, and even exclusive job and internship listings.

 

Why Join a Professional Network?

Professional Associations are a powerful resource for job seekers. Through their various activities and services (meetings, conferences, publications, websites, etc.) professional associations provide information about career fields, job opportunities, and employers in the professions they serve. They can be particularly helpful if you need to create a network to help you conduct a long-distance job search.

As a resume builder, associations indicate your dedication to and strong interest in your field to potential employers, and can also ensure your resume will matched in a keyword search by a recruiter searching through an applicant database on a Web search engine.

By participating in the activities of professional associations, students/alumni can gain practical experience and meet professionals already working in the field. You can also:
  • increase your knowledge of the profession and industry you are interested in, which will help you to decide whether you wish to pursue a career in this field
  • increase your knowledge of companies and organizations and the career opportunities they offer
  •  improve your business etiquette and communication skills
  • work for the association on projects and develop new skills
  • receive assistance with job-seeking through workshops, seminars, site visits, employer functions, vacancy listings etc.
  • learn about and apply for co-op placements and other job opportunities
  • develop skills through participation in professional development activities
  • socialize with fellow students who share similar interests and career goals
  • network with prospective colleagues and employers
  • remain up-to-date with developments in the field
  • learn about day-to-day issues you will face in the workplace

 

How do I use Professional Associations in my Job Search?

  • Association websites - check out the association website, if there is one. It can be a treasure trove of useful material: job listings, conferences, meeting and event calendars, member directories, news, emailed newsletters, etc.
  • Meetings/events - if it is a national organization with a local chapter, or a local organization, go to a couple of meetings (don't stop at just one meeting!) to see who is there and what they do.
  • Conferences/trade shows - check out the exhibitors to see who they are, what they do, what their new products and services might be, and, with luck, employment opportunities they may have.
  • Member directories - think of them as catalogs of potential employers and/or potential coworkers. You can use these directories to network and conduct informational interviews with potential employment contacts.
  • Committees - the best way to meet colleagues at other companies (where you may soon be working) is to join one of the association's committees. At a minimum, it will give you people with whom you can talk when you go to the next meeting. At best, it will give you visibility with everyone in the organization and the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise as well as establishing a good reputation.

 

How do I find a Professional Association?

There are professional associations available for every career field, and the Internet is a great starting place to find an association that matches your interests. You can do a general search for your field + professional associations, or use the general lists of professional associations below to find specific associations by category.    
Check with your program coordinator in the Co-op and Career Services Office for the associations they recommend for your field of interest. We have also organized
our "staff picks" on our Lists of Recommended Sites by program on our site-- so look them over!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Co-op Student Newsletter - Spring 2014 Issue



Stay connected to RIT, while gaining experience
Spring 2014 Issue Topics:
Co-op Factoids | Greetings From...Co-op Student Postcard | Etiquette For On The Job Success | Make The Most Of Your Co-op: How To Be Social At Work | Are You Number One?| A Little Humor


Fall Co-op Factoids
Number of students on co-op: 1264
Number of students on co-op internationally: 26
Number of companies employing co-op students: 736
Top 5 companies hiring the most students this quarter: 
GE Aviation, Wegmans, BorgWarner Morse, Paychex, Welch Allyn, Bendix, Thomson Reuters, Harris Corp., Vicor, RIT

Co-op city trivia:  
Founded in 1757, Lynchburg Virginia is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains along the banks of the James River. Lynchburg is known as the City of Seven Hills and was the only major city in Virginia that did not fall to the Union Army before the end of the American Civil War.


Greetings From Walt Disney World – Co-op Student Postcard
It may not be obvious, but it makes a lot of sense that Walt Disney World hires engineers. We asked Matt Purcell to share his co-op experiences along with some tips and stories related to how to make the best of your co-op!

Greetings From Disney Postcard front

Disney Postcard -- Matt Purcell Co-op Experience

Send us your own co-op greetings --share your experience! Email Gretchen at geboce@rit.edu if you are interested in being featured – include an engaging photo of you at work. Thanks!


Etiquette For On The Job Success

All that hard work and you’ve finally landed that great co-op job!  Now it’s time to focus on making your co-op turn into another success story for you by being aware of proper office etiquette. Follow some of the simple tips below to help you enhance your experience and be a good citizen at your company!

Dress to impress – Most companies will give you some sort of orientation and talk about the proper dress code, so if they tell you the dress code is business or business casual – that’s what you wear. If you’re not sure, just look around you – does what you have on fit in with the attire of your supervisor or senior members? Start out on the formal side until you are on the job for a week or two and can observe what’s accepted. Things to avoid – bare feet, flip flops, clothing that’s too revealing, jeans, work-out clothes, shorts and tank tops. Dress for the job you want, not the one you’ve got!
Punctuality – Find out your assigned work hours and then come in on time and don’t leave before the agreed upon time.  If you are sick or unavoidably late, be sure to call in to let someone know. Never mind what your boss or “everyone else is doing” – stick to your hours – it will always come up at review time!
Company culture – Getting the lay of the land is vital. Is the work environment casual or a little more formal? Do employees address managers by their first names or Mr. and Ms.? Know the organizational and reporting structure. What are the rules about taking breaks, using the internet, Facebook and other social media during work or free time? Is listening to music with your ear buds in allowed while working? Remember, this is a place of business, not the dorm room, so if you’re not sure what is acceptable, ask your supervisor!
Ditch the dorm life – Falling asleep at the desk is one of the most common problems reported by employers. Now that you’re in a professional setting, eating right and getting enough sleep is a must. A healthy lifestyle will keep you alert and make you more productive on the job. So if you’re used to socializing or playing video games until 3:00 am, now’s the time to adjust your schedule to avoid those heavy eyelids during the day.
What else can I do? – If you’re not busy enough or just want to get more experience, ask what you can do next – time is money so productivity is important.  Show them that you are a hard worker and take assignments seriously. Ask questions and absorb as much information and knowledge as you can to get the most out of your co-op. Try to get yourself included in meetings and projects – show initiative and go beyond the basic co-op tasks when you can. Enthusiasm goes a long way!
Be respectful – We all have our opinions and in increasingly diverse workplaces, we don’t always agree. Listen carefully, act maturely and honor others ideas in a non-judgmental way. It may appear to be a dumb way to do things to you, but you may not be aware of the big picture and others may have been there awhile and have a lot more experience. Offering your ideas is fine, just always be respectful of the fact that many people bring many different perspectives. 
It’s confidential! –Intellectual property, trade secrets, product designs, formulas and algorithms, ideas for future developments, company reports, etc. are all proprietary information. The same is true for all customer/vendor lists, employee directories and email/address lists, work notebooks. Ask yourself if the information would be valuable to a competitor or anyone on the outside? Treat everything that you see and hear as though it is confidential - when in doubt, don’t share!
Check your ego – We all have to do things that sometimes seem below our skill level. Avoid the “it’s not my job” attitude and accept tasks willingly. The quicker you get the little stuff over with, the more time you have to focus on the more meaningful work. Do the best job you can no matter what is asked!
It’s company property – Everything from scotch tape, the copy machine to laptops belongs to the company and is not there for your personal use. Stick to the rules for use of company cars and travel expenses and always ask permission before using company equipment.
Keep records and get feedback – document your work, keep good records and track your work and projects. This will come in very handy when it is time for your review, to prepare your departmental work report and to update your resume. Time goes by quickly and it is easy to forget details! Consult your supervisor regularly and get feedback about your work.  Are you meeting expectations? Clarify any questions you have about projects and procedures. Make him/her aware of any conflicts or problems.
Prepare to stay connected – network with co-workers for future co-op or full time work. Get to know customers and others in internal departments. Start building your network now! Line up your references at the end of your co-op and stay in touch after you leave.
The grandma check – Always conduct yourself in a professional manner as though someone is watching you in and around the office and also during “off hours” at informal parties and gatherings where you might feel it is ok to let your guard down (especially situations when alcohol may be available).  Avoid gossip and involvement in “office politics”. Make efficient use of your time and personal calls and emails should not be made on company time. Emails and conversations (even though in perhaps an informal or social situation) should always contain clean language and you should never say anything that can’t be shared with everyone. If you wouldn’t do it or say it around grandma, don’t do it at work either!


Make the Most of Your Co-op Tip: How To Be Social At Work

Work sometimes can be stressful, and so can managing your social life. You may feel like being at work is like being in a middle school cafeteria, especially right when you start. Who do you talk to? Who do you fit in with? Who will I sit with at lunch? There are some good ways to blend right into these questions and let them answer themselves:

1.       Work Events
One of the best ways to get assimilated into company culture is by going to work events. This can range from office parties to community events that the organization goes to or hosts. A lot of offices have bulletin boards, sign ups and email listings so make sure you find where these are and get on those lists. It doesn’t have to be something you’re really passionate about; it can be something basic like a community service event, or a sporting game.

Many companies hire co-ops in groups, especially in the summer. Typically these companies will organize events specifically for the co-ops such as picnics, baseball games or things that might be unique to that city. Make sure you go to these! It’s a perfect opportunity to meet people of your age group.
If your office doesn’t really have a lot of this, be courageous and organize and event yourself that revolves around something you’re interested in. Maybe try something as simple as going to see a movie, play or concert.

2.       Make your cubicle/office welcoming
A problem a lot of people have is that they become introverted at work. Sometimes this is a good thing when you’re really busy and need to pound out work, but during more relaxed times try something as simple as just having your door open. Even if that just means them walking by and saying “hello!” A lot of conversations have just in a doorway of an office.

Some of you might have cubicles or smaller work areas. Since this is always open, try decorating it to make your area inviting. You can read more about this in our other blog post, “Decorating Your Cube” http://ritcareers.blogspot.com/2013/10/decorating-your-cube.html. Long story short, decorate your area with things that represent you (a movie/TV show poster, pictures, etc.). It gives other people something to talk about with you and shows your personality.


3.       Have your lunch with other people
Don’t be a hermit and eat your lunch hiding away in your office or go off site to eat. Bring your lunch and eat in an employee break room, or invite other people to go out for lunch or don’t be afraid to join in on a group of people going out to lunch. Just being around other people in the workplace allows for conversation and relationship building.

4.       Don’t be too social
So yeah, we just told you how to be modestly social at work, but there IS a way to go too far. Even though you are trying to be friends with these individuals, you are still on a professional level with them, especially at work. It’s great to go to work events, but keep some things in mind:
-Some of these work parties have alcohol, so control yourself. This isn’t a college frat party. If you are under 21, DON’T DRINK!
-Some people might not be comfortable with certain information, so don’t spill out personal details of your life on just anyone. This puts other employees and the employers in an awkward position and some people have gotten fired for this.
-Be careful with work relationships. You may not know the other person too well and the last thing you want is to be accused of sexual harassment or a complaint to your supervisor. It’s not a situation to be taken lightly. A good rule is to avoid office romances altogether.

Bottom line is, don’t be afraid. You got hired because you fit into the office atmosphere, and chances are the people in the office want to get to know you. The earlier you start this process, the easier it will be, so start making some work friends!


Are You Number One?

Are you the first co-op student your company has ever had? If you’ve had a good co-op experience, but are now leaving, this is your chance to help your company and other RIT students too!

Before you go, talk with your supervisor about the possibility of hiring another RIT student, to continue the work you started, or work on a new project. It’s easy to post a co-op position on our employer web site – www.rit.edu/recruit, and if they have any questions, you can refer them to your program coordinator, or our main office – 585.475.2301. Your supervisor may even want you to be involved in recruiting your successor!

Thank you for helping us maintain a good relationship with your company, and develop co-op opportunities for other RIT students.


A Little Humor





Monday, April 21, 2014

Etiquette For On The Job Success


All that hard work and you’ve finally landed that great co-op job! Now it’s time to focus on making your co-op turn into another success story for you by being aware of proper office etiquette. Follow some of the simple tips below to help you enhance your experience and be a good citizen at your company!

Dress to impress – Most companies will give you some sort of orientation and talk about the proper dress code, so if they tell you business or business casual – that’s what you wear. If you’re not sure, just look around you – does what you have on fit in with the attire of your supervisor or senior members? Start out on the formal side until you are on the job for a week or two and can observe what’s accepted. Things to avoid – bare feet, flip flops, see-through and clothing that’s too revealing, jeans, work-out clothes, shorts and tank tops. Dress for the job you want, not the one you’ve got!
Punctuality – Find out your assigned work hours and then come in on time and don’t leave before the agreed upon time.  If you are sick or unavoidably late, be sure to call in to let someone know. Never mind what your boss or “everyone else is doing” – stick to your hours – it will always come up at review time!
Company culture – Getting the lay of the land is vital. Is the work environment casual or a little more formal? Do employees address managers by their first names or Mr. and Ms.? Know the organizational and reporting structure. What are the rules about taking breaks, using the internet, Facebook and other social media during work or free time? Is listening to music with earbuds on allowed while working? Remember, this is a place of business, not the dorm room, so if you’re not sure what is acceptable, ask your supervisor!
Ditch the dorm life – Falling asleep at the desk is one of the most common problems reported by employers. Now that you’re in a professional setting, eating right and getting enough sleep is a must. A healthy lifestyle will keep you alert and make you more productive on the job. So if you’re used to socializing or playing video games until 3:00 am, now’s the time to adjust your schedule to avoid those heavy eyelids during the day.
What else can I do? – If you’re not busy enough or just want to get more experience, ask what you can do next – time is money so productivity is important.  Show them that you are a hard worker and take assignments seriously. Ask questions and absorb as much information and knowledge as you can to get the most out of your co-op. Try to get yourself included in meetings and projects – show initiative and go beyond the basic co-op tasks when you can. Enthusiasm goes a long way!
Be respectful – We all have our opinions and in increasingly diverse workplaces, we don’t always agree. Listen carefully, act maturely and honor others ideas in a non- judgmental way. It may appear to be a dumb way to do things to you, but you may not be aware of the big picture and others may have been there awhile and have a lot more experience. Offering your ideas is fine, just always be respectful of the fact that many people bring many different perspectives. 
It’s confidential! –Intellectual property, trade secrets, product designs, formulas and algorithms, ideas for future developments, company reports, etc. are all proprietary information. The same is true for all customer/vendor lists, employee directories and email/address lists, work notebooks. Ask yourself if the information would be valuable to a competitor or anyone on the outside? Treat everything that you see and hear as though it is confidential - when in doubt, don’t share!
Check your ego – We all have to do things that sometimes seem below our skill level. Avoid the “it’s not my job” attitude and accept tasks willingly. The quicker you get the little stuff over with, the more time you have to focus on the more meaningful work. Do the best job you can no matter what is asked!
It’s company property – Everything from scotch tape, the copy machine to laptops belongs to the company and is not there for your personal use. Stick to the rules for use of company cars and travel expenses and always ask permission before using company equipment.
Keep records and get feedback – document your work, keep good records and track your work and projects. This will come in very handy when it is time for your review, to prepare your departmental work report and to update your resume. Time goes by quickly and it is easy to forget details! Consult your supervisor regularly and get feedback about your work.  Are you meeting expectations? Clarify any questions you have about projects and procedures. Make him/her aware of any conflicts or problems.
Prepare to stay connected – network with co-workers for future co-op or full time work. Get to know customers and others in internal departments. Start building your network now! Line up your references at the end of your co-op and stay in touch after you leave.
The grandma check – Always conduct yourself in a professional manner as though someone is watching you in and around the office and also during “off hours” at informal parties and gatherings where you might feel it is ok to let your guard down (especially situations when alcohol may be available).  Avoid gossip and involvement in “office politics”. Make efficient use of your time and personal calls and emails should not be made on company time. Emails and conversations (even though in perhaps an informal or social situation) should always contain clean language and you should never say anything that can’t be shared with everyone. If you wouldn’t do it or say it around grandma, don’t do it at work either!