Career Corner: Make the most of your winter break

By Yahya Khan, Peers for Careers Correspondent

(As orginally published in the Ticker,

Baruch College’s winter break starts when finals end, and includes multiple holidays. Your ultimate goal should be to ensure the winter break is used in a productive and imaginative manner. For accounting majors, this is a time to gain some hands-on experience, in the form of an internship or part-time position.

January is considered a busy month for both audit and tax practices.  As a result, several large and regional accounting firms recruit winter interns. One of the benefits of interning during this time is securing the opportunity to be exposed to substantive work with real deadlines. In contrast, the summer season tends to be much slower. There are many opportunities posted in STARR Search, especially at small, local firms.

The Starr Career Development Center provides all student’ access to Focus 2.  This system includes personality assessments that can allow students to get a good sense of their core strengths and how they might fit into a prospective career. The On Campus Recruiting (OCR) Internship tutorial is another potentially helpful tool. It is a web-based tutorial —easily accessible through the SCDC website—which provides information about how to apply to and interact with employers during the internship recruiting process. Completing this quiz is a mandatory step for students who want to participate in internship OCR.

Although deadlines for the upcoming intersession have already passed, another opportunity that winter break grants is studying abroad. AIESEC, a global youth leadership development organization with chapters in over 150 countries and 30,000 universities offers a chance to intern abroad in a host of different countries and disciplines with a focus on personal development.

The Baruch chapter is hosting information sessions and is a good resource to learn more about these opportunities.

Apart from structured internships or study abroad tours, simply traveling to different countries and exploring different cultures can be a rewarding, relaxing use of the break. In conjunction with traveling, it could be helpful to use the time over break learning or brushing up on a foreign language.  In today’s world, where globalization is the norm and bilingual candidates the standard, it is important to demonstrate knowledge of or willingness to learn another language.

For those of you staying in or around New York City, SCDC will be open through the intersession and will provide its traditional resume and cover letter review along with mock interview and counseling services. This is a great time to attend workshops and focus on the career skills you need to navigate the job and internship search.

Many finance majors will use this time to prepare for the spring recruiting season.  Be advised many employers will be collecting resumes during the break and interviews will kick into high-gear once classes start. Thus, the winter break can be used to brush up on technical questions, internship applications and interview practice. A resource to use this is Vault, which can be accessed free of cost through STARR Search and has a wealth of information such as technical guides, popular interview questions and employment statistics for all major career paths.

Another great way to ensure that you spend your vacation in a productive manner is to volunteer your time and effort to improve local communities. Winter, and the holidays that fall within this period, often allow us to reflect on how blessed most of us are.

Volunteering gives us the opportunity to do some good in the world. Thus, the winter break is the perfect opportunity to give back to the community.

There are limitless volunteer opportunities for you to take advantage of, whether it be serving food at a soup kitchen or donating blood at a blood drive. Some organizations that offer great volunteer opportunities are the New York Blood Center, City Harvest, Meals on Wheels and New York Cares. An additional benefit of volunteering is that it rounds out a candidate’s profile and provides something meaningful and interesting to talk about in potential interviews.

Soon—almost too soon—the fall semester will be over. Whether your winter break is spent traveling, visiting family and friends, in the final throes of graduate school tests and applications, or even in the simple pleasure of reading that book trilogy everyone is talking about, it should be looked on as an opportunity to gear up for the year to come.

Career Corner: Changing Your Major

By Akash Shah

(As orginally published in the Ticker:

Changing your major is common in college. According to NBC News, two out of three students entering undergraduate programs in the United States are undecided about their majors.

In addition, about 50 percent of American college students will change their majors at least once while in school. Students who have taken a well-rounded selection of coursework can make a more informed decision regarding major change.

At Baruch College, students well into the end of their junior year change majors and may even switch between the three schools, School of Public Affairs (SPA), Weissman School of Arts and Sciences and Zicklin School of Business.

Jennifer Harrington, undergraduate coordinator of the Office of Academic Programs at SPA, and Keisha McLeod, undergraduate coordinator of student affairs at Weissman, say that many students who considered themselves to be on the business track have contemplated changing their majors to public affairs or to a major at Weissman.

Furthermore, according to Judy Tse, director of undergraduate services at Zicklin, approximately 500 students have changed their major within Zicklin since January 2013.

There are several reasons why students change majors; most commonly, student’s interests and passion have changed.

Another reason is when a student is unable to meet certain academic requirements. For example, Harrington and McLeod explained that calculus is a Zicklin requirement, which often prompts students to reconsider their major choice.

Before you select a major, you should research what major is best for you. One way to do your research is by visiting the STARR Career Development Center and meeting with a career counselor.

You can also take career-related assessments like Focus 2, the Strong Interest Inventory, and the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) to decide on your majors.

When deciding your major, be thorough in your self-assessment: try to identify your interests, key personality traits, your values, your skills and lifestyle preferences.

Since changing your major can impact your career objectives, you should explore prospective occupations and industries that correspond to your new major.

However, keep in mind that your major does not define your career trajectory.

For instance, you can be a psychology major interested in finance and pursuing a career in human resources. The skills you gain from your major can be applied to numerous fields.

Robert Freedman, academic counselor for the Office of the Dean at Zicklin, indicated that students should also perform academic self-assessments.

Specifically, if a student’s academic standing does not meet the departmental requirement, he or she should consider changing majors. Freedman suggested that students speak with their peers, professors and professionals to learn about their intended major and how it might relate to career opportunity.

After performing all the necessary assessments, student should take steps to create a plan for degree completion.

When creating an academic plan, meeting with an advisor at the Center for Academic Advisement can be beneficial.

The advisors can provide additional information about different majors offered at Baruch.

They will also help you to reevaluate the information in DegreeWorks and to plan which classes you should take during your remaining semesters at Baruch

If you decide to change your major, go to the registrar’s office to learn which documentation must be submitted. Also be aware that switching majors between different schools might entail additional steps.

Whether you are forced to change your major or you do so by choice, switching a major does not have to be the end of the world.

In fact, when you start to focus on all the opportunities that come with this change, it can bring clarity and optimism.

For many, this could be the first time that they have undertaken an in-depth self-assessment, and this could improve their chances of making a satisfying decision.

Career Corner: Establishing a Mentoring Relationship

By: Nadezda Semenova, Peers for Careers Correspondent

(As orginally published in the Ticker:

Very often, we do not realize how important having a mentor is. However, as history has shown, successful people do not achieve greatness without the help of others. “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself” is how Oprah Winfrey once described her relationship with her first mentor, Mary Alice Duncan.

Specifically, she was the fourth grade teacher who helped Winfrey “to not be afraid of being smart.”

While mentorship is crucial to developing our careers, students who are starting to build their personal network may face the question: where do I find a mentor?

As Sheryl Sandberg writes in Lean In, “[mentoring relationships] probably won’t develop from asking a virtual stranger, ‘Will you be my mentor?’ The strongest relationships spring out of a real and often earned connection felt by both sides.”

You may already experience such connections with your parents, professors, peers and friends. Although you may not refer to them as mentors, these people may provide you with advice, guidance and constructive criticism.

Another way of finding a mentor is through networking. As Julie Winkle Giulioni wrote in her book Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: “Today, the lines between mentoring and networking are blurring. Welcome to the world of mentworking.”

Mentoring is especially relevant to Baruch College students who have access to weekly corporate presentations, panel discussions and other networking opportunities. Finding a mentor can be as easy as engaging in meaningful and thoughtful conversations with professionals during an on-campus event and then following up with them afterwards.

Baruch also provides a formal mentoring program, Executives on Campus (EOC). The program provides a forum where students and willing mentors come together with programs like the Academic Year-Long Mentoring Program and Mentor for a Morning. Jacqueline McLoughlin, Director of EOC, notes that both programs have grown significantly.

This year, the program made 360 mentor-mentee pairs for the year-long program, compared to 200 pairings last year.

The foundation of a good mentoring relationship is mutual trust and respect.  It is also important to be clear on expectations. Often, students have the misconception that a mentor will do all the work for them or will hand them a job. Either of these assumptions is wrong. Having a mentor is a privilege and involves showing effort.

The mentor-mentee relationship is about becoming a better communicator, figuring out career goals and aspirations, and developing professional connections. For example, mentors can share their insight in the industry, help you to create and polish your resume, and prepare for an interview.

Another important aspect of mentoring relationship is communication. Because people have different personalities and schedules, it is good to learn of a mentor’s preferred method of communication and have a clear time frame for meetings and follow-ups.

Do your homework before coming to the meeting, have questions ready, and think about topics you want to discuss. Communicate your goals, obstacles and achievements on a regular basis, and be open for an honest feedback.

In addition, it is necessary to remember that mentoring relationship is two-sided. Mentees mistakenly believe they have nothing to offer and feel uncomfortable constantly asking for help.

However, each mentee has his/her interests, actions, and progress, which can entice mentors to want to help. Read articles authored by your mentor, learn more about their industry, invite them to speak on a panel at your club event, or simply ask what they are working on now. All these actions will help you to contribute to cultivating a stronger relationship.

Once this relationship is established, like any other, it will have its peaks and hollows. As a mentee, it is your responsibility to stay in touch. Keep your mentor updated about your achievements and progress.  Having a mentor requires work, but it definitely pays off.


Career Corner: Your options for graduate school

By Christina Badali, Arame Mbodji, Brittany Masi and Arisleydi Garcia: Peers for Careers Correspondents

(As orginally published in the Ticker:

Applying to graduate school can be overwhelming. In order to narrow the search, students should answer the following key questions:

Why do you want to go to graduate school? How long do you see yourself in school? Are you willing to move for school? Would you enroll full-time or part-time?

How are you going to pay for school? Are you willing to take out student loans?

Once students have an understanding of what they are looking for, they can form their list of programs using online resources like Information on this website includes duration of the program, location of the school, degrees offered, tuition costs and financial aid.

Keep in mind that there are independent scholarships available to students based on field of interest, demographics and military experience, to name a few.

You should also contact the admissions office of specific programs to ensure that the information you obtained is accurate. Next, you will have to determine whether or not you need to take an entrance exam.

Graduate school entrance tests are field-specific. These exams are prepared by teachers and practitioners in the industry and are used to determine if you have the skills required to succeed.

Some graduate programs will give you the option of different exams that you may take while others may ask you to take more than one. For this reason, it is important to find out which tests are required for your program. GRE, GMAT and LSAT are some of the requisite standardized tests.

In cases where taking an entrance exam is not a requirement, it is important to consider costs and whether taking standardized tests will make your application stronger.

There are various ways of studying for entrance exams, and you should choose what best fits your learning style.

However, the cost should also be taken into


Private tutoring and test preparation classes are often very expensive.

A cheaper alternative is to use study guides that can be purchased at bookstores. Additionally, online guides and sample tests are available at minimal or no cost. It is important to give yourself plenty of time to study.

The more you study, the more confident you will feel.

Students will most likely apply to more than one program, and it is likely that each program will have varying application deadlines.

For this reason, it is important to stay organized throughout the application process.

It may be helpful to create a spreadsheet that lists all of the programs to which you will be applying with a column specifically for important deadlines. In another column, you should include the personal statement prompt required of the admissions application.

Lastly, in order to remain as organized as possible, it is important to keep track of when you are submitting application documents.

These include entrance exam scores, undergraduate transcripts, a personal statement and the application itself. By keeping track of when these documents are submitted in your spreadsheet, you will eliminate the chances of submitting an incomplete application.

By taking these tips into consideration, you will be able to survive the graduate school application process, hopefully with an offer of acceptance from the school of your top choice.