Archive for the ‘Careers’ Category

Edited by Ellen H. Badger

This month’s Advice From The Field column is authored by Sheena Maria Connell, a NAFSA volunteer leader and assistant director of international student and scholar services at the University of the Incarnate Word. Sheena shares strategies for making the best possible first impression.

Q: I’m a pro at my program elevator pitch, but I struggle with my personal elevator pitch. How can I cultivate and practice my personal pitch to be as effective as my program pitch?

A: Sheena Connell

Struggling with a personal elevator pitch stems from lacking confidence in your “product” or not knowing your “product” well enough. To perfect your personal pitch, do your research…on you.


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By Melissa Vivian

Earlier this year at the NAFSA 2016 Annual Conference & Expo in Denver, I had the opportunity to speak with my NAFSA colleagues about Gallup Education’s Clifton StrengthsFinder, an assessment tool designed to help individuals and organizations identify what it is that they do best and how to boost that greatness in others.

This year’s conference marked the second time I’ve had the pleasure of speaking about StrengthsFinder assessments. In 2015, our StrengthsFinder “primer” covered the theory behind the practice of taking a strengths focus in your career. For 2016, we moved the conversation further to the practical application of strengths for professional team development.

NAFSA 2016 attendees took an hour out of their week to participate in an engaging experiential ice breaker that allowed them to physically see where they “stand” on certain strengths compared to their colleagues. Then we moved into a paper tower-building challenge that put strengths into action and provided an opportunity for powerful reflection. Some towers were tall, some were large, and others beautifully designed, but the real winners of the challenge were those participants who walked away with greater awareness of their strengths and how to identify them in their teammates. (more…)

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By Mandy Reinig

The job search process can be long and tedious. What many job seekers don’t realize is that it can also be an embarrassing and a humbling process, especially if they do not clean up their social media channels prior to their job search.

Currently, 43 percent of employers are using social media sites to make hiring decisions, and 51 percent of those who use social media sites found something that caused them to not hire someone. This included provocative photos; posts bad-mouthing their previous or current employer; and information or pictures about the candidates’ alcohol consumption and drug use. While it would seem like common sense not to post these items, you would be surprised how many people, and not just young people, post these items frequently without understanding the long-reaching consequences.


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Edited by Ellen H. Badger

This month’s Advice From The Field column is authored by Patti Jones, NAFSA volunteer leader and a retired international educator from Western Illinois University. Patti shares her strategies for obtaining resources to support staff professional development.

Q. How can I best advocate for my team to receive the professional training they need? NAFSA’s conferences offer so much, but I can’t afford to send everyone. What are some supplemental resources or tips to get the most NAFSA bang for our buck?

A: Patti Jones
Advocating for your team is always a necessary activity. Our field demands that professional training include a thorough understanding of policy, regulation, and their applications. This knowledge base requires continual updating. Very few people outside of the international office fully understand the nature of our work or its complexity. That is, until an external immigration review by a federal agency or a risk management audit of an education abroad program provides a massive reality check for administration.

Advocacy is all about the influence you have at your institution, and your ability to convince decision makers to consider your course of action. There are two parts to getting the support you need for your team: providing the justification for it, and finding the most economical way to deliver it. Here are some suggestions for strengthening your proposal and getting more “bang for your buck.”


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By Samantha Potempa and Jodi Simek

Networking is one of the most impactful ways you can build your professional expertise and effectiveness. But networking can sometimes take a backseat to some of the more immediate or urgent demands that we encounter in our jobs.

That’s why we would like to highlight some of the networking opportunities from NAFSA that can coincide with—and enhance—the responsibilities of busy international education professionals. We will explore four networking opportunities (of the many NAFSA has to offer) and share thoughts from some of our peers who have already taken advantage of these great resources to help build their professional network.

Knowledge Community and Interest Group Discussions
A great way to connect with fellow NAFSAns while at your desk is through NAFSA’s Knowledge Communities (KCs) and interest groups. Not only are the KCs a great way to share information, but they are also a way to keep up to date on issues and trends in the field while obtaining a variety of perspectives.


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By Lesley Robinson

I have nine NAFSA Annual Conferences under my belt, and only now do I feel like I have my post-conference routine down. For me, the NAFSA Annual Conference is always an exhilarating whirlwind of thought-provoking sessions, reception invitations, exhibit hall strategizing, business card collecting, and extreme networking.

With NAFSA’s Regional Conference in full swing, I thought it would be a good time to share some of the tips and tricks I have learned for maximizing professional networking both during the conference and when you are in the “post-conference glow.” You know what the “post-conference glow” is, right? It’s that feeling after a great event where your follow-up checklist is long and your energy and enthusiasm is sustained by all those great “ah ha” moments and new connections.

During the Conference

1. Make it a game to give away at least five business cards

Business cards have no value if you don’t pass them out – or collect them. I consider myself a high-functioning extrovert, and yet 50 plus conferences later, I still consider it one of the hardest things in the world to walk into a room of strangers, make small talk, and then try to not only give, but take business cards from contacts you’ve only just met. I challenge myself to try to connect with at least five people throughout the conference. Conference card pick-up lines can include: “Have you been to any memorable sessions?” or “How far did you travel to get here?”


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By Ellen H. Badger and Shawna Szabo

Throughout your career, you will be faced with unavoidable realities that may disrupt your journey. Rather than having these realities affect you in a negative way, why not turn lemons into lemonade? Transforming a possibly negative situation into a positive one is not easy, but it is a skill that certainly can be learned.

During our Career Center Speaker Series presentation at NAFSA 2016 in Denver, we discussed a number of these “career realities” and offered different strategies for dealing with them. We’ve chosen to focus on two for this blog: the increased mobility of employees and the challenge of unfilled staff vacancies.  (more…)

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By Samantha Martin

Are you in conflict at your office? We’ve all been there.

Something got unexpectedly pushed onto our plate, something was said, someone clammed up, someone lashed out, something got dropped, someone was overlooked, something went unnoticed, etc. And, we take offense.

It’s not a mystery why conflict upsets us. No matter the title or years of experience, work is important to us. We invested a lot of time and money to be eligible for the position we are in. We made sacrifices along the way. We want to be seen and valued. We want to grow and know that our work matters.

How do we move beyond trouble at the office? The same way we train our students to move through conflict when they go abroad.


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By Sora H. Friedman

Earlier this year, I kicked off this two-part blog series examining how NAFSA’s International Education (IE) Professional Competencies can be used for team development and hiring with a post providing background about the competencies and asking IE supervisors and hiring managers to provide feedback (via online survey) on how they are using the competencies in their own work.

Additionally, during the NAFSA 2016 conference in Denver, I led a presentation in the NAFSA 2016 Career Center considering how the competencies can be used as a tool to assess team skills, strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in order to assist with the professional development of current staff and to plan for future hiring searches. My goal with each was to engage with as many people as possible about how they have used the tool within their own offices. Here’s what I learned.


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Edited by Ellen Badger

We’re kicking off the new academic year with this Advice From the Field column by Deborah L. Pierce, PhD, associate consultant at Ruffalo Noel Levitz, who offers helpful strategies for managing the potential downside of being an internal candidate.

Q. I was an internal candidate for a position in my current office that would have meant a promotion, but an external candidate got the job. I’m really disappointed. Are there options other than looking elsewhere? What’s the best way for me to manage this setback?

A. Deb Pierce

You are not alone; this has happened to me and will happen to most of us at some point in our careers. I understand why this feels like a setback: you committed to that search and didn’t succeed, which doesn’t feel very good. Here are some steps I took to deal with similar situations. (more…)

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