I’m ready to interview!

Hello and welcome. My name is Jaden and I’m a third-year student here at UMass Lowell. I’m majoring in English with a concentration in Journalism and Professional Writing.

Currently, I’m an intern for the University’s Career & Co-op Center. The center has tons of great career, internship, and co-op resources for students so I will be blogging about my own experiences using those resources!

Recently, I finally figured how to get through job interviews without tripping over my words. I attended a virtual Career Corner workshop hosted by the Career and Co-op Center, and they gave advice on how to answer tricky job interview questions. Interviews of any sort have always intimidated me. Job interviews can be very stressful, especially during a pandemic, so I wanted to share tips about how to answer common interview questions.

To get to the workshop, I had to find the Zoom link on Handshake. The workshop Zoom link was in the event description. I didn’t have to register, I just had to remember to be on time!

During the workshop, the host explained the three types of interview questions: traditional, situational, behavioral, and, when the role calls for it, technical (for example, in computer science.) Traditional questions focus on the candidate’s background and experience. Situational questions determine how applicants would handle a hypothetical situation in the future. Behavioral questions show how a candidate handled a specific real situation in the past. Technical questions are only applicable for certain job positions, but they determine how a candidate would solve a specific technical problem.

The workshop host said students should not deny their weaknesses, frame a weakness as a strength, or reveal a weakness that raises a red flag in an interview. I was surprised when the host said this because I had thought the opposite: that I should frame weaknesses in a positive light. Instead, the host suggested that students use the PARK method when talking about a weakness or problem. P stands for problem, A stands for action, R stands for result, and K stands for knowledge. Students should state their weakness or problem, explain what they did to improve the situation, tell about the results of their action, and say what knowledge they gained from the experience.

This workshop was super helpful for me, and I learned lots of tips I never knew before. I used to feel stressed out by interviews, and I always scrambled to find answers on the spot. Now, I feel more prepared since I know what kinds of questions I will be asked and how to answer them!

From the Career & Co-op Center: Career Corner workshops will resume the first week of spring semester. Visit our website and/or view Candid Career videos for tips on a variety of career development topics. Individual assistance is available between the Fall 2020 and Spring semesters by appointment — schedule a career advising appointment.

Being Recruited in a Virtual Environment

by Jaden Scott-Ryan

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, everything has gone virtual, including job recruiting. Recruiting is different in this climate and students will want to know how to prepare for virtual interviews, how to present oneself and to keep a positive mindset.

Approaching virtual interviews

One way you can succeed at virtual interviewing is approaching virtual interviews like in-person ones, according to Amanda Christians, Northeast Campus Recruiter at Fresenius, a healthcare company that specializes in kidney care.

“Treat the interview like it’s an in-person interview. Treat it professionally. Professional attire. Test out [the] technology. And ensure you are in [a] quiet environment with good Wi-Fi,” Christians says. Christians has plenty of experience interviewing college graduates. She is team leader for three other recruiters and is responsible for hiring new nurses.

How you present yourself, including on your resume, is also important, according to Christians, since the virtual recruitment process is different from meeting in person. Currently at Fresenius, job candidates are not allowed in clinics since dialysis patients are some of the most high-risk patients. As a result, virtual interviews are one of the only times recruiters get to meet job applicants. Christians said all nursing candidates should send in a resume, even if the application website does not call for one, because any previous experience is important. Since most nurses have not had full-time healthcare jobs before, mentioning clinical experience can be very helpful. However, you should list any previous experience, regardless of whether it is related to nursing, because these experiences can tell the employer more about you and Fresenius is especially looking for a good fit.

Another way to prepare for virtual interviewing is to make sure you have a strong Internet connection, great lighting and a simple background, according to Amy Branson, North East University Talent Lead at Fidelity Investments. She also encourages engaging body language and giving the interviewer your full attention with a positive attitude.

Keep your options open

In addition, do not limit yourself to one position because there are likely more where you can thrive, advises Branson, who develops and maintains strategic relationships with colleges and universities in the New England market.

“[We] hire for everything. Different functional areas,” she says. “Fidelity hires at both the intern and full-time level, [about] 2000+ university students across the country. There are many entry points into the organization.”

Be proactive and engaging

Being proactive and engaging is also key in the virtual environment, says Greg Denon, UMass Lowell’s Associate Dean for Career Development and head of the Career and Co-op Center. According to Denon, students have been having mixed reactions to the new virtual recruiting environment and are less willing to participate. This lack of enthusiasm may have to with students feeling anxious about approaching recruiters virtually. Despite this anxiety, it’s important when interacting with recruiters to be aware of how you sound. “Students should pay attention to tone of voice to convey energy,” Denon says.

He also advises keeping up your energy for virtual recruiting during the pandemic. He says to make sure you take breaks, use technology in ways that it can be productive without it being non-stop and set boundaries with your work.

While virtual recruiting may be very different from in-person recruiting, there are so many ways you can adapt and make the most of the opportunities around you. Putting yourself out there is the first step. With a positive mindset, you may find your dream opportunity!

Click on the following links to check out careers at Fidelity and Fresenius:



My first experience at a career fair

Hello and welcome! My name is Jaden and I’m a third-year student here at UMass Lowell. I’m majoring in English with a concentration in Journalism and Professional Writing.

Currently, I’m an intern for the University’s Career & Co-op Center. The center has tons of great career, internship, and co-op resources for students so I will be blogging about my own experiences using those resources.

On November 12, I did something I was afraid of. I attended the Career and Co-op Center’s virtual Public Service Career Fair and met with recruiters individually to discuss technical writing opportunities. Usually, I’m not the type of person to go up to people and introduce myself first so networking can feel unnatural for me. Yet attending career fairs and talking to recruiters has been a big help. I decided to write about my experience at the career fair because it can be hard to know what to expect if you haven’t been to one before, especially with the virtual component.

A few days before the fair, I registered for it on Handshake. It’s super easy and only takes a few seconds. That said, it’s important to not register last minute because you can only sign up for group or individual meetings with recruiters after registering! Individual meeting spots get filled quickly.

The first session I signed up for was an individual session with the Massachusetts Office of the State Treasurer and Receiver General. It focuses on state cash flow and debt, so I thought it might include grant or proposal writing. I asked if any of their work included technical writing and the recruiter had lots of suggestions. She said I might be a good fit for an executive office internship. She also mentioned I might do well in the communications department in the economic empowerment section. This section creates programs and projects for the public to encourage new clients to set up investment accounts, such as a 529 college fund. Another department the recruiter suggested for me was the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission since they often use written reports in their work.

Next, I met with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Unfortunately, the recruiter I spoke with said the organization didn’t have any internship or entry-level work that included technical writing. He said that only higher-level analyst positions included technical writing work. Entry-level positions focused on auditing or customer service. This was a little disappointing, but I wasn’t surprised since the IRS is a more math-based kind of organization.

Even though the IRS didn’t work out, I’m glad I went to the career fair. It gave me a chance to get used to meeting with recruiters and I feel like I can introduce myself first now! Despite how intimidating recruiters may seem, they’re very friendly. I’m also happy that I got the chance to learn about different companies so I can determine what kinds of organizations are an option for me.