Dr. Randall Hansen is the Career Doctor. Discover more about Dr. Hansen read about the purpose of this column and find previous issues of this column at the home page of The Career Doctor.
If you have any career- or job-related questions or comments that Dr. Hansen could provide valuable assistance with please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In This Issue (04/26/02):
- Graduating with a degree in geography and needs help with careers/jobs
- Attending graduate school to study for a career in forensic psychology
- Zeroing in on a specialized career path in the social work field
- Suggestions for improving the success of a job search stuck in neutral
|Q:||Walter writes: I am a B.S. geography major and I have had management experience at both McDonalds and UPS. What are some possible companies and/or positions for which I might be best suited.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Walter I guess my main question back to you is why did you choose geography as a major? But I also have other questions: What kinds of things fascinate or excite you about geography? And of course how can you combine your geography education with your management experience? You need to answer all of these questions before you begin your job-search otherwise you are going to end up being somewhat unfocused and frustrated at the experience.
Let me add one more insight before giving you some of my ideas. In many ways the critical issue for you is that you are completing your undergraduate college education. The bachelor’s degree is more important than the major — it’s a level of basic achievement that most employers are now seeking. Of course having a degree in a specific field adds to your skills and abilities in that area so getting a job in your area of study is a logical next step.
My immediate reaction to your email – of combining your education and your job experience — is logistics. You can find great (and very detailed) career information on the field by visiting Logistics Careers from the Council of Logistics Management. A great job site for logistics is: JobsInLogistics.com.
A great source for information about careers for students who majored in geography can be found at: Careers in Geography from the Association of American Geographers.
Finally other career/job possibilities for students who majored in geography include: Business Analyst Map Analyst Land Use Analyst City/Regional Planner Distribution/Transportation Analyst and many others. Some of the work is in government while others are in business. For more information go to another of my favorite sites: What Can I Do With a Major in Geography? from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
|Q:||Cindy writes: I am a Psychology major student. I would like to become a Forensic Psychologist however I really have no idea as to what I can do in terms of Grad school and what I need to do once I graduate college. Can you please give me some advice? Some websites would be good too if you know of any.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: All of those crime shows have made us all interested in the field of forensics! From my research on the field it appears that the best mix for students interested in this field is really a dual major in criminology and psychology with other science courses added to the mix. But don’t worry if you are close to graduating because regardless of where you are in completing your undergraduate degree a master’s degree in forensic psychology is essential. Your key should be researching the best graduate programs in forensic psychology. Depending on exactly what you want to do within the field you may also need to earn your doctorate degree.
Where to start? Well you need to be thinking about grad school! To find programs that offer at least a master’s degree in forensic psychology go to one of my favorite sites GradSchool.com: Graduate School Directories — Forensic Psychology.
Don’t forget to visit the Graduate School Resources section of Quintessential Careers where we have articles books and key resources to help you with all aspects of grad school – from grad schools admission tests to choosing the best grad program to writing the grad school admissions essay.
Finally to get more information about careers in forensic psychology I offer these sites:
|Q:||Nitara Wiggan writes: I have tried talking to several advisors at my university with no help. I am interested in a career involving children and travel. I have a gift for listening to people and have thought of almost everything and have finally decided to major in an Interdisciplinary Social Science degree with Criminology and Psychology as my two cognates. I want to work with rehabilitating and counseling children that come in to contact with Children and Families Dept. usually due to child abuse. I only know about the Social Work B.A. degree which is not broad enough for what I want. I want to move my way up to running the program if not starting my own facility. This way children will have access to counseling before they are placed in foster care or adoption. If you have any ideas or advice please let me know. Thank you in advance for your time.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: My best advice would be to get an internship this summer with a social services agency that closely matches what you want to do. If you can’t do an internship this summer then I suggest you conduct some informational interviews with directors of social service programs that match what you want to do with your career.
An internship is your best bet because it will give you vital experience hopefully confirm your career interests and give you some vital contacts that you will need upon graduation. It’s getting late to find internships but some are still available. Find all sorts of great internship resources including articles and other resources in this section of Quintessential Careers: Internship Resources for College Students.
Whether you complete an internship or not I would also suggest taking the time to conduct some informational interviews. These are not job interviews but sessions you conduct with key professionals in your field to learn more about job and career opportunities to expand your network and to get solid career advice. You can learn more about the value the method and the potential outcomes by visiting this free tutorial from Quintessential Careers: Informational Interviewing Tutorial.
From my experience in the social work area I would also say that what you want to do would also require a master’s degree in social work; of course one of the benefits of conducting informational interviews is confirming information such as this. A nice site to learn more information is: Social Work for Graduate School: How to Get In.
|Q:|| Bill writes: Hi. My current job will be ending in late May so I’ve been busy doing the things job seekers should do. Since I would really like to relocate I’ve sent out covers and resumes all over the country. I’m looking primarily for an academic job (teaching academic or career counseling etc.) in a community college or university. I would also consider a trainer position at either a for profit or non-profit organization.
To date I’ve sent out 68 customized cover letters and resumes. I’ve individualized each one so hours have been spent on this. Since I have an MA in English I make sure there are no typing errors or anything that might turn a recruiter or HR person off. I’ve tried to achieve a balance of professionalism and a personal touch. I’ve received no interviews or even telephone responses. Thinking that perhaps employers are hesitant to risk interviewing out-of-towners I’ve also sent quite a few resumes to local employers–to no avail.
I suspect that a lot of the problem lies in the fact that my resume lists my educational background in English and Foreign Language (French) but my experience of the last few years indicates employment that has little to do with my training in English. Even though I try to emphasize my versatility in my cover letter I’m getting the sinking feeling that I’m being boxed into a social services category. Any suggestions? As for follow-up very few give telephone numbers and many specifically say that they do not want any phone calls.
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: You may not like some of what I have to say Bill but just remember that you did ask for my help.
First let me say that you have been doing many things correctly — so that’s good — but if you recall from my discussion of the Domino Effect your job search will have a much less chance of succeeding unless ALL of your job-hunting tactics are working properly’and I think you have a few problems.
I’m a little worried about your attitude/outlook. While you generally sound positive there’s an undercurrent I sense in your letter that may just be frustration but it may be something more negative. Please explore this issue carefully. I call it job-search karma and it’s almost as if employers can sense it a mile away. The other thing to remember is that job-hunting is often streaky; you may be in a rough streak right now but a good streak could be just around the corner (especially with my advice)’so hang in there.
OK. My advice. Let’s talk about the jobs you are seeking. From looking at the job listings are you qualified for these positions? If you are qualified have you written your resume in such a way to tailor it to each job/position? If you haven’t done so already I strongly suggest a functional resume which is organized around skills clusters. Are you just applying to job postings — or are you also doing a direct mail campaign and using your network? Job-seekers cannot simply rely on job listings to find a new job.
Next are you writing to the hiring managers? Forget the HR departments. When writing to a community college are you writing to the head of the English department? It’s fairly easy to get the names of the hiring managers for any job in any organization — it just takes some time. Make sure — for future job searches — that you send your job-search package to the proper persons.
Finally follow-up. I don’t call what the ad says or what your personal preferences are. You simply MUST follow-up ALL job leads. There is no excuse. Employers who say no phone calls do so because they don’t want to answer large quantities of inquiries but following-up a cover letter and resume is different than calling to apply for the job. Following-up shows your interest in the job. And for those employers who don’t list their phone numbers? Look them up! Call information go online get the phone number and follow-up! Read more about follow-up in the Domino Effect. You can also find more resources in the Job Search 101 tutorial found on Quintessential Careers.