I have a PhD in education and more than twenty years of experience teaching at the college level. It was my work teaching Spanish for the Professions that highlighted the need for personalized coaching that gets you through your career transition.
What can I do for your humanities department at a campus workshop for students?
Today’s students increasingly study the humanities to complement their professional career focus, their parents want to see tuition money result in secure employment for their young graduates, and upper administration is applying pressure to accommodate those demands—and to provide demonstrable evidence of having done so.
Studies in the humanities equip students with the skills and knowledge that make them excel at analyzing critical situations, thrive in diverse contexts, and develop intercultural competencies.
These skills can differentiate your students from other candidates in highly competitive job markets. Yet students need specific, targeted training in how to describe their experiences, connect them to professional contexts, and present it all in such a way that it resonates with employers.
The campus workshops that I lead on walk students through the process of:
- describing academic skills & experiences so they stand out on a résumé or in an interview,
- soliciting letters of recommendation that make their applications stand out,
- including highly specific experiences in cover letters to make students the most competitive candidates they can be,
- preparing personal statements and graduate school essays that highlight work in international contexts and on multicultural teams, and
- face-to-face communications for networking events and interviews, including using experiences with class projects, service-learning, and internships to answer common job interview questions.
What can I do that campus career services can’t do for free?
Most campus career offices offer excellent career planning services that are general enough to apply to every student on campus. You should start there and prepare solid drafts of all your job search materials–resume, cover letter, personal statements, professional school applications, interview preparation.
Generally, campus career service offices do not have enough personnel to provide in-depth one-on-one career planning to each student–especially not for the unique skill sets of humanities students. For example, can career services tell you:
…how to describe your foreign language proficiency on your resume?
…how to represent your coursework, travel abroad, service-learning, and volunteer work in a job interview?
…how to make clear, specific connections between your lived experiences and the soft skills that employers most want in new hires?
…how to describe for interviewers exactly how you fulfill one of their unmet needs?
If you’ve used career services well, my services will get you through the final steps of your college-to-career transition so that you are the standout candidate.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s a little about how I wound up on my current career path…
Going off to college at the University of Michigan in the late 80’s, I would proudly proclaim that I planned to major in Spanish. When asked what I would do with that, I would reply– with perhaps too much confidence–“what are you going to do without it?” Spanish is undeniably a useful skill for any profession in the late 20th early 21st century U.S. And I still see that same intuition among students: pairing a language minor or major with pre-professional studies will be good for their careers.
But when I was in college, as is still true today, majoring in Spanish meant literary studies—the academic preparation focuses on grad school and becoming a professor. When I graduated a year early on a technicality (“Madrid Orientation” while on study abroad counted as “Advanced Syntax”—but only for me! None of my classmates from study abroad fell through that same crack), I waited tables for a year while I did exactly what my degree had prepared me to do: applied to grad school in Hispanic Studies. During the Master’s degree program in literature, a seed of what I really wanted to do was planted–I wrote a paper on the rest cure in the Victorian literary text, La Regenta, not knowing that ten years later I would be doing a dissertation in a perinatal clinic and ten years after that career coaching. I also discovered teaching during the Master’s program, thanks to a Teaching Assistantship at the University of California, Santa Barbara and that led me to my next big career move:
A PhD in Foreign and Second Language Education from the Ohio State University would qualify me for tenure-track employment in exactly zero university departments (I couldn’t work in a school of education without any K-12 teaching experience and I couldn’t apply to tenure-track jobs in Spanish without a degree in literature or linguistics). My true interest kept shining through, though: my doctoral dissertation was on the linguistic and cultural needs of English-speaking medical professionals whose patients were monolingual Spanish-speakers.
Ever since then, in one way or another, I have been working to fit qualified employees to their desired professional workplace.
At the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, I developed a content-based course about bilingualism in professional contexts in the U.S. and co-developed a business Spanish course that focused on entrepreneurship.
Then at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, I coordinated and taught in a widely popular minor program in Spanish for the Professions. I consistently published academic articles on Spanish for the Professions and community service-learning.
Over and over in my teaching, I stumbled upon the same unmet need: presenting all the rich skills and experiences for the job search. Students did not know how to represent their language courses, study abroad trips, and service-learning & volunteerism in their English-language job search documents, professional school applications, and interview preparation. And I couldn’t fit the one-on-one attention into the courses and programs that had to be taught in Spanish—and to large cohorts of students. That’s when I decided to become a career coach. And I have since discovered that the challenges are not unique to language students—undergraduates across the curriculum, especially in the humanities, have the same trouble presenting themselves in a professional manner.
Similarly, I saw a pattern among my colleagues: a struggle to manage tasks & timelines so that writing & publishing could go hand-in-hand with teaching & university service.
Since leaving higher ed, I have also discovered that mid-career job candidates struggle to manage the career transition and represent themselves in the language of employers and in the 21st century context that is dominated by technology.
So I do what I do to provide the kind of guidance I wish I’d had—when I was coming out college, when I was making the choice to prolong that experience at the graduate level, and when I was professionalizing as an educator, working on a doctoral dissertation, and building an academic career.