As the semester comes to a close, many of the MBA students are leaving the Champaign-Urbana community for home to take a break from school work and to continue their search for the perfect full-time job or internship. Since winter break is a great time to refine interview skills, update resumes and search for jobs or internships, I decided to sit down with Jill Krivacek, current second-year MBA student, employee of Business Career Services and the 2011 president of the MBA Association to see if she had any tips for students looking for job opportunities.
Tell me more about your position at Business Career Services and how you got the job.
I am a Graduate Advisor in Business Career Services. During the resume critiques and mock interviews we were required to do in our first year, I met Kyle Pietila who was an MBA (2011) and Graduate Advisor. He seemed to thoroughly enjoy his job. He was also extremely professional and polished. I thought becoming a GA would be a great way to help students while continuing to develop my own business professional skills. I started talking to Pnina Steiner, my Career Advisor, about the GA opportunity. She asked me to join the team in the Spring when they had a GA depart.
As a GA, my main responsibilities are comprised of resume critiques, mock interviews, general advising, and mentoring an undergraduate business organization. I am responsible for mentoring MBSA (Minority Business Student Association). This has been such a rewarding experience as the students are so intelligent and motivated. Conducting resume critiques and mock interviews is also rewarding, especially when the students come back to tell me they received job interviews or even better, job offers!
What are some mistakes you see students making when they interview with you?
The biggest issues revolve around a student aligning his or her strengths with the qualifications of a job. I think it is almost certain that an employer will ask a candidate why he or she should be hired. It is so crucial for students to know their strengths and what differentiates them from a large pool of candidates. These strengths discussed in an interview should be aligned with the job requisites.
What are some positive things you see students do in interviews that you wish more people did?
Smile. I know interviews are nerve-wrecking. Students at the University of Illinois College of Business are well-educated and intelligent. Employers are looking for the complete package. What differentiates candidates here at Illinois are the “soft-skills”—being personable, a team-player, and a hard worker.
What are some common mistakes you see in resumes?
Some basic mistakes are typos and inconsistent formatting. Some more complicated mistakes are not using action verbs and not quantifying results. It is always helpful to have a second set of eyes to look over your resume.
What advice do you have for people who are looking for a career?
The economy is still very tight. It is easy to become discouraged after not being invited for interviews or not offered a position. It is so important to remain positive and motivated in regard to the career search. I also think there are pros and cons to having a narrow or broad job search. It may be valuable to consider new opportunities especially in high growth sectors like healthcare, professional services, and technology.
This is some excellent advice, especially regarding soft skills. Many times people concentrate on what they look like on paper and forget to also pay attention to how they appear and conduct the interview in person. I wish the best of luck to all of those who are still looking for the perfect opportunity to show a company exactly what an Illinois MBA student is made of. Good luck and enjoy your break!