photo credit: Flazingo.com
On April 14, 2016 the team of City Year AmeriCorps members serving a Universal Audenried Charter High School had the great pleasure of sitting down with our friends and mentors from Firstrust Bank. With City Year’s end date of June 16th fast approaching, the Firstrust Bank team including, Maureen Sparks, Associate Counsel; Joanna Reynolds, HR Business Partner & Corporate Recruiter and Melissa Landsmann, VP, Business Partner and Staffing Manager, thought it would be a great time to prepare the AmeriCorps members for any upcoming interviews we may have. The timing could not have been better. The team and I learned a ton!
The following list includes some of my favorite takeaways from the session. These tips are applicable to both the current corps preparing for the next chapter and potential incoming corps members trying to secure their City Year spot.
Everybody is a reference.
One of the themes of the day was how important it was to keep your professional brand intact as you go from one work setting to the next. This means always try your hardest to do the best job you can, and if for some reason you were not able to complete a task, fix your mistake. In this interconnected world the chances of a prospective employer being able to find out that you worked with a previous colleague or friend is higher than you may think, even if you don’t list them as a reference. A future employer will want to know that you took every job seriously and tried your hardest.
Finding a job is about finding the right fit.
The first step in applying for a job is finding a job! In order to do this it is best to put yourself in the employer’s shoes and ask yourself these three questions. “Can you do the job? Will you do the job? Do you fit?” These three questions outline the necessary requirements for being happy in your work. Are you qualified for your prospective job? Is this a job that you would be happy and willing to do? Does the culture of the company or work setting mesh with the type of culture you prefer to work in? These questions point out what may seem to be obvious; however with jobs being as tough as they are to find it is important to remind ourselves that it is not just a paycheck you are getting from your work. This is a task or activity that you will spend a large portion of your time doing and you need to be sure that it is something you think you will enjoy and will be a good fit for you.
Research, research, research.
Okay, you found a good fit and want to apply but-wait! Before you do that you absolutely must do your research about the position and the company. This includes knowing the company as intimately as possible. Understanding their goals and culture is essential before you present your resume and cover letter. Furthermore, you will want to look at the field in which the industry is operating. Is it on the rise or is it in danger of becoming extinct? How is the company meeting the demands of the industry? How is the company stacking up against their competition, and what is their plan to keep their edge or close the gap? Knowing this information will help you accurately present your skillset in a way that will maximize the appeal to the employer. And on top of that, gaining relevant knowledge about the field will help make you stand out during an interview and show how seriously you take the job.
Everyone is an interviewer.
So you’re on your way to the interview. You’ve allowed plenty of time for travel and double checked the address. You walk in the door and there is the receptionist asking for your name. Be kind and courteous. It is important to not let your nerves make you forget your manners. Managers will want to make sure that you have shown that you can represent yourself well and do so to everyone you come in contact with. You want to show that you are capable of representing the prospective company.
When answering questions, be as detailed as possible.
When in the actual interview; remember to answer each question with as full an answer as possible. Very rarely should your answer be a simple yes or no. Elaborate on details and clearly explain your own personal role in whatever situation you are talking about. Also, if you find yourself going on and on it could be a good idea to ask “Did I answer your question completely or should I keep going?” You don’t want to ramble if you’ve already hit all the points you wanted to make. This shows that you are self aware enough to know when to stop and can be appreciated by an interviewer.
A perk of being a City Year AmeriCorps member is the great professional development we receive from corporate partners like Firstrust Bank. The session was great and I know I can speak for my team when I say we greatly appreciated their time and expertise. Not only do they care about the education of our student scholars, they care about our development as well.
Written by John Deming, City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps Member and Team Leader serving at Universal Audenried Charter High School
The work of John and his team is made possible by Team Sponsor, Firstrust Bank and Program Sponsor, New York Life.