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Get the advice you need to successfully start your career.

This blog presents guidance on topics such as making the most of 1stGig, writing appropriate cover letters and resumes, developing solid interview strategies, negotiating a starting salary, deciding about graduate school, and much, much more. It is interactive as well as informative: If you have questions or comments about what you read here, or if you have ideas for topics you’d like to see covered, just let us know.

What do I say if someone asks an inappropriate question in a job interview?

We'll talk about what kinds of questions are considered inappropriate in the U.S., and how to handle those questions if they arise during an interview. (Read more)

How do I determine a reasonable salary?

My students often tell me that their greatest fear going into an interview is that they’ll be asked about their salary requirements. That’s a reasonable fear: You don’t want to suggest a salary that’s higher than what the employer will be willing (or allowed) to pay, but you also don’t want to sell yourself short by suggesting a figure that’s lower than what they have budgeted. (Read more)

Who do I ask to serve as a reference?

An important part of preparing for the job search is to create a list of references. You will not typically be asked to provide references when you apply for a job, but you will probably be asked for them if you are a finalist for the position. You need to have thought carefully about the people you can ask to serve as references and have your list prepared well before you actually need it. (Read more)

What are some typical interview questions?

Every interview is going to be different, so it’s difficult to provide you with a list of “typical” interview questions. However, most interviews are going to include a variety of questions on topics you can anticipate, and it’s good for you to be prepared to talk about these topics. (Read more)

How do I emphasize my skills and attributes on my 1st Gig profile?

One of the goals of your 1st Gig profile is to make you stand out from other potential hires while, at the same time, showing how you fit in with an organization. The way you do this is by emphasizing your skills and attributes so that the employer can learn as much about you as possible from a profile. However, you need to be sure that you provide those details concisely. (Read more)

How do I deal with the stress of searching for a job while I’m still under stress from finishing college?

For most students, each semester has a unique flow based on their class schedule and assignment due dates. Often, those due dates tend to cluster, so some weeks are busier than others. While there are many things you have learned to do to handle the stress of your education, adding a job search to the mix may seem overwhelming. Time management and planning are going to be your best friends in this situation. (Read more)

What is a good way to describe my attributes with a narrative?

For many people, any kind of writing task is challenging; being asked to write about oneself is even more challenging. Writing about your attributes can easily come across as arrogant (one extreme) or overly modest (the other extreme), neither of which is productive. Learn how to use the STAR method to produce a narrative that avoids either extreme. (Read more)

How much do I know about entry-level jobs relevant to my desired career?

In my experience, students usually fall into one of two categories: those who know exactly what type of career they want (for example, industrial engineer, graphic designer, journalist, doctor, lawyer) and those who don’t!  Both groups need to do research to help attain desired careers, but that research is likely to start out differently. (Read more)

What are employers looking for when they review my profile?

When you get a match from a 1st Gig employer, there are going to be a wide variety of criteria that have led to that match. The employer has established those criteria for each position, and your match means that 1st Gig’s algorithm has determined that there are significant commonalities between your profile and the employer’s preferences. But then an actual person will review your profile. (Read more)

Why are information interviews an important part of the job search process?

If you're interested in learning more about a potential career path, one method is an information interview. The point of the information interview is twofold: to learn more about what the job entails and to make contacts within the field. (Read more)

What type of organizational environment suits my needs?

Would you like to be a big fish in a small pond or vice versa? Use this list of questions to help you think about the type of organization where you may want to work (Read more)

Where do I want to live and work? Why do I want to live there?

Your 1st Gig profile asks you to list where you currently live, but you can also specify a particular city where you would like to live. There are several questions that you should ask yourself before you set your geographic goal. (Read more)

Why should I use 1stGig?

1st Gig is different from other websites that offer to help you find a job because 1st Gig wants to do more than that—it wants to help you get started on a meaningful career in an organization where you can thrive. How does it do that? (Read more)

What are my attributes?

There are myriad ways to learn about yourself and your attributes, but one good way is to do an online aptitude test. While the results of these assessments often suggest specific careers, they can also give you some very good ideas about your personality that you may not have considered—or that you may be shy about promoting. (Read more)
Susan M. Katz
Student Career Placement Consultant

Susan M. Katz, PhD, is 1stGig’s Student Career Placement Consultant and the author of Start Your Career: 5 Steps to Finding the Right Job after College.  She is also Associate Professor of English and Internship Coordinator at North Carolina State University, where she developed internship courses for both undergraduate and graduate students. Her courses help students prepare for the job search process, identify their strengths, and consider a variety of potential career paths. Her first book, The Dynamics of Writing Review: Opportunities for Growth and Change in the Workplace, describes some of the processes that newcomers must go through as they enter the workplace and adapt to organizational conventions.

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