Students get help preparing for future

February 29, 2012
Pacific sophomore Jenna Nickle has a wealth of volunteer and job experience. With help from the Career Development Center, she's finding a way to make her story shine as she seeks employment.

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It’s unlikely anyone would call Jenna Nickle lazy.

The Pacific sophomore already has about four pages of résumé fodder, including volunteer and work experience ranging from coaching and refereeing to waiting tables. In between that experience, she’s also pursuing her degree in exercise science and playing lacrosse (the sport that brought her to Pacific this year after a freshman year at Arizona State University).

On Tuesday, though, Jenna was in Pacific’s Career Development Center, hoping to do a little more. She was taking advantage of “Resumania,” a special outreach event the center hosts in preparation for the First Avenue Career & Graduate Fair, which is Friday in Portland.

During Resumania, career counselors offer students one-on-one help sessions to prepare their résumés for job searches. That’s especially key this week, as the First Avenue fair is one of the biggest of the year, offering students information and connections to more than 100 employers and 60 graduate schools. (Registration for the fair is still open.)

Jenna is looking for a summer job, hopefully related to sports or her dream career in occupational therapy or rehabilitation medicine. Others will be seeking information about the next stage in their education or looking for the first step in their career journey.

With competition for employment fierce right now, Jenna said she wanted a little extra help to make her experiences shine.

“I’ve been using the same format since I was 16,” she said of her résumé. “When the opportunity came up, I thought I should get some help and re-look at it.”

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Jenna spent about 45 minutes with Career Development Center Director Brian O’Driscoll. They discussed her particular job goals and experiences, and he gave advice for ways she might improve her résumé for specific employers and opportunities. Among his top advise:

* Know your audience: There is a list of employers who are expected to be at Friday’s fair. He advised Jenna to look through the list and figure out what kinds of opportunities she wants to pursue. Then, the objectives and experiences listed should align to the kind of jobs available. This may mean having different versions of your résumés available for different employers.

* Accentuate your strengths: If an award or experience speaks well of you, include it. If you don’t, omit it. This is most true of GPA. Include an exceptional GPA. Don’t include a poor one.

* Add detail: Don’t just list the job you held and what you were supposed to do, include what you accomplished. On your top-tier experiences, include details about your biggest projects, your greatest achievements or the lessons and skills you learned that will help in your next job. Let potential employers know that you didn’t just hold a job, you did it well.

Make the most of your opportunities in the Career Development Center. Résumé consultation, mock interviewing and individual career advising are available by appointment: or 503-352-2877.

The Career Center calendar also includes information on upcoming workshops, such as a session this Thursday on “How to Make the Most of Recruiting Events” (11:30 a.m. March 1, Chapman Hall)