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Be A "HERO"in Graduate School

By Josh Casillas, Master of Counseling Psychology, Career Consultant | Career Development Office, Lab Manager | Positive Sport and Peak Performance Psychology Lab 

We all know graduate school can be taxing, emotionally, physically, and mentally. Studies have shown that graduate students are six times more likely to experience depression than the general population and many report they need help and support.

Researchers found that institutions can help graduate students by establishing processes "that support students current and future career outcomes, including interventions that can help those who may not otherwise seek help" (Flaherty, 2018).

What graduate student does NOT feel anxiety or stress in graduate school? So what can you do? CGU offers programs designed to facilitate your holistic development, seek these out to help you develop positive psychological capital (PsyCap).

PsyCap has been described as "a core construct reflecting individuals' positive psychological state of development".  Interestingly, PsyCap has been associated with the increased levels of positive emotions, which can act as a buffer against anxiety and stress. The following four capacities are the foundation for building PsyCap: Hope, Self-Efficacy, Resiliency, and Optimism, commonly known as the HERO within (Luthans & Youssef-Morgan, 2017).

Hope. Hope can be developed by using a goal-setting exercise where we identify a goal, list potential barriers to those goals, and list ways around the potential barriers. For example, you can take time to identify a personally meaningful goal and follow the suggested steps, both goal directed energy (agency) and a plan to meet that goal (pathway) can help you to develop hope.

Self-Efficacy. Self-efficacy can be developed by mastery or success experiences, social persuasion and positive feedback, and vicarious learning or modeling from relevant others. For example, during a particularly stressful period during the semester, you could reflect on the accomplishments (i.e., successfully completed assignments, projects, or classes) that you have achieved up to that point. Reflecting on past accomplishments (mastery experiences), can provide positive motivation that can help you to persist academically.

Resilience. Resilience can be enacted by the development of resources (personal, social, or psychological), which help an individual to overcome adversity. For example, if you are stressed you studying for finals can lean on individuals who can help you maintain a positive perspective and keep a balanced view of your stressors.

Optimism. Simply put, optimists expect positive things to happen. In developing optimism, you could keep a diary of three things to be grateful for each day and meditate on how these three things, have positively impacted your life.

Finally, researchers have identified that hope and resilience may be most beneficial to develop for graduate students, as it has been associated with academic outcomes and has relevance for psycho-emotional well-being. If you can focus on the development your positive psychological capital, it may be an investment that can yield rich personal results during graduate school! 


            I challenge you to do the following gratitude exercise 

List five things for which you are grateful and take a few minutes to reflect on why you are grateful for them

  • "I appreciate ___________ because ____________."

When you are feeling stressed or need a positive mental boost, look back at these statements and practice gratitude.


Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377–389. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.84.2.377

Flaherty, C. (2018, March 6). New study says graduate students' mental health is a "crisis". Retrieved from

Liran, B. H., & Miller, P. (2017). The Role of Psychological Capital in Academic Adjustment Among University Students. Journal of Happiness Studies, 20(1), 51–65. doi: 10.1007/s10902-017-9933-3

Lopez, S. J., Snyder, C. R., & Pedrotti, J. T. (2015). Positive Psychology: the Scientific and Practical Explorations of Human Strengths. London: Sage.

Luthans, F., & Youssef-Morgan, C. M. (2017). Psychological Capital: An Evidence-Based Positive Approach. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 4(1), 339–366. doi: 10.1146/annurev-orgpsych-032516-113324



The Inner Work of Doing a PhD: Solitude, Isolation, and Cultivating a Camaraderie with Oneself

By Tamar Salibian, Media Studies PhD Candidate, Cultural Studies program, CGU

When I was a kid, my mother would drop me off at the kids' section of the Glendale Public Library and I'd read by myself for hours while she perused the stacks nearby. She'll never admit to this, because today's understanding and experience is very different from the way things were back then, but I'm actually grateful for that time alone. In those moments, I learned about solitude. Books were a tool that helped shape my imagination and my inner world. When I read, I nurtured a sense of being and a kind of camaraderie with myself.

In speaking with friends, family, schoolmates, and coworkers about the Covid-19 pandemic, the conversation often turns to the matter of isolation. That sense of detachment - of helplessness in the face of crisis and how loneliness can exacerbate these feelings - is palpable. I have felt this way at many different times in my life, and I've responded to it with varying degrees of self-awareness.

Time alone always nourished me as a child, but as I grew older, my joyful solitude began to grapple with the debilitating side of isolation. Learning how to use tools such as introspection, meditation, and self-care alongside various art, movement, and yoga practices has softened the pain that often comes with feeling isolated. But it takes time and practice to develop these skills.

On 9/11, I was just starting film school at CalArts after moving across the country from the east coast. Having left New York a month prior and spending time with my parents in Boston before embarking upon this new chapter in life, I remember waking up to early-morning commotion from my art school dorm buddies. As we watched the event on the television screen, I exchanged emails with former coworkers who watched the event from the windows stretching across our entire office floor that overlooked Downtown New York.

The shock and desperation at not being there to support friends, family, and community was overwhelming, and I was unequipped to handle the sense of detachment and loneliness that ensued. I sought superficial solace in unhealthy habits.

It wasn't until well into my PhD journey over a decade later that I started to address the ways that isolation without a consistent set of wellness practices can be damaging. I often tell people that doing a PhD is as much about the inner work as it is about that hefty research and the finished dissertation. It was when I began writing my dissertation that I started to address the disconnect that had led me away from my joyful childhood solitude for so long. The key was in finding that sense of wonderment in reading and writing, in cultivating that inner world once more while preparing my research, and in looking inward to become amply equipped to also support others.

As graduate students and scholars, we know a lot about being alone. The memes making the rounds in academic circles during our Covid-19 "Safer at Home" order in Southern California are bittersweet; we know "alone," and we begrudgingly submit to long hours away from friends, family, and our daily lives away from our academic pursuits. We live that aloneness; developing a scholarly approach, practice, and voice requires distance and time. At the same time, there is great growth in working toward a generative solitude to help soften the darkness of isolation. Some people work out, some spend time in nature, others read, some do all of the above. There are many ways to connect to self. Find what works best for you, make it yours. Help yourself to then help others.






Positive Career Self-Talk

Yesterday I listened to a talk by Jeremy Hunter titled "The Storm Makes You Stronger: Managing Your Mind in the Face of Crisis." Part of the talk had me reflecting on a class I took during my undergraduate studies called Language and Behavior. In that class we explored how the language we use affects our perceptions of the world around us and our reactions to those perceptions. Through that class I became more aware of the language I use and gained deeper insights into the importance of choosing words wisely. We all know the challenges of choosing words wisely in general, but I want to focus on choosing words wisely when talking about our careers, particularly when we are in a time when career planning feels hopeless.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I've been a job seeker through 2 recessions and I also was unemployed for two six month periods, one after my first faculty position was eliminated and then again when I moved back to California for my partner's career. During these times of unemployment, it was hard not to take the rejection personally and to keep the negative self-talk at bay. And it's sometimes even harder to move ahead when you hear "the experts" telling you to give up. During the last recession the media continually reported on the high unemployment rate, the number of job seekers, the scarcity of jobs and it felt like no one would ever get a job again. In the face of this pandemic we are hearing similar messages. And I recently heard someone who teaches career planning suggest that job/internship seekers should give up until this is over.

I strongly disagree!! A defeatist attitude is destructive to your self esteem and leads to a lot of very negative self-talk. I know from experience that once you go down that path it's hard to come back.  And whether you know it or not, your negative self-talk will seep out during any interviews and will lead to even more rejection. Now is an especially important time for a lot of positive self- talk.

Spend time thinking about all the things you can do, the skills you are learning in grad school, the projects you've completed, the contributions you can make to society. Connect with others who have been through tough economic times before and seek their perspective. Look at this situation as a problem in search of a solution and become the problem solver. Make sure all the things you say about your career search/planning are positive. Remember, you can't change these circumstances of the pandemic, but you can change the way you look at it/talk about it/experience it. Look for ways to be positive in the face of the negative. Building that skill welcome in handy throughout your career.

Now on a very happy note, next week is National Graduate Student Appreciation Week! While we can't show our appreciation in person, we have some great ideas for showing you virtually. I invite you to follow us on Instagram @cguprofdevl and look for #GRADitude.


This Too Shall Pass
In the era of COVID-19, It is easy to forget that many of us have seen times like these before. As Walt Disney once said, "All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me...You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you." I wanted to relay this short synopsis of my career to you because, though the circumstances are a little different, we have seen rough times in this country before, yet we have all battled back. Hopefully you can relate to my story and discover a ray of hope.
I began my career in Domino's in 1994. I had been working in restaurants, including Pizza Hut and another pizza restaurant, since I graduated high school. I returned to college after a few years in the industry when I realized that not having a degree was limiting my potential to move up past the lower management level. In college, I intended to pursue a career in psychology, but the opportunities at Domino's were fantastic and I chose to return to restaurants and apply what I had learned to be a better manager and leader. 
I knew I had chosen the right career path for myself. I won national awards as general manager and within two years was hired on by the corporation as franchise business consultant to help other franchisees succeed as I had in my store. After two years with the corporation, I purchased my own store in Sacramento and used the same strategies that had been successful in the past to double store sales and set records within six months! We were having such great success that I purchased a neighboring store that had recently been shut down less than a year after becoming a franchisee.
In 2008, however, the Great Recession hit. My businesses were devastated. The original store dropped more than $20,000 a month in sales (around 33%) and the new store I had just purchased, though growing in sales, wasn't able to achieve profitability. After more than 2 years of scrambling to survive, doing everything I could to hang on, I had to shut them down near the end of 2009. My family and I lost everything, and I finally had to declare bankruptcy.
Though my stores were shut down, I needed to move on and find that next opportunity. I now continually stress the importance of networks to students and, in the end of 2009, I relied on them to find a new job. I reached out to franchisees in my network and found a job as a District Manager, running stores with the knowledge I had developed over the years. 
Eventually, though, I discovered that I had lost my passion for the business and went back to school to transition my career. While in school, I discovered where my passions truly lay--helping others succeed. That is why I decided to embark on a new path in career development, helping students achieve success in their own careers, providing the support and guidance they need beyond just coursework.
Career transition is a subject I will broach in a future blog, but the tools I used to get to this new point in my career can be helpful to people right now when the hiring market is uncertain and many are taking a break in their active career search. Three quick tools that I developed to get to the next step in my career:
  • Values assessment
  • Skills assessment
  • Reflected best-self exercise
  • Network building in new industries
Remember, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the negative information that constantly surrounds us in the current crisis during these turbulent, unprecedented times. Always remember times like these, as I learned through the ups and downs of my career, challenge us and teach us new skills we can use throughout our lifetime.
I also wanted to issue a challenge to all of you. In difficult times, one thing we can do to help keep ourselves happy and healthy is to make sure we are exercising on a daily basis. I set a timer for every 30 minutes to get, stretch, and do 1 minute of exercise. Take this time to do a minute of plank 10 times a day and see how you feel. Challenge your friends!
Job Searching During a Global Pandemic


In the past few weeks we've experienced dramatic changes to life as we know it. During times like this we have to make a choice; do we retreat in defeat and bury our head in the sand or do we push forward and see this as an opportunity for growth and positive change! While I've never been on the job market during a global pandemic (who has until now) I have been on the job market during 2 recessions. Two other members of the CDO team, Leigh Schroyer and Jun Kabigting have also experienced career upheavals due to recessions and an unpresented weather event. There are lessons we have learned from these experiences and we want to share.  Starting this Friday and every other Friday for the foreseeable future (a phrase you are hearing a lot right now) we are going to share with you strategies for pushing ahead.

Here's bit of my story. I completed my PhD in 1991 during a recession. That was my first time on the academic job market, which had been in decline since the 1980s. I managed to get a contract lecturer position that lasted 3 years. The university saw significant enrollment declines based on that recession and my job was eliminated. This caused me to reconsider my career path and I began to explore options beyond the professoriate.

I moved back to California in September of 2007 and began a job search as the economy was in decline. I started a job in December of 2008, and a few months after I began the university where I landed instituted a hiring freeze and laid off new hires. My boss at the time took early retirement to save me and one of my co-workers from being laid off. Ironically this was my first position in Career Services for graduate students and it was a challenge. The news about the recession was bleak and no one was talking about when it might recover, much like we are hearing now. The students who landed jobs were those who persisted in their searches, strategized for different ways to find opportunities and in some cases made their own.

Leigh Schroyer, the CDO's Employer Outreach Coordinator experienced a job loss during the 2008 recession which required him to make a career transition and he'll share strategies used to push forward.

Jun Kabiting, one of our Career Consultants, managed his career through 2 major economic upheavals in Japan. The 1990's recession hit Japan very hard and lasted longer than in other countries (it's called "The Lost Decade" because of it) and then in 2011 the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. He'll share his lessons learned.

This unusual situation will give birth to new industries and new career paths and you have an opportunity to be one of the innovators who helps forge new paths. In fact, right now companies that help people work remotely are seeing a surge in hiring. Zoom, the platform we use to meet with you is seeing huge growth as people use it to keep in touch with friends and family during a time of social distancing. So push forward with us into this brave new world the CGU CDO is ready to help.


Informational Interview-Part 2 By Michael Sacoto

Informational Interview-Part 2

Once you have decided who you are going to reach out to, you need plan your outreach strategy and prepare for the interview. While the goal of conducting informational interviews is not to secure a job immediately, you should still treat this as if it were a job interview. Be prepared, professional and respectful as this is the start of what hopefully will be a mutually beneficial relationship.

  1. Prepare for the Outreach
    • Before contacting professionals, you must develop a brief overview of yourself and why you are contacting them. Emphasize that you are seeking career information and NOT A JOB!
  2. Initiate Contact
    • Once you've done this you are ready to contact the professional! Below is an outreach phone or e-mail template you can use in scheduling an informational interview with a professional.


Hello Industry Professional,

Tell them your name and your degree, program and why you are reaching out to them-say something that shows you are genuinely interested in them and what they do.

Express your interest in their field and your desire to learn more about their role and what interests them about their career.

Ask to schedule a 20 to 30 minutes chat, at their convenience, either by phone or in person. In person is best. Tell them you are seeking advice and guidance as you prepare yourself for entry into the field.

Thank them for your time and consideration.


Your name

Facilitating the Informational Interview

Effectively facilitating an informational interview is crucial to you receiving inside information about an industry, and in presenting yourself as a serious professional. Because of this, it is important to have an organized, structured, and semi-formal meeting. Below are some points to keep in mind when facilitating the informational interview.

  • Dress as you would for a job interview (neatly and appropriately)
  • Arrive a few minutes early to prepare for the interview
  • Restate your objective of gathering information and advice, not a job
  • Give a brief overview of yourself, education, and/or work background
  • Be prepared to direct the interview, but also let the conversation flow naturally, and encourage the interviewee to do most of the talking
  • Listen and take notes
  • Keep the appointment length within the time span you requested
  • Ask if you may contact him or her again in the future with other questions
  • Ask for names of other people to speak with for additional inquiry
  • Send a follow-up e-mail or hand-written note thanking the professional for their time


Keeping the Relationship

You should always maintain a record of who you have interviewed, what you learned, and a potential list of follow-up questions. Try your best to keep in touch with the person, at least once a month, especially if you had a particularly nice interaction; let him or her know that you followed up on their advice and how things are going as a result. This relationship could become an important part of your network.

Lastly, it is not always easy to reach out to someone or to build a professional relationship. Do not feel discouraged if a relationship fizzles out or if some professionals you contact do not get back to you. There is no harm that can come from reaching out. 


Informational Interviews: Part 1 By Michael Sacoto
Informational Interviews-Part 1
How do you learn about the day to day operations, job qualifications, certifications, or skills required to become a competitive candidate for your intended career? Online research will only get you so far. The best way to learn about a career is to ask people in it through informational interviews. 
Informational interviews are an effective career research and networking tool. An informational interview is a conversation with a professional working in an industry or position of interest to you.This professional can provide insight about navigating the field, as well as advice on how to enter and excel within it. But remember, this is not a job interview. The objective is to gather inside information and to learn more about the field you are interested in, not to ask for a job. 
Below are the common benefits, steps, and facilitation practices associated with using this career research and networking strategy.                                                        
Benefit of Informational Interviews
  • Gain knowledge that can help in when you're a preparing for an interview
  • Receive tips on how to prepare, enter, and excel in a given career
  • Learn what it's like to work at a specific organization
  • Discover what those with the same major or career interests, are doing in their careers
  • Identify career paths you did not know existed
  • Improve your communication skills and confidence speaking with professionals
  • Initiate a professional relationship and expand your network of contacts in a specific field
Steps for Scheduling an Informational Interview
1. Industry Research
  • Research the position, career field, and prominent organizations within the industry. Get an understanding of a position's duties and responsibilities, a career field's hierarchy or pathway, and an organization's purpose and mission statement.
2. Develop Questions
  • Develop a set of questions that fill in the knowledge gaps you were not able to with your research or to learn more about a specific position, career field, or organization. Question examples are listed below:
  • Are there certifications I should complete to enter this industry? 
  • What changes do you think will happen in this field within the next 5 years?
  • What qualifications does someone look for when hiring new people in this career?
  • What is the advancement potential in this career?
  • What other positions should I explore that are related to this career?
3. Identify Professionals
  • Once you have a better understanding of the industry and information you wish to obtain, identify professionals you would like to interview. Use tools like Google search, Facebook, or LinkedIn to gather a professional's contact information. 
  • It is best to focus on your school's alumni and entry to mid-management level positions as these individuals might be easiest to contact.
  • Develop a list of four to five professionals then prioritize based on values, geography, and motivation to work for the company. 
Look for Informational Interviews-Part 2 to learn strategies for reaching out effectively.
The Imposter Syndrome in the Job Search



The first time I heard the term "The Imposter Syndrome" I was in the middle of my grad school education. I was thunderstruck. Why had no one ever talked about this? I finally understood that there were others out there that felt like me. I was not alone!


The Imposter Syndrome is "a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success" (Corkendale, 2008). This means that, though a person might have had great success in their academic or professional career, they downplay those successes. Imposters don't give themselves credit for their achievements, will attribute their accomplishments to 'being lucky', they don't feel comfortable with their success and they will say they are not as skilled as they seem (Leary, Patton, Orlando, & Wagoner-Funk, 2000). This phenomenon is especially prevalent in higher education or positions that require highly developed skills like tech and science, because it is harder to fake that knowledge.


I know I have a habit of engaging in a few tendencies of people that suffer from Imposter Syndrome. I tend to downplay my accomplishments, telling myself that anyone could have done what I did. I compare myself to others I perceive as doing better than I, even though I know we can always find someone better than us in different areas. Sometimes I can feel out of place, as I did in graduate school. I had returned as an older student and I didn't feel I belonged to a group of students 20-30 years younger.


Job seekers can suffer from the Imposter Syndrome just like grad students. When you are not finding success on the career path, it can bring up some of the same emotions. These feelings can stem from the feeling of not belonging or they can come from our perfectionist tendencies. Our parents may have had an impact on us, too. Were you ever told you were the intelligent or perfect child? These terms may have set you up to be overly critical of your accomplishments.


Here are a few ways to overcome the Imposter Syndrome.


  • Keep a 'Brag Book': Write down the accomplishments you have made, even the small ones, in your 'Brag Book'. These successes act as confidence boosters when you review them on a weekly basis. They can also double as a resource for job evaluations. Most of the time your manager is only evaluating you on your performance in the last couple of weeks before an evaluation, and it is easy to forget the wins you have over time. 


  • Create a daily list of tasks and accomplishments: As you check items off your list, you can add the successes to your Brag Book. Review this list at the end of each day or each week. Knowing you have completed all or most of these tasks can give you a big sense of accomplishment.


  • Check your self-talk: Many of the negative feelings we get come from what we tell ourselves. Research has shown that 'functional self-talk' helped unemployed managers get a job 48% of the time within nine months while only 12% of those in the control received a job (Millman & Latham, 2012). Whenever you notice yourself talking negatively about yourself, interrupt the process and interject a positive statement. Instead of saying, "I'm too old and they don't want a candidate like me", instead say, "I have a wealth of experience that could really benefit a company". 


  • Call them 'learning moments": When you can't achieve your goals, don't label it as a failure. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to learn from. This process of cognitive reframing has been shown to improve resiliency, or the ability to bounce back from the many setbacks we encounter in the job search. Examine what control you had over the situation, what impact it really had on your life or the job search, and what are your other options (Luthans, Avey, Abolio, Norman, & Combs, 2006).


  • Be Social: One mistake that people make is to withdraw in the challenging moments of a job search. One of the keys to overcoming rough patches in finding a job is reaching out to your social network. Reach out to or seek out a mentor or coach, someone that is willing to give you honest feedback, which is very important in overcoming the feeling of being an imposter (Chapman, 2017).


  • Engage in your hobby: Not seeing success in the job search can be frustrating, of course.  Some of that feeling comes from not feeling competent, but you can achieve that feeling again by engaging in something that you enjoy and are good at. Pick up the guitar, go shoot some hoops, read a good book, or draw a few sketches. Remind yourself that you do have some skills.


I hope this article has helped you understand the Imposter Syndrome better. Remember, these feelings are a natural part of challenges and setbacks. Be prepared with goals and options to overcome them and obtain the career you deserve!

  • Chapman, A. (2017). Using the assessment process to overcome Imposter Syndrome in mature students, Journal of Further and Higher Education, 41:2, 112-119, DOI: 10.1080/0309877X.2015.1062851

  • Corkendale, G (2008).

  • Leary, M. R., Patton, K. M., Orlando, A. E., & Wagoner Funk, W. (2000). The Impostor Phenomenon: Self-Perceptions, Reflected Appraisals, and Interpersonal Strategies. Journal of Personality, 68: 725-756. doi:10.1111/1467-6494.00114

  • Luthans, F., Avey, J. B., Avolio, B. J., Norman, S. M., & Combs, G. M. (2006). Psychological capital development: toward a micro-intervention. Journal of Organizational Behavior: The International Journal of Industrial, Occupational and Organizational Psychology and Behavior, 27(3), 387-393.

  • Millman, Z., & Latham, G. (2012). Increasing reemployment through training in verbal self-guidance. In  Work motivation in the context of a globalizing economy (pp. 94-104). Location: Psychology Press.

Becoming an Entrepreneurial Grad Student--How to Take ownership of your career path


No one will ever care more about your career plan than you will-which is how it should be. You made the decision to come to CGU to invest in yourself with the ultimate goal of advancing your career. But getting the degree is not enough! To really make the best use of your time at CGU, you need to become an entrepreneurial graduate student.

So let's look at what that means. There are three principles of entrepreneurship that graduate students should adopt: 1) brand yourself, 2) seek opportunity, and 3) adapt.

Brand Yourself

To be successful inside and outside academe you need to build your brand, defining yourself and your unique qualities in all you do and say, so when someone hears your name they know what you are about. If you think about it, a graduate program really is about branding yourself. You specialize in a particular subfield and explore topics within that area where you can shine. At the completion of your program you should have content expertise in a topic area and, if you branded yourself well, everyone in your broader field will know who you are and what you study. An effective branding campaign begins with knowing who you are and what you do exceptionally well. Sometimes identifying our strengths can be a challenge. If you aren't clear on your strengths, try taking Gallup's Strengths Finder. It's an online assessment that will help you identify your top five strengths. The book Career Distinction by Arruda and Dixon comes with an online workbook of exercises designed to help you build your brand.

Once you've developed your brand, look for opportunities to share it with a wider audience. Within the academic community you can accomplish this by attending conferences, presenting your work and publishing. To connect with a nonacademic audience you can develop a blog, write nonacademic articles for publications in your field of interest, or give presentations to groups that might be interested in your area of expertise. Consider including elements of your brand in your communication. Create several elevator-speech versions of your brand you can use when you meet people face to face; consider using elements of it in your e-mail signature, and seek other ways to promote your brand.

Seek Opportunity

The more successful students I've worked with are those who have taken advantage of opportunities presented to them and have sought out additional opportunities on their own. Those who are successful in their academic searches have sought out opportunities for pedagogical development to help them be more competitive for teaching-focused colleges. And if you enjoy teaching, but don't want to be a professor try developing specialized workshops as that will give you some credibility and possible opportunities to teach other faculty or business leaders.

Seek out internships and or volunteer work related to your career goal. One student I recently met was involved with campus outreach programs and community and civic engagement. These experiences helped her build credibility for staff positions in centers for community engagement and service learning on university campuses and in nonprofit and governmental sectors.

If you want options in business or industry you must get experience, especially if you're earning your PhD. It's not uncommon for PhDs looking for an industry job to discover they're considered overeducated yet underqualified. You might even be able to get industry experience that advances your academic career. Many CGU faculty have partnerships in industry, so when choosing your advisor you might want to seek out a person who has broad connections and opportunities for you to branch out beyond academe. And if your advisor doesn't have those connections, find another faculty mentor who does.


The job market will continue to change. The key to success is to remain open to the possibilities out there. A good way to increase your adaptability is to analyze your current transferable skills and explore where you need skill development. This exercise is important for both academic and nonacademic job seekers. Develop a wide range of skills while you're still in a graduate program so you'll have more options when you're on the market.

If you're entering academe and aren't well-versed in educational technology and e-learning principles, you need to develop skills in those areas. More universities are offering online courses and need people who know how to effectively teach in that format.

If you're interested in nonacademic careers, you need to identify jobs of interest and discover the skills required for those positions. You also need to keep up with current innovations and trends in your desired field. You can use online sources like the Bureau of Labor Statistics to track industry trends for nonacademic careers. And the Occupational Information Network is a good resource for exploring and researching different occupations. There are also professional organizations for nearly every career, and their publications/newsletters are good sources for tracking trends and seeking open positions.

Career success comes from taking ownership of your career path, and you never want to leave something that important in someone else's hands. But it also takes a village to build your career. Come to the CDO and let us be your village.


Marcia Selz: Renaissance Woman

A renaissance person is one who has knowledge and skills in multiple arenas and can mix those areas to create new pathways. In the Career Development Office we call people like that purple squirrels. On Wednesday April 17, 2019 the CDO hosted renaissance women/purple squirrel and CGU alum Marcia Selz, PhD, Executive Management.

Professor Josh Goode interviewed Marcia about her career path and her recent incarnation as a writer. Her just released work of historical fiction is called At Vitoria: A City's Medieval Promise Between Christians and Sephardic Jews. Throughout the discussion Marcia provided her "takeaways" from her career, her time as a PhD student and what led her to write her book.

Her big takeaway was to ask questions and seek answers. Marcia shared that even as a child she was always asking questions and her father encouraged her to seek answers. Her PhD program helped her refine her skills as an investigator of knowledge. It was this inquisitiveness that led her on the path to writing a book after a vacation in Spain that left her with a burning question she had to explore.

Marcia also discussed the need to be flexible and her flexibility is apparent in her career. She started her career as a school teacher, moved into business, then created her own business, became a consultant and now a writer. She gave the audience a few highlights about her next book project about fear which is based on an experience she had as a teenager.

During her business career Marcia learned that she needed to establish her credibility fast-she said she had 7 seconds. She was often the only women in meetings and knew it would be a challenge to control the room. An audience member asked her if the PhD helped, she said with the PhD she got 10 seconds. Her big takeaway for succeeding in business is: Do what you said you'd do by the deadline you said you'd meet for the cost you promised.

Finally, Marcia said when she told people she wanted to write a book they told her to get used to rejection. She said the initial feedback on her manuscript was that the story was interesting but that she had no idea how to write a novel. Rather than succumbing to defeat, Marcia got a writing mentor and the rest his history.

We all look forward to her next book and hope she'll come back and share it with us when she's finished.





Are You a Survivor in the Workplace?
On September 20, 2018 CGU was fortunate to have John Kirhoffer, Supervising Producer on the television show Survivor, share his career journey and some career insights with students, staff and faculty. He presented his 3 pillars for career success: adaptability, jumping in, and moving forward
Pillar 1: Adaptability--also one of the top skills employers seek in candidates. John said that while it's good to have career goals, you also need to be adaptable since your goals won't always match your outcomes. He focused on the ability to pivot in your career. It would be nice if  our careers paths were linear and we could clearly see the path ahead. But career paths are rarely linear and his is a perfect example.
He told us that when he was 13 he decided he was going to be a television producer, but he wanted to create and produce sitcoms. His path to Survivor began when he took small jobs doing set design and construction, which he had experience with from college. He was working on "Shop 'til Your Drop," a show that had challenges. He suggested a challenge they used and that experience led to an offer to create challenges for Zooventure on Animal Planet and as they say, the rest is history. So when the sitcom door wasn't opening for him, he went in through a different door to achieve his goal of becoming a television producer. So sometimes you don't get the exact outcome you wanted, but you can get close.
Pillar 2: Jump in. John referred to his Nikes when discussing this pillar, just do it. He talked about taking risks and chances and putting yourself out there. Survivor was not John's first job. Getting there took time and hard work. He pounded the pavement trying to make connections, worked multiple jobs, and was always willing to go beyond the job description. When you jump in and go beyond you signal your commitment to your field and that gets noticed. In reality, people who want to advance their careers always play outside the lines of their job description.
Pillar 3: Keep moving forward.  The theme for this pillar was not letting setbacks get the best of you. He noted that we sometimes get envious of others who get the big break we wanted, but pointed out that big breaks appear where opportunity meets preparation. This illustrates a career development theory called Happenstance Theory which posits that sometimes chance plays a role in your career. However, you have to recognize opportunities when they arise and be prepared to act on them, like John did when offering to create his first TV challenge. The key is being able to see opportunity AND act on it. The saying, "Good things come to those who wait," is wrong.  Good things come to those who act!
In addition to John's good advice I want to give a shout out to the audience. One student brought her resume and a professional headshot. An enterprising Pitzer student talked his way into a small group event with John that was for CGU students only. Others asked questions that brought out some of the unseen roles in producing Survivor, like psychologists, health experts and accountants. And one of our PhD students asked John to reflect on how reality TV has impacted society. Overall it was a great conversation. And all of them now have a contact who might help them make a connection that leads to the next step in their career path.
If you want help developing the pillars of your career, schedule an appointment in Handshake. See you soon!


Crafting Your Elevator Pitch

I'm sure you've heard that when seeking a career it's not what you know, but who you know. But if you're like most people, the thought of building a network fills you with anxiety. 

I used to teach public speaking and always started my class talking about how in surveys more people said they were afraid of public speaking than death. My comeback to that is you can come back from a bad speech, but there's no coming back from death! The same is true for networking and some of the principles for overcomong your fear of public speaking apply to overcoming your fear of networking.

There are two things that drive the fear of presenting in public.  First the fear of a room full of people staring at you and judging you. To overcome that fear, remember two things: 1) No one wants to see you fail. If you've ever witnessed a speaker struggling your first instinct was probably to feel tremendous empathy for them. The same rule applies to networking-no one wants to to feel so nervous you can't speak. 2) Most of us are so focused on our own insecurities we often don't notice the misteps of others.

The second fear is fear of the unknown, what if they don't like my topic, what if I forget what I wanted to say, what if I drop my notes etc. This fear can be overcome by preparing. Before you go to any event where you may have the chance to meet someone you want to add to your network you should prepare by crafting your elevator pitch.

And to help you prepare an excellent pitch, we've just added "Crafting a Dynamic Elevator Pitch" to our YouTube channel. So watch the video, prepare a pitch and then come to the CDO to practice and get feedback on how to improve your pitch.

Building your strategic network is essential to your career, but you don't have to do it alone. We're here to help!

Career Advice: 30+ Words & Phrases That Scream "I'm A Leader" on Resumes



Leadership ability is highly sought after and often times is the major differentiator between candidates that receive job offers and those that don't. As such, it has become increasingly important to demonstrate one's leadership skills in the resume. There are 30+ words that are strong descriptors of leadership abilities.


Words That Suggest You're A Trailblazer


1. Spearheaded

2. Pioneered

3. Ignited

4. Piloted

5. Transformed

6. Revitalized

7. Modernized

8. Optimized


Words That Show You Can Manage the Money


9. Budgeted

10. Cut costs

11. Drove growth

12. Invested

13. Reduced

14. Negotiated

15. P&L Accountability


Words That Imply " Strong People Developer"


16. Coached

17. Mentored

18. Supported

19. Shaped

20. Trained

21. Motivated

22. Uplifted

23. Advocated

24. United

25. Galvanized


Words That Say " Influential"


26. Negotiated

27. Convinced

28. Won

29. Gained buy-in

30. Prompted

31. Mobilized

32. Spurred

33. Propelled


It is important that we remember that using the right words can help convey that you have the leadership traits that employers are looking for. Using some of the words above will help you stand out to employers and score your next interview.



Why You May No Longer Have to Answer the Dreaded Salary History Question

In a recent L.A Times article, a U.S. 9th circuit court of appeals ruled that allowing employers to consider prior salaries in setting pay for employees is "wholly inconsistent" with the Federal Equal Pay Act of 1963. The law in these nine states vary. Some states ban public employers from asking the salary question, while others ban both public and private employers. This pattern of change is part of an effort to eliminate the gender wage gap.


According to Judge Reinhardt, a President Carter appointee, "The financial exploitation of working women embodied by the gender pay gap continues to be an embarrassing reality of our economy." The decision was prompted by a recent lawsuit. Math consultant Aileen Rizo for the Fresno County Office of Education sued after learning that a newly hired man with less experience made $13,000 a year more than her. 

With the recent changes job offers are going to be made more on the candidate's capability and skill set rather than their past salary. California, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Orleans, New York City, Oregon, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Puerto Rico have (or plan to) ban the salary question. Although the dreaded salary question is banned in these states, there are still ways for employers to ask about your salary. Employers can still ask about your salary expectations or the amount of money you would like to make in the new role. Employers in New York can also ask about objective measures of the candidates productivity. In other words, employers can ask how much you made in annual bonuses if you are in a sales or commission based industry.


In California specifically, Governor Brown signed into law AB 168 which prohibits employers from seeking or taking into consideration an applicant's prior compensation and benefits when determining whether to hire the applicant, and in setting the applicant's compensation and benefits.  The new law creates Labor Code section 432.3. 

Here are the details of the California Law:

1. The law applies to all employers, regardless of size, effective January 1, 2018.

2. Employers may not rely on the salary history information of an applicant in determining whether to offer employment and in determining the compensation to offer.

3. Employers may not seek salary history information, which includes compensation and benefits, from the applicant.


4. Upon a reasonable request, an employer must provide the pay scale for the position to an applicant.

5. Nothing in the law prohibits employees from voluntarily disclosing salary history to a prospective employer.

Although these laws have been passed you may still be asked about salary history. If this does happen, it is best to politely remind the hiring manager that you don't have to answer the question. Immediately afterward, express your interest in discussing compensation without going into your salary history. You could follow up by saying "Pardon me if I am wrong, but it's my understanding that it is no longer legal for you to ask that question. However, I am very interested in this job and would be happy to discuss compensation ranges and goals". This shows that you are cooperative.

The legislative changes that have taken place are largely positive for job seekers as it attempts to close the gender pay gap.

Why Working for a Small Company Can be a Great Experience!

As you embark on your career search, it is important to take into account the size of the organization that you will consider for employment. Although factors like location, scope of duties and compensation are vital, the size of the organization can heavily impact your experience and ultimate longevity at said company. Let's examine the benefits of working for small companoes, wiht the goal of determining which company size is best for you.


1. You can move up quickly. A small team means you will have fewer peers vying for the same managment positions. Prove yourself, and you'll quickly earn more responsiblities. 

2. You can wear many hats. A small business stays aflot by puttinh togther hard-working teams of people who aren't afraid to roll up their sleeves. Instead of delegating tasks, you'll figure out hoe to get them done- and learn a lot in the process.

3. You'll get closer to the misssion. It's usually easier to get a real sense of what a small business does and how each employee impacts the work. There's less corporate jargon blurring what people can actually do.

4. You'll work more closely wiht senior leaders. Instead of seeing your boss's boss once a year, you'll likely work in the same office.

5. Speaking of bosses, you'll have far fewer of them. Te org-chart tends to be much flatter at small businesses.

6. You'll experience a lot of camaraderie. If you like getting to know the people you work with, you're in luck- you'll spend a lot of time working directly with them.

7. You'll forge a close relationship with your manager. A smaller staff size affords managers and employees the chance to bond more easily. As a result, even if you move on from the company, your manager will be able to write a referral that really speaks to who you are, not just what you do.

8. You'll learn about sales. Without a huge sales department, you'll get the chance to understand the company's core value proposition, and maybe even make a pitch to potential customers.

9. You can move wuickly on your ideas. If you have a proposal, you can try it out quickly without a lot of red tape.

10. You can experiment. You'll have plenty of chances to test new ideas- and you'll be encouraged to do so.

11. Your owners will make decision wiht you in mind, (and not always the bottom line). Small, privately owned businesses have much more freedom to take creative risks, let strategies play out and listen closely to its lower-level staffers.

12. There's a relaxed dress code. Small businesses often are often more flexible about allowing casual wear in the office.

13. You'll enjoy greater flexibility. Small companies are less tied to policy and precedent than big conglomerates, so they can be more flexible with remote work and in general.

Although, large companies with strong name recognition are attractive to job seekers, it is important to remember the benefits of working for a small sized organization.

Hey, Check this Out! The Muse: The Ultimate Career Finder and Guidance Destination


The has quickly become a go-to source for job seekers. From newbies looking to jump start their career to seasoned professionals looking to make a career change, the Muse is a great tool for navigating one's career. The website is broken down into four core areas: Explore Companies, Career Advice, Discovering Careers and Career Coaching. Before you rush over to take advantage of the amazing resources at Muse, check out these highlights below.


Explore Companies: This is perhaps the most frequented area of the website. The explore companies page allows you to virtually tour the office and get a true sense of the office space and a peek into the company culture. There is also a section that allows you to meet team members. With this feature, you can watch videos from specific team members and learn about their role and their career path. The Company 101 section provides insight into the work the company does as well as a simple answer to the question: "What does this company do?". In addition to these insights there is information on office perks and links to current job openings.


Career Advice: This section is a great resource for career specific articles and information. From articles like 30 Brilliant Networking Conversation Starters to 5 Answers from 5 Real People on Why You Keep Getting Rejected from Jobs. The articles here are direct, eye-opening and extremely insightful and can help answer many of the questions the emerging professional may have.


Discovering Careers: Here you will have the ability to explore the day-to-day experiences of those in particular roles as well as the skills needed to excel. By job title, you can discover the average salary across the U.S using an interactive map as well as view videos from people in the role. You will also gain insight into similar careers and various articles that are relevant to your interests.


Career Coaching: Muse's career coaching services are a great way to help new graduates break into new fields. 30 Minute Career Q &A, Networking Strategies and Leadership Coaching sessions are offered at a cost. Of course all of these services are available to you free of charge here at the Career Devleopment Office. Make an appointment today to use this very valuable resource!


Head over to the to start exploring your future career. It is very important that you start your career exploration journey early. 

How to Maximize Your Internship ROI

Internships have an extreme impact on one's career growth and contrary to popular belief, are about so much more than a line on your resume. Internships are about making connections, networking and making strong impressions. In order to make the best of an internship, you need to devise a plan.

Step 1: Figure Out Your End Game

While many internships are true pipelines for new hires, some do not lead to jobs. As such, it is important to identify if there are full time opportunities open and available at the time that you complete your internship. This will influence how you approach the internship experience.

If your end goal is a job offer focus on demonstrating your value and becoming an invaluable member of the team. If not, aim to learn as much as you can while leaving a great impression.


Step 2: Plot Your Charm Offensive 

No matter your end game, networking should be an essential part of your internship strategy. Make a point of getting full-timers out of the office for coffee on a regular basis to build those relationships. Learn about their previous experience and why they enjoy what they do. Be careful to read the environment to determine if out of the office gatherings are acceptable.


Step 3: Ask Thoughtful Questions 

You're an intern! Questions are not only expected but welcomed. Asking questions will help you learn your role, better understand the company, and the industry. Set aside time to check-in with your supervisor to go over questions. Use the information you glean to make yourself more aware and ultimately, more useful in the office.

and finally, ...

Step 4: Don't Become an Anonymous Intern

Take this time to connect with as many different people as possible. Develop an exit plan that will leave you on solid footing with your contacts and lastly, when your internship is over be sure to send thank you emails and cards thanking co-workers and supervisors for their time and asking if you can reach out regarding future opportunities.

Following these four steps will allow you to get the max ROI on your internship experience.




How to Look Great in Video Interviews


Employers are increasingly using Skype, Zoom and other platforms to conduct video interviews. As a recruiter, I facilitated hundreds of video interviews and can attest to the strange things that candidates do in front of the camera. From a candidate interviewing shirtless to another in the middle of a crowded coffee shop, many have no idea how to video interview. 

Here are few tips to help you look great in your next video interview!

Tip 1: Sound- Sound is just as important as video. Be sure that you are far away from noisy environments and empty rooms that echo.

Tip 2: Location- Create an aesthetically pleasing background. Be sure that there are no embarrassing things behind you (a weird poster or collection of troll dolls). Instead, create a background that has a bookshelf or house plant. And remember no plain walls!

Tip 3: Lighting- Be sure to use natural light (if possible) in the daytime and make sure that the window is in front of you. Avoid use of overhead lighting or under lighting (unless you want to look like you're telling a spooky story). When natural light is unavailable, place a lamp in front of you.

Tip 4: YOU- Dress appropriately. Employers will expect you to dress as you would for an in-person interview. Also, remember to look straight into the camera and not down onto your screen.


These four tips will help demonstrate your confidence and ability to present yourself well. For a more detailed understanding, check out this YouTube video.




What Do Employers Really Want to See on a Resume?

As the job market becomes more competitive, job seekers are inclined to create resumes that demonstrate not only their professional experience, but their interest and skillsets as well. As such, it is important to understand what employers look for in a resume. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveyed hundreds of employers to create NACE's Job Outlook 2018 report. The report's findings highlight key attributes that employers would like to see on resumes.

Beyond strong GPA, other attributes that employers describe as extremely valuable are problem solving skills and team work abilities. In addition, employers want to see evidence of strong written communication skill, leadership abilities and a strong work ethic. 

The study also revealed that work experience, particularly internship experience is highly desirable while internship experience from within the industry or organization is preferred. 

The top attributes by list are as follows:

  •   Problem solving skills
  •   Ability to work in a team
  •   Communication skills (written)
  •   Leadership
  •   Strong work ethic
  •   Analytical/quantitative skills
  •   Flexibility/adaptability


A strong resume coupled with proper demonstration of the skills and attributes outlined above can be a key factor in securing your dream job! 


California Employment Law Changes- What You Need to Know!


The start of a new year typically comes with tons of changes. From new year's resolutions to new regulations, January 1st is a date that tends to usher in change. Similarly, a few notable changes in the world of employment law are set to take effect at the top of the year. 

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a statewide ban on employer inquiries into an individual's salary history. This assembly bill (AB 168) mandates that no employer may rely on an applicant's prior salary history " as a factor in determining whether to offer employment" or "what salary to offer an applicant". In short, one's previous earnings will have no bearing on their potential to secure an offer significantly higher. For students, particularly those who will soon be looking to secure employment post-graduation, this is a very important change in the way some California employers approach compensation and ultimately, offers.

Another upcoming change in employment law set to take place on January 1, 2018 is the California Ban-the-Box law. This measure prohibits employers from performing criminal background screenings prior to a conditional offer of employment (for companies with a minimum of 5 employers). Employers will also be prohibited from requesting information about criminal history on an application or any other preliminary point in the hiring process. 

In addition to the aforementioned changes, the California minimum wage will increase from $10.50 to $11.00 per hour. Although incremental, this change will directly impact wage earners.


As we enter into 2018 and move towards graduation it is important that students are aware of changes in employment law and the impact these changes may have on their future employment.

Career Visioning Activity

Make a collage of your ideal day at work.  Where are you, what are you doing, who is there with you, how do you feel. Find images, workds, quote, objects that reflect your best work day.  Put it somewhere you can see it everyday as a reminder of your goals.

Virtual Career Fair

This is a great opportunity to network with employers who are specifically seeking advanced degree holders.  Click here to register.  Some employer may even interview you that day!  Stop by the CDO to have your resume reviewed before you upload it.

What will you do today to move closer to your career goal?

Some tasks seem so daunting they can overwhelm us. Like writing your first graduate level paper, preparing for quals, writing the dissertation, or trying to figure out your career path. Our natural human response is to avoid tasks like this, but the better response is to chuck them into manageable pieces.  So for today, what is one thing you can do to move closer to your career goal?  Will you read an article on the Career Development Facebook page, watch a 5 minute video on our YouTube playlist, spend 5 minutes finding 3 people on LinkedIn who have a career of interest to you and read their profile?  Share your one thing in the comments to this post. And remember, every journey begins with one small step.

Welcome to the CDO blog!!

The CDO is here is to help you map your future!!

Welcome to the spring semester. If you're graduating in May you need to come meet with a career consultant ASAP. It can take 4-6 month to land a career position, and that's assuming you know exactly what you want to do and have well prepared documents.  We're happy to help you map your direction, craft strong documents, prepare to interview and help you negotiate your offers.  You can schedule and appointment through handshake or come  for drop in hour M-TH 12-1. 

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