New and Improved!

We had a good run here at Scholar Scoop, but we decided to create a whole new blog that showcases the best of NSCS, its members and everything that college students care about.

We’re excited to announce Talk Nerdy to Me, a blog about college life. Bookmark it now or add to your favorite feed reader.

Convention Highlights

This year’s Convention was an amazing event, with dozens of great workshops, speakers and networking opps. But I decided to pick just a few highlights to feature in this blog post, to give you a small taste of the event.

1. The Honor Gala: Seeing all the NSCS chapters get recognized for their great work was wonderful! And I especially loved seeing  Alexander Flowers being recognized for his role in starting two NSCS chapters (St. Xavier, and soon a chapter at Roosevelt University), and Lisa Benoit receiving a $15,000 grant to help developmentally disabled people.

2 . Talking to attendees about their Red Rubber Ball: Kevin Carroll, a motivational speaker/writer, gave an amazing speech about how people can find their passions and goals in life. And it starts with creating a “box of magic”, a cardboard box that represents who they are, their interests, aspirations and more. We have some cool video footage that we’ll post to our Facebook Fan page very soon.

3.  The Day of Service: For the day of service, NSCS members helped Littles from Big Brothers/Big Sisters make their “box of magic.”  Watching those kids talk about their loves, lives and hopes inspired me to apply for the Big Sisters’ program, and I think it had a similar impact on several of our members.

4. Greeting students at the airport/metro: I got to do airport duty this time, and meet students just as they were getting to baggage claim. A lot of them were clearly happy to see me! Always nice to see a friendly face when you get off the plane.

Check out our pix of Convention.

NSCS Members Share Ten Most Important Employer Attributes

Each year NSCS members participate in a survey that is conducted by Universum which provides insight into how undergraduates perceive employer brands and how students are making decisions about places they would be willing to pursue for employment.  This year 10,060 NSCS members participated in the survey that included 60,930 total students participants.

Claudia Tattanelli, CEO of Universum, came to Washington to share the results of the survey with our partners. As expected the NSCS participants have higher gpas – 3.7 compared to to 3.4 of general undergraduate participants.  NSCS members also showed to be more interested in public service opportunities (Peace Corps and Teach for America) which also gets at a core NSCS value – the community service aspect of our mission .  The Peace Corps, Teach for America and City Year have been working with NSCS for several years to attract our members to their opportunities.

When it comes to salary expectations, NSCS members expect to make $46,350 in their first year compared to $48,050 general undergraduates.  At five years after graduation, NSCS members expect to make $71,121 compared to $75,114.  Claudia stated that NSCS members are probably more realistic although both may be high given the current economy.

NSCS members also identified the following ten qualities as most important employer attributes:

1 – Will enable me to have a good work life balance

2 – Offers a friendly work environment

3 – Secure employment

4 – Good reputation

5 – High ethical standards

6 – Good prospects for high future earnings

7 – Flexible working conditions

8 – Offers a creative and dynamic work environment

9 – Professional training and development

10 – Clear path for advancement

NSCS has an employer partnership program where we work to connect our high achieving students and young alumni with companies and organizations that are a good fit for us. This is great information for NSCS when we are discussing partnership possibilities.  Knowing these attributes are important considerations for our members…we will want to make sure our partners can deliver.

Choose your path, don’t let it choose you.

How many times do you hear about people just out of college taking a job that they aren’t really excited about, but justify it by saying, “I am just going to work here for a few years until I pay off my loans, then I’ll do what I really want to do?”

You know what happens most of the time? These people wake up and they are ten years older, and they are stuck in a career that they never wanted, and now they’re so entrenched they don’t see a way out. We all make compromises in our lives, giving up some of our own wealth and well being in exchange for doing some good for the world.

I think it’s important to ask ourselves every so often what it would be like to give up a little bit of money to go after that dream job; and it’s also important to ask the other question. What would happen if you took a more selfish approach? Would you be better off?

This article says that there are no right answers, but it’s important to think about.

A Nice Way to Start the Day

oatmeal

I have found that oatmeal is a great way to start the day. It provides plenty of fiber, good carbs and protein and it really fills me up. Oatmeal is also a great way to lower your cholesterol.

Oatmeal is easy and fast to make and you can add whatever you’d like to make it the perfect breakfast for you. Here’s how I made my oatmeal this morning…

Servings: 1

Ingredients
½ cup organic oats (you can find these in the bulk food section of your grocery store)
1 cup water (or milk if you’d prefer)
Pinch of salt
Honey
Cinnamon
Handful of chopped walnuts
Handful of raisins
2 fresh strawberries, thinly sliced
¼ banana, thinly sliced

Instructions
Bring the water and pinch of salt to a boil
Stir in the oats, turn heat to medium and cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
Sprinkle with cinnamon, add honey, walnuts, raisins, strawberries and banana and mix well

Done and done. Enjoy this nice breakfast outside with a cup of coffee and enjoy the summer season!

Your 2009 Job Outlook: Not All is Lost

If you just graduated,  these words of advice from NSCS’ Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships, John Crowley,  will be helpful.

Ok, I know.  We’ve all heard the same news.  Corporations are failing.  People are out of work with few prospects on the horizon.  Prices for goods and services are increasing, and we feel helpless in our attempts to stop the increases – mainly because they are out of our control.  Things are hard all around, and I’m sure many of you have been directly affected by some of the events of the past year.  It has been drilled into you that you needed to go to college to get a good job.  You’ve worked hard, studied even harder and saved money to earn your degree.  According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE, March 2009), hiring trends among recent college graduates has dropped 22% from last year, and the number of interns being hired has dropped 21%.  What is a young college graduate supposed to do?

First of all, stop.  Breathe.  Relax.  Be patient.  You’ve done everything right, and the time you’ve spent in school will truly pay you a lifetime of dividends.  When you started on your college path 4 years ago, no one could have possibly foreseen all of the events of the past 18 months. But keep this in mind:  As difficult as the recent past has been for so many people (maybe even your parents), you’re just at the beginning of your professional career, and you’ll survive in the long run.  I’ve been talking with recruiters about some of these trends over the past 8 months, and I’ve shared some of my observations below.

Believe it or not, there are places that are still hiring!  From some of my conversations with recruiters, I’ve learned that there are job opportunities within certain industries – i.e., energy companies, health care, some federal contractors and the federal government.  According to the NACE 2009 Job Outlook Survey, certain majors are still in large demand.  Among them are accounting, engineering (mechanical, electrical and computer), computer science, business and economics/finance.  If you happened to have studied one of these disciplines, you have a good chance of still finding an opportunity right now.  Even if you didn’t study one of the still in-demand majors, you can still find some meaningful opportunities out there.  How, you might ask, will I find those opportunities?  Keep reading!

You may have to be more creative in your job search, and you’ll want to consider different industries that need your skills.  For example, you may be an accounting major and had your heart set working for a Big 4 firm.  If you haven’t received an employment offer from where you expected to receive one, then look elsewhere.  The last time I checked, every organization, regardless of size, industry or type, has an accounting department.  If the job on Wall Street isn’t there, then look at Main Street.  There are even specialized temporary agencies for people with certain skills.  The more creative you can be, the broader you can make your search.  Sometimes, you’ll be able to perform more hands-on work with smaller companies, which will help you grow your skills level.

If you know you want to develop a professional career within a particular industry, look for ways to build that experience outside of employment.  Consider working as a volunteer or as a non-paid intern if you can’t find a paying opportunity.  Most organizations still have work that needs to get done, even if they can’t afford to pay you.  You will learn pertinent industry information through non-paid work.  Additionally, you may want to consider attending conferences/meetings within the industry’s professional associations.  Not only are they a great way to add to your knowledge base, they can serve as invaluable networking events, and most organizations offer student discounts on dues payments.

Another point that I want to stress is this:  Don’t leave your humility at the door.  Bear with me…I don’t mean to lecture you, but the one trait that can help you land on your feet is your adaptability.  Be a team player!  You may have a college degree, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help with a labor-intensive task that needs to get done.  I earned my undergraduate degree almost 20 years ago (yikes!), and I am a member of my organization’s Executive Team.  I have profit and loss responsibility, and I’m held accountable for my area’s overall performance.  But I still answer my own telephone…I don’t have an assistant…I draft my own correspondence and run the envelopes through the postage machine…heck, I even have to change the water bottle in our water cooler from time to time!  Earning your degree is a great accomplishment and will open doors.  Just try not to step on any toes as you walk through the doors, and you will earn your co-workers’ respect.  Try to pitch in where you can.  If you volunteer for projects that have to get done that no one necessarily wants to do, that speaks to your character more than you’ll ever imagine, and when folks look to hire or promote people, that type of initiative gets noticed.

I know what you’re up against, and it can feel like things will never turn around, but remember that there is help out there if you need it.  If you have student loans for example, you have 6 months before you have to start repayment.  Take that time now to develop your budget and map out your finances.  If you think you won’t be able to make your monthly payments, talk to your lender – you may be able to qualify for lower payments until you find steady employment.

By the way, Congratulations!  You have earned a major milestone at this point in your life, and you’re about to embark on an amazing professional career.  It’s not going to be easy, but then earning your degree wasn’t easy either.  You’ll get out of your job search only what you put into it.

-John Crowley