From Networking to Interviews: BUCPUA Students Learn Tips for “Ensuring Success in Your Job Search”

(Boston, MA 4/2/21) BUCPUA students listen to a Zoom presentation about career-building resources as part of the CPUA workshop, “Ensuring Success in Your Job Search.” (Photo by Andrea Ciminelli)

Finding and securing a job in today’s turbulent environment is no small feat, and candidates face myriad challenges when taking the next steps in their professional lives. On Friday, April 2nd, BUCPUA hosted a virtual workshop entitled “Ensuring Success in Your Job Search” to ease some of the anxiety inherent to the process and equip students with useful insight and resources for conquering the job market.

The workshop featured CPUA Director Dr. Madhu Dutta-Koehler; current Dean of the School of Business and Communication at Regis College, Dr. William Koehler; and Monique Yaptenco, a 2017 CPUA alumna with a Master in Urban Affairs. All three speakers are seasoned professionals with years of experience navigating multiple industries, and at the April 2nd event they shared their extensive knowledge with the group of students and alumni in attendance.

Dr. Dutta-Koehler began by welcoming the attendees and emphasizing the importance of the workshop. “This is really the first step to being successful,” Dr. Dutta-Koehler told the group.

After the two other speakers introduced themselves, Yaptenco followed with a presentation on preparing to launch your job search. Her extensive professional history includes jobs at a television station in the Philippines, the United Nations, local government in New Zealand and, more recently, BU. 

Yaptenco advised the attendees to start by reviewing their online presence from an employer’s perspective. “It’s very important for you to figure out what is out there about yourself,” Yaptenco said. “Your profile, your digital presence, this is your context. You have to make sure you have control of it.”

She went on to provide the group with tips for developing their personal brand in order to distinguish themselves from other candidates. According to Yaptenco, “We don’t all have to be the best at everything, we just have to be able to communicate who we are, what is meaningful to us, and what we can bring to the organization.”

Polished self-presentation turned out to be one of the recurring themes of the event. Dr. Dutta-Koehler followed Yaptenco with a section about searching and applying for jobs. When crafting a resume and cover letter, Dr. Dutta-Koehler stressed the importance of presenting yourself in a manner that is “precise” and “pin-pointed” to the specific job you are applying for.

Dr. Dutta-Koehler added that personal connections are just as important as your written documents. “It is super, super important to start nurturing your connections,” Dr. Dutta-Koehler said. “Generally, it’s good practice to know what other people, your peers, [and] professionals are doing and to learn from them, because that really is the fastest way to gain experience and insights that you wouldn’t ordinarily have.”

The task of covering one of the most daunting steps in the job search fell to Dr. William Koehler. Dr. Koehler began his career as a recruiter and hiring manager, and he approached his portion of the workshop from an employer perspective. He focused primarily on interviewing, which many candidates find intimidating but is key for both the employer and candidate to assess potential fit.

Specificity and authenticity are the name of the game when it comes to interviews, according to Dr. Koehler. After sharing his “Ten Commandments of Interviewing” with the group, he opened the floor for workshop attendees to practice answering common interview questions and provided feedback on their responses.

For open-ended questions like “What type of work environment do you prefer?”, Dr. Koehler advised the group to begin their response with a short tagline before launching into specific examples based on their past experiences. Anecdotes serve to show that “you’re learning through the process of your professional development and you’re actively exploring how to take the next steps.”

In fact, using examples and anecdotes from past experiences is one of the best strategies candidates can use to answer a variety of questions. Dr. Koehler stressed that “All experience is good experience,” as long as you can clearly relate your experiences to what you learned from them. “Make every answer as specific and tied to past experience as possible,” Dr. Koehler added. 

While the workshop provided invaluable advice and resources tailored to the CPUA community, it was just the first step in “ensuring success in your job search.” For students and alumni who missed the event or want a refresher on what was covered, watch the recording or visit the official CPUA professional development site with even more resources to offer. Good luck to all!

Emanne Khan, CAS ‘23