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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Results of Community Based Team Projects

Students in my SPAN 232 course, "Spanish & Entrepreneurship: Languages, Cultures & Communities," have to do a team project in addition to their 28 hours of community service learning work. These are the results of one of the teams from Spring 2014. The intent is to have them go through the entrepreneurial process on a small scale, create something of true value, and develop their teamwork skills. --Ann Abbott

What?

For our group project in SPAN332, Cassie, Olivia, & I worked with Dr. Darcy Lear and her career-coaching microenterprise: DarcyLear.com.  Dr. Lear offers services such as resume critiques and mock interviews for students transitioning from an academic setting to a professional one.  She uses multiple forms of social media to advertise her microenterprise, including Twitter and Facebook.  Our project with Dr. Lear was three-fold.  

First, we worked with her on her social media strategy.
By sharing and liking her pages, the goal was to help her gain more traffic to her websites.  Second, the three of us sent Dr. Lear our resumes for review.  Using our resumes as examples, she created videos in which she highlighted the changes that we needed to make in order for our resumes to be more professional.  Then, we edited our resumes according to her feedback, and Dr. Lear created a second video discussing what made our resumes attractive to prospective employers.  The last component of our project was face-to-face interviews.  During these interviews, Dr. Lear asked us three or four of the tougher questions that are typically used during the interview process - questions like “What are your weaknesses?”, or “Was there a time when you told the truth and it hurt you?”.  After we gave our first answers, Dr. Lear gave us feedback on what needed to be changed, such as giving more specific examples or speaking more concisely.  

Then, Dr. Lear created videos similar to those she had for the resumes.  There was a video of the “before” interview, in which Dr. Lear highlighted what our strengths and weaknesses were, and there was an “after” interview video, in which Dr. Lear showcases how her advice helps students prepare themselves for entering the professional workforce.  As you will read below, working with Dr. Lear was a wonderful opportunity for us - not only did we gain valuable professional knowledge, but we were also able to help Dr. Lear’s microenterprise grow.

- Elyssa

So what?

Working with Dr. Lear was an enjoyable, mutually beneficial learning experience. I mainly worked on the social media outreach, but I also participated in the resume critiques and mock interviews.

Through Dr. Lear’s social media outreach, she is able to help students learn how to showcase their experiences as they apply for jobs. We were able to help expand the reach of these platforms by helping Dr. Lear create original content that generated more likes on her darcylear.com Facebook page. Students seem to enjoy seeing first-hand examples of mock interviews. However, I also learned that it can be a bit more difficult to encourage the spread of educational content via Twitter and Pinterest. Before this project, I had an account on these two sites but used them sparingly. It surprised me that the posts I shared here generated less views but this could be because students perceive them as more social than professional.

The resume critiques allowed us to better showcase our own skills and helps Dr. Lear demonstrate the value created from a resume critique. In turn, more students may seek out help from career counselors so that they too can improve their own chances of gaining employment in the future.

When we worked with Dr. Lear filming the videos, we were able to improve our own interviewing skills as we provided fresh, professional content. Since we worked on this project, she will be able to post videos weekly through the end of June and will hopefully be able to draw in more visitors still. This also is for the greater good of graduating university students as they consider how to answer tricky questions well during interviews.
- Cassie

Now what?

We and Dr. Lear both benefitted from the project throughout the semester. As students, the lessons we learned in professional development will stay with us throughout our careers.

As we transition from our lives as undergraduates, we will now be able to write more concise resumes with a more professional basis.  However, even if we decide to keep our resumes more academically based or more detailed while we are still students or recent graduates, we have a better idea of what employers in the future might be looking for as we get older. There are many resume-writing resources available for college students that cater to what employers want in a student resume, but far fewer that cater to professionals a few years into their careers.  Learning this information from Dr. Lear will be invaluable for us in the future.

We can also enjoy greater confidence in our interviewing skills after getting one-on-one advice from Dr. Lear - both in real interviewing situations, and when taking advantage of other resources like mock interviews. Personally, I know I would not have signed up for a mock interview like the ones the University offers, just because it would have been too nerve-wracking even without a job on the line. But now that I’ve had the opportunity to do a mock interview once, I’ll be more likely to take advantage of those services in the future, multiplying the effect of Dr. Lear’s interview advice.

As for Dr. Lear herself, she told us that she enjoyed record viewing numbers on her blog pages after posting our resumes. Going forward, this has imaginably given her a better idea of what her readers would like to see, and she can tailor her posts accordingly. Not only have the resume posts attracted more people to her blog directly, but her future posts can attract more readers as well.

We hope that our work has helped both Dr. Lear and her internet readership as much as it has helped us. It seems that the benefits of this project will continue to grow as time goes on, and it was a pleasure to make it happen.
- Olivia

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Elyssa, Cassie, and Olivia, for the the great blog post--and for working with darcylear.com on resume drafts and mock interviews. I will continue to post resume advice to the blog: darcylear.com/blog as well as "before" and "after" mock interviews to YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLS8KVRzQaqDDsaydcj1egvr6bqkE1G0BT

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