City Year: City Year is an education focused non-profit organization that unites young people of all backgrounds for a year of full-time service. As tutors, mentors, and role models, City Year corps members make a difference in the lives of children; transforming schools and communities in 28 US cities. Want to set up a time to chat? Click Here

Q: What is your job and what do you do? A: I currently serve as a Regional Recruitment Manager with City Year on our West Coast team. In my role I work with various colleges and universities in the Southern California area where I work with staff, faculty, and students on campus. As a recruiter for City Year, I wear many hats. At any point of the year I will be doing one or more of the following: Customer Service, Events and Outreach, or Relationship Building. Although Events and Outreach (like Career Fairs and Info Sessions) are the most visible thing I do on a campus, the biggest piece of my role are the other two. I think the piece that I really enjoy about the work that I do is the conversations I’m able to have and the relationships I’m able to build with individuals on campus – it’s a very people oriented job! As a former City Year member myself, it’s definitely a privilege, and a proud moment, to be able to influence the next generation of leaders that will put on the City Year Red or Yellow jacket that will serve our students in 28 cities across the United States.

Q: Do you have advice for a student just starting to gain work experience? A: Be confident in what experiences you do have! Everybody starts somewhere and sometimes it can feel like you need experience to gain experience, which may overwhelm you. The great thing is that you DO have experience – you may not just realize it! Think about your experiences holistically and remember that relevant experience can be jobs, internships, research, volunteer work, and student leadership positions. If there is a position that you’re really interested in, go for it! Come up with a game plan and practice talking about your experiences and how it makes you the best candidate for the job – a lot of my 1st jobs like working at a campus Starbucks and becoming an RA were actually secured through being confident in myself and my abilities and being able to articulate how I was qualified.

Q: What do you think a student can do between now and graduation to best prepare themselves for future employment? A: The biggest thing that can help you is to start building out your network. Being successful in the “real world” is definitely due to your experiences, but also who you know! Whenever you meet somebody, whether they are a peer or somebody more experienced than you, that is one more person that could assist you in securing that dream job later on – and you never know when that relationship may come into play; it may be immediately, or it may be years down the line. One easy (and FREE!) way to keep track of your network is through LinkedIn – if you don’t already have one, I would recommend attending a LinkedIn workshop with the Career Center to get started.

Q: What kind of experience or skills and qualifications are you looking for? A: For us, we actually really look for a lot of soft skills in our candidates. We want to make sure that folks coming into our program have had some teamwork experience and have experience resolving conflict in a positive manner. Cultural competency is also huge. We work with diverse communities on teams with individuals who come from all different backgrounds – whether you are coming from a place of privilege or a background similar to those of our students, we want to make sure that you understand your identity and how that can play out in our schools in communities. We want to see that you have demonstrated commitment and perseverance, especially when encountering obstacles, challenges, and/or adversity. This 11-month program with City Year is hard, and we want to make sure that you are able to look to your passion and purpose and not give up on our students that you committed to serving during that year. Finally, we also look for a growth-mindset and a positive view of self – we want to know that you believe in yourself and are able to learn from your mistakes!

Q: At job fairs, what’s one common mistakes students make? A: I would say that one common mistake is when students approach the table and ask “What is this?” as they point to the materials I have out. I would say that, first, you should always address the person standing there and share your name – I love knowing what to call you and it helps me to remember our conversation. Then, if you haven’t had a chance to research the company, let them know why you stopped by the table to chat with them. I’m not offended when people aren’t aware of what City Year is and I appreciate the honesty! One easy way to alleviate that is to quickly search the company on your phone if you’re able to do that.

Q: At job fairs, what’s one thing that makes students stand out? A: I think the one thing that makes a student stand out is their ability to provide a really great elevator pitch and are confident in themselves. If you are confident in yourself, I’m going to be confident in you and, as the recruiter, I’m going to be left with a positive feeling from our interaction that will make me want to remember you!

Q: Is there anything else you would like us to include? A: For all you graduating students who are still looking for postgrad opportunities, we are currently in Rolling Admissions and are still accepting applications. If you apply by June 1st, you’ll get a final decision by June 16th! If this sounds like you, I would recommend checking out these sites to consider.

Natasha Strauss | nstrauss@cityyear.org | Regional Recruitment Manager with City Year

This article originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of The Triton Worker.

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