Monthly Archives: November 2014

Conversation Starters for Thanksgiving Dinner

1289860839296_3899503Thanksgiving is all about food and family. But turkey legs and mashed potatoes don’t sidle up to you after three eggnogs and ask why you can’t be more like your sister.

The first big holiday of the season is here, and you need to be ready. Your extended family members are lying in wait, cooking up juicy conversation starters like, “Let’s hope the economy gets out of the gutter by the time you graduate, huh?,” “How’s that job search going?,” and “So, are you dating anyone yet?”

But this year’s going to be different. This year, you’ll turn the small talk to your advantage with some crafty conversation starters of your own. You’ll find that with the proper prodding, each relative has something genuinely valuable to share with you.

Uncle-Jesse-Duke-the-dukes-of-hazzard-30209168-324-362YOUR UNCLE JESSE

The challenge: Uncle Jesse never has the same conversation just once, so you know he’s going to ask you (again) what your major is, and you will have to explain (again) that majoring in Religious Studies does not mean you are studying to be a priest.

Your tactical approach: “How’s business at the dealership?”

Say this because a) nothing is more likely to distract Uncle Jesse from your future employability than a question about American-made vehicles, and b) you can learn a heck of a lot about the local economy by studying consumers’ buying habits. The people who are buying (or not buying) Uncle Jesse’s cars are the same people who are hiring (or not hiring) employees. One of his customers might even be your dream employer. Find out if he knows anyone who is working in your field of interest and see if he can put you in touch with that person.


The challenge: Oh, how you secretly loathe him. This guy has been making you look bad since he skipped kindergarten and first grade on the same day. How is it possible to earn above a 5.0 GPA in high school? Was it really necessary to triple major at Yale? And why does he keep talking about Georgetown Law? It’s been a whole year since he graduated.

Your tactical approach: “So, what’s it like being a lawyer?”the-lincoln-lawyer

His response to this innocent-sounding question will immediately replace your anxiety about being unemployed after college with blissful relief that at least you probably won’t be working 70 hours a week and falling asleep on the couch every night with your laptop still on your lap. Listening to other people talk about their jobs can help you pinpoint what is most important to you in your future career. Compare your cousin’s experiences to the kind of life you’d like to lead. And don’t forget the lawyers know lots of people (a.k.a. potential employers), too.


The challenge: This sweet, fluffy-haired lady once threw a dinner plate at Richard Nixon’s face on her 1960s television set, so you rightly fear her. In her opinion, your life should progress as follows: Get a spouse, get a job, get a mortgage, and work for the same company until you retire or die, whichever comes first.86509377

Your tactical approach: “If you could’ve tried a different path in life, what would it have been?”

Nana isn’t much for networking, but she has more stories than everyone else in the room put together. Her regrets about roads not taken—and her reasons for not taking them—can powerfully illuminate the choices in front of you now. You might also realize that some of the hard decisions she made were based on practicalities that still exist, and will affect your own dreams.

Suit up, soldier. Winter is coming, and so are your relatives. Prepare to make the best use of your time together—and avoid awkward questions—by starting the conversations you really want to have.

Kacie Glenn
The Career Center


Your Permanent Record & How It Will Make You Money

“Get Involved.”

get-involvedThis phrase is among the most common ones you will hear throughout your career at Towson University. Student leaders like resident assistants, orientation leaders, and members of executive boards for different organizations constantly preach it. While it is easy to let this piece of advice go in one ear and out of the other, it’s highly important.

The short-term benefits of involvement are obvious; it fosters school pride, encourages engagement, and serves as a great way to make friends. You’ve probably heard it all before; however, what you may not have heard is how getting involved now will also benefit your future career search.

Once you start to become involved, it’s difficult to stop. Students often participate in multiple student organizations. Over the years, your involvement will start to add up and may prove difficult to track. The Student Activities department at Towson University has created a tool for countering that problem: The Student Engagement Record.

What is the Student Engagement Record?

The Student Engagement Record is a co-curricular transcript that showcases the accomplishments, involvement, and experiences you have acquired during your time at Towson University.

How do I get started?

Technically, you’re already signed up! The Student Engagement Record has begun tracking your involvement; log in through to see what’s already on your record. Check out this video for further instructions.

Why should I care about this?

If you care about having a job at some point in your lifetime, this is an important resource to consider. “The Student Engagement Record prompts students to reflect on their involvement, which will help them be able to articulate why these experiences make them a valuable employee or professional school candidate,” said Beth Steiner, Assistant Director of Student Activities. She continues, “The Student Engagement Record is a great opportunity for students to track and highlight all of their different experiences here at Towson.”

Some of the different ways that this record may help with your future success include:

–  Building your resume
–  Increasing your marketability
–  Enhancing your personal brand during interviews (bring a copy to your interview as supporting
–  Customizing your record to compliment varying job requirements

Fast forward to a year from now; you are involved in a few clubs, maybe you serve on the executive board for one or two of them. You are a proven leader. This means that job offers will just start flooding in, right? You’ll probably have to change phone numbers, move to a new apartment, and start a new life with a new identity? Not exactly. All of this information still needs to be put into a resume to show everything you have to offer your future employer. Great news; the Student Engagement Record allows you to track your involvement and there’s a place on campus that can help you with that tricky document called the resume: The Career Center!

What are the next steps after completing my Student Engagement Record?

The Career Center offers many services and resources including sample resumes by major, a free resume creator on Hire@TU, and resume/cover letter review appointments. The Career Center has a multitude of trained professionals who are dedicated to making your resume the killer job searching tool it has the potential to be!

To schedule a resume/cover letter appointment with a career advisor, call 410-704-2233 or visit The Career Center (7800 York Road, Suite 206) during Express Hours Monday through Thursday from 1-4 p.m. for a 15 minute consultation. Express Hours are conducted on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Make sure you bring in a completed copy of your Student Engagement Record to your resume/cover letter review.
Get started today!

Aaron Stroud
Career Center Marketing Intern

How to Help a Friend

“He’s stopping coming to class…I’m worried about him.”

“I’m afraid that my roommate has an eating disorder.”

“Every time I see her, she’s drunk. She’s not doing well. ”

“I think he could hurt himself…what do I do?” hero-friends

These are just a few statements we’ve heard from students at the TU Counseling Center. These friends look similar to our ongoing clients. They’re worried, stressed, and concerned about a fellow student.

It won’t likely surprise you to hear that many TU students are struggling. The statistics are concerning. The 2013 National College Health Assessment study found that about one-third of U.S. college students struggled to function in the last year because of symptoms of depression. The Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State found that around 30% of clients at University Counseling Centers across the country have seriously considered suicide.

You’ve likely had a friend who you were concerned about but felt uncertain how you could be helpful. Perhaps you’ve worried that bringing up problems could make the friend feel uncomfortable, or worse, angry at you. Maybe you’ve tried to help already and felt some pushback. We’d urge you to not give up. As a friend, you’re positioned to possibly have an influence. The goal shouldn’t be to fix the problem (whatever it is that your friend is struggling with), but to show support and assist the friend in getting help from professionals.

When considering approaching someone who is struggling, it’s common to feel some discomfort. Keep in mind the goal of the intervention: to assist your friend with obtaining access to help. Here’s some steps for reaching out to your friend:

  1. The conversation should take place in a private setting, away from distractions. Avoid planning a large intervention as one on one will likely work best. Everyone involved should be clear headed so avoid talking after getting back from a party.
  1. Begin by expressing concern for your friend’s well-being, or safety if relevant. Share examples, things that your friend has done or said. Something like “I’ve noticed X, Y and Z. I’m worried about you.”
  2. Allow space for your friend to respond to your concerns. Listen carefully, demonstrating empathy and a non-judgmental attitude.
  1. Share information about campus resources, encouraging your friend to make appointments as soon as able. Be willing to help your friend make these appointments, maybe dialing the phone number or walking the friend to the building. If your friend doesn’t want to seek services on campus, help them find options off campus. The Counseling Center’s Community Providers Database might be helpful.
  2. Don’t let this be the last conversation about your concerns. Check in periodically to offer additional encouragement and support. If your friend isn’t open to making appointments when you first try, don’t give up. You might say “I still want you to think about getting some help. What do you think?”
  1. Supporting someone who is struggling can be draining particularly if you’re not careful with your own needs. Seek out your own support by talking with family, and friends. Consider seeking out your own counseling.Health0027

You can help your friend by initiating a caring conversation. Know that the Counseling Center is here to help. A consultation with us might provide more individualized suggestions and an opportunity to practice the intervention.

Jaime Fenton, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist
Director of Clinical Services
TU Counseling Center

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