Thursday, September 30, 2010

Career Success

In the present economic environment, you may be wondering what it will take to land the job of your dreams -- or at least a job on the road to that dream. We hear in the news every day that the unemployment rate is hovering around 10 percent. That number sounds pretty daunting, doesn't it? But if you turn it around, you'll see it from a very different perspective: ninety percent of Americans in their working years are employed. That makes the situation seem much less dire, doesn't it?

I have dedicated this blog to students and alumni that are making important career choices because I believe that it is critical to map out your own future. At Berkeley College, you have most likely invested time in learning the particular skills that are necessary for success in your chosen profession. Everything you do is in preparation for your career. That is why it is very important to take advantage of opportunities to expand your world, try something new, explore a new interest, and serve your community. It is why we believe that community service and real work experience are vital components of a Berkeley College education.

If you aspire to be among the 90 percent of Americans who are working today despite the difficult economy, it is important that you continually expand the skill set you can bring to the workplace and the experience you can offer a potential employer.

Summer jobs, volunteer service, extracurricular activities in high school and college -- all these experiences help to expand your knowledge base and increase your self-confidence. Rapid advances in technology have shown us that the ability to learn is far more valuable than the perfection of a single skill.

Appearing for your first professional interview can make the most qualified applicant among us a little nervous. The antidote to those interview jitters is twofold: remember that you have met many challenges in your life already, and you will undoubtedly meet this one, too.

And, remember to prepare well in advance. When an employer asks, "Tell me about yourself," what will you say? What skills will you draw on to persuade the interviewer that you are the person for the job? How will you relate the work you have already done, whether paid or volunteer, to the work you are applying to do? What experiences have you had that are similar?

The more you experience and the more you explore the world around you -- through part-time work, volunteering, hobbies or athletic activities, the clearer your career path will be. With each successful endeavor, you have traveled a little further on the journey to success.

Another important idea to keep in mind is that every person you meet can be a source of wisdom and advice. Ask your supervisors how they chose their careers and how they progressed to positions of responsibility. Most importantly, find a mentor: a teacher, a co-worker, an employer, a professional in the field to which you aspire, someone who is willing to guide you as you gain your footing in a new venture. Drawing on the wisdom of someone who has walked in your shoes may save you from making unnecessary mistakes and help you in your quest for success.

I know that our students, staff and administration in the Berkeley community have much to share on the subject of career success.

How did you get your first job?
What lessons did you learn?
How did you find your chosen career?
What advice do you have for those of us who are just beginning our career search?

Please respond to my blog with stories of your own. By sharing with others it can only help us to know ourselves and to clarify our own goals that much better.

I look forward to hearing from you! I would recommend that you drop by the Career Services Office on campus or look at Berkeley’s CareerZone on our website. Also, click on the link for the Bureau of Labor Statistics at and the U.S. Department of Labor, for information about the job market.

Dario A. Cortes, PhD


  1. I'm the reference and instruction librarian at the Middlesex campus. Here's my 2 cents:

    *How did you get your first job? I got my first professional job as an academic librarian after working as a graduate assistant in the same library for 2 years while I completed my master's degree in library science.
    *What lessons did you learn? Perseverance and enthusiasm are very valuable skills to have in the workplace.
    *How did you find your chosen career? After working in a retail bookstore and being the go-to for information needs for my friends during college, I into how to get a career in information, research and libraries!
    *What advice do you have for those of us who are just beginning our career search? Don't hesitate to contact people who have your dream job! If they see someone who is enthusiastic about what they do, hopefully they'll be happy to give you pointers or advice. Social networking and your online presence is really important too!

    I also wanted to mention that Berkeley College subscribes to a great database called The Career Guidance Center Online. Check it out under the library tab in Blackboard. Remember this- employees who can navigate information resources well, use critical thinking and make good decisions when using the Internet are highly valuable to any organization!

  2. I got my first professional job as a receptionist in a small faimly law firm. I learned to listen, be patient, show a desire to learn and expand my knowledge base and grow out of the entry level position and most importantly, to be flexible and accept new challenges and responsibilities. This often comes without an increase in the pay scale when you are young.

    After working in various legal support positions in law firms and later in corporate legal departments in a number of different industries and especially after returning to school in my mid-30's to obtain a bachelor's degree I happened upon an opportunity while at a job fair for an executive assistant position in aviation with a small independent commerial leasing company. I was shocked to learn that the commerical airlines of the world did not own all of the aircraft they fly. I was extremely interested in the industry and was afforded the opportunity to work within the corporate legal department with a highly experienced aviation attorney who taught me most of what I know. (Willingness to learn and be flexible!) I have now been in the industry for 12+ years, have had and continue to have the opportunity to travel and work with individuals in all corners of the globe while all the time having a lot of fun together with long hours and hard work with tight deadlines. The attention to detail, ability to be flexible and fluid, and think out-side of the box have helped me achieve my current position of Vice President Contracts with what is now the largest independent aircraft leasing company in the world and which is publicly traded on the NYSE.

    For those who are just beginning a career search, be open to opportunity. Try out a few different industries, but always be open to learn, accept new responsibilities and challenges and be flexible to new ways of doing some of the most common tasks. Keep you head down, do the work assigned, pay attention to the details and try to maintain a positive outlook.

  3. When thinking about career success, the place Berkeley College comes to mind for so many reasons. When I attended school there I was taught so many different things about marketing myself, and how to land a great job. I can honestly say that now that I am seeking new employment I know where I can go to get assistance and that I like.

  4. Sagrario G. Schillari (aka Lupe)October 12, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    I graduated from Berkeley in 1982 and the one thing I have found to be of utmost importance in my professional career is perseverance, especially in today's age and our economic woes. Berkeley provided me with the foundation I needed to achieve my goals. After graduating from Berkeley, I became a graphic artist. After 17 years I decided I wanted a change. That's when I became a supervisor/manager of a graphics department for a large corporation. Although there are many obstacles, perseverance always sees me through. Hang in there and tactfully fight for what you want! You will be surprised how far that gets you. And never stop the learning process. You are never too old to learn!

  5. I graduated from Berkeley College in 2010 with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration Marketing. I am now working for HarperCollins publishers (one of the world's biggest publishing companies). I will be attending Seton Hall University in January 2011 for a master in communication.

    I couldn't trade my experience at Berkeley for anything. I have the respect of my co-workers because they can see that I have skills and knowledge to be dependable. For that, I am thankful to GOD, my teachers, and the entire faculty at Berkeley College.

    My dream is to run for an elected office back in Mali, and boy, Berkeley played a capital role in that process.