Tag Archives: advice

Mentor Network Spotlight: Michael McCaw

Michael McCaw, a graduate from NYU’s College of Arts and Science with a degree in psychology got his job as the Assistant Director of the PhD Program at NYU Silver School of Social Work through NYU CareerNet. Today Michael offers invaluable advice on getting through college and careers.

What’s the weirdest job you ever had? – Repainting 1980s/90s action figures.

What’s the best career advice you ever received? “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose; all that matters is how you play the game.”

What is the hardest interview question you’ve ever been asked? How did you answer it? “You are in a room with your peers/colleagues/staff. If asked to describe your three best qualities, how would they respond? You are now asked to leave the room, and your peers/colleagues/staff are asked to describe your three worst qualities. What do you think they would say?” Although this is an extremely tough question to answer “correctly,” it is important to remember that you can always frame seemingly negative qualities in a positive light. Always play to your strengths.

If you could tell your college self one thing, what would it be? You’re not going to figure out your life by the time you graduate! It’s important to have a plan in place, but keep your mind open. Worry about the things you can control and use that as a solid foundation for opportunities that arise. Believe in yourself. Also, stop eating pizza 20 times a month if you don’t want heartburn later on!

Bringing Fireworks to your Internship

So, you’re about half way through your summer internship? How can you make sure you’re shining like the 4th of July fireworks? Here are a few tips on how to sparkle this summer:

  • Reflect on your experience – if you’re happy with the opportunities you’ve had so far, ask for ways to become more involved in these projects. If you’re unhappy with the experience, you still have time to evaluate why and take initiative to make the most of the internship experience.
  • Schedule a formal mid-summer check in with your internship supervisor to evaluate your performance thus far. Ask about ways that you can continue to grow and develop professionally, as well as contribute to the team.
  • Stay busy – there is always work to be done! Ask your supervisor what he/she needs help with and volunteer to work on all types of projects.
  • Grow your network – ask colleagues out for coffee or lunch. Conduct a non-formal informational interview to learn about their career paths, experience within their roles, and for advice.

Make the most of the second half of your internship and enjoy the holiday on Thursday!

Mentor Network Spotlight: Patrick Cunagin

Patrick Cunagin, the Co-Founder and COO of doUdeal, graduated from Trinity University with a degree in Accounting. This week, Patrick gives us invaluable career advice.



How did you find your job? Went to Trinity with the CEO!

What’s the weirdest job you ever had? Had to parade around NYC in a banana costume for Jamba Juice!

What’s the best career advice you ever received? If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t be good at it.

What is the hardest interview question you’ve ever been asked? How did you answer it? What Disney character would you be and why? I said Aladdin because he’s confident, humble, and goes out of his way to get what he wants. It caught me completely off-guard, so I reverted to a more cliche answer (which I try to avoid).

What part of your college experience prepared you most for the real world? Being in AKPsi, a professional, co-ed business fraternity. We interviewed or were interviewed hundreds of times, and the organization was full of like-minded people doing big things.

If you could tell your college self one thing, what would it be? It would definitely be to work my butt off to try to make something work, but if it’s clearly not working, then get out. I was injury-ridden the second half of my college soccer career, and I continued volunteering for organizations that were clearly not getting done what needed to be done.

Summer Career Checklist

Summer break doesn’t mean you have to take a break from your career development!  Whether you are interning, taking classes, working part-time or just relaxing, here are some to-do’s:

Update and polish your resume

You may have some great courses, academic projects, part-time jobs or internships to add from this past academic year.  Write those great bullet points when these experiences are fresh in your mind.

Build your skills

Even if you aren’t working part-time or interning, it’s important for you to continue to build skills that will be relevant for employers.  Volunteer with an organization a few days a month, teach yourself a new technology, review relevant industry resources and review some of our skill-building tips!

Foster and expand your network

Networking is most effective when you don’t need something (like a job) right away.  Reach out to previous colleagues, friends, and professors to check in, say hi and maybe grab lunch.  Use some of the Wasserman Center’s resources or LinkedIn.com to set up some informational interviews and expand your existing network.


Sometimes it’s hard to find time during the academic year to reflect.  Take some time to think about the past year.   What did you learn about your career preferences, work-ethic, strengths, and weaknesses?  What activities or classes did you love? Were there others you disliked?  How might the responses to these questions help you plan for for next year or even post-graduation?  Need some help reflecting?  On to our next item….

Schedule a counseling appointment

Not in NYC? No problem.  Counselors are available for virtual or phone appointments.  Schedule via your NYU CareerNet account and cover topics like resumes, cover letters, interview prep, networking tips or take a career assessment.

Tapping the Hidden Job Market

If you attended our seminar last night, you already know that nearly 70% of jobs are found by Tapping the Hidden Job Market.  But in case you missed it, here are some tips and tricks for recent graduates looking for a job, current students searching for an internship, or for experienced professionals who are seeking to advance their career.

Adjust Your Approach

Adjust your approach and cut back on the job boards!  Ideally you should spend 75% of your efforts on active job search strategies such as networking with individuals and companies of interest to you.  Spend the extra 25% of your efforts on more passive approaches such as job boards and applying through company websites.

Expand Your Network

60 – 75% of jobs are found through networking.  Be sure to target current/former colleagues, friends, family, NYU alumni…everyone!  Never disregard an opportunity to network.  Even if a contact is not in your target industry, they may know someone who is!  You may meet such individuals by asking for informational interviews, joining professional associations, and attending events in your industry or function.

Build Relationships

Remember, in building relationships with your professional contacts, you want to set goals to acquire information and resources- NOT ask for a job.  You must first build out the relationship by asking for an informational interview, sending professional updates, sharing relevant industry information, introducing your contact to others in your network, or inviting them to industry events.  It is important to try to maintain the relationship when possible so that when a job opportunity arises, your contact will think of you for the position.

Tip:  Create a spreadsheet of your contacts so you can keep track of your activity.

Include the date you met them, what you discussed, your means of communication (In-person, email, or phone) etc.  Always follow up!

Get on Social Online

Use online platforms, like LinkedIn, to connect with professionals and groups in your industry.  Build out your profiles and interactions to reflect your personal brand and expertise.  The same rules apply for your online job search strategy!  Spend 25% of your time applying to jobs and 75% of your time networking.

FYI:  NYU Wasserman Center career counselors will help you revamp your online profiles!  If you want to learn more about Leveraging LinkedIn join us for a short webinar on July 10 from 12 – 12:30 to learn how to maximize your online presence.

By following these steps, you will be able to revise your job search strategy to become a more active participant who can showcase their abilities and contributions to a potential employer within your targeted industry.  Devising and enacting an effective strategy to tap the hidden job market takes planning and time.  Request a career counseling appointment to discuss your strategy with a career counselor, and start on your path for a successful job search today.

The Real World Doesn’t Come With Instructions: How The Biggest Failure Of My Life Became The Best Thing To Ever Happen To Me

It was the Spring of 2011 in NYC, I was 27 years old and felt trapped at my marketing job. I wanted my work to have an impact, to matter, but I didn’t know what to do.I decided I would finally take action—I decided to become a teacher. I joined Teach For America, quit my job, and drove 1,200 miles south to the Mississippi Delta (yes Mississippi) where I had committed to teach for the next 2 years. As the summer training progressed I was getting more anxious about having my own class in the fall. I started to get physically sick and on the first day of school, I quit.

That 20 hour drive back home was pretty much the most dreadful experience in my life. I no longer had my NYC apartment, I no longer had my job…so I moved back in with my mom. What followed was 6 months of straight up confusion, frustration and depression. “What do I do?” “What have I done?” The self-questioning was non-stop.

Eventually I was able to take a step back and realize I’m not alone in having no idea what do with my life. There are so many options out there, what’s the “right” one? At the same time some of my friends were taking risks and making their dreams happen. I wanted to get their stories out there to inspire people like me to see what’s possible if you say yes to yourself and go for it. Today, in 2013.

And so I created a podcast. It’s called Prologue Profiles and people like Jeff Laub of the Blind Barber, Rameet Chawla of Fueled and Colin Wright of ExileLifestyle candidly share their stories of how they overcame their fears to live the life they want. And from interviewing over 40 people over the past year, I realized those who are doing amazing things are no different than you or I, they just got connected to what they wanted to do, dropped their fear, and took action. In other words, it comes down to their mindset. 

This realization led to the creation of Prologue Sessions, the live event series for realizing your career dreams. The next event is on Tuesday July 2nd, from 7:00pm to 8:45pm at Ella Lounge in the East Village. It’s free and you can RSVP here.

I love what I’m building with Prologue because of the difference it’s making with those who listen to the podcast and attend the events. I frequently think back on what I went through two years ago. I’d just be returning now, actually. Sometimes, it turns out, the things we think are our biggest failures are actually our biggest breakthroughs.

Insights from an NYU Graduate

With Commencement right around the corner, I haven’t been able to stop myself from reflecting and reminiscing on the last four years that I’ve spent at NYU.  Not all of my memories are happy ones (i.e., writing research papers until 5 AM), but I can say with confidence that I’ve learned some useful things inside and outside of the classroom that I’ll be taking with me as I move from college to the start of my career. Here are the Top 10 things I’ve learned:

1)     Uncertainty isn’t always a bad thing.

While it’s definitely nice to know what you’ll be doing work-wise after college, that’s just not the reality for each and every student.  If you find yourself in that situation, you can use the time to continue cultivating your interview and networking skills while considering possible career options and opportunities.

2)     Explore the unknown.

At NYU, this meant traveling during the year I studied abroad in Madrid as well as taking a variety of classes.  At my new job, it’ll mean allowing myself to experience things that may be outside of my initial job description or relocating to an area I’ve never lived in. Don’t be afraid to explore new opportunities!

3)     Know your limits and push them wisely.

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s always great to remind yourself that you can only do so much. Get involved, but remember: committing to a million and one things will not only stress you out, but it could also keep you from getting done what is necessary for your career.

4)     Make long-term goals but don’t lose sight of the present.

Just two weeks ago, I was so excited planning for Commencement that I nearly forgot about a final assignment that I needed to hand in!  Looking at the future is fun to do (and necessary when planning out your career), but don’t take for granted everything that you’re doing now.  You build a career, meaning it’s a process so even if you have your eyes set on a higher position in the company, keep in mind that you can learn transferable skills in any assignment.

5)     You’ll never know until you ask.

Whether you’re in need or a due date extension for a paper or seeking a pay raise, you’ll never know until you ask! If your employer doesn’t know you’d like something to change, odds are that your situation or problem will stay the same.  Be vocal!

6)     Reward yourself.

Whenever I receive a great test score that I know I deserve because of all the studying I’ve done, I like to treat myself to something small, like a cup of fro-yo at 16 Handles or an afternoon of Jamba Juice-filled people-watching in Central Park.  In your career you should also take the time to reward yourself when you’ve completed a tough assignment.  Celebrate your victories and use them as reminders/motivation when you’re faced with a difficult task.

7)     Don’t network just for the sake of getting business cards.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t network, but the situation is a lot less awkward and much more personal when you approach networking as a conversation rather than a business opportunity.  People (especially your potential higher-ups) are much more likely to remember you down the road if you make a unique connection.

8)     You can never say “Thank you” enough.

I’ve given a lot of thanks lately—to my parents, siblings, friends, coworkers—for all of their help with getting me through the late nights of thesis writing and tough midterm weeks over the last four years.  Showing your appreciation for someone not only makes that person feel great, but it also reminds you to never be too proud to ask for help.  Plus, it follows the Golden Rule: Do unto others what you’d wish done unto you.

9)     It never hurts to be nice.

Going off of my last point, manners will always go a long way, whether you’re a Sternie going into Investment Banking or approaching a career in Social Work. It could be as simple as a “hello” and a smile you give to the security guard at your workplace or a “congratulations” email to a coworker receiving a promotion, but people (especially those in New York!) will remember that act of kindness.  And who knows, that one running person for whom you held the elevator might just be on the board that determines whether or not you get that promotion and raise you’ve been wanting.

10)  Always remember where you’ve come from.

Don’t forget your family or the friends you made in college; they’re the people that helped you get to where you are today and the people that’ll hopefully be there to celebrate all of your future success, in both your career and personal lives.

With that, I’d like to end this post with a special congratulations to all of my fellow graduates.  I wish you all the best with your future endeavors!

How About Starting A Startup This Summer Break?

Taking the leap to being an entrepreneur and starting something isn’t easy. It requires a lot of commitment to the concept and ability to stay determined no matter what the situation. I have previously written on recognizing opportunities and identifying which of those could turn into a business. However, the biggest challenge facing a lot of the individuals is the path to executing any idea.

So here is what I propose to those wantrapreneurs who are not able to take the leap towards committing themselves to an idea: Instead of going on a vacation or taking up an internship this summer break, dedicate those 10 weeks to working on your business venture.

The main idea behind this exercise will be to validate the viability of your concept at the end of your summer break. When validating a startup, you might come across a number of obstacles. Mentioned below are some of the most common challenges that are encountered by almost every entrepreneur, along with ways to address them:

Team: The best way to build a good team is to interact with individuals in your network and see if any of them are willing to be a part of your initiative. If that doesn’t help, attend Meetup groups. Relevant Meetup groups can serve as an excellent resource to meet interesting people who would share your passion/vision.

Financing: There are many avenues to explore when it comes to receiving seed funding, but to be taken seriously, it is crucial to build a prototype or demo of your product ASAP. Having a prototype to show is all you need to worry about, to help validate your idea.

Marketing: The best way to get yourself and your product noticed, is to go to startup demo events and pitch your idea. Apart from this, be sure to write a blog every few days. Blogs serve as a very powerful channel to communicate your business’ vision and concept to people around the globe.

At the end of these 10 weeks if you decide to purse your venture further, you will be in a great position to apply to startup accelerator programs that will provide you will seed funding, mentorship as well as all the resources you need to continue to grow.

To those who feel that this is a lot easier said than done I would like to assure you that once you take the leap, each challenge will appear to be an opportunity to prove yourself. There is no bigger incentive to work harder.

In the past one year, I have learnt a lot more working at my startup iFunding, than working at an analyst level could’ve taught me over three years. Irrespective of whether I like it or not, I have to participate in every aspect of the business and learn on the go. That is true for every entrepreneur. I have been fortunate to team up with an amazing co-founder who has patiently helped me learn aspects of the business that I wouldn’t have an opportunity to understand otherwise.

Feel free to reach out to me if you need any guidance/advice or access to resources that you are not able to find by yourself. I will be sure to revert to you within 24 hours. My email is sohin.shah@innovationalfunding.com

Spotlight on Careers in Writing and Publishing

Are you interested in a career in writing and publishing? Do you want to learn more different positions in writing and publishing? Meet two individuals that are successful in the field of writing and publishing. Dorian Karchmar is an agent at William Morris Endeavor. She represents both fiction and nonfiction writers, including Amor Towles, author of the breakout debut Rules of Civility; Cathy Marie Buchanan (The Painted GirlsThe Day the Falls Stood Still); iconic filmmaker (GooniesHome AloneHarry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone) and author of the middle-grade fantasy series House of Secrets, Chris Columbus; New York Times White House correspondent, Helene Cooper, author of the memoir The House at Sugar Beach; and the New York Times bestselling, PEN/Hemingway winning novelist, Jennifer Haigh (Mrs. KimbleFaith). Dorian received her MFA in creative nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa and serves on the board of the Association of Author Representatives.

Darin Strauss is a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship and a winner of the American Library Association’s Alix Award and The National Book Critics Circle Award. Darin Strauss is the author of the novels Chang & Eng, The Real McCoy, and More Than It Hurts You, and the NBCC-winning memoir Half a Life. These have been New York Times Notable Books, Newsweek, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Amazon, Chicago Tribune, and NPR Best Books of the Year, among others. Darin has been translated into fourteen languages and published in nineteen countries. He is a Clinical Associate Professor at NYU’s creative writing program.


Want to learn more and meet Dorian and Darin? Come to the 20 Cooper Square, 7th Floor, on April 23, 2013 at 6:00 PM! RSVP on NYU CareerNet or here.

Interview Tip of the Week

How many manholes are there in NY (and other confusing questions)?

When Google asked, “How many cows are in Canada” one year, a lot of people were thrown in for a loop. One applicant to Google answered this question with, “Enough to make sure we plenty of milk and cheese”.

You don’t need to have advanced agriculture knowledge or start pumping out math equations to answer this question.  So if the interviewers are not testing your accuracy then what in the world are they looking for?

How about some creativity? Or, what about your ability to think, critically?

It sounds easy enough, but is it really? Maybe. The key is to think in both a creative and critical way to respond without crossing the line into a lack of professionalism.

You also have to realize that the point of such questions is to see if you can keep your thoughts together even under pressure. So, don’t be afraid to answer in fun way. Just be sure to stay grounded.

Remember, you want to make the interviewer think of you at the end of the day, and these oddball questions offer a great opportunity to do just that.

Employers are testing you to see if you know how to think on your feet and more so your problem solving abilities. If you feel thrown off, take a second to collect your thoughts before answering. Just remember though, if you’re stumped, the last thing you want to say is “I don’t know”. It’s much better to give a clever and creative response rather than to brush it off, stammer, or otherwise show that you are unwilling to think.

So how many manholes are there in New York?