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The Last of My DeBlogs

Over the course of two years, I’ve written about 70 blogs for DeBlogs. As I went through and counted the blogs that I’ve written, I realized that this will be my last blog that I write for DeBlogs! So, in honor of my last blog, I thought it might be fun to compare where I was in my life when I started to where I am in my life now.

When I first started at DeBlogs, I was a junior at DePaul, majoring in Spanish and International Studies, who had just found out he had been accepted to the BA/MA program in International Studies. 

Now, all I have left to do for my master’s is to finish my thesis, which I’ll do over the summer. I’ll (hopefully successfully) defend my completed thesis when school starts back up in the fall, and then I will officially be a master’s graduate!

When I applied to work at DeBlogs back in Spring 2015, I had to submit a sample blog to show that I was a decent writer, and that I could come up with something interesting to say. I had returned from studying abroad in Madrid just a few months prior to applying to DeBlogs, so I chose to write my sample blog about my time in Madrid. 

Annette's
You may have to zoom in to read all of the flavors that Annette’s offers, but it’s worth the effort. In case you were wondering, the cut-off flavor is Ultimate Peanut Butter Brownie—my favorite flavor (with Salted Caramel Pretzel a close second!).
This year, I suddenly found myself returning to Madrid in order to do research for my thesis (thank you for funding my trip, DePaul!). While the last minute trip meant that I had to push back my timeline for finishing my thesis by a few months, it was absolutely worth it. Not only did I get to return to my favorite city in the world, but I also got tons of information for my thesis.

I’d like to end my final DeBlog with my last-ever food suggestion. During my time at DeBlogs, I’ve recommended countless restaurants and bakeries. As my parting gift, I urge you to visit Annette’s Italian Ice ​at some point during the summer. Of course, despite the name, I go just for the ice cream. If you go once, you’ll go again: I’ve gone like four times this month to satisfy my need to stress eat.

Be a Student Employee

​​Like most people, I’m not a Rockefeller, so I’ve had a job (or two) on the side during college. In fact, as I’m writing this, it is currently National Student Employment Week (or something along those lines). For the record, I feel appreciated, but also devastated that I had to miss the student employee dodgeball tournament the other night (the library’s team was called The Late Fees). Nevertheless, I realized that I’ve been working at the library for almost three years now. Now that I’m searching for internships and jobs off-campus, I’m realizing all of the benefits of on-campus employment.

I can't belie​ve I missed out on dodgeball.

The most obvious benefit is straight-up proximity. There are tons of jobs on both the Lincoln Park campus and the Loop campus. The first year I worked at the library, I lived across the street from the library. I could literally go from my bed to the front door of the library within four minutes. You can’t beat that. You also can’t overstate the efficiency of being able to get from class to work in minutes, which is why on-campus jobs are especially convenient for commuters.

As you probably know, DePaul operates on the quarter system, which is obviously different than the typical semester system. Unlike many internships (most of which are based off of the semester system), on-campus jobs are structured around the quarter system. So instead of trying to schedule your classes around an internship that may overlap two or three weeks with the next quarter, you can build your work schedule each quarter around your class schedule. And if you drop a class or add a class early in the quarter and realize that now you have class when you’re supposed to be working, most supervisors are pretty willing to work with you and to be flexible to accommodate your new schedule. You can expect supervisors to be extra understanding during finals as well!

Furthermore, since on-campus jobs are based on the academic calendar, most jobs are reduced or optional during academic breaks. I’m very close to my family, so I spend all my breaks at home. Even though the library is open during breaks, I’ve never worked during a break (and I still have my job!). Plus, if the university closes because of weather or something like that, that most likely means that work is closed, too.

Nine times out of ten, I recommend searching for an on-campus job rather than an off-campus job, especially if you’re like me and you’re lazy and you don’t want to travel that far for work. I think an off-campus job is best for those who really want experience in a specific, specialized field. But if you’re just looking to earn some money on the side, you don’t need to look that far.


Resumes and Recommendations

Last week, I wrote all about how to find the perfect summer job​. At the end, I promised a follow-up blog about resumes and letters of recommendation. I’m a man of my word, so here I am. In case you couldn’t tell, I was in the middle of searching for a summer job when I wrote the last blog about how to find a summer job. Now I’​m working on the applications for the jobs that I found, so I’m super ready to talk about resumes and letters of recommendation.

RESUMES

If you’re writing a resume for the first time, it can be super intimidating. But luckily for you, DePaul has amazing resources to help you construct your resume. I cannot recommend strongly enough that you go visit the Career Center (or, at the very least, their website​). The Career Center offers a ton of amazing services, but my favorite one is easily the resume reviews​. You can meet with a Peer Career Advisor who can help you with any questions you have about resumes, cover letters, and interviews. If you’re in a rush, they also offer handy walk-in appointments. Even if you’re just updating a resume that you know is already great, I still recommend meeting with a Peer Career Advisor. I always think it’s best if you can find someone knowledgeable to look over your resume before you submit it.

LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION

I know a lot of people who get really hung up on how to ask a professor to write a letter of recommendation. When I first had to ask a professor for a recommendation, I didn’t know if I was supposed to ask them in person or if I could just ask over email. I just ended up just stress-eating. Years later, I can tell you with great confidence that the answer is whichever feels right to you. If you’re asking a professor for a recommendation, you should be relatively familiar with them (hopefully you’ve taken at least two classes with them). If the professor is more of an old-school type, then I would ask in person. If your professor regularly uses email or D2L to interact with the class, then they are probably cool being asked over email. If you’re ever in doubt, be safe and ask in person.

Personally, I’ve always asked for letters of recommendation over email and let me tell you why. If someone agrees to write a letter of recommendation for you, they are doing you a favor. You should make it as easy as possible for them. Asking over email allows me to make sure that I include all of the information that the professor could possibly need and that the information is easily accessible for the professor. At a bare minimum, you should let the professor know where you’re applying, when the recommendation is due (try to give them at least a month before it’s due), and where to send the recommendation. But I like to add as much information as possible. I often summarize the company and position I’m applying to and let them know why I chose him/her for a recommendation. If the position lists any required skills or qualities that I know I’ve demonstrated in the professor’s class, I will explicitly tell them that I am hoping that they can speak about these specific skills. If the application requires that I respond to a written prompt or write a personal statement, I will attach that to the email. Adding more information will make the writing process easier for the professor and I promise it will result in a more personalized, detailed recommendation that will impress whoever reads it. And most importantly, I always write a handwritten thank you note to the professor after it’s all done and submitted. Gotta keep it classy.​


Searching for Summer Jobs

All throughout my undergraduate career, I went home to Wisconsin and worked at my hometown library​ during each summer. This year, I won’t be going back to Wisconsin. As part of my BA/MA program​, I have to take a grad class during the summer, so for the first time, I will be staying in Chicago! While it’s super exciting to be staying, I’m starting to realize that I actually have to find a decent job for the summer. The process of searching for a job or internship can be sort of intimidating and overwhelming, so I thought I’d offer a few tips to make the search easier for you!

Start Early

In case you didn’t know, the application period for most summer internships is right now. You can only imagine my reaction when I found out that I had already missed the deadline to apply for some summer internships (one of them literally closed on January 1st). The sooner you start looking, the more options you will have. Also, if you need to get any letters of recommendation or if the application has any unique requirements (like a written response to some prompt), you're going to need time to prepare and complete your application. 

Know What You’re Looking For

Before you even start searching, sit down and figure out what you’re looking for. Are you able to work full-time or can you only manage part-time? What is your availability during the summer? Can you afford an unpaid internship or do you need to be paid? If you need to be paid, what’s the minimum you need to be paid? Figure all of these questions out before you even start looking so you don’t waste your time looking at jobs that won’t work for you.    

 

Find Something Good

Actually finding interesting jobs can be the hardest part sometimes! Luckily, there are so many resources available to you. For just a standard job search engine, I like to use Indeed​. But if you didn’t know, DePaul also has its own job search engine called Handshake​. In addition to listing on-campus interviews, after you make a profile, Handshake points out all the jobs listed that you’re qualified for. It’s a great tool, especially if you’re new to looking for jobs. Also, after you’ve declared your major(s), make sure you’re receiving (and opening) all of the emails sent from your department! Most departments regularly include job listings in mass emails. And finally, talk to your professors and friends. Your professors have most likely seen hundreds of students search for and secure summer jobs in Chicago. They can tell you with which companies or organizations past students have been successful. Your friends can do the same. Ask them if they have heard of any openings or if they have seen anything that might fit you (and obviously, if you see a job listing that sounds perfect for someone you know, be a good friend and tell them about it).

Diversify

This should go without saying. Just like when you applied for college, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Apply to as many jobs as you find interesting. The more options you give yourself, the better chance you have at actually getting hired. Even after you've applied to several jobs, make it a habit to regularly search for any new job listings. I usually check every three to four days to see what's new. It can only help you.

After you’ve found some potential new jobs, it’s time to get some letters of recommendation and polish your resume! Check back next week for more tips on how to write the perfect resume and how to ask professors for recommendations!​