Interview with a Career Counselor

Written by Leo Bird:

For today’s blog, I have chosen to interview my career counselor, Pat Kitzman, from Central College to answer some questions I had about careers.

Pat Kiztman - Career Counselor at Central College
Pat Kiztman – Career Counselor at Central College

Q: What advice do you have acquiring an internship? 

A: Think broadly about employers who might offer opportunities of interest to you. For actuarial internships, it’s likely going to be insurance companies—and there are plenty of them in any given city to choose from. Check websites for internship listings, contact employees you know who work at companies of interest, and work with career professionals or faculty in actuarial science at colleges and universities to find out about opportunities and how to apply for them.

Q: How can people use social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to boost their job prospects?

A: Create complete and career-field specific profiles on sites like LinkedIn, and connect with other like-minded professionals. Interaction is very important—ask and answer questions, make comments, offer suggestions to others! Once a relationship has developed, you can begin communicating more specifically about internships and job leads.

Q: How can people read job postings and research companies better to see if the job is a good fit for them? 

A: You need to understand the language of the industry you’re pursuing so that you can gauge whether or not you have the skills and experience required as stated in a job description. Completing informational interviews with company representatives will help you understand more about the work environment of a company, too.

Q: What are some good entry level jobs for finance, actuarial or math college graduates and what companies would you recommend? 

A: Any job related to finance or actuarial that has Assistant or Associate or Trainee in it…Entry-Level Financial Analyst or Entry-Level Risk Analyst would be good titles. (I’m reluctant to name actual companies, but any company that’s in the insurance business would be worth exploring.)

Q: What are ways besides internships to let a company get to know you better? 

A: Connect with company representatives through actively using the company’s LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter sites. If things go well, ask if you can might meet with a representative in person, buy them a cup of coffee, and ask a few questions about the company or the representative’s role. You can also meet company representatives at career fairs to talk in person.

Q: What kind of answers to behavioral analysis questions do you prefer?

A: The easiest way to site examples of your best work related to the question in an interview is to use the STAR method: Situation, Task, Action and Results. Practice telling detailed stories (in about two minutes) of a project or accomplishment, citing the Situation, Tasks, Action you took, and the Results.

Q: Can you give me a perspective of what the interviewer is feeling during an interview and reviewing candidates? 

A: Interviewers want to get positions filled. They want at least one candidate to truly shine, to have relevant experience, some of the most important skills, and to be able to describe past successes relevant to the job at hand. They want to gauge the candidates ability to “fit in” with the work culture, and to make contributions to the work that needs to be done— in a short period of time. And they certainly are going to be impressed by those answers and examples that most relate to the job at hand. The candidate whose examples and stories are well told in about two minutes and focus on relevant skills used along with successful outcomes, are the ones that are going to be most impressive. A poorly told story that doesn’t relate much to the job and/or didn’t result in a very positive outcome, will not be as impressive.