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Q&A with Dr. David Tirpak of Counseling & Career Services

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JobFair

Dr. David Tirpak, assistant director of Career and Employment Counseling at Howard Community College
Dr. David Tirpak

Dr. David Tirpak, assistant director of Career and Employment Counseling at Howard Community College, is a licensed psychologist with professional experience in college career and counseling centers, hospitals, outpatient settings, as well as counseling experiences abroad in Trinidad. Before joining HCC, Dr. Tirpak worked at a variety of institutions, including Seton Hall University, Northampton Community College, the University of South Carolina, and Lehigh University. We asked Dr. Tirpak to share some advice for job and internship-seekers and discuss the resources available through the college's Career Center, which is open to all students, faculty and staff at HCC and aims to use the latest technologies and teachings to help clients find pathways to success.

Can you tell us about some of the resources that Counseling and Career Services provides to students?

Counseling & Career Services (CCS) offers a variety of resources (see full list) to meet diverse student needs, including resources to help choose a major and explore future career paths. We also offer access to software like FOCUS-2, computer-assisted career guidance system, and Virtual Job Shadow, which is an interactive career exploration site. For students looking for employment or internship opportunities, the HCC Job Connection provides a database of local employers who directly contact our center to post their positions. We also offer resume and interviewing assistance, a variety of career-related workshops and internship fairs throughout the academic year.

What is the most important piece of advice you can give to students looking for a job or internship?

A job or internship is an opportunity to learn what you like and do not like about a position. Do you need to change something about yourself to adapt, or shift into a different career field? Is the career field right for you, but do you need to change companies? It is most important to keep in mind that finding a job or internship is a process, and you must trust in the process. Consider the time used to apply for a job or internship as an investment. “Doing your homework” in advance can help confirm, or deny, if a job or internship is a good fit for you.

What are some of the major do's and don'ts for resume writing?

Do'sDon'ts

Keep it neat, organized and visually attractive

Use unusual fonts
Use the present tense of verbs to describe duties in your current jobList references on your resume

Use the past tense of verbs to describe duties from previous positions

Leave off dates, or other important information (e.g., city and state of employer)
Use "action verbs" to describe your experiencesInclude personal information (e.g., age, marital status, hobbies)
Enter your "Education" and "Work Experience" in reverse chronological orderInclude typos or grammatical errors
Highlight your unique skills (e.g., Foreign Language) and awardsUse "I" statements when writing phrases
Keep different versions of your resume for different positionsForget to edit and proofread your resume multiple times
Continually update your resume over timeForget to bring it to Counseling & Career Services to have it reviewed

In an interview, how should you react if you're caught off guard by a question?

Stay calm. If you do not know the answer – be honest. It's okay to say you do not know the answer, but explain the steps you would take to find out the answer. If you really do not know, consider saying something like, “Great question, I can confidently answer (parts of the answer that you know), and would really like to further consider (the parts of the answer you do not know). This was such an interesting question, and I would like to further research this and get back to you.” If you say that you will get back to the interviewer, be sure to follow up!

What should I do after an interview?

Ideally, follow up should occur within 24 hours after your interview. With today's technology, a quick but thoughtful email goes a long way. However, do not rule out a handwritten thank you note. Within the thank you note, express your appreciation, acknowledge something that you found interesting during your interview, and reiterate your suitability for the position.

What basic characteristics are employers looking for in a recent graduate?

Employers are looking for dependable, conscientious students who can make their company (and their boss) look good. Keep in mind that an employer is typically more concerned about what you can do for them, as opposed to what they can do for you. In today’s society, a solid understanding of technology and social media is critical. Employers are seeking students who are flexible, take initiative, are motivated, and who have an overall positive attitude.

Social Media is PUBLIC: Be aware of how you appear online. Sift through your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest accounts to be sure nothing can be used against you in an interview.How can social media affect a job or internship search?

We actually have a career program that focuses just on this question titled, “Social Media: Your Digital Footprint” on Wednesday, March 19 from 12 to 12:50 p.m. in HSB-162. Be aware of how you appear online. Sift through your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest accounts to be sure nothing can be used against you in an interview. If used properly, social media sites like LinkedIn, Indeed and glassdoor can really enhance your job or internship search.

What should students start doing today that will help them land their dream job?

To prepare for a dream job, it is important to know what aspects make it a dream job. Does it align with your values, skills or the amount of money you hope to earn? Understanding these characteristics will help you identity your own dream job. From there, it is important to network and connect with people in your desired career field.

Resources

The table below contains a list of resources available through Counseling and Career Services. For more information, email ccs@howardcc.edu, call 443-518-1340 or visit room 302 in RCF Hall. 

Counseling & Career Services (CCS)Provides a variety of career and personal development services to HCC students throughout the year
Spring Job FairFriday, March 14 from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. in the Burrill Galleria
Events and workshopsExamples include, "The Process of Getting a Job: Practical Advice on Getting a Job While You are Going to School" (March 18 at 12:30 p.m., RCF 302)
FOCUS-2A computer-assisted career guidance system
Virtual Job ShadowAn interactive career exploration site that provides virtual job shadowing experiences
HCC Job ConnectionAn online database of local employers currently looking to hire employees an interns
Career LinksA program to help low-income single parents and displaced homemakers experience college success
Internships and Co-OpsResearch and apply for opportunities to learn outside of the classroom
One-on-One Career CounselingAvailable by appointment
Walk-in Resume ReviewsOffered throughout the semester
Mock InterviewsAvailable by appointment
Job Bulletin boards located around campusDuncan Hall and Outside the CCS (RCF 302)
On-Campus RecruitingOffered throughout the semester
Personal CounselingCCS RCF 302

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