Wednesday, September 11, 2013

They asked you WHAT?

Sometimes people say and ask the most interesting, strange and humorous questions, don’t they? Why? Perhaps they want to gain more information, get your opinion or just get a reaction out of you. Or perhaps they want to find out: 1) How you react to something that is unusual; 2) How creative you are; 3) If you are quick thinker; and/or 4) If you can you provide a logical response to an inquiry.
As you conduct your internship or job search, you will be asked a variety of questions at networking events, informational meetings and interviews. The best way to impress someone is to have a thoughtful, timely and appropriate response.
Consider how you would respond to one of the following questions:
  • Picture this, you're a pencil in a blender, now what? 
  • If you were a fruit, what fruit would you be and why?
  • If you were a household item, what would you be and why?
  • Do you prefer cats or dogs?
  • What animal would you describe yourself as?
  • What is your favorite book?
  • If you were stuck in an island, what is the one food you could not live without?
  • If you could have any super-hero power, what would it be and why?

Yes – these are actual questions asked of some of our currents students and/or family members during recent interviews!

How would you respond if you get asked one of these or a similar question? Start planning now! A typical response to any interview question should be less than 2 minutes. My suggestion (after you finish shaking your head and/or laughing) is to write your response to each question above and practice by saying it out loud. Although you may not be asked any of the above questions specifically, having some frame of reference will be helpful, and you won’t have the “deer in the headlights” look or sound shocked when asked an unusual question.

Of course, you will also want to be prepared for the more typical questions that are resume-based, behavioral or situational, and/or traditional.

If you do get asked an interesting, strange or humorous question, take it in stride, respond to it and continue to conduct your portion of the conversation in a professional manner. After you land the job, ask why the question was asked. It will be interesting to hear the response!

For information and guidance on how to prepare for interviews, and/or to schedule time to discuss an upcoming interview, contact the Career Development Center at Our team is happy to assist you!

And, get ready to answer questions at events hosted by the CDC. Check out our event calendar.

Jane Trnka, SPHR
Executive Director, Rollins MBA Career Development Center
Wednesday, August 21, 2013

It’s a new school year. Ready – Set – Chill!

Did I say “Chill”? Yes, I sure did.

While going through some family treasures recently, I found my grandmother’s autograph book with sentiments and signatures from her classmates at her Elementary School.  The school year: 1912 – 1913. 100 hundred years ago! The book is a little ragged, to be expected. The penmanship is simply beautiful.  The sweetest poems and sentiments were written by those who were 11 and 12 years of age at the time. Here are some of my favorites:

Remember me on the ocean,
Remember me on the lake,
Remember me on your wedding day
and send me a piece of your cake!

Go little album far and near,
To all of Emily's friends so dear,
And bid them all to write a page,
That she may read in her old age.

Don't throw upon the floor,
The crust you cannot eat,
For many a little hungry one
Would think it quite a treat

As we prepare our class schedules and fit them into our personal lives, buy necessary supplies, find a place to live, work to make ends meet while attending school, etc., I encourage you to remember the sweet things in your life. They can be simple poems such as these, notes written to you (try to find some that are not emails or text messages!), and/or fun memories of this summer’s activities with your families and friends. These mental breaks will be helpful and will probably rejuvenate you as you study and work on projects. They may even help you to remember why you are in school and what you want to accomplish.

Have a great year! Our schedule of events for the Fall Semester is now posted on our site: Register and attend the events that will encourage your success, academically and personally! For assistance in achieving your career goals, contact the Career Development Center at

Jane Trnka, SPHR
Executive Director, Rollins MBA Career Development Center
Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Distinguishing Yourself in Your Job Search

You have generated great marketing materials (resume, business card, reference list, etc), met influential leaders, bought new clothes, etc.; yet you still have not landed THE job or received the promotion you were expecting. Don’t fret! Things take time, and your job search is one of those “things”! If you are going through the right steps as you conduct your search, you will land.
Here are some ways to differentiate yourself from other seekers:

  • Create a personal brand. What do you want people to know about you and the contributions you will make to help a company be successful? It is important to be able to articulate your abilities and strengths — leaders want to know what you will do to help them make money, retain customers, improve processes, etc. If you are unable to show your value up front, you most probably will not get the opportunity to talk about it later.
  • Depending on your interest and desired field, creativity can go a long way as long as it is professional. Those in marketing, the arts, even business development may do well in being creative with different modes of contacting employers via social media, sending creative notes after interviews, or having portfolios ready to review. I don’t think those in the STEM arenas should be as artsy. All should stay away from anything “cute” or something that may offend another.
  • Be persistent, but don’t be a stalker. This is mentioned in so many networking workshops and coaching sessions because it works! Follow up with leaders and recruiters every once in a while, and not only when you are searching for a job. Keep in touch: let a leader know you just graduated or completed a project, send an article that may be of interest to them, or advise that you are looking forward to seeing them at a conference.
  • Offer to assist someone. How often does someone ask you how they may help you? This is easy to do and so appreciated. Even if the other person (yes a recruiter!) doesn’t need assistance, he/she will remember that you extended yourself.
  • Send a hand-written follow-up or thank-you note. Hand-written notes are valued and last a lot longer than e-mails. We work with a social media business partner who received a hand-written note from one of our students. She was so impressed by the gesture that she kept the note on her desk for a long period of time. Since he was the only one who sent a hand-written note, he definitely set himself apart from the competition!

And, what not to do:

  • I am not a fan of sending trinkets in the mail or bringing “gifts” to interviews. I think it is bad taste; candidates need to focus on the experiences, successes and knowledge they bring to the job. Perhaps I am tainted as I received a knife in the mail asking me to “carve out” a career for the job seeker. This was inappropriate on so many levels, including the fact that he was in cutlery sales and sent me (a HR leader) a product he was supposed to sell.

Good luck!

Jane Trnka, SPHR
Executive Director, Rollins MBA Career Development Center
Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Become and Stay Remarkable!

I like reading through and collecting articles. Some I refer to while working on projects; others I share with my staff to enhance our knowledge and skills.  I’m sharing the following article by Jeff Haden that ran in Inc. Magazine last year. If you are seeking employment or currently employed, the “8 Qualities of Remarkable Employees” provides tips all of us can incorporate in our professional lives.
Read the article here.

For some readers, a few tips will put you out of your comfort zone. If you are experiencing some heartburn (and even if you are not), make sure you attend 2013 Summer Sessions: Tools for Success.  The Career Development Center is providing 6 sessions throughout the summer to help you strengthen networking, presentation, personal branding, etiquette, career strategy and social media skills. 
Learn more about 2013 Summer Sessions: Tools for Success.

Jane Trnka, SPHR
Executive Director, Rollins MBA Career Development Center
Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Keep Going!

Sometimes it’s easy to “get stuck” while conducting your search for an internship or job opportunity.  Many of us have been there!  Below are some tips on how to keep momentum in the job search. I hope one or many of these are helpful and will encourage you to Keep Going!

— Reassess your search plan. How many hours are you dedicating to your search?  And, how are you allocating those hours? By creating a calendar, charting out and making deliberate plans, you will avoid the “I can do it tomorrow” self-talk and take productive action in a more timely manner.

— Reconnect with those in your network if it has been awhile since you’ve talked/emailed with them. Let them know you are doing well, ask about them and offer to take them out for coffee or call to chat and catch up. One or two touches don’t constitute a strong relationship and/or referral.

— Register for and take classes. I know for many, you just finished school!  But, is there something else you need or want to learn to enhance your skills and talents? You will gain knowledge, enhance your network, and also demonstrate to potential employers you are not sitting behind the computer all day and night (which is not a great search strategy!). 

— Think about turning your hobby into your job. It is nice to share your expertise. However, even those who don’t intend to do so may be utilizing a lot of your time and benefitting from your knowledge. If you are helping others and it is impacting your job search, doesn’t it make sense to charge for your services?  Most will understand.  And, many will help you in your search since they are aware of your skills and desire to land a job. One of the gigs may turn into THE job. The extra income will help until you land.

— Continue to stay in touch with employers you have interviewed with, if appropriate.  Perhaps they have openings, or are generating a pipeline. Although intentions are good, it is difficult for recruiters to keep strong candidates top of mind, especially if it’s been a while.

— Infuse fun into your search. Participate in activities and/or go to places you haven’t done/been to before. Not only will you expand your knowledge in general and have a good time, you will most probably meet someone you can include in your job search network.

Jane Trnka, SPHR
Executive Director, Rollins MBA Career Development Center
Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Help Me Help You

I love this phrase. I think I came up with this several years ago when I was speaking with a frustrated Purchasing Manager. She and I were not connecting on resolving an issue and I finally said:  “Doris, help me help you.  I can’t do anything if I don’t know what you need and when you need it.”

Then, I heard Tom Cruise say it in Jerry McGuire . . .

Regardless of where I heard it, if I thought of it myself and/or you have heard it before, this four-word phrase can make such an impact in your life as well as in the lives of others.

It gives clarity and focus. What are the expectations, needs and/or goals?  How can I assist you in obtaining your end result if I don’t know what it is?  I may or may not be the person who can truly help you; if not, I can try to find the person for you.

When on a job search a few years ago, a good friend (and very well-connected by the way), asked me what I was looking for in my next role. I said “anything in Human Resources” since HR was my background and a function I really enjoy. By providing this response, I was not helping my friend help me. He had no idea of my talents and passion, and what my personal needs were. I don’t necessarily like or am good at every aspect in Human Resources, nor did I want to work in particular industries. I also needed to stay in the same location.  Since I didn’t provide clarity and focus, he was unable to assist me. I missed out by not having introductions to others who may have been interested in speaking with me about a role in their organizations.

It shows we really care. If I were to be unclear about your needs and didn’t push you, then would I really care about what you need? When I say help me help you, I do care and I want you to be successful.  It would be great if everyone had this as one of their mantras so they can assist others.  When I am coaching individuals, some are clear as mud as to what they want to do or how they should go about their job search. I could say, “Well, when you figure it out, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.” Or, I can say, “Help me help you.” I need information from you so I can determine what you need, who you should talk with, etc. Sometimes this takes time, and the conversation can continue over a few meetings. You are important to me, and I want you to be successful!
When meeting with others, encourage them to help you so you can help them. And, in turn help them help you. 

I think I’ll go listen to the Beatles now . . .

Jane Trnka, SPHR
Executive Director, Rollins MBA Career Development Center
Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Stay Focused!

Many students and some alumni are seeking internships, applying for their first jobs or preparing to transition into different roles. For everyone conducting a job search, this can be a time of excitement, anticipation, stress and wandering thoughts. My advice is to stay focused!

As you conduct your search, make sure you research, network and interview with industries and companies which allow you utilize your skills, talents and education to be successful as an individual and employee.

You should also stay true to your values and motivators: What is important to you? What is your passion? What gets you excited? What motivates you? These are questions which should be answered before and throughout your job search. They should also be reviewed when you get the job offer.
Make sure the industry, company and job align with your skills and talents, as well as your values and motivators.

Not sure what to consider? Think about (and this is a partial list!):
  • Management style of leaders
  • Business environment: casual, friendly, bureaucratic, political, etc.
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Location
  • Travel requirements
  • Challenge of role
  • Company mission
  • Leaders’ business philosophies
  • Community reputation
  • Small or large company (you define what is “small” and “large”)
  • Profit or non-profit
  • U.S. only or international
By determining and staying focused on these and other factors which closely match your skills, talents, education, values and motivators, you will most likely land THE role for the short- and long-term. That will translate into success for you and your organization.
The Career Development Center is hosting many events to help prepare you for your intern or job search. Go to our site to get more information and to register:

Jane Trnka, SPHR
Executive Director, Rollins MBA Career Development Center



About Me

Rollins MBA Career Development Center
Written by the experts from Rollins MBA Career Development Center, the Rollins MBA Career Blog provides information and strategic direction to anyone working to take control of their careers. The Rollins MBA Career Development Center offers a wide variety of career services for students and alumni, including career coaching, résumé development, job search skills, career search databases, and internship and recruitment assistance. The Rollins MBA is one of the top-ranked programs in the nation — and the world. It provides the foundation for students to accelerate their career goals, gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace and advance in their organizations. Visit to learn more.
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