It's the Most Wonderful Time...for Informational Interviewing

On November 5th LinkedIn promoted “Bring Your Parents to Work Day” to help parents learn about what their adult children do for a living and to encourage them to continue providing career advice after college. In a survey of over 20,000 people, they found that 55% of parents admitted to not being entirely familiar with what their children for work. Many parents know their child’s industry, employer or job title, but few know about the day-to-day responsibilities, tasks and accomplishments that comprise those titles. The same likely goes for children lacking awareness of their parent’s jobs.

During the upcoming holiday season take advantage of extra time with your parents and extended family to learn more about their jobs and career paths. Ask questions about what they do, what they like about their jobs and how they got into their chosen field in place of small talk about the weather and how your fall semester was. This informal informational interviewing can you help as you explore your own career path. You might even find that a member of your family is doing the type of work you desire and can serve as a connection for internships and full-time jobs. Or, you may learn about an interesting new career that you never knew existed.

Come back to the Career Center in the spring to discuss this new found information and use web resources at to do more exploration. Our career counselors can help you choose a major to reach your career goal or talk about how you can use your current major to pursue various career options.

Happy Holidays and Happy Info Interviewing!

Q & A with Auburn Young Alumni

Whether you have just begun your time at Auburn or your graduation is right around the corner, every Auburn student is working toward the goal of having a successful career. Through your classes, extracurricular activities, internships, and other valuable experiences, you are gaining the skills and abilities that are preparing you for your future. When you look back on your time at Auburn, you will want to know that you made the best use of your time and made connections to further your career.

Recently, I asked ten successful, young Auburn alumni to answer two questions about their time at Auburn: 
  1. What did you learn at Auburn that most prepared you for your career?
  2. What is one thing you wish you would have done at Auburn to prepare for your career? 

Hopefully their reflections can give you some insight on life after graduation and what you can be doing now to make the most of your Auburn experience.

What did you learn at Auburn that most prepared you for your career?

Be passionate about your career.

“I learned the value of hard work and the potential of passion. Hard work has propelled me through challenging times and I can attribute my determination to the faculty who challenged me academically. Working hard is a mantra that keeps me prepared and thinking about the future while building upon the past. Auburn provides students and faculty alike with opportunities to make a difference in the community. I still admire and remember being a part of the ones where passion was palpable. It showed me the power of passion through success, and I inherently learned about humility during times of failure. Startups seem to attract passionate people. At Ledbury, passion promotes hard work and that goes into everything from business development to sales.” -Thomas Burke 

Be open-minded about your career.

“One thing I learned at Auburn that has been helpful is to keep an open mind with opportunities as you are considering next steps.” -Alysha Kambeyanda 

“I didn't know that I was going to be teaching English overseas when I chose to major in English, but it turned out to be perfect for what I'm doing! Most foreign teachers teach spoken English, but because I had a lot of experience writing essays and research papers, I was able to teach many writing classes. All of my literature classes in which I had to write MLA style papers really prepared me well for being able to instruct Chinese university students how to do the same thing.” -Lauren Mosteller

“The biggest thing I learned at Auburn that shaped my career was to be prepared for the unexpected. In the last semester of my Master’s program, on a whim, I enrolled in an elective course offered to undergrad and graduate students, Principles of Fundraising. This course literally changed my career path and led directly to employment after graduation. Who knows where I would be now had it not been for adding an elective at the last minute.” -Nathan Payne 

Know how to communicate, both verbally and written.

“Communication skills are probably the most important thing I've learned that helped prepare me for my career. No matter what major you are or job you end up with, communication is essential! Students need to realize how important written and verbal communication will be in their careers.” -Brian Brown 

Your classes are important and relevant.

"I think Auburn prepared me well through Student Media. I think in a broader sense, it forced us to get real world experiences while still in school. It was a required class at Auburn, but it allowed us to make mistakes, learn on the job and get experience that was more valuable than sitting in a class.” -Coleman McDowell 

“I learned from my classes that innovation is one of the most important parts of keeping a growing company relevant in the industry.” -Drew Young

“Auburn gave me a great foundation of knowledge and know-how that I'm still building off of today professionally. Even if some of the classes I took aren't directly applicable with what I do day-to-day now, the coursework helped shape me into a quick, adaptable learner. This is important because learning shouldn't stop after you graduate - it's really only just the beginning.” -Michael Knowles

Appreciate others.

“I learned the value of investing time in other people and organizations. My degree and extracurricular student group involvement provided me with a unique opportunity to interact with a wide range of campus administrators and fellow students. In my profession, volunteer and donor development is critical to my success as an executive and fulfilling the mission of my organization. Without the opportunities I pursued and was also provided at Auburn, I wouldn't be in the position I am today.” -Justin Shugart 

“I learned so much at Auburn.  Outside of the excellent education I received, one of the best things I learned that prepared me for being a veterinarian is my deep appreciation for people and the special bond they share with their pets.  Auburn fosters such a rich environment for budding veterinarians, and really gives students the opportunity to witness the personal side of our profession - not just the physical/medical side.” 
-Kelsey Marble, DVM 

What is one thing you wish you would have done at Auburn to prepare for your career?


“While at Auburn, I think it would have been helpful to network with more industry professionals to support continued advancement beyond four years of academics.” 
-Alysha Kambeyanda

“Despite being quite involved in various activities and organizations, I realize now that I still missed out on taking advantage of many more opportunities to network, engage and grow through on-campus events. (I probably should have skipped class less, too.)”
-Nathan Payne


“More internships because the few I did were more helpful than many of the classes.” - Drew Young

“I would've tried to take advantage of internship and part-time job opportunities related to my major starting the summer after my freshman year instead of waiting until my junior year. Figuring out what you like (or don't like) about a job, company, or field early in your college career can save you a ton of trouble and effort in the future. Changing career paths only gets harder the older you get.” -Michael Knowles


“I wish I had completed a minor in plant pathology or entomology, or business, and done a study abroad.” -Brian Brown

“I think a better mix of classroom learning and actual hands-on activity would have prepped me a little more.” -Coleman McDowell

“I wish I would have taken a stronger interest in getting involved on campus my freshman and sophomore years. I went through a burnout phase after high school and it wasn't until the spring of my sophomore year that I decided to get involved. Earlier involvement could have provided the opportunity to interact and learn from different student groups and advisors. This would have provided an opportunity to learn, grow and adapt to the world around me, three actions I now find instrumental to success in my career.” -Justin Shugart

“I wish I would have taken the time to do more community outreach. I really fell in love with the city of Auburn, and looking back, I wish I would have volunteered more.  I think at the time, I didn't think I had the time for it. Now I realize I probably could have made more time for things like that.” -Kelsey Marble

“Two things come to mind... first, I took one Linguistics class at Auburn, but I wish I had taken more! I can't tell you how often I've thought of something I've learned from that one class as I was trying to instruct students in pronunciation. Second, I wish I had spent more time around international students at Auburn. The Auburn ESL program provides opportunities for native students to help the international students to practice their English, and though I started doing this the semester before I graduated, I wish I had been doing that for years!  It was such a valuable experience, not only in instructing English, but in learning about cross-cultural communication.” -Lauren Mosteller

“I wish that I had spent more time on campus, and I'm thrilled to see that playing a theme in Auburn's new initiatives.” -Thomas Burke

Meet the Alumni

  • Brian Brown 
    • Master of Science in Horticulture: 2005 
    • Bachelor of Science in Horticulture: 2002
    • Current position: Student Services Coordinator for Auburn University College of Agriculture
  • Thomas Burke 
    • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration: Accountancy: 2010
    • Current position: Financial Controller at Ledbury in Richmond, VA
  • Alysha Kambeyanda 
    • Bachelor of Industrial Design and a minor in Spanish: 2011
    • Current position: Business Development Specialist for General Electric Digital in Atlanta, GA
  • Michael Knowles
    • Bachelor of Software Engineering:2012
    • Current position: Software Developer at We Are Mammoth, Inc. in Nashville, TN
  • Kelsey Marble, DVM 
    • Doctor of Veterinary Medicine: 2013
    • Bachelor of Science in Microbiology: 2009
    • Current position: Associate Veterinarian at Longwood Veterinary Clinic in Longwood, Florida
  • Coleman McDowell 
    • Bachelor of Arts in Journalism: 2012
    • Current position: Associate Editor at, a division of Time Inc. in New York, NY
  • Lauren Mosteller
    • Bachelor of Arts in English: 2011
    • Current position: English teacher for the English Language Institute/China in Harbin, China
  • Nathan Payne 
    • Master of Education: Administration of Higher Education: 2014
    • Bachelor of Arts in Political Science: 2008
    • Current position: Director of Athletic Development at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne in Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • Justin Shugart 
    • Bachelor of Arts in Communication: 2009
    • Current position: Executive Director of the Alabama/NW Florida Chapter of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America in Birmingham, AL
  • Drew Young
    • Bachelor of Science in Building Science; 2010
    • Current position: Owner of Young’s Plant Farm in Auburn, AL

By Dori Weldon
Career Counselor
Auburn University Career Center

Ready for the Rise in Hiring

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) recently announced that results from the 2016 Job Outlook survey indicate a hiring increase for new college graduates of 11 percent over the class of 2015. With the market primed for job search success, college seniors can do three things before spring semester starts to prepare to take advantage of these upcoming opportunities.

1. Know your options
Begin researching potential employers and job titles ahead of time and learn about the company culture, required qualifications for the job, and if/when the employer will have representatives on campus for career fairs and interviews. Use Auburn’s job search database, Tiger Recruiting Link (TRL) at to find much of this information. You can also use the companies’ websites and to do your research. Knowing what type of job you want and the companies for which you’d like to work will put you in the position to apply quickly when positions are posted.

2. Prep your resume
Having a resume that is tailored for each job description will help you stand out in a crowd of similarly qualified graduates, but you can prepare ahead of time by having your standard resume reviewed by a career center staff member or peer advisor. Use the resume resources on the Auburn Career Center website to view formatting options and gather ideas for how to highlight your skills and experiences. Cometo the Career Center during walk-in hours to have a peer advisor review your resume and offer suggestions for improvement. Also, reach out to faculty members and other advisors to gain additional feedback. When your ideal job is posted, you’ll be ready to tweak the standard resume to fit the individual specifications required by that employer.  

3. Practice your interview skills
The prospect of interviewing can send many job seekers into a state of panic. Work out the jitters and gain confidence in your ability to nail the interview by practicing typical questions before spring career fair and on-campus interview season kicks off. For those with little interview experience or who are feel their skills are rusty can use an online tool such as Interview Stream to prepare in the comfort of their own rooms. The Career Center also offers mock interviews when you are ready to practice in person.

Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by an anticipated hiring increase for 2016. College graduates will still be competing for positions and employers aren’t lowering their standards. Adequate preparation requires early and on-going effort but definitely pays off when you start the career you’ve been working 4+ years for.  

3 Scary Interview Mistakes

Interviewing requires you to think quickly on your feet and sift through your background for the best examples that demonstrate your skills, abilities and experiences pertaining to the position. Often, the most anticipated interview questions give candidates the biggest grief and lead to responses that frighten employers. Don’t scare the employer away with these 3 interview mistakes.

1. You are clueless about the company.
In many interview situations, the interviewer will ask you to share your knowledge of the company and the position. Typical questions may be phrased as “What do you know about our company?” or “Why are you interested in this position?” Applicants who struggle with their responses demonstrate to the employers a lack of adequate preparation or lack of enthusiasm for the job. Before attending the interview research the company to learn about their products, services, locations and main mission and think of a few aspects about the job description that appeal most to you. Bonus points: When describing your interest in the position, also highlight how your skills are suited for the job.

2.  You don’t share how you are improving upon your weaknesses.
Let’s face it. Talking about weaknesses and failures is the last thing any candidate wants to do when trying to convince an employer to hire them. Often they will quickly gloss over the topic with a quick response or use a cliché like, “I’m too much of a perfectionist.” The employer’s true motive for asking about weaknesses is to see that the candidate can identify problem areas and actively work to improve them or overcome them.  When discussing this topic in the interview, first make sure the weakness isn’t one that will impede your ability to perform the job and then wrap up your response by highlighting how you’ve improved upon that weakness.

3.You aren’t sure what makes you stand out from other candidates.
By the time a candidate reaches the interview phase of the hiring process, the employer has a pretty good inkling that they have the skills and abilities to perform the job. During the interview process, they are trying to find the candidate who will be the best fit for their position and the team. When asked to describe what makes them stand out from other applicants, many candidates freeze and struggle to highlight their top selling points. Prior to the interview take time to review the job description closely and note ways in which your background is uniquely suited for the position. Think about the products and people with whom you will be working and identify specifically how your skills and background tie into the company’s mission and culture.

Out on the Job: Advice for LGBT+ Job Seekers


As we all suffer through the oppressive heat that is summer in the South (and do a fair bit of coveting of our neighbor’s new top of the line air conditioning system) our attentions might have also been grabbed by social media posts festooned with rainbows and celebrations.  Historically, this time of year, across our country and abroad, is the time of Pride Celebrations for the LGBTQIAA community.  For some on the LGBT+ spectrum, Pride provides an opportunity to gather and celebrate.  For others, attendance at a Pride event or gathering serves as a stark reminder of the difficulty and uncertainty associated with being out while working or searching for a job. 

For many gender identity and sexual orientation minorities, the job search is an especially frightening prospect. Depending upon who you ask and the source you use, presently 29-31 states allow for workplace discrimination based on gender identity and/or sexual orientation (of which Alabama is one).  Simply meaning, a gay or transgender employee in the state of Alabama (and many others) has no legal protection against being fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity.  Regardless of one’s opinion on the matter, it poses a clear burden to individuals on the spectrum conducting their job search.  So LGBT+ job seekers, what do you do?

 The very first thing you want to do is research the state you want to work in or are thinking about working in.  The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) provides several effective resources for finding more information about the patchwork of discrimination protection legislation currently in effect.  The HRC’s StateMaps provide an interactive portal to discover current protections, or lack thereof, in the desired state that you are looking to work in.    You might also review their published Corporate Equality Index.  The Equality Index provides information on various employers and the protections/attitudes/culture that the organization provides for its LGBT+ employees. 

Your next step in conducting your job search is to look for information on individual employers.  You will want to determine if there are protections in place to prohibit discrimination against you, if the state does not provide them globally.  Good places to begin your searching are through corporate human resources websites, specifically looking for their policies on workplace discrimination.  If the state does not provide protections against a particular sort of discrimination it is up to the employer to disclose which groups fall under its protected class non-discrimination policies.  You may also wish to do some external investigation of the company as well.  Websites like Glassdoor will be very helpful in getting employee evaluations of a company.  Bear in mind that one bad experience is not indicative of overall workplace attitudes.  You will want to evaluate for apparent trends, not outlier experiences. 

You should also use job seeking platforms that cater to providing employment opportunities for individuals within the spectrum.  Outand Equal was one of the very first job seeker boards dedicated to help LGBT+ individuals obtain employment within friendly organizations.  Out for Work is a non-profit organization catered to helping LGBT+ students navigate the job search.  Their website contains a dedicated job posting board for positions within accepting organizations.  As well, they have information available about their annual conference (and scholarship opportunities for attendance) which can serve as an excellent way to meet accepting employers and fellow students in a safe and non-hostile environment.   

 Ultimately, the job search is never particularly easy for anyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.  However, students and alumni who fall within these particular categories may have an especially difficult search with hurdles and hoops not present in their straight and cisgender peers.  If you find that you could benefit by talking to a career counselor about this issue or others, please note that our office is Safe Zone certified and there are willing counselors to help you navigate this particular dimension of your job search.  As always, we look forward to working with you in the future.  Please check our website for our most current schedule, upcoming events, and specialized resources.