The Career Services Advisor
"Half the battle of salary negotiation is believing in yourself."
Thanks to a Gamma Phi Beta alumna, Holly fell into an internship in college with the Center for Career Planning. “I found that it was intriguing to play matchmaker between a student and their dream career,” she said of the experience. “It was fascinating to talk about their goals and find a connection with a company that would bring them to fruition.”
Now, Holly is continuing to help students find their dream job as her own career. She meets with students to prepare their resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and help them feel confident in interviews and salary negotiations.
Salary negation tends to be a topic that Holly feels is overlooked. She had the opportunity to speak about it at the Future Business Leaders of America State Leadership Conference. For her talk, she stressed the importance of knowing your own worth. Holly says, “Half the battle of salary negotiation is believing in yourself and being able to convey that to the other person.”
She also shared that you should always ask for more in a negotiation. The worst thing is they so no, but there is more to ask for than just an increase in pay. Holly encourages outside-of-thebox thinking: negotiate your paid time off, future raises and office space. Be creative!
One of her important tips she practices in her own career is to always ask. It’s easy to get in your own head and tell yourself no before even asking for a raise, but ultimately, there is no worstcase scenario. Just ask!
Why do you love what you do?
I love that I can get a glimpse into a different career each and every day. While each day that I come into work I am a career services advisor by title, I get to picture hundreds of different career paths throughout the year.
How did you discover your passion for your job?
I was fortunate enough to fall into an internship while at Christopher Newport University with the Center for Career Planning because of a Gamma Phi Beta alumna. I found that it was intriguing to play matchmaker between a student and their dream career. It was fascinating to talk about their goals and find a connection with a company to make them come to fruition.
How do you define success?
Success is defined differently for everyone and for me success has held many different definitions throughout my life stages. Right now, success is seeing that each and every day I am moving forward professionally without losing my connections socially. Success is a balancing act. My accomplishments that make me successful would mean absolutely nothing if I didn’t have my family, sisters and friends there to celebrate alongside of me.
What motivates you?
A to-do list. It’s as simple as that.
What are your daily duties as a career service advisor?
My primary duty as a career services advisor is to employ students and graduates in their field with a salary that helps them pay off their student debt. On a daily basis, I am meeting with the students to prepare their resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and preparing them for interviews and salary negotiations. Aside from the students, I work alongside local employers to build and foster relationships for the University. No two days look the same, between on-campus events, career fairs and new students every five weeks, the daily outlook for a career services advisor is fluid.
What is your favorite part of your job?
The best part of the job is getting a phone call or an email from an alum about how things are going for them post grad. It’s great to hear how everything has worked out perfectly and they are enjoying their new job and excelling in their field.
What is the best advice you have for soon-to-be college graduates looking to start their careers?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and figure out what it is that you enjoy throughout your day. It’s a simple concept, but it’s hard to really determine what aspects of specific jobs you like and dislike. For me I’ve learned it is easier to target what it is that I don’t like and go from there. But again, do not be afraid of asking questions, I can’t stress that enough!
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in an Army family.
Where do you live now?
Who is your role model?
What are four things you can't live without?
iPhone, dry shampoo, Passionfruit La Croix and my Fitbit.
Tell me about speaking on salary negotiation at the Future Business Leaders of America State Leadership Conference. What was that experience like?
Speaking to the Future Business Leaders of America was an amazing experience, it was great to share with them the importance of salary negotiation. First and foremost, it was great to be able to speak about a topic that I feel is looked over while it is so important, but it was even more impressive that the students and faculty alike had so many intelligent questions.
What advice did you give to the audience?
First off, I stressed the importance of knowing your own worth. Half the battle of salary negotiation is believing in yourself and being able to convey that to the other person. Secondly, I shared never to leave money on the table. And what I mean by that is, don’t be afraid to ask! Always ask for more in a negotiation, the worst case is that they say no and you’re in no different situation. But there is so much more to ask about than just an increase in pay. Think outside of the box – paid time off, future raises, office space. Be creative!
Is there a particular student that was an exceptional “success” story that you were able to help find a job?
There was one particular student that was not necessarily one of the strongest students and didn’t seem to have any drive while in school. However, once graduation hit she sure got herself in gear! We met more than any other graduate. She came in during her lunch breaks and after work every day for at least two months. We finally landed her a job, and she took the time to negotiate her salary, even though she was desperate to get in her field and she ended up making much more than we anticipated. Now she still works in the same role and is in charge of bringing in interns and new hires - so now she hires my students. It was the perfect success story for both of us!
Do you have a specific example where you put the advice you give to students into practice in your own career?
I do remind myself often to always ask! It sounds simple, but just like the students do, it’s very easy to get into your own head. It’s so simple to tell yourself no, before even asking for that raise or asking for more. There is no worst-case scenario, so I constantly have to tell myself just ask - what is the worst that can happen?
Is there anything else you think would like to share with our readers?
The importance of networking - every single one of my jobs since I have graduated has come from a Gamma Phi Beta sister - keep your sisters in your network. I’m also a coach for Girls on the Run and I think it’s so important to continue to build strong girls past my active collegiate years as a Gamma Phi. Lastly, what I would love to share is the importance of paying yourself first. I’m not talking financially but paying yourself in time first. While working a full-time job, being a coach, helping advise a collegiate chapter and all my other volunteer roles and clubs, time is limited and you will drive yourself into the ground if you don’t pay yourself first. Take the time each week to block off time just for you to do whatever it is that you want to do, not something you’re obligated to but something that brings you peace and happiness. Life gets hectic and our calendars fill up, but don’t forget to fill your calendar for yourself as well.
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