Thursday, January 27, 2011

Making a Difference: Alumni Award recipient Judge Chris Melonakis helps families

Each year, the Office of Alumni Relations recognizes outstanding Metro State graduates and students who have made a difference in their communities, exhibited Metro State pride, have a strong work ethic or are distinguished in their communities. This year’s awardees will be honored at the Alumni Recognition/Athletics Hall of Fame Luncheon on Feb. 19, as part of the Homecoming festivities.

Metro State is not the only one to recognize District Judge Chris Melonakis of the Seventeenth Judicial District for his contributions to the community. In 2007, court reporter Julie Richer, nominated Melonakis for the annual Outstanding Judicial Officer in the Colorado Judicial Branch award.

“Judge Melonakis excels in public service,” Richer said, noting that he helped form the Integrated Family Drug Court to combat drug addiction among mothers of young children. The program provides counseling, job training, day care and transportation to help mothers overcome addiction and reunite with their children. The nomination led the Colorado Judicial Branch to recognize Melonakis for exemplary work contributing to the high quality of service provided throughout the state’s 22 judicial districts.

According to Richer, Melonakis also spearheaded an initiative in the Seventeenth Judicial District to prevent and treat fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Each year 40,000 children are born with the effects of alcohol consumption by their mothers at a cost of $4 billion, Richer explained. The program, led by Melonakis, seeks to prevent juvenile delinquency and promote rehabilitative services and public safety.

Melonakis also started a Family Court Pilot Program to study the results when multiple cases involving one family are handled by the same court. According to Richer: “An evaluation of 27 Family Court cases and 28 cases that were not part of the pilot program indicates that the program better responds to families’ needs and reduces by half the length of time children spend in placement outside their homes.”

Congratulations Judge Melonakis!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Terrance Carroll to join Metro State Board of Trustees

Terrance Carroll to join Metro State Board of Trustees
Check in with our Facebook fan page later this week to view Terrance Carroll's engaging and hilarious speech at the Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast, hosted by Metro State.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Alumnus David Tran reflects on life after Metro State

Essay by alumnus David Tran ('09, criminal justice and criminology)
From the Office of Career Services newsletter

I graduated in May of 2009 with a Bachelors of Science degree in criminal justice and criminology. During my last semester, I started my career search with appointments at Career Services regarding things like writing my resume. It was during this time that the economy was really turning for the worse, so I was worried about finding work after graduation even though I had job experience and a 3.7 GPA. Graduation came and went, as did the summer and fall semester.

By Christmas of 2009, I had sent out over 40 resumes and filled out more than 60 applications with various agencies and companies simply looking for an entry-level job. Following up with each agency and company was the hardest part. Employers told me that they were getting so many applications and resumes that they didn't know where to start and that I would get a call if I was chosen for an interview.

Finally, as the end of January came around I started getting call-backs from jobs I had applied to three months before. I interviewed with five agencies and companies over the course of 10 days. Out of the five agencies and companies that interviewed me, three offered me a position. I decided to accept the offer that was related to my field of study. The company that I currently work for had over 400 applicants, 20 resumes were chosen, a panel interviewed 10 applicants, three were interviewed for "fit," and I was offered the job ... conditionally. The entire time line from resume submission to securing the job was 65 days. The prep work and applying to the jobs took approximately 11 months.

I'll admit now that my planning was insufficient for finding a career by graduation because the steps I took in my last semester were steps I should have taken earlier. If there was any advice I could offer my fellow grads and soon-to-be grads it's this:

1. Start now and work on it every day
2. Prepare to be rejected
3. Don't give up!
4. Be yourself
5. Be patient

Creating Google Juice: How it can help you

By Lizzy Scully

When you do a Google search for your name, what comes up? The thesis presentation you did when you graduated from college? An article you wrote a decade ago? What happens if an employer is trying to find out more about you? With the growing popularity of social media sites, this is not uncommon. In fact, it is becoming increasingly normal. Do you want that employer to see something you did that is completely outdated? Probably not. Thus, you really need to consider creating some good “Google Juice” for yourself.

According to Kip Wotkyns, assistant professor of journalism at Metro State, “People check you out if they are at all serious about hiring you. You want to control your brand online. The way to do that is to have lots of Google Juice. All of a sudden, when they look you up, you’re this famous person.”

How can you do this? Easy. Create an online identity, such as a blog, and write regular articles about your area of expertise. You can point your potential employer to this blog, but, more importantly, the more you post and the more you wisely use “tags” to let Google know what you are posting about, the more likely your name will appear in search engine results.

In addition to blogging, join various social media sites, groups, and fan pages. LinkedIn is the number one site for job seekers, but Facebook is another good option. Use your social media sites to network as much as possible. Be sure to be active—comment on other peoples’ posts, answer LinkedIn’s Q&As with thoughtful and thought-provoking comments, and put links from your blog posts to all your social media sites to let people know what you wrote about. Just be careful to not overdo selling yourself. The idea with social media is to offer people something valuable without making them feel like you are trying to advertise your wares. Give without expecting anything in return.

Next, make sure you post regularly to all your social media platforms. The more credible and authentic articles, suggestions, and links to other sites that you post, the more helpful you will be perceived by your “friends” and other group members. As well, the more your name and your articles will rise to the surface in Google searches.

As well, make sure you use some simple analytics software, such as Google Analytics or Statcounter to gauge how many people come to your site, what they like to read, and where they come from. Keep track of this over the long term, and you will really be able to see how people react to what you write. The more favorably people perceive your content, the more likely they will link to that content. Thus, the more likely your content (and you) will rise in a Google Search when a potential employer is searching for you.

“All of these things,” says Wotkyns, “create Google Juice. When you do a search on your name, what should happen is the front page of the Google search results should be full of all the stuff that you did.”

The Hidden Job Market: What is it, and how can it help you?

The Hidden Job Market
© 2010 by Robert J.F. Sampron, B.A., B.Sc.

Two questions normally arise when discussing the hidden job market. What is the hidden job market? And how do we uncover it?

Very simply, the hidden job market includes all unadvertised job openings. Employers advertise only about 20% of job openings. We may find these jobs advertised in the usual places: newspapers, company, government, or organization career web sites, and job search web sites, like

So, why don’t employers advertise all of their job openings? It is probably because ads are very costly to place. For example, the Denver Post charges $349 for a 30-day, online ad. That listing goes on the web at both and Yahoo! HotJobs. Yes, that is expensive; however, the cost is small compared to placing a print ad. A two-square-inch “Help Wanted” ad in the Sunday Denver Post costs $1,000. That is for just ONE Sunday. The good news is, for the cost of that print ad, the Post throws in free online listings. That’s expensive!

What does that mean for us? That means 80% of all job openings are out there, hidden from view, ready for the clever job seeker to discover. And, who are those clever job seekers? We are.

So, where do we find the other 80% of job openings? We find them through word-of-mouth and research, through people sharing what they know with other people. Let’s say you saw a good movie last week. You tell your friends about it. Then, they either see it alone or invite others to join them. They, in turn, tell other friends. These days, you may also tell the whole world about your movie experience through social media accounts, like Twitter and Facebook. Positive word-of-mouth for a movie can raise ticket sales; negative word-of mouth-can sink sales. Word-of-mouth is a powerful communication tool.
We can learn about job openings using word-of-mouth through the following resources: friends, family, acquaintances, fraternities and sororities, honors associations, college professors, former business associates and fellow employees, former employers (so, don’t burn bridges when leaving an employer), live and web-based social networks, professional/trade associations, volunteer work, and/or annual conventions and monthly meetings.

We each know many people. Those people know other people. The people they know also know other people, and so on, and so on. With social media, we now know people in the “real” and online worlds. Through word-of-mouth, we can use these real and online networks to learn about job opportunities. It is like a giant game of “telephone,” with one exception: we are transmitting important job information through these social networks. We begin to uncover the hidden job market simply by asking people if they know about openings. It is that simple.

See next Friday's job blog entry for more information by Robert Sampton on how to break into the Hidden Job Market.

The Hidden Job Market, Part II

The Hidden Job Market
© 2010 by Robert J.F. Sampron, B.A., B.Sc.

Part two…

Last week we began to explore how to uncover the hidden job market through networking. Simple put...

To maximize the effects of word-of-mouth, you need to make contact with as many people as you can. This means expanding your social circles, joining professional associations, attending conventions and events, joining, and closing your social media sites.

To expand your social circles, you must become a joiner. By joining organizations, including trade, fraternal, and volunteer organizations, you make new friends, perform needed public outreach, and gain new insights into job opportunities. This means you must shed our introverted ways, as a snake sheds skin, and learn how to make small talk. (Check out the book, The Fine Art of Small Talk, by Debra Fine.)

By becoming members of professional associations in the area, you join formal groups of fellow professionals. They may have jobs, right now, in your profession. They may know about hidden job openings in their companies.

Search for these professional associations on search engine like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc. Ask favorite professors about them. Then, get out there and join. Attend the monthly meetings. You will not only make new friends and acquaintances, you will also keep up on new issues surrounding your profession.

Look in local newspapers, like the Sentinel and Community Courier, for group event announcements. There are great volunteer and professional groups everywhere, including Rotary International, Odd fellows, and Toastmasters International. Go to a meeting. See if the group matches your personality. Join and participate. That should quickly increase your social circle.

It is also a good idea to attend events and conventions. Conventions occur weekly throughout the Denver metro area. They make use of our main convention center and area hotel ballrooms. So do other events. See if you can get in, walk around, and talk to the exhibitors and business people. These people want their business problems solved. You may be the solution to their problems.

Another way to attend an event or convention is to work for a staffing agency. Many staffing agencies throughout the area supply workers to conventions and events. While there, in addition to working and making a few dollars in the process, you can talk to attendees and pass around a job-search business card, which is like a miniature resume.

Joining is also a must. A relatively new social media web site, LinkedIn may help you build your social networks. In addition to posting a profile, containing a resume, you can link to all the people and organizations in the Word-of-Mouth list. By using the Events application, found under “More” in the LinkedIn menu, you can also learn about upcoming events of interest in the area. However, treat LinkedIn like a very formal business introduction. Though you can connect your LinkedIn profile to other social media, this is not Twitter, Facebook, or a blog. This is a marketing tool. Use it as such.

Another suggestion is close all social media sites. Then, start over using avatar names. Yes, you heard me. Close them and start over. Why? I know it is fun to chat with friends and post all sorts of stuff on Facebook. But, guess what? Potential employers are now checking our social media activity. They do so to get a sense of our “real” personalities. They want to see if we match the personality of their organization.

This is probably not fair because there is no way a social media presence can show the full complexity of our lives. Fair or not, though, this is a new trend in hiring. That is why I suggest you delete your accounts and start over.

Use an avatar name instead. Do not use your real name anywhere on the site. Then, when a prospective employer searches for your name, that employer will not find you… except, that is, for your LinkedIn accounts. That is exactly what we want them to see!

But don’t forget, if you join these groups, be prepared to learn to become genuinely interested in people. When you are interested in others, they become interested in you. And you could become influential in other peoples' lives. Your employed acquaintances naturally will help you look for job opportunities hidden deep within their organizations. Why? Because, they like you. It is that simple.

Click here to read part I of this series. See next week’s job blog for the third article in this series.

Metro State Staff Profile: Judy White

This article was originally published April 2, 2010

With 50 Years of Experience in Career Counseling, Judy White knows how to help alumni find jobs

When Judy White received an email from a colleague about a part-time position opening up at Metro State’s Office of Career Services in, she jumped at the chance for the job. Not long into the interview, Career Services knew they wanted White on board.

“I could do absolutely everything they needed to have done with no training,” she says. White has 50 years of experience and schooling as a professional career counselor with expertise in career assessments, counseling, job search skill building and management. She’s managed career centers, demonstrated success in helping students from getting to point A (choosing a major) to point B (getting a job post graduation), and, she says, “I am recognized for my team work, sense of humor, and high energy.” Though she was only supposed to stay one semester, she has been here nearly four years and will likely stay on until she decides to stop working.

“This is the best work environment I have had in my 50 year career,” White says. “Metro in my experience really is student focused more than any other higher ed institution I’ve worked at. They mean it, and they do it.” However, White and the other folks at Career Services don’t just serve current students; they also work closely with alumni.

Alums, she says, have unique needs. “They have decided their major, they have a degree, and they have tried to be out in the marketplace,” she explains. “Some are young, some are much older, some are making mid-life career change.” Because of their ages and life experience, they are often more comfortable working with White, who is of the “mature generation” (over 65). “Older students often say, ‘I’m so glad you’re here. I don’t trust the younger ones. They haven’t been around long enough.’”

White, in turn, appreciates working with alumni. “They’re older, they have lived a little longer, and they have a more realistic view of the world of work,” she says. “When I talk about info gathering and how you can apply it, they get it. The younger grad has to go out and live and work for a while to get that body of life information. That makes working an alumni more productive more quickly.”

Plus, she says, alumni know how to network. “They have contacts and are willing to use them.” Still, she has discovered other areas where she can really help alumni. She initiated two successful job search support groups the 2009/2010 school year, and she is spearheading another one for fall 2010. These groups offer alumni a review and four skill building sessions. Often, she adds, “they have no idea how to build the skills they need to implement a successful job search.”

Additionally, she has designed and implemented advanced resume writing classes that are specific to alumni. And, she works individually with alums. “I’m suggesting to more and more alumni that they take the two career assessments. Often, they are trying to make post-graduation career decisions without the information they need to do that. You need a body of information in two areas to make a good career choice,” she adds. “You need to know what your transferrable skills are—what are your strengths and limitations. And you need to know what kind of jobs people with similar personalities have found great satisfaction doing.”

She utilizes the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and Strong Interest Inventory to evaluate these things.

“There are lots of opportunities to gather that information about yourself,” White explains. “I suggest all graduates take these assessments so that they can build this important body of information.”

Another important thing to consider, adds White, is what the marketplace has to offer. Alumni should know the five top growth industries in the Colorado Economy and what the characteristics of the economy are. “This kind of information is critical to implementing a job search,” she explains. “Colorado is 99% small business. That means companies with 100 or fewer employees. Of that, the largest percentage is entrepreneurial companies.” This, she adds, means companies often need seasonal work and they are flexible.

With this knowledge, as well as knowledge about personality types and transferrable skills, says White, alumni can be better equipped for their job search. However, she adds, no matter how much assistance she and the Office of Career Services offers, “The bottom line is nobody can do it for you.” So, come on into the Office Mondays or Wednesday and get a head start. Click here for more info

Check out next week's Metro State College of Denver Job Blog for Judy White's suggestions on how to approach potential employers.

Social Media: Planning for Success

This article was originally published on August 4th, 2010

By Lizzy Scully
Social Engagement Manager
Office of Alumni Relations

If you run a business or other organization, you can no longer afford to ignore social media when creating your marketing plans. Thousands of your potential customers (your future “fans”!) flock to social media sites. In fact, more than five million people actively use Facebook now, with 50% signing on daily(1). Plus, more than six million people utilize Twitter. Social media sites have proven to be one of the most significant ways you can engage your customers or constituents. When the Office of Alumni Relations first embarked on its social media journey, we spent extensive time researching what other colleges and universities were doing and we formulated an extensive plan accordingly. Here are seven tips & tricks we learned along the way:

Planning: Do significant planning prior to launching any social media plan or starting your social media sites. As with any marketing/public relations plan, define your goals. What do you want to accomplish? Who are your fans (i.e. who do you want to engage)? Do some research on which sites might best fit your needs. I have discovered that Metro State alumni use LinkedIn to communicate about career-related topics and to network with each other, while they check out Facebook to link to event coverage or fun articles about other alumni or faculty/staff members. They also regularly read our Job Blog, which has job listings and helpful career advancement tips.

Voice: Establish the “voice” of your social media sites. Typically, social media sites offer a more personal, in-depth perspective of your business/organization, while your website has static, tidy information. (For more on types of voices you can use, click here). The Office of Alumni Relations maintains professionalism in that we treat people who visit our sites respectfully and as we would if they came into the office. However, we have balanced that with informality. For example, our responses to people who pose questions, suggestions, or musings are informal and friendly. As well, we post fun, interactive articles and videos on our blog that aren’t necessarily perfectly well made.

Coordinator(s): After you figure out your “voice”, choose one or more coordinators who will regularly post on the social media sites you utilize. This person should not hide behind an alias, but should be open about his/her relationship with your business. I am the main person posting on the Office of Alumni Relations social media sites and interacting with visitors. I strive to establish trustful relationships with our visitors, and have developed numerous in-person relationships with people. Even if I never meet someone in person, my goal is for that person to feel welcomed to all of our social media sites. On the other hand, you don’t have to mix business with pleasure. It is not necessary for you to invite all the fans on your Facebook Fanpage to be “friends” on your personal page.

Listening: Cultivate relationships with your constituents. In order to be effective with social media, you have to regularly engage your fans, which means posting daily or weekly, answering questions posed by fans, and addressing issues they bring up. I check all the social media sites five days per week. If a negative comment surfaces, for example, I can address it immediately. (Read more on tips for addressing negative comments here).

Flexibility: The beauty of social media is its flexibility. If something isn’t working, you can change it instantly. Build all your social media sites and then see which ones are most popular, and then modify your activities accordingly. We discovered that our MySpace page and the LinkedIn page we created were both mostly worthless. However, I found and began to participate on an unofficial LinkedIn page that was far more active. I befriended the alumnus who created it, and now we manage it together. We have regular interactions, and new people joining every day!

Analyze the data: Dozens of analytics tools exist that can help you track traffic to and from your websites. The Office of Alumni Relations currently uses Google Analytics and StatCounter on our website and blogs, and to shorten and track our URLs. None of these programs are perfect, so utilize many and analyze all the results. By doing so, you will figure out what links are being clicked on most and what people avoid, thereby refining how you distribute your content.

Integration: Finally, to be full successful, your social media strategy must be integrated with and supportive of your overall marketing plan. One of our most successful endeavors this year was our Official College Ring Launch and Facebook Ring Contest. The contest drew in plenty of contestants because it was a fun and engaging way of finding out why people loved Metro State. We asked people to tell or show us why they loved Metro State. This resulted in people posting poems, stories, and great photos about their experiences at Metro State on our Facebook fan page, which in turn drew more people to our fan page. However, it was only part of a greater strategic plan that included advertisements in the College newspaper, flyers, mailings, emails sent out to students, and plenty of social media notifications.

These are just a few of the things you should consider when launching a social media plan. For more information of if you want to ask me any questions based on this article, come to the LAS Lunch & Learn on Tuesday, August 10th. For more information or to register for the event, click here.

Alumnus Chris McKoy reflects on proactive post-grad job searching

For traditional college students like myself, the thought of entering the “real world” can be quite overwhelming.

Experts claim that the current generation of college students will have seven careers in their lifetime. Not seven jobs. Seven entirely separate careers. The idea of acquiring a new skill set to attract employers is intimidating to most. I began to grapple with these challenges last summer.

It was at that point I realized the story on my resume said nothing about marketing. If I was going to get hired, I needed to assess where I fit into the marketing world and demonstrate it with action. I took off, creating a spreadsheet of people I knew and asking them who they knew in marketing. I attended networking groups, job search groups, and researched careers in my field. I was on the hunt for experience and advice, a search that culminated in an internship at the Denver Pavilions and 70+ professional contacts in my field that I continue to tap for advice.

When it comes to a career search, Metro State’s tagline couldn’t be more true: “Success begins with you.” I’ve never been that proactive. My tendency has been to stay in my comfort zone and not try anything new, but in the last year I managed to obtain a marketing assistant position in a highly reputable business association and get more involved on campus. I started the Student Marketing Association for Metro State, with a great deal of help from Professor Kristin Watson and several incredibly committed students. This expanded my leadership roles in and out of the classroom. It is amazing to me that I’m coming out of college with a year of valuable experience and demonstrated leadership just by focusing in on my career development.

A famous hockey player ascribed his success in the rink to one main factor. He said, “I don’t go where the hockey puck is. I go where it is going to be.” Over the past year, I’ve come to realize that is exactly how to get positioned in a career. The resources on this campus can help a student set a trajectory for where they see the job market and their industry going and prepare for a desirable, exciting career.

- Written by Chris McKoy
Metro State Alumnus ‘10

Know any students or alumni that want to write about their career experiences? Please have them contact Sarah Senter at 303-556-3664.

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