CoogCareers Career Workbook
The workbook above helps you to develop an understanding of your career goals and how to achieve them. The Q&A format of the workbook allows for individual exploration and the development of a personalized plan, just for you. We encourage you to use the workbook simultaneously with our workshops or during a career counseling appointment.
Career Action Plan
University Career Services (UCS) has developed a Career Action Plan that can help guide your career development and planning while at the University of Houston. We encourage you to read through each section and become familiar with the content.
EXPLORE (0-29 credits)
ENGAGE (30-59 credits)
EMPOWER & EMPLOY (60+ credits)
Choosing a Major
The first step in choosing a career is to identify your skills, interests, personality, and values. Then, you can explore possible occupations based on your assessment. Below are resources to help you begin the exploration process:
Resume, Curriculum Vitae, and Cover Letter
Cover letters serve as a written introduction of yourself while expressing interest in a position within an organization. Cover letters are tailored for each position and highlight specific skills and abilities that relate well to the job description. If you are sending your resume to an employer via email, you can use your cover letter text as the body your message.
A resume is a summary of your relevant professional experiences, education, skills volunteer activities, and honors in a written formal document. Traditionally resumes are one to two pages in length and are used to apply for jobs or internships.
A curriculum vitae or CV is traditionally used in academic settings and tends to be multiple pages. CVs are common in Europe and science fields. A CV may be required when applying for graduate or professional school, research positions, academic positions or grant proposals. Only use a CV when specifically requested.
How to get an Approved Resume in Cougar Pathway
VMock SMART Resume Platform
UCS has partnered with VMock to offer the SMART Resume Platform. This program allows students to upload their resume and have it reviewed for FREE, using data and benchmarks from professionals throughout all industries. Feedback is generated and shared with the student so improvements can be made. Below are the instructions for using VMock:
Resume Target Templates
University Career Services has partnered with Resume Target to provide students with access to over 600+ resume templates tailored by industry. To explore resume templates by industry visit Resume Target Templates to create your profile.
Job and Internship Planning
Looking for ways to search for internships or jobs? Check out these online search portals:
Type of Internships
- Internship: An internship is a supervised pre-professional LEARNING experience, where students apply their skills and knowledge gained from their academic background in a professional setting. This experience is directly related to a student’s major or career interest and offers a preview of what work in their chosen profession will be like.
- Texas Internship Challenge: The Texas Internship Challenge is a partnership between the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), Texas Education Agency (TEA) and The Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), who challenge employers to offer paid internships and make it easy for students to search and apply for them.
- Externship: An externship is a temporary training program in a workplace, usually offered to students as part of a course.
- Cooperative Education (Co-op): A Co-op is a type of internship program that enables college students to receive career training with pay.Click here for more information.
- Shadowing: Shadowing is traditionally an unpaid experience where students observe a professional during a full day or half day. The student is simply observing the tasks of that professional to determine if that is a potential area of interest.
Internship Planning Worksheet
- Group Interviews
- Virtual Interviews (Skype or recorded)
- Phone Interviews
- In-Person Interviews
Interview questions are designed by companies to make sure they are gathering enough information to determine if they want to hire you. Each company will have different questions depending on the position and responsibilities. Below are types of interview questions:
- Behavioral Interviews
- Technical Interviews
- Case Studies
Practice makes perfect! If you have an upcoming interview, we are able to help you prepare.
- Career counselors can conduct mock interviews with you to better prepare you for your upcoming interview. Your career counselor will try to resemble a real interview as closely as possible, so please bring a copy of a job description and your resume to the appointment. Schedule an appointment in Cougar Pathway.
Professional Dress Etiquette
Regarding Gender Identity and Attire
Your research on a particular employer or field, in addition to your comfort level, will assist in your choice to wear clothes associated with your gender identity or to wear gender-neutral clothing.
Dress Code Policy
University of Houston University Career Services (UCS) has developed a dress code policy for all Career Fairs occurring during the Fall and Spring academic year. UCS requires students to dress professionally in order to represent the University of Houston in a positive and professional manner to those individuals visiting our campus.
UCS asks that students refrain from wearing the following to a UCS Career Fair:
- Short sleeved shirts (tank tops or cut-off shirts)
- Exposed backs, arms and midriffs
- Flip Flops
- Casual Sandals
- Shorts (Cargo, jean or khakis)
- Athletic Gear (Sweatpants, workout shorts, yoga pants and hooded sweatshirts)
Professional Dress Resources
Currently enrolled UH-Main and UH-Sugarland campus students have access to the following Professional Dress Assistance resources:
- Career Gear: Career Gear’s Philosophy is that successful employment serves as a catalyst for men to emerge as better fathers and leaders. Since 2004, Career Gear has helped over 7,000 men-in-need build better lives. Career Gear offers services to low-income, job ready men of all ages and ethnic backgrounds.
- Dress for Success: Dress for Success Houston promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. Since 1998, Dress for Success Houston has provided business attire to more than 50,000 women in the Houston community.
- UCS Career Closet: The UCS Career Closet is a service offered by UH University Career Services, where students can rent business professional clothing. Business professional suits come in either pant suits or skirt suits and are available in multiple sizes. Students are able to select an appropriate size based on the available suits, and pay $10 via credit or debit card, to rent the suit for 3 days. The $10 covers the dry cleaning services for each suit. Scholarships for suit rental are available upon request. Learn more about UCS Career Closet.
Career Fair Preparation
What is a Career Fair?
A Career Fair is an event where recruiters and students can met to discuss potential internship or career opportunities. During a Career Fair (traditionally) recruiters will stand at booths and students will walk around the event, stopping at booths to introduce themselves to the recruiter and give their resume. At the University of Houston, there are multiple Career Fairs per semester. Below is a link to all UH Career Fairs. NOTE: Some Career Fairs restrict attendance to specific majors.
University of Houston Career Fairs
Benefits of Attending a Career Fair
- Learn about companies within your field
- Engage with currently employed professionals
- Practice your introduction
- Establish employment contacts
- Develop your communication skills
- Obtain internships or employment opportunities
- Network with employers, peers and future colleagues
How to prepare for a Career Fair
- RSVP for the Career Fair via Cougar Pathway (Only applicable to UCS Career Fairs)
- Review the employers attending on Cougar Pathway and research their mission, vision and open positions. Use our Employer Research Worksheet to note your research.
- Decide which employers you would like to meet with and plan a strategy for speaking with them
- Prepare your resume with the help of a career counselor
- Review our Career Fair Preparation Worksheet
- Practice answering the “tell me about yourself” question or work on your Elevator Pitch
- Pick our your Business Professional attire (Dress Code Policy)
- Arrive early to park, prepare and relax!
Career Fair Etiquette
- Dress Professionally (Dress Code Policy)
- Bring mints to maintain fresh breath (no gum)
- Do not wear strong cologne or perfume
- Do not bring a backpack or large purse
- Shake hands firmly, but not too firm
- Turn off or silence your cell phone
- Be enthusiastic and positive during the fair
- Be courteous of the recruiter’s time
- Thank the recruiter for their time
- Follow up with the recruiter, if possible
Often the words “Salary Negotiation” can strike fear in the hearts of students, however, with practice and preparation you can obtain the salary you truly deserve. UCS can assist you with researching different salaries related to various positions you are applying to. We can also help you market yourself and teach you strategies for negotiating your salary though mock salary negotiations. Use our Budget Worksheet to determine your goal salary and then use our Salary Negotiation Guide to develop your strategy. Additional salary negotiation resources are below:
It is estimated 70-80 percent of jobs are advertised through non-traditional job search channels. Networking refers to the process of discovering and utilizing connections between people to exchange information and ideas about careers, job search strategies, and job opportunities. It is the most effective career exploration and job search tool! Below are some networking resources:
Graduate or Professional School
Are you thinking about applying to graduate or professional school? Below are resources to help guide you:
Are you are current graduate student looking for assistance? Below are resources:
Diversity Resources for UH Communities
Resources for Veterans Community Members
Resources for African Americans Community Members
Resources for LGBT Community Members
Resources for Hispanic/Latino Community Members
Resources for Women Community Members
Resources for International Community Members
Resources for Community Members with Disabilities
Landing a job is a challenge for many professionals. Landing a job without any experience can be an even bigger challenge.
As a job seeker without any experience, it’s discouraging when you’ve applied for dozens (or hundreds) of jobs and received zero responses from employers. Although you might feel like giving up on your job search, it’s important to persevere and continue writing cover letters that will make you stand out to employers.
Here are some tips for writing a cover letter when you have little or no experience:
First Paragraph: Clearly introduce yourself.
The first paragraph is your opportunity to make a strong first impression on the employer. This section should explain who you are, the position you’re interested in, and how you discovered the opportunity.
[Related: Employers, learn how to get strategic to attract the right applicants by being specific about these 11 things.]
The introduction is also a great opportunity to mention and connections you have with the organization. For example, if you know a previous intern or alumni who worked for the organization, be sure to mention his or her name in your introduction.
“My name is Sarah and I’m a recent graduate from Purdue University. I graduated in December with a B.A. in communications and a minor in marketing. An alumni forwarded me a job posting about your Associate Marketer position at ABC Media Group. I’m highly interested in this opportunity because I’d make a great fit for your agency.”
Second Paragraph: Talk about your relevant skills and accomplishments.
This section is the biggest challenge for job seekers with little or no experience. It’s also the section where many job seekers make mistakes because they don’t know how to highlight their relevant skills and classroom experience.
As you explain why you’re qualified for the position, it’s important to connect the dots with the employer. For instance, if you didn’t have a marketing internship but you’ve gained a lot of marketing experience through a part-time job in student services, you could highlight the communications skills and experience you gained through that position.
“I realize you’re looking for a candidate with strong written and oral communications skills, as well as experience with event planning and strategy development. As an office assistant in Purdue’s Office of Student Life, I was responsible for planning and promoting campus movie nights for students. This project required me to promote the event on social media, send email blasts to students, and design flyers to post around campus.”
Third Paragraph: Highlight your best qualities and explain why you’re a good fit.
Most employers want to hire candidates who are creative, team players, and have strong time management skills. Although you consider yourself a great fit for the position, you need to use examples that illustrate why you’re a good fit for the job. The reality is, simply stating that you have excellent time management skills and a knack for leadership won’t land you a job.
When talking about your qualities, it’s important to talk about real-life examples. The key point to remember here is to make sure your examples are succinct and visual.
“During my final semester at Purdue, I led a group of three students to create a marketing campaign for an animal shelter in Indianapolis. I was responsible for leading brainstorming sessions, communicating with our client, and editing the final version of the campaign. Through this project, I learned how to collaborate with others and work effectively in a team in order to accomplish a common goal.”
Fourth Paragraph: Conclude with a call to action.
The final paragraph is the section that will seal the deal for a job interview. You want to leave a lasting impression on the reader, so make sure your conclusion is confident, upbeat, and encourages the hiring manager to get in touch with you.
“With the combination of my marketing experience and leadership skills, I’m confident I’d make a great fit your this position. Thank you for taking the time to review my application and consider me as a candidate. I will follow up next Wednesday to schedule a time to talk with you more about this position. I look forward to hearing from you soon!”
After you’ve proofread the cover letter and are confident it’s error-free, you’re ready to send it to the hiring manager. Make sure you’ve included a header at the top of the document including your contact information and a shortened URL for your LinkedIn account. Once the document is ready, save it as a PDF and attach to an email for the hiring manager. This will ensure the formatting of your cover letter doesn’t change once it’s downloaded by the recipient.
Just because you don’t have experience doesn’t mean you can’t write a stellar cover letter. By following these tips, you’ll write a cover letter that gets you noticed by employers and land your first entry-level job.
What are your best tips for writing a cover letter without experience?
TagsCover LetterCover Letter TipsEntry-level