Thanks for the Memories: References and Acknowledgments

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Resumania is BACK…tonight

Time to JUMP IN to Career Fair Week. EMS Undergrads, come to RESUMANIA tonight in 22 Deike from 6 to 7 p.m. Find out what recruiters are looking for and learn best practices for your resume. The graduate writing tutors and I will be on hand to answer your questions and get you all set to get your feet wet at Penn State Fall Career Days.

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Sixth Annual EMS Undergraduate Poster Exhibition Announced

It’s here! Another opportunity to win cold cash. Plus you’ll gain important skills for your future academic and professional careers. You can enter even if you’re not conducting research in a lab. Experiential learning, creative activity, and educational experience relevant to the study of EMS may serve as the subject of your poster.

Want to know more? Check out the guidelines and deadlines on our EMS website.

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Diversity: Why Should I Care?

Employers and graduate schools are seeking individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to diversity during their college years. The global market, demographics, and technology are powerful trends that have made diversity an important workplace issue. Because diversity, equity, and inclusion result in increased productivity and profit, it’s in your SELF-INTEREST to show how you can contribute in the way you work and think in a diverse world.

Should I care?

Diversity isn’t just about racial, ethnic, religious, socioeconomics, mental and physical abilities, sexual orientations and gender identities among others. It’s about embracing individual uniqueness and perspectives different than one’s own. Listening in order to truly understand is a key component to developing your diversity talents. We all belong in this conversation, not only because it’s the socially responsible thing to do, but because an environment that embraces diversity, elicits ideas that are more innovative and better able to respond to the dynamic settings of business and academia.

Researching Companies and Schools for Diversity

Become knowledgeable. Check the websites of the companies and schools you’re interested in and read what policies they have. Most companies and schools have diversity statements. Showing that you’re resourceful and interested in their diversity statements will make you stand out to search committees. Some applications require that you write your own diversity statement too. If you’re seeking a company with strong diversity performance, check out the top 50 companies published by DiversityInc.

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Developing Diversity-Focused Career Assets

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CAUSE 2016 Story Live on PSU NEWS

On the hunt for information about wetlands, retreating glaciers, and climate change


CAUSE 2016 Mendenhall Glacier

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Research Opportunity Please: How to Email a Professor

Isabelle Gordon

Isabelle Gordon

This week Isabelle Gordon, or Izzy, as we know her in the Ryan Family Student Center, asked me on behalf of the Material Advantage club if I would blog about how to email a professor when inquiring about a research opportunity. This is a great question and probably more relevant right now at the beginning of the semester. So here’s the Anatomy of an Effective Email for this occasion.

TO Field: Send it directly to the professor’s Penn State email account.

From: Use your Penn State email account too.

Subject Line: This is one of the most important and neglected lines of email communication. Always use subject lines to announce the key idea. For example, you might write, Seeking Possible Undergraduate Research Opportunity.

Opening: Dear is always acceptable and correct. You could also use Hello. Hey or barking out a professor’s first name is rude. Use titles when appropriate. In this case, you might write, Dear Professor <last name>. Use a colon instead of a comma after the last name. Commas are used for personal letters.

Body: Essentially this is an action-oriented message. You are making a request. AIDA or Attention-Interest-Desire-Action is a good acronym to remember when composing this type of persuasive message.

Attention—use this opportunity to engage your reader. If another person the professor knows suggested you contact this professor, use the referral as your opener. Or you might pose a question that includes your accomplishments.

Example: Are you seeking an energetic, conscientious geoscience major with a 3.8 GPA and an ability to work both as a team and independently to join your lab? If so, please consider me.

Interest and Desire–Explain why this professor’s lab is a good fit for your interests and talents. Develop Desire by showing specifically how the requirements for the position match your experience and expertise.

Example: I am interested in the work you are doing. I have read several of your journal articles, such as <Article Title>. <Show your ability to summarize accurately and concisely a few key points of the work being done.> I have <include your key benefit to the professor—what can you do for him/her because of your course work and experience>.

Action—you have to ask for what you want.

Example: I am very interested in research in this area because I would like to <your future goal and how it fits>. May I meet with you at your convenience to discuss my possible involvement in your research? I have attached my résumé and can be reached at <cell phone>. I look forward to hearing from you.


Best, All best, Best regards, Best wishes, Regards, Sincerely, Cordially, Sincerely yours, Yours, Love, Love and kisses and xxoo.

Okay, okay, these last four really aren’t used in business! I was just checking to see if you are paying attention.


The signature tells people how you would like to be addressed.

If you don’t get a response in a week or so, don’t despair. It’s okay to follow-up gently. The second time around you might write, “I know how busy you are…” It just shows how resourceful and determined you are. If you need writing help, come to drop-in hours Mondays through Thursdays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Your graduate writing tutors are waiting for you here in the RFSC!

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Living With Bears: Wildlife Experts Explain Bear Behavior

Bears-Buck-Wilde.fullPhoto credit: Jeff Wilson

State College Magazine provides locals with relevant, interesting, and readable articles about life in and around Happy Valley. This month includes an article I wrote about bears. My inspiration for this story occurred while visiting our EMS CAUSE class when Buck Wilde stopped by and told the students about his bear encounters. Wilde’s moniker is the bear whisperer. 

Ursa was six inches away from his face. He could feel her hot breath as she frothed and huffed. He remained calm as she put her head between his legs and the camera’s tripod.

“That’s OK, girl. Let me alone,” Buck Wilde soothed the female brown bear.
On assignment in Alaska, his pepper spray was ready, but she was too close. He had learned from an earlier career in covert counterespionage operations to read body language and facial cues. Ursa’s face read distress.

A conversation with a bear is not something most people do calmly, but Wilde is known as a bear whisperer. Sir David Attenborough, the BBC broadcaster and naturalist, gave him this moniker. For most of the past 27 years, Wilde has lived in Alaska’s wilderness. As an expert wildlife behaviorist, he joined a team of filmmakers in 2013 on the Great Bear Stakeout (co-produced by the BBC and the Discovery Channel).

Photo by Buck WildePhoto by Buck Wilde

Wilde, who is in his 60s, has long gray hair, quiet charisma and Paul Newman-blue eyes. He grew up in Central Pennsylvania and received his engineering degree from Penn State. He comes back to Happy Valley to recharge. He describes his work as “being alive at a level you can’t explain.”

“A bear whisperer is someone who can communicate with a bear through body language—someone who has empathy and understanding and doesn’t see the bear mechanistically or believe it to be inferior,” he says.

“I think we have a common set of emotional intelligence that goes across all mammals. I see myself as part of this spectrum.”

As Wilde uttered reassurances to the sow, he called upon all of his bear whispering skills.

Half of all the nuisance bear conflicts involve garbage or bird feeders. Our nuisance complaints are preventable. We don’t have a shortage of habitat.” —Mark Ternent

“I had been filming the mother and her three cubs for a week or so. I was all by myself, which is more dangerous, but she knew me. That’s when Ivan, a large predatory male showed up,” he explains.
Ivan attacked the mother as Wilde continued to film for Grizzly Empire (scheduled to air in the U.S. on the National Geographic Channel). The footage shows Ivan grabbing and twisting Ursa by her neck. The cubs flee and run past Wilde.

The mother was buying her cubs time to escape, according to Wilde. Male brown bears have been known to kill cubs for reasons that are not clear. The footage captures the mother breaking away from Ivan and coming right at Wilde to find her cubs.

Mark Ternent with cub. Photo by PGC/Hal KorberMark Ternent with cub. Photo by PGC/Hal Korber

“Let me alone,” he said again.

This is not a typical Central Pennsylvania scenario. Black bears, who live locally, respond differently from brown bears when threatened.

“Black bears evolved in deciduous forests with trees to climb and places to run. They flee when they can,” says Mark Ternent, a Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife biologist. “Brown bears evolved in open habitats, so they fight in response to a threat.”

If you live in Central Pennsylvania, you are likely to see black bears. Recently, an orphaned cub was rescued from a store parking lot, and a mother and her three cubs showed up in a Lemont backyard. The black bear population in Pennsylvania has quadrupled since the 1970s, with about 20,000 calling Pennsylvania home. Yet there have been no human fatalities from bears in Pennsylvania. “You’re more likely to get hit by lightning,” says Ternent.

Ternent educates the public on how to minimize human and bear conflicts. Last year there were approximately 5,500 nuisance bear complaints, defined as when a wildlife conservation officer has to take some action, such as a visit or phone consultation.

“Half of all the nuisance bear conflicts involve garbage or bird feeders. Our nuisance complaints are preventable. We don’t have a shortage of habitat,” reports Ternent.

This is an important point: We have enough space to coexist peacefully. A few easy changes in our behaviors can eliminate most conflicts. For example, Ternent suggests taking your bird feeders in for the summer beginning on March 1.

Treat it like you would a stray dog that came into your yard. Yell out to it. Clap your hands. Wave your arms. But give it respect.”
—Mark Ternent

Most bird experts agree it is not necessary to feed birds during the warmer months, and some suggest that it’s beneficial not to feed them all year. Young birds need to develop skills to find food.
Also, because black bears eat almost anything, including human food, keep your garbage in a place that will not invite bears into your living space.

Photo by PGC/Hal KorberPhoto by PGC/Hal Korber

If you do encounter a bear, Ternent says, “Treat it like you would a stray dog that came into your yard. Yell out to it. Clap your hands. Wave your arms. But give it respect. Don’t approach it. If it is curious and takes steps toward you, slowly back up keeping your eye on it. Don’t run. You don’t want to appear to be prey.”

Wilde suggests making sure your voice doesn’t sound high pitched like prey. Use a deep, serious tone.
In the unlikely event that a black bear charges, knocks you down, and attacks you, Ternent and Wilde advise you to fight back. Black bears usually run away, so you’re dealing with an abnormal predatory situation.  Going limp and playing dead might work with a brown bear, but it is not the right strategy with a black bear. Black bears run from threats; brown bears eliminate them.

“Let me alone,” Wilde said once again to Ursa. He was no longer filming. His camera pointed up toward the heavens, he’s focused on living. You can hear only his voice.

“Go get your cubs. They’re not here,” the bear whisperer said.

Finally, the mother bear turned and left. •SCM

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Penn State Reads Essay Contest

Essay SlidePenn State Reads invites first-year students to participate in an essay contest.

Winners will receive a $100 Penn State Bookstore gift card and have the opportunity to meet Eggers during his campus visit in October!

Responses submitted as attachment to: by September 9.

If you need help, make a tutoring appointment today.

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Tips in a Nutshell from Recruiters


Did you notice all the well-dressed students walking on campus? Chances are some of them were headed over to the Bryce Jordan Center for the fall Career Fair to speak with recruiters.  I caught up with a few recruiters to ask them what tips they had for you. Here’s what they told me.

Speak knowledgeably about my company. Recruiters want to know that you did your research. Read widely about the industry and the specific company before approaching a recruiter. It’s a total turn-off if you don’t even know what the company does.

One quick and easy way to research companies is to use Hoover’s ™; it’s available to you through our library and you are paying for it with your tuition. Why not use it? It has profiles of over 40,000 companies and includes key contact information too. You can read the company overview, history, financials, strategies, products and operations. Plus it lists key competitors to give you an idea of who else you might like to consider as an employer.

I linked to it on my blog (It’s in the PSU Business Library, but it can be hard to find.) After clicking “Useful Links” on my blog, scroll down and click “PSU Library Career Resources for All Majors.” There’s a lot of good stuff here. Hoover’s is ¾ of the way down the page.

GPAs are important, but slightly less so in technical sales. Generally recruiters reported having some minimum GPA in mind to use as a cut-off. Most like to see a 3.0 or above, but several recruiters mentioned that personality plays more of a role in jobs that have a strong social component. Take away: if your GPA is below 3.0 and you have a great personality, consider technical sales as a way to enter your field.

Give specific examples when answering questions, but be succinct. For example, one recruiter told me he asked the following: Tell me about a time that you were on a team that wasn’t working. What did you do about it? The prospective employee blathered on for over two minutes and never answered the question. Several made the point that your résumé is only an outline of the stories you want to tell. But practice your stories. Come prepared with effective examples of what you’ve achieved both in and out of the classroom.

Go to the Career Fair every year—even as a freshman! Recruiters agreed it’s more difficult to get a summer internship related to your major between your freshman and sophomore years, but it’s not impossible. Plus they keep records of your visit, and you’ll have established your interest in the company early. Every opportunity to try your 30 second elevator speech on a new audience moves you closer to cracking that nut of getting a job.

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