Category Archives: Young Professionalism

I regret to inform you that…

So they chose another candidate.  I was hopeful about the idea of working on campus and being more involved with UMBC.  It might not be a bad thing that I didn’t get the job.  It means I get a chance to find another job or spend more time studying.  I’m glad that he added this line in the email so I don’t feel like it was a waste of time, “I regret to inform you that we have selected another candidate to fill this graduate student worker position.  Please know that I was impressed by your credentials and hope you will continue to seek opportunities for involvement on campus.”

It was nice to know that I was qualified for the position, but I have a feeling that this position was suited better for someone else.  I don’t feel bitter at the fact that I wasn’t chosen, but I am a little disappointed that I put in a good amount of effort with little reward.  I say little because I did gain a contact at the University–so it’s not a total loss.

So a word of encouragement to fellow job seekers (and to myself):  Keep on striving for more.  The hard work WILL pay off.  All the effort put forth now only builds up your skills and resilience to settling for less.

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Debrief: Today’s Job Interview

Today I had an interview for a Graduate Student Worker position at University of Maryland, Baltimore County at the Universities at Shady Grove.  This position is to aid UMBC’s Shriver Center and extend its services to this satellite campus which include resume and cover letter reviews, tracking student internships and practicums, and conducting mock interviews for interested students.

I have to chuckle to myself about this experience because I interviewed to have a job interviewing people–ironic.  But all in all, I think the interview went well. They say that you should “dress to impress” and to show up about 10-15 minutes early to make a good first impression.  I wore a black polo tucked into grey slacks secured with a black belt and black shoes to complete the ensemble.  I arrived 15 minutes early at the office door of where I was meeting the Assistant Director with coffee and notes in hand.  He told me to wait outside of his office and that we would begin at our set appointment time, 1:30pm.

He first asked me if I had any questions for him before we began the interview.  I had written out a list of questions beforehand, but I wasn’t ready to ask them right off the bat.  I let him know that I had prepared some questions and would ask him after his questions for me.  I felt like since he was conducting the interview I would let him lead the meeting.  He had a list of questions in front of him that he went through and I answered them as best as I could.  Looking back now I don’t remember exactly what I said, however, I did so with tamed energy, non-monotoned inflections, and moderate use of hand motions (talking with my hands).  Walking into this interview I realize that everything you do, verbal or non-verbal, is picked up by the interviewer and will be noted and taken into consideration in his evaluation.

The hardest question I was asked went along the lines of this:  “If I were to select a panel of 5 people you know, friends or family, or someone that knows you, what would they say is toughest challenge for you to overcome?”  To be honest, I hate these kinds of questions because I never know what to say!  This question is like asking what are you biggest weaknesses?  I know my strengths and weaknesses, but when it comes to actually saying it I get a little nervous.  In response, I said that I can ask a lot of questions to the point of annoyance, and something else that I don’t remember.

So if I were to go back to and start this interview all over again I would change just two things.  I would have prepared for that very question about the challenges of myself, and I would have asked him more questions about him and his role at the Professional Studies department.  I feel like I should have asked him questions like “How long have you been with this department?; What did you do to acquire your position as Assistant Director?; and What other roles do you play here at the Universities @ Shady Grove?”  But I didn’t.  I know it’s not too late and I could email him with these questions, except I won’t.  I will leave it how it was and will just reply with a follow-up thank you email for taking the time to meet with me.

In conclusion, I think that I was well prepared for this interview and I am happy about how it went.  I encourage all you out there reading this to learn from my experience today and to strive for the perfect interview to land your next job.  We take these skills everywhere we go–it’s all about how we apply them.  Good luck to you all!

Where is Energy Going?

Lately I have been quite interested in the energy issue that the world is facing at the moment. From recent International-level response toward the nuclear disaster that hit Japan, to the excessive burning of fossil fuels, I am completely dumbfounded at the immensity of this topic. Policy makers and energy consumers alike are debating over what forms of energy are more efficient and reliable. Movements toward renewable energy has increased as we are seeing implementations of wind and solar farms, solar arrays on rooftops, and solar water heaters. Both old and new buildings have been gearing up for energy efficiency as sustainablility becomes more frequent in many organization’s vocabulary when dealing with business. It seems that the issue of energy, and where it comes from, is becoming a more popular topic in the public discourse as population increases, limited natural resources diminish, and as technology becomes cheaper and more accessible. Let us start by aggregating the important bits and pieces that I have collected in the past couple weeks in regards to the energy issue.

Countries around the world are halting plans for nuclear energy generation. Italy had announced that they will be stopping their nuclear program for one year, China also made a similar move, and Germany, with a large population against atomic energy, has prompted the European Union to conduct a comprehensive examination on all nuclear sites for inconsistencies and potential hazards. Recently, some 200,000 protestors emerged in Berlin rallying against the production of atomic energy in their country. Some weeks ago, another protest rallied by train tracks leading toward the final resting place in Northern Germany of nuclear waste coming from France. Europeans cannot seem to forget the disaster that occurred in Chernobyl and the environmental health effects that are still noticable today such as, high cancer rate, birth defects, and the high level of physical abnormalities among those who have had prolonged exposure to nuclear radiation after the accident. Political tensions run high as governments are scurridly working toward appeasing the masses and determining a solution that results in reasonable energy generation and acknowledging the climate change issue.

Weeks ago I attended a rally in Annapolis supporting the creation of “Green Collar” jobs, offshore windfarms in the Mid-Atlantic, and Union Labor Rights. Environmentalists, union laborers, and concerned citizens gathered to express their concern, anger, and even at times, tears, in hopes to communicate to our representatives what we wish to see changed. Personally, I have never rallied for a cause, but being there allowed me to see reform as it happened—a humbling expereince. In a way, these three categories of people are looking to achieve the same goal—sustainability. Environmentalists wish to reduce the amount of carbon emissions and invest in new technologies that are clean and kind to our atmosphere. Union laborers want to keep their jobs and continue to have opportunities to contribute their skills, while maintaining the mission of goods to be manufactured in America. And citizens, households, and professionals wish to see our state, our country, to be a leader in innovation and standards of living. All of these goals intersect, but there needs to be a driving force that unites in order to fulfill our desires of a better working society.

Another aspect of sustainability I have discovered is in building design and construction. According to an article found in GOOD Magazine, some percentage of energy is generated and used in buildings and some lower percentage is wasted. The interesting part is that there is an organization that is determined to increase the level of sustainability in new buildings, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). They offer an accredited certification program enabling individuals to choose a focus on a number of building and construction fields of study. It is called a Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design Certification (LEED). When becoming LEED Certified, you come to understand the current building standards of USGBC, as well as the credit score a building can achieve after inspecting EMEWS. In addition to the actual sustainability of a building, there is also the inspection of a homes’ ability to retain energy done by a Building Analyst. I am on the track of becoming BPI Certified, which certifies me to conduct Blower Door tests, evaluate an existing structure’s efficiency to retain energy from the inside out, and perform energy audits. I like this type of work because it’s hands on, mentally stimulating, and it benefits the whole by focusing and remediating individual problem areas. There are other certifications and rating systems that are accepted like the HERS Rating System, but that will be for another time.

In a world of professionalism, I would say that there is a lot on people’s plates when it comes to getting things done—the right way. Which is way is that? How do we solve the world’s energy problems for generations to come? What are steps that we should take in order for us to secure a reliable source of energy for a population? Who should be at the forefront of making these changes happen and who is going to pay them? These are questions that run in my mind when I think of the future of energy and where it comes from. I’d like to keep this dialogue open to you, the reader, in hopes to spread and inspire conversation and to find a common ground.  What do you think?

Updates: Exercise Regiment Reevaluation and Job Hunt

It has been days since I have updated this blog.  The blend has been a bit bland lately due to a recent illness I had beginning last week.  I wouldn’t say it was the flu, a cold, or a virus, but a case of over-straining my body.  Last week I ran, climbed/lifted, and did yoga in the span of three days.  On the fourth day my body hated me and I began to feel aches and pains throughout my back, neck, and shoulders, which eventually spread to my entire body.  I was in pain and tried to sleep it off, it didn’t work.  I tried Nyquil, Orange Juice, and Mucinex—they helped a little, but the pains returned.  At that point I realized I have been over-doing it and I had to rest for 4+ days.  Now that I have experienced the consequences of exceeding my body’s limit, I can better gauge the extent of my daily and weekly exercise routine.  To prevent this from happening again I will limit the number of activities I do in a week, space them out, and give myself at least one rest day per week.  I realized I was doing too much and I need to slow it down.  I’ve become semi-addicted to fitness, but I can’t let that get out of control.

Job Updates:

I have successfully obtained a job as a Ropes Course Guide at Terrapin Adventures!  I’ve always looked up to these kinds of people when I was a teenager at summer camp and wanted to be like them (working outside, being laid back, knowledgeable and able to create and play group games).  So now I have the opportunity to hold this position and play this role—I like the job so far.  I work part-time and I am learning the ropes quickly as I get thrown into assisting group leaders in activities (zip line, high ropes course, big swing, and the tower).  I enjoy this job because I get to be outside, work with my hands, and use my skills to help others build self-confidence and communication skills.  The ages I worked with ranged between 12 and 50+ which was a nice shift of pace throughout the day.  Saturday was my second day on the job and the busiest day the company has ever seen (10 groups in one day).  Considering that there was another trainee on board that day, I think our team of guides did a good job holding it together.  This month will be interesting as I further explore my abilities to handle this job.

In other job news, I am currently waiting a call back from the Maryland Department of the Environment.  They are seeking to fill a Natural Resources Planner I vacancy and encouraged me to send them an application with 3 professional references, and an optional resume (which, of course, I included in the package).  I sent them the listed materials a week before the deadline on May 2nd, so, within the next few weeks I am expecting a call.  This position is with the Air and Radiation Division and job duties include gathering, analyzing, and interpreting compliance/enforcement data for review and suggest solutions to the team.  Hopefully, I will interview with them sooner than later.

I also have two jobs lined up that have deal with my BPI Certification.  However, the call back that I got from “Energy Performance Company” is doing most of their energy audits in Delaware and I am not so sure if the cost/benefit scale tips in my favor.  And a solar company, Solar Energy World, might be able to use me in their energy auditing department or train me to install PV modules.  We will see how my schedule works with their plans.

It is great to have all these options at my fingertips.  I worked tirelessly to obtain these leads, kept my phone on, responded to emails, and took the first steps in communicating my desires to work and be part of a team.  It takes more than one person to get everything moving, therefore, I think it is imperative to stay alert and watchful for opportunities.  All of these opportunities sprung within a couple weeks of each other.  All that hard work in the beginning paid off and now the challenge is to juggle and maintain.

Successful Resume/Cover Letter Combination Call back

I’m excited to share this with fellow job seekers because as we know, finding a job can be daunting.  It is a job in itself and it takes much energy, however, you cannot let yourself be discouraged by rejection letters.  So here I will share with you an example of a resume and cover letter I wrote that proved worthy of an interview.

Since I’m not sure about copyright laws, the use of trademarked names, or what the owner of the company will think about me using their business as an example, I will leave out specific names, addresses, and other identifiable information from this post.

My career counselor from my local OneStop Career center sent me a follow up email congratulating me on the completion of my BPI training course.  She also shared with me a job opening that is seeking a BPI Certified Building Analyst to fill an Energy Auditor position in their company–for precautionary measures we’ll call them, “Energy Performance Company.”

This is their job flier:

the job listing

I sent them this cover letter:

the cover letter

And I sent them this resume:

the resume

Because I am a grammar fiend, and sometimes overly meticulous, it took about 4 hours for me to write, edit, and send both documents to the contact provided in the flier.  When composing my email, I double checked the contact’s email address, entitled the subject field as “RE: [Energy Performance Company] Building Analyst/Energy Auditor,” and copied and pasted the cover letter to the body.  I adjusted some lines and spacing in the email’s body in order to maintain similar, if not the exact, formatting as my word document.  And most importantly, I attached both my resume and cover letter to the email.

Tip: When sending crafted resumes and cover letters, remember to save your word documents as a *.doc file if you are using a MS Office version that automatically saves in *.docx so it is compatible with previous MS Office editions.  (Go here to learn how.)

It has been recommended to me that I write a tailored resume for each job description.  You can and should have a general resume to hand out at job fairs, to keep in your car, or to carry to networking events, but when sending a professional marketing piece to a potential employer, the resume should be written specifically for the job description.  Notice how, in my resume, I used the same or similar words to what they provided in their listing.  I circled them in red so that you can get an idea of how I integrated what they were looking for with the skills I possessed.

The job listing was sent out April 18th, I sent my response April 19th, and got a call on the afternoon of April 20th.  I have a meeting with the company Tuesday April 26th.  I hope it goes well–wish me luck!

Officially BPI Certified!

Yesterday I received an e-mail from BPI confirming that I earned my Building Analyst and Envelope Shell Professional Certifications.  For anyone interested in seeing what the end process looks like, here it is:

Congratulations!! You have earned Envelope Professional certification from BPI. 

You will be receiving an official packet containing your certificate and ID card via USPS.  In the meantime we have added a temporary certificate as proof of your accomplishment in your portal.

To view and print your temporary certificate, please login to your Candidate Portal using your BPI ID and Password.

You can view your Certification(s) on the Primary Information Screen (the home screen when you log in) and print your temporary certificate by selecting Certifications directly under your personal information and clicking on the name of the certification (PLEASE NOTE: your browser may block the pop-up window – make sure you select Always allow pop-ups from this site from the notification bar).  At this point you will need to select PDF form the section marked Select a Format and then select Export.  From here you can print the document as you normally would.  This option will only be available for 30 days after certification is awarded.

You can view the Recertification requirements under Documents – CEU Information.

The functions of the Candidate Portal:
– Upload you photo
– View/edit your information
– View Testing Information under ‘Transcripts’
– View Certifications
– View Continuing Education Units (CEUs)
– Request Continuing Education Units (CEUs) credits
– View Documents (Policies and Procedures, order more patches, CEU information)

To change your password, login to the portal and click change password from the navigation menu located on the left side of the page.

If you have any questions or encounter any problems logging in, please contact certification@bpi.org

Thank you for participating in the Building Performance Institute Inc’s certification process.

The Certification Department

Read how I was able to receive free training courses and examinations here.

So now the next part of this process is to land a job that can utilize this cert to get a descent job and income.  Another thing to put on the résumé !

How I Got BPI Building Analyst Training and Testing for Free

BPI, Building Performance Institute, is an professional credentialing organization that set standards for residential building energy efficiency and retrofit work.  Learn more about BPI here.  I don’t want to get into what BPI is and explain all that they do, but I do want to let you know how I was able to receive free training and possibly guide you to do the same.

I’m not sure about what similar programs are offered in your state, but in the state of Maryland there is the Maryland Energy Sector Partnership (MESP) which is led by the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board.  The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) received a $5.8 million Green Job Training grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to train workers in the skills required in emerging industries including energy efficiency and renewable energy.

I was unaware of this program until I was handed a brochure that read “Green Job Training at NO COST.”  So I went to the website on the pamphlet, found the closest OneStop Career Center, researched Maryland’s Workforce Exchange web site, sent email’s to the appropriate contact, and submitted the necessary paperwork.  The requirements were that I had to be unemployed, have received at least a high school diploma or an equivalent, and live in the state of Maryland to be eligible.  Within 10 days of submitting all necessary forms, I landed a Career Counselor, and she worked with me to acquire a voucher for training courses with EverBlue Training Institute.  Before I was assigned a counselor, though, I was required to attend seminars about developing, recognizing, and implementing transferrable skills and about resume building and writing.  It was a relatively quick and painless process and I hardly had to do a thing.

It’s amazing what your government can do for you, if you just take a look.