Look What Your $5 Does for NAU

Earth Week is coming up! We interviewed a member of the NAU Green Fund Committee in honor of this awesome week filled with events like our Careers with Impact Panel and Networking event, activist Bill McKibben speaking on campus (which is sold out already so ask a friend for an extra ticket!) and the 2nd Annual Eco Fashion Show.

What is the Green Fund Committee, you ask? Well, it’s comprised of a group of students and faculty that vote to decide what projects the student funded (your $5 fee) Green Fund will support to reduce NAU’s negative impact on the environment. They are dedicated to promoting student participation in NAU’s campus sustainability.

Let’s hear what David Miller, a first year member of the Green Fund Committee, has to say about what he does at the Green Fund and his impact:

Name: David Miller

Position: Chair Elect

Major: Computer Science

Year: Junior



David was excited that his family only used recyclable wrapping material for Christmas!

1. What do you like to do when you’re not working on the Green Fund?

When I’m not performing duties in the Green Fund Committee, I like to make electronic music, build simple remote control robots, and read. Right now my favorite book is Stephen Wolfram’s A New Kind of Science.

2. Can you tell us about your favorite Green Fund project?

I try not to pick favorites when it comes to student projects, but I co-authored the computer program that runs the Bike-Powered Charging Station project. I guess it’s natural to say that one is my favorite. The concept is pretty simple. There’s an old Yellow Bike whose back wheel drives a generator. It provides enough power to charge a cell phone and a very small computer that tracks your power output. Unless it’s been moved since the last time I used it, it should be on the second floor of the Engineering building overlooking the grass area in front of the College.

3. What opportunities have you had because of your position on the Green Fund committee?

Through my work in the Green Fund, I was presented an amazing opportunity to go the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (ASHEE) Conference in 2013. I learned more of the ins and outs of operating within a greening committee and what other universities are doing to improve sustainable behavior. I also got to practice talking to professionals and making new professional connections. Of course, I also have to mention the conference took place in Nashville, TN, so there was great food and music just about everywhere.

4. Can you recall a specific time you felt your work with the Green Fund had an impact you could take pride in?

It brings me a great sense of pride and joy when I see student projects succeed. I live on campus at the Historic North Quad, so I get to see the beautiful results of the Sustainable Landscapes Maintenance project every day. The grass outside my front door is cared for without the use of toxic herbicides, and as a result, is thicker, healthier, and greener

Side note from Carissa: FYS 111 “Healthy Landscape, Healthy You” focuses on healthy sustainable landscapes in relation to what David just mentioned. If you are an incoming freshman or have between 30-45 completed units, talk to your advisor or the class instructor to get permission to enroll in this class! Just another example of the amazing work the Green Fund does.

5. What can workers in other NAU departments do to make a positive impact?

In everyday settings, departments can engineer their procedures and processes from the ground up to be smarter. For example, it’s not enough to throw used paper in the recycling bin instead of the trash can. Use both sides and do everything you can paperless. It takes a commitment from every individual to make a more sustainable system.

6. What are the ways NAU students can get involved with the Green Fund?

Students who wish to get involved with the Green Fund can propose new projects by applying on our website (http://nau.edu/Green-NAU/NAU-Green-Fund/). Students can also read our blog (http://www2.nau.edu/green-p/) and email us questions (green@nau.edu).

7. What do you think you will most benefit from in the future based on your time with the Green Fund committee?

Aside from professional development, working with others, and being responsible, which are benefits from almost any job, I think I have benefited most from feeling more connected to NAU, thinking critically and creatively about solutions to a problem, and being a moving part in an ever-growing machine of sustainable actions.


David has definitely shown us the direct impact he makes through his work and the career-related skills he’s developed through his experience at the Green Fund. If you want to hear more from people using their time to make a positive impact through their work, make sure to attend Careers with Impact, Panel and Networking Event next Thursday, April 24th!

Does this interview with David make you more excited to learn about Careers with Impact during Earth Week? It should; the amazing work David Miller and the Green Fund committee do inspires us at career services!


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Start Your Career Journey

Start your career journey-page-0

Are you lost on your career journey? Don’t worry – Career Services is here to help! Begin by creating an account on Jobs for Jacks, connect with us on social media, and check out some awesome NAU clubs to join on True Blue Connects.  Then create a draft resume, get it edited during Career Services drop-in times, take a wide variety of classes, and be smart about social media.

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Smart Social Media

Smart Social Media

“Smart Social Media” isn’t erasing any online trace that you exist! Instead we encourage you to create a LinkedIn account, make a professional Twitter, and post about your awesome work volunteering, in classes, or any other experience that demonstrates your involvement and skill development!

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Celebrating our 50th Post!

In Fall of 2012, the Gateway Career Services Team had this great idea to start a WordPress blog offering career advice to all types of NAU students. In November 2012, we published our first post and from then on we’ve posted everything to mastering behavioral interview questions, how to create a profile on LinkedIn, to becoming a twitter guru and even how to avoid speeding tickets and chapped lips!

We’re super excited that we have had over 12,000 views in less than a year and a half, with readers in 85 countries and 47 followers. I don’t know about you…but this is definite cause for celebration for us!


So here’s to an awesome readership and more fun and meaningful articles on career development – we hope you keep on reading for more career advice and adorable penguin gifs.

Also, if you aren’t already a Smart Axe Blog subscriber, scroll down to the bottom right and enter your email to receive updates when we release our newest career advice.

Top 10 Things To Do In Flagstaff, Arizona

Sometimes being a busy student means you don’t leave your dorm room or apartment unless it’s for classes, the gym, or the library. I totally get it – when the weekend comes, you just want to lie in bed and catch up on your favorite shows. However, an important part to staying healthy and balanced is to get outside! Whether it’s with a group of friends or taking your family out, make sure you make the most out of this beautiful place we live in every now and then. Check out my list of the top 10 things to do in Flagstaff, Arizona:

10. Take a walk downtown.

Whether or not it’s super “touristy” you have to walk downtown at least once! Besides, there are local places like Suite 104 with super creative knick-knacks, amazing coffee and live music at Firecreek Coffee Company, and delicious Greek cuisine at a “hole-in-the-wall” place called Greek Islands, which is also family owned.  downtown-flagstaff-night

Speaking of downtown…you can’t miss out on First Friday. On the first Friday of every month, art galleries and business open their doors for special exhibits, live music, and performances. This is an awesome way to see what our community is involved in! Also, if you stay during summer, bring a younger sibling or the family to see family movies at Heritage Square for Movies on the Square.

9.  Watch a local recital, orchestra, or performance with NAU Arts and Letters, Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra, and the Sedona Film Festival.

Support your fellow NAU Arts and Letters majors by attending a recital, performance, film, or speaker! Also consider attending a performance by Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra featuring talented community members! If you’re in the mood for a movie, Sedona Film Festival works with the NAU CAL Program throughout the year to screen some of their films at Harkins in Flagstaff. This is a great opportunity to see some less known, acclaimed films that usually wouldn’t make it on screen at Harkins.

8. Get the Macy’s Special at Macy’s European Coffeehouse. It’s kind of a rite of passage.

Or try any of their other tasty coffees. The Macy’s Special (half espresso, half steamed hot chocolate) is just a personal favorite of mine. Macy’s is an easy walk north of NAU campus, right off of Beaver Street. Besides amazing coffee, they also have delicious vegan and vegetarian food! If you want to get a taste of everything, consider getting coffee at Macy’s, then breakfast at La Bellavia next door.

macys (2)

7.  Take a hike or bike! But, seriously.

NAU was named among the best college towns in the nation, so definitely take advantage. Hike Buffalo Park in the middle of town if you prefer an easy two mile, groomed loop, the Fatman’s Loop on Mount Elden, or if you’re more experienced, try Mount Humphrey! There are tons of other trails you can check out online and Flagstaff and Sedona have some of the best mountain biking in the US if that’s more your speed.

6.  Try our fabulous restaurants.

If you’re a foodie, definitely try some our top rated restaurants. After you’ve gone hiking or camping, you could try a big brunch at Himalayan Grill, a pesto burger from Diablo Burger, or maybe some enchiladas from Salsa Brava.

5. See a natural wonder of the world – The Grand Canyon while the sun is rising.

Get up or stay up and leave while the stars are still out to get to The Grand Canyon to watch the sunrise. It’s totally worth it and there’s Late for The Train Coffee to greet you once it’s up.

grand canyon

4. View visible planets, stars, and more at the Lowell Observatory.

Lowell Observatory offers some amazing shows through their Discovery Channel Telescope. Learn about celestial news or even go on a “tour” of the night sky. I might also suggest watching the newly premiered Cosmos television show hosted by Neil Degrasse Tyson before you go. Not big into museums? Download the “Sky Guide” app and give yourself a private tour of the sky out on Lake Mary Road or some other dark, open spot….but bring a friend for fun and safety!


3. Ride the Snowbowl chairlift during the summer.

See some beautiful Flagstaff summer scenery by taking the chairlift – this is also a great spot for photography or even just relaxing. In the fall hike Kachina Trail and enjoy the gorgeous Aspens as they turn bright yellow.


2. Drive down to Jerome during Halloween and stop by Sedona on the way!

Jerome is one of the oldest towns in Arizona and has a lot of history. If you’re brave, take a haunted tour during Halloween and see a lot of their historic sites. Sedona is also a must-see at least once, so stop by on the way to view the beautiful red-rock formations. Not fall? As it gets warmer stop at Slide Rock State Park.

1. Challenge yourself on the ropes at Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course.

If you’re looking for a little bit of adrenaline, definitely check out Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course. There are different levels so don’t worry if you’re not a ropes course master!

Bonus: Choose your favorite Thai restaurant!

Meet the NAU Career Jacks-guest post by Alicia

Have you ever wondered who the super-informed student behind “The Smart-Axe Guide to Careers” is or how they got there?  This post is for you!

Gateway Career Services currently has three Career Jack student workers: Carissa, Erika, and Katie.  These busy juniors keep our Walk-in Career Advising sessions running, work hard to keep your questions answered via career.services@nau.edu, and activate student accounts and jobs in Jobs for Jacks.  The list goes on and on, but here’s what the Career Jacks themselves have to say about the work they do:

Carissa: “I walk in and say hi to everyone, log onto the computer, catch up with the people I work with to see what needs to happen that day, and then work on loading information from my emails into our social media accounts.  I also make a lot of to do lists!”


Erika: “I activate jobs, email students, meet with students, and at times even talk to employers.”


Katie: “I check emails, look at the Career Services events calendar, check to see if there are any new projects or clarifications on on-going projects.  I work on a lot of projects, but when I do walk-in advising I help students who have questions about cover letters, resumes, Jobs for Jacks issues, and things like that.”


The Career Jacks work hard but have the opportunity to learn first-hand about career development as they gain new skills through their work.  Erika reflects, “I have learned, obviously, how to prepare a resume.  I’ve learned how to network and make connections with different departments on campus and different student groups.  I’ve learned good skills for interviewing and time management.”  Meanwhile, Katie feels, “it’s helped me see what employers look for in students and how I can gain the skills necessary to get the career I want in the future.”

How to Join Our Team:

Are you wondering how you could join this awesome team and start working on those skills? You’re in luck- we’re hiring!  If you will be a sophomore or junior in the fall and are available to work 10-20 hours a week, we’d love to see your resume, cover letter, and application by March 26th.  Our current Career Jacks say the following characteristics will help you succeed in the position:

  • Friendly
  • Professional
  • Comfortable taking on challenges
  • Self-initiative
  • Integrity and responsibility
  • Passion for helping students
  • Hard worker
  • Dependable
  • Sense of humor

Not sure if this is the right fit for you?  Here’s the voice of “The Smart-Axe Guide to Careers,” Carissa, with a parting reflection on her work as a Career Jack:

“It’s good to see where I need to be with my career.  I feel like I wouldn’t know where to be without this job and it’s helpful to know all the services we offer.  My own resume is better now, and it helps to mentor other students and see where they want to be, and what steps they need to take to get there that I often need to take too. Working with advisors is awesome because I have all these resources at my fingertips!”

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Asking for a Reference or Letter of Recommendation

Imagine getting a call from an unknown number. You pick up, and the caller asks you to provide a reference for a camp counselor you supervised last summer (let’s call her Kim). The call is completely unexpected, and you can’t even remember the last time you talked to Kim. Kim was a great employee – very amicable and a hard worker. Your memory is fuzzy so you share a few disjointed comments and some generic compliments. You would love to give Kim a stellar reference but your mind is blank because you have no idea what she has been up to in the past year. Your testament to Kim’s hard work ends up being subpar because of the surprise of this call.

The point of this story is to never make the same mistake as Kim. Putting a previous employer in a situation like this is not only frustrating for them, but turns a potentially great reference into a lack-luster one.  Now let’s talk about two similar things that are actually very different: letters of recommendation and references.

Whether you have applied for a job, graduate school, or a scholarship, letters of recommendation and references are important steps in your career journey. Before I go any further, let me clarify the difference between a letter of recommendation and a reference.

Letter of Recommendations

  • Typically used for graduate schools, internships, scholarships, exclusive study abroad programs
  • Personal letter from someone who has seen your work ethic and abilities/skills
  • Written and addressed to a specific graduate program, internship, scholarship, or other targeted opportunity


  • Typically used for jobs
  • From someone you have worked for or with who can speak to your on-the-job abilities
  • Shared with others via a Reference List which is separate from your resume and lists 3-5 references

How to Ask For a Letter of Recommendation

Asking for a letter of recommendation entails certain etiquette, especially since it is a courtesy and not an obligation. Typically, you would ask an employer, coworker, or professor. Never ask a family member.  To learn more about asking a professor or faculty member for a recommendation, check out the NAU English Graduate program’s website.

Whether you ask via a call, visit, or email, be sure to provide an “out” when asking for your recommendation. For example, you could start off by saying “Would you feel comfortable providing a strong letter of recommendation for me?” This will ensure that they won’t provide a weak recommendation because they’re unsure of your goals, efforts, or simply don’t feel confident recommending you but aren’t sure how to politely tell you no.  Also, ask early and be wary of deadlines so your reference doesn’t end up rushed. Be clear on how the letter of recommendation is to be sent, to whom, and by when. If you’re required to send it by mail, provide them with an envelope prepared with the address and proper postage.

Next, explain why you are applying for this specific job, internship, scholarship, or study abroad program, whatever it may be. If you wrote a personal statement, this would be a great place to attach it! If not, clarify how the skills or duties you had while working with this person applies to the job (etc.) you are applying for.

Finally, thank them! They took the time to help you so it’s important to show your appreciation. Follow up to make sure they don’t have any questions, and even consider getting them a small gift, especially if you might be asking them for more letters in the future.

How to Ask For a Reference

Like letters of recommendation, you must ask someone if they will be your reference and never assume they will give you a positive reference. Again, don’t use Mom as a reference. You want to ask someone who has worked closely with you and can attest to your skills and work ethic.

Call or email your former employer, coworker, or professor and ask them if they would be comfortable providing a strong reference.  Ideally you’ll have asked them if they’d be your reference prior to leaving, and will simply be double-checking to ensure they are still available and willing to be your reference.  Make sure you explain where you are in your career and why you are applying to certain jobs. It is important that they know, for example, that you are applying to accounting firms because you have just graduated with your Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy.

If you’re unsure of whether or not it’s appropriate to ask someone for a reference, put yourself in your reference’s position and see if you can answer these questions about yourself:

1. What were the job responsibilities the candidate had while working at your company?

2. Do you think the candidate is qualified to assume similar responsibilities in the future? Why or why not?

3. How did the candidate perform with regard to________?

4. Is this person a team player or does he or she excel by working alone?

5. What was the candidate’s attendance record? Was the candidate on-time and dependable?

6. What areas of development were communicated to the candidate and how did he or she respond?

7. What are the candidate’s three strongest qualities?

8. What was the candidate’s reason for leaving the position?

9. Would you rehire this candidate?

Does LinkedIn relate to any of this? Yes, it does! LinkedIn allows others to write recommendations for you and endorse certain skills. Consider asking your coworkers and employer to write you a recommendation on your profile. This is a quick way for a potential employer to view a recommendation even if they did not require one (and how do they find your LinkedIn profile? From your resume header, of course). If you haven’t made an account yet – refer to my “How To” here.

References and letters of recommendation are a major part of the working world. While some may see them as cumbersome, view them as a tool to give you a step up in your application for some fabulous opportunity!

career louie

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How to Become A Twitter Guru

We have all seen the dangers that can arise from uncensored use of social media, particularly when Justine Sacco, former PR executive at IAC carelessly tweeted this before hopping on a plane to South Africa:


After a huge amount of outrage and backlash, Sacco was fired. Don’t worry, I’m not here to scare you- I want to teach you how to be a “superhero” and use social media for good- after all, 37% of companies use social media to research candidates and 94% of recruiters use social media to recruit potential candidates. Your goal shouldn’t be to erase any online presence or Google results you may have, but to create a positive and powerful online presence through the use of one of the most popular and public social media outlets: Twitter.

What is Twitter? Twitter is a social media site and app that allows you to create a “tweet” in 140 characters or less. Your tweets go out to your followers and anybody that views your profile- which is why you want to make your tweets meaningful and to “think before you tweet.” Using Twitter professionally allows you to follow an industry including companies you are interested in and their related news.  While you can certainly use Twitter to get a job with their company, I’m here to help you utilize this site to your professional advantage.

 How to get started

1. Create an account

Download the app or go to the website, twitter.com. Create an account and start filling out your profile. It will ask you to choose a username. I would suggest doing something that people could recognize you by, like choosing @your_name or something similar.

 2. Fill out your profile

It is important that you create an effective biography because this is someone’s first impression of you! A great twitter biography would state what you do, your goals, and, perhaps, a hobby. Here’s an example:

NAU English Major hoping to become a freelance writer. Loves photography, 90s music, and hiking.”

Don’t forget to also fill out your website and location. This is an excellent place to put your LinkedIn URL! If you haven’t made your LinkedIn profile yet, refer to my how-to blog post here. Last but not least, upload a profile picture and a cover photo. Keep your cleavage-baring and beer chugging pictures for your private album. A nice headshot would be perfect!  Your profile should kind of be like a “business card.” Here is an example of what your twitter “business card” can look like:

 twitter header

 3. Follow away!

Find companies, industries, and people to follow. Follow based on your interests and their tweets! After you follow users, Twitter will suggest users for you to follow. You can also create lists to organize who you follow. If you would like to only see the timeline of profiles, for example, in medical healthcare, you can organize them all into a list.


 4. Start tweeting.

Follow my golden rule: if you wouldn’t want your grandma to see it, don’t tweet it. Keep it professional. Good ideas for tweets could include links to intriguing news articles, the latest news on your class projects, volunteer experiences, personal successes, and even your favorite band! You don’t have to keep it completely professional – feel free to let your twitter followers get to know YOU. Tweet about your hobbies or an awesome new biking trail you found. To learn how to network and engage other users, read this Mashable article.

 5. Research and follow relevant hashtags.

Hashtags are words with the hashtag symbol (#) before them, like this: #naucareer. For example, if you want to look up Jobs of the Day that have been posted by career twitter users (including our own @naucareer), you can search #JobOfTheDay and view all the tweets that have been tweeted using #JobOfTheDay.

Hashtags are a great way to get connected and join conversations of trending topics. If you would like to join in on a topic, use the hashtag so it will appear in search results. Here are a few suggestions to start you off: #jobtips #joblisting #jobhuntchat #recruiting #jobsearch #career #hiring #hireme #jobangels #jobopening and, of course, #naucareer!

While professional use of twitter is unlikely to replace your resume, it is helpful to be more “discoverable” through your online presence.  Instead of avoiding an online presence, aim for positive search results. You want recruiters to find you, so get started intentionally creating a professional digital identity!

How to Dress Professionally

What exactly is business professional attire? Is it dumping a bottle of axe in your wash or wearing your favorite electric blue eye shadow? With the NAU Career and Premedical Professions Fair coming up on January 29th, it’s important that you look your best when talking to potential future employers or recruiters. Don’t be “that student” at the career fair who doesn’t have it together! Use this poster from NAU Career Services to assemble your best professional outfit.

Let’s be honest: business professional clothing is typically expensive. A good alternative is to borrow from a friend or family member, which can save you money and still help you look sharp! If you need to buy business professional clothes shop at affordable Flagstaff stores like Ross, Marshall’s, Goodwill, Runway Fashion Exchange, and Sears. Then you will always have a business professional outfit and will be set for your next fair.

As always, if you are unsure of what to wear and need help, ask us! Come to our drop-in hours Tuesdays/Thursdays 2-4pm and Wednesdays 10am-1pm during Spring 2014 or email career.services@nau.edu, and good luck!

How to Dress Professionally

A Career Fair vs A Job Fair

We often hear Lumberjacks refer to career and job fairs interchangeably when in reality, there is a big difference between the two! Knowing the differences between these fairs is essential as you try to appropriately prepare for each kind of event.

Typically, at a job fair you can expect to leave with some strong job leads, or perhaps even an offer!  The companies at a job fair typically have open positions that they are planning to fill from the attendees that they interact with. The purpose of a job fair is to find a job (sounds obvious, I know, but these are the facts!). For a student, a job fair will be filled with employers on and off campus that are hiring part time positions and internships.

Students filing out applications at the Fall 2013 Part Time Job Fair

Students filing out applications at the Fall 2013 Part Time Job Fair

A career fair, which may include Premedical Professions, Pre-Law, and other graduate opportunities, is not as exclusively centered on finding a job or filling a particular position. Going into a career fair with the expectation that you will leave with a job offer will likely set you up for disappointment. However, career fairs provide many great opportunities including a chance to practice your networking skills when meeting new employers or checking out graduate school possibilities.  Coming to the fair prepared with a strong elevator speech- a 15-30 second overview of your qualifications and interests- enables you to make meaningful connections with hiring professionals.  Stay engaged with your meaningful contacts by connecting with them via LinkedIn or sending a thank you card or email.

If you are a freshman, someone who is undecided about their post-college plans, or someone who knows exactly what they want to do, career fairs can be a great time to explore post-college opportunities.  If you are uncertain about your plans, you have the possibility to leave the career fair with a better idea of your next adventure, or questions you may need to try to answer as you begin the lifelong process of deciding your next steps! This is a learning process. If you feel as if you were not prepared, take the necessary steps to be on top of your game by the time you attend the next career fair.

With the Spring 2014 Career and Premedical Professions Fair fast approaching, it’s a great time to start preparing.  Develop your resume so that you can have it ready to hand to companies and graduate schools that you talk to on January 29th in the HLC. Gateway Career Services is more than happy to help you polish it up, in order to make an excellent first impression. Don’t forget that first impressions are extremely important, especially at the career fair.


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