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Michigan Usablity Professionals' Association (UPA) Meeting

The next Michigan Usability Professionals' Association meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 6th in Okemos, Michigan. Joanna Markel and Serena Rosenhan from ProQuest will talk about how they used contextual inquiry to inform their product development process. This is a preview of what they will present at the UPA conference later in this month.

Full details at the MI UPA website: www.miupa.org. Please RSVP to events@miupa.org.

Posted by kkowatch on May 28, 2008 at 07:58 AM | Comments (0)

Tips for Online Resumes

Below, find some information that was provided by a SI Alumnus on submitting an online resume -- and some from MSN Careers...

We "have received a number of resumes from SI folks in last couple of weeks. Problem is.. most of them are in PDF or Word format. Not very optimized for searching. If possible, it would be a good idea to keep a text version of the resume which will not lose formatting when copying and pasting in a text box on career sites. I remember somebody recommending this practice when I was at SI."

The MSN Careers article reiterates this information, but breaks it down in five easy steps to make your resume best for online search and applications.

Five Steps to an E-friendly Résumé by Eric Presley, CTO for CareerBuilder.com

Today's Internet-driven world has changed the way we look and apply for jobs. Gone are the days of handwritten cover letters, typewritten résumés and hand-delivered job applications. Given the increasing number of online job boards that require Web-based applications, many employers don't want a hard copy of your résumé. Instead, they'll ask you to submit an electronic résumé, either online or via e-mail.

Electronic résumés are plain text or HTML documents, which can also be included in the body of an e-mail for job applications online. It may not be as attractive as your word-formatted résumé in all its bulleted, bold-text, fancy-font glory, but it gets the job done.

Why you need one
When an employer asks you to submit your application materials via e-mail or online, your résumé will be entered into an automated applicant-tracking system. These systems don't care what your résumé looks like physically, which is why it's imperative you reformat yours so the database can read it. The system will scan your résumé (along with hundreds of others), keeping those with keywords similar to the company's job descriptions and discarding the rest.

Make sure you keep a hard (and visually appealing) copy of your résumé on hand – not all employers are up-to-date on the latest technologies and may still require a paper copy. Plus, you'll need one to give to employers at all of your interviews.

Here are five easy steps to format your existing résumé into an e-friendly work of art.

1. Remove all formatting from your original résumé.
Unfortunately, the same formatting that makes your résumé nice to look at makes it almost impossible for a computer to understand.

To remove the formatting, open your word-processed résumé and choose the "Save As" option under the "File" tab on your toolbar. Save the document type as Plain Text or Text Only. In the following dialog box, choose the option to insert line breaks.

2. Use Notepad, WordPad or SimpleText to reformat.
Close your original résumé document and reopen the text version using editing software like Notepad, WordPad or SimpleText. Your text version should be free of most graphic elements, like fancy fonts, lines and bullets. Text should be flush with the left side of the document.

3. Stick to a simple font and style.
Use clear, sans-serif fonts, like Courier, Arial or Helvetica. This way, the computer won't mistake your fancy lettering for a jumbled word.

Use a 12-point font; anything smaller won't scan well. Also, stay away from italics or underlining. Rather than using boldface type, try using capital letters to separate sections like education and experience.

Instead of using bullets, use such standard keyboard characters as an asterisk or a dash. Instead of using the "Tab" key, use the space key to indent. Make sure all headings – like your name, address, phone and e-mail – appear on separate lines, with a blank line before and after.

4. Apply keywords.
Applicant-tracking systems scan résumés for keywords that match the company's job descriptions. Fill your résumé accordingly with such words (as they pertain to your experience), but remember that using the same word five times won't increase your chances of getting called in for an interview.

Place the most important words first, since the scanner may be limited in the number of words it reads. Use nouns instead of verbs. For example: "communications specialist," "sales representative" or "computer proficiency" is better than "managed," "developed" or "generated."

Additionally, avoid abbreviations as best you can. Spell out phrases like "bachelor of science" or "master of business administration."

5. Test it out.
After you've reformatted your résumé into a text document, make sure it really is e-friendly. Practice sending your new résumé via e-mail to yourself, as well as friends who use a different Internet service provider. For example, if you use AOL, send it a friend who uses MSN Hotmail.

Send your e-résumé pasted in the body of an e-mail, rather as an attachment. Have your friend alert you to any errors that show when they open it, like illegibility and organization. After getting feedback, make any necessary adjustments.

Posted by kkowatch on May 27, 2008 at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)

PEP at SI ... FAQs, Updates, etc

If you have accepted a summer internship and hope to get PEP credit for it, YOU MUST follow these steps by May 30th:

1)Your mentor must submit a proposal directly to the PEP office to Joanna Kroll at jckroll@umich.edu by May 30th. A sample proposal can be found here http://www.si.umich.edu/outreach/SampleProposal.doc . Joanna will be out of the office next week at a conference from May 27-30. In her absence, ALL PROPOSALS SHOULD BE SENT TO Kelly Kowatch at kkowatch@umich.edu

2)The PEP office will review the proposal, and contact you within 1-2 business days on the approval status

3)The Approval Status email from the PEP office will indicate your next steps and registration options (including ePortfolio access and instructions).

If you have already started your internship without PEP approval, we will not be able to retroactively count hours you have already worked. We can only count your hours once the internship has been approved by the PEP office.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

If you have questions about the PEP Process, there are resources available on the SI website under Fieldwork:

PEP Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) http://www.si.umich.edu/outreach/internships.htm
PEP Information for Mentors http://www.si.umich.edu/outreach/mentors.htm

Still looking for an internship? Check out where SI students have interned in the past and contact them to find out who they worked for: http://www.si.umich.edu/outreach/internship_portfolios.htm

Click on the Extended Entry to see change in the PEP program for incoming Fall 2008 students.

SI Curriculum Committee Updates PEP credit allocation policy for SI classes

The SI Curriculum Committee (consisting of several faculty and two MSI students) reviewed the allocation of PEP credits to SI classes and had made some changes in the way PEP credits are allocated resulting in some changes in how many PEP credits will be received for particular classes. The complete policy statement and rationale will be made available soon on the SI intranet for student access. The purpose of the review and the change was to create greater clarity, consistency, and fairness in the allocation of PEP credits for courses. Remember that PEP credits are a way to indicate which of your 48 academic credits also meet requirements for Practical Engagement. They do not add academic credits, they earmark which academic credits have a strong experiential focus.

Note that the guidelines related to PEP internships via SI 690 and SI 681 remains unchanged.

Some important points to note about the new policy:

Only new students entering in Fall 2008 will be held in full to the new policy.

Students who started before Fall, 2008 will not be impacted by any reductions in PEP credits for classes, but will receive additional PEP credits for classes where the PEP credits have been increased for classes they take in Fall 2008 or thereafter.

Students who started before Fall, 2008 will continue to be required to have a minimum of 6 PEP credits as part of their 48 credit degree program, with a maximum of 15 PEP credits allowed.

PEP credits will not be changed retroactively. Thus, PEP credits will not be altered for courses taken before Fall, 2008.

Here is a summary of the change and transition plan:

1) Effective for Fall 2008 entering students, The PEP requirement has been changed to 8 minimum / 15 maximum PEP credits as part of the 48 credit MSI degree.

2) The Curriculum Committee reviewed and adjusted how PEP credits are assigned, and are now basing decisions on PEP credits on how grading is allocated rather than the estimated number of hours students work on a project. The committee also clarified the nature of experiential activities that can count as PEP, and have determined that there must be a real-world engagement and real-world accountability for PEP credits to be assigned, though acknowledging that simulation exercises and projects are also very valuable and sometimes more appropriate for a particular class or learning objective.

3) As a result of the review of courses with PEP credits, some courses have gained PEP credits and some will lose them.

a. For courses gaining PEP credits, the change will take effect beginning Fall 2008 for all students

b. For courses losing PEP credits, the change will take effect in Fall 2008 for students entering in Fall 2008, but would not take effect at all for students who started before Fall 2008.

c. There will be no retroactive change to the number of PEP credits granted for courses taken earlier than Fall 2008.

As with any change, there is a transition period and we’ve been careful to ensure that continuing students are not adversely impacted by the change. Thus we have sought to allow continuing students to benefit from increases in PEP credits for courses taken in the coming year but not to be impacted by any reductions, and we are not increasing the minimum number of PEP credits required for continuing students.

Here is a chart indicating courses that have PEP credits assigned, and how those have changed, if at all:

New PEP Point Allocations for SI Courses, as of Fall, 2008

Name - Old allocation - New allocation

SI 501 Contextual Inquiry & Project Management—(Previously…Use of Information)- 1 - 3

SI 572 (Previously 654)Database Application Design - 1 - 2

SI 596 Practical Engagement Workshop: Digital Librarianship (Internet Public Library) 3 - 1

SI 599/699 Practical Engagement Workshop: Information Technologies in Small Nonprofit Organizations - 3 - 3

SI 622 Evaluation of Systems and Services - 1 - 0

SI 623 Outcome-Based Evaluations of Programs & Services - 1 - 1

SI 631 CMS Projects - 3 - 3

SI 649 Information Visualization - 0 - 2

SI 682 Interface and Interaction Design - 1 - 2

SI 689 Computer Supported Cooperative Work - 1 - 0

SI 692 Practical Engagement Workshop in Archives & Records - 3 - 3

Posted by kkowatch on May 22, 2008 at 01:40 PM | Comments (0)

Michigan Career Opportunities

Be sure to check out these great career resources for Michigan opportunities!

Hot Shots: Career Connections Event in Ann Arbor
Are you a spring graduate looking to join one of the hottest growing companies in Michigan? Would you like to attend a fun career networking event in Ann Arbor on May 21? If the answer is yes, then be sure to check out Hot Shots: Career Connections at Vinology which is featuring some of the hottest growing companies in Michigan, including MyBuys and BoomDash. Both companies are looking for Spring graduates to join their sales teams.

For details, to view the full list of participating companies and job titles, and to register for the event, check out: http://www.annarborspark.org/events/event-calendar/?i=2565

Job Search Assistance
Are you trying to find a list of growing companies that hire college graduates for entry level positions? Would you like to find a list of helpful links that can make your job search easier? Are you interested in learning about career events? If the answer to these questions is “YES!? Please check out this link:

This portal was created just for you – college students that would like to stay in Michigan for internships and upon graduation. We have almost 200 companies and a number of helpful links, and we are adding new companies each week to help connect talent to the great opportunities right here in Michigan. Please feel free to contact Amy Cell at Amy@AnnArborSPARK.org with any questions, comments, suggestions and other feedback.

Posted by kkowatch on May 16, 2008 at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)

More Resources, etc

Things are sloooowww here at SI in the summer. Well, not too slow; there just aren't that many students around, but we're still pretty busy prepping for fall. I've had the chance to look at some of our resources and think of ways to make them more usable, accessible, and more tailored. If you have ideas, do let me know!

One resource that I came across that's posted on our website is Internship Programs.com Now, I'm typically not a big fan of national job posting sites such as Monster, but this one's not too bad. I was sort of suprised at the number of internships posted on there. Some of them are a stretch at being PEP-eligible internships, but you can always coax an employer in an interview to make the position a higher-level one to ensure that we'll approve it. But if you're still looking, I suggest checking this resource out. We've also got a slew of other online job tools at http://www.si.umich.edu/careers/online-resources.htm if you are interested. This is a short one, but I'm off to enjoy the sun! Sometimes the bright, sunny, yellow walls of my office just aren't the greatest source of Vitamin D! Have a great weekend. kk

Posted by kkowatch on May 09, 2008 at 04:37 PM | Comments (0)

Not Quite Ready to be a Tech Entrepreneur? Don't Worry -- Its Not too Late!

An article from the Chronicle of Higher Education highlights the real ages of successful, tech entrepreneurs. And, surprisingly, it doesn't match our student population's average age at all... but then, that's not too surprising considering how many SI students currently are running their own successful businesses. But there’s time!

New Study Debunks Myth That Most Tech Entrepreneurs Are College Kids Source

A new study from researchers at Duke University and Harvard University challenges the popular assumption that most technology entrepreneurs are twee college kids launching businesses from their dorm rooms. The research, sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, studied U.S. engineering and technology companies founded between 1995 and 2005. It found that the median and average age at which U.S.-born entrepreneurs founded their technology and engineering companies was 39. There were twice as many entrepreneurs older than fifty than those who were younger than twenty-five, and 1 percent of U.S.-born founders of tech companies were teenagers. The study also analyzed these entrepreneurs' educational backgrounds. The top ten schools awarding these entrepreneurs' most advanced degrees were Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Pennsylvania State University, Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Missouri, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Southern California, the University of Texas, and the University of Virginia. Graduates from Ivy League schools represented 8 percent of the founders whose companies had, on average, higher average sales and employment than their counterparts. --Catherine Rampell

Posted by kkowatch on May 02, 2008 at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)