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EP54 Interview Strategies for Public Health Careers with Miriam Miller
Alexandra Arriaga: Hey everyone and welcome to another episode of I AM GPH. My name is Alexandra Arriaga and today we're going to be talking to Miriam Miller, who is a senior assistant director of graduate student career development. Miriam provides specialized career programs, resources and coaching to NYU graduate student population. Prior to NYU, Miriam spent her career in independent school, undergraduate and graduate school admissions. She completed her Master's of Education in Higher Education at Harvard University and her Bachelor of Arts in American Studies at Barnard college. If you are a current graduate student or a recent grad, you can't miss this episode because we will give you the best advice regarding interview strategies, resume building, and general tips for landing the job you want. Stay tuned.Hello, everyone. We're here today with Miriam Miller, Senior Assistant Director of Graduate Student Career Development. And today she's here to talk to us about interview strategies. How are you doing?
Miriam Miller: I'm doing well. Happy to be here.
Alexandra Arriaga: We are very happy to have you. So what are some tips for landing an interview?
Miriam Miller: So I think there's really a few things to think about when landing an interview that I'd love to sort of speak to. I think one is sort of really identifying your targets. I think another is really understanding how to put together really good materials and then lastly to sort of think about the connections that you have going into a job search process that can help you to land that interview. So when we think sort of firstly about your target, I think what's really helpful is to understand whether or not you're going to be an appropriate fit for a position. So I think really being able to be self evaluative and understand whether you have some of the skills, the expertise, the knowledge that they're looking for in a role and. And being able to kind of go through a job description and make that assessment for yourself about whether or not you do have some of the things they're looking for. So I think that's a really good way to start. I think another thing to consider as I said is your materials and whether or not your materials really speak to things that an employer is looking for. So I think it's helpful certainly to be mindful whether or not you have some of those skills and expertise and those experiences that they're seeking. Then also to be aware of what's happening on the back end for a lot of companies. And by that specifically we have something called applicant tracking systems or ATS. And so with ATS, really it's a kind of an online software system that a lot of larger companies use. And even sometimes midsize and occasionally smaller companies in order to help weed out applicants that are not appropriate for a position. And so when an organization is using one of these, it's scanning specifically for certain key words and phrases to identify whether or not there's actually a good match. And so before a human may actually look those materials, it's important to know that whether you're kind of choosing to incorporate some of those keywords and phrases from the job description may actually be that indicator of whether or not it's looked at by a human. So very helpful.
Alexandra Arriaga: Does that mean that you should alter your resume before you send it to each company?
Miriam Miller: In an ideal world, yes. So by that I don't mean that you need to be obviously making new materials from scratch, but you should certainly be thinking about do you have a resume that sort of speaks to your audience in general? And then are there sort of smaller tweaks that you can make to make sure that you're adapting it appropriately for that audience. So, for example, if a position talks a lot about research skills or analytical skills or experience with data or anything else, are you incorporating those words specifically into your materials. So that it feels certainly organic? Obviously of course it should be honest every time, but also making sure that it really does speak directly to the interest of that person. So that's really key. And then I think lastly understanding too that having connections with an organization can be very helpful for landing that interview. So if you know that there's a certain organization that you're targeting, think about, do you know anyone who's already working there? If you don't, do you perhaps know some people who may know people who work there? And I think being very mindful of the fact that there are certain faculty members, that there may be former colleagues or friends or family or other people who you may know at an organization who can be really helpful in giving you some more insight about the organization, including types of opportunities that may not even be posted online yet. So as you go into this process, it's certainly very beneficial to rely on some of those connections that you may have that are in your existing network or that could sort of be in your expanded NYU network. That may be really helpful landing a position.
Alexandra Arriaga: Yeah, that's great advice. I feel that as graduate students, sometimes we worry that we applied to a job, but then the hard part comes, we have to interview. So you know, we're hopeful, we're pretty confident, but we're obviously very nervous. What are the first steps we should do to set ourselves up for success?
Miriam Miller: So I think the first thing is just to realize that it's actually very normal to be nervous in an interview. And it's really not about not being nervous, it's about managing those nerves in ways that are going to be productive. And so I think just realizing that even people who've interviewed a lot who might consider themselves to be pretty expert, very comfortable interviewees still experience some of those nerves. And so that's okay. As far as actually how to get around, you know, dealing with some of that though. I think one thing that's very helpful and that's something people forget to do, is to really do research into the organization. And I think in doing that, it's a really good way to demonstrate that you have enthusiasm about the work they do. So understanding an organization, looking at their website, looking at social media pages, looking about what may have been written about them recently in other publications. And then being able to really kind of draw on that during an interview and to be able to say, "I really appreciate this work that you're doing. I love that you have the specific approach. I love, you know, that this work that you're doing is a little bit different from other, you know, kind of peer organizations in the field." And being able to really draw on that and be able to actually demonstrate that you've done your homework and that you do have an understanding of and appreciation for even more so for what it is that they actually do. In terms of research, I would also say it's really helpful if you can research your interviewers. So do they have a LinkedIn page? Do they have a company profile? Do you have, you know, some way of understanding a little more about what their perspective may be and that may be helpful in kind of illuminating how you want to frame some of your experiences in ways that will feel a little bit more meaningful to your audience. So if you do have the names of them, certainly a good thing to look up. And then I think very important also is to consider this sort of professional narrative that you have. And professional narrative I think certainly something that comes out in a lot of different ways certainly should start with your materials. What sort of impression are you giving off in a resume or CV or cover letter about who you are and again, kind of what your skills and expertise are. But then also as you go into an interview, how can you sort of describe your academic background? How can you talk about the experiences that you've had? How can you explain your interest in this position or organization? How can you talk about ways in which you'll contribute professionally and how this fits into your larger career trajectory. So I think being able to take that time to actually sit down and devote to saying, you know, what is it that I want to present to the world about who I am and what it is I have to offer an organization can be very helpful in kind of managing your nerves, but then also making sure that you're leaving a really good impression. And the impression that you actually do want to leave. So you want them to get the things out of it that you're hoping they'll get. Lastly, I would sort of say preparing for different types of common interview questions is actually a really great way to manage some of those nerves. And I think it's not so much that you're trying to do this preparation to say, "I'm going to figure out the questions they're going to ask you and I will have prepared for it." Because in reality, you don't know what they're going to ask you. And there's so many different things they can ask you. But I think if we can take a step back and say, "Okay, by just practicing common questions I'm going to be able to manage my nerves a little bit because I'm getting all this experience describing myself in a professional context and imagining how I would talk about these experiences that have. Being able to talk about these skills that I have and who I am as a professional person." And just getting into that habit that actually sometimes makes the bigger difference. So I think asking yourself sort of sample questions like tell me about yourself or questions about, you know, what your strengths are or behavioral questions like, "Tell me about a time when you worked on a project that required a lot of attention to detail and how you managed it." To questions like, you know what do you want to know about us? I think just being able to be prepared and ready for questions like that can go a long way in terms of managing those nerves.
Alexandra Arriaga: And usually what is the best way to answer to these type of questions? Especially the behavioral ones. Because I feel like talking about yourself is relatively easy because you should know yourself. But how about those where they're asking about your character? What is some advice that you could give us about that?
Miriam Miller: So I think when answering questions about your character, I think it's really important to understand what it is that they're asking and why they're asking it. So oftentimes when someone asks you, as you can imagine a behavioral question, so something sort of like, "Tell me about a time when you did X." They're really kind of getting at how is it that you understand a challenge, how do you approach a challenge, and then how do you sort of move forward with that as a way to indicate how you'd potentially approach them in the future. So it's just sort of give you a very, very basic example. If you have a friend who is consistently 15 minutes late, you're going to sort of anticipate that person. If you're meeting with them, they might be late again. So if they're sort of doing this in a way to sort of see, "Well, if someone has acted in a particular way before, this is potentially how they would act in a similar situation in this setting." So when you're answering a behavioral question, we have what's called the star method, which stands for situation, task, action and result. And essentially when answering a star response, what you're doing is you're contextualizing for your listener. And so you're able to sort of say, you know, here was a situation that I found myself in contextually, here was sort of the specific challenge or task that I faced. Here was sort of the central conflict, if you will. Here is my action. And so essentially that's how I approached something step-by-step in a very tangible way. And then results is sort of what ultimately happened through the course of this situation. So it's just sort of a way of framing and contextualizing a situation for readers that they can... For a listener rather, so that they can then think about how would it have been if I were there. They want to be able to picture themselves in that situation and they want to be able to imagine they were there kind of seeing you in action as again, a way to understand how you would react to another situation.
Alexandra Arriaga: So let's go into different fields. So for example, how would you go about government?
Miriam Miller: So certainly I'm going to make some larger generalizations here, but one thing to keep in mind with government positions that's a little bit different from a lot of other industries is that with a lot of government positions, when they're sort of mapping out a job description, they have very clear and specific expectations in terms of what type of experience or education someone will have. And so unlike a lot of other fields where, you know, you may say, "Okay well I have a number of these types of experiences or I have, you know, a significant portion of the experience or asking for." A lot of government positions tend to be far less flexible when it comes to what they're asking for that you really do often need to meet all of the qualifications and to address those very specifically. So that's just one thing to kind of keep in mind about a lot of government positions in general.
Alexandra Arriaga: Great. And how about NGOs?
Miriam Miller: Well, I think, you know, all organizations essentially really want to make sure that you're committed to the work that they're doing. I think NGOs are certainly a big example of that because as you're thinking about types of organizations that are very rooted, often in some sort of social or political cause, they want to make sure that they're hiring people who are really actually dedicated and interested in that work and that mission that they're doing. So I think as you consider positions like that, it's really good if you can bring in any knowledge that you have of that specific issue and experience you have working with a certain population, whether you're talking about working with refugees or I'm working with maternal health or anything else. I think just be able to really understand that the work they do is very dear to them and anything you can kind of do to explain your own interest in that work certainly is helpful.
Alexandra Arriaga: Excellent. And how about something very common nowadays, startups?
Miriam Miller: Yes. So startups are very broad in terms of what you consider to be a startup. I think the definition of what falls into a startup has expanded and even sometimes organizations that you know, still consider themselves startups, even if they're really pretty well established at this point, often sort of give themselves that name still and that designation. So in thinking about the fact they are quite broad though, I think oftentimes it can be helpful going into interview setting if you've had any opportunity to try out any of their services or products beforehand. That's not necessarily always possible, but I think even doing research to understand more about, you know, who's their market, who's their client, who is their customer or whatever sort of the situation may be, depending on that organization. But to have a really good sense of what they do since they're very focused on, you know, that specific work. I think another thing to think about with startups in general too, and again this is a generalization, is that oftentimes there may not always be super clear delineations between different roles and the way that there would be with other types of organizations. And so it's not uncommon in a lot of startups for people to sort of wear many hats and do a lot of work across teams and sort of jump in where needed and adapt. And so I think being a really skillful collaborator or a really kind of adaptive personality is something that you're skilled in and I think certainly to talk about that can sometimes be helpful as well.
Alexandra Arriaga: And finally, how about research and academia?
Miriam Miller: So academia has certainly some differences in terms of how they hire and interview compared to other fields. So I think one thing to think about is that oftentimes we're going to be on campus interviews that you may also be interviewing at professional conferences and that that's not uncommon. I think too you want to understand again, of course who is this audience, what are they going to care about? And so when you're talking about academia, they're primarily going to be looking at a couple of different things. One certainly is your capacity for teaching and one also is kind of the strength of your research and then it's larger kind of broader contextual fit within your field or subfield. So they're really kind of trying to understand you as a teacher, you as a researcher, and then they're also trying to think about how does the work that you do fit in more broadly with the rest of what the department offers. And then also how would you be as a colleague, which I think always is part of this is just how would you fit into the larger institution and to the work that the other professors are doing. You know, I think lastly, one thing you want to think about if you're going into academia is the type of institution that you're hoping to land at. And so if you're talking about a small liberal arts college, it's very focused on teaching. That might be something to think about when you're talking about framing your experience versus a really large research institution or a community college. So you want to always want to be very mindful of who your audience is and what are they going to be the major priorities for them. As you think about how to frame that experience in different ways.
Alexandra Arriaga: And now let's put ourselves in a bit of a different context. So what advice would you give for someone who's going through a career shift and pivoting to something new? So maybe this is someone that has years of experience in one field and are looking to move or maybe they have some level of expertise in another country that doesn't really translate the same here in the US. How would you suggest that someone approach this situation?
Miriam Miller: I've definitely met with a lot of people who are career changers. And I think one of the things that can feel daunting for a lot of people is this feeling of I'm starting over again. And I think for people who especially have had, you know, very robust careers, long careers, you certainly don't want to feel that way. And so what I would encourage people to think about is in this transition, are there some things that may actually still feel very relevant from their past experience, kind of their past professional life that may still be really relevant for this new sort of venture that they're going into. So perhaps they've worked in a similar capacity using similar types of skill sets in a completely different field and now they're applying it to a new field. But ultimately maybe doing some of the same types of things. Maybe they've worked in the field before, but they've been in a very different type of role, but they have this broader context about the work being done in this field that they can still draw on as a strength. So what I essentially encourage people to do is really sort of think through, you know, what are those skill sets you have? How can we identify what that would look like for an employer? And I think oftentimes it's not even starting from, you know, here's the things I've done how do I make this translate. But thinking about first, who is my audience? What do they care about? What matters to them? Who are they looking for? And kind of trying to put yourself in their shoes in terms of this is who we're looking at hiring, these are our priorities. And then going through and sort of thinking about are there other ways to reframe my experience, which are of course still truthful, but in which I might, you know, re-emphasize certain things over others or prioritize certain things that I may have done that would feel a little bit more relevant. And so just really sort of going through and thinking about how can I look at this broader body of work that I've done and kind of pull out the things that might be most relevant for this new audience. And I think it does really require this sort of ability to reimagine a different kind of professional narrative for yourself. And so if you're struggling to that a little bit, I would certainly encourage you to reach out to the Wasserman Center to talk to kind of trusted friends or colleagues or faculty members and make sure that as your sort of trying out a new narrative about the work that you've done and what it is that you're hoping to transition into, that it still really rings true, that it still feels like you, but it feels like a new kind of version of yourself that you can present to the world. And I think that's a really important thing to think about is just, you know, who's listening to this.
Alexandra Arriaga: Miriam I feel like after this podcast, a lot of people are going to be knocking on your door to ask for advice. So being the College of Global Public Health, we are proud to have a very diverse student population with people from all around the world. We actually have 40 countries who speak over 30 languages. Can you talk about some of the most common mistakes or misunderstandings international students have with the job interviewing process here in the US?
Miriam Miller: I think that it's such a strength of the larger NYU community there is so much diversity here in all its forms. And I think one of the things to think about for not only international students but domestic students and and really for everyone as you go into an interviewing process, is to understand what are sort of the norms and expectations that exist for this specific role that you're looking at. Because we know that there are very different expectations depending on what industry you're going into, what type of organization you're going into, what type of role you're looking at. And that manifests itself in a lot of different ways. And so I think that even as you look at different sort of, you know, regional differences within the US even as you think about what does it like to go for a government job in Washington versus a startup in LA, that there might be some different expectations and that I think everyone can really benefit from just a broader awareness about, again, who is my audience and how do I need to kind of adapt to the environment that I'm in and make sure that I'm conveying the things that I want to convey about myself. So I think whether you're interviewing in the US or you're interviewing abroad, I think certainly it's just really good to be aware of what those norms are. And certainly those can vary quite a bit. So in the US certainly there are some things that we've sort of think of as as kind of common expectations. So for example, showing up to an interview 10 to 15 minutes early, you know, asking questions about the role if you're given an opportunity to. Sending a thank you note to follow up afterwards for anyone who's interviewed you. That's just sort of expectations that we would kind of typically have here in the US. And so again, whether you might be applying here in the US or elsewhere, just having kind of an awareness of what those different expectations are going to be and just being mindful of them. And I think certainly as well as that and this is not specific to international students, but to everyone I think certainly have an expectation of employers in us too, is that they really want to see enthusiasm for the work. And so I think it's really important to keep in mind that you know, as you go into an interview process to really have, again, that knowledge and awareness of the organization, the work that they do and to really show that you're excited about the prospect of working there. The one thing I often say is that there are a lot of skills that you can learn on the job. Not everything obviously, you know, you can't say "I want to be a doctor," and walk into a hospital and then just be qualified. But you know, there are certainly there skills that you can pick up on the job that people can teach you that you can train to, hone in and become better at. But you really can't teach them to be enthusiastic about the work. And so I think really showing that you are actually enthusiastic and letting that really show through in the way that you respond in the way that you're kind of focusing some of your answers. I think that actually goes a long way as well. And so I think even though it's a professional setting and you want to do that in a professional way, I think people should be aware of the fact that that can actually be a great strength as to show that enthusiasm for that work.
Alexandra Arriaga: That's a great perspective and I'm glad you brought it up. So now I want us to think a little bit more about career strategy. And specifically it just seems to be this huge paradox where you graduate from college and then you want to get a job, but the job requires experience. So then you try to get experience, but no one wants to allow you to get the experience because you don't have experience. So how do you get it? You see where I'm going with this. So what are some things that students should consider when getting a paid or unpaid internship?
Miriam Miller: So I think I want to start actually by talking a little bit about leveraging experience more generally. Because I think internships paid or unpaid are certainly one way that you can do that. But I would sort of say also when students find themselves in that situation where they say, you know, maybe I haven't worked a full time position before and I'm looking to go into it, but every job is asking for two years of experience or something similar to that, just for example. I think it's really also important to think about, well, how can I use these things that I've done in school specifically for that purpose? How can I draw upon group projects that I've done? How can I think about student leadership and activities that I've taken part in? Can I think about papers that I've written in research that I've done? Can I think about examples of other trainings or certifications that I have? Can I think about the technical skills I've developed? So I think there are a lot of ways that people can use just the school experience in and of itself and, and frame it in a way to demonstrate that that actually is valuable experience too. So I just want to kind of start by saying that. Now I think to kind of the second part of your question, I think when evaluating an internship specifically, it's really important to consider how those opportunities and experiences might align to your goals. And I think that kind of goes to both long term and short term goals. So if you are entering an organization to think a little bit about do you want to work there full time, are you hoping to get some extra cash or are you hoping to develop a certain skill set specifically? And so if, certainly if you're assessing multiple offers though, pay can definitely be something that kind of comes into play and that you have to take into consideration. So from my perspective and from the perspective of Wasserman, we certainly believe that all students should receive compensation for their work. But also we know that some industries typically don't pay their interns but still provide really meaningful work experience. So, you know, just as a reminder, we would certainly encourage everyone who's evaluating any kind of paid versus unpaid internship to familiarize themselves with the guidelines set out by the Department of Labor. And then also for any international students to make sure that they also speak with the Office of Global Services to make sure that they're very clear about any visa implications that a decision about an internship may have as well. So we definitely encourage students to make sure that they're kind of covering all our bases in that way. We also encourage students who are pursuing unpaid internships, especially in fields where interns are typically not paid to also consider applying for the Wasserman internship grant. And so the Wasserman Center internship grant takes place every semester and provides a stipend, to award winners to be able to pursue that kind of work.
Alexandra Arriaga: Excellent. Thank you for that information.
Miriam Miller: Sure.
Alexandra Arriaga: And so speaking about the Wasserman grant and all these... What kind of services are available to NYU students through the Wasserman center?
Miriam Miller: We offer a really wide variety of services to students. So one of the things I would sort of start with for students, if you're not sure how to begin engaging with us is sort of set up your account. So we do offer a free portal to careers and so we have thousands of part time and full time jobs in there. We have on campus jobs, we have internships, fellowships, lots of other things. There are thousands in there at any given time. We also have in there a library of virtual resources. So if you're looking for handouts, if you're looking for videos to watch, if you're looking for kind of external links, that'd be really helpful to do some research about a field. We have a wealth of things in there that I would certainly encourage students to consider to start taking a look at. We also offer one on one coaching appointments and students will sign up for those through their online portal. And then we also offer kind of shorter appointments that are called drop in appointments. And so unlike a 30 minute one-on-one coaching appointment where you'd come in and meet with us oftentimes about a topic that you sort of may have potentially predetermined, a drop in appointment would really just be something that you would come to during designated hours on Monday through Friday. We always have updated hours in our website and we would just be on a first-come-first-serve basis. So if you have something quicker you just need feedback on, you can do that as well. And, and that way you don't have to kind of wait for an appointment. We also have a variety of ways to engage with employers. And so we have panels, we have guest speakers, we have information sessions, we have all kinds of ways that students can kind of think about using our office to really sort of get connected to employers. And then also we have workshops regularly about different career topics. So if you don't necessarily want to come in for a one-on-one appointment but you say, I really just want to learn more about how to write resumes and cover letters, you can certainly come to those workshops as well. And then lastly, we also have our student employment desk for the entire university is located at Wasserman. So if you are getting any kind of on campus job in filling out any paperwork, you'd come to us for that also.
Alexandra Arriaga: So for those listening, I actually set up an appointment recently with Miriam and it was great. I needed help and it really clarified a lot of things that I didn't know. I mean we're talking about my resume and everything and it is really good to have someone who's more experienced to tell you how to tailor things specifically for a job opportunity. So I think it's a very valuable resource.
Miriam Miller: Yeah. I think sometimes too, it can just be helpful to get another outside perspective and just someone to give you some objective feedback, whether that's, you know, looking at materials or just kind of talking something through. And just, I think the thing to keep in mind is that we’re really available for, you know, any kind of questions people have about their professional growth. And so that might be something really specific that you want to work on one day and saying, "I have a fellowship application I want to have you look at." Or it might be saying, you know, I'm graduating soon and I'm just feeling lost and I want someone to kind of talk through what this process is going to look like for me because I'm a little overwhelmed and I think anything in between. So we don't have any route that we're pushing students towards. As you know, coaching is really led by the student and we really do try to meet students at whatever point in the process they’re at.
Alexandra Arriaga: And now going back about common mistakes and common doubts that people might have. What are some common resume mistakes and how can we correct them?
Miriam Miller: So I talked a little bit before about applicant tracking systems and so just to kind of elaborate on that a little bit, you want to make sure that when you're kind of using these keywords and phrases from job descriptions that you're doing so for not only sort of the software system, but also that when you're kind of doing this level of tailoring that you're doing it for a reader who may not be spending very long at all actually looking at your materials. You know, typically most people who are in some sort of HR or hiring function are not going to be reading a resume word for word. They're not going to be reading between the lines. And so you have to be fairly explicit in terms of how is it you're going to describe your experience. And so you don't want to sort of allude to something where, or be super subtle about something you're trying to get across. You really want to make sure that you're being very clear and really highlighting those relevant skills and experiences that you have. So definitely make sure that you're doing that and that you're also organizing your materials in ways that are really appropriate as well. So for example, is your relevant experience higher up on the page? Are you including relevant coursework and projects? Are you thinking about how you might be dividing up your experience section? Is there relevant experience in additional experience section? So there are lots of different kinds of ways in which you can think about kind of optimizing your resume for your reader. So I would just certainly make sure that you keep that in mind. I would also oftentimes advise students to think about having a master version of their resume. So a master version of your resume is very helpful. It can be as long as you want it to be, you're not actually submitting it. It's sort of more of a record for you of everything that you've done. And it's a place you just sort of, you know, dump everything and say, here's every project I've worked on, every place I've volunteered, every part time job, every campus job, every class I've taken. You can really have anything on there. But then as you're actually going through and submitting applications for different types of roles, think about, "Okay, well now of all these things that I've done, what actually makes sense to include to make sure that I'm being, you know, concise and succinct in terms of how I want to portray my experience and making sure that again, those things that would be most relevant for an employer are going to be very easy for them to find and also very kind of high up on the page." So they want to get to the most important information quickly. So you want to make sure you're doing that. I think another common mistake that students often do is they downplay their accomplishments. And I think that certainly is to their detriment because you know, you want to certainly take credit for things that you've legitimately done. And I would say that the resume is not the time to suddenly feel really modest. So for example, describing your experience and saying, you know, assisted or helped or worked with or worked on things that sort of say to a reader that you may not have really been a major player in doing this work, but may have just sort of been on the sidelines a little bit, can often kind of go towards diminishing some of that work you've actually done and should take credit for. And so what happens in doing that is the skill of the individual is lost. And so oftentimes by just reframing an experience like that and talking about, well, how did I assist? Or how did I work on something? Or what was the impact of what I worked on? So thinking about a stronger way you can say something. So, for example, rather than saying assisted a team with a research project saying that you, you know, evaluated interviews or you drafted summary reports or you analyzed data and then sort of, you know, mentioning later on contextually that you were working alongside a team of fellow researchers. So it can shift the focus from saying, "There were a bunch of people doing this work and I was sort of part of it in some way," to saying "I was doing this work actively along the other people who were also doing this actively." And so I think even small ways to reframe things like that can actually make a huge difference when you're talking about making sure that you're really getting across to a reader exactly what it is that you know how to do and what you're capable of.
Alexandra Arriaga: Yeah. That was actually one of mine on my resume. I had assisted I think twice and you did mention. Yeah, you were like, "Why are you saying assisted, you should let them know where you were actually doing." Because then when you say assisted, it just sounds like, "Oh yeah, like I was kind of helping," but it doesn't put you in charge of the task, I guess.
Miriam Miller: So yeah, it's a very common thing people do. I think people do it because they're trying to not, as I said, take too much credit. They're trying to really acknowledge that there were many people who may have worked on something, but it doesn't always help to kind of provide that context for your reader about what you actually were able to do. So I think just being really explicit about it, it's very helpful.
Alexandra Arriaga: Yeah. And I have a question about something, a topic that I feel is a little bit taboo, but I've always wondered and I never know who to ask, so you might be the right person. What do you think about salary negotiations? So let's say that they offer you the job. You interviewed and they're like, "Great, we love you. Here's the job offer." And maybe because you don't have experience, you feel like you should go with the initial offer, but deep down you feel that maybe you could be getting more. Is that something you would recommend or is it seen as ungrateful?
Miriam Miller: What I would sort of say is that you want to be mindful of a lot of different things in this process. So I sort of say there's different steps to thinking about negotiation. One thing that I would sort of say, you know, pretty much anytime that you get an offer of any sort is first of all, don't feel like you have to accept on the spot. You know, you have every right to sort of say in a very gracious way, "Thank you so much for the offer. I really appreciate this. You know, I would love some time to just think about it. When can I get back to you?" And to give yourself a little bit of time to then evaluate that offer. So ideally, even before you go into an interview, or even as you're kind of beginning to apply, you're starting to do research about what positions that are similar to this one might pay in terms of what's the market value for a role like this in this type of organization, for someone with my background, you know, living in this area... There are a variety obviously of factors to consider, but you should sort of have a range in mind of what you feel an appropriate number is for that type of work and also what you'd be kind of willing and would find appropriate to accept. So then depending on obviously the offer that you get, I think you can sort of think about, you know, how does this fall within that range? You know, first of all is this a number that I can take. That I feel comfortable accepting. Is this a number that you know, exceeded what I wanted? Certainly if this is number that you know, significantly exceeded the range that you were looking for, had done research on, then that may be a time where maybe you don't negotiate because you feel they're being extremely fair. If you feel like it's within the range or below the range though, then I think it oftentimes is appropriate to think about asking for a little bit more. But I think when you think about asking for more, you want to be very clear about why. And so you don't want it be, for example, rooted in, "Well, you know, it's really expensive to live in New York. And so I'm getting a little bit more, I have student loans." Those things might be true, but when I would go into negotiation, I would certainly advise people to think about what is your value-add that's going to make them want to hire you. And so if you can sort of route in both the research that you've done about what similar types of positions might be paying for people with your background as well as, you know, specifically what are some of the things that you bring to the table? Like maybe you have really significant experience working with the computer program they’re looking for. Maybe you have expertise on a very particular topic that is hard to find. Maybe you speak another language and that's really desirable. So obviously these are all just examples, but to sort of think about what is your potential value-add that you would contribute as an employee? And to say that, you know, here's the things that you are able to bring and for these reasons as well as your research about what typical roles like this would pay, that that would be why you're asking for however much more. The other thing I would keep in mind as well is that certainly some places, you know, will be open to negotiating and many will be, but also that sometimes there are situations in which salary is not something that is negotiable. Sometimes it's a very set standard rate. And so in those situations I would also think a little bit about obviously looking at the entire compensation package and also thinking a little bit about, you know, might there be other things then that would be negotiable. So if it's not, you know, kind of base pay, is it a signing bonus that might be possible or would there be perhaps an opportunity to reevaluate after a certain period of time with a certain level of work? You know, might there be flexible hours, you know, might there be opportunities to take part in professional development. So there's a lot of different possibilities. And so I wouldn't certainly go through an entire compensation package and say I want to negotiate about all these things. That would be something that would leave a bad taste in an employer's mouth. But it's generally speaking, not unreasonable to, you know, look at an offer, obviously be very gracious about and appreciative of the fact that you received that offer to take a little bit of time to think about it and then to come back and say, you know, "Having evaluated this, you know, here's something that I would like, having both my background and, and also my research."
Alexandra Arriaga: Great. Now that we know that you offer all these services, how can students get in touch with you and learn more?
Miriam Miller: So one way, certainly that students can meet with us if they want to meet us in person, they're certainly welcome to make an appointment online or over the phone to come to a one on one coaching appointment with us or to come to those drop in hours that I mentioned previously. If you're looking to maybe send us an email or get connected with the right person. If you're not really sure where to go for something, you can send us an firstname.lastname@example.org@nyu.edu for general questions. We also have a grad student specific email address, which is email@example.com for questions specifically about graduate student career development.
Alexandra Arriaga: Excellent, excellent. Thank you so much for that.
Miriam Miller: Sure.
Alexandra Arriaga: So I think that in conclusion, what I learned today is that we should know our audience, that we should definitely tailor our experiences to highlight our strengths and that if we need help, we should go to the Wasserman center.
Miriam Miller: I think those are good takeaways.
Alexandra Arriaga: Well, thank you so much, Miriam. It's been lovely having you here and I'm sure we'll see you again.
Miriam Miller: All right, well very glad to be here. Thank you so much.