Francine Fabricant | CAREER COUNSELOR
3 Steps For Personal Branding

CCS_authors | 04 February 2013 | no comments

McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and White Castle are brands, with powerful marketing and promotional efforts to  help you differentiate and desire their products. Even though they all serve burgers and fries, most people would not mistake one for another. We’ve learned about them from their advertisements, our personal experiences, and their marketing choices. Somehow, we get a different feeling from each of them and we may like one over another.

Yes, You Have A Personal Brand!

Personal branding is a lot like branding in the business world. The big difference is that personal branding often happens to you, rather than by you, because many people donut make the effort to learn about personal branding and learn personal branding techniques.

Why do people like you? What skills and talents do you offer? Why do people rely on you? For instance, are you a good listener, are you good with technology, or do you know how to take photographs? These are the types of talents that may attract others. Whatever you’re known for – that’s your personal brand. Personal branding is the process of becoming more aware of your reputation, then shaping and promoting it intentionally.

With personal branding techniques, you can take charge of your reputation and improve your job search and career success. These three personal branding tips will get you started!

Step 1: Ask yourself how others see you.

The first step to building your brand is identifying some of the assets you could most easily brand, because they are already part of your reputation. To find out the best qualities you offer, ask the people you know why they would go to you for help, support, or advice. Ask them what special personal qualities, talents, or skills they think you can offer, and why they think you would be the right person to offer that assistance. Ask your friends, family members, a former boss, or your roommate. If they can’t think of something, ask them what they think is your reputation. Using different words or phrases, such as “go-to person” or “reputation,” can lead to new insights.

Step 2: Consider whether these are the qualities you want to brand for yourself, and then develop them further or make some changes!

Now that you’ve learned how others view you, decide if these qualities are important to you and if you’d like to be known for them. With this self-exploration, you’re deciding how you want to shape your personal brand.

Are these assets being honed, utilized, and enhanced through experiences?

After you decide which qualities are the ones you value, examine your activities, courses, and experiences to see where you use or build these strengths. If you aren’t developing them, consider adding new activities that make them part of your current experience. For instance, if you’re the one your friends go to for advice on their dating relationships, consider becoming a peer educator, taking a psychology class, or writing a column about dating in the school paper.

Step 3: Now, share your brand.

Look at your social media, and see if the message about your greatest assets comes through. Examine your resume. Look at your course list. As you go through all of the information and documents you have for yourself, look to see if these qualities you value come through. If not, consider if you need more experiences that back up these strengths, or if you just need to highlight them more.

As you better understand your personal brand, and choose activities that support it, you will find that your message starts to shine through, and soon you’ll have even more people seeking you out for the assets you want to use most!

Tell us how you are building your personal brand.

About The Author

Francine Fabricant_headshotFrancine Fabricant is a career counselor and the lead author of Creating Career Success. She has an extraordinary passion for career development, and is a frequent speaker on career topics. She has worked at the Columbia University Center for Career Education and FIT’s Career Services. She received an MA and EdM from Teachers College, Columbia University and a BA cum laude from Barnard College, Columbia University. Visit her website at

Turn Your Part-time Job into a Career-Building Experience

CCS_authors | 21 December 2012 | no comments

Do you have a part-time or full-time job and worry that you are missing out on career-building opportunities? If your job bears little resemblance to the career you really want, you may feel like your work-study balancing act is making it hard to build skills, experience, and references that will help you build your career after you graduate, there is a lot you can do on the job and in the classroom to prepare for your future.

Here are some tips that can help you turn your job into a career-building experience.

Identify skills you want to develop.

Decide which skills you are motivated to build and then look for ways you could build them in your current experiences. For instance, if you work in a retail store and have an interest in a helping career, like social work or education, explore opportunities to become more involved in customer service, handling complaints, or training others. These person-to-person interactions will show evidence of helping skills such as listening, understanding, teaching, and communicating.

Build mentor relationships at work.

Mentors in any field can offer guidance, advice, advocacy, and help you increase your network. Consider the skills of potential mentors and what you can learn. Then, seek out ways to add value to your mentors, offering your assistance and expressing interest in what they do.

For example, if you work in food service, a supervisor who serves in management will likely have recognized skills in such areas as leadership, motivation, business, data collection, and organization. These are highly transferable skills, and a mentor can help you look for ways to build skills that may be outside your typical responsibilities and transferable to a range of career fields.

Take your job seriously.

All work environments want self-starters who work hard and care. To your employer, this is a business, and your contribution matters! Taking the initiative to ask for new projects, working harder than your job requires, showing up on time, and being courteous to colleagues, are just some of the ways you can demonstrate your professionalism. This will impact your references, and help you gain more responsibilities on the job.

Would you like to know how other students’ work-study activities compare to yours?

Take a look at what other students are doing by checking out this infographic on The Work-Study Balancing Act and tell us more about the challenges you are facing or how you are making your balancing act work for you!

About The Author

Francine Fabricant_headshotFrancine Fabricant is a career counselor and the lead author of Creating Career Success. She has an extraordinary passion for career development, and is a frequent speaker on career topics. She has worked at the Columbia University Center for Career Education and FIT’s Career Services. She received an MA and EdM from Teachers College, Columbia University and a BA cum laude from Barnard College, Columbia University. Visit her website at



4 Networking Tips for the Holiday Season

CCS_authors | 29 November 2012 | no comments

With the holiday season here, there are more opportunities to meet up with friends and family, and these can be great networking opportunities for your developing career. Whether you’re looking for a job after graduation, an internship for next summer, or have some big questions about your career direction, networking is an invaluable resource.

Set your goals on getting to know the people around you, and taking steps to expand your network. Here are some tips to get you started, and make networking feel more personal.

1. Ask questions that help you learn about others.

Getting a conversation started can be tough, and asking questions is a good way to get someone to start talking. The best questions are the ones that really interest you and that the person to whom you are speaking can answer.

For instance, if you see your aunt over break, and she is a businesswoman whom you respect, you may want to seek out her advice. Asking Aunt Kaye what you should do with your degree in communications certainly involves a question that interests you, but she may not know about careers in communications or which resources to recommend.

Instead, try asking her questions that help you learn about her and her network. You might ask how the media she uses in business has changed and what sources she goes to for news, or if she knows anyone who works in communications, PR, or marketing at her firm or elsewhere. All of this information can help you make connections between her experiences, her network, and your career interests.

2. If you learn something helpful, explain how you will use that information.

If you have dinner with a friend’s family and learn that your friend’s brother’s girlfriend’s brother is a chef, and you want to become a chef, consider asking if you could speak with him about his career to learn more. Despite the distant connection, you can bridge this gap by asking for an introduction.

Then, follow your request with a simple explanation of how that can be useful to you, such as, “I’d like to learn more about how he found his first job, and what advice he could give to me.” This honesty makes the request sincere and easier to relay.

Just imagine the conversation that could follow between your friend’s brother and his girlfriend … “I went to dinner with my brother and his friend, James, and it came up that James wants to become a chef. Do you think your brother would talk to him about how he found his first job and share some advice?”

3. Share details that show your skills, professionalism, and motivation.

If you know what career information you need, you can be specific about your needs and your relevant skills, but if you don’t know what your career goals are, you may be unclear about how to promote your assets. Imagine yourself at a holiday party where you learn that someone is a physical therapist who works with athletes.

If you like sports, but never thought about this career path or taken any related courses, you may feel like you have no relevant assets to highlight. However, talking about your genuine interest, your willingness to work hard, and your eagerness to research requirements for jobs in the field are all examples of your professionalism.

Add to these the science and math classes you’ve taken or your experience from the sports you’ve played and you’ll be sharing the groundwork you’ve paved for the foundation of a new career. This can help people think of next steps or recommend you to their network.

4. Respect your environment.

Sometimes, a detailed conversation about your career isn’t appropriate or possible. You might be at a crowded party where it’s difficult to hear, other people might interrupt the conversation, or the person you want to speak with may not seem interested. If necessary, move to another topic.

However, if you feel that the person is receptive, consider asking if you could follow up to speak further or set up an informational interview. Don’t follow up by sending your resume. Instead, send an e-mail to thank the person for offering to speak and work towards setting up a convenient time for a meeting, either on the phone or in person.

Effective networking will lead to sincere, meaningful relationships

Networking over the holiday season can be fun and lead to new relationships and insights for your career. Conversations that reflect your interest in others can help you turn your holidays into a time of learning and expanding possibilities.

What relationships have you built through social events that have helped your career?


About The Author

Francine Fabricant_headshotFrancine Fabricant is a career counselor and the lead author of Creating Career Success. She has an extraordinary passion for career development, and is a frequent speaker on career topics. She has worked at the Columbia University Center for Career Education and FIT’s Career Services. She received an MA and EdM from Teachers College, Columbia University and a BA cum laude from Barnard College, Columbia University. Visit her website at

Building Cultural Awareness

CCS_authors | 12 October 2012 | no comments

Preparing for the world of work involves learning how to celebrate diversity and learning from the unique contributions of people across cultures, racial groups, belief systems, gender, generations, varying levels of physical abilities, and more. The interplay of these distinctly different groups, individuals, and mindsets creates a rich environment of ideas that bring forth creative and flexible solutions to complex work problems and situations. Consistently ranked high on employer surveys of desired skills for new hires are creativity, innovation, and flexibility. Being able to think outside the box can help you stand out and grow in your career and there is nothing better than focusing on diversity to help you expand your thinking and creativity.

While it may appear to come naturally to some, you can help yourself by taking advantage of the many diverse activities and programs occurring on your campus and in your community. Step outside your comfort zone and leave the familiar to immerse yourself in something new and different. Challenge yourself to seek out peers outside your circle of friends when asked to participate in a group project or extra-curricular event. Expand your horizon and connect with groups in support of social justice, community service, or gender issues. Doing this will enrich your ability to consider the perspective of others and expand your network of contacts. These experiences will provide you with actual examples that can demonstrate to potential employers your interpersonal and communication skills, and your ability to work with others in a team situation.

How are you building your cultural awareness?


About The Author

Debra J Stark_ croppedphoto

Debra J. Stark, MA, is the Assistant Director of Employer Relations and Alumni Career Advisor at Ramapo College of New Jersey, where she has worked since 1996. In this role she advises both students and alumni, maintains the order and collection development of the Career Resource Center, administers and creates career development instruction modules for First Year students, teaches the upper level Career Achievement Program, and oversees the center’s career management system.


Social Media and Apps As Career Tools: How We Are Using Technology Today

CCS_authors | 12 October 2012 | no comments

Depending on how old you are, you may remember when you had to sit in front of a computer at your desk to read e-mails, look up information from known resources, and visit magazine or newspaper websites for the latest headlines. A lot has changed and continues to change!

Today, we’re connected all the time, accessing e-mails, text messages, web-based resources, and apps throughout the day. One of the big shifts in technology involves how we take in the information we need. In your career development, you will want a lot of information; about your career field or the one that you are exploring, organizations or companies where you might like to work, job listings, job search tools and advice, and networking contacts. And you’re likely to do the majority of your information gathering wherever you find yourself; whether it is at home, in the library, coffee shop, etc. using your laptop, tablet or Smartphone.

If you are launching your career, consider using social media and apps as career tools. 

Although magazines, newspapers, and the websites of brick-and-mortar resources are useful, social media has really expanded into an excellent career resource. For instance, two of the most common places to find current information about the world of work are Twitter and Facebook, where you can follow companies, organizations, associations, people, and more. Now, in addition to using traditional forms of social media for your career, you might be using apps as well! Apps are rapidly expanding to assist the internship or job seeker. As the trend toward social media, apps, and non-stop two-way communication continues to grow, employers are spending more time and money developing their social media resources, which means they are even better and more useful.

To learn more about useful career and job search apps, check out some of these articles that suggest and review mobile apps:

4 Mobile Apps to Simplify Your Life
6 Mobile Apps for Your Job Hunt
10 iPhone Apps to Manage Your Job Search on the Go
Job Search iPhone Apps:iPhone and iPad Apps for Job Searching

As technology continues to evolve, we’ll be looking for articles, resources, and tips to help you in your career.

What technology topics would you like to learn more about for your career?

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Create Your Own Career Success: Launching The Blog

CCS_authors | 05 October 2012 | no comments

We decided to write Creating Career Success: A Flexible Plan for the World of Work to help you create success on your own terms.

To do this, we knew we had to do three things.

  • We had to help you decide what’s important for you in a career.  This would involve learning about yourself, including what you do well, what you like to do, and what’s important to you.
  • Next, we knew you’d need skills to understand the current and evolving world of work. This would make it easier to identify careers that interest you and take advantage of opportunities throughout your lifetime.
  • Finally, we wanted to give you effective tools to market yourself—online and in person—for the opportunities that interest you most.

Using these three steps as the book’s foundation, the flexible plan began to take shape, and we created a plan of analysis and action in every chapter to help you make decisions and move forward.

We know that careers evolve and shift in the real world, in real time. Even as we wrote the book, bringing you examples from the real world, tips from the latest research-based findings, and suggestions for using technology in all stages of your career development, we were already looking forward to the changes ahead. That is exactly why we are starting this blog.

Our blog offers resources to teach a career course or create your own career success directly from us, the authors of Creating Career Success: A Flexible Plan for The World of Work.

Follow the blog and join us in a conversation about careers.  Here are just a few of the items already on our to-blog list:

  • Current issues in the news
  • New resources and tools
  • The latest technology
  • Fascinating research
  • Websites, blogs, and online resources
  • Topics that impact careers, from friendships to politics

With your feedback and input, we can share our thoughts, concerns, and adventures.  We hope this will enhance your interaction with the book, and also give you new ideas to consider. We look forward to helping you define your own career success and take the steps to create it!

What do you want to hear more about?


Using Creating Career Success

I’m excited to share free resources, tips, and more to help you create your own success!

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Francine Fabricant, EdD helps people rethink their opportunities and build careers that are personally meaningful and rewarding. Lead author of the award-winning college career book, Creating Career Success, she has worked at Hofstra University, the Fashion Institute of Technology, and Columbia University. Francine holds degrees from Barnard College and Teachers College, Columbia University and is a frequent speaker on career topics.


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