Every year, Virginia International University makes it a habit to visit our partner institutions, host Alumni Gatherings, share news and updates with local media outlets, attend college fairs, and award scholarships to new students in countries around the world. Maintaining strong global connections is what defines VIU’s mission as a destination university for students from both the USA and abroad. Our commitment to providing high quality, affordable education to those seeking to Dream, Discover, and Accomplish is at the core of what we do. During the week of June 18th until June 24th, Ms. Deborah Brent, AVP of Enrollment Management and Communications, represented VIU in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, where she visited with our university partners and schools and presented two full scholarships to Mr. Enkhjargal, Super Student Winner, at Ikh Zasag University and to Mr. Enkh-Erdene, the 2016 Winner of Mongolia’s Got Talent. In addition, Ms. Brent met with staff at the US Embassy and Education USA Advising Center regarding “Study in the USA” and hosted the VIU Alumni Dinner at La Viva Restaurant. Hearing the success stories of our graduates was truly inspiring as the education they received at VIU was clearly a life-changing experience for them. Ms. Brent was interviewed by Royal Academy TV, TV 5 and the Mongolian National Broadcast stations. While in Mongolia, she established new partnerships and stopped by one of our top agents, Intellectual Center for Mongolian Youth Education (ICMYE), that represents options for studying in the USA.

Gengghis Khan Monument

The hospitality of the Mongolian people, rich inviting culture, stunningly beautiful countryside, and modern city living made her trip to Mongolia diverse and full of memories. Ulaanbaatar is a city on the rise. New building developments are surrounded by classical Russian influenced architecture from the past. Statues of prominent Mongolian leaders compliment the incredible Government Building on the main square that is fashioned like an Italian Piazza. The capital city hosts a vibrant metropolitan area with fine restaurants, forward-thinking cuisine, and nightlife. Journeying to the countryside is breathtaking with stunning Mountain Views complimented by wildlife that include the infamous Wild Horses, Bactrian Camels, and Eagles used for hunting. The countryside resorts and Gers allow for a truly wonderful stay where the air is fresh and one is amongst the best of nature. Mongolia is a must-see country to be experienced and treasured as the land is as unique as the people.

VIU is proud of our long-standing relationships with institutions, students, and alumni located in the nation of Mongolia. Students coming from Mongolia are always a welcome addition to VIU’s global campus community. VIU currently has close to 40 active students from Mongolia and 146 Alumni putting their degrees to work. We are excited to continue being a university of choice located in the Washington, DC metropolitan area for our students hailing from Mongolia. VIU plans to make a return trip to Mongolia in the near future to continue building our network and supporting international student success.


Now that you have scored an interview with the company or organization of your dreams, it is time to get to work!  Below, we will highlight how you can use the job description posted by the company to prepare for any interview and feel confident during the interview. The job description one of the biggest tools that you can use to prepare.

Company Overview

In this section, the company is providing you with a little bit of information about itself, the role, and how it fits into the organization. This information is generally a summary of the mission, vision, and values of the company.  Note the words chosen and any areas of interest.  At this point, you should determine what areas you want to review for more information.  Write down any questions that you may have or areas that you want to research prior to the interview.  For example, if the organization is looking to find a creative or innovative individual, you might want to ask, “How they support an individual in being innovative or creative?”

Job Duties

Carefully read and write down any questions that you may have based off the job duties.  After you have done that, specifically look at each of the job duties and then write down an example of when you have done each of the tasks in the past or when you have done something similar to that as well as any outcomes associated with that task. The more specific you are in your notes, the more prepared you will be for your interview.    For example, if the organization is looking for someone to audit something, they might ask you to “Share your experience auditing in the past and how successful you have been in doing that”.   If they did that during the interview, you would be able to glance at your notes and instantly jog your memory so that you can share an example.

When looking at the job duties, remember to write down any time that you had a challenge with one of the job duties too.  Sometimes a company will ask you to explain a time when you were challenged by a task.


Similarly to the job duties, read the preferred and required qualifications.  Again, write down any questions that you have.  Then, for any of the soft skills, write an example of how you have utilized the skills with any associated outcomes.  For example, if they are looking for someone with excellent customer-relations skills, you would write down an example of how you achieved that.

Now that you have gone through and completed the strengths that you had with your qualifications, you should go through one more time and create an example of when you did not excel at the soft skills. This will prepare you for questions similar to this, “Can you please share a time when you made a mistake and had to inform the customer? What actions did you take and what, if anything did you learn?”

The last key thing to do is write up your notes in an organized manner and take them with you to the interview!  Good luck!

For any professional or college student embarking on their degree, reaching a wide network of like-minded people is essential to building a career in business. In the old days of job search, prospective employees typically cold-called HR departments and mailed out hundreds of resumes often with little result. For today’s job seeker looking for their first or next position, you need a professional-looking LinkedIn profile which is where career professionals and recruiters go first. Building your personal brand on LinkedIn is the first step. But how to start?

Here are 5 essential steps for building your personal brand on LinkedIn:

  1. Make Your Headline Count – it’s important that your headline stand out from all of the thousands that are already out there. For example, a profile headline that reads “10-years’ experience in Finance” describes your experience but not your accomplishments. Plus, a headline like this will not inspire job recruiters to seek you out. A much more effective headline would be: “A Finance professional highly skilled in making numbers come to life.” A headline like that shows your creativity and makes readers want to read more. And don’t forget to include a professional-looking picture of yourself. As my colleagues at LinkedIn say, use a photo that’s friendly, professional, and approachable.
  2. Connect with People in the Industry You Want to Work In – many professionals make the mistake of connecting with anybody and everybody. Their thinking goes something like this: “it’s important for me to connect with as many people as possible.” This strategy is too broad so narrow your connections to those in the industry you want to work in.
  3. Publish on LinkedIn – publish your own content on LinkedIn to showcase to your network the issues you care about like leadership, non-profit marketing, or rescue animals. Once you begin to publish on the LinkedIn Publisher platform, you’ll quickly see a spike in your profile views.
  4. Customize Your Story Feed by Following Those Who Matter Most – simply follow the people and topics that matter most to you and unfollow those that don’t. For example, experts and influencers like Tony Robbins, Jack and Suzy Welch provide a ton of free advice on topics related to business.
  5. Create a LinkedIn SlideShare Account – if you’ve recently presented a PowerPoint presentation at a conference or professional meeting, upload it to SlideShare. Why? With more than 400,000 new pieces of content added each month, SlideShareis the world’s largest professional content-sharing community. On an average day, nearly 4 million people visit LinkedIn SlideShare. That’s just on desktop. Can you really afford to overlook that number of eyeballs?

So, there you have it, some quick and easy steps to build your personal brand on LinkedIn.

In my previous blog, I discussed about the importance of supplementing the knowledge gain from college with universal basic skills to become effective and efficient in a professional life. In this blog, I will focus on how networking skills will benefit new graduates to maximize their chance of getting their dream jobs.

Career Development scholars apply the iceberg analogy to demonstrate the visibility of potential jobs in current labor market environment.  According to this theory, only 20% of the iceberg is visible to our eye whereas 80% is hidden beneath the water surface. Using this analogy, Carter & Izumo (2014), argued that only a very small portion of potential jobs are visible over advertising while most of them are hidden from the potential labor market.  Therefore, in order to exploit those hidden employment opportunities, job seekers need to develop and utilize their networking skills.

As outlined by the same authors, here are some major hidden job opportunities that deserve consideration:

  • Visiting prospective employers even if they have no open position now is one area to explore. Discussing about unique capacities, job seekers have, may initiate managers to realize some unmet needs they did not even recognize existing before. If managers decided to meet those needs by opening new positions, the first people they will contact will be the job seekers who initiated the new positions.
  • Networking will also help job seekers to discover potential jobs that are not yet announced but possible to be available in the near future. There may be positions that will be available since someone is relocating/ leaving shortly or new project and expansions is starting soon.
  • In many instances, employers are announcing job openings internally anticipating that their own employees may recommend the right people for those openings. Job seekers with very good networking skills may exploit these opportunities.

The most common way of seeking a job after graduating from college is by searching from official job postings. As discussed above, open jobs constitute the smaller portion of potential jobs available in the labor market. Besides, since open jobs are available in many online and print outlets, hundreds and thousands of applicants are competitive for those limited positions.  For new college graduates, it will be tougher to stand out from the crowd and get the job offer because they have very limited previous work experiences. Hence, developing networking skills to exploit the huge hidden job markets is a wise decision from new college graduates.

Source: Carter, C. & G. Izumo, (2014), Career Tool Kit: Skills for Success, Fourth ed. Pearson Education Inc. Boston, MA.

Post written by Dr. Zelalem Chala.

Is your cover letter as strong as your resume? Cover letters are just as important as resumes, but many job applicants don’t put the same level of effort into them as they do with a resume or do not include one at all when applying for a job. A good cover letter can make the difference between getting an interview and not getting a call back.

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