Fair Spring is upon us and campus is awash with the visual delights it brings. Seersucker is resplendent in striped glory;
white bucks gleam with care; pastel colors abound with new vigor; and the bow
tie graces the neck of many an Auburn Gentleman. With all of these clothing inspirations
strutting before us, some may even be tempted to purchase a new bow for their
job search or to jazz up their already established professional wardrobe, but before
you saunter into your favorite men’s clothier and commit to becoming a member
of that most noble and honored league of bow wearers there are several things
On the Job Interview
It is important to note that bow wearers are in the tie minority. When you see them you notice them. Bows are individual, striking and at times
loud. It takes a certain amount of moxy
to confidently wear a bow in a straight tie dominated world. They do a magnificent job of drawing
attention to oneself. So at this point
you’re likely saying to yourself: “By Jove, then the bow is the perfect way for
me to stand out from my peers and have jealous looks cast upon me. I’m rushing to the haberdashery this very
instant.” Cool your jets Bennie. As a
bow tie wearer myself it brings me great pain to write these next words, but…
DO NOT wear a bow tie to your interview.
Yes you will stand out, yes you will be remembered, but often not for
the reasons you desire.
I know, you’re likely a little morose at this point. I’ve spent all this time discussing how
amazing bow ties are and now suddenly, a stupendous let down. You’re thinking, “But Torey, Robert Frost
said to take the road less traveled and it made him happy as a lark in
springtime. Surely he knows what he’s talking about.” Don’t listen to Robert Frost, he’s a dead poet
laureate. I am your alive career
counselor, and in this instance conformity is suggested.
if you will, this scenario. Two dapperly
dressed gentlemen interview for a position.
Both are smartly fitted in dark suits; matching shoes and belt; well-manicured and coiffed
hair; but one wears a straight tie, the other a bow tie. They both provide articulate, well-delivered
and thought out answers to pivotal interview questions. Our traditionally tied friend is remembered
later for his pointed responses, the diverse use of language and delivery. Our bow tie wearing friend is remembered as
“that guy who wore a bow tie”. Which of
these do you think wins? If you guessed the former, you would be correct.
The entire, let me repeat that, entire point
of an interview is to be remembered for how well you sold your candidacy as a
potential employee. Instead, if all you
are remembered for is your accoutrement selection, then you have failed. In the vast majority of interview situations
the bow tie is not your friend. Stick
with the traditional, if however tired, straight tie. Your future paycheck will thank me and you
for it, and once you have the job you can reward yourself. Go on, newly hired employee, get that bow,
you deserve it.
On the Job
Once you have secured your hard-won employment our tie discussion changes. Without question, our dear poet laureate
friend Frost gives terrible advice about the interview attire, but on the job he’s
not that bad. However, before you break
out that brocaded floral paisley number in tasteful lilac, cream and accents of
gold, you should pay attention to your workplace culture. Notice what your fellow employees are
wearing. Are ties of any sort common?
Have you seen an elusive bow before? Is there a strict dress code policy? Will you be castigated, called mean names and
subjected to all sorts of heinous treatment for daring to wear a bow? Ok, maybe
not that last one, but you get the picture.
A bow tie can be a great way to punch up a drab professional wardrobe or to
showcase a little personality. (I have a
fondness for those tasteful floral paisley numbers; bold stripes and polka
dots, but that’s just me.) Recognize, the
thing about wearing bow ties is that you must be confident. One cannot wear a bow tie think every whisper
a verbal jab or every finger pointed a spear of judgment. They could just be marveling at your taste
and refinement. Will disparaging
comments be made, probably, but they’re likely just jealous. Pay them no mind.
Bow ties are fun, and if you are going to wear one have fun with it. Don’t be afraid of their tying complexity
(Pro Tip: They’re Not), nor the looks of the passerby. We started with a question —–should you bow
tie or should you not bow tie– and now an answer: it depends. As in all things, use critical thinking, do
your research and above all else ask your alive career counselor if you have a
My sister-in-law, who is a freshman in college, came to visit sunny Alabama for spring break. We talked about her college classes, her
friends, joining the intramural bowling team, and finally came to the topic
every relative of every college freshman trots out during family gatherings
since, well, the dawn of higher education.
Turns out, she likes her ancient history class and knows all the names of early Roman emperors. She fantasizes about traveling to the
Mediterranean to dig up the bones of our pre-historic ancestors. I thought as
hard as I could, accessing all my career super-powers, and acclaimed, “Have you
thought about majoring in history or anthropology?”
She had, of course. Astonishing how many people know what they want without even a counselor’s super-powers. Then:
“But you can’t do anything with a history major.”
Ah, my friends, here, as Hamlet says, is the rub. What will the history major do after she’s graduated? Or, for that matter, the English,
art, philosophy, music, Spanish, or theater major? It’s no secret only a select
few write the next great American novel or land roles on Broadway, and these
few not only made the best grades, gained huge amounts of related experience
since age five, and created connections with all the right people. Plenty of
liberal arts majors have done the same. The “professional” liberal artists of
our generation also were born under some, even if it’s barely twinkling, lucky
star. The hard truth is that, yes, almost all liberal arts majors do not “do”
what they “went to school for.”
But not being able to do anything with a liberal arts degree? That’s just unimaginative. You’re a liberal arts
major, right? Haven’t you learned to be creative? To find answers to problems
in new ways?
What about those excellent writing skills you gained in Personal Essays 311? You learned to work as a team with every cast and crew member for
the curtain go up on opening night, right? What about that verbal fluidity you
loved cultivating in Ethics, ferreting out holes in classmates’ arguments? And
hey, didn’t you perform well under pressure during your senior recital, even
though you also took four classes and served at Mellow Mushroom this spring? These
are called transferable skills , and, my dear liberal arts major,
employers want them.
I’ll tell you another secret: these employers don’t care if you developed these skills as a business major, family studies major, or liberal
arts major, but they need you to make that connection between your degree and
your transferable skills for them. It’s up to you to explicitly flash the following
in neon lights: “Developed Strong Leadership Capabilities Through Stage
Managing Cast Of 50.” Otherwise, they’ll never know how jam-packed full of
skills that theater degree really is.
Who are these employers? And how do you find them?
Honestly, they’re everywhere. Now, these employers certainly do not hire liberal arts
majors for positions that require specific degree paths (think nurses,
engineers, architects, etc.), but every engineering firm and every hospital
needs people to organize, schedule, promote their services, and basically keep
their business running. Find a company or organization you like, and look at
the position posting section on their website. I guarantee you’ll find
positions for the liberal arts major, more than likely camouflaged in titles
like “Coordinator,” “Outreach Assistant,” or “Social Media Editor.” Truly,
liberal arts majors can be found anywhere, and do not just end up in education
(tell that to the aunt who inevitably asks at holiday dinners, “What are you
going to do with that- teach?!”), unless, of course, they want to be teaching.
But there’s another glitch to gaining that position. Not only does the savvy liberal arts major market her transferable skills well, she
plans ahead. She knows that it’s not enough to just have a degree, but that
almost all employers are looking for related experience. If she’s going to be hired right after
graduation, that means she has to gain experience while still in school. This
means pursuing an internship, co-op, or volunteer opportunity within the
industry in which you’re hoping to work.
So, go on, major in your most-loved subject, and create a career plan. Be prepared that, more than likely, your career following
graduation may not be exactly in that
subject area. This may be frustrating. I argue that if you’re convinced you
shouldn’t major in art because you won’t be able be able to use that degree,
well, then you spend your entire college career and beyond not doing art. But
if you major in art knowing you might not get to use all aspects of your art
degree, you at least spend four years immersed in your passion, and then
hopefully are in a better position to either engage in art in your spare time following
graduation while earning a living, or find ways to incorporate your passion
into your current position.
For example, an English major who works in a career center can volunteer to write a blog post on using a liberal arts degree.
Graduate Assistant in the Career Center
pursuing PhD in Counseling Psychology
Bachelor of Arts in Theater and English
Bradley Addison, a senior in Supply Chain Management at Auburn University, landed a full-time job with Dow Corning after interning for them during summer 2012. I talked to Bradley recently about his internship experience and asked for his advice to other students considering an internship experience.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am currently a senior and will be graduating August 2013. I have always enjoyed being
involved on campus with various student organizations such as ASCMA, DEI, Alpha
Kappa Psi, and the College of Business Student Council. I always make a point
to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way and to take the
initiative needed to be successful. My goals are set high and I will use my
strong work ethic and drive to achieve those goals.
Where did you intern and when did the internship take place?
I participated in a Procurement Internship
with Dow Corning this past summer 2012 in Mt. Meigs, AL.
Describe your internship experience and the responsibilities you had.
I was given goals and responsibilities for my internship that allowed me to get a
picture of Dow Corning and the industry that it was in as well as gain some
experience in the Procurement function of the organization. My
- Analyze site spend and achieve an annualized cost savings goal
- Map and document workflows of the site to identify bottlenecks and improve efficiency
- Evaluate INCO terms of supplier base
- Interface with site suppliers
- Present findings and project progression to site and corporate management
My internship experience was very valuable not only to my professional
development, but to my industry knowledge development as well. I applied things
I learned in the classroom to my internship and then applied things I learned
during my internship to the classroom. I could apply the concepts I was
learning in class to the real-world experiences I had with my internship.
I was even flown out to Kentucky to participate in an intern trip that toured the
company’s facilities in Kentucky and Tennessee. It was a great networking
Have you participated in any other internship opportunities during your college career?
This was my first true internship experience. I have worked for the Auburn University
Career Center since I arrived at Auburn as a student Peer Event Planner but
have not worked directly in the Supply Chain Management area of a company.
Do you recommend that other Auburn students participate in internships and why?
I not only recommend, but think that it is essential for students to participate in
an internship. It will give you an immediate advantage when searching for
full-time employment. Even if you end up not enjoying your internship as much
as you would have liked, it will still give you great experience and will
provide you with effective talking points during an interview. You will gain
hands-on experience in your field of study and will have incredible networking
opportunities with professionals in your field. Cast your net wide and apply
for as many internships as you can. Do not get discouraged if you are rejected!
With enough effort you are almost guaranteed to receive some type of
What are your career plans following graduation?
I was interviewed at the conclusion of my internship for full-time positions. I was
offered a job and accepted it within a couple of months. I will be moving to
Midland, Michigan to work at Dow Corning’s corporate headquarters in a
Transportation Management and Supply Chain Planning role.
If you are willing to relocate, career opportunities will greatly increase for you!