Our October Success: Zhan Wen Li (’16)

Zhan came to Clarkson as a first-generation international college student after her mother moved to the U.S. to give her a brighter future. Shy when she landed in our Writing Center, Zhan practically lived here over her four years, working with consultants to improve her Univ 190 journal entries in her first year, running through her “speed interviewing” answers for the career fair, and utilizing our services for her resume development and numerous cover letters.

But it was her senior Honors Thesis where she perhaps gained the most help — from survey construction and feedback, to refining her ideas for a research model, we didn’t just edit her grammar, we challenged her to think about her research in terms of novelty, validity, and reliability. Her work, a proposed model and study to test consumer perceptions and potential purchase among For Profit company structures vs. Socially-Responsible Companies with varying profit structures, was accepted to an entrepreneurship conference in California, which she attended in the spring semester prior to graduation. Zhan is sharp and hardworking and her goal attainment is all due to her drive and acumen. At the same time, she also she credits resources like the Writing Center for aiding in her skill development and communication.

Zhan graduated in 2016 and is launching her career with IBM (Chicago) as an enterprise application consultant. She was back on campus this fall for the 2016 Career Fair, sitting on the OTHER side of the table for IBM recruiters. She said this was an amazing experience, because she was able to see what applicant attributes and characteristics employers value, and she said she better understood how important a resume is regarding whether a candidate even gets a foot in the door. Notable, she said, you have to be explicity front and center in identifying what you are looking for (job vs. internship vs co-op) and when you are graduating. “If a recruiter didn’t see a graduation date in the first few seconds of examining the resume, it was put aside,” notes Zhan of the process. She said the recruiters with whom she was assisting noted they didn’t have time to search resumes for that kind of expected information. “If they had to guess at what it was you wanted and when you were ready to start, you were excluded right away,” she added. In addition, recruiters stated resumes should include not what you “did” (doing) in a professional experience, but how you added value or what you accomplished. This is great advice to students looking to improve their resumes and get noticed.

Forever a life-long learner, Zhan hopes to someday pursue her MBA and to continue to refine her communication skills, including writing. Her visit to campus included a stop in the Writing Center for a nostalgic proofread of some of her professional materials like her resume and cover letters, as well as a paper for her second degree from Clarkson, which she will complete in May 2017, in the School of Business major in Data Analytics.

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