Wendy Rose

Big Interview: Digital Interviewing and Preparation

Interviewing is the crucial stage where you get to demonstrate your fit with an organization.  You can get started preparing with our Interview Prep site, Big Interview.  Review questions by industry, practice answering questions, and send your responses to be reviewed if you like.  

Get started preparing with our CSU Interview Guide

 Then visit our online mock interview site, Big Interview.  

TIPS: Be sure to record your answers and have someone review them for additional feedback! 

  • You can share these by clicking my videos, selecting which answers you would like reviewed, and clicking share
  • We encourage you to have friends and family review these or you can have us look at up to 3 answers by emailing your links to career_InterviewReview@colostate.edu. 

Maria Zamarripa, MS, RD

Nutrition and the ‘Net

How Telehealth is Changing the Game for Nutrition Entrepreneurs

So you’re interested in nutrition and/or fitness, but the idea of sitting in an office or confined to the walls of a hospital for 40 hours per week doesn’t rev your engine. I can relate.

“I felt stifled and uninspired”

When I pictured the notion of private practice during my undergraduate studies, this is what came to mind: a brick and mortar business, a huge investment/risk, and lots of overhead costs (think rent, insurance, advertising material, scheduling software, the works). The thought of “going out on my own” scared me, and I always thought I would feel much happier in a more regimented and secure job environment. Yet, within 2 years of working as a registered dietitian in a hospital setting, I felt stifled and uninspired. Sure, I enjoyed working with my patients and helping others, but the same day-to-day routine had me feeling stuck. There HAS to be something more, I would think to myself.

“The demand has skyrocketed”

In the past five years, the demand for virtual healthcare (telehealth) has skyrocketed. But what exactly is telehealth? Telehealth is a relatively new phenomenon that is sweeping the healthcare industry as we know it. Telehealth is a method by which health care providers, such as dietitians and health coaches, communicate with patients without physically seeing them in the office. After learning more about telehealth, I began to notice other dietitians on social media catching onto this trend, and my interest was sparked. I began to wonder if I could make a business out of this.

“When I finally launched my telehealth business and blog, I felt a surge of excitement and hopefulness. I knew this is what I was meant to do. I could feel it.”

Telehealth benefits both parties in many ways. The startup costs for the provider, for example, are much lower. This allows dietitians to work remotely, set their own hours, and the opportunity to slowly grow an online business while still making money at their day job (i.e. less monetary risk). It also expands the reach of potential clients, as we are no longer limited to the geographical area. The benefit for the clients, is that appointments can be done from anywhere they have access to a phone and/or internet.

“Technology has made the delivery of nutrition counseling and education more convenient and accessible for both the dietitian and the client.”

Technology has made the delivery of nutrition counseling and education more convenient and accessible for both the dietitian and the client. For months, I grappled with many of my own fears and insecurities about branching out into my own virtual nutrition business. I would worry, “what would people think?” or “what if I fail?”. When I finally launched my telehealth business and blog, I felt a surge of excitement and hopefulness. I knew this is what I was meant to do. I could feel it. It hasn’t been easy. The learning curve for online marketing, social media management, and website design was huge for me. But, I have learned a lot in just the short time that my business has been alive.


Here are three key recommendations when launching your own virtual or telehealth business:


1. Pick a niche.

As the saying goes, “a generalist knows less and less about more and more, until eventually he knows nothing about everything”. Narrowing into a specific nutrition niche will allow you to target your ideal customer even more. What are you passionate about? Do you love to cook and develop tasty recipes with a healthy twist? Maybe the healthy food blog avenue is your niche. Do you love counseling others about mindful eating, and having a healthy relationship with food? Perhaps an intuitive eating focus is the right avenue. I didn’t find my functional nutrition and gastrointestinal niche until 3 years into my career, and that’s OK too. To help find your niche, do some research. Listen to podcasts, search for blogs of various health professionals, or research articles on the topics that interest you.


2. Gain trust from your following.

Popular Social Media Apps

Social media is 100 percent necessary to grow your online business. Start developing relationships with those that follow you. Engage with your followers by commenting on their posts and asking meaningful questions to build trust in your brand. Provide value to your followers by educating, inspiring, or entertaining. The engagement and trust value is much more important than the number of followers, so don’t be discouraged if your following is not huge when first starting out.


3. Show up every day.

Building an online business does not happen overnight. Many online entrepreneurs slowly grow their business for 2 to 5 years before having the freedom to make it their full-time job. What sets these people apart? They show up every day. Whether it is posting on social media, working on a blog post, or listening to an informative podcast on the drive to work, making time for your business is key to achieving success.

Creating an online nutrition business is not limited to registered dietitians, or college graduates. It is never too early to spread your knowledge. You may be asking: how do I get started? Once you have decided upon a niche (hint: it’s OK if you end up switching interests down the line, I did!), then a good next step is to start a blog. This is a great way to get your feet wet in the online health sphere. Most online nutrition entrepreneurs need a blog to keep interest and traffic going to their website. Pinterest is a great way to get ideas about setting up your blog, and structuring your blog posts in a manner that is interesting to your readers. Other helpful business resources include the Smart Passive Income Podcast by Pat Flynn, and the Online Marketing Made Easy Podcast by Amy Porterfield.

“It is important to realize that your opportunities as a health and/or nutrition major are widespread far beyond the walls of an office or hospital”


“Your opportunities are widespread and far beyond the walls of an office”

Ultimately, it is important to realize that your opportunities as a health and/or nutrition major are widespread and far beyond the walls of an office or hospital. Technology has opened many pathways for telehealth, blogging, and making money online for health entrepreneurs. A powerful mantra that I often refer to in my online business is this: “if it is both terrifying and amazing, then it’s a sign you should pursue it”. The sky is the limit.


About the Author

Maria Zamarripa, MS, RD is a registered dietitian and owner of Food Farmacist RD, a virtual nutrition business and blog based out of Denver, Colorado. Maria specializes in food sensitivities and functional nutrition, and supports the notion of using wholesome food to act as our primary “farmacy”.

Connect with Maria on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/maria-zamarripa-ms-rd-a5121258/
Connect with Maria on Instagram: @foodfarmacistrd

Katie Lindquist

Exploring While You’re Undeclared

“What are you studying?” You’ve undoubtedly been asked this question at least 5 times, just during your first week of college. I remember being asked this question so often during my first year, and I remember feeling the awkwardness that would take over the conversation when I responded with, “I’m undeclared.” People would almost always respond to me in one of two ways; they’d say, “Oh, that’s okay,” or “What do you think you want to study?” When people responded to me with, “Oh, that’s okay,” it made me feel like there was an expectation that I should feel ashamed for being undeclared. When they responded with, “what do you think you want to study,” it made me feel like I needed to justify being undeclared to them because even though I did have interests in a few majors, I was still undeclared because I hadn’t decided on one yet. While these people always meant well, their responses acted as a reminder to me that our society has difficulty accepting uncertainty around education. Very few people know exactly what they want to do after college, especially not during their first year of college. So why do we expect everyone to know? People are afraid to waste time in college without having a major or a plan, but honestly, sometimes admitting you don’t have a plan is the best way to stay on track in college. An article on USA today explains “approximately 80% of students change their majors before they graduate” (National Center for Education Statistics). When you are early on in your college career, being undeclared means that you are taking general education courses that can be used for almost any major you choose. If you declare a major, some of the classes you take will be more specific and may not transfer as easily to other majors. This means that being undeclared and then declaring a major can be a simpler process than declaring a major and then switching it.
Something to keep in mind as an undeclared student is that it is important to be purposeful in your choices. It is okay to not know what you want to do, but it will be the most beneficial if you use your time while undeclared to explore your options.
Here are some tips on how I used being undeclared to make purposeful choices in my education:

Plan backwards- when I was a first year student, I met with Jon Linn, a career education manager at the Career Center. He told me to first think about what career I wanted, and then plan my education around that. This helped me to make choices in college that would keep me on a path for attaining the career I want after I graduate.

Meet with an advisor for a major you’re interested in- Thinking about majoring in Political Science? Schedule an appointment with a Political Science advisor! Doing this can provide a much more clear picture of what each major can offer you so you can see if it aligns with your goals. They can give you a list of the required courses, tell you about what most students do with the major, and give you an overall feel of the department.

Get involved- If there’s a major you’re curious about, try to get involved in it even before you declare. You can do this by speaking with a professor in the department, getting involved in research, joining a department’s club, or even applying for internships in that industry. These will allow you to test out the major to see if you enjoy it!

About the Author

Katie Lindquist works at Colorado State University’s Career Center. Here, Katie an event planning and public relations intern, where she works on implementing the Career Center goals through planning and student outreach. Katie is a soon-to-be graduate of CSU, studying Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts with a concentration in Communication Studies and a minor in Business Administration.
Her goal is to use communication to create environments of authenticity, self-expression, and collaboration.

Katie Lindquist

Making the Most Out of College

People say that college is the best four years of your life, and the truth is, college is whatever you make it. You’ve been through trials, heartbreak, and wonderful experiences to get here. Now you are situated in a unique position. You are surrounded by people whose minds are ready to share and absorb new perspectives; you are surrounded by intellectually stimulating conversations, academia, professional opportunities, and a brand new community. Now you have two options: Dive in or hide away.


Diving into new experiences could be intimidating, but I can promise you it is worth it. Sometimes all that we need to be bold and dive in is a little bit of re-framing our way of thinking about intimidating experiences.

Here are some tips to help motivate yourself to make the most of your experience:


  1. Stay curious– We have so much access to new ideas and new experiences that it’s sometimes natural for us to want to reject it. I want to challenge you to take a moment to consider a new perspective, and to decide whether you agree with it or not later. This way, you will allow yourself to grow and develop a deeper understanding of your own beliefs, as well as the beliefs of others.


  1. Get past the first 15 seconds– Going to a new club meeting or activity where you don’t know anyone can be nerve-wracking. It’s easy to decide to avoid it and stay in your comfort zone instead, but what’s the fun in that? When I was a first-year student, I wanted to try out new clubs and organizations on campus, but I didn’t know anyone and felt super nervous to attend the events alone. Something that helped me was to remind myself that I just needed to get through the first 15 seconds of the experience. The hardest part of something new is forcing yourself to take the leap, but once you do, all you have to do is just ride it out and see what happens. For instance, if there is a student organization that you want to join, and you are going to an event alone, the hardest part is often just getting yourself through the doors, and saying “hello” to a new person. Once you get past that moment, you start to see that there are other people there who feel the same way as you do, and the event doesn’t feel so intimidating anymore.


  1. Think of each experience as a story that you can tell later– When you put yourself out there and dive into new experiences, sometimes they won’t turn out the way you expected them to — and that is okay. Don’t get me wrong, it is still important to trust your instincts and remind yourself that if you do feel uncomfortable for any reason, you have every right to get yourself out of the situation. But if you find yourself in a moment that is just not what you were expecting it to be, or just kind of awkward, don’t turn that tension inward by blaming yourself. Instead, just let yourself be entertained by the moment, and later tell the story to someone you know well and laugh about it.


  1. You are not committed to something just because you tried it-  You think you may be interested in rock climbing, but you’re not sure. You start to doubt yourself, you think, “well, I’ve never been interested in it before, it’s not who I am, I don’t belong there.” But what’s the harm in trying it? When you look back on your college experience, you probably will not regret that time, sophomore year when you joined rock climbing club for two weeks and decided that you didn’t enjoy the early mornings so you quit. Sometimes you get an urge to try out something new. Maybe you’ll love it, maybe you’ll get bored of it after a month. Either way, you gained value from the experience. Every time you try out a new club, you become familiar with new faces that you can smile at on your walk to class. You gain a fun fact to share at work events. You gain a stepping stone that will guide you closer to the knowledge of what you enjoy and value, and knowing what you don’t.


  1. Be creative– CSU has so many resources available to you, and by taking the time to learn about them, you can find creative ways to set yourself up with some amazing opportunities. For instance, when I was a first-year student, I was very interested in studying psychology. I decided that I didn’t want to major in it, because I wasn’t necessarily interested in a career in Psychology. CSU doesn’t have a minor in Psychology, so I decided that I would get involved in the department through speaking with my professor. My second year at CSU, I was able to work in her research lab and become a teaching assistant for her Psych 100 class, which gave me the opportunity to continue learning and teaching others about Psychology, without taking the traditional pathway of declaring it as a major.


  1. Enjoy each moment for what it is– Sometimes you try something new and sometimes it doesn’t work out. Maybe you aren’t hired for a job you were really excited to apply for, or maybe you get rejected from a performance that you auditioned for. When these moments happen, it is easy to blame yourself and become discouraged. Instead, try to view these moments as just being a small piece in a larger puzzle. You’re still building your skillset. Ask for constructive feedback when you can, so you know what you can do to improve. Remember that life isn’t happening to you, it’s happening for you. Sometimes what you want in the moment is not going to work out simply because you need to leave room for something even better. Just remember your value, and try not to take rejections personally. Keep learning from them, working on them, and stay open to new opportunities, because some of the best experiences in life show up in disguise.


As I think back to my first year of college, it amazes me to reflect on how different I was. There were times when my attempts to get involved and experience new things resulted in awkward moments, and some moments that I wouldn’t repeat, but looking back on my college experience, I have no regrets. The truth is, I needed each and every one of those moments in order to become the person that I am now. They opened my mind, they gave me funny stories to share, and taught me lessons that will last a lifetime.

About the Author

Katie Lindquist works at Colorado State University’s Career Center. Here, Katie an event planning and public relations intern, where she works on implementing the Career Center goals through planning and student outreach. Katie is a soon-to-be graduate of CSU, studying Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts with a concentration in Communication Studies and a minor in Business Administration.
Her goal is to use communication to create environments of authenticity, self-expression, and collaboration.

Michele Bratschun

Celebrating the Great Outdoors

A Career in the National Park Service by CSU Alum

A career in the National Park Service is as diverse and interesting as the people who make up the National Park and public lands workforce. And although there are many challenges ahead for the future of public lands, people like Michele Bratschun, a CSU alumnae, find their careers to be incredibly rewarding.

So what exactly is the National Park Service?

If you have ever enjoyed a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park in our own backyard, or have taken a road trip to the Grand Tetons or Yellowstone, you can thank the National Park Service for making it all possible. Since 1916, they have been putting extraordinary efforts into safeguarding and caring for the national lands. They’re revitalizing communities and sustaining cultures across the United States by preserving the land that holds so many stories and so much information.

To give you an idea of the breadth and depth of the work of the National Park Service, here are some things to know:

• National parks log more than 720 million visits per year.
• National and state parks have an economic impact on their communities to the tune of $20 billion.
• There are more than 38,000 miles of trails, 221,000 campsites, and 8,000 lodges and cabins at national parks.

People like Michele Bratschun play their significant part in making these places a reality for all of us. Currently, Michele is the coordinator for the BioBlitz Festival of the National Park Service. The BioBlitz Festival is a two-day festival that gathers thousands of visitors to learn more about biodiversity within the National Parks we all know and love. It partners with National Geographic to offer outstanding resources and training for those who attend, and the festival helps to bring awareness and action to our part in keeping these public lands operating.

Michele’s career has taken her a variety of places from teaching in schools, to working up at the CSU Mountain campus, and even to Costa Rica for a work abroad trip. Throughout all of this, Michele learned that it was entirely important to be mission-driven. To that end, she realized that her values aligned well with the mission of National Park Service, which is to protect natural resources for all that future generations to come. Not to mention, Michele’s role allows her to use her skills in program planning, teaching, and the outdoors throughout her days.

How does she do that, you ask?

Much of her work plays exactly what is trending in the field right now. On the front end, Michele is educating visitors to the parks on what they do for the land, for the ecosystem, and for all of us through specialized programming throughout the year. That means she is teaching the ever-increasing number of visitors how to have a positive experience by taking care of their surroundings. The behind-the-scenes efforts look like stewarding limited budgets well, managing resources within ecosystems, and working collaboratively with other land management agencies and partners.

To do all this, Michele offers up a handful of key skills it takes to have a career in the National Park Service. “Teamwork, emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills, flexibility, being able to work with others. Those are big. But the most significant of all is a passion for conservation work. If you don’t have a passion, it will be difficult to thrive in this environment.”

Another career tip Michele gave us was about the story of her supervisor who taught her the strategy of an “easy yes.” She says: “If you think about where you want to go in your career and what skills you need to get there, think about what activity you can do in your current job that can give you those skills then think through the benefits to yourself, your supervisor, and your company then approach your supervisor expressing your idea and explaining these benefits.”

And finally, Michelle would encourage you to “gain mastery of USAjob.gov, network with as many people as you can, and make sure to get that hands on experience.”

To learn more about the National Park Service and all the work they do, check them out here.

Continue the conversation on the CSU Career Center’s Facebook or LinkedIn page.

About the Author

Michele Bratschun is a CSU Alumnae who studied recreation and tourism environmental communication. Over the course of her career so far, she taught school-aged children at the CSU Mountain Campus and did environmental education, guiding tours around the mountains tours all centered on natural resources. Michele then went on to teach in an elementary school for Teach for America and found that although she loved teaching, she needed to be back outside. Combining the joy being outside bring her and passions for language, culture, natural resources, Michele has found a great fit within her current position as the BioBlitz Festival Coordinator for the National Park Service. If you’re interested in connecting with Michele further, connect with her on LinkedIn!

Kristyn Emmer

So You Want to Work in Hospitality?

It seems that there is quite a wide range of views when it comes to the industry of hospitality. Often times, people can think it’s simply hotels and food service, but the industry defines itself much broader and much more exciting than the narrow view many have. Even that, though, is a misstep. According to the Intercontinental hotels group report, there are around 15.5 million hotel rooms around the world, which the large majority of them are in New York City (not surprisingly).

Beyond that, the hospitality industry maybe surprisingly spreads to lodging, the airline industry, cruising, any form of transportation, event planning, and tourism generally. So with all those pathways, there is plenty to talk about when it comes to hospitality, so let’s dig in to the real news about this industry.

You’ll have a wide range of career options. That’s right. No matter where your passion lies, it’s highly likely there is a place for you in the industry. You’ll have your choice from operations, as in managing the front desk of a hotel, restaurant logistics, and banqueting. In fact, if senior management is your lane, then you’ll be excited to learn that promotions in this field are quick and come often.

Perhaps you love marketing and design, sales, or finance, hospitality needs you. Maybe you love taking care of the needs of people or you love entertainment, you can find a place here.

Or maybe you’re a person who loves a whole wide range of things and has a difficult time pinning it down, the hospitality industry welcomes people side stepping into other career paths seamlessly.

You can truly go everywhere in the world. Hospitality really is the world’s language. It’s an industry that is understood all over the world and is needed for the economy to go. So if you’re itching to see the world and explore what’s out there, the hospitality industry could take you there.

In fact, you might not even have to switch companies in order to get there. Many organizations that are well known in the industry have a presence all over the world. With that, though, be aware you might have to learn another language or two to actually be where you want to be.

You’ll work with fantastic people. Because this industry is all about interacting with people, both colleagues and customers, you are guaranteed to meet some incredible people in the world. This is, after all, the business of making people happy, so you are bound to work with mostly vibrant, excited, passionate people.

In addition to that, this is an industry that really touches people from all walks of life. That means on any given day, you’re getting to see parents and teenagers and the elderly and children and newlyweds and work travelers. It’s a field that will always keep you moving in that respect.

With all this said, there are some considerations. The hospitality, especially starting out, is not your typical 9-5 job. In fact, it might take you a while to get there if that’s what you are looking for. It’s an industry that really doesn’t stop around the clock and around the calendar. Holidays and big events often mean busier times, which means that you might not be able to get off for the holidays.

Additionally, although you might advance quickly, you will likely not find yourself starting in a very glamorous job. It might be something that you feel is way below your education level before you advance to those more coveted positions.

If you can look past these though, you’ll be sure to find a rewarding place, especially if you can embody a positive spirit. Employers will be looking for customer-focus, initiative, communication, and a willingness to relocate. The most important thing of all is passion!

Continue the conversation on the CSU Career Center’s Facebook or LinkedIn page.

About the Author

Kristyn Emmer is a Careers Adviser at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and is the Blog Content Strategist for the Colorado State University Career Center. She received her master’s degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education in 2015 from Colorado State University and a B.S. in Organizational and Professional Communication Studies from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Kristyn has a passion for being student-focused and dedicated to supporting students by building and maintaining strong interpersonal relationships through compelling and meaningful conversations.

Stephanie Blochowiak

Living and Planning to Live

The writer and cartoonist Allen Saunders said, “life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” I agree. Yet still favor planning, too. So much so that Planning is my current profession. Well, Environmental Planning, to be specific.

I did not plan to be a Planner (and yes, this is funny to me). However, in my three years in this field, I have discovered that many individuals found their way to the profession through a myriad of avenues. This is one of my favorite things about Planning – the people. While many Planners have an undergraduate or graduate degree (or both) specifically in Planning, there are also many individuals with degrees in fields such as Landscape Architecture, Economics, Real Estate, Business, Interior Design, Engineering, Sociology, Psychology, Natural Resources and Geography. The same is true for Environmental Planners. This makes sense because the Planning profession is essentially about process – specifically, implementing good process to weave together diverse and often conflicting aspects of society. Whether working in transportation, historic preservation, community, natural resource or economic planning, Planners operate within the space where private, public and civic sectors meet, in addition to the nexus of various fields and industries.

As an Environmental Planner for the City of Fort Collins, I mostly work with City Planners performing development review. Prior to new development on vacant land or redevelopment of land, a development project proposal must go through the development review process in order to be approved prior to being built. The project proposal, for example a new housing development, must be allowed in the zoning of the area and must meet all standards. Standards include setbacks from active oil and gas wells or wetlands, road widths, sidewalk connections, required park space or trails, and many other items. During the development review process I apply environmental protection standards, for example, ensuring the ecological value of a development site is maintained or enhanced. This involves directing development away from features such as wetlands, the Poudre River or Spring Creek. If and when development will impact a natural feature or a portion of a feature, then I negotiate improvements in natural features elsewhere on the site through enhanced natural-like landscaped areas or in rare cases, enhancements off-site in a publicly owned City Natural Area. My work includes public speaking and presentations at neighborhood meetings and City Boards and Commissions, and a lot of coordination with private development and consulting companies, non-profits and City divisions like Utilities, Natural Areas and Forestry. Since 2016, I have also worked directly on implementation of the new Nature in the City (NIC) program. The program focus: maintaining a connected network of functional habitat for people, plants and wildlife and ensuring every resident is within a 10-minute walk to nature from their home or workplace.

I did not plan to be a Planner, but working as an Environmental Planner has been (and continues) to be an extremely rewarding experience for me. In this work I get to employ systems-thinking and critical decision-making, perform public service, spend time in an office and outdoors, hone public speaking skills and coordinate with highly intelligent and creative people across sectors. I also literally get to plant trees. For my job. Winning!

The road to my current profession was definitely a winding one; however in looking back, this makes sense in the context of my personality, interests and life goals. Sometimes I catch myself wishing I had found this profession sooner or that I had “settled down” earlier. But then I remember life is messy and just as nonlinear as formal education is linear. I do love planning in general, and as a young person, planned to travel and live abroad, learn another language and spend time making my own way in the world; to essentially explore myself and the world around me. This has led to many great adventures and stories, as well as great disasters and missteps. Some of the best actions I have taken in my life and some of the best things that have happened to me were not planned in the slightest. Some were. In my opinion, it is all a matter of balancing the planning and living.

Continue the conversation on the CSU Career Center’s Facebook or LinkedIn page.

About the Author

Stephanie Blochowiak is an Environmental Planner for Community, Development and Neighborhood Services at the City of Fort Collins and Professional Development Chair for the Environment, Natural Resources and Energy (ENRE) Division of the American Planning Association (APA). She graduated in 2014 from the interdisciplinary Conservation Leadership dual-degree graduate program at Colorado State University (CSU) and El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR). Stephanie earned her Honors Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Oklahoma State University (OSU). Feel free to reach out to Stephanie or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Chrissy Chard

Smart Fit Girls: The Link between Entrepreneurship and Health Education

Ever thought about combining your love for health and wellness with entrepreneurship? This is exactly what Chrissy Chard, Co-Founder of Smart Fit Girls and Assistant Professor in the Colorado School of Public Health at CSU, did and continues to do in her career.

We sat down with Chrissy to learn more about her dual, yet integrated career path in the industry of health and wellness – both teaching in the university and also working on her own non-profit empowerment organization for adolescent girls.

Let’s dive in!

Thanks for being with us, Chrissy! To start off, can you tell us a little about what you are doing now, particularly with Smart Fit Girls?

Yeah! Smart Fit Girls is a non-profit organization aimed at empowering adolescent girls to embrace their strength on the inside, as well as on the outside. We do this by providing education and programming on physical activity, specifically strength training, as well as activities specifically geared to improve self-esteem. We cover a wide variety of topics such as body image, Photoshop, bullying, the media, positive affirmations and self-love. We envision a world where all adolescent girls feel empowered to lead healthy, active lives.

I love that! It sounds like you really are fulfilling a much needed area of the field of health and wellness. How did you come to this point? We all know especially for entrepreneurs, the path isn’t clear and easy.

That’s exactly right. After graduating with my undergrad, I knew I wanted to go back to school, but wasn’t sure in what area. After working for a couple years, I decided to return to CSU for a master’s degree in Health and Exercise Science. I never imagined staying for a PhD, but life circumstances changed, and suddenly doing my PhD became the most logical next step. Though I did research in a variety of areas, some core themes to my research were behavior change and physical activity in youth.

During my PhD my best friend and I started a health coaching company called Smart Fit Chicks. As we worked with adult clients, helping them make healthy lifestyle changes, it became apparent that all women (ourselves included!) struggle with body image and self-esteem in one way or another. One day as we warmed up to workout, we asked ourselves, “why are we waiting until these women are adults to address these issues?”

So, we dug into the literature to find that there were very few programs aimed at adolescent girls, and even fewer that dealt with body image in any way. Fewer still were programs that focused on strength training. So, we created the solution for the problem, and out grew the Smart Fit Girls program.

What a story! Where do you see Smart Fit Girls going in the future from where you are now?

Of course we have logged YEARS of research, trial and error, learning and persistence to get to where we are. We continue to take a growth mindset approach as our organization grows. For example, we are currently working very hard to make some adaptations to the program to ensure that it is inclusive and can be tailored to be more culturally responsive.

Such an important aspect we can’t forget. Speaking of where you are heading, where do you foresee the field of health and wellness going?

Well, I think more and more groups are recognizing how detrimental the media is for adolescent girls’ self-esteem, so it has been incredible to see other organizations launching body positivity campaigns, as well as focusing on helping girls believe they are capable of doing and being whatever the desire. I still think we need to move away from the focus on appearance in general, to help girls (and all people) recognize that they are more than their bodies. I also hope to see the field become more intersectional, so that we begin to accept and CELEBRATE bodies of all shapes, sizes, colors and abilities. Only then will the field of health and wellness be accessible to EVERYONE, rather than the narrow way we’ve defined wellness up to this point (read: white, thin, athletic).

Definitely! We can make lots of lifestyle changes but we also need to address the culture. That makes a lot of sense, particularly because culture is often so unquestioned. For people interested in going into the health and wellness industry, what are some necessary skills they will need?

So many! Of course, relationship building is everything. Knowing how to communicate and build rapport, is critical in a business like this. Someone’s health is a very personal thing that they need to trust you with.

For the entrepreneurship side, there are obviously skills in business management, a big one in financial management (we use Quickbooks!), and program coordination (keeping track of multiple programs and projects). For our organization, we also focus a lot on fundraising and social media marketing.

And then finally, no matter what you do, you need PURPOSE. Much like the Japanese concept of ikigai, for me it’s being on a constant journey of finding my reason for being – where my gifts and passions align with my vocation. It’s a moving target for sure!

Great things to keep in mind and also skills students can be developing right now. Speaking of developing skills to get into the field, if you could give any piece of advice to students trying to enter into your area of work, what would you suggest?

Figure out what you’re good at, and then surround yourself with really talented people who have different strengths than the ones you have.

Yes – surrounding ourselves with mentors, coaches, and inspiration people to keep us moving. That’s really wonderful. Thanks so much for your time and wisdom, Chrissy!

Interested in connecting with Chrissy? Find her over on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrissy-chard-phd-085b085a/

About the Author

Chrissy Chard, PhD is currently an Assistant Professor with the Colorado School of Public Health, with a focus in Community and Behavioral Health. She is also the Co-Founder of a nonprofit organization, Smart Fit Girls, Inc. which aims to empower adolescent girls to embrace their strength on the inside, as well as on the outside. She received her PhD in Human Bioenergetics in the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University. Her research focuses on physical activity and psychosocial health in adolescent girls and community based participatory research. She has much experience in health and wellness coaching, both in a clinical setting as well as with the general population. Chrissy resides in Fort Collins, CO with her husband, two year old daughter Lucille, and 8 month old son Jack. She enjoys leading an active lifestyle through lifting weights (or her children) and family walks to the park.

Amy Cailene

Making a Difference in the World: Tips on Pursuing a Social Impact Career

One of the most rewarding aspects of my job as a career educator is hearing from the many students and alumni who tell me they want to make a difference in the world. In fact, around 30% of millennials identify meaningful work as the single most important factor for a successful career. Chelsea Champ Lopez (’15) is one those CSU graduates who realized the importance of creating change in the world and with it, purpose for herself. After completing her degree in Environmental Sociology, Chelsea started a nonprofit organization called Color the Camps, through which she organized an international art exchange between children in Denver and the country of Jordan. In addition to opening up the channels of communication between children on opposite sides of the world, Chelsea and her team delivered over 300 pounds of crayons to the refugee children in Jordan. Upon reflection of this experience and the purpose of her organization, Chelsea states, “If we are truly going to change the world I think it starts with the children.”

If you also dream of spending your days helping people, working for a cause, or in some way improving your local community or the world, then a social impact career may be in your future. Social impact careers are characterized by meaningful work that makes the world better. Although we often think only of nonprofits in this way, government agencies and businesses with a lens for corporate social responsibility are also places to consider working.

Here are some critical strategies that you can start implementing right now to prepare you to succeed in a social impact career:

  • Obtain essential practical experience through an internship, part-time job, or summer job with a nonprofit or social service organization.
  • Gain experience with diverse populations, such as engaging in student organizations focused on diversity and inclusion, or volunteering to serve diverse populations.
  • Learn a second language in order to interact with non-English speakers and increase your marketability.
  • Know what motivates you. There are many areas of need in the world, but which one pulls most at your heart strings? Focus on that area because your passion will give you energy and inspire you to succeed.
  • Take inventory of your skill set, and decide to learn new skills that will help you succeed in your chosen social impact field. Social impact organizations need the same skills sets as other companies, such as web design, research, management, communications, information technology, lobbying, etc. Which skill set will you bring?
  • Build relationships with people who are already making a difference in the world. Attend networking events to learn from other people’s experiences and to gain access to organizations that you may want to join. Research people on LinkedIn and ask to learn about their careers, and perhaps shadow them in their work environments. Just like any other career, who you know is very important to ultimately getting hired!
  • Be familiar with the language of the CSR Dictionary, which is short for Corporate Social Responsibility. Since social impact jobs are often at the intersection of nonprofit, business, and government, you need to understand the buzzwords and acronyms of these sectors. To walk the walk, you need to talk the talk!

There are many resources available to learn more about social impact careers, to search for jobs, and to network with those already in the field. Here are some of the best:

  • Idealist.org features job openings, internships, international opportunities, career fairs, general career content, and more
  • Colorado Nonprofit Association features job openings and internships for social impact careers in Colorado
  • League of Intrapreneurs is a global network of change makers who match individuals with experienced peers to deepen their impact

After her experience in the refugee camps of Jordan, Chelsea Champ Lopez is more determined than ever to devote her career to social change. In fact, Chelsea has recently decided to invest in a master’s degree to further her understanding and credibility in the field of social impact. After graduating, she plans to teach at the community college level to educate and inspire other change makers to create improvements in the world. Her words of wisdom to anyone who will listen are, “Find something that you are good at, and a way to give back, and do it.”

Will you listen?

Continue the conversation on the CSU Career Center’s Facebook or LinkedIn page.

About the Author

Amy Cailene works at the Career Center at Colorado State University, where she advises students of all majors and all college education levels. She focuses on assisting marginalized populations, such as students with DACA and those who are undocumented, racial and ethnic minorities, first generation students, and students with disabilities.
Amy has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a Master of Arts degree in Teaching. Her professional and volunteer pursuits have ranged from the medical field, to science research, technology, business, writing, arts, physical fitness, teaching, and career advising. She looks forward to using her myriad of experience to help you in your career journey!

Jackie Pelia-Shuster

Sitting with “Stuck-ness”

I pondered many things while preparing to write this blog. What should I write about? Can I even write something that is not an academic manuscript anymore? What should I write about? Will anyone read it? What should I write about? It was about the twentieth “what should I write about” that I realized something…I was stuck. I kept fighting against it by trying to jump from idea to idea. Finally, though, I stilled my mind and allowed myself to sit with my stuck-ness. That’s when an idea began to germinate.

I have often extolled the strengths of being a counselor to the students and alumni of the Counseling and Career Development program here at CSU (as well as to just about anyone else who will listen). In that case, it makes sense that as I listened to my inner voice, one wonderful asset and a value-add differentiator of being a counselor that popped into my awareness is our ability to partner with clients and students to sit with their stuck-ness. Many individuals can give advice, come up with new ideas, make suggestions, and tell others what they should or shouldn’t do. As counselors, though, we have the honor of partnering with individuals as they work to achieve true transformation. Often, this requires that we help clients to still themselves so that they can sit with their stuck-ness.

Now, being stuck is not a nice place to be. It is something that not only clients, but also counselors, will struggle against. However, our skills as counselors can be wonderful gifts at these times. We provide a safe and empathetic space for individuals to explore their thoughts and feelings and how those impact, and are impacted by, their outer world. We reflect their feelings and stories back to them, honor who they are as individuals, and challenge them to notice their conflicts and inconsistencies. We encourage them to listen to their inner knowing, and in doing this, we help them find their own power and their own solutions, as well as hopeful pathways involving action and reflection. This way, rather than jumping from superficial solution to superficial solution, deeper healing and change can transpire.

This is what I do, and what I work very hard to teach my students to do. I am currently a faculty member in the Counseling and Career Development graduate program at Colorado State University. My path to this place has been a wonderful journey, and one that is highly reflective of the majority of career paths nowadays. Quite some time ago, I was an undergraduate student here at Colorado State University. (Go Rams!) After a very limited period of self-reflection and some well-meaning advice from others, I decided to major in occupational therapy (which at that time, was an undergraduate degree) and was fully intent on working in pediatrics or in the schools. Fortunately, it ended up being a “good enough” choice; I did enjoy my work as an occupational therapist, and worked in the field for 8+ years, but I found myself wanting…something…more…

I was stuck. However, rather than jumping into a new work environment, I knew I needed to stop and search within myself. Thus, through continued self and world-of-work exploration, a lot of introspection on how I wanted to have meaning and “mattering” in the world, and engaging in some trial-and-error experimentation, I am now in a career that feeds my soul and makes my heart sing—counselor education and career counseling. I am grateful for the winding path that brought me here, and for the people in my life that have walked my journey with me. Accordingly, I gently remind you, sometimes we must sit with stuck-ness for true insight, healing, and change to occur. So allow yourself that gift, and seek out those that you can invite into your journey towards your future self.

Continue the conversation on the CSU Career Center’s Facebook or LinkedIn page.

About the Author

Jackie Peila-Shuster, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, is an assistant professor in the Counseling and Career Development master’s degree program in the School of Education at Colorado State University. She received her Ph.D. in Education and Human Resource Studies with a focus on counselor education and career counseling in 2011 from Colorado State University. She also has a master’s degree specializing in Counseling and Career Development, and a B.S. in Occupational Therapy. Her areas of teaching and research interest include career counseling and development across the lifespan, counselor education, and strengths-based approaches to career and life design.
In a nutshell, Dr. Peila-Shuster has a passion for standing witness to individuals’ unique life stories while encouraging their strengths and hope in ways that they may discover themselves and maximize their life designs. She implements this by translating theory and research into real-world application in career and life design counseling and student instruction/supervision.

Kristyn Emmer

It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know: Using Social Media in Your Job Search

You more than likely have some sort of presence on some form of social media. Maybe you use to it check in on friends and family, update the world on what’s happening on your life, or maybe you simply find hilarious memes to send to your people.

Have you ever thought about using social media in your job search, though? And I’m not just talking about LinkedIn. The power of social media for job seekers is strong and the reach is vast.

So let’s take a look at how you can use your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and whatever else you might be using to get a little closer to where you want to be in your career.

Follow industry leaders on social media. Do you have a few people in your industry of choice you really respect? Find their work interesting? Will read every word they publish? Start following them on your Twitter and Instagram! You’ll be able to get constant lessons from these people and you’ll also get a glimpse into the people they follow, retweet, and engage with. Your network of industry influencers will continue to grow if you keep up this practice and you’ll be surprised at where it will lead you.

Learn more about the industry through what they post. One of the top aspects of candidates that employers are looking for is industry knowledge and passion to stay up to date on what’s happening in the field. Social media can be a quick and easy (and often more fun) way to find more information on the fields in which you’re interested. Often those influencers you follow will post new innovations, trends, and they might even offer opportunities to engage in the content further.

Engage with people on social media. LinkedIn posts, etc. Don’t just read the information in your endless scrolling; Engage with it! Comment on those Facebook and Instagram posts. Tweet back to your favorite influencers of your field. The beauty of social media is exactly what the first word says – it’s social. And that means that the possibility for conversation with people who might feel completely out of reach is actually closer than you think.

Share your thoughts too! You absolutely have thoughts and ideas to share for your industry, so start writing and start posting. You might start with a tweet. Then you might write and entire article to post to LinkedIn. You might share a picture on Facebook or Instagram that pertains to what you love. Don’t forget to add a few relevant hashtags so people can find you too!

Learn about open opportunities out there. The amount of open opportunities posted informally on social media might shock you. In fact, I’ve seen a handful of jobs available posted on social media that a niche, unique, and only open for 48 hours. Those are opportunities you won’t find posted anywhere else. So follow your favorite organizations and the people who are in those organizations, because you never know what might end up in your newsfeed.

There are infinite ways to engage on social media when it comes to digging deeper into your field of choice. One thing is for sure, though. Knowing and engaging with more people will always be a good thing to do for the sake of your career.

Continue the conversation on the CSU Career Center’s Facebook or LinkedIn page.

About the Author

Kristyn Emmer is a Careers Adviser at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and is the Blog Content Strategist for the Colorado State University Career Center. She received her master’s degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education in 2015 from Colorado State University and a B.S. in Organizational and Professional Communication Studies from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Kristyn has a passion for being student-focused and dedicated to supporting students by building and maintaining strong interpersonal relationships through compelling and meaningful conversations.

Angela Bautista

Walking Through the Career Open Doors

You likely hear people talking about it all the time. That taking career risks is a good thing and that it can lead to some amazing experiences. But if we’re all really honest, how many of us would actually put ourselves in that situation to achieve our wildest dreams? We sat down with Jordan, a CSU alumnus and asked him about his experience doing just that. Now he’s spending his days in a well known organization called 20th Century Fox, doing what he loves. It took hitting the bottom and taking a chance, but he wouldn’t trade any of it because of where he is now.

With that said, enjoy the read!

Jordan, tell us what you are up to today?

After a series of ups and downs and a blind move to Los Angeles, I found my job in the entertainment industry at 20th Century Fox. My work is in Hollywood, which is the perfect place to be in for someone interested in media.

Tell us how you got to Hollywood and how you got this opportunity to be a product manager for 20th Century Fox?

I started with my interest in football, a driving factor of what got me my first camera job with the Colorado State Football team. I loved making highlight videos and it occurred to me that eventually this was a job I could get paid for. With that, I made the choice to be all-in on learning how to make video, specifically how to communicate through this medium with people.

Through my work with CSU, I was able to make a contact that worked at EA Sports. After a few conversations and a look over my application materials, I moved to Florida, where I was responsible for reviewing all the animation videos and content for their new NCAA and Madden games. While it was an amazing opportunity, I later moved back to Colorado for personal reasons.

From there, I bounced around to a number of filler jobs, trying to make ends meet where I could. I rented apartments for less than reliable landlords, got fired from a start-up, worked guest services for a hotel, and worked as a bouncer, all while trying to build a small video business on the side with whatever time I had left over. The business was started from my underlying passion for video and football, which looked like a video business for athletes who wanted to get recruited. I got some clients early on, but because of a number of reasons, the business fizzled out.

After that, I was offered a job with NBC, lasting less than a year. It was a large step up from where I was before, but I was hungry to know more and do more. So I offered to take more on and also asked for a raise to do it. Turn out, it was an incorrect move, because I was let go shortly after.

One thing I gained the most during my time at NBC was contacts with people in my industry. It didn’t take long after my dismissal from NBC that a former coworker called to me to say: “Hey Jordan, my roommate bailed on our LA plans, so if you’re interested I’m headed out in May.”

Could the door be any more open?

It’s the media capital of the entire world. I didn’t even flinch. “I’m game.”

So I moved, sight unseen with no job lined up, and in three days and lucked out with another friend at NBC whose family had some “extra space.” I networked until I couldn’t anymore, meeting random people in coffee shops, applying on LinkedIn, networking through LinkedIn, submitting more applications in a week that I want to ever again. And just as the oil well is drying up and I’m about to go “High School Job round 2”, Fox calls and the interview goes amazing. I’m now on the lot coordinating DVD, Blu-Ray and UHD content for a top studio in Los Angeles.

Wow, that sounds like quite a wild ride you’ve had there. Lots of risks taken and hard work put in on your end. So tell us, throughout all of your roles, what are some things people wanting to go into this industry need to know?

Netflix, Amazon, and anything digital. More and more time is being spent online and on the phone and less in theatres and conventional living rooms. We’ve taken entertainment out in the world so we must learn how to adapt. The studios are interested in capitalizing on what Netflix has already achieved but the direct cable package doesn’t exactly translate online. Rights to movies, content, is often leased. YouTube is another major competitor.

That makes a lot of sense. It sounds like innovation is really important in this industry, always looking to tweak and improve and think differently. You gave us some great trends to think about. So now what are some skills that we would need to have?

You have to be able to use a computer, understand how media is produced from start to finish. What does a camera do? How does that file work in a MAC vs. PC? And you must be a team player. There will be tough weeks and months and you’re going to have to push past being uncomfortable and be willing to fail. Get fired, sleep on the floor, let your bank account hit zero, because it brings a better understanding to the privilege we have to work, earn and be apart of a team. If anything, not getting what I wanted early, has propelled me in getting more than I ever thought I wanted now.

Sounds like you have certainly learned a lot from failure and risk taking. What are some words of encouragement you can offer us from what you’ve learned in your career so far?

Remember, chapters have twists, turns and without them it makes for a boring read. I think that’s very true about my story and where I’ve been. There are ups and downs, but they all point towards wherever you’re heading. A lot can be learned in a simple role like working in guest services, so use those to your advantage.

Other than that, email people, be friendly and be willing to do whatever so you can meet the people you need to meet. Call, be pleasant to be around, ask questions that actually interest you. I hired a lot of my friends because I knew they had skills, so gain a skill-set that is technology based. It is the future. Writing is a skill still very high in demand, start working on a great reputation and remember you are a really valuable resource. The work you do in a company, as a temp, as a volunteer, can be as important or unimportant as you see it.

Wonderful. Thanks for your time and insight Jordan!

Continue the conversation on the CSU Career Center’s Facebook or LinkedIn page.

About the Author

Angela Bautista is a graduate student in the Counseling and Career Development master’s degree program in the School of Education at Colorado State University. She is studying to become a School Counselor. She received her undergraduate degree at California State University, Chico in 2015 with a B.A. in Sociology and a minor in Child Development. Angela is currently an intern for Denver Public Schools as a Post-Secondary Coach and works at the CSU Career Center as a Career Specialist and formerly as the Career Industries Intern. She has a passion for helping and guiding people succeed in their academics and future career endeavors.