The sky is the limit

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May 082011
Authors: Anna Baldwin

Luke Peckinpaugh started acting on a whim.

After finishing two years of college as an undeclared major in Northern California, he moved out to Colorado to be a ranchhand in 2004.

In Fall 2008, Peckinpaugh, who had no previous acting experience, decided it was time to finish college and walked into the University Center for the Arts to try theater.

“I don’t know why the hell I tried acting,” Peckinpaugh said.

On his second day of theatre classes, he tried out for a part in “The Distance From Here” by performing lines from an old western movie and gained the role of the abusive stepfather, Rich.

“He was the last one to audition, and he strolled in in a cowboy hat and cowboy boots,” said co-director of the
Division of Theatre and Dance Walt Jones. “He had memorized the lines, and no one does that. And he nailed it the first time.”

“He’s unique. He’s really one of a kind,” Jones said. “It’s his presence and voice. You’re either born with it or you’re not.”

To date, Luke’s theatrical performances include the roles of Rich in “The Distance From Here,” Theseus in “A Midsummer’s Night ‘sDream,” Eddie in “Fool For Love.” Randal Patrick McMurphy in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and Joe Keller in “All My Sons.”

“He has an inner intensity, and he has a lot of presence even when he’s not talking, which is unusual,” Jones said.
At the annual Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in California in February, Peckinpaugh won the coveted Irene Ryan Acting Award out of 408 actors in the region, and an invitation to attend the Kennedy Center National conference Competition.

The national competition was the week of April 18, and Peckinpaugh competed against people from seven other regions in the nation.

He also won regional nominations for his work in “All My Sons” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by Dale Wasserman, adapted from the novel by Ken Kesey.

Peckinpaugh did scenes from “Lone Star” by Jim McLure, and “A Prayer for My Daughter” by Thomas Babe, as well as a monologue from “Utopian Highway” by Chuck Mee for the regional festival.

As the youngest of four children, Peckinpaugh said that though his family is very supportive, they got a big kick at first out of the fact that he was going to act.

“I think I’m unique; I kinda stand out like a sore thumb. You don’t see a lot of ranch hands acting,” he said.
Upon his graduation in May, Peckinpaugh plans to stay the summer to continue his ranch work and then weigh the options.

One of these options is moving to LA to try acting in film.

“The sky’s the limit, I guess,” he said.

“You don’t often say it, but I’m serious. He has the most depth, complexity, imagination and power that you have to have naturally,” Jones said. “We’re going to miss him.”

UCA Beat Reporter Anna Baldwin can be reached at

 Posted by at 8:14 am

Building connections to build a career

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May 082011
Authors: Natasha Leadem, College Avenue Magazine

Life after college can be a whirlwind. While it is a time to celebrate earning a degree in higher education, the pressures of starting a career in a highly competitive workforce can be a bit intimidating.

Currently the president of a successful painting company, M & E Painting, CSU alumnus Matt Shoup has come a long way since graduating in 2003.

Earning a dual degree in Spanish and human development and family studies in four years, Shoup had everything he needed to start a career, and quickly found himself working for the Poudre School District teaching Spanish after school.

However, for Shoup it wasn’t his degree that landed him the job.

“It was really about some connections I had gotten while getting my degree,” Shoup said.

Shoup had previously volunteered at an elementary school in Loveland where a teacher referred him to the director of the Spanish program he would later work for.

While Shoup has since redirected his focus to his painting company, he still believes that his degree was a secondary factor in his success.

“When applying for jobs ,everybody else applying is going to have the same degree that you have,” Shoup said. “It’s important to make sure you go out and do something to make yourself stand out, get experience and make connections.”

And for Shoup it has made all the difference. From his earlier jobs to his current business, all aspects of his achievements link back to connections he made while at CSU. In between getting his dual degree and volunteering, Shoup interned for College Works Painting, where he gained experience owning a business and was able to jumpstart his own.

“I’m thankful to all the people that have helped me to be successful and I appreciate everything they’ve done for me,” Shoup said.

Now that Shoup has completed the transition from student to professional he has made it a point to give back to the CSU community, and has become a source for college students himself.

After studying abroad in Spain, Shoup was inspired to create a scholarship that would provide funds to students who were interested in studying abroad. The scholarship grants a student up to $1,250 in financial aid.

“I had a great experience and I’ve always loved to give back,” Shoup said. “I found out how much study abroad has risen in cost over the years and some students can’t have that experience because of the cost. I figured if I could help that would be awesome.”

For Shoup beginning a career did not start the moment he was awarded his degree, but rather began through his experiences in college and the relationships that he was able to build from them.

College Avenue reporter Natasha Leadem can be reached at

 Posted by at 8:12 am

High-class strippers, presidents and Glenn Beck

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May 082011
Authors: Allison Sylte

As the only sophomore on the Collegian Ed Board, it may seem a bit confusing as to why I’m writing a column in the graduation special section, given that most of my co-workers are actually graduating, whereas I’m here to pontificate for the next two years (lucky you).

Or not. Having come to the conclusion that my liberal arts degree is essentially as useless as not having a degree, I’ve begun perusing my other options, figuring that I might as well enter the workforce before I needlessly pay for a 20 percent tuition hike.

And so, without any further ado, here is my list of careers for a non-college graduate to aspire to:

High-class stripper

Sex sells, and it actually pays pretty well. According to, a high class stripper can make a yearly salary plus tips of $127,500 a year –– not too shabby, particularly considering that these strippers are paid more than many engineers and that the only start-up investment required is a damn-good boob-job.

It may not be particularly glamorous and awkward to tell your parents about, but it’s the easiest way to make big bucks, especially considering that for some aspects of this job, you may never need to leave the comfort of your own bedroom.

Celebrity personal assistant

It’s hard out there for a celebrity. Between the photo shoots, red carpet events and award shows, you need someone to look out for you, to care for you and provide companionship … not to mention carry your umbrella and small dog.

According to a report by NPR, some celebrity personal assistants can make more than $150,000 a year, on top of freebies, to take care of the stuff celebrities just don’t want to, from dealing with financial records to even sitting in on fashion shows and other high class events.

Wow, sounds like a hard-knock life.

Cable TV host

I’m about to hit you with some mad knowledge: Glenn Beck, the genius behind the chalkboard and an avid commentator on political science, doesn’t hold a college degree. Think about that for a second and let it really sink in.

And then let this sink in: Glenn made himself a cool $32 million last year.

Obviously, let this be a lesson to you all: You don’t need a college degree to talk about things you know nothing about, and get paid for it, although some of us folk at the paper may make it seem that way.

President of the United States

That’s right: There have been a total of 10 U.S. presidents who have not held a college degree. And, at least judging from their titles, they’ve done pretty fine without one.

The list includes George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson and Harry S. Truman, presidents who arguably did a better job in office than certain other presidents with Ivy League degrees.

And so, next time your friends, parents or strangers chastise you for dropping out of college or majoring in philosophy, simply tell them you’re just trying to be like illustrious president and Founding Father George Washington.

It’s foolproof.

News Editor Allison Sylte is a sophomore journalism major. She can be reached at

 Posted by at 8:10 am

Map out your future

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May 082011
Authors: Allison Knaus

The birds are chirping, the weather is warmer and it’s finally getting close to that time of the year students look forward to: summer. For some CSU students, this means graduating and moving on to the next adventure in life.
Other students will come back to CSU in the fall. But to make sure they stay on track for graduation and ensure they have a career afterward, Christie Yeadon, a career counselor at the Career Center, said students can follow this checklist of what to do during their four years at CSU:

First Year:

Explore majors, interests, skills and values. If necessary, take a career assessment through the Career Center.
Join student organizations related to your major or areas of interest.

Begin documenting experiences in a resume.

Research and apply for summer internships and jobs.

Second Year:.

Declare your major or solidify your choice of major.

Get to know professors and build relationships with people who can be references.

Conduct informational interviews with professionals in your field of interest.

Check out career exploration resources on the Career Center’s homepage.

Third Year:

Join a professional organization related to your major as a student member.

Explore graduate school programs.

Learn how to market your skills to employers by researching job descriptions.

Gain a leadership position in a student organization on campus.

Network with friends, family and employers.

Fourth Year:

Start job searching early.

Take graduate school admission tests, write personal statements and be mindful of deadlines –– apply early.

Update your resume.

Ensure you are meeting final graduation requirements.

Attend career fairs to talk with employers about specific job opportunities.

Explore post-graduation living preferences.

Resources are available at CSU and the Career Center to ensure students are on track.

While checking off these suggestions is important, Career Counselor Andrea Karapas also stressed the importance
of “putting yourself out there.”

Internships, jobs, volunteering, practicums or any type of involvement are a crucial part of building a resume, according to Karapas.

“Any experiences related toyour major are excellent help in building relationships with people in your field,” she said.

Other important advice: Take advantage of leadership opportunities through student organizations on campus or around the Fort Collins community.

Being able to show an employer that you exemplify leadership capabilities and are able to balance school and an extracurricular activity shows good time management skills, Karapas added.

“Regardless of what you do, it’s important to stay connected with resources, meet new people and network,” Karapas said.

Staff writer Allison Knaus can be reached at

 Posted by at 8:07 am

Sage advice from the graduating Binary Boys

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May 082011
Authors: Ryan Gibbons and Glen Pfeiffer

1. Taking fun finals are totally worth it. We’ve done it multiple times. (This is where you take a final for a class you aren’t in). Just don’t get caught; they threaten you with “academic dishonesty.”

2. HvZ is only fun the first time.

3. For years, we’ve parked in the 30-minute zone west of the Military Science Building on Tuesday and Thursday mornings for hours without getting ticketed.

4. When you’re old enough to have the pleasure of waiting in line at the Ramskeller –– don’t. We’ve discovered that if you simply grab one of the always-vacant seats at the bar you’ll be tended to almost immediately: it beats the sometimes long lines on Wheat Wednesday.

5. Know your sports teams. We’re not the most athletic duo, but ask us if the Nuggets scored more the 110 points during last night’s game or if the Rockies scored more than 7, and we’ll know. The already cheaper-than-dirt Taco Bell just so happens to do 50 cent tacos the day after, making your college lifestyle just that much easier to maintain.

6. Your department doesn’t have free printing? That’s OK. Lots of them do. The lab doors aren’t locked. Learn the academic geography of campus and meet interesting people in your foreign travels!

7. At Panda Express, you can skip the main line by ordering (anything) from the sushi line.

8. Depending on where your classes are, free parking on Remington is cheaper AND closer than buying a lame Z pass.

9. Sleep on campus. You can’t be expected to party hardy and get a full nights sleep, so catch up between classes. Best places: third floor at the library and the fireside lounge in the Honors Building at the Academic Village. Sure, the latter is a little far, but nothing beats a good bench and a warm fire. (RIP Natural Resources’ leather couches).

10. Know where the dollar-beer specials are. Thursday at Road 34, CB & Potts on Monday; Wednesday at Mo Jeaux’s.

11. Get an on-campus job. Work-Study chumps like us get paid an obscene rate to fly desks on campus … and to top it off, there’s no commute.

12. Seriously … when you say that you hate technology and it’s out to get you, we have two words for you: Operator error. Final fun fact: There are only two industries that call their consumers ‘users’…

Columnists Ryan Gibbons and Glen Pfeiffer want to thank all their readers … hopefully it’s been as fun for you as it has been for us. Any comments and questions you send to as of now won’t be heeded … we’ll be gone!

 Posted by at 8:05 am

Reflecting on writing, learning and living

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May 082011
Authors: Courtney Stuard

When I transferred to CSU as a sophomore, I was ready to start a new chapter. But turning over a new page did not include writing for the Rocky Mountain Collegian. To be honest, I did not even like reading the Collegian, except for maybe RamTalk and a couple editorials. And occasionally I would attempt the always-absurdly difficult crossword when I was bored in class.

So, despite the urgings of my professors to do so, I obstinately decided not to join student media. But finally, as a senior, I relinquished and joined the media cult. Despite loathing the idea of writing for newspapers, I applied to be a columnist at the Collegian contributing my opinion.

Before the Collegian I had tried the editorial thing at a political magazine, only to be told that my political ideas – because they do not fit within the two dominate political parties – did not conform enough to paper guidelines. Frustrated by that experience, I was not exactly enthused about writing editorials for the Collegian.

But then I recalled why I studied journalism, despite the promise of an abysmal salary out of college. I wanted to be a journalist because I was a “bleeding-heart” humanitarian who wanted to right all the wrongs, and set the facts straight. Writing as a columnist would give me the opportunity to write factually-based, well-argued opinions and maybe even inspire change. Plus, I highly doubted that the new editorial editor at the Collegian, Chadwick Bowman, would censor my ideas seeing how he is a self-proclaimed “progressive social liberal.”

With that, my short-lived career with the Collegian began.

Since the first week of my column, I have relentlessly attempted to change the way readers examine the news. I desire for every consumer of media to critically process what they consume. Examine and question everything! I zealously believe the cure for most injustice and corruption that goes on in the world begins with the individual. That idea inspired me to at least give newspaper editorial writing a second chance.

What better time to be inspired to incite change than in college? College students come to school to learn. An integral part of a college-level education includes learning how to critically analyze, critique, think. If you have managed to pass through four years of college without ever critically assessing the content of at least one paper, ideology or present and historical events, then get a refund (or maybe you should have read my column).

My time at the Collegian allowed me a chance to write about my reflections and analysis on current events that impact all our lives. I find myself always asking why something is the way it is, and it is that curiosity that helped me find inspiration for my articles.

I am not so arrogant to think my opinion is the right opinion, or that no one else could be doing the job as good I can. But I certainly hope that I had an inkling of an impact on the hearts and minds of some individuals at this university.

As I pack up my meager possessions and head out into the horizon for a career in the treacherous world of journalism or politics, I can look back and wish I had done more, or I can leave with a sense of satisfaction from knowing I did at least try to make an impact at CSU.

Now, heed some “words of wisdom” I would like to bestow upon you all as I prepare for my departure.

As the great Confucius once said, “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

You should go out and live learning. Learning should not be boring. Reading a book other than a textbook is always an excellent choice. Joining student media really is a great choice and writing for the Collegian is kind of cool – it is more than having your name in print. Finding inspiration in experiencing adventures and crazy challenges is really what college is all about, because learning takes place outside the classroom.

Here is my advice for all you students: Question authority; challenge the status quo; never believe everything in a textbook; disagree with professors at least some of the time; exercise freedom of speech; get outside of a comfort zone and enroll in an ethnic studies course.

Courtney Stuard is a graduating senior journalism major. Letters and feedback can be sent to

 Posted by at 8:03 am

Student steals a taste of graduation

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May 082011
Authors: Logan Triesch, College Avenune Magazine

Growing up in Fort Collins, split between two households, Matt Strauch found himself spending countless hours reading in the Morgan Library, awaiting his turn to experience the college life. When the time finally arrived to choose a college, he chose what was familiar.

“It was just sort of a natural choice because of my story and where I lived,” Strauch said.

Strauch is getting his first taste of graduation this semester by receiving his bachelor’s degree in theater and will continue on through fall of 2012 to finish his bachelor’s degree in social work.

While taking 24 credits this semester, Strauch is also the director of Legislative Affairs and director of Public Relations for the Associated Students of Colorado State University.

Former ASCSU President Cooper Anderson has worked with Strauch on many levels, and though Strauch worked for Anderson’s opponent in the 2010 ASCSU elections, they have become allies in the office.

“The thing about Matt is that he has always told me, ‘If you want something done, give it to a busy person,’ and he is the epitome of that,” Anderson said. “I wish I had 100 Matts. I don’t know how overwhelming that would be, but I do.”

Strauch hopes to get involved in arts management, as he currently puts a lot of time into the T.R. Paul Academy of Arts and Knowledge and the Arts in Education Foundation, based in Fort Collins.

“I feel strongly about people who are engaged in the arts. They are generally happier people, are people who do better in school and people who generally stay out of trouble,” Strauch said. “Art is out of the box, it is about how you experience it, not how it is presented.”

Not only has Strauch been involved in these organizations, he has also been in more than 100 theater productions locally and regionally since he began college at CSU.

In Strauch’s work with ASCSU he has worked with Ramride, hand-in-hand with Eric Berlinberg, the newly elected ASCSU president.

“Matt is a huge asset to this organization,” Berlinberg, said. “He is so professional for his age.”

While Strauch continues on with his last few semesters as a student at CSU, he looks into the future, anticipating a move to France with his partner and deciding on the next steps he will take in life.

“I have always had my life planned out,” Strauch said. “It is nice to have some uncertainty.”

College Avenue reporter Logan Triesch can be reached at

 Posted by at 8:01 am

Seniors say goodbye to their El Centro family

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May 082011
Authors: Logan Triesch and Corinne Winthrop, College Avenue Magazine

A white board with a handwritten welcome greets students as they enter El Centro, a Latina/o cultural awareness center that provides workshops and leadership roles for all students at CSU.

Ask anyone involved with El Centro however, and it’s more than just a cultural awareness center: It’s a second home. That means that come graduation day, El Centro will have to say goodbye to family.

Dalia Flores, a peer resource leader, and Meagan Thomas, a peer resource leader coordinator, are both graduating from CSU to continue on with the memory of their El Centro experiences close to their hearts.

“The main thing we do as peer resource leaders is that we are a home away from home for students,” Thomas said. “That is something that we really boast; that whether you are white, black, Hispanic, Latino or mixed race like myself, you come into the office and you feel at home there.”

Flores became more involved with the cultural awareness organization by attending events El Centro offered and taking frequent visits to the office. Flores believes that those visits helped to create friendships with the other students who worked there.

“I felt that I needed to connect with my culture and find a place that would serve as a home away from home,” Flores said.

Flores currently holds the position of peer resource leader in the El Centro office. Alongside her coworkers, Flores likes to play as a team, organizing events and programs to contribute to the office’s impact on campus.

“The Somos Rams Leadership Retreat has been a great program run every year,” Flores said. “I was honored to be able to help facilitate this year and engage our participants.”

Flores participated in the retreat two years ago and was a leader this past year. The retreat is a two-day workshop up at Estes Park to help 30 to 40 first- and second-year students with their identity, culture and academics.

Thomas also found support from El Centro, but her college experience as a whole still changed her outlook on life.

“For me college was that great humbling experience,” Thomas said. “I know I can find things I can succeed in, but I am not going to be perfect in everything, which is hard to come to terms with, but that is what has changed the most for me.”

Thomas will receive her bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing and her teaching certificate through the Education Department this May. Since early on, Thomas knew she wanted to become a teacher and hopes to go on to teach marketing in the Greeley or Windsor areas.

“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, mostly elementary school, but my senior year of high school I took a marketing class and fell in love,” Thomas said. “So I decided I would go into marketing, and I got to thinking, they are teaching me marketing at high school, so that could be my compromise.”

Flores has made plans to attend graduate school at the University of Colorado in Denver for counseling psychology and the counselor education program.

“My ultimate goal is to become a high school counselor in a Denver public school to better assist the needs of my community and make a difference in our youths’ lives today,” Flores said.

Richard Salas is the associate director of El Centro and has seen Thomas and Flores grow through college.

“Dalia really took the lead and blossomed into the leader who she is today,” Salas said. “She had a great attitude, work ethic and kind spirit.”

“[Meagan] is just an excellent role model,” Salas added. “She has done an incredible job making the transition to the university, helping other students, reaching out with the wonderful resources that we offer, not only through us, but through Colorado State University. She is a great ambassador.”

As the two depart from CSU, both Thomas and Flores will miss the El Centro environment and the experiences they gained through the office.

“I am honestly just proud of my culture,” Thomas said. “For me to be able to integrate two different cultures into my life and be proud of both of them, I am proud of the El Centro office. They are the world’s biggest encouragement.”

College Avenue reporters Logan Triesch and Corinne Winthrop can be reached at

 Posted by at 8:00 am

Athlete reflects upon triumphs and tribulations

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May 082011
Authors: Jamie Pritchard

Balancing school, work, extracurricular activities and a social life is every college student’s dilemma. Just ask an athlete.

“I am lucky to have had the opportunity to be involved in a number of things during my time at CSU,” Madeline Gamble, a graduating human development and family studies major, said.

Gamble maintained a 3.6 GPA while competing for the CSU swim team, working as a peer advisor at the Human Development and Family Studies Department, volunteering for Campus Corps and serving as a research assistant for the Center for Family and Couple Therapy.

Over her four-year athletic career, Gamble experienced several triumphs and tribulations.

She started off strong for the Rams, garnering all-conference honors her freshman and sophomore years and breaking two 20-year-old school records- one in the 500 freestyle and one in the 1650 freestyle during her sophomore year.

“My whole family was able to come for the meet and support me and my fellow Rammies,” Gamble said.
Things slowed down Gamble’s junior year when she sustained a serious shoulder injury.

“I was in a lot of pain and was never able to compete to my full ability,” Gamble said. “It was extremely frustrating that I was not able to contribute to the team at the level that I wanted to.”

She received shoulder surgery the summer before her senior year, which allowed her to compete in every meet in her last season. With her shoulder feeling great, Gamble began gearing up for the conference championships.
Just three days before the competition, a car hit Gamble while she was walking to school. She was not seriously wounded but the minor injuries she sustained significantly impacted her conference performance.

“It was very disappointing to end my career in that way,” Gamble said. “But I am grateful to have been able to swim at all and see my team compete.”

Now that the swim season is over, Gamble has set her sights on the future. After graduation, she will begin working at Crossroads Safehouse, a domestic violence shelter in Fort Collins.

“I love working with people and have a passion for working with women and adolescents,” Gamble said.

The shelter hired her as a full-time relief staff member after she worked there as an intern.

As Gamble’s college life comes to a close, she reflects on the people who aided her journey. She is thankful for the guidance of her coach, John Mattos, and his dedication to herself and her fellow swimmers.

“Being a member of the CSU swim team has been my proudest accomplishment,” Gamble said. “I want the student body to know how much this team has meant to me and that they have changed my life forever.”

College Avenue reporter Jamie Pritchard can be reached at

 Posted by at 7:57 am

Do your work to get some work

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May 082011
Authors: Rachel Childs

Four years of school and thousands of dollars do not guarantee the 2011 graduate a job straight out of college. All of the education needs to be backed up with the ability to interview effectively or a new graduate could sink to the bottom of the resume pile.

The interview is a chance for students to show potential employers what they can offer to the company, not what the company can give to them, according to Lew Wymisner, assistant director of the Larimer County Workforce Center. Employers want employees who will benefit the company and not simply use the job to benefit their resume.

The Larimer County Workforce is a free agency that assists people with employment questions and placement. It offers workshops on how to best prepare for an interview either in its facility or online. These services are also offered on campus at the Career Center, located in the basement of the Lory Student Center.

Skills a graduating student acquires during school and on the job are known as hard skills, according to Wymisner, while filling out applications, cover letters, interviews and resumes are called soft skills.

“Just because you have the hard skills, you aren’t going to wow them if you don’t have the soft skills,” Wymisner said.

Another faux pas job seekers commit is giving too much information.

There are certain questions that employers cannot ask due to the Equal Opportunity Commission’s policies. These include marital status, race, religion and sex. Telling one’s whole life story is not recommended, and many interviewers will stop listening if they do.

“A lot of people think they’re talking their way into a job when they’re actually talking their way out of a job,” said Wymisner, who has 34 years of employment training experience.

What students should do is research. Aside from the Career Center, places such as the library offer books on proper interview etiquette with some of the most frequently asked questions.

In order to ensure students are prepared, experts recommend setting up a video camera and replaying a mock interview to work out the nervous ticks such as stuttering or finger-tapping on tables.

Doing research on the company is also crucial in order to best market oneself. Walking into the interview and asking the employers what the job is will ensure no callbacks.

The interview is also a chance to gauge if the job is the right fit. Hearing certain questions can deter the interviewee from accepting an offer.

“The interview is a game. Play the game, and you have a better chance of winning,” Wymisner said.

Staff writer Rachel Childs can be reached at

Interview tips
Things to do:

Research the company: Make sure you know what they do and what they are looking for. Schedule a day to go down and see everyone prior to the interview.

Videotape mock interviews: Try to eliminate stuttering, fidgeting and mumbling.

Read books and look online: There are several books and online worksheets that lay out typical questions asked by employers.
Things not to do:*

Say why the job is for you: Tell them why you are right for their company. They want someone who will benefit them.

Tell your life story: Hit key strengths and weaknesses. Do not go back before you even knew what a job was.

Blame the employer: If they do not offer you the job, reassess what you may have said or done, and take the proper steps to be more prepared for the next interview.

 Posted by at 7:55 am