Developing Technical Skills While at School

Aside from your CS coursework, where you’ll learn principles of programming and how to think like a developer, there are different ways to gain, expand, or deepen your technical skills while at school. Below, let’s consider three options:

  • Securing a campus job with Technology Services
  • Getting started with Git
  • Playing with game development

Work for LU’s Technology Services

LU’s Technical Services often hires student workers to work at the Helpdesk, serve as a Computer Technician Assistant, or act as a Student Web Developer. At the Helpdesk, you’ll be using problem-solving and communication skills as you help people from around campus resolve software problems. As a Computer Technician Assistant, you’ll primarily be fixing computer and printer problems. Student Web Developers develop web applications and web scripting components using a variety of languages, technologies, and techniques. Technology Services often hires a few positions in Fall Term, but keep an eye on Handshake in case they post additional positions in the middle of the school year.

Get started with Git

As you probably know, Git is a free and open-source version control system. Git allows you to create git repositories – these repositories record the change history of your project and are local to your device in the root directory of your project. You can also synchronize your local repository with remote repositories. GitHub is a hosting site for remote repositories. If you’d like to start learning more about Git, check out Git and GitHub Crash Course. At just over half an hour, this video breaks down the basics. OpenSource’s step-by-step guide to getting started on Git is another great place to start. Want to get visual? Learn Git Branching is a visual and interactive way to learn Git on the web using demonstrations of features.

Play with Game Development

Because game development can include skills in networking, I/O, graphics, even AI and data science, it can be a fulfilling and fun way to learn software engineering principles. Starting with a game framework like the Lightweight Java Game Library (LWJGL) will give you quite a bit of control over your game. For reference, Minecraft Java Edition uses LWJGL. Prefer C#? MonoGame (think Stardew Valley and Terraria) allows you to use C# and other .NET languages. All the code is available to you so you’ll have the ability to make changes when you need to or port to new platforms.

There’s also the option to start building your game on a game engine. You’ve probably encountered Godot (Sonic Colors: Ultimate), Unity (Cuphead, Stranded Deep, Hearthstone, and Hollow Knight), or Epic Games’ Unreal Engine (Fortnite, Borderlands 3, Ark), CryEngine (Far Cry, Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2), OpenAge (Age of Empires). Engines like these are especially great if you want to actually release a game.

These are just three ideas for starting to build out your technical skills, but there are plenty of other strategies out there, like participating in Hackathons or securing summer internships.

10 Questions that you might have about the Career Center but are too embarrassed to ask

  1. What is Handshake? Handshake is a platform used by colleges, students, alumni, and employers from around the world to share jobs, internships, and career related events. You can use Handshake to make appointments, explore jobs and internships, and learn about ongoing campus events.
  2. How do I set up my Handshake account? Every students has a Handshake account. You can log in using you Lawrence credentials, the same ones that you use for Moodle, Voyager, VikingConnect, and Givepulse. Once you log into Handshake, you can start personalizing your profile.
  3. If I am a junior or senior and have never been to the Career Center, is it too late? Nope, it is never too late. You can reach out to staff at any point. Even as an alumni!
  4. Do I need to have a resume in order to come in? No, you don’t need to bring a resume unless you want to. If you don’t have one, our staff will be happy to help you make one.
  5. How do I make an appointment? Go to this link and log into Handshake.
  6. Why should I sign up for a Career Community? Because once you do, you will start receiving newsletters twice a month targeted to your specific interests. Each newsletter highlights a handful of jobs and internships relevant to your community. We’ll also feature a resource, some tips, alumni, or an employer to keep you informed about what’s happening in the world of work. And you’ll be the first to know about on-campus events related to your career interests.
  7. How do I sign up for a Career Community? It is super easy. Fill this form.
  8. How are Handshake and LinkedIn different? And do I really need to use both? Yes, they are different. And we recommend that you use both. Handshake and LinkedIn have many different features. Handshake is targeted only for students and employers. LinkedIn is open for everyone, and it is a good way to connect with people on your field.
  9. I just made an appointment, should I be stressed? Nope, you really shouldn’t. And you don’t even need to have a specific question ready for your appointment. Our advisors and Career Peer Educators are here to help you at whatever stage you’re at in your career exploration.
  10. Do I need to dress up for my appointment? No, you don’t have to; you can wear casual clothes for your appointment, (but if you want to dress up, you’re welcome to).

By Barbara Espinosa ’20, I created this article from questions that my friends had about the Career Center.

Applying to Grad School for Music Performance Part III: A Few Last Things to Consider

A FEW FINAL THINGS TO CONSIDER WHILE APPLYING TO GRAD SCHOOL

What will make your audition great/ make you a good candidate for schools?

  • There is no such thing as a “perfect audition” so if you mess up a little, don’t worry about it too much. Play musically, confidently, and with passion. Trust yourself that you have spent a lot of time preparing for the audition and it will show through in your playing. The audition committee is not looking for perfection, but instead a student that has potential and they will enjoy teaching.
  • Know your music! Know all the standard excerpts, solo repertoire, method books, and chamber music for your instrument. Be familiar with standard symphonic repertoire as well.
  • Do your research on the school and teacher so you are familiar with the institute and the kind of instruction you will receive. Reach out to the professors and, if time and money allow, take a lesson from the instructor before auditioning.
  • Some auditions may include a lesson from the instructor. Be open to criticism and show that you are able to make adjustments/ improvements on the spot.
  • Have a general goal in mind of what you want to do while attending the school and what you want to achieve post-graduation. This will likely be asked in the application process or at your auditions.
  • Get teaching experience on your major instrument and secondary instruments if possible.

Hidden Costs:

  • Application fees: Most applications cost $100+ so be prepared to spend a couple hundred dollars on all of these if there are several schools you are highly considering.
  • Accompanists: Not all schools require accompaniment in the auditions, but some might. Discuss with your accompanist how much they would like for rehearsals and recordings.
  • Recording spaces and equipment: This can cost a bit of money, but it can also be practically free if you reserve a room a space at school and use your own recording device.
  • Flights: These can cost anywhere between $100 and $500. Check frequently for good deals on flights and consider your options. If you have access to a car, consider driving to some locations- there will be some money involved to cover the cost of gas, but it will still be considerably cheaper. 
  • Hotels: Costs for hotels can vary. Consider staying at motels, hostels, Airbnb, with current students at the school, or with friends/family that might live in the area where you are auditioning. These could all be some cheaper options.
  • Spending money for travel: You will have to purchase meals when you travel and may want to go shopping if there is time so bring some spending money.  

Abbey Atwater ‘19

Career Peer Educator

Applying to Grad School for Music Performance Part II: Timeline

GRAD SCHOOL APPLICATION TIMELINE

There are many steps towards applying to graduate schools and you should start thinking about this process early (junior year of college). Here is a step-by-step procedure in the process of applying to grad schools and how to organize the details:

Finding schools to apply to

  • Considering the tips from above, form a list of several schools that interest you and create a chart to keep track of all the information about the schools and their application/ audition processes. Definitely include more schools than you plan to actually apply to and then start narrowing down your options after really getting familiar with each school (this changed many times for me so it is helpful having all the information easily accessible). Then, I recommend making a chart for every school that contains the following information:
    • Location
    • Teacher(s)
    • Cost of Attendance
    • Application Fee
    • Prescreening Audition Requirements
    • Prescreening/Application Due Date
    • Live Audition Dates
    • Live Audition Requirements
    • Link to Site
    • Application Requirements
    • Academic Requirements
    • Scholarship and Financial Aid Available
    • Financial Aid Application
    • Other Comments (population, safety, surrounding opportunities etc. . .)

*This is also a good template to use when looking into music festivals!*

Audition Repertoire

  • Make a list of all the repertoire required for these auditions so it is easy to locate in one place.
  • Start preparing EARLY. Know everything you have to work on before leaving school for the summer and spend the summer working on all the audition requirements. Take many lessons and know the pieces inside and out!
  • Practice productively and do your musical homework! Listen to multiple recordings, practice with a tuner and metronome, score study, record yourself, etc. . .  

Application and Academic Requirements

  • Start working on your resume, CV, personal statement, biography, repertoire list, and additional essays early so you have them all ready to go! You may just have to make some slight alterations to vary from school to school.
  • Get your transcripts! Check which schools require official transcripts and which can be unofficial to save money. Lawrence’s transcripts freeze around finals time so if you need your applications submitted by December 1st, get them by Thanksgiving (the earlier the better), unless you need your fall grades.
  • Ask for letters of recommendation well in advance so your recommenders have time for them to be well-written and so they can submit the forms on time. Ask during the summer or right when you get back for the start of classes.
  • Most schools will offer a generous amount of financial aid so know this sort of information in advance and fill out forms accordingly (they will often be due at the time the application is due).
  • Also, review music theory (including aural skills and sight singing), music history, and keyboard skills! You will probably have to take more of these classes in graduate school and the placement exams might happen at the time of your audition so be prepared.

Prescreening Recordings:

  • Don’t wait until the last minute to get this done. Save yourself time if you need to remake a recording.
  • Be professional! Dress nicely, play in a nice space, use good quality recording equipment, avoid extraneous sounds and distractions, and don’t say more than you need to if anything at all (let the music do all the speaking).
  • Reserve a date, time, and space far in advance and find a friend to help.
  • If any music requires an accompanist, ask someone well in advance and communicate about when and where the recording session(s) will be held.

Live Auditions:           

  • Select an audition date and book flights and a hotel room ASAP (the school might be able to assist you with this).
  • Be working on repertoire for live auditions at the time you work on prescreening material (it may be a fast turnaround by the time you are accepted to advance from prescreening and not much time to prepare new music).
  • Packing: make sure you have all your music, equipment, forms, and dress clothes- do not forget your instrument! Have repair tools with you in case of an emergency and know how to care for your instrument on your flight.
  • Arrive early! Try to fly in at least a day before auditions (flights may be delayed or canceled) and get familiar with the layout of the campus well before your audition so you are not completely lost. Also, try to play in some of their performing spaces ahead of time or wherever the audition will be.
  • Understand you will likely have to miss some school for these auditions so contact professors and organize your schoolwork accordingly.

Dates/Times to start putting all this into action:

  • Throughout all of undergrad: Build up a vast knowledge for music (repertoire, performers, orchestras, festivals, competitions, etc. . .) and be able to perform most of the standard repertoire for your instrument.
  • Winter through summer break of junior year in undergrad: Make a list of schools you are interested in and start narrowing these options down to determine which schools you will apply to. As you continue to do research, start reaching out to teachers and get lessons from them over the summer or during the fall if it is possible. Start working on audition repertoire.
  • Fall of senior year: Ask for letters of recommendation ASAP, obtain transcripts, record prescreening auditions, and work on/ submit application materials. December 1st is the national deadline for these so try to have everything done by mid-November.
  • Winter of senior year: Take live auditions (some schools may accept recorded auditions or may have regional auditions, but auditioning in person is usually recommended).
  • May 1stNational deadline for college decisions. 

Abbey Atwater ‘19

Career Peer Educator

Applying to Grad School for Music Performance Part I: What to Consider

APPLYING TO GRADUATE SCHOOL FOR MUSIC PERFORMANCE

Why grad school?

  • Consider your options post-undergrad: Is graduate school the best route to assist you in finding a job in your field? Will this investment be worth it in the end? As a performer, it definitely can benefit you when looking for professional work, but it is not always necessarily required.
  • Do not do it just because everyone else in your studio or school is doing it- do it if you feel like this is the right path for you.
  •  Some people prefer taking a gap year after feeling burnt out from undergrad. Others would prefer to continue their education and do not want to take the risk of losing their drive.
  • Student debt really becomes a concern after undergrad so taking a gap year (or a few) or not attending graduate school at all is always an option in order to repay this debt.
  • Graduate school is not for everyone and that is ok!

What schools should I look into? These are the top things to consider:                      

Teacher

  • Find someone who is a big name for your instrument/ voice and will help you make connections with other professional musicians/ organizations. Also, take time to read bios and listen to these teachers as performers- find someone who you admire and who you would like to influence your sound.You want to find a good fit: someone you will get along with that will push you hard and teach you a lot, but not someone that will push you over the edge.
  • Another aspect to consider is who best will prepare you for current real-life auditions. “Older” professors with many years of experience teaching and performing might have some of the top reputations in the business, but may not have taken a professional audition in decades. The art of taking and winning auditions has changed drastically from just 10 years ago so working with people with more recent auditioning experience can be just as beneficial.

Name/reputation of the school

  • Aim BIG and look into schools known for their musical excellence (schools you see in performers’ bios). Some schools have reputations for landing people jobs so find those schools that have high employment rates.
  • View ratings of the school/ professors and see what kind of overall rankings the school has.
  • You will be faced with competition everywhere you go, but some schools might be a bit more fiercely competitive than others might be. Is this something you would like or are you looking for a more supportive, sympathetic institute?

Geography

  • Find schools in areas that will have many performing and teaching opportunities available. Also, try to find schools located near first-rate orchestras so you have the opportunity to attend their concerts and connect with those musicians (places like NYC, Chicago, and Philadelphia are bound to offer great opportunities for freelancing and all have top-notch orchestras).
  • Location can be important. Consider if you want to be somewhere hot or cold; rainy or dry; East, West, or Midwest; rural or urban- these can all be factors to consider.

Other Important things to consider:

Cost and Finances

  • Graduate schools are expensive and the cost to attend is often a deciding factor in where people choose to go. Do not let this hinder you from still looking into great (but expensive) schools. If they really want you to attend, schools will find a way to make this possible and cover much or all of the cost for you. Graduate students are usually prioritized for financial aid and many schools offer graduate assistantships where you teach undergrad students of your voice or instrument.
  • Consider if you will be living on or off campus and how much living expenses will cost.

School Culture and Size

  • Can you imagine yourself attending this school? Are the students and faculty people you get along with and are people who will motivate you to grow more as a musician? You will be there for at least two years so make sure you can work well with your other colleagues.
  • Are you looking for a smaller conservatory or a large state school? There can be considerable differences between the kinds of opportunities available and challenges you face at large versus small schools so think about what kind of environment you will thrive best in.
  • Having gone through four years of undergrad, you have probably built up a strong support system of friends or are in a committed relationship. Are you ok potentially going to school on the other side of the country from your friends and family? There are various ways to cope, but this can be a concern for many students. There are always going to be plenty of people to meet and befriend in graduate school!

Abbey Atwater ‘19

Career Peer Educator

Resume Tips & Samples

RESUME BASICS – Chronological Resume

  • Header
    • The header is the very top portion of your resume. It will always have your name, phone number and email, and if applicable your Linkedin and website URL. 
    • Your contact info should be listed underneath your name.
      • Ex. (000) 000-0000, sample@lawrence.edu, linkedin.com/in/sam-ple
  • Education
    • This section is where you list the schools you have attended and the degrees obtained. For first year university students, this section may include your high school’s name and any honors awards you’ve obtained while in high school. 
    • List the name of the school, where it is located, and your anticipated or achieved graduation month and year. Underneath this list the degree you obtained and the what you majored/minored in.
      • Your major should always be bolded on the resume
    • Underneath your school information you can list any honors or academic awards. This may include any Deans list achievements or National Honors Societies. 
  • Work Experience 
    • Here is where you list your work experience in REVERSE chronological order (newest positions at the top). 
    • For the job information, list the name of your position, name of company, where it is located, and the month and years you have worked there. 
    • Underneath the job information make 3-5 bulletpoints describing what you did for your position
      • Try to use keywords from a job position you are interested in. 
      • Good action words to start are: “assisted” “managed” “collected” etc. Try to stay away from words like “helped”. 
    • Only list job information that is relevant to what you are applying for. 
  • Additional Experience
    • This section is for any work information you don’t want to or need to describe, unlike your Work Experience section. This often includes clubs, sports teams and other extracurriculars. 
    • For the additional experience section, list the name of your position, name of company (or club/sport), where it is located and the month and years you participated. 
    • In this section you do not need to put bullet points underneath the job experience. 
  • Technological & Language Skills
    • If applicable, in this section you can list any technology programs you are acquainted with or languages you know.
      • Ex. Microsoft word. Fluent in French. 
    • Try to stick to programs and languages you know very well, instead of just putting down ones you are acquainted with. 

RESUME SAMPLES

  • Chronological Resume
    • The most standard form of resume. 
    • Highlights work experience.
  • Combination Resume 
    • This resume highlights your skills and classes rather than your work experience.
    • Use this resume when you may not have much work experience within the field you are applying for.