Q&A with RiseSmart's Rising Grad Winner: Paige DePagter 

Over the course of the spring, we hosted a contest to celebrate the graduating class of 2017. The Rising Grad Contest set up a new college graduate with one of our top-notch career coaches and a brand-new wardrobe to help land our winner with the job of her dreams. Paige DePagter, a University of South Florida graduate, claimed the first ever RiseSmart Rising Grad title along with our grand prize. After winning our contest, Paige received and accepted a position with one of her top career targets. We asked Paige to give us an inside look into her job hunt and her experience using RiseSmart’s contemporary career transition services.

RiseSmart: Hi Paige! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.  

Paige DePagter: I'm a recent graduate from the University of Southern Florida and I have a Bachelor's degree in Cell/Cellular and Molecular Biology. I'm passionate about using my expertise and education to drive the impact of healthcare-focused non-profit organizations. 

RS: How did you decide on your “dream job”? 

PD: I want to make a difference for those affected by childhood cancer- through fundraising, awareness and lobbying. This passion has propelled me into a desire to pursue a career that combines my education background in molecular biology with my passion for helping others.  

RS: How has your participation in the RiseSmart program impacted your job search? 

PD: The RiseSmart program helped me develop a competitive cover letter and resume! It made me feel more confident during interviews as well. Going through this process made me realize I had marketable achievements that I hadn't considered in the past.  

RS: What parts of RiseSmart's contemporary career transition services did you find most valuable? 

PDI liked the resume help! Before working with RiseSmart, my resume was cluttered and inconsistent with what professional roles I was seeking. The team at RiseSmart helped me sort out the areas on my resume to highlight and emphasize during my job search. Now, my resume clearly outlines my career objectives and showcases my core strengths and skills.  

RS: How did you use the Spotlight feature? What was most valuable in this feature? 

PD: Spotlight helped me become more confident in my job search and gave me advice on what to do next. It was easy to get disheartened in the beginning as I was having trouble finding opportunities that suited me, but this tool allowed me to search many opportunities that aligned with my passion areas and career goals.   

RS: What are your career plans for the future?  

PD: I accepted a position with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society that began in August and I am beyond happy! I never expected to be able to secure a job straight out of college at my dream company.  

 RS: What was the best piece of advice your RiseSmart Certified Career Coach gave you?  

PD: Stay positive and treat the job search like a full-time job! I'll be honest, I was not prepared for it to be as much work as it was, but my coach encouraged me to respond to whatever job leads I would even consider- even if just for the practice!  

RS: What did you learn from your coaching and personal branding sessions?

PD: RiseSmart taught me a great deal about the importance of wordsmithing and how to sell myself. I have a lot of great experience under my belt, but I wasn't communicating it in the most effective way. Now, I am able to confidently talk about my abilities and apply them to almost any situation and as an added bonus, I was able to apply this advice to become a better fundraiser.  

RS: What resume mistakes surprised you during the resume building portion working with your RiseSmart Professional Resume Writer?  

PD: RiseSmart helped me market my college internships in a way that leveraged my capabilities to appeal to a new position. We completely flipped my resume upside down, revising the order in which the information was given since the items I thought were most important were not in alignment with what recruiters are looking for. Moving forward, I feel more comfortable now providing the most impactful information first.   

RS: How did the RiseSmart team help you make the connection from your past experiences into your job search? 

PD: The RiseSmart team was able to help me turn my experiences into sellable traits. Things that I didn't even realize were important became some of the best parts of my cover letter!  

RS: What advice would you give the class of 2018 as they prepare to enter the job market? 

PD: Be resilient and ask around! One of the best pieces of advice I received was to ask others that I knew in my field for their advice and support on job hunting! This helped me narrow down my search and find real openings that I could apply for.  

To find out more about how to navigate the employee relationship economy and to support your employees with career transition services, visit RiseSmart here.