Weekly Calendar (FALL)

This page lists the topics, learning objectives & activities for each week during the Fall semester of the VOTP program. (See green text at bottom of page for Suggestions for improvement in Fall 2017) (Add these professional videos throughout course: Linda Raynier, Career Strategist)
  1. The core topics are listed in the table below. 
  2. The specific learning objectives are listed, week by week below the table. 
Core topics: 


Core Topic



Research yourself  & your professional potential

1, 2, 3, 4


Research the job market

5, 6



 6, 7, 8


Cover letters



Job interviews 



Follow-up after an interview



 Networking & LinkedIn





Specific learning objectives: 

Course text books: Job Hunting (JH), recommended; Apply Yourself (AY), optional; Let's Speak Business English! (LSBE), optional

Week 1: Research yourself & your professional potential (starts Mon, 8/21) - Job Hunting (JH) Unit 1
  • Understand class syllabus
  • Groups brainstorm job search process for hypothetical job: Job Search Process Activity
  • Identify stages of the job search process & compare to other countries: JH 6-8
  • Discuss an individual's qualifications for a specific job: JH 7-8
  • Match personal qualities to examples of those qualities: AY 6, 8, 9
  • Discuss strengths & weaknesses: JH 8-9
  • Create a mind map to identify your strengths & weaknesses: JH 10
  • Speaking practice (Fri.) - In a circle, talk about something unusual, gather topics for future discussion (e.g. problems at work, dealing with native speakers at work)
Week 2: Research yourself & your professional potential (starts Mon, 8/28) - JH Unit 1
  • Use mind map to describe strengths & weaknesses
  • Identify & describe personal qualities, giving clear examples
  • Describe educational background (qualifications): JH 10
  • Describe skills and experience, using correct grammatical forms: JH 11-12
  • Identify key skills from a List of Skills
  • Thurs: Local employer visits: YMCA
  • Speaking practice (Fri.) - In a circle, describe your qualities, education, skills, weaknesses; workplace misunderstandings, differences of culture, how to adapt; salary negotiation & what to do if you discover you are underpaid; dream job; jobs & work experience; best memory; family, how was 1st month & year in U.S; plans after finishing program & how will you accomplish that
Week 3: Research yourself & your professional potential (starts Tues, 9/5 - Monday is Labor Day) - JH Unit 1
  • Identify key skills from a List of Skills
  • Read & discuss a comprehensive list of skills with examples & explanations
  • Select good verbs to describe duties that demonstrate skills: JH 13
  • Talk about 2 key skills (connected to YOUR career) & explain or give examples to demonstrate (see Robert's example)
  • Match job duties to specific positions AY 12-13 (continued below)
  • Thurs: Local employer visits: The Women's Building
  • Speaking practice (Fri.) - Our agreed list of discussion topis (see above); UNPLANNED: Take 10 minutes & plan to talk about  your favorite job & why you liked it: pick you least favorite job & describe why you didn't like it
Week 4: Research yourself (starts Mon, 9/11) - JH Unit 1
Week 5: Research the job market (starts Mon, 9/18) - JH Unit 1
Week 6: Resumes (starts Mon, 9/25) - JH Unit 2
Week 7: Resumes (starts Mon, 10/2), Mission Job Fair Thurs, 10/5 - JH Unit 2
Week 8: Resumes, References (starts Tues, 10/10 - Mon is FLEX day) - JH Units 2, 3
Week 9: Cover letters (starts Mon, 10/16) - JH Unit 3
Week 10: Interviews (starts Mon, 10/23) - JH Unit 4, 5 (telephone interview) Thursday Oct 26 = VOTP OrientationWeek 11: Interviews (starts Mon 10/30) - JH Unit 4
Week 12: Interviews (starts Mon 11/6 - Friday is Veterans' Day) - JH Unit 5
Week 13: Interviews & follow-up after an interview (starts Mon 11/13) - Interviews

Week 14: Interviews (starts Mon 11/20 - Thanksgiving is Thurs, Fri) - Interviews

Week 15: Interviews, networking, situational judgment tests (starts Mon Nov 27) - Interviews
Week 16: Interviews (starts Mon 12/4) - JH Unit 6 - Follow-up, Negotiating salary, Filing
Week 17: Filing (starts Mon 12/11) - Filing
  • Interpret indexing & filing rules
  • Practice filing, using Indexing software in computer lab
  • Successfully pass 10 filing tests with a score of 100%
  • Update student data base with "permanent" emails
  • Invite all students to Facebook & LinkedIn
  • Transfer resume info into LinkedIn
  • Distribute end-of-semester survey (email & paper) to students to begin to fill out
  • LAB: Create LinkedIn accounts & profiles & find contacts
Week 18: Filing (starts Mon 12/18) - Filing, course evaluation, graduation

Suggestions for Improvements for Fall 2018:
  • Add graded assignment: find a job relevant to you (marked up to show analysis) & uploaded to website
  • Create a rubric to score the interview, resume, cover letter
  • Ss buy binders with index tabs; add dates & sections to each handout & as we use them, have Ss add them to binders
  • Learn more about local jobs and work culture:

    o    Ask local businesses in retail, bank, SFO, hotel, health to visit us, especially at beginning of semester before Ss select their jobs (so they will know more about what’s available & how it suits them)

    o    Try to arrange job shadowing or volunteering opportunities

    o    Find some websites with info about salaries, conditions about local career options

    ·         Provide more examples of live interviews:

    o    T could interview volunteers

    o    Good interviewer (Neela, Lisa, Roland, etc.) could interview Robert in front of class

    o    Have Robert also do live phone interview

    o    Let volunteers have more freedom in how they interview (it they have experience). They can show a different style and questions by doing it their own way, when appropriate.

    o    Allow volunteers & Ss to schedule interviews after class (& volunteer could arrive later), so Ss won’t have to miss class to get their additional practice

    ·         Interview Videos:

    o    Start video project as soon as we start the Interview Questions section of class

    o    Ss can record videos one by one each week as we work through the questions. T can watch and give high level feedback and Ss can meet in Trios to watch each other’s and critique. Ss can then rerecord incorporating feedback and continue to improve the 5 key videos until submitting “final” versions.

    ·         Filing:

    o    Stream line the class to 5 units only (but consider doing all 10 because Ss seemed to want it.

Extra possible speaking topics:
  • Speaking practice (Fri): Practice Tell Me answers so far; Discuss the strategy of your cover letter and which qualifications you included and why; weekend plans, hobbies & leisure activities; Unprepared topics (Ss are given topics & have 10 minutes to prepare what to say): when you are elderly and reflecting back on your life, how will you evaluate whether you were successful or not? What was the most challenging situation you ever faced & how did you handle it?; Additional situation: you are a new employee talking to coworkers in coffee area. Engage in small talk as they ask you about your hobbies, hometown, past jobs, education.

Other possible topics:
  • Virginia Tech Division of Students Services has a great Career Services website (link to videos on networking, interviews, etc)
  • Business English - Useful Language Appendix JH 108
  • Business English - Socializing LSBE 3-8 (see compilation of exercises, Small Talk)
  • Business English - Socializing LSBE 9-13; Useful Language Appendix JH 105-6
  • Business English - Useful Language Appendix JH 106