- Starting the Job Search
- Finding Full-Time Employment
- Perfecting Your Resume
- Dress for Success
- Interviewing and Asking Questions
- Comparing Job Offers
- Career Planning FAQ
Internships are a great way to supplement the material that you are learning in the classroom, build up your skill-set and confidence, and add helpful experience to your resume. After completing an internship or two, you will have an edge against other graduates in your field whose only experience is in the classroom. And if that isn't enough for you to get an internship, consider this: you may get paid more at your full-time job if you have the experience to hit the ground running! Internships allow you to test drive your desired career field. It is better to find out sooner rather than later if your desired career path is not what you expected.
College Internships: Differences Between Unpaid and Paid
Starting the Job Search
- Start by making a wish list. This list will include everything you could possibly want (within reason, of course) in your ideal job.
- Utilize every resource you have. Your professors, family, and friends can all help you meet industry professionals. It's no joke that many job offers come as a result of networking! Furthermore, your new contacts may be able to provide you with valuable references. In addition to making new connections, head over to your career services office to let them do what they do best: help you get a job! If you already graduated, they will still be happy to help and set you on a path for success.
- Do your research. Before you head into an interview or a phone screening, you should know everything possible about the interviewer and the organization. You don't want to be caught like a deer in headlights when they ask, "Do you know what we do?" It's okay to partake in a little creepy internet stalking on this one!
- Use the internet. Whether you are starting your search for a full-time career or looking to get your feet wet with an internship, the internet is your bestie. Tools abound to help connect you with employers. But when looking for full-time employment post-graduation, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed, and your school's career listings site, are some of the web's best for finding new potions!
Finding Full-Time Employment
Have you ever heard that finding full-time employment is a full-time job itself? Staying organized, optimistic, and diligent will be critical to your success. Create a spreadsheet containing information for every job you apply for. Include application date, company, contact information, position applied for, date you applied, notes about the company, dates for follow-up, etc. Use your network of contacts to help you land a job!
- Attend networking events or career fairs held by your college or university.
- Network via email, phone, and in person.
- Exchange business cards.
- Maintain a list of contacts and follow up.
- Practice networking and your elevator pitch in a mirror. Yes, we know this is awkward.
Perfecting Your Resume
- Be creative. It's okay to use some color and graphics to help convey a message for tired eyes, but fonts must be legible and consistent.
- Tailor your resume for each job that you're applying for. Pull specific keywords from the job description and incorporate them into your resume. Some employers use systems that screen resumes using keywords. A real person may not even get to review it if you aren't including the right phrases.
- Get some professional eyes on your resume. Use the career services office at your school or have a recruiter review it. You will gain great constructive feedback that will help you develop the best resume possible.
- Highlight activities and awards that are most relevant to the job for which you are applying. This could include coursework, internships, honor societies, etc. Put the most important information and recent experiences towards the top as most recruiters spend less than 30 seconds looking over each resume.
- Don't exceed one page.
- Include all your contact information at the top of the page, primarily your address, mobile phone number, email address, and personal website URL.
- Use sections for education, experience, skills/interests, and professional associations. Use bullet points!
- Use action words. Use the present tense for current activities and past tense for prior experiences. (organized, analyzed, developed, designed, established, directed, communicated, approved, processed, calculated, maintained, reviewed, etc.)
Dress for Success
Industries like finance, accounting, consulting, and education are typically more formal, and their employers expect their staff to adhere to a professional dress code. Like anything, the term "business professional" can mean a variety of different things from one person to the next. Professional dress for men is almost always a suit and tie. Women should wear a pant suit or pencil skirt, blouse, and blazer. In these settings, it is important to look polished as you are likely working with people in and outside your office.
People in engineering fields, smaller offices, and start-ups tend to fit into this category, and most offices tend to follow this dress code! Men typically wear a collared shirt (polo or button down) with nice dress pants, no tie required. Women, on the other hand, can wear business separates and compliment them with a cardigan or blazer. Be sure to look put together as you may have occasional meetings with outside vendors and partners.
Interviewing & Asking Questions
- Do your research. You want to be aware of who is interviewing you and what their role is in the company. Be sure to know exactly what the company does. Review their website, articles, and annual report. Write down any questions you have and bring them with you.
- Bring extra copies of your resume. Bring your resume in a briefcase or portfolio.
- Be likable. People want to work with people they like! Show interest, be a good listener, show a sense of humor (when appropriate), and ask lots of questions! Be sure to walk in with a smile, give a firm handshake, and make good eye contact. Thank everyone for their time, sit up straight, and no fidgeting!
- Rehearse some answers/ make a good first impression. You need to sound natural but there are a few questions you should have the answers to. You will likely be asked some basic questions: tell me about yourself, what do you think are your strengths and weaknesses, and what sets you apart from the other candidates? Remember, when telling employers about yourself, keep it brief, and leave room to elaborate later.
- Ask the hard-hitting questions. The candidate question segment is where you have the power in this interview. Use it! Direct the conversation as you'd like to, catch your interviewer off-guard, and learn as much as you can. Be inquisitive! You can show your interest and intellect by asking good questions of your potential employer. Start with these but don't limit yourself. Come up with some of your own and tailor them to the job you are interviewing for!
- What do your most successful new hires do in their first week/month/year?
- How do you provide feedback to new hires during their onboarding period?
- Who would you say are your biggest competitors and what makes your product/service better?
- What are the biggest risks that you anticipate come with this role?
- Why did you decide to work here?
- Tell me about what helps to motivate you here, as a seasoned employee? What do you like the most?
- Follow up with a thank you note. Restate your interest in the position, thank the interviewers for their time, and reflect on a particular topic of interest that arose during the interview. Send within 24 hours. Email is preferred; keep your note brief.
- Salary and benefits package. Most likely you're going to have to support yourself, pay bills, buy groceries, save money, etc. What do you need to make that all happen? Chances are it's about time to get off your parent's health insurance plan and onto your own, so the benefits that are available where you work matter: health care, vacation time, sick time, etc. All of those benefits have a monetary value. It's also never too early to start saving for retirement, so considering taking advantage of 401(k) employer match or similar retirement savings account. Any offer you get is exciting, but make sure you are going to be earning what you are worth. Don't be afraid to negotiate and make sure to get all of the job offer details in writing!
- Think long-term. Is there room for advancement in the company and what is the work-life balance? Yes, you must work hard, but that doesn't mean you need to be a workaholic! Keep work separate from personal life and vice-versa.
- Location, location, location! How long will your commute be? What type of transportation will you take? How much will it cost you? If you have to move to be closer to your employment, how much will rent be? Can you afford it? Aim high, but also be practical.
- Company culture and values! Do you mesh with the people you'd be working with? Do you agree with the company's mission statement and the way things run? These are very important to your long-term happiness at your job.
Negotiating your offer requires research and practice. Find out which parts of your offer are negotiable: benefits, job responsibilities, and salary. When negotiating your offer, remain courteous and excited about the opportunity. Also, take note that the person you are negotiating with may become your supervisor or co-worker.
Career Planning FAQ
Where should I be looking for a full-time job?
I feel like I have no experience. How do I find jobs that better suit my criteria and qualifications?
I have submitted many applications but I am not getting any calls back. Why?
How do I know where I want to go after college?