Career Planning & Internships

Finding full-time employment is a full-time job itself. You will be sorely disappointed if you think sending off a dozen generic resumes to jobs you find online is sure to land you the position of your dreams. Like all searches, a lot of leg-work and research is required. Once you are ready to start sending in applications, you need to get organized, and fast!

Guide Contents

  1. Internships
  2. Starting the Job Search
  3. Finding Full-Time Employment
  4. Perfecting Your Resume
  5. Dress for Success
  6. Interviewing and Asking Questions
  7. Comparing Job Offers
  8. 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.

Internship statistics

relatedcontent.png 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!

Tips for Networking
  • 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.
Do's and Don'ts of Job Searching

Job Searching Do's and Don'ts


 Perfecting Your Resume

"When you are drafting your resume think of it as prime real estate. You want to make the most of the page and limit the blank space. The most pertinent information about your experiences should be at the top of the page so the employer doesn't have to search to know if your skills align with the position responsibilities. Have a peer review your resume to be sure you have all of the skills the employers asking for in the job description." -Kim Stack, Director of Center for Career and Experiential Education at The University of Rhode Island.


8 Tips to Creating an Outstanding Resume
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Don't exceed one page.
  6. Include all your contact information at the top of the page, primarily your address, mobile phone number, email address, and personal website URL.
  7. Use sections for education, experience, skills/interests, and professional associations. Use bullet points!
  8. 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

Interviewers and candidates have been bickering with each other over “professionalism” for generations. Whether centered on haircuts, visible tattoos or piercings, or appropriate dress in the workplace, it’s been an evolving, but continuous, discussion. Today’s most prominent professional attire-related dispute seems to focus on a more core concept – whether anyone should really be "dressed up" to go to work at all. Certainly the type of job you land will affect the style of clothing you wear to work. But for interview purposes, none of that matters. Always err on the side of more professional.

Business Professional

business professional

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.

Business Casual

business casual

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

The purpose of the interview is to determine if you have the personal characteristics and skills to do the job and to see if you are a good fit with the organization's culture and existing employees. Before going to your interview, be sure you have thoroughly read the job description and think about how your existing coursework, personal traits, and experience align with what the employer is seeking. Have examples prepared that demonstrate how you have what it takes to do the job.
  • 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.

Comparing Offers

Once you get a job offer, you will probably be so excited, you'll be tempted to accept it on the spot! DON'T! Thank the employer for the offer and ask for time to consider your decision. Ask how much time you can have an make sure to respond before the deadline.
  • 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

When should I start looking for a  full-time job?
The earlier the better! Different companies, big and small, have different timelines. Bigger corporations start their hiring process in the fall because their interview process is very extensive. Smaller companies and organizations usually wait until the spring to post their open positions because their hiring process is much briefer. Despite the norm, positions tend to open up all the time: people leave jobs, people don't work out, etc.

Where should I be looking for a full-time job?

Take advantage of today's digital age. Use the internet and websites like Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn. These websites have thousands of postings that pretty much cover all the bases. Career fairs still exist, so attend those! Meet face-to-face with recruiters and ask critical questions that will help you put your best foot forward when it comes to interviewing. Last, but certainly not least, network! Don't underestimate how many people get jobs through their connections.

I feel like I have no experience. How do I find jobs that better suit my criteria and qualifications?

Did you know that over 70% of interns are offered full-time employment at the conclusion of their internship? (NACE) If you are having a hard time getting interviews for full-time jobs, maybe it is time to take a step back, make some connections, and build experience through an internship. If you are vehemently against this, try tightening your search parameters and polishing your resume. Landing that first job can feel like a struggle, but it will happen for you. Be patient, be persistent, take feedback, and advice - even if you don't like it - and follow up!

I have submitted many applications but I am not getting any calls back. Why?

Make sure to update your resume for every job that you apply for. If you are applying at larger companies and organizations, chances are they are using a human resource system that screens your application before real eyes ever get a glance of your resume. Be sure to incorporate keywords and phrases from the job description into your resume to make sure yours is filtered as a potential match for the job. If you are applying for a more creative position, be sure your resume speaks to that! Add some color and graphics to show your aptitude for design and originality! Lastly, follow up! Contact the hiring manager to see if they have received your application and what their timeline is for hiring. Showing your interest can give you the little extra push you may need to get an interview.

How do I know where I want to go after college?

If you've always dreamed of relocating and it just didn't work out for college, now may be your time. Before you have the obligations of a family or home ownership, take a risk. If you've dreamed of moving from one coast to another or from the cold to warmer temperatures, search for job opportunities there. Make sure you pay attention to any difference in cost of living and do the math to be certain that you will be able to afford the lifestyle you want in your new hometown. Take the time to explore all avenues and you can always come back if your new location just wasn't for you!