Career Development Office - Job Search Tips

Preparing for the job or internship search

The basic steps to looking for both a full time job and an internship are the same - and as with most things, the better you are organized, the more successful you will become. Below are some general search tips that are important to keep in mind when you decide to begin a search.

Create a resume that reflects your search.

When potential employers look at resumes, they first look for familiarity in the document, or something that relates to them. This could include similar jobs, internships, clubs, organizations, etc. After that (or if there are not any similar jobs), they then look for transferable skills... meaning, skills that you have developed in other areas that can easily be transferred to their job. These skills can range from specific subjects such as language and computer skills, to broader themes like working in a fast-paced environment, managing a budget (even if it is a small club), or participating in a team setting.

Obviously, creating a resume takes a lot more thought than simply listing all of the things you have ever done! Once you begin putting your resume together, you may go through as many as four drafts before you are comfortable sending it out to employers.

It is easy to think that you can use a computer-generated template to develop your resume, but this is not something that we would recommend. These templates are both hard to read and difficult to edit. Use our section on Resume Writing to develop a resume that reflects both you and your search. Afterwards, drop off your resume to one of the counselors for review.

Organize your time and materials.

A job and internship search will take a significant amount of time. One way to combat this and cut down on the time needed for your search is to organize yourself the same way you would any academic class. Create a space (a notebook, file folder, etc.) where you can keep all of your materials. This includes lists of contact people, copies of cover letter and resumes, dates and times that materials were sent out, etc. Concentrating all of these items in one place will also make your follow up process easier. For example, you can keep a running log of when you sent out materials to help remind you to follow up two to three weeks later... or to quickly find a name or organization if they should call to set up an interview.

Quick Organizational Tips:

  • Keep track of your contacts and responses.
  • Keep track of who referred you to whom.
  • Remind yourself to follow up.
  • Always have a "To Do" list devoted to your search.
  • Follow up with all your contacts after you are hired (there will be a next time!)

Extend Yourself: Job and Internship searching is NOT passive.

No doubt you have heard the expression, "She was in the right place at the right time." Often this phrase is used in describing how somebody obtained a job or an internship. Sometimes there may be a hint of truth to the 'right place, right time' theory, but the fact is that most people who have found them selves in the 'right place' were very active in actually putting themselves there. The more active you are in your search, extending yourself to making the right contacts, and not being afraid to 'put yourself out there', the more successful you will become... and chances are, you will at some point be "In the right place, at the right time."

Ask Questions.

It is very important in your job or internship search to ask questions every step of the way. The more inquisitive you are, the better your chances to actually hearing an answer that you want! For example, have you made a networking contact who was not as helpful as you had wished? Perhaps asking them for five names of others you could contact would have made the meeting more worthwhile. Have you ever talk with a human resources office who claimed not to have any open summer internships? Maybe you could ask about volunteering during one of their employees' week-long summer vacation just to get a 'feel' for the corporate environment. Were you disappointed about the salary you were offered? Before you give them an answer, ask them to add a 90-day review to your contract and subsequent bump in a salary. In all of these instances, the worst thing that can happen is that they can say "no" - not a bad gamble at all.

Pace yourself, take breaks, and remember to reward yourself!

Conducting a job and internship search can get frustrating at times. It never happens as fast as we want it to - and so much of our success depends on other people. Plan on devoting a few months to your search, and as you would any academic class, tell yourself that it is OK to put your materials aside and take a break every once-in-a-while. You will return to it refreshed and rejuvenated. Also, be sure to reward yourself for small victories, even if you have not gotten a job offer yet. A first interview or making a great networking contact means that you are moving in the right direction, and rewarding yourself for these steps will make the process more enjoyable.

Know Yourself.

Understanding yourself is the first step in helping others to understand you. Identify what kinds of skills and abilities that you have, and how they might fit into certain kinds of jobs. Evaluate the situations in which you work best - do you prefer to work alone or part of a team? Are you a morning person who loves the outdoors, or do you prefer to be behind a desk from 9-5? And finally, understand your limitations before you apply for certain positions. For example, if you don't have a car, you might concentrate on geographic areas that include public transportation. The more you understand yourself, you will be able to answer interview questions more easily and honestly.

Research your fields of interest.

The Career Development Office offers many tools to research a variety of career fields. You can use our online tools including OCEAN, The Vault Career Library, and Spotlight on Careers. These all contain researched descriptions of different areas of interest. You can also visit our career library and make an appointment with a career counselor. If you are just starting out, don't forget to check out the Career Exploration portion of our website.

To help determine if a field is a match for you, it is best to educate yourself in several different areas. Find out what kinds of jobs are available to entry level or internship candidates. Also, look at what kinds of job opportunities are available for people who have been in the field for a number of years. Are these jobs you can see yourself performing in five or ten years?

Start to understand trends and growth in the industry. Who are the leading employers and what's the standard turnover rate? Read the trade publications and talk with alumni or family friends who might shed some insight. For employers that you have a specific interest in pursuing, read the website thoroughly and make special efforts to keep yourself updated with their press releases. Finally, research if the field has any professional associations where you can become a student member. It will provide you with a tremendous amounts of industry-related knowledge and access to their membership.

Network! Network! Network!

Networking might be considered one of the most important things that you do when looking for a full time job or internship. The relationships that you will build and maintain will not only assist you in obtaining an opportunity that you are currently seeking, but will probably you follow for years to come. Networking can help you gain advice from experienced professionals, give you contacts of others who can assist you in your search, give you insights into certain professions and careers. Meeting new people and making contacts can occur though friends and family, attending alumni networking events or using the alumni database in the CDO, and conducting Informational Interviews. For more extensive information, visit the Networking section of our website.