March 10, 2015
by Michelle Perry Higgins
Summer internships or jobs are the stepping stones to landing that killer job when you graduate. Why, you ask? Because many times these jobs open doors for you that would have otherwise been closed if you chose not work and lounged around at the beach all summer instead. I fully understand that students are dying for a break; however, the summer months can make or break the job opportunities that come your way around graduation. We are in a competitive environment and students should strive to add one job or internship annually to their résumé. The following tips will give you a leg-up on the competition.
Start looking now. The hiring process takes time, so you need to start early. Clean up that résumé and have your conservative suit pressed and ready to go at a moment’s notice (don’t be embarrassed to wear your business suit to all engagements on campus where an employer may be present.) Finding a job within your major is a critical piece to this equation so you can get a bird’s-eye view of the real world and rule out careers you may not want.
The first place to head in this search, and probably the most valuable resource for students on campus, is the college career center. Employers like me, who are looking for interns, post job openings through this center and work closely with the career counselors. Check the website daily for any new opportunities and speak to your counselor weekly about employers coming to campus or workshops on interviewing techniques, building a résumé or workplace etiquette. Build a relationship with the career counselor on campus because he or she is your lifeline to the outside world. Second, reach out to your professors and tell them you are aggressively searching for an internship or a job during the summer and you would appreciate it if they hear of anything to let you know. Professors (and your college) want to see you succeed and develop good connections that could land you a great job.
Network, network, and network! Most students know this well because networking is really just socializing–and we all know how much of that goes on in college. Put your skills to work and tell everyone that you are on the hunt for a J-O-B over the summer. If you haven’t done so already, sign up at LinkedIn. Then reach out to all your friends, family members and professors. Use social media to spread the word that you are looking for employment opportunities in XYZ industry. Don’t forget to remove all the wild pictures off your social-media pages! Potential employers will scrutinize your sites (trust me, we do) and the last thing we want to see is inappropriate behavior. Would your grandma approve? If yes, you are good.
Get in the habit of writing thank-you notes. Go buy a large box of generic stationary and after every interview, campus speaker, professor referrals and the like, write a thank-you note expressing your gratitude for their time. Don’t send an email, voicemail, text, or message through social media. Yes, get out an old pen and paper and write a thank-you note. Unfortunately, this form of etiquette has fallen by the wayside, but it is not out of style and employers will take note of your attention to detail.
Just remember, you and your résumé need to stand out in today’s competitive, busy world. Follow these tips and you will be light years ahead of your competition.