Should December graduates go for internships or jobs or both?

December 15, 2011 at 8:59 am | Posted in Graduation | Leave a comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

Some of your students are finishing up classes and internships and looking forward to December graduation. Yet they’re anxious about finding a job in January in a weak market. Many of them face a dilemma—should they be sending out their resumes for internships or for jobs or for both simultaneously?  If they have internships, should they continue them if possible?  As a career services professional, you might find the following points helpful in advising your students:

  • Remind your students that the two most important elements in their future are career success and professional reputation.  It’s tempting for your students to cover all the bases by sending out resumes to the places where they want to work to advance their careers, but with the added insurance of also applying for internships in desirable companies just in case the jobs don’t come through in this weak economy. Advise your students to be careful not to damage their professional reputations by accepting an internship and then dropping it if they get a job offer in another firm. And they may not want to spin their wheels working in a company outside of their area of interest, which would be irrelevant to their career success.
  • Recommend that your students decide which is the more promising avenue and go for it. If they know what job they want and with what firm, concentrate on getting that position. However, if their only opportunities are in fields not related to their career goals or in geographical locations that do not interest them, they should consider going the internship route. They might begin by applying for internships in their target company or at least in the city that they’ve selected as their new home base. Then, they can plan to transition the internship into the job that they really want. At least they’ll be in a company that could be a viable part of their career future.
  • Encourage your December graduates to be selective. They may be in an unpaid internship now and want to turn it into a job, but the company says there are no openings at this time. Do they take a full-time job in another company that doesn’t interest them but offers a paid position?  They should consider what will make them more qualified in their field. It’s better to stay in a great internship and take a part-time job for financial support while waiting for the right job opening in the company. They may miss some other full-time job offers, but they’ll be building their skills. Assure them that employers value their internship experience. Statistics prove that an internship is the surest way to get hired.
  • Advise your students to network and maintain connection with their internship personnel. If the company cannot continue their internship, they shouldn’t give up or take it personally. Company policy may limit the length of internships and other interns may already be signed up. However, students should keep in touch with supervisors at their past internships because one never knows when an opening will occur.  They should check in several times a year through email, phone calls, or holiday greetings to make sure that the internship supervisors remember them and will be interested in talking to a former intern or giving a reference when a job opens up.

Tips for helping out a recent college graduate

June 14, 2011 at 8:00 am | Posted in Graduation | Leave a comment
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Stacie Stormer

I recently re-watched the classic movie “The Graduate”.  It had been a while since I originally watched it. While this movie is known mostly for its story about a sordid affair between Dustin Hoffman’s (Benjamin Braddock) and Anne Bancroft’s (Mrs. Robinson) characters, as a career counselor I could not help but focus on Benjamin’s current circumstances.

Benjamin had just graduated from college. While the well-intentioned “adults” in his life were congratulating him for this achievement, Benjamin felt lost and confused. Further, he felt worse about his situation every time an adult said or did something that they thought was helpful.

Right now we are in the swing of graduation parties. For many graduates, this will be an exciting time of celebrating their hard work and looking forward to starting their first jobs. Others may be feeling more like Benjamin either because they are unemployed, underemployed, confused, or all of the above.

As the “adult” attending these parties, here are some tips to consider when interacting with these recent graduates.

  • “One word: plastics.” In other words avoid giving unsolicited advice or doling out career suggestions that do not take the person’s unique interests and strengths into consideration. If you want to be helpful instead, ask the graduate about some of his/her college experience. For example: “What sorts of activities did you enjoy the most in college? What were some of your most interesting classes? Who were some of your most influential professors?”  You can get clues from these answers and give examples of jobs or organizations that may fit the graduate.
  • Appropriately self-disclose. As a career counselor, I cannot tell you how many times clients have said that they feel silly because everyone else seems to be clear about their career goals. They usually find it comforting to know that in fact, most people struggle with career decisions. If you struggled to find that first job or just to figure out where you wanted to take your career, talk about that with the graduate. Be sure to mention how you felt and the steps you took to work through that phase in your life.
  • Give a sincere compliment. Think about a specific behavior you have observed and tell the graduate what you appreciate about it. For example, “Emily, I remember in my history class that you contributed to the class discussion in a way that elevated the conversation. You are very insightful.” This is a time when that graduate may really need a boost in self-efficacy and a sincere and specific compliment could go a long way.
  • Offer to help. If through your conversation with the graduate, you think of people who are in positions that seem to fit the graduate’s interests, offer to connect the graduate with those people. One of the best ways to learn about careers and ultimately land a job is to conduct informational interviews with people who are in positions or organizations that are related to one’s career goals or interests.

College graduation is a milestone and like any other life milestones, even positive ones, most of us feel a certain level of anxiety. I remember feeling anxious myself and can still remember those “adults” who said or did things that were helpful. I eventually found my way and I know it was due to the collective supportive I received from others.

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