Reminding students to follow up after a career fair

October 27, 2011 at 8:50 am | Posted in Intern Advice | Leave a comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

Many of your students have already attended several fall career fairs on campus or in the community, presented their resumes, met representatives, and targeted a company for an internship or a job. Remind your students to be proactive and follow up on such opportunities rather than wait to hear back from a particular company.

Tips to share with your students on how they can convert an initial career fair meeting into an internship or job offer:

  • Thank-you letters:  First, write a brief letter or note on quality stationery and send it to each person with whom you spoke at the desired company.  Emails can get lost as junk mail, so send your message in snail mail. Start off by thanking him/her for the information about the company and then ask if you can come in for an informational interview to learn more about the industry. At this point, you aren’t asking for an internship or a job; instead you simply want to develop a professional relationship with the company. It’s a good first step to getting your foot in the door.
  • Class paper/project:  Another proactive technique would involve writing a paper on that company or on the industry for a specific class assignment. You would describe your subject to the company representative and ask if you could visit the company to interview him/her for your paper. After you finish the paper, you could send it to the company representative (especially if you’ve gotten a top grade for it) with a thank-you note for his/her cooperation. Many class projects revolve around working with an actual company to resolve issues or develop business plans. You might suggest that your team works with the company that interests you, building a professional relationship.
  • Stay in touch:  After you have done an informational interview or have completed your class paper or project, stay in touch with your company contact by sending holiday cards or your updated resume for the company files. If you see any news items that reflect positively on the company, such as a new product launch, you could send a note, marking the event and demonstrating your interest. Or if you read an interesting article about the industry, you might forward it to your contact.
  • Networking. If you can enlist the support of a company employee, customer, or business associate, and receive permission to use their names as referrals in your application letter, you’re likely to get an interview as a courtesy to the person cited.   Check into the alumni office to find out if any alumni are employed at that company and could act as resources. And don’t forget to ask your professors, who may be consultants for your target company, to help you, too. Make sure that you’re signed up for LinkedIn and ask if anyone knows someone in your preferred company and could help you make contact. And mentioning your interest in a certain company on your Facebook page might also result in more contacts, leading to an internship or job interview.

Reminding students that Career Fairs are about the Employer, not the Student

October 4, 2011 at 8:10 am | Posted in Finding internships | Leave a comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

It’s Career Fair time again. More than 130 employers will attend the University of Iowa’s Fall Job and Internship Fair, hosting local, national and international organizations such as IBM, Eli Lilly & Co., Go Daddy, Pearson, Coyote Logistics, John Deere, Von Maur, PepsiCo, and more. The University of Wisconsin Career Conference highlights the career focus of UW-Stout’s academic programs and is hosted by Career Services. About 2,000-3,000 students attend, looking for internships, Cooperative Education opportunities, and jobs.

It’s also time to remind your students how to make a good impression at a first face-to-face meeting:

  • Shifting dynamics:  In the past two years, the role of the intern has shifted dramatically. The employer mindset has gone from viewing the internship as a form of corporate community service to a method for accessing free or low-paid labor as well as future employees. In a tough economy employers are trying to make their dollars go further and their people produce more. Instead of approaching internships as an opportunity to learn about a profession or industry, students will need to focus on pursuing an internship that helps them contribute their skills in a way that generates value and substance for employers. The student who is committed to helping them get more for their money and do more with less is the one who gets the offer.
  • Coaching:  What should students say when they’re asked by a prospective internship supervisor, “Why do you want this internship?” Caution your students not to talk about how this is a great opportunity for them to learn about the industry and profession. What’s important to the employer is their ability to take initiative and produce quality work as a member of the team. The above question is the perfect opening for the student to talk about the skills that would bring value to the company. For example, if the company wants a marketing intern, the student could discuss his/her experience on a class marketing project or previous summer job.
  • Preparation:  Remind your students to take resumes and samples of work with them to the Career Fair. They might even take resumes that are customized for specific companies or for specific fields. Thanks to Google, it’s easy to access company Web sites. Students should be knowledgeable on a company’s mission as well as career tracks. In many cases, students might want to be proactive if they find the company that interests them and ask if they could come for an interview. If there aren’t any openings, a student could ask for an informational interview, which is another way to demonstrate a sincere interest.

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