Tags: Career Fair, internship fair, networking
After a successful career fair, students are often in a state of euphoria because they met representatives from companies that they consider future employers or internship sites. The companies have their resumes, and the students have their business cards or contact information. Now all they have to do is wait for the email or phone call, offering them an interview, an internship, or even a job–or so they think. As a career services professional, it’s your job to introduce them to the real world of follow up. Your office may be able to provide college note cards for students to use to write thank you notes.
To emphasize that the career fair is only the first step in an ongoing campaign to launch a career, you might suggest the following activities that will help them realize their future goals:
- Correspondence: Write a brief letter or note and send it to each person with whom you spoke. Consider sending your “Thank you for your time” note via snail mail since emails may get lost in junk mail or in the deluge of emails in a busy person’s inbox. Start off by thanking him/her for the information about the company, and then ask if you may 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; you simply want to develop a professional relationship with the company of your choice. Future correspondence could include holiday cards, congratulatory notes on new product releases or company accomplishments, or news of your own awards or new additions to your resume.
- Class assignment: Demonstrate your active interest in the company by selecting a subject/product, history, or significant event as a topic for a class paper or project. The company may even provide a topic that interests them, such as how to expand its market on college campuses. Most companies feel an obligation to help students in educational pursuits, which means they’ll be willing to provide information for the project or to agree to talk to students on the proposed project. Whether it’s a team effort or an individual one, you might ask a company representative to attend the final report presentation. At the very least you could send the report to the company, ensuring that the recipient remembers who you are when you do call for an internship or job.
- Networking: When you’ve found a company where you want to work, start researching and building a network. Sign up for LinkedIn and create a profile that highlights the skills required by your target company. Also, post a question asking if anyone on LinkedIn knows an employee in your target company. Visit the campus career center to find out what the staff can tell you about the company. Check at the alumni office to find out if any alumni are employed at that company and could introduce you to the appropriate personnel or give you a recommendation. Ask your professors if they know anyone at the company. Many professors do consulting for outside firms and may be able to help you with contacts. Find out if the company sponsors any volunteer or community events in which you could offer your services as a way to network with employees. Effective networking may take months to do, but it does pay off, literally.
Tags: entry-level, NACE, networking
Internships often lead to jobs, according to results of a new survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Employers responding to the organization’s 2011 Internship & Co-op Survey reported that an average of 39% of their entry-level hires from the Class of 2010 were harvested from their own internship programs. The respondents reported converting, on average, 58% of their interns into full-time hires, the highest rate since the association started tracking the statistic in 2001. Encourage your student interns to practice the following effective networking tips, so they can be part of that 58%:
- Many interns may be embarrassed to ask how to network and meet people, so you could compile a list of ideas to help out. Advise them to act friendly, smile, and say hello to everyone at work. If people don’t respond to them in an enthusiastic manner, they shouldn’t take it personally. That individual might be in a bad mood because of personal problems. A pleasant greeting might cheer him/her up. Remind your students that networking means interacting with other employees, not sitting at a computer and networking online. Fellow employees are the best sources of new job information. It’s important to create a friendly relationship before asking for an insider’s viewpoint on how to land a full-time position in the company.
- Your intern students may think that they have nothing to talk about and hesitate to start a conversation. Assure your students that the best way to start a conversation is not to talk about themselves, but to ask the other person about himself/herself. Suggest questions such as, “How long have you worked here?” “Where would you recommend as a place to eat lunch?” “Did you see the Miami Heat beat the Boston Celtics last night?” People feel friendly towards those who show enough interest to ask questions and then listen attentively—cell phones turned off—to the answer.
- Most companies have lots of non-work related activities that help interns meet people and build networks, especially in the summer. When the company has a picnic, outing to a ball game, speakers’ series or in-house sports teams, encourage your interns to get involved. Another source of networking may be in the Human Resources department, where interns can get involved in social service activities or volunteer work.
- Since most student interns are novices at developing networks in professional environments, they might benefit from a few cautionary words. Although going out drinking with co-workers sounds like fun, interns should proceed slowly. A sure way to ruin one’s reputation is to get drunk and become the subject of office gossip. Another red flag is the dating scene. Many companies frown on intra-office dating, so suggest that your interns wait until they finish their internships to pursue romantic interests. Meanwhile, they can make friends who might recommend them for full-time positions.
Q. How can I explain to students that unpaid internships can be priceless because they are investing in their own futures?June 1, 2010 at 11:48 am | Posted in Intern Compensation | Leave a comment
Tags: finding an internship, intern, internship, networking, paid internship, resume, unpaid internship
by the Intern Coach
A. This is a hot topic in the news right now, so it’s important to address it with your students immediately, whether they are currently doing internships or looking for fall internships. Consider sending an informative and reassuring email out to all your students involved in the internship process, explaining why unpaid internships can be priceless. You might want to send them a link to the Wall Street Journal article, May 18, 2010, “Creating Internships Out of Thin Air,” to validate your explanation. Here are several reasons you can give as to why unpaid internships are excellent investments:
- You receive letters of recommendation, which will help you get future internships, which may be paid. Count on having multiple internships, each one better than the previous one.
- You may earn school credit, which will free up space in your academic program to take other courses (or more internships) or to concentrate on those time-intensive classes with long labs.
- You could follow the advice of Colleen Sabatino, career coach at internships.com, who was quoted in the above Wall Street Journal article. She suggests that you ask the company about any options for pay, such as a stipend or even a part-time job at minimum wage. You may have to cut back your hours if you have to work in another job.
- You could ask the Career Center if it has any funding available or knows of any government-related monies for internships. New opportunities come up all the time, so check federal and state sites often.
- You also have career-related experience to strengthen your resume. Remember, it’s your resume that gets you the all-important interview. After a few unpaid internships, you can drop your high-school entries and add impressive professional experience, which will get you the interview. Investments usually take a while to pay off, so start investing in yourself now.
Tags: career center, getting an internship, internship, networking
by Jane Finkle
Students often need an extra push to move forward with networking. They know it has some impact on their career development, but for many students networking is a foreign concept that requires learning a new language. As a student becomes proficient in the dialogue of networking, he or she increases the chance of developing a relationship with a professional who is capable of offering insight into a career field, or, who can lead them to a valuable internship. Counseling sessions that focus on networking as an essential skill, provide an ideal opportunity to enliven the student’s communication repertoire, strengthen their preparedness for professional life, and build overall confidence. Career counseling offers students a safe place to practice skills, deal with their fears and learn how to use networking to their advantage.
In my own counseling sessions, I have been able to assist students in drafting a note or an Email to a professional contact by helping them develop an outline that will explain the nature of their interests. Equally important, I work with the student on generating questions to further support their goals. By the time a student leaves my office, he or she has developed a plan for the initial correspondence to a contact and given a deadline within which to complete the note or letter. Once the letter is completed, the student then sends it to me via email or brings it to my office for feedback. We all know the staying power first impressions have. If the letter to a professional is appropriately and carefully composed, the chance of that professional responding favorably to a student increases substantially. I also view mastering this type of correspondence as a precursor to writing a strong cover letter.
For those students who are anxious about how they will initiate a conversation or approach a professional contact at an event, setting up a short role play can be very effective. Typically, the first question I pose to a student has to do with what they hope to achieve by talking to a professional contact. This thought, in turn, helps the student to formulate and prepare probing and useful questions. At this point, I ask that they imagine that I am the contact person and we engage in role playing ways they might introduce themselves and how they would articulate their goals. For the extremely shy and reserved student who has performance anxiety, I do a short role play using video on the computer. This is a technique that many career counselors use to help students develop interview skills but it can be equally beneficial to students who need extra initial support in order to communicate with professionals in a polished and confident manner.
As I counsel students on perfecting their networking skills in writing and in person, I find this process contributes to helping them mature and understand their own power in securing internships, and best of all, it enhances their confidence as they become more comfortable meeting and communicating with professionals.
Tags: alumni, career center professionals, finding an internship, intern, internships, networking, summer internship
by Jane Finkle
We all know that building a network is one of the key ways professionals discover work opportunities. Networking is a skill that students can develop and master as they seek out internships. Most college Career Offices maintain an online alumni career network. This dynamic resource helps students to explore their personal career interests with the guidance of alums. Students can also connect with alums who participate in college panels and programs.
I have had many positive experiences working with students who take the initiative to contact alums and find this action often leads them to an exciting internship opportunity. Here are three cases that illustrate the power of alumni in supporting student career development. In each instance the relationship bloomed into internship possibilities. Please note that all three cases are women because of my career counseling experience at a women’s college!
First Case Study – Meeting alumni at career conferences
Susan attended a career conference in New York City, sponsored by her career office and featuring alums in a variety of professions. The alums were volunteers who were intent upon sharing their work experience and answering student questions. Susan was especially impressed by the work of one of the alumna in financial services. She engaged this alum in conversation asking her question about her career. The alumna was so impressed with Susan’s approach and personality, she arranged for Susan to interview for an internship at her firm.
Second Case Study – Alumni networking through college career center
Through her career office, Linda secured an externship (one week job shadowing program) with an alumna working at a high profile women’s magazine. Even though Linda followed this alumna for a week only, she volunteered to help on a project and conducted an informational interview to find out more about the alumna’s career background and accomplishments. The alumna was impressed by Linda’s initiative and genuine interest that she created a summer internship at the magazine for Linda.
Third Case Study – Online alumni career network
Joan was specifically interested in finding a summer internship related to City Planning. I suggested she use our online alumnae career network to see if she could find an alumna in the field to talk with about her summer goals. Joan located an alumna in the city planning field in California. Emailing this alum, Linda included a brief introduction and asked the alumna if she would be willing to talk with her via phone about her career. Joan also invited the alum to offer any suggestions for summer internships. The alumna agreed and provided Joan with substantial information on the best way to find a summer internship related to City Planning and also volunteered to circulate Linda’s resume at her organization.
It has been my experience that many students shy away from approaching or contacting alums. They worry about imposing upon alums or are not sure about the best way to take advantage of alum’s expertise. When they express their angst about connecting with alum, I see it as counseling moment; an opportunity to not only alleviate their fears but also teach and provide guidance. Suggestions such as how to write an appropriate email or make a phone call to the alum are usually helpful, along with aiding them in forming questions that would engage the alum and also provide the student with valuable information.
Alumni are indeed a rich and natural resource for students. They remember their own college experience, both the triumphs and failures and these memories inspire them to reach out and support students from their alma mater. When we teach students to connect with alums during their internship search they experience firsthand the power of networking and sometimes end up with a great summer internship.