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.

Undergrads can use LinkedIn, and other reminders

October 25, 2011 at 8:29 am | Posted in Intern Advice | Leave a comment
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Jyl McLaughlin

As a career services professional you probably find yourself regularly “parenting” students on etiquette this time of year for Career Fairs and On-campus Interviewing.   You may hear yourself in your sleep giving tips such as “be sure you shine your shoes and iron your shirt”; “be sure to get a good night’s sleep”; “ be sure to research the company” or EVEN “be sure to brush your teeth and wash your hands!”.  I know, I have had to do it myself-it does happen!

You may also be coaching on tips related to social media issues such as appropriate use or private access to Facebook pages, Tweets and Blogs.  It is important that students are regularly aware of their electronic footprint and what comes up under their name in a Google search.  And in “old technology” form, remind students to have a simple and mature email address for employers to use as well as a formal outgoing message on their voice mail.  I was working with a young college student this summer and when I called their voice mail it started first with a pause and noisy background, then went “ Hey guys, it’s me. I will get back to you when I can”.  Hey guys??…I have also had the experience of a student’s outgoing message with a recorded rap song including swear words.  Not good… be sure to test these areas.

Finally, and the focus of this blog post, is to encourage your students to start a professional LinkedIn profile.  Many undergrad age students do not have one, and they may feel they are not “old” enough for it. But in a search while writing this blog, I found over 500 intern positions posted of all kinds.  Some great contacts for students to make on LinkedIn are not just those of other friends, but those of parents, friends of parents, past co workers and bosses, etc.  These networking contacts may just lead to some internal networking at good companies with postings for  internships and co-ops.

Tips for your students on LinkedIn:

  1. Complete the profile with an updated resume, conservative “head” shot for a picture and recommendations from past supervisors , coaches, or even professors!
  2. Be sure they have an understanding of their preferred occupation and industry for use in the title and summary (Their major may not be a direct link to industry and occupation).
  3. Leadership roles:  Be sure students who have leadership roles in extracurricular groups or athletics, that this is noticeable on their profile.
  4. Skills: in the “other” section on LinkedIn is housed a Skill section that helps people identify skills and add them to their profile which also indicates others who have the same skill sets.  This could help students become more familiar with using the language that others are using in similar occupations and industries as well as develop the language for use in interviewing.

Helping your students solve internship problems

October 21, 2011 at 8:00 am | Posted in Intern Advice | Leave a comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

Every intern runs into problems at his/her internship. After all, it’s a new experience, but students can learn with your help how to resolve issues that are causing frustration or anxiety. Here are 5 tips to share with your students for getting help with specific problems:

  • Assignments:  If you’re having trouble with your assignments, turn first to your internship supervisor for directions. You could ask for a different assignment, additional instructions on performing the project, or for an extended deadline. And if you’re working on a team, do ask your coworkers for help. Offer to put in extra time if necessary. If the internship supervisor doesn’t help you solve your assignment problem, call your school career center for further advice.
  • Company or internship supervisor difficulties:  Sometimes you might encounter personality clashes with your internship supervisor or you might decide that you don’t like the company and its policies. You really can’t talk about these problems at work, so turn to your home campus for counseling. Contact your career center, counseling center or professors for help in how to manage your relationship with your internship supervisor. Sometimes, former interns can be valuable sources for helpful tips, too. Quitting is usually not a viable answer because it could damage your reputation.
  • Coworker issues:  If you’re running into problems with your coworkers, go and talk to your internship supervisor. He/she might be able to shift you to another department or team, so you could continue your internship without undue stress. Or you might learn why your coworker is difficult, resulting in your ability to accept the situation. Whatever you do, don’t gossip with other coworkers about your issues because you can’t depend on confidentiality among your coworkers—even if they might share your sentiments.
  • Technical challenges:  It’s common to run into technology problems since every company has different systems and equipment. Fortunately, each company usually has a tech service onsite to help out employees. Don’t hesitate to ask for help on Day #1 when you see problems. People normally like to help others. If you’re living on campus, you could visit your school’s tech center for more instruction.

Personal problems:  Your boyfriend/girlfriend may have broken up with you, a family member might be ill, or you might have financial problems. But whatever your personal problems, please don’t bring them to work. Instead, simply say everything is fine when asked by a co-worker. Meanwhile, go for some counseling on campus or to a private therapist and talk to trusted friends about your problems. Join a support group outside of work and learn how to manage your problems in the proper environment.

Job search advice for your international students who want to work in the U.S. after graduation.

October 19, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Posted in Intern Support | 3 Comments
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Jessica Noonan

By Jessica Noonan

Many of the international students who travel to the U.S. for continuing education hope to remain in the States after graduation to gain professional experience with an American company. Each year these students conduct their job searches as domestic students do: identifying desired positions and companies, crafting resumes and cover letters, attending career fairs, and hopefully networking. Because international students have the added challenge of requiring H1B visa sponsorship, they need to conduct a strategic job search that begins early, involves a lot of research and even more networking.

Here are some tips for helping your international students as they work to secure U.S. employment and the H1B:

  • Pursue Internships. For international students with no relevant work experience, internships can play an important role in securing employment and H1B sponsorship. Offering professional experience and resume building opportunities, internships also help International students to experience American business techniques and business culture, internships provide opportunities for students to practice their English and help students to build a professional network. (**Students must check with their on-campus international student office, to learn about their eligibility to participate in an internship).
  • Network! All job seekers encounter the challenge that nearly 80% of all jobs in the U.S. are part of the hidden job market. International students have the added challenge, that of these “hidden” positions, only a small portion hire International students. To gain access, International students should utilize Alumni networks and talk with classmates and colleagues who have been successful in their job search approaches. can be very helpful to students in identifying professionals for informational interviews.
  • Identify Companies who’ve sponsored H1B visas in the past. This applies to both internships and after graduation jobs. In addition to information received through networking, students can tap into resources such as: This free resource allows students to search for employers who’ve submitted H1B petitions by location, employer and/or job title. Students should also check out their on-campus job search sites and look through the lists of Career Fair participants (career centers will usually include this information when available).
  • Become an H1B Expert. Students should be prepared to answer employers’ questions about the process. When the employer hears a student talk about the process confidently, it can increase their confidence in hiring the student, and undergoing the H1B process.

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

October 4, 2011 at 8:10 am | Posted in Finding internships | 1 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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