Reminding your students to follow up after a career fair

March 15, 2012 at 8:00 am | Posted in career center | Leave a comment
Tags: , ,
Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

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.

How to network and turn an internship into a job

June 21, 2011 at 8:00 am | Posted in Job market | 1 Comment
Tags: , ,

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.

Keep up the Networking with these Summer Networking Tips

June 10, 2011 at 11:21 am | Posted in networking | Leave a comment
Tags: , ,

Jyl McLaughlin

Students may be going home for the summer months and before they do, encourage them to network online and offline.  If students are working and doing internships they should maintain their motivation with networking for ongoing efforts to clarify their career path decisions or solidify contacts for the next opportunity.   Some tips for networking can be:


1)      LinkedIn:  With recent articles encouraging “young people” to use LinkedIn, students should develop and organize their LinkedIn profiles for a professional communication tool.  LinkedIn also updates and adds new features often such as a new beta Skills section that can show you contacts in fields related to your preferred skill sets.  Also, as others in one’s network adds contacts or makes profile changes updates are sent to your account.  This can keep you up-to-date on trends and changes with companies and industry.

2)      CareerAmp: A new feature that links Facebook connections and shows who you know in your Facebook network.  This system provides a variety of contacts that may not be on LinkedIn. When a friend joins CareerAmp , their friends become part of your network. This provides a more casual opportunity to find connections. HOWEVER, be sure your students are cleaning up their Facebook pages and keeping very social content under more private settings.

For Online Networking it is important to regularly remind your students of their “electronic footprint” and understand the importance of a “First Impression”.


On the note of “First Impressions” students may be working common summer jobs such as restaurant services, life guarding, golf caddying, etc.  These are great environments for students to meet professionals and make a positive impression with good communication skills and work ethic.  Remind students that “less is more” in their approach to meeting professional contacts in a casual setting. Simply introducing themselves and sharing where they go to school and what they are studying is a great way to open conversation.

Another way to network “OFFLINE” is seeking ONE DAY shadowing opportunities at a parent’s, neighbor’s, or friend’s work place.  When job shadowing it can not only help explore occupations but meet others in the workplace.  Think of a student going to their uncle’s Accounting firm but meeting the Marketing Director or IT Specialist.  They can collect business cards and request another meeting with those in other occupational areas.

Finally, another OFFLINE networking opportunity is through volunteering.  Many students have altruistic interests and employers are increasingly looking at candidates who give back to the community. When volunteering, students have opportunities to meet experienced professionals, board members and other mentoring figures from all occupational and industry backgrounds.  This is a great way to find balance in one’s career exploration while feeling good about giving back!

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: , , , , , ,

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, 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.

Helping interns with networking skills

April 26, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Posted in career center, networking | 1 Comment
Tags: , , ,

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.

Writing Skills

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.

Role Playing

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.

Social media: a revolution in networking and finding internships

April 19, 2010 at 11:52 am | Posted in career center, Finding internships, networking | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , ,

by Jane Finkle

I last wrote about the value of students tapping into Alums as a rich resource for discovering internship opportunities. In their mad dash to find a good internship, students can strengthen their chances of success by skillfully employing the revolutionary tool of social media. As they become more adept at the myriad uses of social media, students build and expand their professional connections. This cutting edge technology embraces the heart of networking through the fast and dynamic search functions offered by LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.  With social media on their side, students can find professionals and potential employers and increase their chances of finding an internship that supports their career interests and goals. The best news is that this technology is a way to further our mission in providing the highest quality career counseling and job search advice to students.

Most recently I worked with a student who expressed his excitement about an internship opportunity at a software company.  I suggested he check his LinkedIn contact list to see if any of his contacts were acquainted with someone at the company.  It turned out that a professor on his contact list was linked to a Vice President at the software company. Through the normal route of LinkedIn introductions, the Vice President circulated the student’s resume to appropriate divisions and agreed to stay in contact regarding future internship opportunities. Even if this student is unable to obtain an internship at the company this year, he has learned how to approach a senior level professional and gained insight into the company.

Here are just some quick examples of how students can use social media sites to their advantage.


By linking to friends, professors and past employers at LinkedIn, a student can search their contact’s lists and greatly increase the possibility of finding people connected to a company, industry or employer that sparks their interest. Students can also use the search tab under People to locate and learn more about employers and recruiters who they met previously through campus programs or other connections.


Through LinkedIn, students can also search for career information via Group and Companies search functions. For example, by searching for an organization under the Company tab, a company profile will pop up with information about services and products including the number of current employees. Using the Group tab, a student can identify professional groups in a chosen field and location.  They can also pose questions about the profession and identify potential opportunities for internships. A student might even create a new group, “California Sports Management Interns” to build a network and increase his or her knowledge of the profession.

Job Postings

Companies and employers with LinkedIn and Facebook accounts often post job openings and internship opportunities on their accounts. This just offers students another online resource for finding internship opportunities.

Social media contains an ocean of possibilities, and my comments here are just the tip of the iceberg. This useful mechanism has the ability to create vital professional connections for students. Whether it’s Linkedin, Facebook or Twitter, social media is revolutionizing career development in many exciting and positive ways. This revolution is also impacting the way career professionals provide career education and support to students who now need guidance on how to use social media responsibly and effectively. We must become experts in the navigation and uses of this powerful tool if we want to continue to serve our students at the highest level.

Alumni: a rich and natural resource for students seeking internships

April 1, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Posted in alumni, career center, networking | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,

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.

Blog at
Entries and comments feeds.