Many of us find ourselves in a position of searching for a job or internship, whether it’s to commence our career, transition to a new career, or to advance our career. I remember being told once, “searching for a job is a job.” This is sage advice and key to a successful search. Tips and strategies in searching for a job versus an internship are quite similar, with a few subtle distinctions, mentioned below.
Where do I start?
The task of searching can be overwhelming at first. Creating a focus can be a useful first step.This can be done in a variety of ways. What kind of skills are you hoping to use? What are you looking to learn more about? What kind of work environment do you thrive in? What kind of organization do you want to work for? Geographically, where do you want to be? What other qualifiers are important to you, e.g. salary, benefits, advancement?
What are different strategies I can apply?
There are different strategies you can use in searching for a job or internship. One is to focus on organizations you’d like to work for, whose mission aligns with your values or that you’ve heard positive things about. When searching for organizations, keep in mind that all organizations hire for multiple career paths, e.g. technology, accounting/finance, HR, business, etc, no matter what industry they may be affiliated with, such as higher ed or banking. Another way to approach your search is to focus on the skills you want to use and specific positions.
Either way, using reliable job search engines like Indeed.com will help you identify organizations and postings. When using a search engine, be broad in scope by including skills, software programs, or key qualifications and not limiting your search to one specific job title. There are often several terms used for relevant positions, and you want to be inclusive in your search so you don’t miss something.
Another effective and efficient strategy is to attend career fairs. Most colleges/ universities host career fairs once or twice a year, and these are typically open to the public. Larger companies and local organizations often host job fairs as well, so keep your eyes open for these wonderful events. Meeting someone face-to-face can be much more effective in making a strong first impression. Another advantage is meeting meeting several employers in just a few hours.
How and where are jobs or internships posted?
Jobs and internships can be found online through search engines like Indeed.com, which is my favorite search engine to use. I would avoid using sites like Monster or Yahoo, as you will have to filter through a lot of advertisements and illegitimate job postings. You will notice this platform pulls postings in from Handshake, which allows employers to post positions directly.
Additionally, as mentioned above, career fairs offer lots of recruiting opportunities. I’ve been told that 80% of jobs are not posted for a variety of reasons: Employers are too busy staying ahead of things to stop and post, positions are only posted internally, or a formal position has yet to be determined. Even if that statistic is not accurate, I’ve heard routinely from employers that recruiting takes up more time than they have, and sometimes they only create a position after they’ve met someone who brings a needed talent to their organization. Because of this, it can be a good idea to find ways to connect with potential employers in-person in addition to search for open positions online.
Do I need to network?
Yes! Ask someone how they got their job. Routinely you will hear that it was through a referral or a connection they had. Employers like to have some assurance that the person they are hiring is going to be a good fit, and they do that by relying on referrals or connections by someone they trust.
We all have a network, so don’t let the idea of networking intimidate you. You can actively grow yours by joining relevant groups. LinkedIn is a great place to start, as are professional organizations and alumni groups hosted by your college. Attending conferences is also an excellent way to connect with others.
Many times we overlook our immediate network of family and friends. Remember that each person in your network has their own network, which you then can tap into. Networking can be intimidating, especially if you’re more introverted like myself. A tip I learned is to approach each networking event with the goal of creating a couple of good connections and letting go of the pressure to connect with everyone at the event.
How is searching for an internship different than searching for a job?
Internships are win-win propositions. It gives an employer an opportunity to “test” a potential employee without any legal complications, and it gives the intern a chance to “test” a potential employer, industry, or career path.
Many internships will not be posted. If you are interested in seeking an internship at a specific company or developing specific skills, you may need to take the initiative and reach out to the company to inquire about internships. Many companies are interested in taking on interns, but have not figured out how to formalize the process.
The companies that have formalized the process will post internships on their websites. They often have strict timeframes and hiring processes for their internship programs.
Applying for an internship is often the same as applying for a job, and they are typically competitive. So always put your best foot forward when applying.
Any final tips?
Finding a job or internship can take time. I’ve had students who have become frustrated after searching for only a couple months. Realistically, it can take several months or even up to a year. So be prepared to make a commitment to your search. Lastly, stay positive and focused in your search. On this platform you will find many resources, job postings, and events that can help facilitate your search and, of course, we are always here at Champlain College Online to help you achieve your goals!