4 Quick Tips for Applying Your School Smarts to a Successful Job or Internship Search

Welcome back to campus! While it’s only shopping week and temps are hovering around freezing, the promise of spring is just around the corner, especially when I look at the busy calendar of events and upcoming job and internship deadlines posted in CareerConnect.  (*Reminder* If you haven’t already, update your profile in CareerConnect to receive targeted emails based on your preferences.) 

Spring semester is always a whirlwind, at least from the CCPA’s perspective. It’s time for seniors to start ramping up their post-graduate job search, and juniors and sophomores are also realizing well-prepared, early applicants tend to land the most sought after internships. First year students are also looking for summer opportunities that will help them develop professional skills and perhaps point them in the direction of what they might want to do after graduation.

Searching for a job or internship can be a time consuming, and at times, an overwhelming process. On top of that, for most students it’s an entirely new experience with its own rules, expectations, and even vocabulary, kind of like your first semester at Haverford when you had to figure out how to be a college student.

The good news most students don’t realize is that many of the qualities and skills that make you a successful liberal arts student can also help you be a successful job or internship candidate – the key is the recognize the slight pivot that you’ll need to make as you apply those skills to a professional, non-academic setting.

As you prepare to add job or internship searching to your already packed To Do list, here is some advice you already know:

Take time to think about the assignment, your chosen topic or thesis, and your goals for completing it. Hopefully by now you have learned it rarely pays to wait to come up with your thesis the night before the five-page paper is due. Good work requires careful thought and ideally selecting a topic that interests you. Same goes for figuring out which positions/organizations you want to apply to and crafting resumes and cover letters that demonstrate you are a perfect fit for the job and company. Researching career fields, organizations, and the best places to find out about openings takes time, and so does drafting and perfecting your application.

Get to know your audience, their expectations and preferences, and keep that in mind while completing the assignment. For class assignments, this usually means figuring out the professor’s teaching and grading style—which you all know can vary even within an academic department. For applications, that means doing research on industries and organizations, and talking with people who work in the field (especially alumni!)  It also means carefully reading the position description to make sure your application and interview approach are targeted in the same way you have to make sure you understand the assignment and answer the question completely to receive full credit. One of the biggest “pivots” for the job/internship search is that most employers value brevity and clarity over dense or complicated language so keep that in mind when preparing applications.

Pace yourself wisely, and come up with a plan that takes other course assignments and life’s responsibilities into consideration. One of the biggest challenges of being a college student is juggling so much at the same time. Searching for a job or internship also takes time. It’s wise to look ahead at your calendar and designate specific times of the week for your search. A typical job search takes 3-6 months, so plan accordingly. A career advisor at the CCPA can help you develop a plan that fits your schedule and goals.

Save time and produce quality work by using the best resources for the topic and task at hand. You need to know the relevant research databases and academic journals to complete a research paper and you have to learn how to use lab equipment properly. Similarly, you need to learn how to find and use CareerConnect and other job/internship search resources (again, a career advisor at the CCPA can help you find the best resources.) You also need to learn how to talk with alumni and other in the field to gather industry advice, learn about the hidden job market, and ideally cultivate mentors. Joining Haverford’s Official Career Connections group in Linked and reviewing the CCPA’s Networking guide is a great start.

A great place to start is attending one of the CCPA’s upcoming orientations or workshops, reviewing the CCPA’s website, and scheduling an appointment with a career advisor when you are ready to develop a plan or have specific questions about your search.

Best wishes for an amazing spring semester!