Internships, Jobs, and Co-ops, Oh My!
It’s no secret that jobs are in high demand right now. Every day we see the unemployment rate fluctuate and play with our emotions. Graduating college seniors know all too well the struggles that accompany a serious job search. In these last few weeks, as they all prepare to walk across the stage, many are reflecting back on the last four years and pinpointing what may or may not have helped them land a “real-world” job. I’ve been listening, and taking notes trying to figure if there is a successful formula to finding a career after college, or if lady luck is the only one who can predict our professional fate.
I’ve heard it through the grapevine, and partially through experience, that employers are looking for a mix of things. They want to look at everything you’ve done in the last for years—and more recently, even your Facebook page! Employers will look at your GPA, you major, activities and your experience. So what matters most? How can you prepare yourself to be an attractive employee? (Regardless of the job you’re applying for!)
Seniors going out to work now swear by their internships and hands on experience. They say that nothing helped them more! So do internships, summer jobs, and networking make all the difference when it comes to the top and bottom of a candidate pool, or is there something else to consider?
Whether it’s your class work, activities or your experience, the way you spend your four years in college could have a huge impact on your future, so listen up!
No one will tell you that you can’t have fun in college. In a way, people will sometimes even encourage you to do so—you have four years before the rest of your life starts. Learn lots, make a few mistakes, and mature into the adults we are all capable of being. However, what many mean by the phrase “make the most of the next four years”, is slightly deeper.
Yes, we should have fun, and branch out. But we also have to remember that four years flies by. It will be over before we know it. And while “fun” makes for great memories, if we aren’t careful we won’t have much to show our future employers—except for those Facebook pictures you only wish they couldn’t see! Our coursework, our major and our activities say a lot about who we are. Our resume showcases our academic capacity and interests. Our activities show our potential to work with groups and form leadership opportunities. But do these bullets on our resumes say enough about us, or do we need the “hands-on” experience to proof to support the words?
If you ask me, you should try your very hardest to get an internship, co-op, or summer job. The experience is invaluable in the work world. It shows future employers that you can handle a job, hopefully in your field of study, not to mention you already have some time under your belt. You can use your experience from campus—your classes, or student organizations history— to your advantage and really showcase your skills in the office, or on the job.
Need another reason to give up your summer pool time to work? You can get a feel for an industry or job before you commit to it full time. Think of it this way, applying for jobs can be great, but what if you get one in a field you don’t really mesh with? Use this time while you’re still a student to decide if your “desired” path is right for you.
Internships, like jobs, don’t grow on trees. They can be competitive. But do your research and apply often and early! Find connections on LinkedIn, network and chat with as many friends, coworkers, alumni and professors as you can! The more you network and research the easier it will be to find openings in companies and areas that interest you. When you’re in college summer seems like a time to let loose and relax—only a few months until class starts up again! But don’t get sidetracked! This time can be precious and could mean the difference between being hired and being left behind in “the pile”.
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