Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Alternative Strategies for Job Seekers

When Things Seem to Hit a Wall: Making the most of your Summer Without an Internship

With the economy in a bit of a rough patch, it seems that increasing numbers of student are facing something they may not have been expecting...trying hard, but not finding an internship for the summer. For all of you who worked your tails off without success, or had a company cut your position, do not fret! Yes, you may be living at home this summer or taking summer classes, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up hope for next year. Taking an active stance towards finding an internship or co-op this summer may actually make you incredibly appealing to all those companies who may have let you pass by this time around.

Here are some things you should do NOW to make you a fantastic candidate in LATER:

  • Job Shadow Professionals in your Field:
    • Even though you won’t get paid to network with professionals in your field, doing this is a great way to learn more about your field, ask questions you may have about jobs/school/etc., and learn about how companies function in the real world. Key people to contact to find people to job shadow may be your career advisers, alumni services, neighbors, etc.

  • Work on Your Weaknesses:
    • Let’s say that you feel like your interviewing skills are lacking. One great thing to do over the summer may set up several mock interviews. You could practice in front of a mirror, ask your parents or siblings to ask you sample interview questions, or even find a career adviser to help you out! This can apply for any set of skills.

  • Make the Most of a Summer Job:
    • Worried that flipping burgers is going to stunt your career growth? Get a new perspective on your summer job. There is a whole lot to be learned outside of technical engineering. Engineers need to know how to communicate effectively to broad audiences, troubleshoot difficult situations, etc. Find a summer job that will get you in touch with those “soft” skills. Feel like you need to work on your “people” skills? Work a job where you have to interact with more people that you’re used to. You can still emphasize these skills on your resume! In some cases, having experience with perfecting your “soft” skills might actually get your that engineering job!

If you are able to accomplish three things over the summer, you will be on your way to setting yourself up for success during the fall job search! Taking care of the simpler details now will hopefully allow you to move on to the more advanced career search techniques I’ll tell you about in the fall.

Good Luck Job Seekers!!

1 comment:

  1. (A contribution from a source at MSU Extension/4-H)

    Consider the value of volunteering (think of it as an unpaid internship)! Put your skills to use in the community and learn more about working with people. Many organizations could use a college student for the summer to help with basic and maybe not so basic tasks. Do you have a skill you could share? Community centers, libraries, school and faith-based summer programs may be looking for people to teach free classes (like how to use basic software programs, how to repair bicycles, sports skills, language skills, tutoring). The key is to approach volunteering with the same passion and professionalism as you would a paying job. Find an organization that fits your interests or get together with friends and start a service project in your community. The work you do as a volunteer may take you to exciting places you never expected!

    Cyndi Mark is the queen of 4-H “service learning” projects and volunteerism. Here is a link to her web page with some more thoughts and ideas: http://web1.msue.msu.edu/cyf/youth/differen.html