Tom Dezell, author of Networking for the Novice, Nervous or Naïve Job Seeker, recommends that college students begin searching for internships this winter. The Aggie had a chance to speak with Dezell and hear his advice about networking.
Can you tell me more about looking for winter internships?
It’s very important to have some practical field experience on your resumes when you get out there. Reach out, find some firms or companies that are in the field that you’re hoping to get your degree in and see if over winter break, you can come in and do an internship. Just research some firms you’re interested in and check and see if they’ve got internships programs. Find some people, maybe some alumni at your school, and see if they work in companies that would tend to need people in your major and see if they could recommend you as an intern. Talk to friends of your parents. Talk to parents of your friends who are in fields you’re interested in and see if they could give you insight about their companies and if they need interns. It’s very important in addition to your degree, when you get out in the labor market, to have some type of practical experiences.
Why would a company want to hire someone for only three weeks?
People like to mentor young candidates and help them along. Often over winter break they’ve got people taking leave and vacations so they’ve probably got some extra stuff to be done. It also gives them the opportunity to maybe check out potential people for if they might have openings later on. It could be a real win-win situation. It gives them a chance to see how you do, how you interact, how quickly you pick things up.
How exactly do you network into a winter internship?
First think about what types of companies would be good for you to have experience with, depending on what your major is. When you identify them, try to figure out a way to find potential contacts you have that would be at those firms. They could be anything ranging from friends of yours, friends of parents or parents of friends. Check with the career center at your school and see if they know of any graduates that are working in [certain fields] or at certain companies. Go to a social networking site like LinkedIn. Look up a company you’re interested in and see if there are any connections there of people either that you might know or graduates of your school that you could maybe reach out to and ask about possible winter internships.
Can you tell me more about how to create a resume that stands out?
Keep it very concise. Stick to one page. Keep in mind that nowadays, if you’re posting it online, the way it’s going to be searched is by key words. Any of the jobs you’re applying to, just check thoroughly through the requirements for the job and make sure you’ve got strong key word matches toward what they’re requiring for degree, any certification or experience in certain things or any computer software you know. Also quality assurance – make sure your resume is well proofread. Sometimes just one little error or one little grammar mistake will be all that folks need to discard your resume. Have somebody else proofread it.
What advice would you give to college students in general?
If students are getting ready to graduate, [they should] make sure to check out the career center at school and use all the resources available to them. People are finding jobs. It’s taking a bit longer than in the past. Get tips from the people who are finding success and find out what are the things they’re doing and how are they going about their search. Define what you really want to look for and really work out a strategy where you can articulate what it is you want and how a career in that field is something you’re hoping for. And take advantage of a lot of people willing to offer you expertise. As you graduate you’re going to find plenty of people who come up to you and say, “Hey congratulations. Anything I can do to help you search for a job, let me know.” Take them up on that. That starts allowing you to begin to develop your network skills. Even if something is not in their field, they might know somebody and they can give you some tips about where to look or recommendations about who to contact. Believe me, if you make a good impression, you’ll find out if they’ve got some openings.
AKSHAYA RAMANUJAM can be reached at email@example.com.