Wednesday, 15 February 2012 11:42
Job and internship-hunt season is in high gear. To separate the cover letters from the curriculum vitaes, we talked to those who have been there, done that, for their top steps to winning the job game.
Think of applying like fishing. The more lines you have out, the more likely you are to catch something—but use the right bait.
“I got my internship through stalking [an industry website],” says 21-year-old journalism major Nhi Hoang. “I sent out about 50 different cover letters and resumes tailored to each company.” Got that? Despite the high volume, you should customize each application to the position.
Don’t be afraid to target what you want but keep an open mind on the path to your dream job. “I applied through a program that helped me find an internship that was suitable for me,” says Patrick Fitzgerald, 22, who is specializing in applied physiology and kinesiology. “I ended up interning in North Sydney, Australia.”
Tell everyone what you’re looking for, from mentors and peers to babysitters—really!
Engineering major Mauricio Rueda, 21, ran into a former co-intern at a career fair. “She told me about a company I had never heard of that was interviewing. They scheduled me for an interview the next morning.” After successful rounds of interviews, Mauricio got the offer a couple months later.
“My old nanny helped me set up an interview with the Pediatric Cancer Foundation in Tampa,” says history major Kourtney Kellin, 22. “She gave me some contact names, and [after interviewing] with them, I got a phone call asking when I could start.”
Economics and civil engineering major Cory Dorman, 21, shadowed a friend of his dad’s client.
“For my last two internships, I went to Interviewing Day, which is provided for students in my college,” says Scott Davidson, 20. “It’s a great opportunity to network with as many hiring companies as you want in one day.”
Emphasize contact information—both yours and theirs. Include yours on all documents, and save the email addresses and numbers of contacts in case you misplace a business card.
Good on Paper
Résumés should be one page and customized to the position. Although education might be on your mind, highlighting your relevant work and related activities is paramount to proving your abilities.
Jillian Kirby, 21, who interned at Seventeen magazine says, “Get involved with local organizations to gain experience in your field—companies love seeing that you’re involved while at school.”
Cory agrees. “After meeting with the civil engineer, I realized how classes give a rather limited view of the real-world work experience.
“Find any way possible to shadow someone to get a better perspective on what your career will entail.”
Do Your Homework
Researching beforehand not only makes you look (buzzword alert!) prepared and competent, but it eases interview anxiety.
“I interned for Congressman Connie Mack,” says 21-year-old finance major Rachel Antonucci. “I wanted to learn more about the legislation process, so I went to his website researched student opportunities.”
Adriana Ippolito, 20, is an information systems and operational management major who interned with Ernst & Young. “What helped me was getting a CAP [career advisement peer] mentor and joining a professional fraternity. Both helped me be fully prepared,” Adriana says.
Get Dialed In
Some positions may require a phone interview. “I heard back from Harper’s Bazaar,” says Nhi, the journalism major. “We scheduled a phone interview, which lasted about 10 minutes, and a few days later I was notified by e-mail.”
Being nervous is normal, but try to relax. “Practicing ahead of time is probably the best help for comfort and confidence,” says Heather White, director of the University of Florida Career Resource Center.
Keep your résumé, cover letter, reference list and other documents in plain sight and have a pen, piece of paper and glass of water handy. Be in a quiet place without interruptions for the duration of the call. Just like a regular interview, thank your interviewer and follow up with them.
Scramble Eggs Only
Scrambling before your interview is a recipe for disaster. Try on and set out the outfit you plan to wear the night before. Map the address and double-check the source.
“I would recommend that professional attire is always worn: Suits for men and a skirt or pantsuit for women,” Heather at the CRC says. “Try to look as professional as possible. If a student cannot afford a suit or doesn’t have the time to find one, wear something as close to a suit as possible.”
Looking good in person is just as important as looking good on paper—even if you are just stopping in to drop off your résumé. Bring a folder with extra copies of your documents, a notepad and a pen.
The Waiting Game
Thank your interviewer before you leave, and follow up within 24 hours with a thank-you note. “Calling is a way to reiterate interest and thank a person for spending time and talking more about the position,” Heather says. Or, “a handwritten note or an email is a great way to thank the person for their time.”
While you wait to hear back, continue to actively seek other positions—but don’t assume they’re not interested if you don’t hear immediately.
No job is guaranteed; so keep your options open until you accept a position—and then kindly inform all the other companies that you’re no longer on the market.
Sounds fresh from the pages of the magazine