Across the country, or rather the world, Coronavirus has cancelled commencement for millions of college students.
Commencement is supposed to be the culmination and celebration of years of late nights, physical and financial sacrifices, tears, work, stress and unforgettable moments. The day when friends and family and your tribe that has held you down for years, stands proudly and screams loudly as your name is called.
It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be mad. Despite the absence of a physical ceremony, know that you have still indeed graduated from this stage of life. You are moving up, moving on, moving out into the world. As uncertain as these times are, you are entering this new phase and bringing a collection of beautiful experiences with you.
Where to go from here
On top of a cancelled commencement, you are entering into an uncertain job market. Just two months ago, you were headed unto a strong economy with a good job market. Now, companies are rescinding job and internship offers daily while people are filing for unemployement in record numbers.
Things took a very quick turn for the worst. But, since no one knows what life will look like 3 months from now, things could turn around just as quickly. The economy will likely bounce back after the crisis is over, companies will once again hire and salaries will return. What we don’t seem to know today is when will the virus end and that turn around actually begin.
I don’t know what our new “normal” will be. There are many unanswered questions about how jobs will change, will more people begin working from home permanently, will more people seek employment rather than freelancing, how will our social interactions change and so many more questions. I don’t have a crystal ball, but what I can offer are some ideas on how to move forward when your classes are over in a few weeks.
Celebrate your success
Right now you are likely finishing up your classes online. Focus your energy on finishing strong (not like you can can go anywhere right now anyway). When you have handed in that last paper breathe, yell, scream, shout, jump and realize that you did it!
I know some schools are doing virtual commencement ceremonies to mark the day. Even if your school is not offering that option, order a cake, order some food, blow up some ballons, put on your cap and gown, take some pictures and celebrate by yourself or with whomever else is trapped in the house with you!
Prayerfully, you will be able to celebrate outside soon!
2. Don’t run to graduate school if things get hard
When the economy tanks, the first impulse is to run out and get another degree. I understand the impulse but chill. For real.
When the economy tanks, the first impulse is to run out and get another degree. I understand the impulse but chill. For real. Right now earning another degree with no work experience is not going to vastly improve your shot at landing a job. Taking on additional student loan debt for a degree that won’t do much to increase your salary is not a smart move.
There are professions like teaching or accounting or some medical careers that require a Master’s degree, that is different. You do not need to go right into a graduate program that does not have a return on investment or won’t improve your marketability. If you feel you must add a specific skill such as learning a computer language, there a plenty of low cost and free resources online.
Most ranked business and law schools prefer candidates with a few years of work experience. If you are looking to go that route, working for a few years will help make you competitive for those programs in the future.
Wait it out. The market will turn.
3. Your first job after college is not your last
Your first job after college does not have to define your career. Your first job is a stepping stone, a resume builder to show future employers your ability to apply what you learned in college. In your first role you will learn what you like and don’t like, enhance certain skills, learn new skills, love it some days and hate it others.
Statistics say that in your lifetime you will have three different careers. I started off in higher education and have remained in the field, but with 8 different colleges and one non-profit working in three different states.
When you are entering into a tough job market, your first job might not be your perfect job. I’m not saying you take the first thing offered, but I do suggest you use wisdom and not let every offer pass by. When you are applying for jobs, you should ask yourself if you would take the job if they offered. If you know you don’t want the job, then don’t waste their time or yours.
That said, I am not talking about a part-time job that you may take to pay bills while you wait for a full-time opportunity. In that case, take what pays best and starts fastest while you search for perm work.
We all know someone or may have even been that “someone” who is underemployed or working a job the doesn’t require a degree. It happens. Some people who start in jobs that don’t require a degree will grow stagnant and not make the necessary moves to break into the next level of their career. If you find yourself taking a role that doesn’t seem to match your education and experience, decide from jump that you are going to continue to network, showcase skills, add new skills and claw your way towards your career goals.
4. Remain flexible
When I gradauted college I wanted to work in PR for a big public relations agency. I realized quickly I was too broke to move to NYC or Boston or any major east coast city on an entry level PR salary! My sister mentioned a role she saw at local university in college admissions. It sounded fun and interesting and would allow me to use my public speaking skills. Fast forward I have since spent a career in higher education. I’ve never worked directly for a pr agency (or had a desire to).
Don’t just read job titles, read the descriptions fully. Look for roles, responsibilities and duties that get you excited. Look for roles in industries that you are interested in being in. Don’t be so focused on only one type of role that you look past what could be other great opportunities.
Right now, in the midst of the highest unemployment rates our country has ever experienced, there are still companies hiring!
Amazon is hiring 100,000
CVS Health is hiring 50,000
Lowes is hiring 30,000
Pepsico is hiring 6,000
Don’t assume that every job is paying minimum wage. Do your research and see what is out there. Also, not all retail positions are front line, there are marketing departments, IT, analytics, operations, finance, human resources and so many other types of roles in nearly every sector.
Coming out of school, you can also consider doing a post-graduate internship. In the current economy, that could be the perfect move to gain experience while waiting for the market to turn. The unfortunate reality though is that it could be an unpaid internship. I am not a fan of unpaid internships but as they say, desperate times call for desperate measures.
5. Stay home and save your money
The importance of saving money and setting yourself up to be financially stable is more important than rushing out to show how much of an adult you are.
Not everyone has the option of returning home after college, but if you can, do it. There are a lot of people who jumped ship with no safety net who are regretting that decision big time right now. The importance of saving money and setting yourself up to be financially stable is more important than rushing out to show how much of an adult you are.
Take the longer commute, deal with your family, but take the cheap or if you are lucky, free rent along with no utility bills for a short time. Set a time frame for finding a job and for moving out (3-12 months). Be intentional with how you spend your money, stick to a budget and set financial goals.
Moving out with an emergency fund in place and a steady income can set you up to not have to move back home 6 months later.
Look, we are in the middle of a never seen before global pandemic. If you don’t wake up everyday and spend 3 hours looking for a job, I personally think that is perfectly fine. Don’t be pressured to feel like you have to come out of this period speaking six new languages, how to build a computer and ready to compete and Top Chef. You just conquered a major achievement in life. Be proud and have your moment.
It’s February. Three months before the members of the graduating class triumphantly enter the ranks of the “real-world.” Across the U.S. college seniors are experiencing mixed emotions ranging from excitement to anxiety, from stress to fear. Job, new apartment, moving, leaving friends, going back home, all of it is enough to drive anyone crazy.
There are those few seniors who have already accepted job offers and can breeze through a little less stressed this spring. If you are not among them, then the simple question of, “so what are your plans after graduation” can seem like the most difficult question that anyone has asked you in the last four years.
What if I don’t find a job? Did I do enough internships? Where am I going to live? Should I go to graduate school if I can’t find a job? These and other questions are running through your mind possibly keeping you up at night, while your roommate doesn’t seem to be worried at all because after all, there are still three months left until graduation.
So, what are you to do?
Take a breath.
I can’t answer every question you have about finding a job in a single post. I can however, offer some guidance to get you on track to finding that first “real” job out of college and attempt to calm some of the voices of fear and doubt in your head.
1. Start looking for a job ASAP
Visit career services and get your resume and cover letter in order. At this point in your career, your resume should not exceed one-page. Even if you have done 8+ internships (like I did) you still need to make your work experience fit on one page. It’s okay to have two different resumes that highlight different skills and goals, it is not okay to have a two-page resume. Due to the mixture of internship and work experiences I had in college, when I graduated I had a sales focused resume and a public relations focused resume.
Career services is there to assist you in making your resume professional and polished. There will more than likely be a spring career/internship fair on your campus, which gives you the perfect opportunity to take your new resume for a test drive. Most career services offices offer mock interviews, so schedule an appointment and start working on your interview skills. You can pay a professional service to write your resume, but use free campus resources first.
2. Talk to people
Reach out to your network and let them know what types of opportunities you are looking for. Talk to everyone from your recently employed friends, to your parents, your friends parents, your fraternity/sorority connections, professors, internship supervisors, mentors and members of professional associations. Your network of people might be bigger than you think. Don’t rely only on internet searches and sending off countless resumes. Word of mouth can be a powerful tool.
In order to talk to people about what you want to do, you need to first have an idea of what you want to do. So, think critically and carefully about your next steps so that you will be able to identify opportunities as they come up. Get out there and attend networking events. If you are intimidated by the prospect of going to a networking event alone, find a fellow senior who is in the same boat and go together, but don’t spend the night only talking to each other.
3. Balance your time
Set aside atleast two hours a day for job search related activities. Finding a job isn’t just about sending out resumes. Dedicate time to researching companies, finding networking events to attend, using social media, scheduling informational interviews, touching up your resume, writing cover letters, applying to openings and following up.
It doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you get organized, schedule your time and don’t try to do everything at once. You still have classes, study time, campus activities, maybe an internship, job, a social life and other things going on, so organization is key!
4. Use social media wisely
I know I said a few times that you have to get off of the computer and talk to people, but that is because I don’t want you to depend ONLY on the internet for your job search. Social media can be a valuable tool in finding a job. If you haven’t yet, join LinkedIn, a social network for the business world. You can create a profile and connect with potential employers, research companies and discover job or internship openings. Follow companies that you are interested in on Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, SnacpChat and Facebook. Those connections will allow you to see how potential employers engage with their audiences.
Before you begin, inspect your own social media sites for compromising content and consider activating all of the privacy settings. You may use social media to peak at potential employers, they may do the same to you so be careful about what is available to the public.
I know I said four things, but as a bonus I have to tell you to enjoy yourself. Don’t get so caught up in the job search that you fail to enjoy and embrace the last few months of this unique time in your life. Celebrate the accomplishment of completing your degree! You can be serious and diligent about your job search and still make time to live in the moment and create more memories before you say good-bye to your college days.
In the midst of midterms, clubs and organizations, projects, sports, upcoming breaks and oh yeah–class, even the thought of looking for an internship can be overwhelming. I’m going to help you simplify your internship search.
I definately understand that you have a lot going on – which might even include your fall internship. The reality of the matter is that the summer 2019 internship search season is already underway. Seeing as how it is only October, you are not behind, but I’m trying to keep you from falling behind.
So how do we make the internships search process a little less daunting? Here are a four things you can do to ease your stress.
1. Get Your Resume Ready Before You Start
Before you dive head first into looking for an internship, you need to pause and make sure you have a good resume. You don’t want to find a position you want, only to have to then stop and write a resume. If you don’t know how to write a resume, then it is time to learn how to create this vital piece of your package. Career services is your first stop.
Ditch the objective in favor of a summary statement.
Your bullet points should have quantitative results.
Do not include your GPA if it is under 3.0.
Do not use pronouns.
I’ve put together a free resume template to simplify the process for you. The template walks you through the best information to include, and what you can leave out. Download it now and just start to fill in the information.
2. Get Organized for Your Search
Getting and staying organized is a game-changer when it comes to the internship search process. You will likely apply to many internships before you get your dream internship. So, staying organized is important when you consider that your resume could be floating around to multiple openings. You don’t want to get mixed up, get called for an interview and have the wrong information.
My Internship Manual Toolkit gives you some organizational tools to keep you on track. The Internship Action Sheet and a detailed Internship Search Timeline will help you chart your path and track your progress. By using these worksheets you will be able to easily organize the internships you are applying for.
3. Grow Your Confidence
As you start to apply, you will hopefully start to get calls for interviews. Don’t wait until the call comes, be proactive and start practicing. Whether by phone, Skype or in person, you need to be interview ready if you are going to land an internship.
Doing mock interviews on campus is a great way to get feedback on what you do well, and what you need to work on. Participating in interviews, practicing answers on your own, researching common interview questions will all begin to boost your confidence as an interviewee.
I think one of the best things about internships is that they present the opportunity to explore career options before making a long term committment. The value of the eight internships I did in college was not just the work experience added to my resume, but learning how to build relationships, working in various settings and figuring out what skills I needed to develop.
As a public relations major I did internships in marketing, sales and the non-profit sector. Remaining open to opportunities allowed me to see different departments and learn things I wasn’t learning in my communications and public relations classes. So, as you start this process, don’t be afraid to push yourself to explore beyond the box of you major. If you are casting a wide net, it is less stressful because it will be easier to find internships to apply for.
Your next step is to download The Internship Manual Toolkit and Resume Template now! Happy searching!
The fall semster is underway, so let’s get it started! Doesn’t matter if it’s your first semester of college or the start of your senior year, it is time to put in the work to make your internship dreams come true.
Taking action right now gives you the chance to pick up a fall internship. In September there are still plenty of internship openings that are not filled. In the event your fall semester plate is already full, starting now gives you plenty of time to find a spring or summer 2019 gig.
It may seem too early, but believe me it is not. Great example of how quickly things can move, the Viacom spring 2019 internship deadline is September 30th, just about a month from today. The good news is that there are hundreds of thousands of smaller companies, mid-sized, and non-profit orgranzations that take internss all throughout the year. They key is just to get started.
An Internship is Not Optional
The first hurdle of getting started in the internship process is embracing that this is not optional, but an integral part of your college education. Employers expect you to have internship experience.
Your degree is only a piece of what makes you a candidate. Experience combined with your leadership skills, critical thinking ability, GPA, technical skills and analytical skills work together to present you as an entire package. Rarely is just having a degree, or even the college you went to enough.
On the flip side, internships give you the chance to expand your hard and soft skills while teaching you things like networking and navigating the real world of work. It was through my multiple internship experiences that I became a better writer, was exposed to a variety of work environments, and gained marketing and sales skills I didn’t get in my classes as a public relations major. You owe it to yourself to enhance your marketability by doing multiple internships.
Check With Your Department About Course Credit
I did eight internships in college. My internships were a mixture of paid, unpaid, big company, small non-profits, some for academic credit and some not for credit.
Every internship doesn’t have to be done for course credit, but if you can get credit, it is an absolute win-win. If you can get an internship, academic credit and get paid, that it is a win-win-win.
Some majors or departments won’t let you do an internship for credit until a certain point in your degree program. That’s fine, set your sights on a paid internship and unpaid as a last resort. Then do another when you get to that point in your degree program.
In a lot of majors, you can do an internship at anytime. Visit your academic department to learn about any internship requirements. From there they can guide you to a list of approved intern sites or to the career services office.
I never relied only on my academic advisor to know if I was on track to graduate, you shouldn’t either. Take ownership. Get a degree audit every semester so that you don’t find out in the final hour that you can’t graduate on time.
If you can do an internship for credit then you might be able to pick up an extra class and complete 18 credit hours without taking an extra class. That is a good way to catch up on credits. If you are on a standard 120 degree credit program that means four semesters of at least five classes (15 credits per semester). In the event you took only four classes (12 credit hours) during one semester, you are already behind. If you need more than 120 credits or go to a tri-mester school, do your math.
Do you know where career services is on your campus? Depending on the size of your institution, there could be multiple career services offices seperated by college, or their could be one central college office. Figure out where you need to be.
Starting usually mid September through early November colleges across the country hold on-campus career and graduate school fairs. Attending an on-campus career fair literally brings hundreds of employers to your campus who are there for you. They are there looking for interns and future employees. Missing the career fair could mean missed opportunity.
You want to visit career services to 1) find out when the career fair is and 2) get help with your resume and cover letter. Career services can also usually assist you with interview tips and techniques or even doing a mock interview.
Career services advisors tend to have human resources and recruiter contacts with many companies, so use their connections to get the inside track on the best internships and future job opportunities.
Start Your Internship Search
In addition to finding out about academic credit and making plans to attend the career fair you should start your own internship search. Download my free internship manual toolkit to keep organized and understand the best way to do your internship search.
Finding an internship is training for finding a job. The better you become at this process now, the better you will be prepared to look for a job when the time comes.
Your internship search shoud be a combnitation of muliplte resources. Online search engines, company websites, internship programs, career services and networking. When the time comes, your job search will consist of many of these same methods. Here are 5 Ways to Find an Internship that work.
Proper planning will position you to find the best internship opportunities and fit them into your schedule. Over the course of your college education participating in different internships lets you explore other areas that are not withing your major, try different sized companies, enhance the skills you have learned in class, make connections, meet mentors and build your confidence.
Don’t just show up for the last day cake and cookies, end your summer internship with a bang. No matter if you are going out to join the working world, or back to school, ending your internship strongly can help you land more internships or a job when you graduate.
How does ending with a bang help you get a future job? Doing the few simple actions outlined below can show your manager that you know how to finish strong. Even if you started off shaky, finishing strong is a way to demonstrate professional maturity, gratitude for the internship and a desire to work for the company.
1. Secure Contact Information
Before your internship is over, start the process of transfering email addresses and phone numbers to your personal email account. You will likely lose access to your employer provided email a few days after your intenrship is over. If all of the contacts that you want are stuck in that email, you will have lost them. Make sure your personal email address is a simple one that allows people to easily identify you. You may need to get a reference or recommendation from one of them in the future.
2. Set up a LinkedIn Profile
Another way to keep in contact is through LinkedIn. If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile, make one before your internship is over. Once you have your profile, start asking your colleagues if you can connect with them on Linkedin. For many profesionals, LinkedIn is the preferred method of staying connected. Many companies turn to LinkedIn to post internships, jobs and review resumes.
3. Update Your Resume and Portfolio
While the projects are still fresh in your mind, start updating your resume. When your internship is over, you can add more info to your resume. This is also your chance to make sure you secure any physical or electronic copies of projects that you worked on. Make sure that if there is any sensative information that you worked on that you receive the proper authorization. While you are updating your resume, update your LinkedIn profile to match. If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready when opportunity arises.
Buy a box of thank-you cards and write handwritten notes to your co-workers and supervisors. Sending an email, a tweet or text is not how you leave a lasting impression. Not likley that the other interns will make the same effort.Who doesn’t like getting handwritten notes?
5. Ask About Upcoming Opportunities
If you are graduating, let your manager know that you are interested in any full-time openings they have. They may not have any openings, but things change all the time. If your manager knows that you are interested in working for the company, when something comes up you may get the call. In the event you are returning to school, you can ask about continuning your internship through the fall, even remotely depending on the job.
Between ungrad and grad school I did eight internships. Each internship left me with a unique experience and perspective. Reflect on your internship not just in regards to the projects for your portfolio, but how you grew as a person. What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about what you value in a future employer? Did you hate being in an office all day? The internship experience is a unique peak into life after college. Take advantage of the opportunity and learn from it.
Making the right impression at an internship is super important. The wrong impression could seal your fate and future hopes of a job offer from that company. Even if you don’t think you want to work there after you graduate, you want to impress the right people so you can walk away with great references and maybe even a mentor.
Jump Right Into Your Work
You only have a 6-12 weeks at your internship to learn and do as much as you can. When you get a new assignment, ask questions to make sure you understand the project and deadlines. If you find yourself with down time, that is the perfect opportunity to ask for more work. If your manager doesn’t have additional work for you, ask if you can check with another person in the office. Jump in feet first and immerese yourself in your internship experience.
On another note, if you are flying through your assignments, make sure you are double cheking your work for accuracy. By doing good work and not just fast work, you will gain the trust of your manager and ideally be given tasks with more responsibility.
Dress for success
Seems simple enough right? Don’t be remembered as the badly dressed intern. Know the dress code for the office you work in. Ask human resources or your manager for a copy of the dress code.
If your wardrobe and your cash is limited, it is time to hit up the thrift store to score some deals. Young ladies and gentleman, black slacks or dress pants, a white button down dress shirt/blouse and a dark blazer or suit jacket can go very far. While you are at it, go ahead and look for a nice breifcase or laptop bag, time to ditch the bookbag.
Part of being well dressed also means taking the time to iron your clothes, shine your shoes and check your pantyhose for runs. Also, don’t go overboard with the aftershave or perfume.
Proper meeting etiquette
Being on time for meetings is important, but also arrive prepared. Never walk into a meeting without a pen and paper to take notes. Even if you never write anything down, take the pen and paper with you. Don’t try and take notes on your cell phone. Even if you have super will power and won’t be tempted to update your social media status or return a text duuring the slower part of the meeting, the other people don’t know what you are doing. You want to appear to be locked in and attentive. If you need your phone to keep track of time, go buy a watch. If you intend to keep your phone in your pocket or purse, turn it off during the meeting.
Practice your networking skills
Introduce yourself to everyone. Be friendly. Take your smile with you everywhere go. When you meet people, sometimes you will have the opportunity to go into your full-blown elevator pitch and sometimes not – don’t force it. If you are in the coffee line and you notice a person wearing a hat of a sports team you like, make a comment about the team, or if you are in the elevator and you love the shoes someone is wearing, tell them you love their shoes and strike up a conversation. During the course of the conversation, tell them your name and what department you are interning in. Don’t be discouraged if it takes some practice to get over your nerves.
As an intern you are there to contribute, learn and grow. No one is perfect. There will be times when you get negative feedback on a project. Don’t take it to heart as criticism but embrace it as a learning opportunity. Ask questions so that you can learn from your mistakes and what you can do better the next time.
Jumping into your internship with positive energy and enthusiasm will get you noticed. Making the right and lasting impression could mean that when there is a job opening, you are the one to get the call.