How to: Land a Great Job or Internship
Career Development is a constant, evolving process and there is more to getting a job or internship than just having or working towards a degree. Your education will open many doors, but it is up to you to obtain the employment you desire. For most of us, the most difficult part of the job/internship search process is deciding “what I want to be when I grow up.” That is because we are convinced that whatever career we pick we are stuck with it. We are sure there is only one job we are destined for, if only we could figure out what that one job is. The search, however, is a process… one that may not happen linearly. While we have listed the following information in “steps,” remember that there is often overlap between the steps and often you may find yourself going back and forth between a few of them.
Step One - Take a Look at Yourself
This is probably the most important part of the job/internship search process! It will help to build confidence in your capabilities and provide you with more direction and focus. Your search will be more productive if you know something about yourself - it is easier to convince someone to hire you if you know what you do best! It is your task to articulate what characteristics/talents will make you marketable to employers. Keep in your interests in and how they fit with your particular talents.
Step Two - Prepare Your Resume
Developing your resume can aid in the process of articulating your skills, talents, and interests. Please see the Resume Writing handout for more information and/or stop by the Career Center for assistance (also available at online). Cover Letters are also an important, and often required and helpful, part of the job search process. Samples and help with letters can also be found at the Career Center. See Professional Correspondence Handout and online.
Step Three - Develop a Work Plan
The job/internship search is a time-consuming process. Having a solid work plan and organized records will help ensure that you do not miss deadlines or fail to follow up on a lead, contact, or interview. The more committed you are to the search, the greater your chances of finding a position that you like, paving the way for a rewarding career in the future. It is often helpful to treat the job/internship search like a class and dedicate a certain amount of time to it per week.
Step Four - Investigating The Job Market Developing Contacts
Everyone has contacts including you!! Utilizing your contacts does not mean you are not getting a position on your own - remember that the majority of available positions are filled by word of mouth. You will discover important information about employment opportunities through your personal contacts. Let friends, relatives, faculty, etc., know that you are looking for a job/internship. Career Services staff, VU alumni, and Career Fair employers can also be used for informational and networking purposes. Use these contacts to obtain the name of individuals with whom it might be valuable for you to speak. Your last question when speaking with someone about career opportunities should be “Can you recommend someone else I should speak with?” Networking and utilizing contacts in the field are helpful both for gaining information to determine if a field is right for you as well as seeking a position in that field.
Step Five - Applying For Positions
Utilizing multiple job search strategies work the best – do not simply rely on one resource (ie. Monster.com) - use your contacts, the Career Center, professional associations, past internship contacts, various internet sites in addition to pinpointing companies on your own.
Step Six - Interviewing With a Company
Please see the Career Centers' Interview Guidelines and consider signing up for a Practice Interview at the Career Center to help perfect your technique. Remember, interviewing is a skill, and skills need to be built! Practice is key!
Step Seven - Follow Up
A sample Professional Communication handout can be found in the Career Center or on our website. Make sure you personalize the note to the company and position you applied for – mention something from your interview so they know you are truly interested!