Tag Archives: career

Don’t Let This Ship Sail off Without You!

By Elaina Taylor

I remember very distinctly my parents encouraging me to intern back in high school. However, when I found out that most of them were not the paying type, I quickly dismissed them. I have plenty of time for that, I thought. Why wear dress clothes and uncomfortable shoes free of charge all summer while my friends are out and about raking in the cash? Well, let’s fast forward to the present.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am now one pretty broke college kid. Free stuff? Let me at it! Free food? Holy guacamole, where?! Looking back, it’s only after you fly the coop that you realize just how much you depended on your parents for well, everything. Now more than ever, come summertime I want to be making money and internships don’t always compensate for the work you provide. But before you write them off consider their value.

There are many benefits to interning, and the experience yields valuable tools that often cannot be acquired elsewhere. Chiefly among them is experience – this is quickly becoming a critical factor in hiring decisions. A potential employee with knowledge and experience in a given field is a much safer hire because they already have exposure to that line of work and clearly wish to work there. And with experience comes the acquisition of new skills not to mention confidence in your abilities and contributions. In a competitive job market, an internship can give you the boost you need to edge out another candidate with near similar qualifications. Additionally, internships can also provide course credit for some majors (take a peek at the undergraduate catalog to see if this applies to your major).

Lastly, internships give students the chance to network and create more contacts that could contribute to a possible job in the future. Getting a foot in the door can lead to entry-level jobs, if only because of the connections you established in the duration of your time there. But don’t forget that connections you establish with professors and fellow students could also lead to possible internships and later, job opportunities. Sometimes the best resources are right around you. I myself obtained an internship through a church acquaintance that happened to be the president of a non-profit organization headquartered in D.C. My point is that you can always find people who can help you along in your career, however adolescent it may be, and occasionally not in the most expected places. Take care to remember however, that these opportunities don’t always just present themselves, they have to be sought out and you have to be willing to work to earn your stripes.

Now that the importance of internships has been established, how do you find one? To start out, I’d suggest making a list of places you would be interested in working for and contact them directly. Also be sure to take advantage of the school resources available; JMU has job fairs and services that are specifically tailored to help students find internships and jobs. The Career and Academic Planning Center provides a wealth of related information under the Jobs and Internships tab, and beyond the biannual Career and Internship Fair also offers the Recruit-a-Duke service with recent job and internship postings. Check out Eric’s blog post below for a comprehensive summary of the services offered by the Career and Academic Planning Center!

Once you find an internship you’re interested in, send in an application and follow up! Even if you consider it to be completely out of reach you may land an interview, if only based on your tenacity to be given a chance. You may not have the skills they are looking for, but your persistence and willingness to learn just could pay off. Hint, this has happened to me before! Good luck to you all!

Looking for more information or know-how advice with regards to internships? Then be sure to take a look at my sources: Internships – Career and Academic Planning, Internship information – Academic Services Center under the College of Business

Tackling the Daunting Résumé

By Taylor Hudson

“Graduation” is a four-letter word around here.

Yeah, sure—it’s supposed to be a proud moment, signifying four years of hard work and good times with life-long friends. But let’s be honest, graduation is more terrifying than it is exciting. Most seniors are somewhere between a mild-panic-attack and a quarter-life-crisis when it comes to actually planning this unknown, yet not so far away, concept called “the future.”

As a soon-to-be graduate myself, I have attempted to prepare and have spent a lot of time during the past few weeks knee-deep in “grown-up” documents, such as my résumé, portfolio, and job applications. And I only have one thought about the entire process—It’s a lot harder than it looks.

Lesson One: Avoid the Microsoft Office résumé templates at all costs.
That was my first mistake in this entire process. I thought it would be the most efficient to just click on one of the templates and fill in the blanks. No, I was wrong.

First of all, those templates are extremely generic, so they most likely will not include the best or most effective sections for your particular goal or job search. For example, most of them do not include a relevant course work section. Another problem I had was a lack of space to include the hyperlink to my online portfolio, and, as a media arts and design major, that is really important.

Second of all, it’s near impossible to condense your résumé into one, convenient page using those templates. They are unnecessarily fluffed up with images, chunky boxes, and 12-point font. Any attempt to make the font smaller just messes up the entire layout and will have you screaming at your computer in a matter of minutes—and yes, I speak from experience. It’s much more simple to just create your own résumé layout from scratch.

Don’t get me wrong; those templates are good to use as a reference or basis. But, overall, just make our final résumé an original.

Lesson Two: Don’t compare your résumé with your friends. It never hurts to get feedback and criticisms to improve your résumé. However, I suggest receiving professional feedback, such as from a professor, mentor, or employer—not a friend or roommate.

If you are like me, I am the only one in a house of four people pursuing a career in my particular field. I am pursuing a journalism career, one is pursuing a dietetics career, one is pursuing education, and the final one is pursuing theater. Four clearly different fields. It didn’t seem like much of a barrier at first, because at first I thought, “How different could our résumés be?” Again, I was wrong.

Theater-focused résumés look like Mars compared to my journalism-focused one. In theater, for example, a clear and definitive objective is of higher priority in order to state your artistic goals as an actor. Meanwhile, in journalism, an objective statement could be included, but if you need more room for your internship experience and skills sets, then those take higher priority. In my case, I completely deleted it, but my roommate believed that I needed to write an objective statement. She wasn’t wrong.; objective statements aren’t bad. On the other hand, they aren’t good for everyone. The moral of the story is simple: don’t argue with your roommate for twenty minutes about what to include in résumés, when in reality, you are both right.

Lesson Three: Sometimes you just have to hit the “Submit” button. Pushing the “Submit” button after you have completed an online job application is terrifying. Don’t worry, I completely understand. Nevertheless, at some point, you just have to stop re-reading, editing, and revising your application, and click the button. Let go. Just do it.

I decided to apply to Teach for America, and I completed my application about a week and a half ago. Yet, I just submitted it three days ago. I was so paranoid that I misspelled something, or that I awkwardly worded a sentence in my responses. So, instead of actually sending the application, I just let it sit. My stress just exponentially grew every time I looked at. I probably rewrote the application about three times.

Eventually, I realized I just needed to send it because my acceptance into the program has no direct correlation to the amount of times I edited the application. Once I hit the “Submit” button—regardless of how initially terrifying it was—I felt infinitely better. So, if you currently have an application just waiting in limbo like I did—please, do yourself a favor, and go send it.

Last but not least—believe in the power of drafting! I realize it is only October, and graduation is over six months away. But it is never too early to start thinking about post-grad life. So, don’t be afraid to tackle those “grown-up” tasks—just remember to take it slow and learn as you go through the process. Your resume and portfolio will not be perfect the first time. You will have to re-write and re-organize, but it will all be worth it in the long run. But don’t just take my word for it.

If you are looking for professional help, and not just the advice from a fellow stressed out senior, I suggest looking into an appointment with Career and Academic Planning. They are awesome with this sort of thing—from resumes to cover letters to personal statements. You could even browse Recruit-a-Duke, a convenient one stop location for JMU students to search for current job or internship openings.