It’s about that time again. The most stressful, and arguably the most important, few months in any college senior’s life are upon us. It’s time for the job hunt to begin.
This semester, which is full of resume-making, cover letter editing and interview-attending, often leaves chronically busy Lehigh students feeling overwhelmed. It may be difficult to find time to apply to jobs in the midst of already jam-packed schedules, so students may want to take advantage of any opportunities for help and guidance provided by the university.
On Friday, Sept. 5 at 12 p.m., Career Services hosted a workshop entitled “Get the Gig: Conduct an Effective Search to Gain Experience” in Rauch Business Center. Nick Praedin, Assistant Director for Co-op and Experiential Education, led the workshop, which was focused on helping students learn the strategy and time management skills necessary to begin their career search.
This is the first year Career Services has run this particular workshop, and it was attended by both seniors looking to start their job hunt as well as younger students hoping to gain insight into the also stressful summer internship search.
Praedin began the workshop by debuting Career Services’ new Career Development Model, an image of all the different aspects of a job hunt, such as gaining experience and networking. He explained how all of these steps come together to create a successful plan. He says that the role of students in this process is to be “proactive, prepared and have multiple strategies.” He also said one of the most important facets of the job search is time management, which in part comes with the realization that it is a long, ongoing process. Students must understand how to prioritize, and he suggested having an “A, B, C list” of tasks that must get done, such as emailing a connection at a company or editing a resume.
Another important piece of advice Praedin provided was on online branding. He warned students to “know that employers are watching you, as creepy as that sounds.” However, he also reminded them that, “social media spans so many different things, meaning this can work to your benefit.” For instance, he said that the networking website LinkedIn has around 80,000 to 90,000 Lehigh alumni registered, giving students an enormous pool of connections to work with.
As important as online presence is, nothing will make up for face-to-face interactions at events such as career fairs and informational interviews. He noted that networking is incredibly important, but urged students to be genuine and said, “when you identify someone you want to network with, make sure you really want to connect with them, because that will come across in conversation.”
He stressed that students should begin networking early on and maintain those relationships rather than just emailing a connection when they need something. He said to try and be a “nice pest,” meaning to communicate from time to time and ask about opportunities, but don’t overwhelm or annoy them.
Career Services Ambassador Kimberly Villacis, ’15, regularly utilizes many of their resources, specifically the online templates and guides for creating a resume and cover letter. She uploaded her resume on to LUCIE and has searched for summer internships on it each year. As an ambassador, she has also helped out at the Resume Marathon — an event that allows students to bring their resumes to Rauch and have them critiqued by professionals. She said she was surprised by how many students attended the event.
However, Villacis admits that she thinks one-on-one general counseling appointments with the Career Services counselors are one of the most important things they offer.
“People don’t use them enough,” she said.
Some students have attempted to use LUCIE to search for jobs and internships but have gotten discouraged by of the lack of opportunities related to arts and sciences versus business or engineering majors. Jessica Consalvo, ’15, said she used LUCIE once, but “could not find a single psychology-related internship within the hundreds of business internships, and so (she) never went back on.”
Villacis agrees that there is a lack of relevant postings for humanities students, but argues it is not due to career services not caring, but because those businesses don’t typically approach colleges with job listings.
“Most interview schedules and postings are catered toward business students,” she said. “But that’s because the other companies don’t reach out to Lehigh as much as accounting and engineering firms do.”
Finance major Allison Lotito, ’15, has had nothing but positive experiences with using LUCIE to find a summer internship. She uploaded her resume on the site and then applied for a position she thought she might be overlooked for. It turns out her boss was a Lehigh alum and exclusively asked for the resumes of Lehigh students. Lotito said this process “really helps students connect with employers. If you apply through LUCIE, you know the company is actively recruiting at Lehigh,” which gives students a leg- up.
In addition to “Get the Gig,” Career Services runs several other workshops focusing on everything from conducting industry-related research to connecting with alumni. In the next few weeks, students should look out for an upcoming resume marathon, mock interview days and the Fall Career Fair.