The Center for Career & Professional Development is located on the fourth floor of Rauch Business Center. The center offers workshops on networking skills and helps connect students with opportunities. (Roshan Giyanani/B&W Staff)

Leadership conferences, networking help Lehigh students secure jobs early


The class of 2017’s time at Lehigh is quickly coming to a close. The next steps in their lives include job offers and salaries, and for some, the job hunt started long before senior year began.

Firms like the Big Four, which includes PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, Deloitte and Ernst & Young, are currently targeting 2019 graduates for summer internships. This begins at selective conference programs for rising juniors.

Summer leadership programs are designed for college students, mainly rising juniors, to experience what it would be like to work for the specific company. These leadership programs often lead to internships, which are typically followed by job offers when students become seniors.

Although sophomores are usually more focused on finishing their required credits and maybe even still getting used to the college life after a transitional freshman year, some begin to line up interviews for summer leadership programs and internships. This preparation begins earlier than many may realize.

Jacy Herman, ’17, participated in the national PwC Elevate Leadership Program in Texas as a sophomore and has accepted her job offer at PwC as an auditor in New York. Lehigh helped Herman land this internship and job through networking with alumni, one of the schools biggest resources on campus.

Amy Zhang, ’19, interviewed with all of the Big Four companies and was offered a spot in the PwC Elevate Leadership Program this coming summer.

“I’m very grateful that I was accepted into this program because even if they don’t give me a job offer, I think it would be a good experience just to be in a professional environment and network with people who you might interview with in the future,” Zhang said.

The term “networking” is often used when talking about the job and internship search process.

“The one thing that I always encourage students is that I want them to remember the word ‘proactive.’ A job search or an internship search is not something that you can just kind of sit and wait for something to come to you. You really need to incorporate the internship or job search as another class,” said Karen Kuczynski, the associate director of the Center for Career and Professional Development.

The career center in the Rauch Business Center is Lehigh’s main resource for students looking for jobs and internships. The center offers workshops, resume reviewing, interview preparation and any other help to prepare students for the search. Kuczynski recommends students utilize Lehigh’s alumni resources, especially on LinkedIn. Lehigh has over 45,000 alumni on LinkedIn, and many students have landed their jobs and internships through alumni networking.

Zhang found the Career Center helpful in her preparation for her interviews.

She did a mock interview with an alum and found it useful, as she became exposed to potential questions she would be asked in the actual interview, as well as feedback on her answers and how to improve them.

Caroline Ruffing, ’17, will graduate in May and then start her job at IBM in a consulting program. Ruffing attended the fall and spring career expos and received an interview through the fall expo. Networking was one of Ruffing’s most important resources during the search.

“I got my job through the career center entirely, which is really nice,” Ruffing said. “But a big part was trying to connect with Lehigh alums and they were so helpful with giving me interview advice, giving me advice on my resume, specializing my job search for this specific industry that I’m in. It was really helpful.”

The career center showed Ruffing where to find information about jobs and careers and helped her prepare for her interviews.

The competitive nature of securing a job comes from lack of conversation about students who have yet to receive offers.

“I feel like there’s so much pressure at Lehigh because a lot of students get job offers even in the fall and you hear about everyone who has a job, you don’t hear those who don’t, so it feels like everyone has one,” Ruffing said.

Though the job search process can be grueling and exhausting, Kuczynski assures that it does not have to be an individual process. There is support all around the campus, whether from faculty or from peers.

Though there is no doubt in how reassuring receiving an offer was, the feeling of being overwhelmed returned quickly for Herman.

“I think it’s overwhelming going through the process and not knowing where you’re going to end up after college, and then even after securing a job I think it’s relieving for a second, and then right afterwards it’s like, you’re going to be in the real world so soon after that it becomes overwhelming all over again,” Herman said.

As the class of 2019 begins their search for internships and future jobs, these selective programs are designed to make it easier to pave the road to a career, and Lehigh prepares its students for it. Zhang believes it’s useful to begin the process early on, even if most people don’t think about the job search as early as sophomore year.

“I think the environment at Lehigh is very much supportive in that way,” Kuczynski said. “That, if someone said they needed help, that we will absolutely be there to support.”

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