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Five Steps to Finding an Internship or Job

Are you interested in finding an internship or a job? Feeling a bit overwhelmed or frustrated by previous attempts? Even though these times are uncertain, you can absolutely have a strategy and direction for your search that will increase the chances of finding an opportunity that is right for you; just follow these five steps.

1. Determine and Understand Your Target. 

It is good to be flexible, but that doesn’t mean an absence of goals or direction. If you are open to anything, your search has just become much harder. Your target is your career goals, for example – job function, industry, location, type of employer, and skills you want to use. You can always adjust it later, particularly as you start learning more and are hearing feedback from those in the field. Just pick a direction to start with so you can move forward.

Once you have one or more targets, try to learn as much as you can about what is happening with them.  If you are interested in Boston, what are the industries in demand? If you are thinking about Private Equity, how, when and what types of positions do they recruit? If you want to use programming skills, what fields most value them? Become anexpert about how to search for opportunities with your target(s).

Need to understand more about yourself? Start with our Career Exploration resources. Need to understand more about what is available? Start with What Can I Do With This Major? and the Vault ((MyBucknell->My Career Center).  The source of information that will be most useful when there is so much change, will be people who are working in fields and companies in which you are interested. Use our Networking resources to learn how to find and reach out to alumni and employers/

2. Create Your Pitch

A pitch is how you briefly describe yourself – your skills, experience, education –  in relation to your career goals. This can be challenging if you haven’t thought much about it, but if you take the time to get this right, you will have a much easier time developing or updating your internship and job search tools. 

Your search tools are your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, networking, and interview preparation (For more information about any of these, see Career Basics).

3. Develop a List of Ideal Employers

Take control of your search by choosing your ideal employers and creating a list of those you want to learn more about and follow, with the goal that they get to know you. This strategy works, but requires thought, research, and persistence. 

How do you do this? Once you know your targets, you can use that to narrow down the list of employers to industry or function, location, the values they represent and the culture or environment they describe.  Handshake, Vault and Goinglobal (MyBucknell->My Career Center) are all good resources, as are professional associations for the career fields in which you are interested.

Once you have your list, research the employer, reach out to contacts who work there, follow them on social media, and set up google alerts or use a news reader to keep up with their activity.

4. Build and Maintain Professional Relationships

With the ease of applying online, there are more applications for any one opportunity and less chances for yours to be seen. In order to be noticed, you need to be known. You can become known by being referred by people who have employed or taught you. Start with those contacts and expand out your network by engaging in conversations with those who are working (or have worked) in one or more of your targets. Keep in touch with your contacts by reaching out and following or connecting to them on social media.

5. Apply for Advertised Opportunities

There is a reason why this is the last step! While it is a necessary one, the effort will be worth more of your time if you continue to keep working on all five. A multi-method search is the most effective way to find opportunities that are right for you.

Handshake is the first place to check for advertised opportunities because employers use it to find college students and the positions are often planned to start the following summer. Generally, larger employers who have many predictable entry level opportunities advertise earlier in the year and those who are smaller or have fewer anticipated openings advertise closer to when the position starts.

Look for advertised opportunities on employer websites, professional associations and industry-related job sites. You can find these listed in articles and guides in the Vault, Goinglobal and What Can I Do With This Major? (in MyBucknell -> My Career Center). 

A Word about Organization….

An effective internship or job search is basically repeating these five steps until you find the position that is right for you. Keep your search organized by using digital folders and a spreadsheet in which you can keep notes. Here is one search organization resource that you can download and adapt to your needs. 

Remember the Career Center is here to help you throughout your search and with any of these steps. Make an appointment or come to Career Drop-In Hours offered weekdays on Handshake.

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