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5 Tips for Searching for Summer Jobs/Internships

I know, I know. The coldest part of winter hasn’t even started yet and I’m already writing about summer employment? Well yes. Summer jobs and internships may be a long way off from starting – but deadlines for applications may be approaching sooner than you think. Here are some tips to landing the perfect job or internship this summer.

1. Make a standout resume

Employers will be wading through thousands of bland, nearly identical, Microsoft Word Template resumes – make yours stand out! Avoid using templates you find on the Internet – or worse, the templates on Microsoft Word. Sure, they’re safe, but they are also BORING. Your resume should be a reflection of you and your personality. Especially as CMU students, you probably have some impressive qualifications or extracurricular accomplishments in your past. Highlight those. An objective isn’t required. An “experience” section isn’t required. A black and white document isn’t required. Use your resume to professionally reflect the accomplishments you are most proud of that most speak to your personality and professional goals. Don’t be afraid to include items like “captain of the soccer team” or “scuba certified” – these kinds of experiences might not be related to the job you’re applying for, but they do speak to other qualities that employers are looking for such as leadership, ability to work with others, dedication, etc.

2. Join LinkedIn and start networking

We live in a very technologically driven society and the more accessible your professional background is, the more likely you are to get noticed by potential employers. Update your LinkedIn account. Include an updated resume so that anyone intrigued by your profile can get a closer look at your professional background right away. Be sure to write a personalized description of yourself. It doesn’t have to be the cookie-cutter “organized student seeking to utilize my interpersonal skills in a professional environment” – still be professional but highlight what is unique about you! You never know who might be reading your page and looking specifically for someone just like you. Use the vast resource of the LinkedIn community to connect with people who could lead you to potential employers – or even be potential employers themselves. CMU alumni are almost always willing to help CMU students – reach out to as many alumni as you can, especially in your field. Networking is often the key to getting your foot in the door in the professional world, and as a CMU student you are part of a very diverse and very well connected network, so use it to your advantage!

3. Make a timeline and mark deadlines on your calendar

You’ve done the hard work, you’ve maintained a respectable GPA at CMU, you’ve lost sleep so you can participate in as many extracurricular activities as possible – don’t blow an opportunity to land your dream job/internship by missing the deadline! Take time out of your schedule now to look into where you would like to apply and when the applications are due. Mark the deadlines down in your calendar, in your planner, set a reminder on your phone, post excessive amounts of sticky notes all over your room – whatever it takes to make sure you are aware of and able to meet the deadline. Researching this far in advance will also give you time to really look into the companies you are most interested in working for. If a company uses certain software you are not familiar with, you will have time to familiarize yourself with it before the deadline so you can add that proficiency to your resume. Look over your cover letter and revise it multiple times. Have a friend look at it. Have a professor look at it. Having time before the deadline means having time to build and refine your resume and your cover letter to give the company the most impressive pieces possible – not a jumbled mess you threw together at the last minute.

4. Make an appointment at the Career Center

You would be wasting your status as a CMU student if you didn’t take advantage of all of the resources available to you here – including the Career Center. We have some of the best counselors here who really know what employers are looking for and can help you feel confident and prepared for the application as well as the interview (if and when you get it). Make an appointment to go over your resume with a counselor. Make an appointment to practice interview questions with a counselor. If you aren’t sure where to start with your search in the first place, make an appointment to discuss what students/alumni have done in the past. No matter where you are in the job search, the Career Center is there to help and they are an invaluable resource. Not to mention, you don’t even have to leave your room or pick up a phone to make an appointment – meetings are scheduled through TartanTrak (just go to the Calendar tab, click on the Counseling Appointment tab, and click “request new appointment”). Seriously, make an appointment.

5. Have a backup plan – or 20

Yes, it is important to dream big and yes, it is important to pursue even your loftiest goals … but it is also important to have a backup plan just in case things don’t pan out the way you wanted. Think of it this way – would you rather not get your dream internship/job and end up working at the local McDonald’s all summer, or would you rather end up with an internship/job at a company that you don’t like as much but will still give you real world experience? When you’re making your list of companies you want to apply to, definitely include your big dream companies, but also include places that you would like to work at that seem more accessible. Don’t let geography constrain you. Apply to places all over. The more places you apply, the more chances you have of getting an internship or job. Apply to about 30 different companies. Yes, that means writing 30 different cover letters, but if you start early enough you can make the load more manageable by writing one or two a week. Even if you’re an adrenaline junkie, it’s always good to have a safety net when it comes to summer employment.

Most of all, be confident and be optimistic about your job search! Even if you don’t get your first choice company, don’t let that discourage you. Keep your chin up. One summer is not the end of the world. You still have plenty time ahead of you to make the perfect career for yourself. Good luck!

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