How to Finesse the Job and Internship Search

Beginning the job and internship search is always a difficult task. You might feel lost at where to start and how to prepare yourself for the application and interview processes. Here are a few things to ease your uncertainties and guide you through the process of tackling the job search...

1. Get a head start

It’s never too early to start thinking about your job and/or internship options. The best way to start off your job search is to reach out to your personal network, Colgate alumni, or make an appointment with career services. Using your connections as a viable source of information will allow you to gain great insight into different industries and job titles while building your network. LinkedIn is a great database to use because you can tailor your search to a specific industry focus or company and discover Colgate alumni that you can connect with. Reaching out to alumni via LinkedIn message or email for a quick 15-minute networking call is a great way to jumpstart your job or internship search. To prepare, have a few questions ready in order to make the most out of the short phone call and gain as much information on their career path. The Colgate career services website has a guided list of questions available that are useful for networking phone calls and informational interviews.

2. Perfect your resume and cover letter

Fine-tuning your resume and cover letter is crucial for those who are applying to entry-level positions and internships. Although it is somewhat tedious, it is important to not only look over your resume and cover letter multiple times, but also have another pair of eyes look over it to give you feedback. Friends, family, career consultants, or individuals within your network are all feasible options to reach out to for feedback. Formatting is also crucial for both your resume and cover letter. Having a clean-cut and legible resume on one page is key to impress employers during the evaluation process. Cover letters are important because they give you the opportunity to showcase your strengths and abilities in greater depth, which is pivotal for impressing evaluators and making it to the next step of the interview process. Colgate career services has a handy guide to format your resume and tailor your cover letter to ensure that you will stand out in the candidate pool.

3. Explore your career options 

Attending a liberal arts college gives you a limited amount of exposure to the various career options that are out there. Luckily, Colgate’s career services team provides an adequate amount of help and opportunities to explore different industries. Always take the time to read the career services emails each week to stay up-to-date on what information sessions are happening on campus. Attending info sessions is a great way to familiarize yourself with different industry sectors to see what might interest you. After narrowing down career options that match your skills and interests, schedule an appointment with a career services advisor to learn more about applying to organizations within a specific industry. There are also several websites, such as The Vault and Indeed, that offer advice and information on exploring your career options.

4. Prepare references

References are important once you begin applying to jobs, and are oftentimes requested for internship applications as well. Begin to think about past co-workers, supervisors, or mentors whom you might reach out to in request for a reference. It might be the case that you apply for a position that requires a reference and you find yourself scrambling to find someone to contact last minute. Giving notice to your references is crucial because they most likely have a busy schedule and might not be able to get back to you with short notice. Thus, it is important to reach out to individuals who might be willing to give you a reference, and maintain contact with them throughout the application process.

5. Master the interview process 

The interview stage is always an intimidating process. Preparation is key to ensure that you enter the interview confident and ready to answer any given question. Glassdoor is a useful website to become familiar with some of the questions that interviewers might ask at a specific company. While interviews vary by industry, one thing that is essential for any interview is to be well-versed on the behavioral questions that an interviewer might ask. It is key to prepare three strengths and weaknesses that you can backup with examples from your past experiences and leadership roles. It is also important to do some research on the company you are interviewing with to gain a better understanding on their culture and values. After researching the organization, you should take the time to reflect on the specific reasons as to why you are applying to the position and highlight what makes their organization unique. Another important aspect of the interview stage is looking presentable. Colgate’s career services center has a useful guide to help you dress for success. Lastly, it is crucial to always send a thank you note to the interviewer that acknowledges the time they spent interviewing you and considering you as a candidate. Thank you notes can be sent via email, to ensure that you showcase your appreciation in a timely manner, or by a handwritten letter if you have their mailing address available.