How to Kickstart Your Career/Internship Search

When you submit a job or internship application, what is the first thing the recruiter does? They look you up online. 

Technology is becoming more and more advanced these days and employers are able to track your digital footprint in ways they have never been able to before. They will be able to look you up on your different digital platforms, including but not limited to your social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; your professional accounts on LinkedIn, Handshake, WayUp; your personal blogs or websites; your online store and much more. 

Anything you put up online, your potential employer will see. Thus, your online persona is crucial to your application and personal image. In other words, your online persona could make or break your career search. 

Related: Internship Tips from Lauren Berger, the Intern Queen

First things first, keep your professional accounts up to date. Make sure to update information on LinkedIn and other professional accounts you may have so that employers can see that you are serious about building a professional brand for yourself. Having all your information and experience up on your professional accounts also allows employers to see your accomplishments and potential. 

How do I go about that? First, put up information about your education. Your school, the degree you are pursuing, including minors and certificates, and your expected graduation date. Next, keep your work experience up to date. Got a new job? Put it on LinkedIn! Did an internship last summer? Put it on LinkedIn before you forget! And for each work position, put in three to four bullet points describing your different responsibilities for that particular role. This gives employers a better sense of who you are professionally, what you are experienced with, and where you stand. 

It is also important to link or upload any professional platforms and materials employers might want to see. For example, if you write for an online magazine, link your author profile page so interested employers can look through your work; if you have written in a professional setting for your previous positions or for class, upload a portfolio document; if you have a professional or personal website, provide the link on your LinkedIn account. And this brings me to my next point. 

Employers don’t expect you to have a website, but it definitely gives you an advantage if you do, especially if you are going into certain fields, such as Public Relations. This website is essentially an expanded and more comprehensive version of your LinkedIn account. On LinkedIn, employers are seeing the overview of your college and professional career, however, it’s not enough information for employers to really know what you’ve done and what you’ve learned. Having a personal website allows them to see that. 

Related: Beginning the Internship Hunt

On your website, you can really expand upon your different work experiences. Highlight the cool projects you’ve worked on for your positions, your accomplishments in concrete numbers (for example, how many social media followers you helped the company gain while you were their social media manager), pictures of you in a work environment...etc. Elaborate on your various skills and even attach sample work you’ve done that shows the particular skill set. This website is a great platform for you to shine and really showcase what you can offer. 

Now that you have established your online persona, it’s time for the next step, a step that is going to take you further and closer to your end goal - landing you a job or internship. Networking. 

How does one network? Do you just go up to strangers and make small talks? Yes, but in a more strategic way. 

Networking includes both online and offline. A great starting point is to attend career events, such as career fairs or specific career events for your field. The annual Communication Career Forum is a great example. Dress professionally and go talk to employers. Ask them about their company and their position. And also be prepared to talk about yourself, let them know what you are passionate about and what you are looking for (doesn’t have to be specific!) It would also be handy to have few copies of your resume ready so you can give them to employers, getting your foot at the door. It is always good to ask for their business card and contact information (like LinkedIn!) so you can connect with them in the future for opportunities! 

Now, how do we network online? We are always online connecting with others over the Internet, but when it comes to professional networking, many find themselves lost, not sure what to do. A great starting point is LinkedIn. 

Look up alumni from your school and see if anyone is working in your desired field or working for a company you are interested in. Look at their profile and see what they did to get to where they are now. Maybe some extracurricular activities they’ve done during school or internship positions they’ve had in the past. If you find someone who has accomplished things you wanted to do, in other words, you wanted to follow their footsteps, go send them a message! Introduce yourself and show that you are interested in learning more about them professionally. Ask them if they have a moment to chat with you online, over the phone, or even over a coffee conversation. These are called informational interviews. They are a great way for you to learn more about the ins and outs of industries, companies and positions you’re interested in, and more importantly, what you can do to get to where you want to be. Additionally, keeping contact with these “mentors” regularly will benefit you in the long run. 

Building your personal brand is not hard, but it definitely takes time, effort, and more importantly, motivation. Collegiettes, are you ready to kickstart your career?