When it comes to finding an internship or a job, there’s a lot of advice swirling around and everyone you meet has an opinion. However, not all of this information is productive or worth your time, and it turns out, some of this commonly shared information is actually untrue. Below, we debunk some of the most common myths about landing internships and/or jobs, how to find a position that fits you best, and share proven methods that can help secure your future success.
Myth: your resume doesn’t really matter.
Your resume does matters and is often your entry ticket toward an internship or job. Your resume is a document meant to get you an initial interview and should highlight your knowledge and experience. A career advisor at your school can help you with templates and tips for creating a stellar resume. And these days, a resume should include important key words within your chosen field to be passed on to a hiring manager. Once your resume is ready to go, your advisor can also share interview tips and what to expect during an interview. Spending equal time on resume creation and interview prep will better prepare you for the experience of searching for internships and/or jobs.
Resume Balance Matters
Myth: GPA matters more than extracurriculars (or vice versa)
Many students worry about various aspects of their resume. One of the most debated questions: what matters more, your GPA or extracurricular activities? Your GPA definitely matters, and you should always aim for high grades. However, showing you’re taking initiative and doing extracurriculars while maintaining good grades shows employers more about you than a number. Strive for balance on your resume. Most employers recognize that, while classroom performance is important, learning outside the classroom helps improve business skills and shows prospective employers you can work well with others. If you think you may be lacking in extracurriculars, take a personal inventory and seek out groups, activities and committees you may be interested in, or even start one of your own.
Myth: my resume speaks for me, I don’t need to invest in networking.
Career fairs and other networking events should be high on your “to-do” list. Why? Over 80% of available jobs aren’t listed online, which makes networking with professionals vital for students looking for career opportunities. This is why having an internship is important – you can make important connections for your career in addition to getting insight into skills needed to be successful in the workplace.
To improve your networking, take the time to develop and polish your “elevator pitch" consisting of a few sentences that introduces yourself and describes what you’re looking for in a position. Your elevator pitch lets professionals at networking events or know exactly who you are, what you’re interested in, and helps you practice presentation skills that will help in the next step—an interview.
Ace the Interview
Myth: I don’t need to prepare for an interview.
The truth about an interview is that you are there to learn about the company just as much as they are there to learn about you. Do your research before heading into an important interview so you know what’s important to them and what their culture is like. Be prepared to ask questions about benefits, products and services they may offer, and processes in which you may be involved. Doing so will demonstrate your interest in working for them and you might learn things that clarify why you want to work there.
Myth: take the first job you’re offered
Now that you’ve created a fantastic resume, nailed down your elevator pitch and aced your interview, the final step is to evaluate any job offers you receive. You may get advice to take the first entry-level job you’re offered. The pressure to take the first job you’re offered after graduation can be immense, especially if you have financial considerations. Thinking through your long-term goals will help define your career by allowing you to outline with your prospective employer where you’d like to be in five or ten years. If your proposed starting point aligns with your career (and other) goals, you have a good fit. If things do not line up, you can push pause and search for better options.
You’ve worked hard to reach graduation and have thoughtfully chosen your career path. By following our advice and not falling for the commonly heard myths surrounding finding an internship and/or a job, you’ll be well on your way to landing a position that works perfectly for you. Along the way, it’s important to stay in touch with your student and career advisors, put yourself in the mix at career fairs and other networking events, join clubs and organizations that both interest you and show your abilities, and never settle for less than you deserve to achieve your goals.