The Collegian
Saturday, July 11, 2020

Can you help me find a job: Career and internship advice from professors and career services

<p>The University of Richmond campus during the summertime.&nbsp;</p>

The University of Richmond campus during the summertime. 

With UR’s move to remote learning, many seniors were left without extensive resources, which makes a job or internship search appear daunting at first glance. Searching for a job during senior year of college can be so stressful that many students at the University of Richmond begin to worry about it long before their senior fall. 

From speaking with professors, students and advisers in the Office of Alumni and Career Services, here are some tips to finding your way in the online job search world. 

Know what you’re looking for 

“The first thing I always ask students is, ‘What are two or three things that you’re interested in?’” said Keith Webb, an associate director of career services and career adviser who specializes in accounting and finance. 

It is important to identify different industries that align with these interests and pinpoint connections during the first few one-on-one advising sessions, Webb said. 

“My overall thesis is that there’s a common thread between your interests, your curriculars and your co-curricular activities,” Webb said. “We really take theory to practice, and all of you [students] have the wonderful opportunity to learn from professors at the University of Richmond, but part of that practical application is being able to apply [those academic skills] in a working environment.” 

Practice good networking

Senior Lauren O’Brien will be working at AlphaSights, an information services company, after graduation. Students should establish relationships with former employers and alumni that may help in the future with receiving job and internship offers, she said.

O'Brien, a leadership studies major, said the Jepson EDGE Institute had been helpful in finding alumni who were eager to connect her with summer internships and post-graduation opportunities. The Jepson School of Leadership Studies began its EDGE program to serve as a networking full-day event for majors and minors each spring, and it allows students to learn the best practices for pitching their leadership major to future employers. 

O’Brien interned at AlphaSights the summer between her junior and senior year, to fulfill her internship requirement as a leadership major, she said.

“I really loved my manager at my internship last summer, and I saw a lot of her qualities in myself and my qualities in her,” O’Brien said. “We had very similar college experiences, and she had a very impressive career path that I would want to follow. So, being able to find someone that you can emulate and pick that person to follow is a really important skill to have. 

"Go somewhere where there are people you want to become similar to and are inspired by them.” 

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Career Services has a blog that helps seniors search for jobs and other students find internships. According to their "expectations and reality" post, when it comes to networking, being aware of a company’s current status in regard to hiring amid COVID-19 is important when contacting employees or alumni.

Seek personalized advice from advisers or mentors 

Along with knowing where to seek advice, it is also important to know the difference between good and bad advice, O’Brien said. 

“A one size fits all answer is bad advice,” she said. “It’s never going to help you if it’s not personalized to who you are, where you’re coming from and where you’re trying to go, because they don’t know you in that way and they’re just spewing an answer at you.” 

Webb said that students often came to him with a simple request: “Can you help me get a job?”

Webb said he took a deeper dive into their interests through questions such as, “Do you see yourself doing this kind of work, say, in 10 years, in 15 years?

"The other big question I ask students is: Will technology have an impact on this work? Will you have an opportunity to stay relevant despite technology’s impact?”  

All of these questions are essential to help Webb provide each of his advisees with informed advice to begin the job search, Webb said. 

Consider an alternative option  

No one expects perfection and a fully composed routine or plan during this time. It is counterproductive to be down on yourself right now, according to Career Services’s expectations and reality post.

Kevin Pelletier, professor of English, said that he believed his students who graduated without jobs lined up could not be in better positions. 

Nothing is more attractive to employers than a student who is traditionally trained in liberal arts, Pelletier said. Students shouldn't be afraid of not having a job before graduation, even though UR says they should have a job, Pelletier said. Students are craving more from their education than just job training and they should be nourished in that, he said.  

Recognize the variation in school approaches 

The differences in how each school at UR -- arts and sciences, leadership studies and business -- prepares its students for internships and jobs also means that students have different classroom experiences. 

“Jepson does a good job of not pushing people into certain career paths, and it’s super open because of the interdisciplinary nature of the school," O'Brien said. The business school really focused on the end result of receiving a job offer, O'Brien said. 

Hanna Lankler, a senior marketing major and leadership studies minor and the outgoing president of the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business Student Government Association, said: 

“In the business school there’s a lot of lessons that aren’t from the textbooks or the course content, but from what you gain from speaking with professors and the relationships and advice they have to offer. In my experience, the students just really want to help each other, and even something as simple as being able to check resumes and cover letters with my peers has been great.” 

The business school is great at keeping course content relevant because business is always changing, and the professors are willing to help students outside of class with their career interests, Lankler said.

There are a variety of different approaches to beginning the internship or job search. Career Services is offering virtual advising sessions for any student seeking help in getting started in or wanting to touch base about their search process. Internships, shadowing experiences and jobs are also posted on SpiderConnect regularly.

Contact lifestyle editor Emma Phelps at emma.phelps@richmond.edu.

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