Many students have begun their search for internships and career advice. With the numerous tasks to complete to make yourself marketable and the seemingly endless amount of research needed to find an internship that matches your values, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Executive Director for Mercer’s Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) Kim Meredith refers to it as “analysis paralysis.”
Though the hunt for internships may seem daunting, taking these steps will help you market yourself and increase your chances:
1. Use Handshake.
Handshake is one of the newest job recruiting and networking applications Mercer and other universities provide. It connects students and alumni with employers as well as the CCPD. Using Handshake, students can find digital and in-person career events, search and apply for jobs, receive employer updates and upload resumes for review by the CCPD. The website also offers training and job interview tips.
According to Meredith, Handshake has become a crucial component for employers to find new workers, as well as for students and alumni in other universities to connect.
“Handshake is actually the number one campus recruiting and career development platform in the nation,” Meredith said. “Employers are logging in daily looking for new talent, and a lot of students without accounts miss that.”
2. Get help perfecting your resume and cover letter.
The CCPD allows students to set up meetings through the website to discuss resumes in person, and they also let students submit resumes electronically for CCPD staff to critique.
Additionally, many majors offer resume workshops. Take one of these, or reach out to a professor in your field to schedule a time to look over your resume. The internet also has a wealth of information about how to tailor your resume to the specific position you are applying for.
3. Practice your interviews.
The interview process can be an especially daunting part of the job hunt. Meredith said that students who typically feel anxiety when meeting new people tend to struggle with this part.
Fortunately, websites like biginterview offer free training online through virtual mock-up interviews for different experience levels throughout multiple industries. The site also contains a database of thousands of interview questions with tips on how to answer them, a system to submit your interview questions for feedback and comprehensive video training covering all aspects of a successful job hunt.
4. Get professional with your Social Media.
Another way to begin building your network, in addition to career events and in-person networking, is through establishing a social media presence. Applications like LinkedIn are one of the highest growing ways recruiters look for qualified candidates. According to Kinsta, over 58 million companies are registered on LinkedIn with 830 million members using the platform as of 2021.
Even apps beyond LinkedIn can work to establish a brand and market yourself effectively. Creating a professional Instagram, Twitter or Facebook can help distinguish candidates, allowing prospective employees to display bits of their life and parts of their personalities.
5. Attend career events.
A career fair is a recruiting event where employers and job recruiters meet with students and other potential employees to provide information about a specific job, where to find potential internship opportunities and allow individuals to decide if the career they are inquiring about is right for them.
Mercer typically hosts career fairs on campus once a semester. The next event, the Spring Job and Internship Career Expo, will take place during the spring semester on Feb. 22.
6. Build a network.
One of the earliest and broadest ways students can begin their job hunt is by building a network of contacts. These can be acquired from the previously mentioned career fairs or social media, but there are so many other networking opportunities available. Family or family friends, professors within your major and even interacting with on-campus guest speakers can all provide potential career connections.
“I think that there needs to be a huge investment in your network and making sure you're connected,” Meredith said. “Even if it is Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Wherever you can follow your target companies and engage with the network that you and your family have.”
7. Receive lifelong career support and advice from the CCPD.
It may seem like these resources are only available to college students, but the CCPD’s services are accessible to Mercer students and alumni for life.
While the anxiety of having to stick with one career path can be daunting, Meredith wants to dispel two myths regarding careers: there is no one perfect career and a major does not equal a career.
“It’s alright to be nervous,” Meredith said. “But I’d like to temper that nervousness down a little bit. Understand that career is a lifelong journey. What we do is talk about planning, so we don’t have to have all the answers or be absolutely sure we’ve found the right employer to meet all of our needs and desires. The CCPD exists to make sure students are allowing time and space in their lives for the conversation of ‘what comes next’ in the near future.”