On the job hunt? You’ve come to the right place. The Leader spoke with Christina Danno, assistant director of Career Experiences with the WCPE, to gain some insight on finding and applying for jobs and internships.
The job search
When students start the job search process, they should first make sure they have a resume, according to Danno. Danno said that students can upload their resumes to Handshake, and Elmhurst University resume advisors will receive them, write down comments and suggestions, and send their feedback.
Danno also said that Handshake is a great place to start looking for jobs or internships. Employers interested in hiring EU students will post their job and internship offerings on the EU Handshake page, so students can browse through those jobs and begin applying.
She said LinkedIn is also a good place to look for jobs, as it contains many opportunities and can help students make connections in their industries.
The application process
According to Danno, one common mistake students make when applying to jobs is simply listing the tasks they have done on their resumes.
“It’s good to obviously see those tasks, but what employers are looking for are the results of those tasks and the action that you took and how you made an impact at that company,” Danno said.
She suggests using the STAR approach — listing the situation, task, action, and result — to show the company the impact you have made.
She also advises students to set goals for themselves in the job search process. For example, a student could set a goal to apply to a minimum of 10 internships per week.
“Do not become discouraged when you see that rejection letter,” Danno said. “Just keep applying, and make sure you’re also tailoring your resume to that specific internship you’re applying for.”
To customize their resumes for each specific internship, Danno said that students can point out experiences they’ve had that fit the skill(s) certain roles are looking for.
When it comes to cover letters, Danno believes that students should send employers a cover letter even if they don’t ask for them because she thinks a strong cover letter can give students an advantage.
She explained that the cover letter serves a different purpose than the resume.
“It’s more of your story; it’s your brand,” Danno said. “So kind of explaining to the employer why you’re interested in this industry, why you’re passionate about it.”
She continued, “And explaining the role that you had mentioned on your resume, bringing that onto your cover letter, and maybe explaining how you got into this role.”
As an example, she said that if an employer is looking for someone with leadership and social media experience, one can begin their cover letter by saying something like, “I believe I’d be a good role because I have experience in leadership and social media” and explaining their reasons in the letter.
“And then that employer will be really interested because it [will] be like, ‘Okay, wow, you really understood the job application, you were able to identify the skills that we think are really important for this role and then articulate those,” Danno said.
For interviews, Danno believes practice is key.
“My number one tip would be to prepare more than you think you need to prepare,” Danno said.
She said EU offers a couple of resources that can help students prepare for interviews. One is an online resource called Stand Out, which gives students practice interview questions and allows them to record themselves answering the questions.
There is also a mock interview event held by the WCPE every fall and spring. In these mock interview events, employers from various industries do 45-minute, one-on-one mock interviews with students and give them feedback on their interviewing skills. Lastly, students can schedule mock interviews with WCPE staff.
Students can also practice with as many people as they can, look up practice interview questions on Google, and write out a little note sheet with specific examples that can help them recall their experiences during the interview, according to Danno.
Danno suggests that students break up their note sheets into four to five sections and include a maximum of three bullet points per section, and students can also include questions they plan to ask the interviewer. They can carry the sheet with them to the interview in a padfolio along with their resume and notepad.
In addition, Danno said doing research on the company and expressing passion for the company during the interview is very important.
“You want to make sure that they understand that you really are interested because they want to hire somebody that’s excited and interested,” Danno said.
One way that students can show their interest is by asking the employer strong questions at the end of the interview. Danno said students should prepare eight to 10 questions prior to the interview.
“When they come in with strong questions to ask the employer, it looks really good,” Danno said. “It shows that you did your research. It shows you’re interested in the company.”
The importance of informational interviewing and networking
Danno said students should not only set goals for themselves when applying to jobs, but they should also set goals for reaching out to people.
One way they can do this is by doing informational interviews, which involve talking with professionals and asking them about the industry they work in.
Students can also network and attend career events. Danno said that the WCPE hosts career fairs; this upcoming school year, there will be an accounting and finance fair in the fall and a main career fair for all majors in the spring.
“Come to those events, meet those employers, Danno said. “Even if you’re not looking for an internship, just come and start networking and talking to people and getting used to doing that.”