Persistence, experience play key roles for student job search

Persistence, experience play key roles for student job search
CW File

Internship application season is in full swing, with students looking for opportunities to work closely with mentors on their intended career path in order to gain valuable experience. 

This opportunity gives students an in-depth insight into a job they may want in the future. For some, internships are a requirement in order to graduate or obtain a job. For others, internships are a factor that can set a student apart from the rest when it is time to apply for a job.

“The main way that you can show [capability] is through experience," said Michael Little, instructor for advertising and public relations. "An internship is one of those main sources of experience.”  

Resources such as Handshake, LinkedIn, The University of Alabama Career Center and Internships.com are hot spots for students to search internship opportunities as well as gain advice on how to be successful before and after the internship.

Handshake, an online platform that connects students directly with businesses, is partnered with the University. Any student can have their myBama information link directly to their website. This makes searching through internship opportunities easy with the ability to narrow down choices by location, industry or major.

LinkedIn has become one of the top business-oriented social media websites. LinkedIn also has the ability to search through jobs and internships with filter options like location and industry. Students can apply for an internship through LinkedIn. Both Handshake and LinkedIn give background information about the company a student is interested in and their expectations for applicants.

Another helpful resource is UA's Career Center. The website provides links to professional help, Handshake postings and services such as resume and portfolio help, interview skills and professional etiquette. The Career Center is also available to meet with students individually by appointment.

Professors are always a good resource to ask advice about internships or an industry. Little said to demonstrate capability within an internship in order to land that job later down the road.

Internship experiences also depend heavily on the company since their requirements vary for applicants, taking into consideration graduation year, GPA and how related a student’s major is to their open position. Little said big PR firms like Ketchum and Edelman do post-grad internships so they can hire students immediately if they perform well.

“A lot of major agencies and companies only hire entry-level people from their internship pool," Little said. "It is, in a very real sense, a long interview.”

Little’s recommended process for finding the right internship is to first choose a company, organization or agency that you want to work for when you graduate. 

However, acquiring an internship is difficult. Students must build themselves up over time through good grades and activities in their chosen field of study. There are over 200 student organizations for students to be involved in to add to their resume.

Kevan Momenpour, 23, graduated in May 2017 with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. After completing a co-op his junior year with Alabama Power, Momenpour was later hired on as a distribution operator. 

Engineering and related fields’ internship process looks different from others in that companies care more about a basic understanding of the industry than the student's personality, said Momenpour.

"They'll ask questions with only one correct answer," said Momenpour. “It's more competitive because any internship or experience dictates whether or not you'll get a job." 

Momenpour said showing initiative both inside and outside an internship is how employers remember  an applicant when the time comes to apply for a full-time job. He also said students should be persistent even if they are not successful the first time they apply. 

"I was nervous, but it was the start of my career," said Momenpour. “The reason I have a job now is because of the connections and impressions I made during my co-op." 

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