Make the Holiday Break Count: College to Career Checklist
Whether you’re a college freshman or a junior, the holiday break is an important time to start planning for your summer internship. Banks and consulting firms do their internship hiring in January and February, but even if you’re interested in non-profit, government, start-ups or something non-traditional, now’s the time to get started. Here’s how:
Update your resume.
But don’t do it in a vacuum. Buy a good resume book like Knock ‘Em Dead Resumes and be sure to have a few trusted friends and family members provide input.
And don’t forget to include a summary at the top!
Create or update your LinkedIn profile.
If you’re a freshman, you’re forgiven if you don’t yet have one. Upperclassman? Consider yourself behind—LinkedIn is not Facebook! Join groups and get recommendations from former employers. Make sure you have a good photo. Connect with everyone you know and everyone your parents know. LinkedIn is an amazing research tool but to get the most out of it you have to have a lot of connections. Get a Premium account ($20 per month)—it gives you a lot more features you will need like the ability to directly contact those you don’t know without a referral.
Contact alumni from your school for informational interviews.
This is best accomplished on LinkedIn, where you can search for alumni in your field (s) of interest. This is especially relevant if you see an internship posting and you can find an alumnus who currently works at that organization.
Research jobs related to your major and interest.
Anything you are interested in has a business attached to it. Did you know that you can insert your particular interest + the word Careers in the Google search bar and follow the links to prospective internships and jobs? Try it.
Get some advice on writing cover letters.
The majority of the cover letters/emails I see are truly an abomination. They are self-focused, wordy, too long and boring. They fail to get the reader’s attention. Try using a quick, relevant opening focused on the employer and then share three succinct, targeted skills you offer. Do not start with “My name is”, a common first sentence and waste of the reader’s precious attention.
Take a one-day course on Excel or Powerpoint.
You probably know the basics of these programs, but you will be required to be proficient in Microsoft Office for most internships. You don’t want your lack of skill to be an issue with your new boss.
If you follow these tips you’ll return to school refreshed and confident about your summer prospects.
Do you want to find your career in the New Year? Take my NYU course in January, it’s open to all: