Ask the Experts: How to find a part-time, seasonal, internship, or entry-level job in a pandemic

Posted October 20, 2020 by


We’re getting a lot of questions from students, recent graduates, and others about how they should be adjusting how they search for a job during this pandemic. What should students do to find an internship during this pandemic?

First Answer:

The #1 thing we’re seeing with employers is that they are looking for warm referrals of potential candidates.

They are eager to find a way to winnow down the large pool of available new grads and by tapping into their referral network via internal employees, as well as their own personal professional network, they are finding a shorter path to qualified talent. For students/grads, that means an increased emphasis on using LinkedIn to build a network, and also a focus on building relationships with alumni who are in a position to refer talent to internal hiring managers.

Monika Royal-Fischer; Director, The EXCITE Center; University of Cincinnati Clermont College

Second Answer:

My biggest suggestion is that students need to take ownership of their process.  While the students are very much impacted, the companies are feeling it too as attendance at virtual events is down and they struggle with student engagement.  As a result, the students who are proactive – reaching out to alumni, engaging faculty members, building relationships with current employees… – and are using the time to explore career paths will be best positioned to emerge with the right job.  In contrast, those who rely on the companies or their colleges to simply present opportunities may find themselves disappointed, especially given the unique circumstances of this year.

Now, to be clear, none of this is meant to suggest that the schools and companies can’t or shouldn’t do more.  There are plenty of opportunities for both to help guide students along this path, and we have seen incredible ways both are doing so.  however, given this advice is for the students, I’ll leave those examples for another day.

Jeffrey Moss; Founder and CEO; Parker Dewey

Third Answer:

I would suggest that students add this success tip to make themselves more competitive in their searches: 

Use their “downtime” (or increased time online, as the case may be…) to take advantage of free learning resources such as LinkedIn Learning, access to industry-focused software like Adobe suite, etc. provided at low/no-cost by universities.

Students can gain new skills and earn new certifications… then promote those on their LinkedIn profiles and resumes.  Employers will be impressed to know they took advantage of this time to increase their skills and marketability in the workforce. 

Christine Mahoney; Internship Coordinator, College of Media, Communication and Information; University of Colorado Boulder

Fourth Answer:

Networking has always been important and in this era, with less face-to-face interaction, it is even more critical. Make sure the résumé and LinkedIn profile are current, that the applicant takes full advantage of what LinkedIn can offer them if they put time into it each week.

The candidate also needs to know their industry, so staying current, conducting informational interviews, and being active in anything right now, even volunteering or a p/t job outside of the field of interest, will make that candidate more desirable.

Take advantage of the free seminars and skill-building workshops being offered by multiple entities to fine-tune or learn a new one, to increase one’s marketability.

Beth Settje; Associate Director, College to Career Transitions and Alumni Engagement; Career Center Course Instructor – SYE, Internship, Co-op; University of Connecticut

Fifth Answer:

Because so many internships have been cancelled for students and it’s still very difficult to find those opportunities this year, I’ve been encouraging students to 1) job shadow and 2) volunteer their time.

Job shadowing with different companies can give students insight into a variety of career options within their field and help them understand what they’re interested in AND serve as an opportunity for career services to help them build their network so they can make relevant connections within their field.

There are also a lot of non-profits or local small businesses that have work that students could do that may be relevant to the students’ field that the business/charities aren’t able to pay anyone for or maybe don’t know how to do. For instance, I encourage graphic design/marketing students to reach out to small businesses or local charity groups to see if they need help with social media marketing. I’m sure help is needed far beyond the marketing field, so I encourage all students to just reach out and see if their time/knowledge could be helpful and applied in a relevant way. That experience can be extremely helpful for the businesses / charities and serves as a good experience for students.

Madison Fehring; Relocation Coordinator / Talent Advisor; Leggett & Platt

Sixth Answer:

Network like crazy! Informational interviewing has never been more important than right now.

Also, having a strong understanding of the necessary skill sets for the field/industry they want to go into. Since things are still so crazy right now, students might have a harder time going straight into their desired job title / industry. By understanding the skill-sets needed to succeed within their target industry, they can better look for opportunities that might be outside their desired industry that will still allow them to strengthen their transferable skills and be more competitive in their target industry in the future. Better for a student to get a job for a year that isn’t directly in their target industry but allows them to build related skills vs waiting around for a year trying to get a job that’s directly in their industry when there might not be that many opportunities available.

Njyhalo Pavati; Career Consultant; The University of Tennessee – Haslam College of Business

Seventh Answer:

I encourage students to get more involved with people and activities that they are interested in, such as attending school events, join student groups as well as attend professional meet ups, lectures, and professional memberships, and if possible, volunteer. I also recommend that students be vocal about what they want and are looking for. You never know who can help. It’s also important to remember that even before the pandemic, ones first job likely won’t be their dream job and that it is something to work towards through a variety of experiences.

Angela Lopez; Internship Coordinator and Career Advisor; School of the Art Institute of Chicago

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