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Posted January 25, 2020 by

Ask the Experts: Should I apply to only paid internships or also unpaid internships?

First Answer:

If you can afford to take an unpaid internship, I would definitely apply to both paid and unpaid. With an internship, the primary criterion you should look for is the experience it offers you. Will that experience translate into a shinier resume for you, or even better, a job down the road? Secondly, look for an internship that can help you build skills. These skills will be transferable to other jobs down the line. At this point, you should be seeking internships that will help position you for your first job.

If the internship relates to either your current area of study or your career aspirations, apply! It’s always better to get an offer and turn it down if something more lucrative comes along.
Don’t discount perks, such as free lunches or help with transportation. If you live at home during the time of your internship, your out-of-pocket costs hopefully won’t be too severe.

All that said, only you can decide what you can live with — and without. 

— Vicky Oliver, author, 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions (Sourcebooks 2005) and Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers & Other Office Idiots (Sourcebooks, 2008)

Second Answer:

Students should consider applying to any internships, paid or unpaid, that will give them the opportunity to expand their skills/knowledge or make a contribution. Either will add a lot of weight on a resume.

— Jeff Dunn, Campus Relations Manager, Intel Corporation

Third Answer:

This depends. Are you in an industry that mostly offers unpaid opportunities? Do you need the money to support yourself, and if so, would it be possible to work another job at the same time as the internship? You also want to ensure an unpaid internship is fair and legal, because ideally an internship  is a gateway into the full-time job that will launch your career, and engaging with a company that isn’t doing right by its interns is probably not the best idea. One additional thing you might try? Ask your school about grants that support students pursuing unpaid internships.

— Alexandra Levit, author of They Don’t Teach Corporate in College. 

Fourth Answer:

Skipping past internships, I can only begin to describe the elation and excitement you will have when you sign your employment contract for your first full-time role after graduation. Furthermore, that excitement will only increase after you successfully leverage your experience and outcomes for a raise the following year. Finally, if and when you leave your first role and successfully negotiate a higher salary (according to Bloomberg those who switched jobs on average enjoyed compensation growth of 5.3%), you will know you have made it. 

The above describes stepping stones to career management and growth. If you look at the stepping stones before that first full-time role you will find internships. For me, my internships stepping stones were landing an unpaid internship my sophomore year, that I leveraged for an internship with a monthly stipend, and then my senior year, I used my previous experience to edge out the competition and land an internship that was paying much more than my average peer’s internship. These stepping stones were crucial to my career management, and if I had never taken my first unpaid internship, I may never have landed the next role. 

That said, unpaid internships can be a contentious topic, with some wanting nothing to do with them, and others questioning their quality. At the end of the day, the end goal of an internship is to walk away with tangible first-hand work experience, industry and professional knowledge, and a set of transferable skills that you can apply to any future career path, not a specific amount of money in the bank. 

When reviewing internship opportunities, I would first look at the experience offered, the projects and tasks you will tackle, and the supervision and mentorship that will be available to you. If the opportunity offers strong experience aligned to your studies and career management, with clearly defined tasks and a strong supervisor, then you can go to the second review of paid or unpaid. 

If the opportunity is unpaid but still offering a high-quality experience look into why it is unpaid. Perhaps it is for a non-profit or small start-up, who absolutely needs the support, will offer you killer access to meetings, leadership, and networks, but couldn’t possibly find the budget to pay. Conversely, if looking internationally, many international internships are unable to offer pay, as no visa supports this, but nevertheless you will get great access to global connections and cross-cultural understanding.

If there is a valid reason for the unpaid status, and you have vetted the opportunity for quality, I would say that you are doing yourself a disservice by not applying. During the application process you can also find opportunities to see if there are other ways they can financially support you such as offering: coffee, breakfast or lunch at the workplace, covered or discounted transit, a small stipend, or an end of internship bonus. 

Finally, remember that when applying work experience to your resume, it does not matter if it was volunteer, unpaid, or paid, it is still important work experience that should be clearly noted with three to four strong bullet points explaining your role and key outcomes with quantifiable examples (ex. Supported customer support and retention through increased touchpoints and external communications, increasing contract renewals by 10% over six months).

— Jillian Low, Director of University Partnerships, CRCC Asia

Fifth Answer:

You should not do any internship. It puts you in a position where people assume you know nothing. 

Instead, launch a company, or a marketing campaign for someone else’s company. Spend three weeks selling services you will pay someone else to deliver. You Learn fastest by taking on big projects you have no idea how to do. Guess. Make mistakes. Try again. It’s ok because no one is paying you or firing you or telling you to do small jobs that are too easy to make errors. 
After you do this for two summers, you won’t be entry-level. You will have lots of experience. You might have some wins. You’ll have lots of failures.

You are middle management now. Because you can guide someone else through a high learning curve and fear of failure. 

You could never achieve that so fast in an internship. 

— Penelope Trunk, CEO, Quistic

Visit College Recruiter’s About Us page for more information about any of the above contributors or the other members of our Content Expert Board.

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Posted January 21, 2020 by

How do I get student loan forgiveness?

Student loan forgiveness simply means that you’re not required to re-pay the forgiven portion of your student loans. Let’s say that you borrowed $100,000 to pay for college. If $60,000 of that is forgiven, then you’re only going to need to repay $40,000.

A few ways of getting your college student loans forgiven:

  • Enlist in the military. Each branch offers a variety of programs with varying amounts available depending on factors such as your skillset and desired occupational field. As you can imagine, the Navy is going to cover more of your educational costs if you’re a nuclear propulsion specialist than if you’re mechanic.
  • Work for 10 years for a U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government or not-for-profit organization and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program forgives the remaining balance on your direct loans.
  • Work for a corporation that offers a tuition reimbursement program. Even some small companies like College Recruiter offer such programs because they’re essentially ways to provide employees with tax-free income. If we provide an employee with $1,500 toward college each year, that’s worth over $2,000 to those employees as it is tax-free. So, from the perspective of the employer, they can effectively give their employees $2,000 more in compensation but have it only cost $1,500. These programs are also great for recruitment and retention.

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Posted January 07, 2020 by

What are the soft skills needed to excel in STEM fields?

Employers value soft skills across all occupational fields, including science, technology, engineering, and math. In conversations that we have with employers of all sizes, the soft skills they most often mention include the ability to:

  • Work in a team;
  • Communicate verbally;
  • Make decisions and solve problems — often referred to as critical thinking skills;
  • Obtain and process information; and
  • Plan, organize, and prioritize work.

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Posted December 31, 2019 by

How do I robot-proof my career?

Throughout human history, automation has displaced people. The difference now is that automation is starting to displace those with the most rather than the least skills, and so the conventional answers about getting more education no longer apply.

The reality is that no one will be able to robot-proof their careers if they’re at the beginning of their working life as no one can predict which jobs will existing decades from now given the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence.

But some careers are less likely to be displaced by robots, artificial intelligence, and other automation than others. These include jobs where significant critical thinking skills are necessary, as artificial intelligence is far less advanced than self-serve kiosks where the critical thinking is actually performed by the customer. 

Posted December 26, 2019 by

Ask the Experts: What is the one piece of career-related advice that you would provide to a student or recent graduate searching for a part-time, seasonal, internship, and entry-level job?

First Answer:

Put your strongest credentials near the top of your resume. Whether it is coursework, projects, volunteering, GPA or strong “soft skills” lead with what you are best at. Keep tweaking your resume until it generates some –callbacks (phone screens), so you can tell your story in more detail.

— Jeff Dunn, Campus Relations Manager, Intel Corporation

Second Answer:

My advice would be a bad paraphrase of JFK:

Ask not what the company can do for you but what you can do for the company. Too many graduates forget to fully tailor their application approach in a bespoke way for the company they are applying for, and also tend to major on how the job/internship will benefit them rather than what value they will add to the organization. Focus on what you’ll bring and why you particularly want to work for that exact company. 

— Martin Edmondson, CEO, Gradcore

Third Answer:

My one piece of advice is that ALL work experience counts. Don’t hold out for your dream internship or even your dream entry-level job. You will switch jobs, positions, and careers many times throughout your lifetime. Nike says, “just do it.” I say, “just start somewhere.” Each experience matters and each experience helps you build skills.

— Vicky Oliver, author, 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions (Sourcebooks, 2005) and author Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers & Other Office Idiots (Sourcebooks, 2008)

Fourth Answer:

In my role as a digital marketer, I would advise students or recent graduate to fully explore every career-related channel a company has to offer. To make an educated and career decision, it is important to understand how a company works and values its employers inside and outside the workplace.

— Lorenz V. Esposito, Digital Marketing Specialist, Potentialpark

Fifth Answer:

Make it count. By that I mean, get all you can out of the experience.

  • Where possible, seek out a job that taps into something you’re curious about. Interested in drones? Check out what jobs are involved in drone pilot training. Spend hours on YouTube? Look into jobs at a local video production company. Planning to be an entrepreneur? Look for small business owners locally who need some end of year or seasonal help so you can see up close what it’s like to run a business. 
  • Think about what you want to get out of the experience. Are there skills you want to learn? People you want to talk to? Types of work you want to try? Craft this ahead of time, and add to it while at your job so you’re learning about what fits you every step of the way. It’ll make bigger decisions down the line far easier.
  • Make the most of the jobs you hate. Ideally, these will be short-lived, but spending time getting clear on WHAT you hate about the work, the environment, the management style, the commute, the industry and so on helps you avoid more of this later on. I’ve learned far more from these jobs than I did from most of the others.

— Pam Baker, CEO, Journeous

Sixth Answer:

Skip the entry-level jobs. They waste your time because the pay is low, people don’t respect entry-level employees, and the jobs take a long time to get because there are so many people with no experience and it’s difficult for hiring managers to figure out who to hire when no one is particularly qualified. 

Look at the jobs that require 3 – 5 years of experience. Find a job that is in the location you are now that you’d like to have in a couple of years. Make a list of all the experience the job requires that you do not have. Hire a professional resume writer to see if they can spin your current — probably random and temporary — experience into the experience employers are looking for. 

Here’s are some examples from real people who have hired me to make their resume look like they are beyond entry-level:

I changed this: Collected emails from the staff and put them into the support email folder so everyone could access client information. 

To this: Reorganized customer service systems to streamline inter-departmental cooperation and decrease customer service wait time. 

Both bullets describe the boring and low-level task of data entry for client emails. But the rewritten bullet uses the language of someone who has worked in business and understands how to impact the bottom line. Additionally, the second bullet looks at the work from a high-level which implies that the person doing the work was at a higher level. 

A smart resume writer can do this with all your experience to make your resume read like you have much more experience than you do. 

After you have a new resume, you will see yourself differently. You’ll start to believe that you ARE actually qualified for higher-level positions. Then you’re ready for the next step. 

Make a list of the qualifications an employer lists for the job you want. Pull out any qualifications you don’t have. You can get that experience right now, this week, before you start applying for jobs. Make the most recent job on your resume freelancing. And make the dates the last few years. Because we are all freelancers. We all help other people talk through ideas for a wide range of things. That’s what friends do. 

As a freelancer, you can say you did anything. Because you can choose to do anything. You don’t have to get paid. A resume is about what you’ve done. Not about who paid and who didn’t. So, for example, if you want to get a job that requires have done a social media campaign, do one, for any company, and write a bullet about it. If you need experience giving presentations, give one to your friend and then write a bullet about it. 

When you’re in the interview, you can talk about whatever you did. You don’t need to say you did it for free. You don’t need to confess that no one cared at all about what you did. Because really, if everyone confessed how stupid their bullets were, and how fake their job duties were, then no one in the world would be able to write a resume. But that’s for another discussion! 

— Penelope Trunk, CEO, Quistic

Visit College Recruiter’s About Us page for more information about any of the above contributors or the other members of our Content Expert Board.

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Posted December 17, 2019 by

What skills are becoming increasingly important to employers of accounting and other math-related majors?

At College Recruiter, we’ve seen a huge shift over the past couple of years by large accounting and consulting firms, Fortune 1,000 companies, and federal government agencies to hiring students and recent graduates based more upon their soft than hard skills.

Critical thinking skills, for example, have become far more important and the perceived strength of the school’s brand has become far less important. Why? Because more and more employers are looking not at where they’ve traditionally hired the most people from or even their cost-per-hire but instead to where they sourced their most productive employees.

What employers of accounting and other math-related majors are finding is that they can teach someone how to read a balance sheet but they can’t feasibly teach them how to think critically.

Posted December 10, 2019 by

What’s a common resume tip that is actually really bad advice?

One of the most common and most harmful recommendations is to send a video or otherwise graphically enhanced resume to any medium- or large-sized employer that does not explicitly ask for one.

Why? Because the vast majority of them use applicant tracking systems (ATS), and almost none of these are able to handle video or graphics. Candidates who rely upon video or graphics to communicate their qualifications or career interests put themselves at a significant disadvantage when applying to jobs advertised by these employers.

Posted December 03, 2019 by

2 ways to stand out after a job interview

There are many ways for an applicant to stand out after being interviewed for a job. Here are just two.

First, bring with you to the interview some pre-stamped envelopes with thank you note cards. Immediately after you’re interviewed and have left the building, handwrite a quick thank you note to each person who interviewed you with a reference in each note to something that they said so they’ll know that your note was customized. Get those into the local mail that same day. The interviewers will likely receive the note the next business day, which will really impress them.

Second, once every week or two, email the interviews a note to confirm your continuing interest and provide them with a link or attach a scan of an article etc. that you’ve seen that may be of interest to them, such as something interesting that the press wrote about their company or one of their vendors or customers. You’d be surprised how many recruiters and hiring managers will assume that silence from a candidate indicates lack of interest.

Posted November 26, 2019 by

What’s the best career advice College Recruiter’s founder wishes he had received early in his career?

Probably the best career advice that I ever received came from Marvin Granath, senior vice president for the Human Resources – Legal office of Honeywell Inc.

Marv was my boss for the last year that I was at Honeywell and he reported to the CEO. What Marv taught me — both verbally and by allowing me to watch him in action — was the importance of building a strong network and using corporate politics not just for his benefit but the company’s. 

Marv planted seeds every hour of every day. He continually looked for ways of creating win-win situations by helping others accomplish their personal and corporate goals. He did so not on a quid pro quo basis but instead knowing that some of his assistance would go unrewarded but some would greatly help him reach his personal and corporate goals. When he needed help, people throughout the company would be eager to do whatever they could, not just because it was their job but because they truly wanted to help him as a tangible way of showing him their appreciation for the help he had provided to them days, weeks, months, or even years earlier and without precondition. 

Marv passed away a decade ago, but he continues to inspire me.

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Posted November 19, 2019 by

Why are so many parents obsessed with getting their kids into ‘elite’ schools?

Parents and students are obsessed with getting into the “best” college or university largely for status reasons but also for rational, economic reasons. Somehow, if your kid gets into an elite university, that makes you a better parent in the eyes of some, but that’s truly unfortunate has allowed the banks and higher education industries to redistribute to themselves and their shareholders enormous amounts of wealth from the middle class. 

However, there are good, rational, economic reasons to enroll in and graduate from an elite college: your chances are higher of landing a well-paying job with a well known and respected employer. Most of the best known and respected employers recruit the bulk of their professional, entry-level talent from colleges and universities and for decades they’ve done so largely by sending recruiters and hiring managers to interview on college campuses.

Fortunately, an increasing minority of employers are looking at their outcomes data — which employees are the most productive — and are finding that there is a weak and sometimes negative correlation between the perceived quality of the school and productivity of the employee. That is leading these employees to become school agnostic, meaning that they are being more inclusive in their hiring by reducing or eliminating their on-campus hiring efforts in favor of hiring through job boards and other Internet sites.