Your Career Q&A: Summer Internships Can Lead to New Jobs

 

By Martin Yate May 14, 2019
LIKE SAVE

​Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column. 

How would you advise someone who is a recent grad in IT on the best way to highlight her skills?

This is an important question for any new graduate, because a good start creates a solid foundation for future career growth.

Making the right hire is critical for every hiring manager, whose top priority is to get work done through the efforts of others in the department. Good managers know hires are best made based on the candidates' verifiable track record and credentials, as well as their potential.

The challenge for a new grad in any profession is how to make much out of little without lying. In other words, what you say as a candidate about your knowledge and experience must be defensible and reasonable. Most entry-level candidates have little or no real-world experience, so leverage any relevant course work and lessons learned in internships or part-time jobs. But don't exaggerate or lie. Research the job's daily responsibilities and show your eagerness to take on and learn to deal with those issues efficiently.

Before You Graduate, Land an Internship

It has been said for a few years now that internships are the new first job, and, in many ways, they really are. They:

  • Demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment to the profession.
  • Give you real workplace experience.
  • Expose you to the demands of professional behavior in the workplace.

Say a manager is faced with choosing between an entry-level candidate with zero workplace experience and a candidate who has workplace experience (and ideally has demonstrated commitment and enthusiasm through internships). The decision is obvious: She hires the one with the credentials, not the one who can offer only potential.

College students should try to find internships as often as possible. College recruiters say that they often hire before campus job fairs occur; they choose from interns they've worked with.

The worst-case scenario is a college student who thinks internships and job preparation can wait until after summer break. My best advice is to wake up and smell the coffee! Start your job search now, during your school breaks, with two angles of attack:

  • Find an internship that will give you real-world experience, or
  • Pursue an entry-level job in your chosen profession that you hold during your studies.

Remember, summer internships can be easier to land. Employees are taking their vacations, and some of your peers are too burned out from school to seek serious summer jobs.

How to Target the Right Job

A young graduate must decide on a target job because the all-important resume needs to be focused. If the resume lacks focus, it is likely to be lost in the enormous resume database, never to be seen again.

With a specific job in mind, and hopefully some internship experience to cite, the grad can compare a number of job postings for that title and see how each employer prioritizes the responsibilities. On the resume, reflect both the priorities and the language of the job description to make it more discoverable in database searches.

Learn to Write Your Resume

A resume should always start with a target job title and be followed by a performance summary. This is a short paragraph that identifies the skills you have, based on what the employer has said it needs.

As a recent grad, you aren't going to have all the experience requested, and you're not expected to. But you don't have to take yourself out of the running. For example, if a job requires "experience in U/X design," and you don't have that experience, tell the hiring manager you are "eager to develop my U/X design skills." This will make your resume more discoverable as well as attractive to a hiring manager.

Your resume should not be a recitation of what you think is important. Rather, it should reflect an objective analysis of what skills and traits the employer is looking for and how you can provide them.

Have a question for Martin about advancing or managing your career? From big issues to small, please feel free to e-mail your queries to YourCareerQA@shrm.org. We'll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know.

Packed with practical, honest, real-world guidance for successfully navigating common HR career challenges, Martin Yate's new book, The HR Career Guide: Great Answers to Tough Career Questions, is available at the SHRMStore. Order your copy today!

LIKE SAVE

Job Finder

Find an HR Job Near You
Search Jobs
Post a Job

Earn a SHRM Talent Acquisition Specialty Credential.

Do you have what it takes to win the war for talent? Find out.

Do you have what it takes to win the war for talent? Find out.

LEARN MORE

SPONSOR OFFERS

Find the Right Vendor for Your HR Needs

SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 10,000 companies

Search & Connect
temp_image