Job Searching: Who has the real advantage?
If your next job wasn’t found at the Career Expo, that might be a good thing. Here’s how learning to job or internship search off campus will set you up with a skill set you will use many times during your career.
In the Career Center we focus on helping students understand the many internship or job search steps available and customize career plans based on students’ academic and career interests. For CAS students, most commonly those steps involve exploring job boards including Handshake but often extend to other sites like indeed, Linkedin or idealist. It’s also important for CAS students to gather information from professional networks like Lehigh Connects, in order to understand industry hiring trends and timelines based on their career interests. CAS students are encouraged to prepare for on-site interviews, which often take place at an employer’s location and not on campus. In the Career Center we stress taking the time to research and determine a "fit" within an industry or company and CAS students are taught how to do company research, job shadow and collect information on company culture in addition to identifying open job opportunities.
There is a misconception that the career expo is the only way to job search, but that’s just one possible way to connect to an employer or company. Research shows that millennials job hop, and the job search skills taught in the Career Center are applicable now and in the future when students make a job or industry change. For the students who had luck at the expo, their next job search will not include employers coming to them. So who has the real advantage? A CAS student who can replicate the job search steps he/she learned while at Lehigh or the student who has to learn a new process that does not involve a job fair?
Industry professionals who come to campus also teach CAS students about how their industry organizes hiring. Recently at the CAS Careers Panel that was held the day following the career expo, five CAS alumni shared their job and internship prep and search advice which did not include attending the career expo, because recruiter attendance is not typical for their industries. The panelists stressed how industry research will allow students to understand hiring norms, processes and timelines that often significantly differ from business and engineering industries. In defense of CAS, those processes are not harder or easier, they simply differ when compared to business or engineering norms. In addition, Career Meet Ups and Executive in Residence Days bring industry professionals to campus for CAS students. These are opportunities to learn from Lehigh alum who are now established professionals in a wide variety of industries, all with unique applications, timelines and employers who are looking for CAS related skills and educational backgrounds. It’s time for students to realize comparisons between academic colleges have no fair outcomes when it comes to job and internship searching, students across the Lehigh campus have success when they customize their approach based on industry research.
Taylor Pistone (IDEAS, ‘21) recently had success with her internship search. She shared “As a first-year searching through Handshake for the first time, I struggled with finding opportunities for my field in CAS since I felt there was a strong demand for business majors. However, I was able to speak with the career center in regards to customizing my handshake account and LinkedIn profile and found that there were internship options for me. The career center aided me crafting my resume and CV to send to various internships that I found through multiple sources from the career center, including networking. I feel that it is imperative for students to take initiative when looking for internships and/or jobs, and to not feel discouraged if you have to go a different path than your contemporaries in business. The timelines vary for every major and it is important to keep this in mind when we find ourselves comparing our opportunities to others.”
Holly Rubloff (International Relations, ’20) also learned about internship steps and timelines this past spring while she worked with a Career Coach to apply to positions. She said “As an arts and science student, it is daunting when all your business and engineering friends already have summer internships lined up in the fall. You are left to wonder whether or not you missed deadlines, but the truth is that you are on an entirely different timeline. I sent out a total of 20 applications throughout the semester, and May 30th was the first day that I finally heard back. Despite how long it took, my summer internship with a small NGO, Friendship Ambassadors Foundation, was extremely fulfilling. I encourage you to keep searching and applying regardless of how late you feel it may be, and don’t compare yourself to friends on other career paths. Every industry has a different timeline, and sometimes the perfect internship is the one you get at the end of May.”
Learning job search steps that happen off campus, through a professional network, or on public job boards is not an indicator of a challenge, but instead represent a process that leads to success for students now and young professionals in the future. This is a call to action for all students, you are responsible for your career preparation, let the Career Center help and connect to your resources.