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Learn From Me: Be Internship Ready By Starting Early

Guest Blogger: Caroline Tully, Finance, Class of 2021

When I first arrived on Lehigh’s campus, I had no clue what career I wanted to pursue or even how to get started. I was immediately overwhelmed with the possibilities of different career paths and didn’t know where to begin. As a current junior and Finance major with an internship secured for summer 2020, here are some insights I discovered when going through the career process that I believe will be helpful to any Lehigh student.

First: Visit the Career Center

I think the first step is getting a head start into the career process by taking advantage of the career resources starting freshmen year. Options like walk in hours during Career Lab or the Handshake resource page are great ways to learn the basics and get help. Too many students wait until junior year to utilize all the incredibly helpful resources that the Career Center has to offer and regret waiting so long to make an appointment. Walking into the career center as an underclassman can feel intimidating, but all the staff who work in the career center are dedicated, welcoming professionals who are invested in your future and want to guide you in the right direction. The process of deciding on a career path can be stressful and scary, but the Career Center staff are there to ease your nerves and help with your success.

Looking back on my experience, I am so thankful that I started early and sought out the necessary guidance that I needed to best prepare for internship applications, networking and interview skills. The advice, guidance and reassurance that I have received throughout my years as a Lehigh student has been crucial in my success. The career center is an inclusive, supportive place that’s open to all majors and school years.

Here are a few questions I would recommend asking at Career Lab:

  • What are the buzz words I should incorporate into my resume?

  • When do the internships in my industry typically open applications?

  • What technical skills are important for me to learn to give me an advantage in my field?

  • How can I build confidence for an interview?

Whether you need help editing your resume, practicing a mock interview or have general questions about a career path, the career center is a great place to go, so stop by Maginnes Hall 500 (which also happens to be brand new renovated space!)

Second: Set up your Handshake account

A great way to get ahead on the career process is to set up a Handshake account.

  • Handshake is a great resource that allows you to create a customized internship search and easily apply to opportunities. Don’t wait until your junior year to start applying to internship programs and assume that there are no opportunities for underclassmen -- not true! There are great sophomore leadership programs that many companies offer and many internships also allow freshman to apply. Submit your resume to anything that sparks your interest, regardless of your school year.

  • Connect with students from across the country and review profiles to see what internships other students have completed, at Lehigh or many other schools. Use the filters to find students in your academic major or at companies of interest and then use the message tool to ask for their advice on your internship search, application, or interview process.

  • Handshake also allows you to view upcoming career expos and employer events at Lehigh. Take note of events that help you build your networking skills or connect with companies or alum. Many events happen right here on campus, you should make it a priority to attend!

  • Use every opportunity to practice your interview skills and learn interview basics via the Interview tile on the Resource page. Completing a practice interview as an underclassmen also helps alleviate the stress of having your first major interview as a junior when trying to secure your dream internship. Being able to gain real world practice is invaluable and will be sure to help guide you on the path to success.

To date I have applied to many positions on Handshake and attended multiple networking events and Career coaching appointments. These opportunities were all available to me through Handshake access. This past summer I attended a networking event in New York City that I had heard about through Handshake. This event allowed me to meet dedicated Lehigh alum and ultimately ended up being a direct path that led me to my current internship offer for next summer.

Third: Network as soon as possible

The power of the Lehigh Alumni network is something that is brought up frequently when hearing different success stories. Explore the Lehigh alumni network on LinkedIn and check out Lehigh Connects, both incredible resources for Lehigh students. Lehigh alumni are enthusiastic supporters of current Lehigh students and want to help those succeed. Utilizing the Lehigh alumni network as an underclassman is a great way that you can end up finding a mentor that can guide you as you begin your internship/job search as an upperclassman. LinkedIn is an easy way to get connected with Lehigh alumni. Connecting with Lehigh alumni through LinkedIn served as a great resource for me this past summer when I was interviewing for positions where current Lehigh alumni worked. The alumni that I connected with were so generous with their time and advice, simply because I was a Lehigh student.

For example, I used Lehigh Connects to prepare for a conference I attended this summer. Before the event, I reached out on Lehigh Connects with messages to several Lehigh alum from the company hosting the event to ask about their experiences. As a result I was able to arrange several phone calls with Lehigh alum, ask questions to help me feel more prepared for the conference but also get to know the company better, and overall feel l had made connections to an employer I wanted to work for.

Hi (alumni name),

I'm a rising junior at Lehigh University and I'm attending the J.P. Morgan Chase Commercial Banking Winning Women Conference on August 12-13 in New York City. I'm extremely interested in this opportunity and curious to learn more about Lehigh graduates' insights and experiences at JPMorgan. If you have some free time next week I'd love to chat with you briefly about your experience so far. I'm available on August 7-August 9 any time at your convenience. Thank you so much!

- Caroline Tully

Fourth: Show up!

The most important step to success at Lehigh is simply to show up. There are so many incredible resources and opportunities that Lehigh has to offer that are right at your fingertips from the first day you step foot on campus. Whether it is drop in office hours, a company visit, club meeting, or casual networking session with Lehigh alumni, the hardest part is putting yourself out there. Once you step out of your comfort zone and utilize the resources around you, opportunities will follow.

If I have learned anything from my experience at Lehigh is the importance of being proactive. You can never start too early. Use every experience you can as practice for the real thing and show up! Now as a junior, the importance of getting a jump start on the career process has become remarkably clear and has allowed me to secure a summer 2020 Investment Banking internship in New York City, before even stepping foot on campus the first day of junior year. As a result, I am able to complete my junior year with alleviated stress and best prepare for next summer. The wide range of opportunities that Lehigh has provided me and the fantastic guidance I have received from the Career Center have been instrumental in my success.

Special thank you to Business Career Coach Christine Russell and the Career Coaching team in the Center for Career & Professional Development.

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