Career Fairs: Getting Prepared over Winter Break

The career fair season will be getting underway just a few weeks after you get back to campus. Here’s the lineup for Spring 2017:

Here are some things to to do NOW to get ready.

  1. Figure out which fairs you will attend and why. There are lots of reasons, beyond getting a summer internship or post graduation job: to learn more about jobs and employers that might interest you, to practice your interviewing/networking skills, to get to know employers that you’d like to work with after you graduate.
  2. Start researching (where possible) the employers that you would like to talk to. I-Link is already listing the employers who will be attending the Business Career Fair.
  3. Fill any gaps in your wardrobe. Contrary to what you may have heard, suits are NOT a requirement. A suit may help you make a good impression at the Business Career Fair, but it will just show you to be out of place at the Arts and Culture Fair or the Startup Fair. Some good business casual pieces (slacks, skirts, collared shirts, professional-looking tops, jacket, dress shoes) will help you look professionally appropriate in a range of contexts.
  4. Update your resume (or create one if you haven’t yet). 
  5. Think about how you will introduce yourself to potential employers. You don’t need to memorize an elevator pitch, but you should be prepared to start a conversation in which you can point out your relevant skills and experience.

 

When to Start Looking for Summer Internships, Revisited

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#WOCintech chat

It’s a question we get a lot here in English Advising:

when should one start looking for summer internships?  

We answered it in October, but as summmer 2017 draws closer, it’s time to answer it again.

The answer? Yes.

Which is to say, it’s never too soon to start

  •  thinking about what kind of a summer internship you want;
  • considering your options: can you manage on an unpaid internship or do you need a summer income? Do you need to live at home or can you relocate for the summer?
  •  researching the existing internship opportunities with companies you know you want to work with;
  • following various job boards and seeing what opportunities come up; and
  • preparing your resume(s).

English, unlike some other majors, has no set time-frame for finding internships. How could it? Narrower, more career-focused majors channel students towards a handful of corporations that aggressively recruit students for specific entry-level positions. In these fields, internships have evolved as a cost-effective way for companies to identify potential long-term hires.

Some English and creative-writing majors choose to compete for those kinds of internship programs. A degree in English doesn’t limit you, however, to large-scale corporate recruiting opportunities. You have choices that are not always available to students in other majors, about how and where you want to apply your skills. Nonprofits? Small start-ups? Large foundations? An in-house communications department? A marketing/PR consultancy? A small or midsize business? Do you want to solve the world’s problems? Make a lot of money? Do a job when you’re always learning? Work one-on-one helping people?

The internships you seek will vary, depending on your goals, and so will their deadlines.

If you want a summer internship and you haven’t started looking, NOW would be a good time to start.

  • Start checking I-Link regularly to see what employers are already looking for summer interns.
  • If you are willing to relocate for the summer, look at the websites of your dream employers to see if they offer internships. MANY do! Internships at media and entertainment companies that you’ve heard of tend to be highly competitive, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t make the attempt.
  • Check Bookjobs.com for internships in the publishing industry.
  • Check Idealist.org for summer internships at nonprofits.
  • Prepare to attend the winter and spring campus career fairs. Research the companies who will be there and go with a plan to talk to the specific employers that interest you.
  • Is there an organization you’d like to work for that doesn’t have an internship program? Some places may be open to working with you to create an opportunity.
  • Keep in mind that some local opportunities (e.g., the UIntern program) may not be advertised until the spring semester is underway.

Internships are not the only path to professional experience. They can be a great way to explore your options and start networking, but other summer activities may better equip you for your particular goals: a part-time or summer job that builds your skills, volunteer work with an organization that interests you, intensive involvement in your RSO, or time devoted to a project of your own.

 

 

 

2017 Winter/Spring Career Fairs

The fall and winter breaks are a good time to start thinking about the winter and spring career fairs.

  • Start getting your resume ready. Yes, you will need one–come talk to Kirstin Wilcox, kwilcox@illinois.edu, if you’d like help.
  • Learn more about how to find success at a career fair by reading our English//CW Majors’ Guide to Career Fairs.
  • Sign up for ENGL 199-MMM: Career and Internship Fair Preparation (online, first eight weeks of spring semester).

Here’s the Winter/Spring Lineup

Business Career Fair, Feb. 1 and 2, 2pm to 6pm at the ARC. It’s not just for College of Business students! At the fall fair, nearly a third of the employers were recruiting majors from the LAS. It’s huge, so that means a lot of employers. The key to success is using I-Link to identify the recruiters that interest you. Go on I-Link and click “Events” in the lefthand tab. It will be in “Career Fairs.” Click on the number of employers to bring up a search screen. Use the pull-down menu under “Advanced Search” to isolate the employers seeking “all majors.” A few that caught my eye were Cambridge Publishing, Huron Consulting, Signature Consulting, Teach for America, and Wells Fargo.  They provide links to give you information about the positions they’re specifically recruiting for at the career fair, as well as other openings in the company. Note that the fair runs for two days and companies only attend for one of those, so make note of when the companies you want to talk to will be there.

Illini Career and Internship Fair, Apr. 5, noon to 4pm at the ARC. This career fair .has a number of employers coming who are specifically interested in liberal arts majors with strong communications skills. You can find information about the employers who are coming on I-Link (find “Career Fairs” under “Events” in the left-hand tab). You should review all the entries and click through to find out specifically the positions they seek to fill, but some companies of particular interest to English and Creative Writing majors are Cintas, City Year, Epic, Hartford, Jellyvision, Mindshare, and the Peace Corps.

At both fairs, the kinds of positions that English and CW majors should look out for:

  • Education. Nonprofit organizations like City Year, Teach for America, the Peace Corps, College Possible, and various school districts often come and are looking to fulfill a variety of roles–not just teaching, but also program administration and support.
  • Recruiting. These jobs involve helping companies seek out, interview, and hire talented workers–it’s a great first step to a career in HR. Requires excellent people skills and sometimes requires a lot of travel.
  • Management training programs (sometimes called rotational programs or leadership programs). These positions are often 1- to 2-year gigs that involve getting experience in all parts of a company’s operations, prior to getting placed in a permanent position. It’s a good opportunity for people who have a lot of skills and potential–including leadership experience–but aren’t really sure what they want to do with it.
  • Marketing and communications These positions vary widely, so it’s good to read job description carefully! Some positions are market research positions (which require fairly intensive technical/quantitative skills for data analysis) but some are not. Event planning, PR, content development and strategy, are all jobs that can come under this heading.
  • Claims analyst, client management, customer support.  Many industries, from insurance companies to software developers, need good communicators who can be the face of the company, the first point of contact when clients draw on their services or customers need help. These jobs take many different forms and involve a wide range of skills, but they generally require people who are comfortable with ambiguity and can negotiate conflicts.
  • Sales. Every business needs more customers. Even if a career in sales isn’t your dream, these positions are often a point of entry into a business or an industry that interests you.

Stay tuned for news of two additional specialized career fairs of interest to English and CW majors: The Arts and Culture Career Fair in Chicago and the Educators Career Fair.

 

Guest Post: Surviving the FOCUS Job Fair

By Ana V. Fleming, Communications Intern, Department of English

IMG_3446(1)Career fairs. Consistently throughout my three, going on four, years here at the University of Illinois, that phrase has terrified me–along with all the things that go with it: pressure, elevator pitches, resumes, business casual. However, after attending a number of career fairs on campus —and similar events, like corporate after-hours and part-time job fairs—I’ve grown less averse to the idea.

For instance, I recently attended the FOCUS part-time job and internship fair at the Illini Union as a senior in English. (I also attended the Department of Computer Science’s Corporate After Hours a couple of weeks ago, seeking out UI/UX design positions—I was even more of a fish out of water there!) At FOCUS, many of the students around me were from the College of Fine and Applied Arts, and many of the opportunities offered at the event were centered on graphic design (though, not all of them—there were opportunities for marketing, communications, videography, social media, and even content-development positions, among others that I probably missed). Personally, I was there seeking both writing positions and design positions; thus, I grew worried that the abundance of FAA students around me would overwhelm my chances of wrangling some of those design opportunities.

However, the fair wasn’t overly crowded, and the stakes were pretty low, so I decided to talk to as many of the represented companies and colleges (for instance, the College of ACES was there) as possible. As it turns out, most of the representatives were happy to speak with me, and each one that I spoke to took my resume for reference, regardless of whether or not they had any current openings that matched my skill set. At each booth, I asked about the kinds of jobs and internships the different companies had available, the expectations in terms of hours and pay, and their goals for the semester (or upcoming semesters). In return, they asked me about my familiarity with the company, my knowledge of certain software, and whether or not I was interested in the projects they were recruiting for.

While the fair represented around twenty companies, and I only had the time to talk to about eight of them, I could already perceive a wealth of opportunities. Everyone had been perfectly happy to talk to me, and no one made any assumptions about my competence in regards to writing or design—rather, they gave me the chance to discuss my experience and describe my capabilities. The event was pretty casual, and I walked out of the Illini Union Ballroom with the knowledge that, at the very least, I was exposed to some new opportunities, I had links to some applications in hand, and, through mere exposure and repetition, I was slightly less intimidated by career fairs and interview-style interactions than I had been walking in there (even IMG_3448(1)as a senior).

Enormous fairs like the Engineering Career Fair and Business Career Fair can be a lot to tackle at the beginning of the semester, but they are by no means the only opportunities to connect with companies. If you’re ever wondering whether or not you should attend a career fair, I’d suggest going for it, especially when smaller, more focused events like the aptly-named FOCUS are within your reach.