LAS in CU Internship Fair for English/CW Majors: FAQ

 

Should I go? Why?

  • If you’re looking for a part-time spring internship, or a summer internship in the CU area, all of the employers at this event are local and looking for spring and summer internships.
  • If you’re not sure about an internship right now, this fair is an opportunity to learn about some of the options that are available to you locally.
  • If you’ve never been to a career fair before, this event is a smaller and friendly opportunity to learn how a fair works and practice talking to employers.

How do I prepare?

  • Brush up your resume (or write one if you never have before). Print out several copies to bring with you.
  • Go to the Handshake site for the event, and check out the list of employers who will be coming. Read up on a few that are of particular interest to you, and think of some good q questions to ask the representative who will be at the fair.
  • Think about what YOU could bring to that opportunity: yours skills, your relevant experience, your interest in the work the organization does. Be prepared to work it into conversation.

What should I wear?

You do NOT need a black suit for this fair, but you should dress professionally: good slacks or a skirt, a collared shirt or professional-looking top, a jacket if you have one, shoes that aren’t sneakers or hiking boots or flip-flops. Wearing the right thing is less important than not wearing the wrong thing: avoid t-shirts, hoodies, athletic wear, jeans, inappropriate accessories, ill-kempt clothes.

Do I need to stay for the whole thing? Should I try to talk to every employer?

No and no. It’s small enough that you could talk to everyone there, but you’re probably better off talking to three or four employers that you’ve researched and prepared for, and then a couple more if time permits. You can show up at any point while the fair is going on, and leave whenever you wish — but generally, the earlier you can get there the better, just because energies flag as the afternoon wears on.

Are there opportunities for non-STEM people?

YES. Elected officials from both ends of the spectrum will be there looking for interns of various kinds. State Farm needs Strategic Resources interns (which can mean a lot of different things, depending on the kinds of projects they’re trying to staff), Japan House wants interns with interests in cross-cultural education and exploration, ATLAS makes it a practice to place non-tech students in tech-related positions…and so on.

Where do I learn more about this fair?

On Handshake.

When and where is it?

IMonday, November 6, 3:30pm – 6pm, in Illini Union B&C.

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.

 

Making the Most of the Alumni Connection on LinkedIn

Sometimes, the Department of English Alumni Mentoring Network is not enough. Say you’re interested in a specific industry that isn’t represented there, or you’d like insider information on a particular company or you’re looking to relocate and want to start building a network in your new city. Here’s a useful article on how LinkedIn can help you connect with play-stone-1237497_1920Illinois English alumni beyond our mentoring network.

Not sure how to write to a stranger who just happened to graduate from the same program as you? Consult our guide on how to write a “cold email.

Recommendation Letters?!?

thumbs-up-1197306_1280If you’re applying to graduate school, you will definitely need letters of recommendation from your professors. But what about if you’re thinking about a future job search, not grad school?

Opinions vary!

According to The Intern Queen, if you’re coming up on the end of a summer job or internship, you should absolutely ask for a recommendation letter to show future employers. She tells you why and explains how in this short video:

This columnist from Forbes sort-of agrees: “In the past, obtaining recommendation letters was a requirement of the job search process. Today, not as much. Now, this step is considered optional, but savvy job seekers understand that it can help give them an edge when it comes to obtaining a position.”

But not everyone is so sure. This writer argues

letters of recommendation are not valued much by employers outside of academe. Why? Because skeptical employers think you wrote the letter for the reference to sign; because it’s written in advance, the writer’s had time to soften your weaknesses or omit them, and write those glowing phrases of praise; because it doesn’t permit the employer to ask his or her own questions.

Many people get jobs without recommendations in their job-search toolkit. However, it is vital to have references whom prospective employers can contact.  Click here for some useful advice on choosing and soliciting good references.

Bottom line: if you feel comfortable asking for a job recommendation letter, go ahead and do so.  It can’t hurt, and somewhere down the line it might help. But staying in touch with potential references and maintaining your network might be a better use of your time.