Job and Internship Search Process
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As a student in the College of Arts & Sciences, you are gaining key skills that are highly sought after by employers in all sectors: critical thinking, problem-solving, communication skills, collaboration, an open-minded attitude and perseverance. Your liberal arts degree will open up doors and lead to a higher earning potential, as well as a richer life.
After graduation I will work for Schlumberger, an oilfield service company, as a geophysicist. Down the line, I hope to be applying my knowledge of geology and economics to help solve the sometimes divisive and contentious issues facing the energy and mineral resource industries today. -Caitlin McDonnell '15
Applying for a job involves creating a resume, narrowing down the choices from among millions, buying a suit (or figuring out if you are supposed to look more casual or hip for the interview), researching employers, crafting a cover letter, interviewing and navigating the offer process.
This all takes time and attention. Fortunately, there are people to help! Arts & Sciences Career Development employs a career counselor, two career advisors, an events coordinator/professional etiquette consultant, and four well trained student career ambassadors to help you navigate the job or internship search process.
This page offers resources for connecting with employers; however, the most effective job search begins with a plan. Make an appointment today to work with a career advisor to create a plan tailored to your goals. Arts & Sciences staff can also talk with you about marketing your liberal arts education to employers. You definitely want to have at least two career-related experiences going into your senior year.
The experience you gain through student organizations (including sororities & fraternities), service work, research, athletics, and employment will help you determine what you like and don't like. Through these experiences you will further develop the skills in which employers are most interested such as communication, teamwork and initiative. Skill building and exploration are important parts of not just the process of finding a job, but as part of your life-long learning. Check out the Explore Career Fields cards to give you ideas and resources as a starting point. Once you have identified one or a few target career fields, use this page to find helpful field-specific information.
If you are stumped and trying to figure out where to begin, here is a rough outline of what you can do to make the best use of your time spent in the job search:
- Explore options to get a general idea of what you would like to do.
- Research your industry/career field of interest, including its hiring timeline.
- Once you have a sense of what you want to do, two-three more meetings with our staff will make a huge impact on your search:
- Schedule a resume critique – Click here to check walk-in hours, schedule an appointment or attend a group resume critique session.
- Plan a strategy meeting to discuss resources, make connections with people in your field, and develop a plan of action.
- Set up a mock interview.
Though most internship interviews occur in the Spring, keep in mind that some highly competitive internships, such as withTime Magazine, the U.S. Department of State, the CIA, and some on-campus recruiting employers will have application deadlines as early as October for summer opportunities. It's important to start your search early so you don't miss out on opportunities.
We invite you to check in with us throughout your search and offer process; however, with these basic steps you will be well on your way to successfully managing your career development process.
Speaking with a career advisor helped me through the entire application process. She was able to point me to an alumna who was invaluable in helping me get the job, walk through the online application with me, and prep me for my interview. I learned a lot about myself through this process, and my career advisor helped me to be more objective in looking at my own personal strengths and weaknesses. Not only did this help me get the job, but I know it will prove invaluable in future workplace endeavors! - Alexandra Skinnion ‘14
Know the Industry
Researching Employers and Industries for Your Job Search
To be a top candidate, you need to demonstrate knowledge of the organization, its mission, main products and services, current initiatives and latest news. You also need to know about the position, qualifications and core responsibilities. Think about what else you would want to know before accepting an offer and make a list of questions. Do your homework and bring unanswered questions to your interview.
View the organization’s website. Look at the sections most relevant to the advertised position while also getting a feel for the organization as a whole. Look at the career page for application and interview tips.
Conduct a web search. Is the organization in the news lately? What other sites link to the organization and why?
Read up on industry news and trends. How might your potential employer be affected by current events?
Sign-up for the organization's news feed (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook).
Talk with people in your network. Attend employer information sessions if available on-campus.
Always try to speak with someone at the organization before applying for the job or at least before the interview. This is the best way to learn about the organizational culture and values. If you have your heart set on a particular organization, try to make connections with employees before jobs are even posted. Keep the conversation open. This is not just about the one position you are aware of or getting a job right now, it's about establishing a relationship built on mutual interests and gathering information to inform your career exploration and job search.
Check LinkedIn for 2nd degree connections or alumni at the organization. Get introduced and ask for a 15-minute informational interview.
Talk with people who've left the organization for more candid feedback on the office climate.
Look at which skills and experiences are most common among recent hires.
Build a list of about 50 potential employers, using sites such as Hoovers.com, CareerSearch, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn.
Follow these employers on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.
Create lists of employers by location, size, industry or other matters of importance.
CareerSearch allows you to download a list into Excel so you can add columns to track your contacts, job postings, and applications.
Use the "Similar" button when searching for employers on LinkedIn, which will help you find employers with similar features.
Uniworld helps you identify American firms and their locations in other countries as well as firms based in other countries with locations in the United States.
Why do you want this job? What do you know about this industry?
You may think that because you are applying to your first job or internship, you don’t need to show industry knowledge, but that is not the case. Recruiters consistently want students who have done their homework and can speak intelligently about the job and the industry to which they are applying.
This may seem daunting, but if you plan ahead, this knowledge can be developed over time. Susan Kendrick, business research and data librarian at the Johnson Management Library, strongly suggests staying abreast of industry trends. “Don’t cram for your interviews. It should be part of your daily digest," she says.
Determine where you want to get your information and create daily RSS feeds for yourself. Follow industry digests and professional organizations. For example, if you hope to work in advertising, read Ad Age. Ask supervisors, alumni and others where they get their industry news.
Obtain a clear understanding of the standard hiring process and timeline for your industry/career field. For example, if you're interested in nonprofits or the communications industry, understand that most employers tend to conduct "just in time" hiring. So, it may not be a good use of your time to be actively applying to opportunities nine months before you're available to work. Use this time period instead to conduct industry and employer research, network and conduct informational interviews.
Talking with people to learn more about their careers and industry trends is an important step. Alumni are a great resource for this and Arts & Sciences Career Services provides information on connecting with alumni. The Cornell Career Guide offers sample questions for informational interviews and Hoovers provides questions by industry that can be used for informational or job interviews. Personalize the questions and ask only questions that matter to you, not just questions that you think make you sound smart. Be prepared to discuss any of the topics you bring up. Do your homework so you can have a conversation about the questions you ask.
A strong interview is a result of effective preparation. Research the organization and find out how the position fits into the overall mission of the organization and unit. Talk to people who can give you the inside scoop about organizational culture and values. Find out what skills are most common among recent hires. Use LinkedIn to access this information through contacts and data.
We STRONGLY encourage all students to participate in a practice interview before the actual interview. The interview is what stands between you and the job. Don't wait until you receive notice that you've been selected for an interview, because that may not allow enough time to practice. Call 607-255-4166 to schedule a mock interview.
Before seeing a career advisor, I did not know how to properly respond to behavioral interview questions. The career advisors helped me to turn my experiences from my internships and my studies into stories that I could use to answer any question I was asked in an interview. With the help of the advisors at the career center, I was also able to construct a list of my best qualities and identify how to best show any interviewer these qualities. - Hannah Kupfer ‘14
Before your interview, use LinkedIn to obtain background information on the person with whom you will be talking. Knowing his/her exact role in the company will make you seem more informed and could help you develop questions to ask. The hobbies/interests sections of their profile can also give you ways to connect during the interview.
It is crucial that you have knowledge of the organization, the position and how your skills match up before participating in an interview. Employers want to know not only that you can do the job, but that you are interested in the job and have thought about how this job might be different from similar positions.
Five Interview Questions You Should Be Able to Answer
- Give me a 30-second snapshot of our organization.
- What do we do that you want to be a part of?
- Why are you interested in this position and why are you qualified?
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are three strengths you will bring to this organization?
Case interviews are commonly used for consulting jobs and case questions are sometimes used for interviews in other fields such as marketing. You must have an individual or group mock case interview to prepare for them. It takes practice to answer these questions well. Refer to the Consulting Job Search Career Plan on Handshake to get started, then sign up for a mock interview with Arts & Sciences Career Development.
Here are some case interview preparation resources:
- CQInteractive walks you through cases and brain teasers, as well as providing resume and interview advice
- Management Consulting Case Interviews
- Management Consulting Prep http://mconsultingprep.com/
- Victor Cheng's Case Secrets
Market Your Skills
How can you show you're the best person for a job?
- Put yourself in the employer's place - what job needs to be done? What problem needs to be solved?
- Read up on the field and talk to people working in jobs that interest you to find out what skills are important to them every day.
- If you have your eye on a particular job, search for that job title on LinkedIn. Look at profiles of people who have that position to get a better idea of what you need to do to reach that level. Read more.
Compile Your Top 10 List
- Make a list of your top 10 skills and qualities relevant to the job (i.e., 10 reasons why they should hire you).
- Describe where you used these skills. Your examples do not have to be directly related to the particular career field; they only have to demonstrate that you have the relevant skill.
- Rank this list in order of relevance.
- Your resume, cover letter and interview should reflect this list. The two-three most relevant items on your list should stand out on your resume, serve as a foundation for your networking introduction (elevator speech) and be emphasized in your interview.
- This may seem like a lot of work, but these steps are crucial to developing an effective resume and cover letter.
Are you seeking a way to utilize your foreign language skills in your everyday job?
In addition to teaching or working as a translator, the government, international media, finance, consulting, international development, world trade in multinational industries, healthcare, science and technical professions and tourism all need your language skills. If you have been able to study, work, live or travel to a country that speaks your learned language, you’ll be seen as a committed applicant. Read newspapers or professional publications in your foreign language to develop a current and professional vocabulary.
Resources and Tips
General Job Search Links
Samuel Curtis Johnson Management Library – access databases such as CareerSearch, Factiva, Hoover’s Online, Uniworld
Glassdoor: An inside look at jobs and companies.
Jobipedia: Offers career advice from America's leading companies. Take a look at the questions answered and consider posting questions of your own.
Prepare & practice. Have your resume reviewed and conduct a mock interview.
Create or verify your profile in Handshake to make the most of your job and internship search. A good profile ensures you are getting the best information based on your interests.
Remember that networking is a key component of a job search.
Show you are the best person for the job.
Research the organization.
Career development is a continual process; if you change your mind about your direction, we can help.
Think about obtaining your own Cornell business cards from Cornell Digital Print Services.
Be flexible about options and preferences, expand those options, modify or re-structure goals and consider opportunities you may not have thought of in different times.
Stay positive. A positive attitude goes a long way in the job search. Come in to chat and we will share examples, such as the story of how a 2008 alum found work in an economically depressed city by portraying a positive outlook when networking.
Common themes heard from Cornell recruiters
Cornell recruiters can offer advice on your general job search and interviewing. All of these tips can be transferred to any industry and any position.
- A demonstrated interest in the industry or field is crucial. Everyone, from banking to consulting to fashion, said that one of the most important things they look for on a resume is an interest in what the organization does. This can be demonstrated through coursework, internships, clubs or job shadowing. Sometimes, particularly for someone pursuing their first internship, simply listing related interests at the bottom of your resume is enough to overcome lack of direct experience in the industry.
- Learn what you can about your industry. Read relevant publications, learn industry basics and lingo and stay up-to-date on current events and trends. Doing these things will help you have a better understanding of the field and your career choice, and also prove your interest in the field to potential employers. Employers want to hire people who are enthusiastic about the field and prove, through their resume, cover letter and interview, that they really want to work in that field with their organization.
- Learn everything you can about the employer before speaking with the recruiter or interviewer. Dig through the employer's website. Scour the internet for information about the industry and competitors. Talk with alumni or former interns if you can find them (hint: check LinkedIn). Show up ready to articulate why you want to be a part of their team.
- Learn to use the STAR method of answering interview questions. The method is a concise way of answering questions using examples from work or school. You should describe the Situation where the example occurred, the Task that you had to accomplish, what Activity you took to accomplish the task, and the Results of those actions. Using concrete examples and structuring your response in this way gives the interviewer a well-articulated example of the skills and competencies that you can bring to the position.
- Tie your experiences to how you can benefit the employer. If you have less experience than other applicants, you will need to explain how your skills and experience are relevant. Employers want to hear how your experiences and skills would benefit them if they hire you. Even if your previous experiences are not in the field in which you're applying, stating how the skills you learned in those jobs relate to this position will earn you points with an employer.
- Be professional, in both how you appear and how you speak. Dress professionally to make a positive impression on the employer and use professional and polite speech. Instead of speaking negatively about a past job, find a way to talk about what you learned, what you accomplished and what you are looking for next.
- Keep it genuine. The people giving the interviews are recruiters and other HR professionals and can tell when interviewees are giving the response they think the interviewer wants to hear. Be truthful and don't give "canned" responses. An interview helps you evaluate whether you want to work for the employer, as well as whether the employer wants to hire you.
- Do a mock interview. Many of the employers noticed that students seemed unprepared and not polished. They stressed that students should complete a mock interview with at least one member of the Career Development staff in order to iron out their responses and get tips on how to appear less nervous and more confident.
Although this sounds like a lot to work on, there is a reason these recruiters keep returning to Cornell.
"CEB recruits candidates with the proficiency to interact with C-level executives, the ability to think creatively, analyze issues and problem solve. These are skills taught in Cornell's College of Arts & Sciences and this is a primary reason why we recruit on campus." - Katie Steffee
Handshake - It's more than On-Campus Recruiting!
Each year, about 20 percent of Arts & Sciences seniors find jobs through Handshake!
Handshake gives students:
- Access to jobs and internships available through on-campus recruiting and beyond
- Access to Cornell Career Services' employer database and listing of employer information sessions
- Premium access to Peterson's Guide and other helpful career development tools
- Targeted emails regarding career-related opportunities and events around the country
Completing Your Profile
Your Handshake Profile helps you receive career-related information tailored to your interests and can be used as a tool to screen your qualifications against job postings.
Please complete all sections of your profile to get the best results and cast a wide net if you're still exploring careers. Select all job functions and industries that sound interesting, even if you don't know much about them. You can always narrow your selection once you get a better sense of available opportunities.
If you are interested in applying to any jobs or internships where the employer is recruiting on-campus, you must complete the CCS On-Campus Recruiting Tutorial (found at career.cornell.edu) and then you will be eligible to apply for those positions.
TARGETING A SPECIFIC CITY OR REGION? To start, be broad with your parameters. Search by city/state only to see the range of possibilities in that region. Even if you are looking for a job and only internships are listed, it will give you specific organizations to consider contacting with a letter of inquiry. Likewise, ignoring other criteria such as student status will generate potential employers who have connected with Cornell. Keep in mind that in order to apply for postings, you must match all required criteria (student status, work authorization, etc.) However, a broad search can identify possible employers with whom you can follow up, explore their websites or contact directly and inquire about potential opportunities that match your qualifications.
INTERESTED IN A SPECIFIC TYPE OF WORK? Keeping in mind that job function and industry are not the same will help you in your search. Search by “function,” not “industry.” The “industry” field refers to the industry of the employer; not the actual position.
GRADUATING STUDENT SEEKING INTERNSHIPS? Search by student status and don’t limit job type to only "job." We have numerous employers who are willing to consider graduating students for short-term positions. These are listed as “internships” and will not show up in the “job” search.
GOING TO GRAD SCHOOL? DO YOU STILL NEED HANDSHAKE? Yes, you may benefit from receiving e-mails about fellowships, research opportunities, graduate school fairs, panels and other related resources.
UNSURE OF CAREER PATH BUT WANT TO SEE WHAT’S OUT THERE? Play around with the search parameters. Search by functions or industries that sound interesting, even if you don’t know much about them. Review the job descriptions to get some ideas of jobs and careers. Don’t worry about location or qualifications for now. If you find something of interest, meet with a career advisor to further explore this field, identify related career paths, develop an effective résumé for application, and find similar opportunities in your geographic region. If you don’t find something of interest, visit our Explore Careers pages for additional resources and perhaps meet with our career counselor to determine your interests, skills, and values.
Career Fairs & Recruiting
Career Fairs, Employer Information Sessions, and Recruiters
Making the Most of Career Fairs
So how prepared are you for the upcoming career fair? Is your resume updated? Do you remember all your networking skills? If not, you might want to take advantage of the resume critiques and career workshops that our office offers to brush up on your skills before the career fair takes place.
Once you’re at the career fair, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Dress appropriately and research the companies that you are interested in before you arrive. This will show prospective employers that you are genuinely interested in them.
- When you arrive, try to prioritize your time well. Some recruiters may have long lines of people waiting to speak to them and others may be idly standing around. So try to plan ahead and anticipate the order in which you will approach the different employers.
- Once you start talking to a recruiter, take some notes if you need to and don’t be afraid to ask for a business card or contact information. Of course, once the career fair is over, remember to follow up by sending a thank you note to the recruiter.
Find out about specific dates and more information on upcoming career fairs here.
Employer Information Sessions
Employers who take the time to be on-campus throughout the year expect interested students to come and talk with their recruiters. Introduce yourself, ask questions and reintroduce yourself at the next event. Students who attend information sessions and other events and introduce themselves are much more likely to earn an interview spot. Information sessions are also a great way to network.
Get Prepared for the Rush of Fall On-Campus Recruiting!
It's important to put on-campus recruiting into perspective — there are many career options for liberal arts students and only a sampling of employers can recruit on campus each year. The majority of recruiters are large, private sector employers who recruit for business-related positions. A few public-sector and mid-size employers also recruit each year. Approximately 20 percent of Arts & Sciences job-seeking graduates get their jobs through on-campus recruiting.
Full-time, entry-level corporate and selected nonprofit and government jobs for seniors generally are posted in Handshake from late August to November, while corporate and government summer internships and competitive research or fellowships for juniors and sophomores usually are posted in Handshake shortly after that.
See the Cornell Career Services website for more information about on-campus recruiting. You must complete the required tutorial to gain eligibility to participate.
New York Recruiting Consortium
The New York Recruiting Consortium is an off-campus program for juniors and seniors in the colleges of Arts & Sciences and Human Ecology that provides interviews for full-time employment and internships in consulting, education, finance, health services, legal services, medical research, nonprofits and publishing. Participating liberal arts colleges/universities in the consortium include Cornell, Brown University, Connecticut College, Trinity College and Union College.
All students who wish to participate in the New York Recruiting Consortium must register through the NYRC website. Log in with the access token which you will receive at the orientation. Click here to log into the NYRC site.
- Attend the NYRC Orientation. Refer to the NYRC timetable below.
- Contact Arts & Sciences Career Development at AS_Careers@cornell.edu to obtain the NYRC Access Token and application instructions.
- If you have further questions that are not addressed at the orientation, please contact Arts & Sciences Career Development at 607-255-4166, AS_Careers@cornell.edu or stop by the A&S Career Development office.
NYRC Timetable (check Handshake for actual dates)
October 27th, 2016 4:30pm, Goldwin Smith 164 - New York Recruiting Consortium Orientation session
November 17th, 2016 - Application Deadline for resumes, cover letters and other required materials for each organization
January 13th, 2017 - Interviews take place in NYC at 1601 Broadway