A Career College and Job-Search Advice Column
Dr. Randall Hansen a nationally recognized career expert is the Career Doctor. Discover more about Dr. Hansen read about the purpose of this column and find previous issues of this column at the home of The Career Doctor.
If you have any college career or job-related questions or comments that Dr. Hansen could provide valuable assistance with please feel free to email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Hansen writes this column on a biweekly basis.
Note: Readers can find other columns from this year in Current Year Archives of The Career Doctor Q&A.
In This Issue (02/27/04):
- Regarding strategies for finding an internship
- Wondering if former employer will be negative
- Gaining experience while changing careers
- Learning more about potential career field
|Q:||Anonymous writes: I am currently a student looking to find an internship or externship. I know I should target a company and then compose some sort of letter but I have no idea where to start. Could you give me a few pointers?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Now is the perfect time to be searching out internship opportunities for this summer although for some of the ‘bigger’ internships the deadline may have already past. That said there should be plenty of opportunities for all college students to obtain internships this summer.
How can college students track down internships? Here are the top four sources:
In all cases once you decide to apply for an internship please make sure your resume is tailored to each internship opportunity and that your cover letter (in about three to four paragraphs) makes the case that you are the ideal candidate for the internship.
By the way internships are a MUST for college students who want to have the best employment opportunities upon graduation. Employers want to hire college graduates that already have a proven track record of success.
And of course for students who are not exactly sure of their career paths internships are a great way to get a glimpse of a career path – and help you decide if that career is right for you or not.
Finally internships are also wonderful opportunities because they grow your skills and employability expand your network and may even give you a permanent job offer upon graduation.
Use these resources from Quintessential Careers to help you:
|Q:||Anonymous writes: I was terminated from my previous job. Could my ex-employer say any negative things that will reflect on my chances on getting a job?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Possible? Yes. Likely? No.
Given our litigious society employers are getting more and more tight-lipped about what they say about former employees – so that it does not come back to haunt them.
That said most employers will state that you were terminated and some may state whether you were fired for cause or simply terminated’ so you need to face the fact that in many cases a prospective new employer may very well know you were fired.
But I think you need to spend less time worrying about what a former employer might say about you and more time on how you are dealing with being fired — and what you have learned from the experience.
From my work with job-seekers I know that getting terminated — whether for cause or downsized — is tough on the ego so you need to pick yourself up off the ground shake off the termination and go right back out there and seek new employment. Don’t let the termination affect your job-hunting. Do not bring it up in your cover letter resume or interview.
But do be prepared to address the issue if it is raised in an interview. Your prospective new employer is going to want to know what you have learned from the experience – and you need to be prepared with a good answer. You never want to sound bitter – and you never want to badmouth a former boss or employer.
Read my article Getting Fired: An Opportunity for Change and Growth published on Quintessential Careers.
|Q:||Heather writes: I have a BFA in dance performance and a good bit of professional/semi-professional dance experience. However I have chosen to go back to school for my other passion: conservation biology. I am taking the required science and math courses at a college now to gain acceptance into a graduate program (without getting a second degree) but realize I will be competing with students who have not only a BS but also lots more experience in the field. I am trying to gain some of that experience this coming summer by applying to internships or volunteering. I have read lots about “transferable skills” but the two careers are so different that only one comes to mind — dedication! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Wow. You are truly making a dramatic career change and kudos to you for taking the leap (if you forgive the pun) to follow your passion. And you also deserve credit for realizing that you need to get started now on gaining valuable experience in your new field so that by the time you are finished with your graduate degree you will be an attractive candidate to employers.
Transferable skills are an essential job-hunting concept to master for all job-seekers but especially for recent college graduates and career-changers. What are transferable skills? Simply put they are skills you have acquired during any activity in your life — jobs classes projects parenting hobbies sports virtually anything – that are transferable and applicable to what you want to do in your next job or career.
Your first step is identifying the set of skills that employers in conservation biology seek. You can do this by compiling a collection of jobs from various employers — and making a list of the key skills they seek.
Your next step is then looking into your past and present for any experiences where you may have used or mastered those skills.
Your final step is then carefully showcasing those transferable skills in your cover letters resumes and interviews.
I think volunteering is a much more likely option for you this summer than internships — because you are still needing to catch up on those core science classes but don’t rule anything out until you try. I have found that employers often interview (especially for internships and volunteer positions) candidates with diverse backgrounds because they seek a well-rounded staff.
Read more about transferable skills in this section of Quintessential Careers: Transferable Job Skills.
|Q:||Lindsey writes: I am interested in technical theatre and I am thinking about majoring in it. My concerns are what type of steady occupation could I work in after college?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: First let me state that only you can answer your question. The ideal situation for any student or job-seeker is to find a job/career that you love — and that is in demand.
Technical theatre is all the stuff that goes on behinds the scenes — stage management lighting sound props wardrobe scene design etc. And as long as there is continued demand for theatre there will be demand for the professionals who are responsible for just about everything but the acting.
My advice is to conduct some informational interviews with professionals working in the theatre. Informational interviews are where you sit down (in person by phone or electronically) with someone in a job that interests you. Ask as many questions as you can about how s/he broke into the field how s/he sees future employment trends how you can best prepare for a career in this field etc. The goal is information. A side benefit is adding the person to your network. And in some cases the interview may result in you being invited to apply for an internship.
I would also talk to the professors who teach the technical theatre courses. Ask about careers and ask about the placement of recent grads and other alums.
I haven’t seen any news indicating the demise of theatre in this country but I think it’s a bit cyclical and tied to the economy — when people have jobs and are confident about their future they are more likely to spend more money on entertainment such as the theatre. But ask your professors and the professionals in the field — they will have the inside scoop.
Here’s a really cool site for technical theatre: www.theatrecrafts.com.
And for books about technical theatre check out: TheatreBooks: Technical Theatre.