Jamison Guice, Campus Carrier features editor
Jana Morning, Campus Carrier asst. features editor
With a longer winter break than most, this holiday season brings along more opportunities than previous ones. Some students may decide to pass the time by finally catching up on “Downton Abbey” or binging new Netflix movies, while others may be focused on updating their resume. With more than four weeks of time off, students can fit both recreational and professional fun within their schedule to finally indulge in the well-deserved mental break.
One option for students who are focused on developing their professional portfolio in preparation for the Spring semester includes participating in a winter internship, or micro-internship. Director of Employer Engagement, Mark Kozera, said that the emergence of the word micro-internship is due, mainly, to the duration of winter break since it is shorter than a summer internship.
“They [students] can hope to learn about a company they might be interested in and working with in the future,” Kozera said. “They can meet some individuals and get to know them, build their network within that company over that time and if they were to be given a project, whatever that project might be, get some experience in working on a relatively short duration project.”
If interested in participating in a micro-internship, Kozera advised students to start applying now. At the latest, he said students should send out applications around the end of November. This allows employers the time to look over and schedule interviews with potential employees.
Kozera mentioned a few ways that could make finding a job a little easier if unable to find a winter micro-internship. Earlier this semester, the Center for Personal and Professional Development (CPPD) launched Handshake, a career management platform, which helps students find jobs and internships. Kozera recommended students to try and locate jobs using the website.
“A lot of companies are still working remotely so I would think that most internships for the winter would be remote or virtual, anyway,” Kozera said.
If unable to find a job in your specific area of interest online, try reaching out to your in-person network. Kozera said to talk with the people and companies you know and learn more by setting up an informational interview. If immediate family and friends do not hold positions of interest, Kozera said, oftentimes, a position is found two or three degrees out from your close network.
“Network is connecting the dots of the people you know and learning from them and maybe seeking some introductions,” Kozera said. “The network for students at home is obviously your parents and your neighbors and friends.”
Even following all of these tips, Kozera said there is still a lot of uncertainty regarding winter jobs due to the economy and COVID-19. There are other ways to gain experience and prepare for either graduation or upcoming semesters by looking into CPPD opportunities that help develop a professional portfolio and increase personal skills.
Director of the Career Development Center, Sue Tarpley, said her department has come up with a four-week challenge to help students better prepare for resume building, future internships and job opportunities. The series starts the first two weeks prior to Christmas holiday and then continues two weeks after the beginning of January.
The first week will be focused on networking. Tarpley said with being home for an extended period of time, students will likely be in contact with family, extended family and family friends.
“You might have a reason to knock on your neighbor’s door, you might be poking around on LinkedIn,” Tarpley said. “You can do some informational interviewing as a way of networking. Ask yourself, ‘Who can I contact in my field of interest or who might I reach out to get more information about a particular company?’”
Tarpley said it is not as hard as you might think to set up interviews.
“When people get together for the holidays, people talk about themselves a lot,” Tarpley said. “You usually find people asking, ‘How’s work going?’, so it’s not necessarily a hard sell or hard ask.”
Dean of Personal and Professional Development Marc Hunsaker said networking is often important since that is how most jobs are filled.
“Me and [Tarpley] have found that to be true,” Hunsaker said. “It’s true for people that we interview and students that we talked to, you know, networking is just key. Honestly, it’s just a way of asking for directions into a field that you’re not very familiar with yet, and people are oftentimes very happy to help.”
For students who are unable to network using those closest to them, Hunsaker suggests outbound networking which includes the friends of family members. If looking for contacts related to Berry, LinkedIn is a great way to connect with alumni.
“11,601 was the number of Berry alumni on LinkedIn today,” Tarpley said. “Networking is as easy as pushing a button that says connect. You can look at your major, your geographical location or a particular skill you’re wanting to know more about.”
The second week focuses on getting students involved on Handshake.
“Handshake is the number one way college students get jobs and internships,” Tarpley said. “You can connect with employers. You can connect with your career consultant. You can learn about events that are happening.”
Tarpley emphasized the importance of completing the profile which allows users to curate it with their personal information, skills and experiences. She said by tailoring your skills to specific industries and putting preferences, employers are more likely to look at your profile.
“It’s a great place to follow companies and employers,” Tarpley said. “You are receiving their most recent updates and postings for their jobs and internships, so you don’t have to be searching on Handshake all day because they’re feeding you information based on your profile.”
Week three expands on LinkedIn Learning, a tool available to students. There is video content that focuses on three main areas: business, creative and technology skills.
“For example, if you want to learn more about Excel, you could go to various pathways and learn more information about particular aspects of Excel that would probably take about thirty minutes,” Tarpley said.
Hunsaker said graphic design, pivot tables, communication, conflict management and other highly specialized skills are available for free. He said now is an optimal time to take advantage of these resources. Once students complete a skill, the certifications upload to your LinkedIn profile, and then students can also add them to their Handshake profiles.
Lastly, week four is about resumes and making sure students incorporate the new skills they have accumulated from past semesters.
“Every single student is going to sit across from an employer or grad-school panel, at some point, and they’re going to be asked the question, ‘What did you do during the time of COVID-19?,” Hunsaker said.
Hunsaker said this is the time to stop and reflect, so that you have a good answer to that question. He said that a good answer can differentiate you between someone else who only said ‘I don’t know.’ Some examples that students could focus on included what lessons were learned from COVID-19 and even how you adjusted and pivoted to the pandemic.
Keep in mind that this semester has been hard; no one is expecting you to work even more after a grueling year. However, if interested, a winter internship or the Career Center’s four-week plan is a great way to help prepare for the future. Contact the Career Center at 706-236-2244 or schedule an appointment using Handshake to learn more about resume building, networking or other ways to improve professional development.