Research is usually the first step and a necessary part of any school paper or project, and students get plenty of practice in their classwork. When it comes to looking for an internship or job, applying those research skills to the search can be the most important step in finding the right internship or job fit.
Using Research to Help Your Internship or Job Search
As students engage in the internship and job search process, it helps to get organized to begin a successful search. Starting an internship or job search by first sending out resumes to just any employer doesn't usually bring in good results, especially in light of all of the other ways that are available to identify and reach out to employers.
Research is probably the single most important element when doing an internship or job search. Research provides focus and can steer you in the right direction. Be flexible in your search, and try to be open to several career or employer options to increase your chances of finding something that works for you.
Focus your time learning about and contacting employers in your area of interest while still remaining open-minded. Spend some quality time identifying industries and companies to approach that match your personal interests, and screen out those industries or employers that don't meet your criteria.
The Importance of Company Research
There is a slew of reasons why it's worth your time to do some research. You can:
- Discover the best organizations that meet your specifications
- Tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight your relevant skills and experiences that will match the employer’s needs
- Know what questions you want to ask employers during an interview
- Demonstrate your interest in the organization
- Identify the organization’s goals and needs
- Answer interview questions with confidence
- Make an informed employment decision if you get offered the internship or job
Making a Good First Impression
Often times employers complain that students don’t do their homework when researching and applying for internships or jobs, or even before they come in for their first interview. This is a big mistake—this lack of due diligence on the student's part may be seen by employers as a lack of interest or perhaps even worse, a lack of motivation or initiative.
Since making a good first impression is critical in the application and interview process, this is not the way you want to appear to an employer and it can be a major roadblock in getting that internship or job. The prospective employer may question whether a person who doesn't take the time to research their company would make an effective hire for their organization.
Start With Your College's Career Development Center
Visit the Career Development Center at your college. Your school's career counselors possess a wealth of knowledge and resources that they are happy to share with students. Also, consider career fairs, information sessions, and workshops that take place on campus throughout the academic year. These are all great places to begin exploring, especially when you have no idea of where to start.
Your college may also have a strong recruitment program whereby many companies and organizations may do information sessions or interview on campus. Meeting potential employers on campus is another way to learn about internship and job opportunities while also a chance to start networking with professionals currently working in a career field of immediate interest.
Check Company Web Sites and Professional Organizations
Visiting employer websites online is a way to learn about their current opportunities. Your college probably has a list of resources, such as their own database plus resources such as CareerShift, Vault.com, and many others, depending on what they subscribe to.
Joining professional organizations also gives college students an opportunity and access to professional literature and recent trends in the field. Membership gives students an opportunity to attend annual conferences, network with other members, and find job listing in the field.