Jump-Start Your Job/Internship Search: Tips to Get Motivated and Productive

Career Administrator

Summer is only a few months away, and while you know you want to spend your break at a job or internship, you can’t motivate yourself to start searching. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. The job/internship search can seem overwhelming, and it may be tough to know where to start. The good thing is that the Career Center is here to help! Here are our best tips for crafting a doable, concrete search plan that will set you up for success.

Use insights about your work style to guide your approach

A successful search leverages your style and strengths. Reflect on how you usually like to work. What time of day, and in what settings, are you most productive? Does it help you to bounce ideas off a friend, or do you prefer to think through problems on your own? Do deadlines push you to get work done, or do you prefer to complete tasks well in advance of their due date? Keep these insights in mind as you approach search tasks. If you’d like to learn more about yourself and your work style, consider completing an assessment through the Career Center. We offer the Strong Interest Inventory and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and you’ll receive an in-person interpretation with a career counselor to translate your results into useful strategies.

Where you’re at now is a stepping-stone for where to go next

Think about where you’re currently at in the search process, and then decide what the logical next steps are. For example, perhaps you’ve done some research into your industry of interest and you’d like to build some contacts in that field. A great next step would be networking: you might identify a few professionals of interest on LinkedIn and reach out to them to request an informational interview. Or maybe you’re starting to look for positions, and need to write a strong resume to make your application shine. You can use the resumes section on our website to draft a resume, then bring the draft into office hours for review by a counselor or Career Peer Educator. By focusing specific next steps, you can turn a nebulous or overwhelming search process into a step-by-step plan for action.

Research industry-specific hiring timelines

Understanding the hiring timelines of your industries of interest will help you plan your search. If your industry of interest isn’t hiring yet, you can focus on strengthening your professional materials (including your online presence) and building your network. On the other hand, if your industry is in the full swing of hiring, you can actively apply for jobs and sharpen your interviewing skills. To learn about the hiring timeline of your industries of interest, check out the relevant career community. Career communities offer online and print resources, office hours, counseling appointments, and special events (many with alumni and recruiter networking opportunities) to give you an edge in your desired industry.

Set goals based on what’s within your control

Instead of just thinking “I want a job when I graduate,” set goals based on what’s within your control to accomplish. You can think of the SMART acronym for setting strong goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely. For example, you might set a goal that you’ll apply to two jobs each week and build two new networking contacts each month. This goal identifies specific actions, can be measured by how many applications and networking actions you complete, is highly achievable given your busy student life, is a relevant way to work towards a job, and is thoughtful about your timeline. Therefore, this goal will be helpful in guiding your search. Incorporate all of the advice discussed here - leveraging your work style, reflecting on where you’re at, and understanding your industry of interest - to design goals that are SMART for you.

Practice self-care and positive visualization

Keep up your energy, effectiveness, and motivation throughout the search process by taking good care of yourself. A simple way to do so is by living a healthy lifestyle: get enough sleep, eat healthily, and exercise. Promote your mental wellness by engaging in hobbies you enjoy and spending time with friends. You can also try de-stressing through meditation or yoga. Using positive visualization, imagine yourself succeeding in as much detail as possible. This image will inspire and guide you to actual success! If you find that the search process is taking a toll on your wellness, our counselors can help you design wellness strategies to manage the stresses of the search.

Use Career Center resources

Our online, print, and counseling resources exist to support you throughout your job search. If you’re still not sure where to start, make a one-hour appointment with a counselor to receive personalized guidance in crafting your job search plan. You can make an appointment online through Handshake or by calling our office. If you’d like expert advice in a specific industry, connect with a career community. And if you’re not even sure which resource to try, just swing by our office hours for a 15-20 minute conversation so a counselor or Career Peer Educator can identify your needs and refer you to relevant resources. Our general office hours are in Newcomb 170, Monday through Friday from 12-5pm.