Don’t Get Caught Behind the Job Search Eight Ball

Now is the time for students and college grads to start laying the groundwork to secure a summer internship or job. Some may think it’s too early to begin their job search if they are not available to start working until July or August. But according to this article in Consumer Affairs, research conducted at the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows that it takes the average college grad 7.4 months to find a job after they graduate.

It takes time and effort to prepare properly for a job search. Many of my clients want to break into competitive fields in highly desirable cities and are surprised by just how difficult it can be to land a job. The article goes on to say, “graduates have a better chance of getting a job if they have the right knowledge, skills, tools, and strategies.”

It’s a big shift moving from college to career and the transition can be stressful. This next phase in life comes with a whirlwind of change: moving to a new and often unfamiliar place; leaving behind a network of friends and supportive campus environment; watching peers get desirable jobs and not understanding how they did so. Being unprepared for the job market is just one additional stressor.

Whether you’re still trying to figure out what kind of job you want or you know exactly what you’re aiming for and already have a shortlist of places you’d like to work, Gainfully can help. Now is the time to hone your job search skills and formulate a strategy to ensure you are well-positioned to land that desired job this summer.

“I think everything is possible as long as you put your mind to it and put the work and time into it.” -Michael Phelps

The Internet Alone is Not Enough

There is an overwhelming amount of information about how to get a job.  Countless videos and articles tell you what you need to know about everything from “keyword optimizing” your resume to “behavioral-based interview” techniques. All of this can feel like what a manager told me when I first joined J.P. Morgan as an Executive Recruiter: “Heather, your first few weeks here will be like drinking water from a fire hose.” 

For students seeking internships and recent college graduates with enough on their plates already, going online and doing a simple search about job searching will generate a tidal wave of information.  Information is great.  But information without knowing more specifically what has been – or what might be — holding YOU back is all but worthless. Until you gain insight into how you’re falling short on your resume or about how the way you’re answering interview questions isn’t hitting the mark, all that generic information about “the job search” isn’t going to help you.  

I see it the same way I see reading the countless recommendations you can can find online about how to do a triathlon. If you don’t work with someone who can help you understand where your diet may be falling short, why the current pair of running shoes you are wearing could be causing shin splints, or how your weekly training regime is failing to build key strengths, then you’ll never know why you’re not performing at your optimal level. 

Gainfully helps you better understand your own strengths and weakness, setting you on the path to success. 

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Thinking Creatively About Internship Options

The Wall Street Journal reported recently that two major banks (J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs) have decided to no longer offer internships to sophomores. Inside Higher Ed wrote about it here.

Is this bad news?  Not necessarily. I recently worked with a student who interned in South America helping low-income entrepreneurs launch their products. Through this program, he and a small team worked with a local woman who, in order to support her family, sold jams and jellies out of her modest house. Their goal was to increase her revenue by bringing her products to a larger stage, which they ultimately achieved by helping her negotiate a deal with a major hotel chain.

Through this internship the student gained valuable experience in marketing, pricing, sales, quality control, product placement, as well as learning to navigate cultural differences. Ultimately he secured an internship after his junior year at J.P. Morgan in their commercial banking division.  

Internships should be about discovery. While this particular student ended up in finance, the internship he chose could have been leveraged in any number of directions including non-profit, humanitarian, international affairs, government, law, education, etc. Creating a rich and challenging experience, one that stretches your knowledge and horizons, is far more important than landing your first internship at a name brand company.

Translating your College Experiences

“Simply put, the awareness gap is the inability for college graduates to make employers aware of the skills they do have.”

Here’s a great article I just read on the importance of not selling yourself short. Students gain a wealth of relevant skills and experiences in college, but need to learn upon graduation how to articulate them into language that resonates with a potential employer.