Robin Ryan, Contributor
March 26, 2021
I recently spoke with business professor Sam Williams from the University of Arizona, and we were discussing the current job market, knowing that my own son was a 2020 college graduate. We talked about how 2020 was a tough year with so many new grads finding job offers rescinded, and major challenges in launching their careers. Internships also disappeared, and so last summer, most college students got no professional experience to add to their resume as we head into the spring now of 2021, with 4.4 million new grads hitting the job market, according to Educationdata.org . Add to that another four million college students are seeking some professional work experience too. Many of these GenZs and Millennials are very discouraged and need Baby Boomer parents to step in and help them with networking and forwarding job leads.
Both Professor Williams and I agree about the critical importance of a college student getting internship work experience. Those without having been finding it nearly impossible to get employers' attention. Many 2020 grads still have not been able to find a professional job and are still searching for career-launching positions. It is time for parents and college students to sit down and work together to enable their son or daughter to get an internship this summer, whether they are still in school or a new grad. We strongly recommend that a parent intercede and help their son or daughter understand how you look for a job, the importance of networking, perhaps lowering the bar of what they may find and encouraging them with the right strategies. They may need to explore work outside their major. For example, one of my new grad career counseling clients who had majored in Environmental Science just landed a Business Analyst role for a large tech company.
Internships are Critical to Launch a Career
A Baby Boomer parent recently told me that she was not concerned that her son didn’t have an internship, and she didn’t think it was going to be a problem since he was graduating from a good college. She is mistaken. Employers want students to have some related work experience and so getting an internship this summer is essential. New grads may find that’s all they can do if they don’t already have some good internship experience to note on their resume.
Too many students don’t search for these work opportunities early enough. Large companies, such as Amazon or Microsoft that have highly desired internship opportunities, have long since stopped taking resumes and are in the interviewing phase now finalizing who’s going to have that summer experience. So if your son or daughter doesn’t have anything lined up yet, you need to start working with them immediately so that they can uncover internships and apply.
Here are the best ways a parent can offer to help.
Give them direction
To land an internship, your college student needs to know the job title they are looking for. For example, do they want an internship in marketing? Sales? Finance? IT? What about Communications, psychology, and other liberal arts majors? They will not find an internship if they are baffled and have no idea what they would like to do. You can direct them by pointing out interests and their strengths. For example, “Johnny, you seem to have good skills in writing, or you have always been interested in healthcare and fitness.” From there, show them how they might start looking for an opportunity depending on what their major or career goal is. One student I worked with who had recently graduated with a psychology major needed an internship because no one was willing to hire her without it. She had had some office administration work in a clerical position the summer before. Adding that to her resume, she got a customer support opportunity working in a hospital’s clinic. It was not perfect, but it gave her some experience to put on her resume while she continued to look for a permanent position.
Where to find Internships
You have looked for a job several times in your life. Your Grad has not. Show them how to job hunt and use search sites. For example, use the LinkedIn jobs function to look for entry-level or internship jobs. They can try using the “entry-level” + the job title they want or use “entry-level” + location. Same formula for finding internships. They can also search your profile to identify connections for companies. Advise your student to look at local large company’s websites. They should also check Glassdoor.com , Indeed.com , and Idealist.org for internship openings and start applying.
Professors can often be a great source for internship opportunities. Have your student contact any of their professors and ask. Many positions will be remote this summer, so not living in the region should not be an obstacle.
Next, search on your student’s college career center’s website to identify any internship opportunities listed there. At large Universities, they may even have a designated internship advisor and program manager. Be sure to check to see if that assistance is available.
Teach them to network
College students do not know how to network for a job. The best thing any parent can do is tell them over 70% of all positions are found through networking. That number can be higher when it comes to internships. Many of my clients are having success being found on LinkedIn. Help your son or daughter create a complete LinkedIn profile. Be sure to have the potential job titles they seek in the headline. Advise them to connect with as many people as possible that they know. Suggest they join the LinkedIn group for their college or university. These people often are willing to help young people land a job.
Next, ask them to make a list of your family’s personal friends, their college friends, and what their parents do as well. Learn where people work. Explain the need to talk to people. Teach your son or daughter how they would conduct an informational interview asking for 15 or 20 minutes chatting with someone about their company and potential opportunities there. It helps if you role-play this for your son or daughter and help them by writing out some of the questions they could ask. Once an internship or job is identified, then your son or daughter will need to sell themselves. They have to ask the connection if they will send along their resume to be considered for that opportunity. You cannot and should not do that for them. We must enable the student to learn how to do this process themselves and let employers meet them. Parents have a background teacher role, not a front and center spot in front of employers.
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