Get Ready Now for the Internship and Job Market



By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.

As the 2021-22 school year approaches, many students will be seeking out internships and employment opportunities. If students want to be successful in their search, they need to think and act ahead. 

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) advises that students who want to be successful will prepare in advance and practice.  NACE’s recommendations are based on conversations with university recruiters from across the nation.

First, NACE suggests that students know, and believe, in their “Value-Add.”  In their discussions with recruiters, NACE found that it is imperative students know what they can bring to an organization.  The start of a new school year is an excellent time for students to think about their past experiences, what has been enjoyable and challenging, and their core skills.

Next, NACE advises students to “refine a brand.”  Students should update their resume, elevator pitch, LinkedIn and any other online profiles focusing on their skill sets and strengths they realize are their Value-Add.  It is important to ensure consistency of message across all communication channels. 

Interviews are an important platform in which students communicate their Value-Add.  Students need confidence in discussing their strengths.  That’s where practice can come into play.  Rehearsing answers to a question like, “tell me about yourself” can help a student get used to talking about their Value-Add without feeling too self-conscious.  It can also help students to better integrate strengths into interview answers. 

Practice interviewing can further help students prepare for behavior-based questions that employers frequently utilize.  Students should think about examples of experiences they’ve had in classes, internships, projects, and summer jobs that highlight a particular strength.

NACE said students should prepare for the potential of virtual interviewing, given the on-going complications of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Students need a location with minimal distractions and a fairly neutral, unobtrusive background.  Students should also run a test to ensure lighting and sound quality are good. 

NACE next suggests students connect with employers by regularly logging into company websites and online job posting boards. Given the rollercoaster of the pandemic, many organizations have encountered a changing hiring landscape and employers that did not list job or internship opportunities in the spring might now do so in the fall. Students should follow up with employers they meet at career fairs, and attend employer-sponsored events when possible.

Finally, the recruiters NACE talked with said that students should research companies in which they have an interest as well as various roles within those companies. In addition to company websites, other possible information sources are classmates, alumni, and LinkedIn to name just a few. Talking with others familiar with the organization can help a student to uncover important information like culture and values as well as skills needed to succeed at that company.  

There are never any guarantees in the job and internship markets.  But, students who prepare and practice will maximize their chances for success this fall.