Get a job! Hill and Walsh offer advice in seminar

Internship Program Coordinator Ellen Hill

Courtesy of jsc.edu

Internship Program Coordinator Ellen Hill

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It’s that time of the year again, when the snow starts to fall, the semester draws to a close, and the deadline for springtime internships approaches.

Questions start to arise in the student populace. How do I go about finding a job following college graduation? What is the internship process like, and how do I navigate it?

Beth Walsh, coordinator of career development, and Ellen Hill, internship program coordinator, are here to help.

First things first: where do people go looking for jobs? “A lot of people use newspapers or career fairs,” said Walsh. “They can just walk in off the street, go online or they come see us.”

Johnson State College even has a blog dedicated to posting job offers, with offerings for internships as well. “We get people posting jobs for JSC students and alums all the time,” said Walsh. “The employers go right on and fill out a form for us.”

But as helpful as the job bank may be, that isn’t where employers recruit from the most.

At the top of the chart, which is where employers prefer to go to first when hiring, is the promotion of qualified internal candidates. “They mostly promote from within, and then they identify candidates through contacts,” said Walsh. A large portion of advertising for candidates occurs through contacts.

“If job seekers use job listings and want ads the most, that’s the least used method for employers,” said Walsh. “You want to use the methods that employers are using. They mostly promote from within, and then they identify candidates through contacts. Networking, friends of friends. Somebody goes up to their boss and says ‘“I know you want to fill this spot; I’ve got a friend that would be perfect for it.”’
The third method that employers use is “recruiting candidates from targeted schools or organizations,” said Walsh. “That’s job fairs, things like that. Some employers come to campus, set up a table. Those are the three top methods for hiring, and job seekers aren’t using those that much.”

But which method should you use? Ideally, to stand the best chance of finding a job, you would use all of the methods available to you. At the top of the list according to Walsh and Hill is networking, which as they note in an informational packet, “is one of the most frequently used recruitment methods for employers.”

“You can network with faculty and friends, and parents, and friends of parents, and parents of friends and on the chairlift at the top of Mount Mansfield,” said Walsh. “If you’re going to do that, if you’re going to introduce yourself to somebody on the chairlift, you realized ‘this guy’s doing exactly what I want to be doing.’ What would you say? Practice it, say it a few times.”

The elevator pitch, or chairlift, is when you identify people that are in the line of work you want to be in, who do the things you enjoy. When you do bump into these people, “ask them if you can buy them a cup of coffee, or buy them lunch to find out how they got their jobs, what they enjoyed the most about it, what kind of advice they have for somebody starting in the field,” said Walsh. “And then you send a thank you note within a day or two after. Be organized, and keep track of whom you met with and what you learned, spend a few minutes after you meet with them to write down what you want to take away from this meeting.”

This method comes in really handy at career fairs. “You can attend as many career fairs as you want; you don’t just have to stay with your own school,” said Walsh. “You can go to any career fair.

Businesses and organizations who want to share information; sometimes they have jobs, sometimes they don’t, sometimes they have internships. You should always focus on your strengths, why you’d be an asset to the company. If you’re waiting in line to talk to someone, listen to the person ahead of you, to what they’re talking about, questions that employer has, so you can think about how you would answer those questions.”

Each year, for the past three years, Johnson State College has hosted the event known as Dinner with the Boss. It is a night for soon-to-be graduates to meet with JSC alums already successful in their fields. “The dinner is open to approximately 50 students, and we usually have 8-12 alums,” said Hill. “We try to have an alum representing each departmental area. People who are successful in their field, and have a really strong connection to JSC, and the wellbeing of our soon-to-be grads.”

Students at this event learn how to handle themselves in situations where they might share a meal with a would-be employer. “Some things that students learn are etiquette,” said Hill. “How to share a meal with a prospective employer, some basic things about what fork to use, where to place your napkin, even how to pass the salt and pepper shakers.”

“Each alum presents a little bit about their career trajectory, where they’ve been, and just advice and counsel for soon-to-be graduates,” said Hill. “We try to group students together by department, so that they’re meeting with peer students. A couple of students have gotten jobs as a result of Dinner with the Boss. Some alums are students that graduated a few years ago, others, 35 years ago.  It’s a three-course dinner, and it’s a free meal, so it’s competitive for students to participate in the event.”

While networking is clearly indispensible as a job-seeking strategy, internships can also play a crucial role. “Approximately 25 percent of students who intern get job offers at their internship site, and then approximately the same amount are offered but decline that job offer,” said Walsh. “And then 20 percent are offered jobs elsewhere because of the experience that they had in their internships.”

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