Back to School and Time to Think about Next Summer

September 1, 2007

In the midst of settling back into campus life and a new course schedule, it's already time to start thinking about next summer's internship or full-time job, says Kirsten Shaw, assistant director of Corporate and Industry Relations at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering. The good news is that there are plenty of resources available on campus to get undergraduates prepared.

The first stop should be an appointment with the Career Center, where students can get career advice and critiques on their resumes and participate in mock interviews. (Engineering students should ask for Yen Liu, a new career counselor at the center.) Through e-recruiting, the online campus recruiting tool, students can also find out about potential employment or internship opportunities. Shaw's role at the Pratt School provides a nice extension to the Career Center's offerings, including additional advice and industry contacts.

"It's never too soon to start working on a resume," said Shaw. Even freshmen and sophomores should start to get involved, she said. Some companies do offer internships to those having completed just one year of college. And, even if some students don't land an internship right away, they will be better prepared and more comfortable with the process in future years.

Ideally, students should explore the Career Center's offerings and brush up their resumes in the first weeks of school, prior to TechConnect on Sept. 18—where students will have the chance to network with some of the nation's top technology employers—and the campus Career Fair on the 19th. They should also spend time thinking about which companies they might have an interest in and develop a plan for navigating both events efficiently.

So what are companies looking for?

"Most companies want students willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work," Shaw said. "They look for someone who will ask questions and participate in the team. While some companies may say they require a certain grade point average or particular course requirements, when it gets down to it, they want someone sharp—a team player that is also willing to lead a little bit and to learn and experience new things."

Shaw also offered these tips: • Don't think about the next five years, think about this summer. The question is: If you were to be offered a particular job, would you be excited? •

Think of internships as three-month-long interviews. Eighty percent of companies depend on internships as a recruiting pipeline. •

TechConnect and the Career Fair are great places to begin building a network. It's also an opportunity to get "comfortable in your own skin." •

Interviews for full-time jobs will generally take place in the fall. Some companies will fill up their interview schedules through e-recruiting, while others may fill them at TechConnect or at the Fall Career Fair. •

In addition to TechConnect and the Career Fair, students should keep their eyes open for additional Info Sessions, Tech Talks and Round Tables throughout the year. This information will be made available via e-recruiting, emailed event announcements, plasma screen ads and/or in Pratt News.

Find out more about TechConnect here or explore Duke e-recruiting here.