Who to Contact
- SCDC Main Office
A self-directed job search is the process of looking for a co-op outside of SCDConline. Self-directed job searches will also be utilized by graduating seniors looking for full time jobs and any students looking for part time jobs. Some reasons for conducting a self-directed job search for co-op are as follows:
- SCDConline has lots of great jobs, but it is no guarantee
- You can address very specific career goals that may not be met through SCDConline
- A self-directed job search allows you to search for jobs across many geographical areas, allowing for a national or international co-op
- What type of job do I want to do?
- What type or size company do I want to work with?
- Where (geographically) do I want to work?
If you struggle answering these questions, it is time to do a self-assessment. Exploring your interests, values, skills, likes and dislikes will give you a better idea of what you want in a career. It will also enable you to set career goals. Those goals will help you focus on the job opportunities that are right for you.
To read more about Career Assessment go to the SCDC web site at: Click Here.
For information about Career Counseling available to students and alumni of Drexel visit:Click Here.
These books and online resources can help clarify your career goals:
Assessing Your Interests
- http://jobsearch.about.com/cs/personality tests/index.htm
Links to Personality Tests, Career Tests and Inventories that can be completed on-line.
Assesses preferred learning styles.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook
- America’s Career Infonet
Another great resource for exploring careers is the Career Services Library located in Hagerty Library (Room 136). The Career Services Library Assistant has a wide variety of books and online resources to help you explore careers, including The Vault Online Career Guide. Please see the Career Services Library web site at http://www.library.drexel.edu/services/refcareers.html for more information and to schedule an appointment with the Career Services Library Assistant.
When considering geographic location, do not limit yourself to one specific area. Having a wide variety of experiences is a desirable trait in the professional community. If you are looking for a co-op, consider searching in different parts of the country. Some wonderful opportunities are available in California, Texas, New York and Washington DC. Think about the career path that you have chosen, and the geographic concentration of companies in that field. For instance, many technological companies are located in California, many fashion houses are located in New York and many pharmaceutical companies are located right here in the Philadelphia area.
The growth of electronic communication has made our world smaller and smaller. More and more companies are doing business in countries around the world. Therefore, employers value candidates who have some international experience. Experiencing an international co-op would not only be a personally and professionally enriching experience, but it would also make you extremely competitive in the job market. Consult the Manager of International Cooperative Education Programs at the SCDC for more information and assistance in procuring your international co-op.
How do people usually find employment opportunities?
B. Identifying companies of interest
C. Posted positions (newspaper, online, etc.)
Networking is the process of developing and maintaining quality relationships that enrich your life and empower you to achieve your goals (Source: Nonstop Networking by Andrea R. Nierenberg). Networking is the most effective way to get a job.
How to get started:
Talk to People
- Create a list of all the people you know in the following categories who would take your call if you got in touch with them today.
Friends and classmates
Family and extended family
Neighbors and acquaintances
Professors, coaches, counselors, former teachers
Co-workers and supervisors
- Contact everyone on your list and let them know what you are looking for (co-op, full time job, part time job). Use your 30 Second commercial to share your goals. You can ask them for names of people who might be able to help you since people on your list also know other people. Most professionals are very willing to talk to and help college students. Be sure to stay in touch with you contacts.
- For more information on the 30 second commercial Click Here.
Join a Professional Organization
Professional organizations are groups of people who are in similar professions. They get together on a regular basis to network, learn about recent developments in their field and share information. Students are able to join professional organizations, usually for a discounted fee. Some of the benefits of joining a professional organization are as follows:
- Meeting people and expanding your professional network
- Access to online resources, like job postings (for some organizations)
- Invitations to events, workshops, conferences, etc.
- Publications with industry-specific articles and resource
Use The Encyclopedia of Associations - in print or online via Hagerty Library
e-resources - to locate organizations relevant to your career.
- Attend networking events, meetings, workshops and lectures – use your 30 Second commercial to introduce yourself to people.
- Participate in volunteer, leadership, and/or committee positions.
- Search for career opportunities on the organization’s web site.
Conduct Informational Interviews
One of the best sources of information can be found by interviewing professionals in the field. This is called informational interviewing and it provides you with the opportunity to learn about specific jobs, careers, and companies. This is NOT an interview for a position. It is an opportunity to learn from a professional about what you want to do and how to actually go about doing it. It is also an excellent method to meet more people in your field to expand your network of contacts. Here are the steps you should take to conduct an informational interview:
1. Develop a Contact List
Even if you do not know anyone who is working in your field of interest, someone in your network probably does. Here are some ideas to select professionals to interview:
- Start with people you already know who work in your field of interest. You can ask your acquaintances if they know anyone else you could speak to.
- Look at member lists from professional organizations in your field (usually you must be a member to access the lists).
- Contact your school's Alumni Association and ask if there are any alumni in your field who would be willing to talk to students.
- Look for people within companies you aspire to work for and contact the person who does what you want to do.
2. Schedule the Meeting
Once you have a name, it is now time to schedule a meeting. It is recommended that you schedule a meeting for approximately 15-30 minutes. If time permits, arrange to meet face-to-face. However, be prepared for the individual to request that you conduct your interview over the phone. Arrange the interview and make it clear that you are simply looking for more information about his or her profession, not a job.
3. Prepare in Advance
Whether conducting your informational interview in person or over the phone, you should always prepare in advance. Prepare your resume and bring a copy of it to your informational interview. Although it is not an interview for a specific position, the person you interview may want to have an idea of the experiences and education that you have had so far. You can also ask for feedback on your resume. Gather basic information about the career field, job or company by doing research in the library or online prior to speaking with the individual so that the questions you pose will have answers that cannot otherwise be obtained by simply reading a book. Prepare questions that elicit the unique perspective of the individual. Below are some questions you may want to ask:
- What are some of the most important skills utilized in this career field?
- What credentials, educational degrees, licenses, etc., are required for entry into this career field?
- Are there any undergraduate level courses, aside from major-specific courses, one can take to prepare for this career field?
- What are some extra curricular activities that employers may look for on entry level resumes?
- What is the labor market like for this career field?
- What are the future labor, technological and economic trends affecting this career field?
- What are typical paths of advancement or growth in this career field?
- Are skills learned in this field transferable to other career fields?
- How did you prepare yourself for this type of work?
- What was your career path like?
- What do you find most rewarding about the work itself?
- Describe how you occupy your time during a typical day?
- What other career fields are related to your work?
- What do you find frustrating about your work?
- What are the different settings in which people in this occupation may work (i.e. - educational institutions, businesses, etc.)?
- What types of technology are used in this field and how are they used?
- What are some things that you know now that you wish you had known in college?
When you conclude the interview, it would be appropriate to ask the individual if he or she knows of anyone else with whom you could speak to gather more information. After the interview, write a list of your “before and after” impressions of the job, career and company. Go back over the questions you prepared and now write down the answers that you received from the contact person. Record this information, as close to the interview as possible, while the information is still fresh in your mind. Be sure to send a thank you note within 24 hours to thank the interviewee for his or her time.
Additional resources for conducting informational interviews: Click Here.
Attend Career Fairs
Career fairs are organized events in which interested employers come on campus (or another centralized location) to recruit full time and co-op employees and to provide information about career opportunities within their individual organizations. Drexel hosts two large Career Fairs every year (fall and spring). There are also some smaller, industry-specific Career Fairs throughout the year. Check the SCDC website at www.drexel.edu/SCDC for dates and a list of attendees.
What to do at a Career Fair:
- Decide which employers you want to talk to and research them ahead of time.
- Wear your interview attire:
- Employers will take you much more seriously if you wear a suit, especially since they will likely be wearing suits.
- Gentlemen – make sure your suits are clean and pressed, and be sure to wear dress socks and shoes.
- Ladies – choose a suit that is conservative (not too tight, short or low-cut), and wear dress shoes.
- Before walking into a Career Fair, put away your cell phone, iPod and sunglasses.
- Leave your backpack at home – use a briefcase, tote or nice folder instead.
- Please consult “Dressed for Success” for more information.
- Bring multiple copies of your resume, printed on good quality resume paper.
- Use your 30 Second commercial to introduce yourself to prospective employers, ask questions about career opportunities.
- Get business cards from recruiters.
- Send thank you notes to the recruiters with whom you spoke.
B. Identify Companies of Interest
The Career Services Library Assistant (located at Hagerty Library, Room 136) is an excellent resource to use for researching companies in your field.
The library has access to databases that contain a plethora of company information, including the D&B Million Dollar Database, Hoover’s Online Database and The Vault Online Career Guide. These databases are extremely helpful for locating companies based upon their line of business, location, size, etc.
Also included in the Career Services Library are a variety of books about internships, careers, resume writing and cover letters.
The Career Services Library Assistant holds Self-directed Job Search Workshops on a regular basis to teach students how to use the various library resources for their job searches, whether for co-op or full time jobs.
Locate web sites of companies that interest you (it is helpful if you already have a list of companies from utilizing the library’s databases).
Apply directly to relevant positions:
On company websites, look for links such as “Employment Opportunities,” “Internships,” “University Relations,” “Jobs,” etc.
If you find an opening that seems to match your qualifications, you can usually apply directly through the company’s web site.
Even if none of the openings seems to match your qualifications, you could still contact the company – remember that not every opening is advertised to the general public.
If possible, try to find the appropriate contact person in the department for which you are interested in working, in case you would like to contact the company at a later date.
- Yellow pages (look for companies in a specific industry).
- ES&P Archives (see where other students in your major have worked for co-op).
- Newspapers (old fashioned, but some companies still use them to post jobs).
- If you are looking for a non co-op position (full time, part time, freelance, temporary, etc.) you can utilize the Dragon Jobs, provided by the Steinbright career Development Center. For more information, please visit the website: www.drexel.edu/scdc/dragonjobs
Internet Job Postings
Monster.com, one of the largest on-line job board sites, has more than 45 million registered users. The sites reports that on a typical Monday afternoon, from noon to 4 p.m., more than 6 million people are looking for work. (Source: Get Hired! by Donald J. Starnkowski)
You will be competing with the masses! You can certainly apply to jobs posted, but keep a few things in mind:
- These sites are best used to find out about the positions that are available in your field.
- Posting your resume may not produce any interviews.
- Often these sites have jobs posted that are closed, old or have been already filled.
Here are a few of the largest job search sites:
- www.monstertrak.com (specifically targets college students)
3. Contact Companies and Follow Up
Now that you have a list of companies for which you are interested in working, the next step is to contact them directly. You will either be applying to specific positions that are posted, or simply informing the company of your interest to work there and inquiring about any opportunities available. Remember, not every job opening is posted to the general public. Contact each company that interests you, whether or not you see a specific job opening.
Call the Company
- To find the right contact person in the company contact the Human Resources Department and / or the department in which you are interested. Explain who you are and that you are inquiring about career opportunities. Ask with whom you should speak about such opportunities, or to whom you should send your resume.
- Think about what you will say BEFORE making the call.
- Develop a phone script to help you prepare what you are going to say. Your 30 second commercial may be useful here, especially if you directly to a hiring manager.
- Practice with your friends and family to ensure a confident tone of voice.
- Be sure that you have your resume, calendar, pen and paper before calling the company. You will need to be prepared to write down the person’s name (with correct spelling), answer any questions about your qualifications and hopefully schedule an interview.
- Send that person a cover letter and resume to follow up from your conversation.
- Many job seekers choose not to call a company, so if you do, you will set yourself apart from the competition and showcase your confidence and communication skills.
Send Cover Letter and Resume
If you choose not to contact the company via telephone, you can contact them via mail using a cover letter and resume. Even if you do speak to someone in the company over the phone, following up with a cover letter and resume is advisable. Cover letters are important – they will connect you and your resume to the position that you are seeking, and provide a good opportunity for you to display your communication skills.
- ALWAYS send your cover letter and resume to a person, hopefully the correct person who is responsible for hiring.
- Make sure your cover letter explains the Drexel Co-op program, particularly the time frame in which you are available to work.
- Target your cover letter to that specific company – research the company’s news and current events and use some of the information in your letter.
- If you are responding to a specific job posting, be sure to draw parallels between the skills being described in the job description and your skills.
- If you are not responding to a specific job posting, draft a “letter of inquiry.” For more information, click here.
- For more information on how to write cover letters please visit our sample section and www.rileyguide.com
Whether you are applying for a position, sending letters to inquire about possible career opportunities or conducting informational interviews – YOU MUST FOLLOW UP – this will set you apart from the competition! When writing a cover letter, you may want to indicate a timeframe for when you will call to follow up – usually ten days to two weeks after sending the letter is appropriate.
Call the person to whom you sent your cover letter and resume to check on the status of your application. Know what you plan to say before placing the call. This is an especially appropriate option if the position is a “strong lead”- something you heard about through a personal contact or networking. Calling a company will set you apart from the competition, since most job seekers do not choose this option.
Send a second cover letter and resume. Reword your cover letter to indicate that this is the second time that you are contacting the company. Reiterate your interest in the opportunity.
Of course, employers may choose to call you directly after receiving your application to schedule an interview. Thus, it is important that the outgoing voicemail message on your phone reflects the most mature and professional side of your personality. When recording your voicemail message, keep in mind these tips:
- Keep it short
- Be polite
- Speak clearly
- Leave loud background music, slang, or inappropriate language off your message
A good, general message to use is something like this: “Hello, you have reached 555-2222. We’re not available to answer the phone, but if you leave your name, the time you called, and a return number, we will return your call. Thank you.”
If you are a person who is prone to talking on your cell phone while driving or walking, make sure you pull your car over to take the call or you go into a quiet area to speak to the employer. If you do not know the number that the employer is calling from, it may be best to let the call go to voicemail then check it and return the call at a more convenient time.
Recruiters are more scrupulous than ever about their investigation into academic records when hiring for co-op positions. Misrepresenting yourself in any way (exaggerated accomplishments, inflated GPAs, etc.) is a warning flag to employers, and some companies have even terminated new employees when a background check proves that the information supplied was false.
In addition to academic misrepresentation, you should be aware that employers often pre-screen applicants by searching for any information that might be available on Internet social sites such as MySpace and Facebook. Many companies have student employees who can access these sites and search for people as a fellow peer. Some sites allow access for anyone to search regardless of their student status. If you have pictures, statements or other material that might cast you in a bad light, remove it while you are job hunting. For example, if you are applying for a job as a counselor assistant at an alcohol rehab facility and you have pictures of yourself drinking and partying with a beer bong in hand, you will not be sending a very consistent message about yourself. Here some other Internet items that you should consider removing from public viewing access while you are searching for a co-op:
- Any material that shows you partially or fully undressed (except for baby pictures)
- Any sexually explicit comments, blogs jokes, or photos
- Any strong or extreme statements or pictures that are derogatory to a certain group of people, beliefs, and/or lifestyle
- Photos of you in an inebriated or drugged state
Bottom line: When it comes to the Internet, it pays to present a professional at all times. . . before, during and after your job search. Your image and reputation speak volumes more than your resume.
- Keep track of the companies you contacted – this will help you organize your contacts and will help you determine when to follow up. Creating a simple log of your activity will give you insight on how your search is going.
- Be persistent – understand that many companies take a long time to make hiring decisions. Continue to follow up, but set limits on how often you will contact a company.
- If you are looking for a co-op position, remember to keep in touch with your coordinator. He or she can help you track your progress and give you ideas. If you are a graduating senior, contact the SCDC to set up an appointment with a member of the Career Services staff.
- Take advantage of workshops provided by the SCDC. For a list of current workshops, see the SCDC website: Click Here
- DON’T GIVE UP!!
- Bolles, Richard Nelson. What Color is Your Parachute? 2007: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2006.
- Tieger, Paul D and Barbara Barron. Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company, 2007.
- Lore, Nicholas. The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success. New York, NY: Fireside, 1998.