Whether you are looking for summer employment, an internship, or a “real” job after graduation, there are a few basic steps involved in mounting a successful search. To facilitate your efforts, some tips and resources are listed below.
STEP 1 - The Job Search
Just trying to figure out what it is that you want to do can be a challenge. A good rule of thumb is to start the search early, narrow and/or broaden your interests as you go, and know that your first internship or job is really a ladder to a broader career.
• PitE Wordpress site which is updated at least once a week with new internship and job opportunities.
• Google sheet listing several environmentally focused search engines for jobs.
Career Center Resources:
• Create a handshake account with the Career Center and start your job search.
LSA Opportunity Hub Resources:
• Take advantage of information on how to build your network and popular job boards.
• U.S. Department of Labor guide to Green Jobs
• Texas A&M Environmental Jobs Board (jobs and internships all over the U.S.)
STEP 2 - Resume & Cover Letter
You must have a resume to begin any kind of employment or internship search. The average employer spends only 10 seconds looking at a resume, so it is very important that yours be well organized and error free.
• You may email your resume to your PitE (Jaime Langdon) advisor for a 48-hour critique and return.
• PitE also has a binder with resumes of current students and recent graduates. You may look at these to see how your classmates have designed their resumes.
Career Center Resources:
• Instant Resume Feedback! VMOCK through the Career Center offers instant feedback on your resume.
• LinkedIn and Handshake overview with a Peer Advisor
• Make an appointment to discuss your resume and cover letter with a career counselor.
LSA Opportunity Hub Resources:
• Resume and cover letter advice on appearance and content of your resume.
• How to create an ePortfolio to showcase yourself in a way that could include copies of projects, papers and other materials that an employer might find useful.
• There is also a video on creating an effective LinkedIn presence as well.
STEP 3 - Networking
A. People You Know
The adage “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” often describes the best, and easiest, means of finding work. Before looking at job postings (though you should do that, too), do the following exercise:
Find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted or distracted. Then think about the kind of work you’d like to do. (If you aren’t sure what you want to do, go ahead with the exercise, but also make an appointment with a Career Center counselor to discuss career exploration). On a blank piece of paper, write down the names of everyone you know, no matter how remotely or superficially, who is connected to that kind of work. Do not overlook:
• high school or college classmates
• your parents’ friends
• former employers
• colleagues from extracurricular activities (church, service organizations, volunteer activities etc.)
Contact every name you write down and let that person know you are looking for work. Tell them what kind, when you want to start, whether it has to be paid (for internships). And whenever you talk to someone about your job or internship search, be sure to ALWAYS ask this important question: “Can you think of any other people or organizations I should talk to?” This will keep the momentum of your search moving forward rather than dissipating after you talk to someone.
Another place to network is with U-M alumni. Who else is going to have a better appreciation for your preparation, and is likely to be working in a field you’re interested in, than an alumnus?
Many students have found it useful to join the U-M Alumni Association upon graduation so that they can attend alumni regional events in the area to which they relocate. These events are enormously helpful in professional networking as well as general acclimation to a new area. Information about the U-M Alumni Association is available at http://alumni.umich.edu/.
PitE keeps an in-house database of its alumni. This means you can find out who is working for The Nature Conservancy or the Bureau of Land Management. You can find alumni who live in Seattle, New Mexico, or Argentina. These people can help you not only with finding work, but also with relocating, or learning about a particular line of work. And don’t forget the magic question: “Can you think of any other people or organizations I should talk to?”
STEP 4 - Cold Contacts
Don’t be afraid to get in touch with places you’d like to work, even if they don’t have any jobs posted. If you want to work for a zoo, a legislator, or an organic food corporation, send your resume and cover letter to as many as you can reasonably afford. Simply tell them that you’d like to know if they anticipate hiring anyone soon and list your interests and qualifications. You may be surprised at the replies you get.
STEP 5 - Your Liberal Arts Education
Finally, the asset of your liberal arts education. Four out of five employers agree that all students should acquire broad knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences. As Neil deGrasse Tyson states with regard to liberal arts, “When you know how to think, it empowers you far beyond those who know what to think.” See his brief speech here on hiring.
You are graduating with a liberal arts degree, but also with an interdisciplinary major that doesn’t silo you into one area of expertise. What’s the value? Check out this article in Forbes for some deeper insights, but in Program in the Environment, you are taught first and foremost to communicate across disciplines which will create better solutions to today’s environmental problems. You will use the skills you gained through your course work (analytics, ArcGIS, policy memo writing, article writing, group work, and systems thinking) to obtain employment. Please use the resources above to highlight and exhibit all of the skills and problem solving methods you’ve acquired while here at U of M, in Program in the Environment.