After graduating in May, Laura Baez will begin training for her new teaching position in Memphis, Tennessee, with Teach for America. She was accepted into the competitive program after an intense application process, and she credits the Hegi Family Career Development Center with helping her prepare.
“The Hegi Center offered a session about what to expect during our interviews,” says Baez, a senior political science and Spanish major in Dedman College. “We had the opportunity to ask a Teach for America executive director and SMU alum questions directly through Skype, which eased a lot of our concerns. I don’t know where else I could have gotten that kind of preparation.”
Caryn Statman, assistant director of the Hegi Family Career Development Center, urges graduating seniors and other students who are seeking jobs and internships to make use of the career center’s resources. The center’s MustangTrak database, for example, features thousands of jobs and internships in Dallas and around the country. SMU also participates in a 21-school internship consortium called UCAN, where students can search for in-state, out-of-state and international internships.
“The latest numbers from the Labor Department show that more businesses are hiring, which is good news for our students,” Statman says. “However, competition is still strong, so students must remain persistent and be creative in their job searches.”
Here are more tips from Statman:
• Pursue the “hidden job market,” which consists of open positions that companies do not advertise. To gain access to the hidden job market, network and build relationships with industry professionals. Continue searching the “open job market” on MustangTrak and sites such as indeed.com.
• Create a LinkedIn page featuring your resume and accomplishments, and join groups that pertain to your industry, including the Hegi Center’s exclusive LinkedIn group for SMU alumni and students. Plugging in with connections on LinkedIn helps you access the hidden market.
• Join professional associations and attend meetings. “Professional associations are a great way to learn the buzz in the industry,” says Statman. “Students can attend meetings, shake hands and exchange business cards. An employer may eventually call and say, ‘We have an open position, and we would like to bring you in for an interview.’ ”
• Always follow up after networking with potential employers. Statman recommends following companies online, including on Twitter, and sending a note of congratulations for achievements. The notes should have value to them other than “I’m just checking in,” she says.
• For undergraduates seeking summer internships, unpaid positions can offer valuable skills. Volunteering experiences also are attractive to future employers. “Be open-minded,” Statman says. “Any type of work experience over the summer is valuable, because it can help you find out the type of work you like. Student interns should focus on building their teamwork, leadership, communication and analytical skills.”
• Whether students are seeking internships or starting their careers, they should always carry an updated resume and be ready to craft a tailored cover letter. Hegi’s career counselors can advise students and alumni about resumes and cover letters, as well as portfolios, interviews, salary information and more.
Contact the Hegi Family Career Development Center by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 214-768-2266 or by appointment at Hughes-Trigg Student Center. Counselors also are open for questions and comments at their blog: smuhegi.blogspot.com
– Chris Dell ’11