Last week I sat down with Kari Dagel, a Senior Recruiter at Post Consumer Brands in Lakeville, MN. With 15+ years of recruiting experience under her belt, Kari was able to break down tips and tricks for young professionals looking to work for a corporate company. She broke down her core advice into 5 categories: networking, resumes, job & internship fairs, interviews, and during the internship. Follow along below to learn Kari’s step-by-step advice for securing your next job or internship.
Research Companies Via LinkedIn. Kari shared with me that it is always important to network, even if you are not actively searching for a role. Make a list of what you are looking for in a role and company. Then get out on LinkedIn and constantly search for organizations that may be a good fit for you. Follow them on LinkedIn and engage as much as possible. At the end of the day, Kari suggests if you “show up and show interest,” you will be at the top of the employer’s mind as they look to recruit talent.
Keep Your LinkedIn Updated And Professional. Kari advises students to “make sure your LinkedIn profile is as complete as possible.” Try to include experiences, professional organizations, or things you have done on campus. She went on to share that “a lot of times I think students or younger individuals do not know how to translate their experience into a professional environment.”
Reach Out. Find individuals on LinkedIn who are working at a company or in a role you aspire to work in. Send them a customized message asking to set up a time to learn more about what they do. Kari commented on this stating, “I would tell you that if a student would reach out via LinkedIn, it would show initiative to me. It would show that someone really wants to learn about the opportunity or the company.”
Demonstrate what you did. When it comes to resumes, Kari’s biggest piece of advice is “try to not show just the tasks, but the strategic involvement and accomplishments they have had.” She also mentioned the importance of including keywords in your resume that match the job description. This way, you will meet the criteria when the Applicant Tracking System goes through and selects resumes.
Internship canceled due to COVID-19? If you had a summer internship that was canceled due to COVID-19, Kari advises adding a line to your resume noting this. Consider saying something along the lines of “Awarded internship with (insert company name) as a (insert role name) for summer 2020. Canceled due to COVID-19.”
JOB & INTERNSHIP FAIRS
Conversations are a two-way interview. Kari advises thinking of conversations at a job & internship fair as a two-way interview. She went on to state, “as much as we’re interviewing them, they are interviewing us.” Find comfort and ease your nerves knowing that it is equal give and take for both parties.
Be comfortable and confident. Research the company before talking with them at the fair. Jot down 2-3 questions or topics you hope to learn more about. By being prepared and doing adequate research, you can feel comfortable and confident approaching employers at the fair.
Assess your strengths. Spend time thinking about your strengths and what assets you would bring to the role. Find ways to showcase these strengths when talking with employers.
First impressions matter. In a pre-COVID-19 era, a strong handshake was always the best way to make a first impression. Now, simple things, such as a smile, confidence, and eye contact through the camera are great ways to begin the interview. Be confident in your strengths and what you bring to the table. This type of energy is contagious, even through a virtual interview.
Prepare, prepare, prepare. Kari encourages candidates to do research through multiple avenues before an interview. Look at social media and read articles. Learn information about the organization that would not be apparent from simply looking at their website.
Review your resume. Review your resume and experiences before the interview. Think through how you will use your experiences to answer the questions asked.
Situational interview questions. Oftentimes in interviews, you will get a few questions that say “tell me about a time when …”. Kari advises approaching these questions by first jotting down a few notes of what was originally asked so you make sure to actually answer the question. Then, approach the question with the STAR method: situation, task, action, and result/response.
Ask questions. At the end of the interview, make sure to ask questions. Kari shared that the type of questions asked typically show how engaged the candidate was during the interview. Try to pull questions from specific information mentioned by the interviewer. Kari’s final core piece of advice for questions is, “Come prepared with questions that are important to you – this will showcase a lot about you as a person. Do not just ask questions just to ask them.”
Send a thank you note after the interview. Kari advises students to send a thank you note after the interview. Stand out by including key points that were discussed in the interview and what you can bring to the organization.
Here are a few tips to consider for once you actually secure the internship.
Take initiative. Kari shared that some of her best interns are the ones who take initiative with projects and ideas. She stated, “our strongest interns push themselves, as well as others, to produce the best work possible.”
Ask questions. The Post Consumer Brands interns had an on-site visit last January. During this visit, their CEO advised them to always ask questions. Kari echoed this when speaking with me. She wants interns to “constantly ask questions and not be afraid to.” She empathizes with the interns stating, “We are all learning from each other. We get it. We were once in your shoes.”
Be flexible. Especially during virtual internships, Kari encourages interns to be flexible and understand conditions may change. We are all navigating uncharted territory. Bring an open mind to everything you do.
Kari did a phenomenal job breaking down the entire cycle of searching and securing an internship with a corporate company. Hopefully moving forward, you are able to use this post as a roadmap to securing your dream job or internship.
Photo Source: Unsplash | Kate Sade