Internships 101: A No-Brainer Guide

Don’t call 411. If you’re deciding if you should pursue an internship this summer, there’s a simple answer.

Go for it.

bigstock_Attractive_young_business_prof_15703601To those unacquainted, internships are the star power of a job world that’s way tougher than Nintendo 64. They’re excellent ways to explore possible career fields as well as build experience and workplace skills. It’s best to have one to two internships under your belt by the time you graduate. Often, recruiters will even prefer candidates that have experience in two internships.

Here’s the no-brainer list. Make sure you know the following before moving on to the next level:
Level Zero: THE QUESTIONS PHASE. Every young child goes through this phase. So does every internship seeker, so before proceeding, consider the following:

  • What careers pique my interest?
  • Am I interested in a particular type of organization, i.e. government or nonprofit?
  • What do I want to do on the job? Usually you’ll do one or more of the following—research, conduct office activities, assist planning, write, work in a lab, and problem solve.
  • Where do I want to be?
  • Are dollars important to me? (i.e. Do I want to get paid?)

Level One: THE BASICS. You’re ready to go. Now for some updates.

  • Read Career Services’ weekly CareerNews e-mail every Monday for a list of opportunities and deadlines as well as workshops and events to help you build the job search skills you need.
  • Update your resume and draft a cover letter. If you need a “cheat sheet” check out the Career Planning Guide.
  • Practice your interviewing skills, and not just to the mirror– although that works, too. Attend workshops or schedule a mock interview to identify your strengths and weaknesses.

Level Two: THE SEARCH. Welcome to the stage of the furrowed brows, Nicholas Cage-style. This, actually, is the fun part.

bigstock_Portrait_Of_A_Female_Executive_1576130Your bright, shiny new internship is just around the corner. Don’t forget to follow up with employers 10-14 days after applying. It is not too late to continue applying in April. There are still plenty of internship postings coming in to Career Services; some are just waiting for someone (like you, perhaps) to fill them!



Question of the Week # 7: What are some unexpected career paths for liberal arts majors?

Question of the Week #7: What are some unexpected career paths for liberal arts majors? – Emanuel Castaneda ‘16

As you may know, Emanuel, career paths are not always perfectly linear. For instance, you may not know where you will be career-wise five years down the road.  In From Bullfighting to Finance, Carmen Bermudez gives a great portrait of her career path and shows that where one starts out may not be necessarily where one ends up! With a liberal arts degree, the path to one’s “ultimate” career usually involves many twists and turns. This is primarily because liberal arts majors are extremely well rounded and suited for positions in a variety of industries. Here at Princeton, liberal arts majors aren’t only well versed in their specific major, but they have developed analytical, writing, problem solving, research, and communication skills—all traits that are extremely valuable in today’s job market! Don’t believe me? Check out this great Daily Finance article What Good Is a Liberal Arts Degree in the Job Market?.  Author Vanessa Richardson outlines some great techniques for liberal arts majors as they explore their career options. Here are some highlights from her article:

  • Believe in your degree
  • Sharpen your skills
  • Market your skills
  • Give your skills a boost
  • Draft a portfolio and cover letter that shows off your degree
  • Determine whether you need more education

Another resource that can help you explore some “unexpected career paths” is the Links by Industry page on the Career Services’ website.  Career Services’ posts links to a host of industries that might not be typical for liberal arts majors. Some that really caught my attention were the following: TV, Film, Entertainment, Religion, Sports-related, Manufacturing, Fashion, and Pharmaceuticals & BioTech. The Career Services Annual Report is also a great place to learn about the post-graduation career plans of graduating Princeton seniors.  Students reported accepting positions in fields such as Retail Trade, Health Care & Social Assistance, Information, Educational Services, Construction, Public Administration, and many more! Also included in the 2012 Summer Experience Report that offers a look at the types of summer opportunities Princeton students have pursued. Take a look at these publications to get a better feel for the types of industries hiring Princeton students and graduates.

All career paths can in some ways be deemed “unexpected.” Unless you have very solidified career goals such as going to medical school to become a physician or law school to become a lawyer, there really is no set equation that can predict where you end up. My advice to you is to really use your liberal arts education to become a well-rounded student and person. Take classes that both challenge and interest you. Try to amass and refine your skills so that you can be marketable in the job market later on. In “Strengthen Those Soft Skills” on the SavvyIntern site, author Dave Ellis points out that employers are seeking candidates with the soft skills gleaned through a liberal arts curricula. Seek out opportunities such as extracurricular activities, internships, and even volunteer work where you can further develop these skills, make connections and turn interests into passions. Sometimes the best career information may come from out of the box thinking or unconventional experiences. (For example, take a look at this great article about how one woman’s volunteer experience turned into a career opportunity).  Don’t limit your options—explore them while you are in school so you will plenty of future opportunities to choose from.

Make sure to set up an appointment with a career counselor today to speak one-on-one to someone who can help you get started exploring your interests. There are also lots of programs and resources for freshmen such as you to get the ball rolling. Check out Career Services’ infographic “Freshmen Year: 12 Steps to Begin Your Career Development,” for specific steps you can take now. (In fact, you should consider applying for a Princeternship as a great way for you to get an inside look at different career paths and receive invaluable advice from alumni. Applications are now live on TigerTracks!)

Hope this helps, Emanuel.

Welcome to Fall 2012!

Welcome to fall 2012! Leaves are changing, the schoolwork has only just started to pile up, and the dining halls have already rolled out the pumpkin pie. Moreover, ‘tis the season to plan ahead. Consider this:

Imagine you’re a professor opening up your email. You start daydreaming about how you have more papers to grade than dollars of U.S. debt. Suddenly, you click on an email from one of your students: “Urgent: Recommendation Letter due Tomorrow.”

Talk about nightmare and a half. So, why not start thinking about jobs, internships, and graduate school now? “I wish I did” will be “Thank mercy, I already did!” Here’s five steps to get you off to a productive start.

Step 1: Find your big picture direction, find your groove. What makes you tick? What are your strengths? Are there specific issues that you want to see resolved by the time you’re 40? What can you do to achieve this? Do some self-searching here or here. Find your big picture direction through programs like Breakout Trips, Princeternships, or study abroad!

Step 2: Research jobs, internships, and fellowships now. That’s it, click on TigerTracks, go to UCAN, and attend info sessions and career fairs. Easier said than done? Here’s a secret: Google Calendar. I cannot stress this enough. Pencil in important dates, and you’ll get pop-ups to remind you the day before something is due, or ten minutes before an info session.

Step 3: Refine your resume. If you’re writing your resume go to Career Service’s page here. If you’re refining it, WetFeet gives you the insider tips here. And if you’re tired of spending your Saturday nights alone, sleepless, and toiling over your “Experience” section, save your loneliness for your love life and sign up to meet with a career counselor here. An extra pair of eyes will help you get a lot done in a short amount of time. More importantly, your social life will thank you.

Step 4: Fill in the missing pieces. You’re president of every student group on campus. But have you engaged in service? If not go here. You’ve taken Chinese for three years, but have you traveled abroad? If not, check this and this out. You’ve had a steady summer job—but have you held a job that will provide you with a professional recommendation? Go here. You’re doing great in your major, but have you applied for awards that will show your credibility? Just think: your marketability is like a Monet jigsaw puzzle—you might look great with the pieces you have, but a complete picture will look even better to employers and application boards.

Step 5: Relax! You’re almost there. And then check out some interview tips while you’re at it. To stay “chill” in the interview, get some practice. Career Services offers mock interviews. Come with your resume and a description of the jobs you may be interested in.

TigerTracks Myths Debunked

Think you know everything there is to know about TigerTracks? I thought I did—that is, until I took the time to chat with Julie Shurts, Career Services’ Associate Director of Recruitment & Employer Relations. Julie shared that Princeton’s TigerTracks system is powered by Experience, a leading provider of campus career management systems used by over 300 career centers at top schools throughout the United States. Princeton has used Experience since the late 1990s and each year this vendor has made enhancements to the system to make it more user-friendly for students and administrators alike.

During the course of our interview, Julie debunked some of the top myths about TigerTracks. Here’s what she had to say:

• Myth: TigerTracks has limited job and internship postings.
Fact: TigerTracks postings have been increasing every year. The number of overall job and internship posting has increased by 29 percent since last year alone (as of April 2012). Another key fact is that over 52 percent of the Class of 2011 found their full-time jobs by using TigerTracks!

• Myth: TigerTracks is only for specific industries.
Fact: TigerTracks is not particular to any specific employment industry. There are more than 40 different employment industries represented in TigerTracks! The range of industries with postings in TigerTracks includes Arts & Entertainment, Communications, Consulting, Engineering, Finance/Banking, Law/Legal Services, Retail/Merchandising, and Technology, among others.

• Myth: There are no nonprofit job listings on TigerTracks.
Fact:  The nonprofit sector has had the greatest number of overall postings of all the industries represented in TigerTracks for the past two years! Of the 4,000+ postings in 2011-2012, 30 percent are in the nonprofit sector.

• Myth: The same jobs are always posted on TigerTracks.
Fact: The number of overall job and internship postings changes every day as new positions are added and current positions close. Timing is important, as different employers and industries tend to have different recruiting periods.

• Myth: TigerTracks is not customizable.
Fact: There are many ways you can personalize your TigerTracks profile. One way is by indicating your industry and job functions preferences. . Industry preferences relate to the type of company or organization that  interests you, and Job Function relates to exactly what type of work you are interested in doing. Career Services frequently sends targeted email through the system based on these preferences, updating you on job and internship opportunities based on your preferences. If your preferences change, be sure to update them so that you continue to receive pertinent announcements. Your concentration is also important to list in TigerTracks, as targeted email messages are also frequently sent based on concentration.

• Myth: TigerTracks searches are difficult!
Fact: If you perform a job or internship search in TigerTracks and you do not get many results, review your search criteria and make sure you have selected all of the relevant options. For example, if you are looking for nonprofit sector positions, instead of clicking only “Nonprofit” from the list of Industries, consider selecting multiple options, such as all of the nonprofit subcategories, Nonprofit Organization, Foundation/Think Tank, Social/Human Services, International/NGO, Education, etc.

• Myth: TigerTracks does not allow you to save searches.
Fact: You can save any search you create. To do this, just click the “You’re Your Search” option on the Search Results page and give your search a name. Your saved search will appear on your home page when you log in. When you create a saved search, you can also opt to receive an email announcement when a new opportunity that matches your search enters the system. You can save upto 50 searches!

• Myth: Positions on TigerTracks are not only for Princeton students.
Fact: TigerTracks contains positions that are posted through Career Services as well as positions directly posted through the vendor, Experience. Positions posted through Career Services are from employers who are looking for Princeton candidates only.  These positions are labeled with an orange shield icon. Positions posted through Experience are open to non-Princeton students, too.
• Myth: TigerTracks is only for juniors and seniors.
Fact: TigerTracks is for all students and every year in school! All currently enrolled undergraduate students enrolled in degree programs are automatically given a TigerTracks account at the start of Freshmen year. Your username is your Princeton email address. Your password is randomly generated. To obtain your password, click “Forgot your password?” on the TigerTracks login page.  Currently enrolled graduate students can set up an account by visiting the Career Services office. The office is open weekdays between 8:45 am and 5 pm (Sept. – May) and 8:30 am – 4:30 pm (June – August).

I hope debunking some of these TigerTracks myths inspires you to log on today and start your career search! Click here to check it out!

Final note, if you have any questions about TigerTracks, stop by during daily walk-in hours from 3-5 pm and a career counselor will be happy to assist you.


Looking for a job or summer internship? Check out UCAN, or University Career Action Network, an intercollegiate job/internship database and my personal favorite career tool. Maintained by a 22-university syndicate, UCAN’s expansive network is a goldmine for even the pickiest job searcher.

Perhaps “you-can” sounds unfamiliar to you. If you’ve ever browsed TigerTracks or another similar job/internship search site, you’re probably familiar with the process. Just register with your Princeton email address, punch in basic profile information, and you’re good to go. You can also add basic academic information, upload your resume, and create a Onestop Talent Search profile. This last feature enters your information and resume into a search engine for employers that helps them find and recruit their candidate of best fit. That’s right, employers search for YOU.

If you’ve ever researched jobs and internships, you probably know that effective search tools make all the difference. One of my favorite features of the UCAN website is the sheer multitude of ways to approach the job search. On the internship homepage, you can browse opportunities by job title, employer, keyword, employer name, description, major, and location, either separately or all at once.

Another of UCAN’s perks is its search employer feature. Say you want to search journalism opportunities in New York City. Just go to the employer tab at the top, plug in the information, and a list of employers and their corresponding websites appears on your page. Tip: if a company does not have an internship posted on UCAN, check out their website. Usually under “career,” “contact us,” or (of course) “internships” you’ll find details on the position you’re looking for. UCAN also contains a list of contacts from companies listed by industry, if you’re looking for career advice from someone in the business.

If you’re motivated or just plain curious about your career future, UCAN is the perfect place to start or refine your search. Just go to Princeton’s Career Services website, click on UCAN on the right-hand sidebar, and check it out for yourself!