The news has highlighted job loss due to COVID. However, there is still a ray of hope for students; companies are still looking for interns. As a graduate student at the USC Viterbi School Engineering, I faced a setback due to COVID-19. I lost an internship that I had secured two months earlier. However, despite the global economic turmoil, I secured a new internship within 12 days.
As a part of the executive board for graduate students, the largest student group on USC’s campus, and my role as a student ambassador in the Viterbi School of Engineering’s dedicated career office, I have learned certain “ins” and “outs” of the recruitment process. Below are a few tips that helped me persevere in getting an internship during this period:
Extend your reach and enquire with your contacts: My involvement in activities throughout campus helped me garner contacts. Leverage your contacts and extended networks to enquire about informational interviews. Find out if there is a protocol in place that an individual can follow to be considered for an internship should one become available.
Don’t give up: Even though the job market appears uncertain, it is essential that students have an optimistic outlook and keep actively looking out for opportunities. Remember that any offers rescinded at this point in time are circumstantial and not a measure of one’s qualities or reflective of the strength of your resumé. Having a positive outlook during these times will help you keep going despite any hiccups.
Prepare smart: Do not slacken your interview preparation because of these setbacks. Get back up and revisit important concepts like machine learning models, basics statistics, deep learning algorithms if you have used them. A very important point most people miss in their preparation is problem-solving skills – focus on understanding how the algorithms or products you developed helped meet business needs and ease customer experience. It’s important to be able to understand and talk about the bigger picture of your projects along with their minute implementation details. This will help you stand out among a sea of other applicants.
Engage with the university alumni: Alumni networks of your university can prove to be very helpful to your search. Students can reach out to the executives whose work they admire since the alumni are a part of the very industry that students aspire to work in and thereby are more updated about opportunities. In addition to this, alumni often have a bent towards hiring from their alma mater as they have confidence in the core competencies of the upcoming graduates. It is essential that students take advantage of both your career offices and your departmental resources at the university. (Don’t ignore their emails, events, or recruitment opportunities!)
As for me, while an alumnus was seeking a full-time employee and I was scouting for an internship opportunity, I wrote to the individual anyway and received a prompt response. This is the internship I landed.
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