How to Begin a Job, Internship, or Grad School Search

The job, internship, or grad school search can feel like one of the most daunting tasks you will encounter as a student. There are always challenges navigating the numerous postings, varied descriptions of each position, and the resulting combination of stress and optimism of an ongoing job search.  At the end of the day, people just want to know, “What do I need to do to find a job?” Lucky for you there is no single way to find a job or internship. Your search will be unique to you and your goals. The Career Center is here to partner with you on your way to finding a meaningful career. However, here are a few helpful tips to guide you along the way. 

Start with Handshake

As you look for opportunities, start with Handshake, our centralized platform where employers post positions for Boston College students. All of the top employers are hiring on Handshake, including the Fortune 500, nonprofits, startups, and more. You can also find campus recruitment opportunities. Our guide will help you set up your profile and make the most of your Handshake account.

Develop a Search Plan

Develop a plan that includes your target career field, ideal geographic location(s), ideal start date, what type of organization you are seeking in terms of size and culture. In addition, we encourage you to set goals for yourself as well as dates for achieving those goals. If you would like help with this process, we encourage you to make an appointment to discuss your goals with a career coach. 

Research Target Employers

Most job openings aren’t advertised broadly. They’re usually posted on the organization’s website. Identify promising employers by checking Handshake, working your contacts, checking sites like Vault and LinkedIn, and reading trade websites and magazines. Then go to those employers’ websites to browse job openings.

Track Your Progress

Because you will likely be at different stages of the application process with various organizations at a given time, developing a process to keep track of all the details is key. Keep a spreadsheet that lists the organization, position title, links to the organization’s website and job description, date you submitted your application, date of follow up, date of interview(s), and other pertinent notes or details. Here is a Sample Tracking Spreadsheet to help you get started.

Understand Hiring Timelines

Every career field follows unique recruiting cycles and general hiring timelines. To succeed in your job search, you need to be aware of the recruiting cycles for your industry of choice. The Career Center provides information that can serve as a guideline for your own unique job search based on when BC graduates have been hired in the past. 

Protect Yourself from Scams

We know that you’re working hard to find that perfect internship or job. However, it is important to be aware that what appears to be the perfect job may not be so perfect. Not every job posting is legitimate; scammers may post fraudulent jobs to get your personal information for identity theft or to get money from you. These fraudulent jobs can be difficult to spot, but it is important for you to be aware of some tips on what red flags to look for and how to protect yourself if you think you may have applied to a fraudulent job.

Prioritize Your Health and Stay Grounded

Have you noticed that there are no high fives or gold stars for completing a dozen job applications or studying 40 hours for the GRE? Searching for jobs or internships and applying to graduate schools can be, by their very nature, stressful and devoid of encouragement along the way. Here are a few strategies to help you reduce stress, keep things in perspective, and recharge your batteries.

We know the job/internship/graduate school application process is a stressful one. But remember that you got this! Follow these steps as you walk through the process and you are always welcome to make an appointment with one of our career coaches to discuss your goals or for help getting on track (or maybe back on track) with your search.

By Howard Thrasher, Assistant Director, Career Education

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