Find an Internship/Job
You’ve prepared your materials and now you’re ready to explore effective strategies for finding an internship or full-time job. Let’s get started with the following six steps to success. These steps will give you a brief overview of the process. Remember, it’s critical to use a variety of approaches to find opportunities—use all of the resources available to you!
Prepare your Search Materials
- Cover Letter
- Business Cards
- Letters of Recommendation
Develop a Game Plan
- Have realistic career objectives
- Make a time frame for yourself
- Set and follow deadlines
- Keep track of your applications
- Use multiple strategies and tools
The key to networking is becoming comfortable talking about yourself and what you have to offer an employer.
- Start with people you know: Networking is rated the number one way to find jobs and internships. It is important to maintain relationships with your family, friends, faculty/staff, employers, and alumni because you never know who may be able to help you in the future with your career to find opportunities.
- Make new contacts: There are many opportunities at Rutgers to network. For instance, attending employer information and networking sessions, career and internship fairs, and Career Exploration Nights are all in person events where you can meet with employers and alumni directly. In addition, the Student-Alumni Career Connect (SACC) is an online resource where you can contact Rutgers alumni to network and learn about their career paths. Visit careers.rutgers.edu for the most up-to-date events calendar and careers.rutgers.edu/sacc to join SACC.
- Use social media: More employers are using social media to find and research candidates. Make sure your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and all other Internet sites represent you in a consistent and professional way. For more information on personal branding and effectively using social media, read the following section on “Developing Your Online Presence” and attend one of our related workshops.
Set aside time to apply to advertised postings. For internships, you should begin searching at least one semester in advance of when you would like to intern (three months for example). For full-time positions, it’s common for recruiters to begin recruiting in September and October for spring graduates. However, every company and industry is different, so it’s critical to stay informed and on top of deadlines for positions that interest you. To find opportunities:
- Use Rutgers Handshake: Rutgers exclusive job/internship board
- Go to Career & Internship Fairs
- Visit organization websites, industry specific websites, newspaper classifieds/bulletin boards, and other online job boards
Check out the “Prepare for the Interview Process” section for detailed information about interviewing.
- Practice your responses to frequently asked questions
- Prepare questions to ask the interviewer
- Dress professionally
- Arrive early (but not too early)
- Be aware of your nonverbal cues/body language
- Follow up promptly with a “thank you” e-mail
Put Your Best Foot Forward
- Customize all documents
- Utilize keywords from the job posting/industry
- Address the qualifications for the position
- Reflect on your experiences; identify relevant and transferable skills
- Review your online presence and make necessary edits
- Make sure your voicemail greeting is professional
Rutgers Handshake is an effective resource to land a job or an internship opportunity. Employers post internships and full-time positions specifically for Rutgers students within the Rutgers Handshake system. Many employers participate in our On-Campus Interviewing (OCI) Program where interviews take place at Career Exploration and Success located in the Busch Student Center.
On Rutgers Handshake, you can manage all aspects of the recruiting process online:
- Review employer internship/job descriptions.
- Submit your resume to employers for their review.
- See if you have been selected for an interview.
- Schedule your interview.
Rutgers Handshake Resources to Boost Your Internship/Job Search Include:
- InterviewStream—Use this virtual mock interviewing service to practice. Students can also have their interview critiqued by our staff.
- Student-Alumni Career Connect—Search our database of nearly 2,600 Rutgers alumni. Learn about their careers and contact them for career advice.
- Update your Rutgers Handshake student profile.
- Most recruiting activity, for both full-time and internships, takes place during the fall semester—about 70%.
- Log in to Rutgers Handshake to let us know you’ve accepted an offer.
- Meet with a career advisor for helpful Rutgers Handshake internship/job search strategies.
Accepting a Job/Internship Offer— Ethical Considerations:
Accepting a job/internship offer can be an exciting and overwhelming experience. When an offer is made, always ask for time to consider the offer. This practice is customary and acceptable. Please keep in mind that once you have accepted an offer it is unethical to continue to interview and engage in job search activities for competing positions.
If a student receives an offer of employment from an employer associated with the Office of Career Exploration and Success, and knowingly reneges on that offer of employment, that student may face sanctions from the Office of Career Exploration and Success, including banning the use of, and participation in, the Rutgers Handshake System, and all employment related services, including OCI. Career Exploration and Success reserves the right to report unethical or inappropriate actions to the Office of Student Conduct for further review.
You are welcome to consult with a CES career advisor to discuss the job offer and any concerns or questions you have. For more details on the CES Offer Acceptance Guidelines and the On-Campus Interview Policy, go to careers.rutgers.edu.
BEWARE OF JOB POSTING SCAMS!
Career Exploration and Success offers Rutgers Handshake as a resource for students and alumni seeking internships, co-ops, and jobs. We strive to keep fraudulent and scam postings off Rutgers Handshake; however, it is impossible to ensure that all Rutgers job postings are legitimate.
Therefore, we are sharing common “red flags,” so you can identify scam and fraudulent job postings. Fraudulent job postings ask for your money, personal information, or both. The jobs often appear easy and offer convenient ways to make money with very little effort. If the job does not require an interview, it may be suspect.
Essentials to Avoiding a Job Posting Scam
- Do not give out your personal bank account, PayPal account, or credit card information to any employer.
- Do not agree to have funds or paychecks directly deposited into any accounts by an employer.(Arrangements for direct deposit of paycheck should be made during your first day or week of actual employment on site – not before.)
- Do not forward, transfer or send by courier (e.g. FedEx, UPS), or “wire” any money to or for any employer, or for any employer as part of the interview process, using your personal bank account(s).
- Do not transfer money and retain a portion for payment.
- Do not respond to suspicious and/or “too good to be true” unsolicited job emails.
- In general, applicants do not pay a fee to obtain a job. Please consult with a professional at Career Exploration and Success if you have concerns about a possible fraudulent job.
By participating in a Career Exploration and Success career and internship fair, you’ll maximize your exposure to employers and make valuable contacts. Fairs provide students with opportunities to meet employers from varied industries. Employers can view a large number of potential candidates and promote their organization, which aids in the pre-screening process.
This section will cover strategies for making you shine in 30 seconds, including what to say to recruiters and how to set yourself apart from the competition!
What Do Employers Expect of Career & Internship Fair Candidates?
For those seeking full-time employment or an internship:
- Have some knowledge of the company/organization.
- Dress professionally.
- Be prepared to answer and ask appropriate questions at the fair.
- Follow up after the fair.
- For those exploring careers and/or networking opportunities:
- Be prepared to ask thoughtful and appropriate questions.
- Have an idea of the type of industry and/or position you might be seeking.
- Be prepared to answer questions about your interests, major, and/or skills.
Preparation is Key in Making the Most of Your Fair Experience!
Prior to the career and internship fair
Prepare your resume: Bring 20 or more copies with you.
- Have your resume critiqued at Career Exploration and Success before printing. Keep your resume in a folder or portfolio at the event.
- Print resumes on white or neutral-color paper. Check carefully for typos, spelling, and grammar mistakes.
- Have a resume that is clear, concise (one page is preferred), and easy-to-read within a short amount of time.* Note, don’t be discouraged if the employer does not take your resume. Many recruiters will encourage you to apply online rather than take a paper copy because applying online is a requirement to be an official candidate.
Wear professional attire—first impressions are critical and lasting.
We strongly advise you to wear a suit. This is a worthwhile investment and something that you will use often. However, if you don’t own a suit, please dress in business casual attire. It is always better to lean toward the professional side.
- Wear a suit, or a skirt/dress with a blazer, conservative color, and no heavy jewelry or perfume. If you don’t own a suit, conservative slacks/skirt and blouse is acceptable.
- Wear a suit, jacket and tie with slacks, conservative color: no heavy cologne or aftershave. If you don’t own a suit, tailored slacks and a button down dress shirt is acceptable
Research the employers attending the career and internship fair through their websites
- Familiarize yourself with the employers attending the fair. Many will have links to websites, a list of the positions available within the organization, and contact information.
- Determine “What is my objective at the fair?” and “What do I hope to accomplish at the fair?”
Plan Your Strategy
- Remember, this is a meet-and-greet event. Fairs offer the opportunity for you to present yourself to potential employers as well as the opportunity for you to “interview” them!
- Market yourself with a brief infomercial about yourself—your major, year in school, jobs and internships, career interests, activities, and skills.
- Consider developing a business card.
Prepare a List of Questions
Ask about career opportunities, specific position openings for which you might be qualified, and the organization. Do not ask questions such as “So, what do you do?” or “Do you have any jobs?” Instead, ask questions such as ”What types of positions are available within your organization in the __________________ area?”
- Can you tell me what characteristics your most successful employees have?
- What types of majors do you traditionally hire for your ____________________ positions?
- What is the hiring process for your associates/interns?
- What types of training are provided for new employees?
- Is there an application I need to complete in order to apply for this position?
Items to Bring
- Resumes (clear, clean copies), pens and pencils
- List of employers to target at the fair and a list of prepared questions
- Other information not provided on your resume (in the event you need to complete an application)
- Professional portfolio with samples of work (if appropriate)
Note: Carry as little as possible
How to Present Your Elevator Pitch at Career Fairs, Interviews, and Networking Events
An elevator pitch or speech is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a person, product, service, or organization. It is an introduction to yourself and your background. The name “elevator pitch” reflects the idea that you can deliver your summary in the time span of an elevator ride, within 30 to 60 seconds, enough time to give a recruiter or hiring manager information about you, in order to generate interest.
Clarify Your Value in a Clear Pitch
In a conversational manner, explain who you are, what your major is and/or your career goals are. Express why you want an internship or position with their organization. State your skills up front. Make the employer understand how your specific skill set can improve the organization’s performance.
“Hi, my name is Stacey Brown. I am currently a sophomore attending Rutgers. My major is in economics with a minor in art history. I worked part-time with Wells Fargo Bank through my first two years of college. Last summer I volunteered with The World Trade Center Memorial Museum in NYC and I’m hoping to find an internship in finance this summer. I am interested in art and I’m finding that I have an aptitude for business. I would like to combine these two fields and find a career that includes them both.”
“Hello, my name is Priya Patel. I am a junior majoring in nutrition. I am working part-time as a shift supervisor for Nestlé’s Information Center. This experience has strengthened my skills in communication, management, and leadership. I also led a team project with Nutrition Advocates on developing workshops to educate, inform and promote better nutrition, health, and wellness on campus and in the community. In my research about your company, I read about the plans for expanding the nutrition awareness program, and I am interested in learning more about it.”
“Hi, my name is Michael McDonald. I am a Division I scholarship athlete at Rutgers and was recently voted team captain. In spite of a heavy practice and travel schedule, I maintained a 3.7 GPA as a double major in economics and French. I became involved in my fraternity’s breast cancer program as a freshman and thought we could do much more. I organized a plan to recruit more fraternity members to actively participate, and it grew from 25% to nearly 65%. Last year I pitched the program to five other Greek organizations and we now have over 200 participants.”
Networking is when you build and maintain mutually beneficial relationships to develop career prospects, whether it is in-person, online, or both. It is one of the most important attributes of career success. Many great job opportunities never make it to a recruitment website or job board; they get filled by word of mouth. Even if the position is posted, it helps to know someone inside the organization who can recommend you and give you the inside line. Try these smart moves to excel at networking:
Start Early: Don’t wait until graduation, and then think “I have no connections.” Build your network throughout your time at Rutgers.
Practice That Elevator Pitch: Be ready to introduce yourself wherever and whenever with a basic elevator pitch introduction (page 33).
Leverage SACC: The Student-Alumni Career Network (SACC) is a database for students to search for alumni in career areas of interest and set up networking connections through this platform.
Take Advantage of Networking Events: At Rutgers, there are countless opportunities to network. Student organizations often host alumni and employers. Career Exploration and Success conducts events including career exploration nights, career and internship fairs and field trips. Visit our website for the most up-to-date events calendar.
Actively Engage in Your Classes: Professors have many connections – from professionals in the field to former students. If you establish a positive relationship with teachers they can become valuable resources in your job search later on.
Reach Out to Other Faculty and Staff: If there’s someone else at Rutgers who you think may be able to provide you with career advice or guidance you have nothing to lose by reaching out and asking, do it!
Network Beyond Campus: Networking on-campus is great, but also consider beyond. Attend young professional and interest groups through MeetUp to talk with people that recently went through the job search process. Professional associations are also a great way to meet people working in your areas of interest. As a bonus, these associations often have discounted student membership and conference rates. You will look pretty motivated and forward thinking if you attend these events.
Manage Your Reputation: Whether you’re working part-time at a restaurant or interning for a large organization, take it seriously and do your best. You never know who could help you in your career by serving as a reference or connecting you to someone.
Ask for an Informational Interview: Want to connect with individuals that you admire at your internship, at Rutgers, or even in your field? Request an informational interview (page 6) to find out how they got to where they are and ask for any advice they may have. This can take place via e-mail, on the phone, or in person.
Offer to Give Back: Networking isn’t a one way street. As a student you may wonder, “What in the world can I offer?” but you never know unless you ask. Make it clear to your connections that you’re willing to help as well. You may be able to lend a hand in surprising ways.
Connect through LinkedIn: Once you’ve made new contacts, touch base with them through LinkedIn.
Social and career networking sites are critical tools for job/internship seekers and employers. LinkedIn reports that recruiters’ use of social networking increased a phenomenal 57% over the last four years. You cannot afford to ignore this trend. When using social media, think about your goals and how you want to be perceived. Remember, many employers check profiles on popular networking sites before making interviewing and hiring decisions. In fact, employers have been Googling job applicants for years to learn more about their online professional brand. Therefore, it is very important that your online profile is professional and doesn’t include photos in bad taste, inappropriate language, or poor spelling. See below for more helpful tips.
Which Online Networking Tools Should You Use?
There are many social media and networking sites that can help with your job search. Here are a few of the most common ones:
This networking site consists of millions of experienced professionals representing hundreds of industries.
You can use LinkedIn to:
- Showcase your skills, career goals, and experience.
- Network with others in your field by adding them to your group of connections.
- Join groups and discussions of interest.
- Ask internship or work supervisors, professors, and co-workers for recommendations or endorsements.
- Stay in touch with current and past professional contacts through the messenger app.
If you use it to stay in touch with friends and family, play online games, and post your pictures, keep your privacy settings as high as possible. Your profile may include private information that you’re not comfortable sharing with an employer.
If you choose to use it for career purposes, it is important to clean up your profile. Remove any posts, comments, or photos that you wouldn’t want a large audience, including employers, to see. Also, continue to be careful about which groups you join and how you act online. Like and follow organizations of interest to learn more about them.
Twitter is a useful tool for job seekers and employers. You can search for tweets about job openings, follow organizations of interest and industry professionals in your field.
Common hashtags used for job searches are:
Student-Alumni Career Connect
This system allows you to identify and connect with Rutgers alumni in various career fields to conduct informational interviews.
Blogs are a great way to attract readers and recruiters in your field of interest. Follow blogs that are relevant to your career interests and potential industries you wish to pursue. Keep up-to-date and look like a “subject matter expert” with “career-ready” skills.
The Mobile Job Search
Mobile device traffic continues to drive the preference and need for short, lean text in job search-related communications such as emails, cover letters, resumes, and LinkedIn messages. Cover letters should be shorter and more streamlined. Resumes are trending toward shorter summaries, paragraphs, and achievement bullets with less text density. All of these documents should be designed in mobile-ready formats. This means that any included photos, images, graphs, or charts should be suitable for mobile consumption.
Make an appointment with a Career Exploration and Success’ career advisor on Rutgers Handshake to help develop your personal brand, job search documents, and online presence today! careers.rutgers.edu/handshake
Stay In Touch Through LinkedIn
Now that you’ve made new professional connections you’ll need a place to stay in touch. LinkedIn is the go-to place to establish a professional online presence, engage with your network, and search for employment opportunities. Follow these tips to create a stellar LinkedIn presence, and be sure to attend our LinkedIn workshops or watch our webshop series, to learn more!
Write a Catchy Profile Headline: Your headline is one of the first things people will see on LinkedIn.
- Keep it short, memorable, and professional.
- Address your area of study and ambition (e.g., “Human Resources Major and Aspiring Compensation Analyst.).
Pick an Appropriate Photo: Upload a high-quality headshot of yourself alone and professionally dressed and/or appropriately dressed based on your intended field. No party shots, family photos, or cuddly animal pictures.
Create Your Unique LinkedIn URL:
- Create a unique URL (i.e., linkedin.com/in/AlyssaJones) and set your LinkedIn profile to“public”to increase your results when professionals search for you online.
- Add your URL to your resume.
Develop a Professional Summary: As one of the most important sections of the profile…
- Present specifically what you have to offer.
- Make it clear and concise about your qualifications and goals.
Show Off Your Education:
- Include major, minor, study abroad, research and academic/independent projects.
- Share your honors and awards.
Include Other Experiential Education: Internships and work experiences are important, but don’t forget to…
- Add related activities (i.e., clubs and organizations and community)
Don’t Go Overboard:
- Be selective and address, “What’s my goal?”
- Modify your LinkedIn content on your objective—similar to your resume.
Grow Your Network:
- Begin connecting after creating your profile (e.g., You recognize a co-worker from your internship.)
- Use “Advanced People Search” feature to find Rutgers alumni.
Connect with Personalized Invitations: Although LinkedIn provides a generic connection request e-mail…
- Customize your connection requests.
- Address the reason you are reaching out (e.g., when you met or something on their profile resonated with you).
- Express appreciation for the opportunity to “connect” with them.
Collect Diverse Recommendations:
- Request recommendations from faculty, internship and employment supervisors, and others who worked with you.
- Set a goal for obtaining one recommendation for each position you have held.
Engage with Your Network:
- Keep in touch.
- Share interesting articles.
- Congratulate for work anniversaries and other professional milestones.
- Update individuals on your internship/employment.
The School of Arts and Sciences and Career Exploration and Success have partnered to offer the Rutgers Internship & Co-op Program (RICP) course allowing students from all majors to earn academic credit for an internship or co-op.
- Earn academic credit for your internship or co-op
- Explore and consolidate career goals
- Develop and enhance skills necessary for the work environment
- Gain a professional advocate to guide you through your experience
What is the Difference Between an Internship and Co-op?
- Internship: 3 elective credits
- Available during the fall, spring, and summer semesters
- Minimum of 180 hours of work and a minimum of 12 weeks (8 weeks in the summer)
- Co-op: 6 elective credits
- Available during the fall (June–December) and spring (January–July)
- Minimum of 690 hours of work and a minimum of 23 weeks
When/How Do I Apply?
Visit careers.rutgers.edu/ricp for the most current details, qualifications, and online application.
Where do I start if I don’t have an internship?
- Begin your internship search a semester in advance
- Schedule an appointment through your Rutgers Handshake account with a career advisor and choose “internship search” as the topic for the appointment
- View our upcoming events and attend a workshop on internships
- Apply to internship postings. Refer to the beginning of Chapter 4 for internship search strategies and resources
Recruitment for academic positions typically begins one year in advance of the recommended start date, so start your academic job search one year prior to completing your degree. Your current faculty advisor has gone through the process and can serve as a great resource.
What does that mean for the timeline of your search?
At least one year before your ideal start date, you should:
- Determine your readiness: In addition to doing further research about the academic job search process, have conversations with your faculty advisor, other professors, or peers who have experienced this process. Career Exploration and Success can help you clarify your readiness.
- Finalize your written materials for the academic job search: Be sure your curriculum vitae, cover letter, references (letter of application), written descriptions of research or teaching plans and philosophies are in pristine condition and targeted toward the proper institutions (e.g., research or teaching).
- Have your credentials ready: Be clear on the process for requesting official transcripts and other certification documentation.
- Identify job openings and apply: Determine which types of academic institutions will best fit your expertise (e.g., universities that grant doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s, or associate degrees; special focus institutions, etc.) and give thought to which geographic locations would be best for you.
- Continue to do research and seek to publish your work: These areas fortify your expertise. Having a gap in these areas will reduce your ability to speak to current activities and updated findings when interviewing. Remember, you will be submitting applications far in advance.
- Assess whether you need to broaden your job considerations: For some, plans will change for a variety of reasons (e.g., interests, immediate financial consideration, etc.) and your academic job search may have to be adjusted to include options outside of academia.
Additional topics to keep in mind as you plan your career in academia:
- Understand the value of networking: Building your network of contacts is one of the most effective ways to proactively further your job search. Professors, classmates, supervisors, and other campus colleagues are a great place to start communicating about your career endeavors.
Additionally, conferences, networking events, and other scholarly association leads can build your network. Also consider conducting informational interviews (See page. 6)
- Acquire references: Have a confirmed list of professionals who will speak to your accomplishments. You may need to submit their names to potential institutions with very short turnaround time. It’s always best to clarify with them what portion of your experience they can best discuss.
- Prepare for the campus interview: Like any interview, preparation is key. You can practice interviewing with your advisor, industry professionals, and colleagues. Career Exploration and Success can also help you prepare through an individual appointment or mock interview.
- Practice your academic job talk: This will be your opportunity in the interview process to verbally communicate your expertise to an audience. Confidently prepare based upon what you know, and do not presume that the audience knows more than you on your topic. Find out the time frame you will be given and stick to it. Make the beginning accessible and basic, then go on to convince them that you can communicate complex information. Be sure to make it interesting.
- Prepare to negotiate: Negotiating is an important aspect of evaluating a job offer. First, it’s important to understand what is and isn’t negotiable. Items such as salary, teaching load, leave time, and tenure clock may be negotiable depending on your discipline and institution. Some institutions will be more flexible than others. For example, state institutions generally have set salary schedules and thus less flexibility to negotiate salary. While benefits are not necessarily negotiable, make sure you ask questions and fully understand the available benefits. Candidates in the sciences and engineering can negotiate additional items such as lab space and equipment.
If the institution selects another candidate, be gracious until the conclusion, as he or she might be your colleague in the future. Keep networking, applying, and researching to best ensure your eventual success.
“The Academic Job Search Handbook” (4th Edition), by Julia Miller Vick and Jenifer Furlong is a great resource for learning more on this topic.
While many of the tips and strategies for conducting an internship and job search presented in Chapter 4 are relevant for all job and internship seekers, international students may face some additional challenges. One of the most pressing challenges is to learn and feel comfortable with the hiring culture and practices in the U.S. and how they differ from your home country. Review the roles of the U.S. employer and international student in the employment process to acclimate and prepare yourself for the differences and to show potential employers you are prepared to work in the U.S.
The U.S. Employer’s Role in the Job & Internship Search
Many employers restrict hiring to U.S. citizens or permanent residents because they assume it is complicated, expensive, and time-consuming to hire international students (especially for full-time positions), or they have a federal government contract. Additionally, many employers use internships to recruit for full-time positions. Although it is a less complicated process for employers to hire international students for an internship, they prefer U.S. citizens whom they could easily convert to full-time employees. The employer’s role is to...
- Use various approaches to locate potential employees for internships and full-time employment:
- Career and internship fairs or community job fairs
- On-campus recruitment
- Employment agencies (“headhunters”)
- Employee referrals
- Job announcements on company websites, job boards, major newspapers, trade publications, or professional associations
- Regional and national professional conferences
- Seek people who are the right fit for the organization and the position for which they are recruiting.
* Note: Individual equality in the U.S. is important; thus, legally, factors like age, gender, and race cannot be considered in the interview process.
- Provide applicants with an opportunity to explain their credentials and the reasons they are suitable for a position.
The International Student’s Role in the Job & Internship Search
As an internship or job seeker in the U.S. your responsibility is to pursue and apply for opportunities. It is also your responsibility to become aware of the process and paperwork necessary to be eligible to work in the U.S. Rutgers Global offers monthly workshops on post-completion, off-campus, and on-campus employment. You can also meet with your international student advisor who can help you complete any necessary forms and inform you of costs associated with working in the United States.
When invited for an interview, be prepared to explain to the interviewer what is involved in the process for work authorization and hiring an international student for a job or internship opportunity. Employers might be interested in hiring you if you demonstrate that you are the best-qualified candidate and if no U.S. citizens can be found with the skills they seek. The international student’s role is to...
Strategies Resources Become aware of the process and paperwork to be eligible for employment in the U.S. through Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and/or Optional Practical Training (OPT) Attend pre-and-post-completion workshops for on-and-off-campus employment offered by Rutgers Global and meet with an international student advisor to complete necessary forms. Create and research target list of employers for your internship and job search, based on your career and industry community, including U.S. organizations doing business in your home country and organizations that have sponsored H1B Visas in the past 12 months.
- Access GoinGlobal, Rutgers Handshake, Vault – Industry Guides, and employers that participated or will participate in RU career & internship fairs from the Career Exploration and Success website.
- Use your LinkedIn and other social media networks and resources.
- Join and/or access professional associations and community organizations.
- Speak with employer representatives during Employer Information Sessions.
- Explore additional resources: Riley Guide International, EscapeArtist.com, EuroGraduate Live, International Chamber of Commerce, Overseasjobs.com, World Policy jobs, InterAction, Change.org.
Develop personal and professional relationships via networking. Inform as many people as possible about your job search and your field of interest. Use these resources to connect with alumni to conduct informational interviews:
- Student-Alumni Career Connect – an online database of Rutgers alumni accessible from your Rutgers Handshake account.
- Rutgers Clubs – accessible through the Rutgers Alumni Association.
- Rutgers Global – Your international student advisor may be able to refer you to current students and alumni who have been successful in gaining employment in the U.S.
Prepare your resume/curriculum vitae (CV) before applying for a job/internship in the U.S. Note: Do not include personal information such as age, gender, marital status, or religion. Refer to Chapter 3 for detailed information regarding resume development. Have a career advisor critique your resume/curriculum vitae (CV). Communicate your skills and experiences through your resume and the interview. Attend workshops on resume/CV writing, interviewing, and other job search-related topics. Speak with confidence about your skills, strengths, accomplishments, and education as they relate to the jobs you are seeking in interviews.
- Attend the “Preparing for the Behavioral Interview” workshop.
- Access InterviewStream, a virtual mock interview module from your Rutgers Handshake account to practice your interviewing skills.
- Schedule a meeting with a career advisor to review and discuss your mock interview.
Be prepared to explain in interviews what is involved in hiring an international student for employment opportunities using Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and/or Optional Practical Training (OPT). Attend workshops offered by:
- Rutgers Global (i.e., on Curricular Practical Training (CPT) & Optional Practical Training (OPT)).
- Career Exploration and Success (i.e., interviewing skills, mock interview, career fair preparation).
Strengthen your English language skills.
- Join student organizations, graduate student councils or government.
- Participate in programs such as the International Friendship Program sponsored by Rutgers Global.
* For additional assistance in planning your career and searching for internship and job opportunities, you can schedule an appointment via your Rutgers Handshake account and/or visit careers.rutgers.edu/events for a list of programs and events.
- Use various approaches to locate potential employees for internships and full-time employment:
Purpose of the First Interview
The first interview is a key exchange of information between the employer and the applicant.
The employer’s main purpose is to determine if your education, experience, and personal attributes fit the organization’s needs. Your main purpose is to emphasize your qualifications
and interest in the job and get selected for a second interview.
Common Interview Methods
- Set the Stage: Find an appropriate place to be seen, with a clean background, proper lighting, and minimal distractions/noise.
- Internet Connection: Ensure you have a stable connection. Consider wired over wireless.
- Install & Test: Set up and practice with the software (i.e., Skype, Zoom) beforehand, especially if it’s your first time using that tool to avoid technical glitches during the interview.
- Focus Your Attention: Keep all other programs/windows closed to maintain eye contact with your interviewer. Look at the web cam and not at yourself.
- Dress the Part: Dress the same way you would for an in-person interview to achieve the right state of mind needed to succeed.
- Be Prepared: Have a copy of your resume, cover letter, job description, and other important information with you for easy access.
- Listen then Talk: To avoid talking over each other, be patient and let the interviewer speak before answering.
Common Interview Types
These types of interviews are based on the concept of using past behavior as a way of predicting future performance.
The interviewer will ask for specific examples of how a skill has been demonstrated in the past. See the next section for more details on Behavioral Interviewing (page 42).
- Designed to see how you relate to different personalities. Be sure to communicate with each interviewer during the conversation.
- A common interview format with consulting firms, this type of interview involves describing the steps to take in solving a specific problem.
Preparing for the Interview
- Research the employer to obtain as much information as possible, including: the organization’s mission statement, values, products and services, structure and competitors. Use various resources such as the employer’s website, glassdoor.com, Vault’s Career Insider, and LinkedIn.
- Research the position and be able to discuss the skills and qualities you possess that make you a good candidate for the job.
- Review your background including coursework, academic/research projects, activities, internship and work experience. Provide examples of your skills and qualities that are relevant to the position. Employers are seeking candidates who can communicate effectively, have the ability to work in a team, and possess analytical and problem solving skills.
- Practice interviewing. Schedule an appointment with a career advisor for a mock interview. Also, use InterviewStream, an online resource in Rutgers Handshake.
- Check your appearance and grooming because it makes an important first impression. Dress appropriately for all interviews.
- Make sure you bring extra copies of your resume in a portfolio.
- Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early.
- Relax and collect your thoughts.
During the Interview
- Greet the interviewer(s) with a firm handshake and smile while making good eye contact. Refer to the interviewer using Mr., Ms., or Dr. unless you are invited to use a first name.
- If your religion or culture does not allow you to shake hands you can place your hand over your heart and say “I’m sorry but my religion does not allow me to shake your hand. Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you today.”
- Be yourself. Display energy, confidence, and a positive attitude. Demonstrate enthusiasm and sincere interest.
- Listen closely and answer the questions with relevant information.
- Provide specific and detailed examples of how you have demonstrated key strengths and skills including: the ability to learn quickly, communicate effectively, analyze and solve problems, work in a team, and others.
- Ask good questions which are relevant to the position and employer.
- Be prepared to discuss everything on your resume in depth. Emphasize your strengths. Do not be defensive or apologetic for lack of experience.
- Be aware of your non-verbal communication, especially your posture. Don’t appear too rigid or overly relaxed. Don’t fidget. Maintain eye contact.
- Watch your grammar. Interviewers are impressed by articulate candidates. Use pauses rather than “ums” and “uhs.”
- Stay positive. Never criticize an employer, professor, friend, colleague, or school.
- Never mention salary or benefits in an interview. Let the employer bring up these topics. Research the career field and industry and be prepared to discuss your salary requirements. Be realistic and have an accurate salary range in mind. Emphasize that your salary requirements are flexible.
- At the close of the interview, take these steps to leave the employer with a positive impression:
- Ask for a business card.
- Ask about the next step in the process and a time frame that you can expect to hear from the employer.
- Emphasize your interest in the position and the organization. Thank the interviewer(s).
After the Interview
Write down pertinent facts from the interview (names of interviewers, important discussion points). Within 48 hours, write a short thank you letter or email message to the interviewer(s) emphasizing your key qualifications and interest in the position/organization.
Refer to page 26 for samples.
“Tell me about a time when you were on a team, and one of the members wasn’t carrying his or her weight.” If this is one of the leading questions in your interview, you could be in for a behavioral interview. Based on the premise that the best way to predict future behavior is by past behavior, this style of interviewing is common.
How to Prepare for a Behavioral Interview
Review the job description for which you are interviewing, and take note of the skills/qualifications required. It’s likely that the interviewer will ask you questions based on those “competencies.” For example: leadership, problem solving, or teamwork. Think about examples of situations where you have demonstrated those “competencies” and be prepared to discuss them in detail. Utilize the P.A.R. Approach (Chapter 3) to prepare short stories for each situation;
be ready to provide additional details if asked.
- Be specific. Don’t generalize about several situations; give a detailed description of one situation. Prepare examples of situations involving skill communities such as leadership, teamwork, decision-making, problem solving, customer service, coping with stress, and organization/planning.
- Be sure that the outcome reflects positively on you (even if the result itself was not favorable).
- Be honest. Don’t embellish or omit any part of the story. The interviewer will find out if your story is built on a weak foundation.
Behavioral Interview Sample Question/Response
To the question of “Tell me about a time when you were on a team and a member wasn’t pulling his or her weight.”
“I was assigned to a team to build a canoe out of concrete. One of our team members wasn’t showing up for our lab sessions or doing his assignments. I finally met with him in private, explained the frustration of the rest of the team, and asked if there was anything I could do to help. He told me he was preoccupied with another class that he wasn’t passing, so I found someone to help him. Not only was he able to spend more time on our project, but he was grateful to me for helping him. We finished our project on time and got a ‘B+.’”
The interviewer might follow-up with: “How did you feel when you confronted this person?”; “What was your role?”; “At what point did you take it upon yourself to confront him?” You can see it is important that you do not make up or “shade” information and why you should have a clear memory of the event.
As part of the interview process, some employers may invite you to dinner. This is more than a free meal, however. Employers need to trust you can represent them in social settings with clients and colleagues. Some tips include:
- It is not about the food: The focus is on the interview and how you interact and communicate. You can’t communicate with food in your mouth, so take small bites that you can finish quickly and spend more time conversing than eating. Avoid ordering messy foods.
- Manners matter: In addition to “please” and “thank you,” there are numerous etiquette rules that may be challenging to remember. The golden rule is to follow the lead of your host when it comes to choosing what to order and when to start and stop eating.
- Plan in advance: Call the restaurant to ask about appropriate attire. Also, map out directions to ensure prompt arrival. Lastly, plan topics of conversation about yourself, the company, current events, and other business-related casual topics. Avoid politics and religion.
- Thank your host for the meal in person and with a follow-up “Thank You” note.
Practice responding to these questions. You may find it helpful to jot down key points. If you can answer each of these questions clearly, concisely, and confidently, you are well on your way to interview success!
College and Academic Experiences
- Why did you select Rutgers?
- Why did you choose your major?
- Which campus activities did you participate in and what did you learn or gain from these involvements?
- Which college classes did you like the best/least? Why?
- How would you evaluate your education at Rutgers?
- Do your grades accurately reflect your abilities?
- Were you financially responsible for your education?
- How many classes did you miss because of illness, personal business, or other reasons?
Work Experience and Accomplishments
- What did you enjoy most/least about your last job?
- Have you ever quit a job? Why?
- Which three accomplishments are you most proud of?
- What problems have you solved on the job?
- What work experience did you have during college?
Skills and Personal Qualities
- Tell me about yourself. (Be prepared for this one. It may be the first question asked. Briefly highlight your career interests, academic background, work experiences, and strengths.)
- What are your greatest strengths?
- Can you describe any weaknesses? (Make sure you cite something that you are actively improving upon. Turn it into a positive. Do not mention a weakness, which would directly and negatively impact your ability to do the job.)
- What skills have you developed?
- Why should we hire you rather than another candidate?
- Is there anything not on your resume that you would like to share? (Your answer may include any volunteer work, activities, or community service).
- Define success and failure.
The Job and Employer
- Why did you choose to interview with us?
- How does your college education or work experience relate to this job?
- What do you know about us (products or services)?
- What are your salary requirements?
- Why are you a good candidate for this position?
- Do you prefer to be supervised or work on your own?
- Would you be successful working on a team?
- Have you worked under deadline pressure? When?
- Are you able to work on several assignments at once?
- Do you prefer large or small organizations? Why?
- Describe your ideal job.
- Where do you want to be in five years? Ten years?
- Do you plan to further your education?
Typical “Behavioral Interview” Questions
- Give an example of a situation when you dealt with a difficult customer.
- Provide an example that demonstrates your ability to work effectively as part of a team.
- Describe a time when you successfully managed multiple responsibilities.
- Describe a project or situation which demonstrates your ability to analyze and solve problems.
- Give an example that demonstrates your organization skills and attention to detail.
- Describe a time when you had a conflict or difference of opinion with a co-worker.
Questions to Ask Employers at the First Interview
- Please describe the duties of the job.
- What might I expect in the first six months?
- What skills are important for someone in this position?
- Can you tell me about the team projects I will be working on?
- Will I have an opportunity to work on special projects?
- Do you offer a training program? How long does it last?
- What type of professional development opportunities are available for employees?
Second or Third Interview
- How much responsibility will I have during my first assignment? Subsequent assignments?
- Do you promote from within or hire from the outside?
- What is the largest single challenge facing your staff/department/organization?
Point of an Offer
- What is the salary range for this position?
- Are salary adjustments geared to the cost of living or job performance?
- Do you have a standard or optional benefits package?
- What is your vacation policy?
- What is the performance review process?