While the job market remains highly competitive, Virginia Tech Career Services is helping students to market themselves in ways that attract employers. The center offers students resources such as mock interviews, resume building sessions, online tools, career fairs, and connections to programs that offer internship and job opportunities.
The Mock Interview Program is open to anyone with a Virginia Tech PID.
“Students come in as if it were a real interview. They dress for the role, submit their resume, and have the option of having the video recorded,” said Mary Ann Cole, Career Services’ marketing manager. At the end of the interview, the advisor provides the student feedback, including an assessment of the student’s attire. “The one-on-one interview gives students a chance to practice face to face, which is the next best thing to being face to face with an employer,” Cole said.
If students cannot attend a mock interview, they can use the online Interview Stream option, which can be done anytime, anywhere, Cole said. Students choose from a list of 1,500 interview questions to answer, and the interview is conducted by an interviewer over a webcam. Responses to questions can be reviewed, retried, and shared with friends, professors, or career advisers for feedback.
Resume critique sessions help students improve the overall effectiveness and quality of their resume by marketing the paid, volunteer, academic, and extracurricular experience they have. “Students have more confidence in how their experience works together, so they fully understand what the employer is looking for. They are able to tailor their resumes to specific job postings,” said Johanna Smith, Career Services’ assistant director.
The critiques teach students that if they successfully communicate their qualifications employers can see how suitable they are for a position and what strengths they can bring to the job.
The Cooperative Education/Internship Program, provides students with opportunities to work in their chosen fields. “Students find career positions themselves and make sure that the experience is related to what they need once they graduate,” said Carolyn Rader, the program’s director.
“The co-op experience for me has been extremely beneficial,” said Aruna Nagarajan, a junior from Oak Hill, Va., majoring in chemical engineering and minoring in green engineering in the College of Engineering. “I believe that the experience I have gained has also given me an edge over my classmates since I have actually been able to work at a chemical plant where most of the processes we discuss in class take place,” she said.
Unlike co-ops, externships are short, unpaid opportunities in which students shadow professionals. “Externships are a quick way to determine whether or not students want to pursue a career. It provides the opportunity to ask questions to people in the industry and helps narrow down interests,” Rader said.
Although externships are for a short period of time, they can lead to full-time positions. Kassi McKinney, a senior from Doswell, Va., majoring in agricultural and applied economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, completed an externship with Southern States Cooperative, a farmer-owned cooperative. That led to a summer internship where she worked with various departments of the company and learned about branding, internal marketing, and consumer databases. “Overall, it was a great experience and taught me a lot about the professional world as well as the agricultural industry. The best part, though, was making lasting relationships with other companies,” McKinney said.
Career fairs are sponsored by student organizations or specific colleges and allow students to interact directly with company recruiters and learn about employment opportunities. Annual fairs include the Fall Focus Career Fair, Connection Co-op and Internship Job Fair, CareerFest, and the Directions Career Fair.
“Many employers who attend career fairs stay the next day for on-campus interviews. At the Connection Co-op and Internship Fair, we had 109 employers at the fair. We had more than 1,200 students attend, and 630 interviews conducted the day after the fair,” Cole said.
Written by Vanessa Williams, a junior from Woodbridge, Va. majoring in English in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.
For more information, contact Career Services at (540) 231-6241 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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