How to Get an Internship or Job When Hiring is All Virtual

Learn how to navigate virtual recruitment and stand out to employers online.

Guidance Provided By: The Handshake Team

Recruiting season may look different this year, but luckily thousands of employers are searching for students on Handshake. So, how can you be ready to land your next job or internship virtually this year? Follow these steps to make the most of your online job hunt. 

Complete your Handshake profile

This is always our first piece of advice for student job seekers, because your profile is fundamental to getting hired on Handshake. Employers are searching for students to recruit based on the information in their profiles such as major, graduation date, and interests (job type, cities, roles). And you can highlight all of the things that make you uniquely qualified including your courses, organizations, work experience and skills. When you complete your profile, you’ll be more likely to receive direct messages from employers inviting you to events or to apply for jobs.

The next step is crafting your resume with the information included in your profile. Upload and save your resume to your Handshake account so it’s ready when you’re applying to jobs. You can upload more than one version of your resume—so consider adapting it for different roles that you want to apply for.

Start networking online

You’ve probably heard that networking is important, and it can sound a bit intimidating. But “networking” really just means making a connection with someone from your school, extracurriculars, volunteer groups—or just reaching out to someone you don’t know who shares the same professional interests. There are many different ways to start networking online. 

Find alumni of your school on Handshake who have or had roles that you’re interested in and send them a message. Introduce yourself and tell them you’d like to learn more about their experience. Ask them a question you have about their organization or how they began their career. And don’t forget to thank them in advance for connecting and sharing their advice.

Try looking for online professional interest groups to make connections with people in the fields that you’re exploring. It may take some research; you can also reach out to your professors or club leaders for their suggestions.

Stay up-to date on employers 

When you see an employer on Handshake that you like, click the Follow button on their page. If you’re on the Handshake app, click the star button. Following employers on Handshake is so useful because you’ll receive email alerts when they post new jobs and events. Plus, it helps improve your job recommendations. The more you explore and follow employers you’d like to work for, the more relevant your recommendations become.

Additionally, you can set search engine alerts for your top employers and follow their social media accounts. These are easy ways to learn about new initiatives, jobs, and other notable updates on their organization. 

Attend virtual recruiting events

One of the biggest opportunities to connect with employers this year is at virtual events on Handshake. Employers are hosting group and 1:1 sessions to give students a look at their organizations and to recruit for open jobs and internships. Be sure to check your email for event announcements and log in often to see upcoming events for students at your school. You’ll also be notified when employers you follow are attending virtual fairs on Handshake. 

When you register for a virtual fair, you can sign up early for sessions with the employers you want to meet and learn more about—a major advantage over traditional career fairs. Don’t miss these prime recruiting opportunities! 

Read our guide to virtual events, with tips and tricks to know before you attend.

Practice for virtual interviews

Just like in-person interviews, it takes some practice to get comfortable with virtual interviews. This is the time to call in some reinforcements. Ask a friend or family member to help you practice. Start with your “elevator pitch”—a brief introduction about you, your background and career goals. Then have them ask you a few common interview questions and ask them for any feedback on your answers. While you don’t need to memorize exactly what you’ll say, it’s very important to get more comfortable answering interview questions. 

Check out our post with more ways to impress employers during a virtual interview.

Chat with your career center

Your school’s career center staff are an incredible resource, so take advantage of their knowledge. They can answer your job and internship questions, help you craft your resume and cover letters, or even practice for virtual interviews. They also have insight on employers that are hiring at your school and those that may have strong alumni networks. Call your career center and schedule an appointment—they’ll be happy to help you. 

Apply apply apply

You can’t get a job if you don’t apply, right? It may go without saying, but you’ll greatly increase your chances of getting hired if you apply to a lot of open jobs. And try to keep an open mind, especially if you’re not quite sure what you want to do. Now is the time to gain different experiences and learn what you do and don’t like about a job. 

Luckily Handshake will surface recommendations based on your profile, to help you find the jobs you want to apply for. Once you have your profile filled in and resumes uploaded, you’ll be able to apply to many jobs on Handshake in just a few clicks.

Be proactive and follow up

No matter where your job search takes you, be consistent and follow up. Whether it’s a message from an employer, an application, virtual event or interview—always consider three p’s: be proactive, prompt and polite. For interviews, whether informational or for an open job, it’s best practice to send a thank you note within 24 hours. In your thank you note, share something specific that you enjoyed learning or talking about, and reiterate your interest in the job, career path, etc. 

If you discussed an open job or internship with an employer during a virtual event, make sure to apply as soon as possible. If the employers shared their contact information with you, send them a note thanking them and letting them know you’ve applied.

Your online actions are especially important when recruiting is virtual. If you can’t make a great impression in person, it’s best to be extra responsive and appreciative to the connections you make online. 

Log into Handshake now to get started on your virtual job search!

Introducing: “How I Got This Job” Event Series

Have you ever encountered someone in a cool job and wondered how they got there? 


It’s this very question that led the Career Center’s Health Care & Science Community team to create the new quarterly “How I Got This Job” series.  Each quarter, current students will sit down with a DePaul alum or professional in the health care and science field to learn about their career journey, ask questions, network, and connect with fellow students who have similar career interests.  

Join us for the series’ inaugural event on Thursday, February 27, as we welcome back Ciera Hester-Smith (BS ’14), Senior Manager of Operations at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, to share her journey from hospitality leadership to health care administration and an MBA.  

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How I Got This Job: Ciera Hester-Smith, BS ‘14
Senior Manager of Operations at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush
Thursday, February 27
1:00 – 2:00 PM
McGowan South 107
Free lunch provided

 

As Ciera’s story shows, major does not always determine your career, and you can use your education in a variety of fields and industries.  Students from all years and majors are welcome to attend.

Interested in other opportunities to connect directly with alums like Ciera?  Check out the DePaul Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Network to connect with DePaul alumni for career insight and conversations.

 

5 Ways to Boost Your Career over Intersession

By Emily Komendera, Assistant Director, Employer Engagement and On-Campus Interviews

Fall Quarter came and went in a blur.

Luckily, the relief of a month-long break is right around the corner! While it may be tempting to use that time for Netflix (or Disney+) and holiday socializing, make sure to also set some career goals. With this time, you have the freedom to focus on what lies next after college, and the time to get some things done that wouldn’t be as feasible with class projects and homework piling up.

1. Pump up your online brand

What a great time to finally make those edits to your LinkedIn and Handshake profiles! You’ve taken some awesome classes this past quarter, and maybe you had a great internship that you haven’t added to your experience section. Think beyond text, and consider adding photos, links to your work, or going beyond that to create a professional portfolio online. Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, or Moonfruit are easy to use resources for creating an online portfolio. This can really make an impact on an employer’s first impression of you, and can also include more examples of your work beyond what’s included on your resume.

2. Follow up with your contacts

The end of a quarter is a great time to check back in with some of the people you’ve met recently at networking events, or colleagues from your summer internship. Make sure you are tracking your networking contacts and the last time you’ve connected, an easy way to do this is through an Excel or Google Sheet. You don’t only want to reach out to them when you need something – so share a quick update on how the quarter went, maybe email over an article that made you think of them, or ask how things have been going for them on a project you saw them share on LinkedIn.

3. Expand your network

While many folks travel over the holidays and might not have as much availability, intersession can be a great time for you to sit down and identify gaps in your network. Say your dream company is Google and you don’t know anyone who works at Google! Check out the DePaul ASK Network or look at those who are 2nd degree connections on LinkedIn who work at Google. If you know the person you have in common as a connection well enough, you can ask them for an introduction, or ask if they would be comfortable if you mentioned their name when you reach out to them with a LinkedIn message. When building your network, it’s always important to think about who you are already connected to and how they can help – but always put the ownership for that action on yourself.

4. Explore short-term opportunities

The holidays can be a slow time for some, but for non-profit, retail, and hospitality, it can be the busiest time of year! If you’re looking to make a little extra cash, add experience to your resume, or both, consider exploring seasonal opportunities. There are a lot of great options on Handshake; make sure to type “seasonal” in the search bar in the “jobs” tab. You never know what a short term opportunity could bring in the long run!

5. Set goals for next quarter

This additional time and the terrible Chicago weather make for a really great opportunity to reflect on what has changed this past quarter for your future goals. Write down stories about things you learned professionally and personally, and document all of your successes. It will come in handy when you have your next interview.

It’s also a great time to think ahead and set some tangible goals for what you’d like to do in the remainder of your time here at DePaul and beyond. If you’d like to talk to someone to bounce your ideas off of for goals, remember that the DePaul Career Center is open through 12/20.

5 Career Fair Prep Tips

By: Lorne Bobren, Technology & Design Career Community Advisor

The DePaul Career Center hosts several job fairs each year. The companies who attend are eager to learn about your qualifications and why you may be a good fit for their company. Whether you are looking for a full-time job or an internship, here are some tips on how to best prepare for the next fair:

1. Create an action plan

Job fairs at DePaul can have as many as 40-60 companies attend. It’s unrealistic to think you’ll connect with all companies attending, so the best approach is to review the company list on Handshake and make a list of 3-5 target employers. These companies should be your primary focus while attending the fair.

2. Research

One of the worst things you can do at a fair is ask a company, “What positions are you hiring for?” This information is easy to find on Handshake and the company’s website. Once you’ve created your target list of employers, you should review the company’s website, mission, social media, and job openings. This information will let you naturally converse with companies at the fair rather than asking questions that are found online. Show the recruiter you did your homework and that you’re genuinely interested in the company.

3. Have your resume reviewed

Having a polished resume prior to the fair is essential. Some companies may host on-campus interviews a few days after the fair or look to bring in candidates for onsite interviews a few days after the fair. The best way to ensure you’re prepared is by visiting the Career Center prior to the fair to have your resume reviewed.

4. Develop a 30 second pitch

You’ll have limited time to speak with recruiters at job fairs, so it’s best to develop a quick pitch that summarizes your skills and interest in the company. The purpose of an elevator pitch is to create a brief, impactful message that touches on the following key points:

  1. You! Your most important characteristics and interests
  2. What you can offer to the employer and workforce
  3. Your goal in connecting with the individual or company you’re pitching

Think about what qualities you possess that will leave an impression and bundles your strengths, what you can offer, and your intentions.

5. Connect with alumni mentors

DePaul’s ASK network is a great way to calm nerves and relax prior to the attending the fair. Alumni mentors are available before and during the fair to help with crafting your elevator pitch, resume reviews, and tips on how to approach employers.

 

Careers fairs may seem a bit intimidating, but creating an action plan and following through that plan is the best way to enhance your experience!

Your Guide to Connecting with Alumni on Linkedin

By: Gracie Covarrubias, DePaul University organizational and multicultural communication major ’18 and Career Center communications assistant

Scoping out potential contacts on LinkedIn can feel like a never-ending quest—the options are literally endless. There is, however, an art to finding that perfect connection on LinkedIn and sparking a conversation. Check out our guide to connecting with alumni on LinkedIn.

The Search

Crafting a LinkedIn search requires a few critical filters. Start off by typing in ‘DePaul University’ in the search bar. Once you’ve clicked on DePaul’s official page, click on the ‘see alumni’ button and you will be presented with a detailed breakdown of alumni interests, places of employment and fields of study.

Now it’s time to narrow your search. DePaul University’s Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Associate Director Leslie Chamberlain has a few pointers for students:

“Decide why you’re looking to connect with alumni. If you’re looking to explore a specific field or if there’s a city you’d like to be in, this is going to influence the keywords in your search for connections.”

Once you’ve used a couple of keywords and identified a potential connection, it’s time to actually hit the ‘connect’ button and send a message.

The Ask

This initial message is key to ensuring you get a response. Leslie advises that your message follows this classic, business outline: Them. You. Time-Bound.

Let’s break that down.

Them: Your first line should be a sentence about them, recognizing a particular involvement or position that caught your interest. For example, you could say, “your work as a social media analyst with the American Red Cross looks exciting.”

You: Your next two sentences should introduce you and provide some background. Think of it as a shortened elevator pitch. For example, you might say, “as a current public relations student at DePaul, I’m interested in working in the nonprofit sector. I’ve had the opportunity to take courses where I’ve constructed social media campaigns for companies and I’m looking to expand my knowledge in this sphere.”

Time-Bound: Finally, your last sentence should be time-bound to solidify a time to talk. “Fifteen to twenty minutes is the perfect amount of time to ask for. It’s enough time to get a feel for the person. If you vibe with the connection really well you can always ask for a follow-up meeting and if you don’t then you’re not trapped in a long conversation,” Leslie explained.  For example, you could say, “I would love to chat with you about your experiences as an analyst. Would you be available to talk over the phone for 15-20 minutes sometime in the next two weeks?”

The Follow-Up

Once you’ve sent the message and had the opportunity to talk over the phone, follow up with a simple thank you message.

This thank you should follow the Past. Present. Future. outline. First, acknowledge your previous interaction with a simple line, such as, “thank you for taking time out of your day to discuss your career.”

Next, bring up an insight they mentioned that you’re going to take action on. For example, “I picked up a copy of the branding book you mentioned and I’m looking forward to reading it.”

Finally, if you’ve really hit it off, the future portion of this thank you should be focused on a second meeting. For example, you might ask, “could I reach out to you next month? I’d like to talk to you about this book once I’ve finished it.” If you didn’t quite hit it off, a simple, “I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors,” will work.

Easy as that! Connecting with alumni is a great way to learn more about your industry and develop a mentorship with someone who shares common interests. Curious about other ways that alumni can help you? Check out the Alumni Sharing Knowledge network for more information on connecting with alumni.

How to Successfully Network Online & Make Connections that Will Last

Professionals often talk about the importance of networking, but the act of networking itself can be daunting. Living in a now digital-reliant world, many feel more comfortable engaging with a potential networking contact electronically, whether through formal social channels like LinkedIn or by simply emailing a lead. Networking over the digital sphere, however, means your writing skills will be put to the test; it’s important that you bring intriguing, professional language to the table.

Below are a few different scenarios you may encounter when networking online with professionals in your field, and some best practices to ensure you are making the best impression when doing so.

DePaul’s Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Network

Our Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) network is where over 1,000 DePaul alumni volunteer to be networking resources and assist DePaul students and fellow alumni in exploring college and professional transitions, interviewing best practices, life challenges and career options. Although these contacts have volunteered, you want to be respectful of their time by crafting a well-written introduction that includes the following:

  1. Who you are: Include your full name and major/career interests or passions
  2. Why you wish to connect: Do you want to learn more about his/her role, company, career path, etc.?
  3. What stood out from his/her profile: Personalize your request by noting one or two things that really piqued your interest in the volunteer’s profile

Your message doesn’t have to be lengthy, but it should include each of the above components. Afterwards, request 15-20 minutes of their time to either speak with them in person or over the phone; this way, you have set the expectation that you don’t intend to take too much of their time, which may encourage a quicker response. It can be much harder for a contact to set aside 30-60 minutes without advance notice.

The thing to remember about the ASK network is that these alumni have all volunteered, so you never have to feel intimidated or uncomfortable reaching out to them.

LinkedIn

The most popular channel that students lean on to seek potential networking contacts is LinkedIn. The good news is that it’s very easy to make new connections on LinkedIn; simply click “Connect,” and a potential new contact awaits. However, if you don’t take the time to personalize your connection request, you’re less likely to be accepted into someone’s network.

The best thing to do is review a potential contact’s LinkedIn profile before you send him/her a request, and try to identify one or two things you have in common. Maybe you share the same major, or perhaps you were both involved in the same student organization; mention this in your invitation request. If you’re reaching out to someone you don’t know personally, he/she is much more likely to respond if you identify some kind of shared experience or, at the very least, a reason why you want to connect with that person. What not to do? Send a blank invitation. Anyone can do that, but most professionals don’t want to accept just anyone into their network.

Once you’ve established a connection with this person, consider sending a lengthier introduction inquiring about his/her professional background. From there, simply follow the steps outlined above—the same rules that apply to the ASK network also apply here.

Email Referrals

There may come a time when a friend, professor or advisor will refer you to a contact at a company you’re really passionate about. These interactions may feel a little more intimidating, but many of the same rules apply:

  • When reaching out via email, be sure to introduce yourself and clarify your reason for writing.
  • You may want to look them up on LinkedIn to see if there are any commonalities you can refer to, or research the company website in case they’ve included a bio.
  • Most importantly, you want to be extra careful that you communicate with referrals professionally, and that you take the time to follow-up with them if they agree to do so.

In these instances, it’s not just your reputation on the line but that of the friend, professor or advisor referring you, so it’s especially important that you be mindful of any and all communication you have with these contacts.

Steps to Take Right Now

It’s always beneficial to begin seeking networking contacts through ASK, since these are people you have something in common with already (specifically your DePaul experience), and they have already volunteered to assist you! You can also meet with your designated career advisor to identify potential leads through ASK, LinkedIn and other industry-specific channels. Finally, we’re always happy to review any email communication in advance; simply email your advisor with the text you want to send to a potential contact, and we’ll help you to put your best (e)foot forward.