Heart of the Matter

Andy Chan's Blog for Parents, Mentors and Teachers

Job searching when on semester abroad

Dear Andy,

As a parent of a junior that is about to leave for a semester abroad, I was wondering what advice you might provide about internships for the summer. I assume that a lot of applications/interviews for these must occur during the spring semester, and she will be unable to follow through with an interview if she is out of the country. What would you suggest as an appropriate approach to this problem? Many of the applications are online and would not provide the “cover letter” option to inform prospective internships of her unavailability. Any advice you or someone in career development might have would be appreciated.  Thanks!

– A Concerned Mom

Dear C.M.,

Thanks for writing to me about your daughter’s situation.  There are hundreds of students who will have a similar experience so it’s good to be inquiring.

Let’s start by addressing the internship market and process:

  1. Although some internships are acquired by students through on-campus recruiting activities, the majority are acquired by candidates who seek out contacts and opportunities (this is networking).  Email and phone are very acceptable methods to make these types of connections.
  2. Numerous employers choose not to absorb the cost of bringing candidates to their location for in-person interviews.  As a result, they will make their internship offer decisions based on applications and phone/video or Skype interviews.  Many online applications require a cover letter so candidates can explain their interest and qualifications.  As long as your daughter is able and willing to make the arrangements for an international phone call, there should be no disadvantage to her bring abroad.
  3. For many firms, interviews can be conducted with Skype, so your daughter’s international location is not a barrier.

I asked our career counselors for their advice and recommendations:

  1. If it’s possible before she leaves the country, she should set up an appointment with a career counselor to develop a job search action plan that takes into account her interests and study-abroad experience. This appointment can be done over the phone or in person. To make the appointment, she can call our main office at 336-758-5902.
  2. If she has an interest in specific employers who recruit on-campus, she should speak with Dana Hutchens in the Office of Career Services.  Dana will give your daughter instructions on how to apply and be considered for such opportunities.
  3. Utilize the information and list of internship websites and resources available on the Career Services internship website: http://career.opcd.wfu.edu/career-resources/how-to-find-an-internship/. http://career.opcd.wfu.edu/career-resources/internship-and-job-postings/.
  4. If your daughter is a BEM student in the business school, she should speak with professor Holly Brower for specific suggestions on how BEM students addressed this issue last year.  Dr. Brower has many relationships with companies who offer internships for BEM students.
  5. If your daughter is interested in an academic or research internship, she should speak to a faculty member in her area of interest for advice and support.

As you can tell by the above advice, your daughter has many resources available to her.  Please encourage her to utilize them as soon as possible.  She will gather the necessary information and generate more potential options if she gets started on this process before she heads overseas.

Category: Job/Internship Search, Tips for Students