Heart of the Matter

Andy Chan's Blog for Parents, Mentors and Teachers

Job/Internship Search

6 Tips for Parents to Help Your Recent Graduate Get Hired

After graduation and the celebration that surrounds it, many recent graduates will begin or continue their job search during the summer. Often, their parents will play an important role in helping them navigate the path to their first jobs. To advise these parents, Mercy Eyadial, our Executive Director of Employer Relations, offers six tips so parents can best assist their recent graduates during this exciting, yet sometimes painful, process.

  1. Establish a game plan. If you are helping the student by way of financial support, or if your child is living in your home, lay out a schedule as to how long he or she will be supported, and decide how much money you’ll provide. In turn, the student must be expected to meet certain milestones, such as a specific amount of hours spent searching for jobs, number of contacts made or emails sent. “You must establish the expectations on the front-end, not months into their job search,” Eyadiel says.
  2. Set clear priorities. Eyadiel often sees families take the recent grad on a congratulatory family vacation after school lets out, encouraging the young person to spend more family time since they have moved back home. This sets an example of putting fun above the job search. “Don’t send mixed messages,” she says. “The job search is the priority. Make clear that they must find a job before they can play.”
  3. Share your network—carefully. Eyadiel suggests giving the student the contact information for three to five of your professional connections. Do not make the call on your child’s behalf, but instruct him or her on how to write an initial email. Also give advice on what to say in a meeting, and how to parlay an introduction into a conversation or job opportunity. Choose these contacts carefully. “The first person the student contacts should not be the CEO,” Eyadiel warns. “Have them start lower and practice. Let them build their confidence and work their way up to communicating with more senior people.” And don’t jeopardize your own Rolodex with these connections. After all, young professionals often make many mistakes.
  4. Elicit the help of a family friend or professional contact. Another adult can be useful as a secondary adviser. “I call them ‘adult fans,’” Eyadiel says. “They can take some pressure off the parent and offer another mature perspective.”
  5. Remember: You are not the one going through the job search process. This is not about your interests or goals. It is also not your responsibility to land the job for the student. “Parents often want to intervene too quickly and take the pain out of the process,” Eyadiel says. “But a job search is an inherently painful process. At the end of the day, the student is the one who has to interview and has to build their own professional identity.”
  6. Whatever you do, do not contact the recruiter or hiring manager. Never! “You actually harm the child by doing that,” Eyadiel says. “The employer will be so astonished that it is hard to give your kid serious consideration.”

Mercy Eyadiel’s 6 Tips for Parents on Helping Your Recent Graduate Get Hired first appeared on Retail Me Not on June 5. 

Graduates: Jump Start the Job Search Now

With graduation over, it’s time to commence life after college. For our seniors, this season is bittersweet. It is sad to be leaving friends and a place they have called home for four years, but the promise of a new future is exciting and energizing. While about half of the senior class already has plans in place for their future (which is consistent with past years), others are in the middle of their job searches or are just getting started. Not to worry, 95% of the class of 2012 who responded to our first destination survey were either employed or in graduate school by six months after graduation (which compares favorably to the national average of 59%. Source: NACE).

If your student is just beginning the job search process, share these tips so s/he can get a jump start on securing his or her first post-graduation opportunity:

  1. Don’t Compare. One big thing that can keep you from moving forward is worrying about how your situation compares to everyone else. Every person’s journey is unique and really cannot be compared to others. Focus on what you can do to keep moving forward at your own pace and time.
  2. Get Going. Just as no one wins the lottery without buying a ticket, you won’t get a job if you don’t start working on your search. The first mistake most make is to start applying for a multitude of jobs online (your odds of success are just like playing the lottery). The best first step is to develop real clarity about your work interests. Use the Job Search Strategies worksheet to organize your efforts.
  3. Clarify Your Interests. Do some research about the types of work (job functions & industries) that most interest you. Read Explore Careers on the OPCD website and other career sites. Write down what interests you and why, as well as what does not. Obtain feedback from adult fans who know you and a career counselor who knows these careers.
  4. Clean Up. Before you begin ‘selling yourself’ and applying for jobs, you have to get your act together. Clean up and tailor your resume, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media channel pages. Refine and practice your elevator pitch to quickly describe yourself, your background, strengths and interests so that you’re ready when you make connections.
  5. Make Connections. Start with your Adult Fans: family, friends, Wake Forest faculty and staff, Wake Forest alumni and fellow students (and their parents), and even alumni, friends, teachers from your high school and home town. Use LinkedIn every day. Set a goal to conduct at least 5 informational interviews each week. Ask each person about their experience, perspective on the sector and career paths, and their advice on the hiring process and how you can become a viable candidate. Always ask for introductions to others.
  6. 80/20 rule. Spend 80% of your time meeting people who work in your areas of interest (a.k.a. informational interviewing and networking). Only spend 20% of your time applying to jobs online. Use the Internet to research jobs, organizations and people – to understand what they are looking for and the skills and terminology that you need to demonstrate and/or acquire. Apply for jobs after hours, not during prime meeting times.
  7. Translate your experience. Employers will be interested in you when you have the knowledge and skills that they are looking for (as described in the job description). Many students have the necessary skills, but don’t define it accurately on the resume or communicate it well in an interview. Find great resumes online, on LinkedIn or the OPCD website for examples in your field of interest that you can mimic.
  8. Be realistic. You may be interested in jobs that require knowledge and skills that you don’t currently have. Be realistic that these jobs may be in your future with more experience and/or schooling. Focus on interesting jobs that fit your capabilities now. You can work towards that other job with good planning and professional development.
  9. 100% Effort.  Your job search is your primary job. Now is the time to work on your career, especially if you need to earn income and the clock is ticking. Invest at least 6-8 hours each day on your job search: Meet contacts during the day. Perform research, apply for jobs, and reflect and follow up on your meetings after hours.
  10. Be patient. The average job search takes three months and will have its ups and downs. Employers consistently tell us that Wake Forest graduates have the work ethic, drive and skills to be successful in the workplace and you will be successful, too (95% of the class of 2012 was employed or in graduate school by November). You only need one person to say “Yes” for all of your efforts to pay off.
  11. Ask For Guidance. The biggest roadblock to success is our pride. Most don’t want to ask for help, but everyone enjoys helping others. So give it a try. Ask, “What questions should I be asking myself?”, “What would you do if you were in my situation?”, “What else do you think I should look into?” By asking, you will open the door to new ideas and options. And deeper relationships that may help you now or sometime in the future.

Online Job Search and Career Resources

Even though the OPCD’s office is open from 8:30 am – 5:00 pm Monday – Friday, we realize college students operate on a different schedule. In order to ensure our tools and resources are available to Wake Forest students at any time night or day, we have identified a wide variety of quality resources that are available on our website 24 hours a day. Some of these resources are offered by reputable third parties and are paid for by Wake Forest (which would cost a student or alumnus hundreds of dollars if they had to purchase access on their own); others have been developed through partnerships with other colleges and universities; and some have been created by the OPCD team and are specifically designed for Wake Forest students.

Our foremost challenge is getting students to know about and use all these resources in their career development and job search process. Many students mistakenly think that DeaconSource is the only online resource they need and are left unhappy because it did not meet their expectations. DeaconSource is a very important tool that enables students to receive tailored information and news from the OPCD based on their interests, yet students still need to look further and utilize other resources to find what they really need.

Parents – you can help your student by making them aware of the online resources that fit with their interests and needs. Below is a list of some of the most valuable and utilized resources on the OCPD website.

Job and Internship Search 

  • Career Shift – Online networking tool that enables jobseekers to identify, research and cross-reference jobs and contacts.
  • Going Global – Features 33 Country Career guides, 43 USA City Career guides, corporate profiles and more than 600,000 internship and job listings within the USA and around the world.
  • The Internship Center – Online internship database that categorizes popular internships by city and career field.

Interview Preparation

  • Interview Stream – Practice mock interviewing from your computer any place, any time. Tailored questions are available by career field and you can get feedback on your mock interviews from friends, mentors, parents, career counselors and advisors.
  • STAR Method Worksheet – Interview preparation worksheet to help students organize their responses to behavioral interview questions by the Situations and Tasks they encountered, the Actions they took, and the Results they achieved.


  • Wake Forest Career Connectors – LinkedIn group of over 6000 alumni, students, parents, and faculty dedicated to providing advice and information to current Wake Forest students. Instructional videos guide students to build professional LinkedIn profiles. At least 50% of the Wake Forest student body is connected on LinkedIn each year.
  • Networking Tracking Tool – Pre-formatted Excel template helps students organize and track their opportunities and contacts.
  • Vault – Huge library of career and industry guides helps students in their research and exploration. Very useful before meeting networking contacts and conducting informational interviews in order to avoid asking basic questions and to be well-prepared for the conversation.

These are just a few of the many resources available to students. More online job search and career development tools and resources can be found on the OPCD website.

Are You in the Book?

A necessary step towards being hired for either a full time job or internship is getting your resume in front of a prospective employer. With the Internet, employers are inundated with hundreds, and sometime thousands, of resumes for every job opening. It’s close to impossible to stand out from the crowd. The Office of Personal & Career Development helps Wake Forest students get an edge by creating resume books for targeted employers who express specific interest in our talented students.

This year the OPCD is creating over 50 resumes books by class year, location and career field. For example, we have resume books for sophomores and juniors interested in the Washington, D.C. area, seniors and graduate students interested in Education, sophomores and juniors wishing to intern in Georgia and seniors and graduate students interested in staying in the Southeast amongst others. Students of all class years can submit their resumes.

Employers representing a wide range of industries and careers receive our resume books. Last year’s employers included: Ameson Foundation, Center for Creative Economy, Citizen Schools, Family Dollar Stores Inc., Google, Harris Williams & Co., Hawkes Learning Systems, Intel Corporation, Peace Corps, Plato’s Closet, Sageworks, Inc., The Home Depot, The New England Center for Children, The Weather Channel, Urban Teacher Center and more.

Parents, encourage your child to submit his/her resume in one or more of our resume books. It is very easy way for students to get their resumes in front of employers in their desired career field or location. Students will be able to submit their resumes between March 18 – 22nd. Below are  instructions for how to submit a resume to one of our resume books which you can send to your student.

  1. Login to DeaconSource.
  2. Select “Documents” and “Publish a resume” in the top menu.
  3. This will take you to all the available resume books.
  4. Beside each book, there will be a dropdown menu that will allow you to choose from resumes that you have already uploaded to the system.  It’s best to tailor your resume to the targeted book. Stop by the OPCD office for a resume review if you are unsure or have questions. To submit your resume, select your resume and click “Save.”

Look Beyond The Job Boards

When parents, faculty, or generational researchers are asked to provide a few adjectives about students, one commonly offered is “wired.” Today’s students have grown up with the Internet, can adapt to quickly evolving technologies, and (sadly) some even go to bed bathed in the glow of a phosphorescent screen. This comfort with technology provides students with some advantages, but students must be careful to not rely on technology in ways that promise results, but in fact, are not as valuable as perceived.

Many students look to internet job boards as a primary method for job or internship searching. While the Internet is good for researching organizations and opportunities, it’s not the most successful way for securing jobs.  Over 70% of jobs are obtained through networking; and less than 20% are obtained through job boards.

Students need to be aware of several issues when utilizing job boards.

  • Not all job postings are created equal.  A recent Wall Street Journal article, Beware the Phantom Job Listing, points out that “many open jobs are never advertised at all, or are posted only after a leading candidate—an internal applicant or someone else with an inside track—has been identified.”  While this “hidden” job market might frustrate job seekers, it demonstrates the weakness of relying solely on positions posted online.
  • Recruiters receive numerous online applications. Thus, they frequently rely upon Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to screen candidates.  This means that an application may get screened out and never be seen by a recruiter. Or the resume is buried in a database of thousands, never to be seen.
  • Networking remains the best way to secure a job. Students should not rely solely on job boards as most jobs are still secured through relationships. Students should be encouraged to attend networking workshops and events.  Working with an OPCD career counselor, they will develop a comprehensive job search strategy. The New York Times article, In Hiring, a Friend in Need Is a Prospect, Indeed, conveys how organizations are increasingly leveraging their own employees and their network to find new hires.

The propensity for students to over-rely on job boards has muddied their understanding of the value and purpose of DeaconSource, our system for communicating with students and also providing some job and internship opportunities. The primary benefit and function of DeaconSource is that when students have completed their profile to indicate their career and geographical interests, the OPCD can send students tailored messages with educational information, resources, workshops, events and opportunities – and relevant to their class year. This insures that students don’t miss important news and opportunities in their areas of interest which will help them stay on track to identify and achieve their career goals.

Although there are many opportunities in DeaconSource listed by employers who post jobs there, the number and types of opportunities is small relative to the thousands of opportunities available across all types of sources.  Students should check out the OPCD website for additional valuable sources for job and internship opportunities.

If students do not have a DeaconSource profile or have not updated their preferences, they are missing out on critical information which is relevant and necessary for their career development. 66% of all students have a completed profile, so make sure your student is not left out!

Encourage your student to create a DeaconSource account today, yet remind him that he cannot rely solely on DeaconSource, nor any other job board, in his search. Emphasize the importance of networking and the role it plays in the job attainment process. If you have contacts that might be helpful for your student, make the introduction. And make sure your student has a LinkedIn profile and is tapping into the Wake Forest Career Connectors group.  Armed with this advice, your student will appropriately prioritize his job search time and efforts and will have a much greater chance of securing a promising summer internship or full time position.

New Passport for Career Success

There is a quote by Winston Churchill that one of my staffers often references: “Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.” These powerful words explains a truism about our professional life that we often overlook. Fundamentally, our career journey is just that – a journey.

We truly do not know where our career journey will take us. It is increasingly common for professionals to not only move from organization to organization, but across job functions, industries and careers as well. The Bureau for Labor Statistics reports that the average number of jobs held by Baby Boomers in their working lifetime was 11; we can assume that this number will only increase with the Millennial generation. In line with this theme of a career journey, the OPCD developed a brand new and unique resource for students this year – our Career Passport.

The Career Passport details the most important steps students should undertake each year in order to achieve successful career results at the end of their college experience, whether they attend graduate school or secure a full-time job. Much of the research regarding the Millennial generation states that they are planners; they love to check off the boxes and track their progress to ensure they are on course for various objectives. As a result, we have provided start and completion dates for each of the action steps to insure that students know what they need to accomplish and by when.

At the First-Year orientation program, we distributed the Career Passport to all 1,357 new students, which they really appreciated.  One student commented, “It’s adorable!” which we hope means she won’t ever lose it. The Career Passport encourages students to begin reflecting on their career journey early in their college experience. For first and second year students, we recommend that they take self-assessments, gather career information through a variety of sources and channels, and find internships to begin exploring and understanding the world of work as well as their own personal interests, values and strengths. During the first two years, we are equipping students with the information to make well thought-out decisions in their remaining two years, when the stakes are more significant. As I like to say, “An informed decision is a good decision.”

In their junior and senior year, students develop and execute a personal career action plan depending on their career interests and personal capabilities and circumstances. This involves refining interview skills, leveraging existing relationships to form new networking contacts, and applying for job and internship openings listed both in DeaconSource and other job sites. In addition, the Career Passport helps your student prepare for future, post-graduate job searches.

When preparing for an international journey, there are numerous items on your packing list: your phone charger, adapters, medications, foreign currency, etc. But there is one item that is absolutely necessary in order to even board the plane: your passport. The OPCD Career Passport is equally essential to students at any point of their career journey at Wake Forest. Encourage your students to consult our Career Passport in order to thoughtfully and intentionally prepare for their career journey during and after their time at Wake Forest.

The Costs and Benefits of Internships

Even though it is illegal for employers to offer unpaid internships, it’s happening. Not only are these positions unpaid (or paying well-below market), but students also need to find additional funds to finance housing, food, and transportation for the summer, often in expensive cities. The question being asked now by many media publications, including the Wall Street Journal, is: Are summer internships worth it? My answer is absolutely and unequivocally YES for four reasons.

First, internships provide a real-world taste of potential professions to encourage or dispel your student’s interest in a job function, career path, organization, industry and/or location. Whatever the outcome, students are more informed about the world of work and about their own interests and aspirations on a variety of dimensions. Without this experience, s/he will never really know. As I like to say, “You never really know until you try it.”

During your student’s internship, s/he will learn things about the job function, industry and location that could never be learned in a textbook. While online job descriptions, career guidebooks and informational interviews provide a strong (and necessary) starting point, it is important for your student to gather real-life information through the internship experience.

Second, internships deliver an excellent opportunity for your student to build a professional network within his or her organization, industry and location. These adult fans may become friends, mentors, recommenders or connectors to future opportunities of all kinds – inside the organization or even in areas completely different from the internship experience.  As I like to tell students, “It’s not just who you know, but who likes you.”  It’s important for students to build their friend network during their internship, and it has to be much more than just a “Facebook friend”.

Third, your child will acquire technical and professional skills to complement their liberal arts education at Wake Forest. Employers are looking for students who not only can read critically, write persuasively, and think analytically, but potential hires who have technical industry- and work-related professional skills cultivated from an internship. Students learn much while at school, but the opportunity to develop professional skills must be initiated and developed in an internship.

Fourth, many employers hire their interns for full-time positions. They hire students for the summer between junior and senior year and based on the student’s performance during their internship, they hope to hire as many as possible and not have to recruit senior students.  As a result, it’s very important for students to begin seriously thinking about potential career directions as early as their sophomore year.  It’s helpful to begin even sooner by visiting with an OPCD career counselor and reviewing the OPCD website to understand the process and begin reflecting, exploring and taking action.

Fundamentally, an internship is an investment in your student’s future. While the cost of financing a summer internship in addition to the academic expenses may not seem fair, the value is priceless – even if the result is that your student rules out a career direction.  It’s much less costly to learn that while your child is still in college than when s/he is in her 20’s floundering between full-time jobs with little clarity of direction.

Through an internship, your student will better understand where s/he would like to begin his career and will begin developing the professional knowledge and skills. Understanding the gaps from where your student is today and where they need to be will motivate them to learn and be proactive. To help your students learn more about how to search for and secure an internship during this coming academic year or to plan for next summer, check out our web page on Internships.

Internship Search Strategies

It may be hard to believe (considering winter break was just last month!), but the summer is almost here. The biggest question our career counselors are asking students is: “have you started your summer internship search?” No matter where a student is in the process, the OPCD is here to help. Read on for our top 3 tips of what students should be doing now to look for and prepare for a summer internship.

1.  Utilize your resources. The OPCD website is full of helpful internship tips and resources. We’ve recently updated our website to include information about earning internship credit, funding your internship, and finding internship housingDeaconSource, our on-line career portal for students, also contains a variety of internship postings.

2.  Set goals and execute your plan. Use this tracking tool on the “Find an Internship” page to track the contacts made, the internships applied for, and the follow-up required. Set specific goals for the number of internships you will apply for and the industries and locations you want to pursue.

3.  Get in touch and stay in touch. Networking is the single best way to identify opportunities, research information for interviews, and build relationships that will help you land an internship.

  • Here are 3 great tips for building a network:
    • Create a LinkedIn account today and start making connections.
    • Join the Wake Forest Career Connectors group on LinkedIn to get access to the more than 2,800 Wake Forest alumni willing to help you get started on your career search.
    • If you are involved in a sorority, fraternity, or other campus organization, see if the organization has a LinkedIn group. If they do, join that group, too.

Career and Life Vision with the Fellows

This week, I spoke to the Wake Forest Fellows on the subject of Career and Life Vision.  For those of you that are unfamiliar, the Wake Forest Fellows Program was established by President Hatch’s Office in 2008 to provide recent graduates the opportunity to work in higher administration in a year-long post-graduate internship. In addition to the assignment in a particular administrative department of the university, each Fellow has opportunities to interact with and be mentored by key administrators and faculty; to learn about various administrative areas of the university; and to participate in a series of leadership lunches and enrichment activities with leaders at Wake Forest and in the larger Winston-Salem community.

I was honored to speak to this group of bright and determined Wake Forest graduates. I wanted to emphasize the challenge and importance of thinking about and articulating one’s personal career and life vision which I define as “the ability to see life and work in a way that is inspiring, fulfilling and meaningful AND in alignment with who you are.”

I assured them that very few people are able to articulate their vision in their mid-20’s. In fact, it took me until I was forty before I could clearly articulate my own career and life vision. However, in beginning to understand their unique purpose, strengths, values and interests at an early age, these young alumni will be far more prepared to discover what really matters most and seek and acquire future opportunities that will help develop and define their career and life vision.

I applaud the Office of the President for its commitment to the Wake Forest Fellows program. These graduates offer a fresh, inspiring perspective. We are thankful for they have added substantial value to the Wake Forest community.

College-to-Career Courses

When I first arrived at Wake Forest, I envisioned a set of career courses that would help students answer: “Who am I?”, “Where am I going?” and “How do I get there?”

Two years later, my vision is now a reality. Thanks to the outstanding collaboration between the Wake Forest academic department of Counseling (CNS) and Office of Personal and Career Development, we now offer students the College-to-Career course series designed to help answer these questions. In CNS 120: Personal Framework for Career Exploration, students experience activities that help them understand their personal strengths, interests, and beliefs, which develops their ability to make sound decisions. Taught by Wake Forest Masters of Counseling graduate and professor Heidi Robinson, this course asks students to consider their values and the influences that have helped them attain their current goals. Furthermore, they explore and understand the majors that are offered at WFU and how majors relate to career options.

In CNS 220: Options in the World of Work, students begin the crucial task of understanding the range of careers available and considering which careers will best align with their interests, needs and aspirations. Students conduct a series of informational interviews with professionals, begin to build a professional network and explore the range of careers and career paths.

Two more courses, CNS 320: The Strategic Job Search and CNS 360: Professional and Life Skills, are in development and will be introduced next fall.

I am so excited and enthusiastic about these courses that I know will make a significant impact on a student’s personal and career development experience here at Wake Forest. I encourage you to read a little more about the courses and hear what our students learned in our first CNS 120 class here.