Undergrads - Internships & Co-Ops

Many college students are still recovering from their fall semester at home. Hanging out with high school/college friends, staying out late and getting up even later. Summer is the last thing on their mind. I know, I have one at home now. Hate to say it but there’s work to be done. That’s because summer internship job openings are already online. Now is the time to start to get a handle on what experience you will need to get that first full time job.

Most internships are available to rising juniors or seniors because they have had a few classes in their majors and are more valuable to the company looking for help. Here are a few tips to help you search for the perfect summer internship.

1.    Before you begin the internship search, start looking at full time jobs and their descriptions so you understand what your ultimate first job could be. After you have read the description, read the requirements for the job. Write them down. These are the things you need to learn in class or experience in your internship.

2.    Now, go to your college department website or Indeed.com website and start searching. Know your parameters first.

a.    Are you in a career path where internships are unpaid? If so and the funding is limited for a summer apartment rental in, say, New York, start locally or near a relative.

b.    If paid, what about other costs like housing and maybe even food?

3.    Search with different keywords. Don’t just use environmental science intern. Check biology, geology, earth science.

4.    In addition, some majors have summer research opportunities at various colleges/universities around the country. Many are paid and pay for your travel there and back, housing (dorm) and board.

5.    Start a spreadsheet with all the openings and details for each application and the deadline date. I’m already seeing some with a January 27th deadline for priority consideration.

6.    If letters of recommendation are needed, send out emails to the recommenders ASAP. Transcripts will be needed too if there is a minimum GPA required.

7.    Apply to as many as possible and get most of the work done BEFORE you return to college. You know why…

8.    Make sure you use contact information, email, that you check daily. Many offers have a limited time to accept.

9.    Keep your parents in the loop. There will be logistics and funding that may be needed and their input into your decision could be invaluable.

Planning ahead and getting a summer internship will help you in so many ways. You will understand the “real world” work environment, network, show dedication if it’s your career path and maybe get a job offer.

Wait and you might be stuck with the what’s available around home and miss a few weeks of pay since you will be job hunting…

Juniors - Senior Year is Getting Close. How to be Ready for It.

You are now a second semester junior. Starting to feel a sense of urgency about college yet? If you haven’t started to organize and plan for everything required for your college applications, now is a good time. Waiting only adds more pressure to an already stressful process come senior year. Shrinking the “to-do list” will pay dividends as you work through senior classes, extra curriculars (band, sports, work, volunteering, etc.), college tours, test retake, scholarship essays and applications with essays.

Getting more completed before senior year is a necessity! Colleges may want to see your senior grades and if you slip too much… Here are the things you can wrap up and make life easier.

·         Don’t wait to do some test prep. Start now so your testing will be out of the way.

·         Research colleges in depth and come up with your list. College visits can take up time you may need for school work so time and planning are needed.

·         Once your taxes are complete, research to see what your list of colleges will cost. Eliminate those that are too expensive for your family. Find more that fit so you have a great list for application time.

·         Start scholarship searching and lay out deadlines. Spread them out as best as possible so you have time for other priorities.

·         Ask teachers to write a letter of recommendation before school lets out for the summer.

·         The Common Application essays has been pretty consistent the last couple of years. They are either rolled over or newly announced around August 1st. Be ready to write them August 1st. (Maybe there is an overlap with scholarship essays.)

Doing these things ahead of senior year will make your fall semester much easier and allow you to better focus on your classes!

If you need help with this preparation, please contact me.

Seniors - Accepted into Your Dream School! Now What?

Early Action acceptances has been received and if one of them is your dream school, you can’t wait to accept. It’s like getting your allowance and as my parents said, “it’s burning a hole in your pocket!”. Maybe it’s Mom and/or Dad’s Alma Mater and they’re pushing to send in the acceptance and housing deposit.

My advice…. Wait!

Early Action decisions aren’t due until May 1st. You have almost 4 months to get all the information you need to make a great decision. “But I toured the college and loved it. I can see myself there.” Unfortunately, most college tours just dipping your toes in the water. In order to prevent a change in colleges after a miserable freshman year, a deep drive in needed to lessen the chance of that happening. Here are some things you need to do on a full college tour:

·         Sit in a large class lecture. Take notes like you were in the class. Feel comfortable?

·         Visit the career services department. Who recruits there and how does the department help you get that internship or first job?

·         Meet with a professor in your major.

·         Stay in a dorm overnight and try the cafeteria food.

·         Etc…

Another thing to know is the cost and how you will pay for it. You won’t know how much aid will be offered until you receive the financial aid award letter. Even then, it’s not final. Maybe you can negotiate for more merit scholarship money. Maybe your family’s income is different and you want the offer reassessed. Have your received acceptance from a competing college that offers better aid? Can you leverage one against the other? (Yes.)

So, I say wait until you have received ALL the information you need to make it work:

·         Complete acceptances, including financial aid, from all the schools on your acceptance list.

·         A deep visit of each of the top schools on your list.

·         A talk with the admissions offices and determine if more aid is available.

·         A talk with Mom and Dad about how to pay for college and if necessary, how to pay off the debt accumulated.

Only then will your dream school turn into your dream experience!

Freshmen - Getting Prepared for Your Guidance Counselor Meeting

Spring semester is beginning! Winter Break was too short (and wet)! By now you should know how you did fall semester so you can begin to plan for next semester’s classes. Too easy and could use more of a challenge? Too hard or that one class took time away from performing well in others? Check with you counselor to see if there is anything you can do to change your class this semester. If not, see what your current teacher can do to help you out with extra work or extra help.

Counselors also start scheduling meetings with you to discuss the rest of your high school coursework. Things to review and plan for before your meeting:

Rigor – Most colleges look at how hard your classes were in addition to your GPA. If you aren’t at the top in rigor, think about bumping one class or more up a notch. Challenging yourself isn’t easy but you need to realize you are working up to college level classes in the next couple of years. Stretch yourself and learn the study skills needed to succeed in college. The big ones are note-taking, asking for help, memorizing and reading faster.

Electives – Know whether your future colleges expect 2, 3 or 4 years of the same foreign language. Take a performing arts class as many colleges are now requiring them if your high school has them.

The Big 4 Subjects – Those are English, math, science and social studies/history. Are you taking enough for your projected major in college? It’ll be hard to start your engineering degree without some calculus in high school.

College Credit – Are you planning on taking harder classes in order to get college credit through AP/IB/CLEP tests or dual enrollment? The more credits you can earn in high school, the easier or earlier you can graduate.

If you want to meet and discuss before your HS guidance counselor meeting, please contact me.