Follow-up: Why and How

By: Becky Smith

So, you’ve submitted a bunch of job applications and you haven’t heard anything. You may feel helpless, but there is something you can do!

First: Gather feedback that can help you to better attract attention. Ask your Co-op + Career Advisor to review your application materials including resume, cover letter, and any correspondence. If you are submitting a portfolio, get that reviewed too.

Second: Follow up to inquire about the status of the position.

Email follow-up graphic

Context: Pushy or Helpful? Desperate or Communicative?

Many people are initially uncomfortable with the idea of follow-up. They don’t want to appear pushy or desperate. Good news is: You can follow up without making a bad impression!

Co-op + Career Advisor Sara Dell has a great context for follow-up: “You are actually helping the employer by following up.”

Your recruiter or hiring manager likely has a pile of applications that they need to sort through, but other competing priorities keep them from digging in. By contacting them and expressing your ongoing interest in the job, you make it easier for them to engage with you and get started on the vetting process!

Be extra helpful: Include your resume and cover letter in your follow-up so there is no need to search for your application.

 

What to Say:

Co-op + Career Advisor Jer Jurma says he advises students to provide some structure for interview scheduling: “The tone is active in a follow-up communication. Give your reader a clear way to respond. Name a specific time period that you will be available for interviews and if it is getting close to your co-op deadline, share the date of your deadline.”

Examples:

“I will be in the area during the week of December 17 and am currently scheduling interviews. I am still really interested in your company and can meet at your convenience.”

“Wednesdays and Fridays are the days that I have the most flexibility. I’m sure we can find a time that is mutually convenient.”

“My school requires me to report a co-op hire by May 11. I want to respect your hiring timeline, but I think we can find a mutually convenient time. I wonder if we can get something on the calendar for the last week of April or the first week of May.”

I often advise students to have something new to say when they follow up.  

“Since I applied on November 17, I have added more relevant projects to my resume. See attached.”

“I have been following your company on Twitter for the past month and am really impressed with your new product launch.”

“I have been interviewing this week and am eager meet with your company as well – working in Operations at ADL Systems is one of my top choices at this time.”

 

How to find a point of contact for follow-up

Don’t have a name?

Find a recruiter or a relevant manager by searching on the company website or LinkedIn.

There is usually a main number or general email available on the company website. In start-ups and small companies, sometimes these emails and calls are answered by the founder or owner!

Have a name, but no contact information?

Websites like hunter.io can provide you with guidance regarding the email naming conventions for most companies.

 

Find more resources below:

Anatomy of a follow-up email: https://coopsandcareers.wit.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/46/2018/06/Application-Follow-up-Email-Samples.pdf

More about LinkedIn: https://coopsandcareers.wit.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/46/2018/06/LinkedIn-Guide.pdf

Whether you are preparing for a co-op search or a job search, the Center for Cooperative Education and Career Development has the resources you need to be successful. If you haven’t met with a Co-op + Career Advisor yet, give us a call at 617-989-4101 to schedule an appointment and we’ll get you started on the right track.

First-Generation Students and the Job Search

By: Abbey Pober

Decorative Image

How does a co-op or job search differ for First-Generation students? Before I can get into those nuances, we must first define what it means to be a “First-Generation” or “First-Gen Student”. This definition varies slightly from institute to institute, but here at Wentworth we define First-Gen Students as “students who come from families where their parents did not complete a four-year college degree.” What this ultimately means for students who are the first in their families to attend college is that there is a “possibility that a student may lack the critical cultural capital necessary for college success because their parents did not attend college (Defining First Generation, 2017).” This does not mean that a First-Gen student will not be successful, it just means that they face hurdles and obstacles to navigating the college experience that their peers with parents who can guide them through the process, do not.

When it comes to a co-op or job search, First-Gen students often face additional challenges to understanding and conducting their search as well as with the transition from college to work.  From my own personal experience as a First-Gen student, I can remember not knowing where to start. Some of my questions included: What are my career path options? How do I network? What do I need to include on my resume? And why do I need to write a cover letter? The good news is, you don’t have to know the answers to these questions, you just need to know who to ask to get the support you need to be successful in your co-op and job searches.

This is where your Co-op + Careers Advisor comes in! The first day I walked into the Career Center at my University I was determined to get a summer internship between my Junior and Senior years but had no clue what career paths were available to my major, and the types of internships that would help to position myself for a future on that path. I was also very intimidated by networking because I knew my parents and extended family did not necessarily have connections in the field I was headed into and did not know where to begin building my own network. Through a series of follow up meetings, my career advisor helped me identify several paths that I could take (which included making my way to the job I am in now), supported my search through helping me tailor my resume/cover letter for each opportunity I was interested in, and educated me on the various on campus and off campus opportunities to network with and meet employers. The moral of this story? The first thing you should do is seek support and ask your questions! At Wentworth, you have a dedicated Co-op + Career Advisor based on your major who is here to help you prepare for conducting your co-op and job searches. They can help you navigate choosing opportunities that are a good fit for you, strategize ways to make connections through on and off campus opportunities, and cheer you on through your whole process. Your professors are excellent people to discuss your career goals with and identify industry events that can help you on your search.

So, what do you do if you or members of your family don’t have connections in your target industry or at employers you are interested in? First, don’t worry – your networking is a “living” resource, that grows with your career and can change as you gain experience and expertise. It is normal not to have a network if you don’t have work experience and haven’t been participating in industry events. Don’t let the lack of an established network prevent you from taking steps to build yours. You can start creating your network right here at Wentworth through events and opportunities to connect with employers and your peers, including: the Fall and Spring CO-OP + CAREER Fairs, Mock Interview Day, Wentworth on the Road, Employer In Residence drop-ins, Employer info-sessions, and major specific events. Want to take your efforts a step further? This article outlines 6 ways to get ahead when you don’t have connections.

To meet with a Co-op + Career advisor, make an appointment or swing by fall drop-in hours every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 1:30 – 4:00 PM. Our office is located at 101 Wentworth Hall. Feel free to contact us via email at coopsandcareers@wit.edu, or call us at 617-989-4101.

Resources:

Defining First Generation. (2017, Nov 20). Center for First-Generation Student Success Blog. Retrieved from https://firstgen.naspa.org/blog/defining-first-generation

Sanders, K. (2018, Sept 25). 6 ways to get ahead when you don’t have connections. Fast Company. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/90236706/6-ways-to-get-ahead-when-you-dont-have-connections

Mock Interview Day Fall 2018 Recap

By: Abbey Pober

Our annual Mock Interview Day was held on Thursday, November 1st from 3:00pm –6:00pm in Watson Auditorium. The day consisted of five rounds of 35-minute interviews conducted by 41 employer volunteers from multiple companies across industries. In total, 108 students participated in 192 interviews, providing on average two practice interviews per student. Many of the employers will be inviting students back for formal interviews.

Students laughing

If you are a student who attended Mock Interview Day last week your next steps should be to follow up with employers by:

  • Sending a thank you email to the employers with whom you spoke. Find our guide to thank you notes here.
  • If a recruiter gave you specific instructions, be sure to follow through on those items and then follow up with the recruiter.
  • Unable to send a thank-you note for lack of contact information? Stay connected with social media: find the company or even the person you spoke with on LinkedIn or Twitter. Follow their feeds to stay up to date with new openings and other news!

Students interviewing

If you were unable to attend Mock Interview Day, be on the lookout for future opportunities to engage with employers and don’t miss the spring CO-OP + CAREER Fair on March 19th, 2019. Check WITworks as we get closer to the Spring Fair for updates on employers attending.

Employers, invitations for the spring CO-OP + CAREER Fair on March 19th will be sent out in the new year.

Thank you to all students and employers who joined us on November 1st to conduct practice interviews. We look forward to seeing everyone in the spring!

How to WORK the CO-OP + CAREER Fair

By: Caitlin Brison

An approach for everyone, whether you are low-key or EXTRA!

Low Key EXTRA
RESEARCH
  • Find the list of employers attending on the “Fairs App” and research the ones that interest you.
  • Look to see if they have positions posted so you can find out more.
  • Create a spreadsheet, categorizing employers into A, B, and C lists.
  • Write down a few questions you might ask them at the fair. Refer to them before each conversation.
RESUME
  • Write, review, and edit your resume.
  • Come to Drop-Ins to make sure it is ready for the Career Fair.•  Print out 10-20 copies and tuck them in a folder to hand out.
  • Make an appointment with your CO-OP + CAREER Advisor to go over your Resume.
  • Print 10-20 copies and carry them in a professional padfolio.• Make your own business cards.
PLAN
  • The plan is to go, shake some hands, meet some employers, ask good questions, and hand out some resumes.  Go with it!
  • Locate the employer booths on the Fairs App ahead of time and map out your route.
  • Maybe talk to a couple employers on your C list to start before moving on to your first choices!
DRESS
  • Gather your professional attire.
  • Visit WITwear to borrow any items you may still need!
  • Iron, steam, fresh haircut!  Look your best.
  • Also…visit WITwear to borrow any items you need!
PITCH
  • Build a 30 second pitch and practice it in the mirror so you come across relaxed and professional.
  • Practice a firm handshake.
  • Record yourself and watch it back.  Be mindful of eye contact, fidgets, and filler (“um, like”).
  • Pitch with a friend and practice your handshakes!
THANK YOU
  • Shake their hand and thank them for their time answering your questions and speaking to you.
  • Collect business cards so you can write thank you notes the next day.
  • If they requested your application electronically – pass it along or let them know you applied!

 

Check out ALL our helpful guides on resumes, networking, pitches, and more on our website:https://wit.edu/coopsandcareers/cooperative-education/co-op-resources

Drop-In Schedule: M, W, Th from 1:30-4:30pm
Make an appointment with your Co-op + Career Advisor by calling the front desk at 617 989 4101.

WITwear Hours: Mon – Thurs 10am – 8pm, Fri 10am – 5pm
All Day Resume Drop-Ins:  Wed 9/27 & Thur 9/28 12pm – 5pm

 

TFW you nail the Career Fair

How to answer the “greatest weakness” question.

By: Becky Smith

Sometimes a painful moment arises in an interview: My pulse is racing, my palms are sweaty, and my grasp on my vocabulary is slipping. Now you want me to talk about my greatest weakness? Really?

Why do hiring managers ask about weaknesses, anyway?

Employers want to know what strengths you can contribute, and what you could do better.
Prior to the interview, hiring managers have only read about you. The interview is their chance to meet you and evaluate what you could provide in the role for which you are interviewing. Your skills, interests and experience are part of the picture, but they also want to know what you are working on improving or learning.

They want to know how you perceive and overcome challenges. It’s a way to get to know you as a person!

Experienced recruiters and managers know that work is called work because it can be challenging!
You interviewers are not toying with you. They are not trying to trick you. They want you to talk about your greatest weakness because it gives them an opportunity to observe a few things about you: how you perceive challenges, how you problem solve, and your capacity to learn from your mistakes.

So…. Don’t just choose any weakness. Be prepared with an example that demonstrates growth.

Weaknesses don’t just go away. They may stick around forever. But we can develop strategies to overcome them so that they diminish little by little!

What is a weakness that you possess, that you can manage now, and that used to pose a much more significant barrier to your success? Use it to craft a story that is one part honesty, and one part success!

What is a weakness that embarrasses you or that you would have a hard time expressing positively? Do NOT share this one. (All are uncomfortable to a certain extent but some are things we really don’t want to talk about!)

How: Name the weakness. Briefly describe how it affects your performance at work or at school in the present. Briefly describe how it was in the past — either at jobs or in your school work — and tell your interviewer what you do to manage your weakness.

For example:

[Name the weakness and how it affects you in the present] I am shy when I need to speak in public or when I am meeting new people. I have worked on this shyness at Wentworth, where I have done group projects every semester with my classmates and we have presented our results in front of classrooms.

[The past] A couple of years ago I was so shy that I didn’t ask any questions or share ideas, and I tried to completely avoid attention. This made it difficult for me to work on group projects at school because I had a hard time expressing my ideas and sometimes I would be slow to communicate about important updates or changes that my group needed to be aware of.

[What you have learned/your strategies] I really just needed practice. Now when I feel stopped by my shyness, I remind myself how important it is to keep communicating so the work can move forward. That motivates me. I have also learned that it is helpful to prepare in advance for public speaking.

Disclosing a weakness will never be 100% comfortable. But prepare for it. You will impress yourself and others.

Knowing your weakness makes you a stronger team member and your ability to express it is a strength that will make you stand out as an especially self-aware job candidate. By talking articulately about a weakness, you will provide a glimpse of who you really are as a human being – and hiring managers make time to meet with you because they want this glimpse! Work with your Co-op Advisor for help getting started or to get feedback on a weakness you are preparing to discuss.