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Know Yourself and the Field

Know Yourself

The job and internship search process is more than just searching for job or internship openings. However, this is how most people get started. Before you begin your actual search, take time for self-exploration. This helps you to narrow your search more quickly and learn how to best market yourself to potential employers. Not taking time for self-exploration can more for a difficult job search or poor career choice. Self-exploration includes identifying, examining, and understanding your interests, personality, skills, and work values to make meaningful job and internship choices.

A thorough self-assessment should enable you to answer the following questions:

  • What are your career goals and objectives?
  • What are your educational experiences?
  • What are your skills and abilities? How do they relate to the position? When did you use particular skills or abilities?
  • What are your personal strengths and weaknesses?
  • What work and co-curricular experiences do you have?
  • Where do you want to work and what types of positions interest you?
  • What is your preferred starting salary?  
  • What variables you are willing to negotiate (i.e. salary for geographical location)?
  • What are the problem areas in your background (i.e. poor grades)? Are you prepared to address them and offer a strong case for them in the interview?

Knowing yourself helps you better answer questions that employers will ask you. It also helps you better create questions to ask the employer. Schedule a practice interview to practice articulating your qualifications.

Research Careers

Our Research Careers page offers online resources, tools, and suggestions for learning more about a career field you are considering.

After you consider what matters to you, make a list of possible careers, so you can learn relevant information to target the way you market yourself. Information you want to gather about careers includes (1) the career fields or industries that recruit the types of jobs you want; (2) the different ways employers write job titles that describe the same job; (3) the stated job responsibilities, training/education requirements, and skills desired in the job description; and (4) the salary ranges and compensation. You can find this information utilizing the following resources.

Skills Employers Are Seeking

According to surveys (here and here) with hundreds of hiring managers, the following skills and competencies are most highly sought after when interviewing job applicants:

  • Communications Skills (listening, verbal, written)
  • Analytical & Research Skills
  • Computer & Technical Literacy
  • Flexibility/Adaptability/Managing Multiple Priorities
  • Interpersonal Abilities
  • Leadership / Management Skills
  • Multicultural sensitivity
  • Planning / Organizing
  • Problem-Solving
  • Teamwork

What connection do you see between the skills you’ve gained from your experience, and this list?

Have you had experience overseas? If so, visit our page on Marketing Your International Experience to explore how to best communicate your experience in an interview or resume.