LINDSEY BRAY: Hello, Cornell families. Welcome. My name is Lindsey Bray, and I am the Director of Parent and Family Programs here at Cornell University. My office serves as a central resource for Cornell parents and families. We offer a variety of events and services, including our brand new Cornell Family Conversation Series.
Thank you for joining us live or watching the recording at a later date. If you have questions during the session, please use the Q&A function to submit those. We will do our best to answer them all during our time. We will also be including links in the chat for resources mentioned. If you are watching this later, they will also be included in the description.
Again, welcome. Today's topic for our Cornell Conversations Series is "Career Exploration and Preparation." We will discuss the programs and services offered by the Cornell Career Services Office that can assist your students in their exploration of possible careers, preparation for their future careers, and how you can help them in their journey.
So with us today, we have Dr. Erica Kryst, the Executive Director of Cornell Career Services. She joined Cornell last year and has worked in higher education for over 15 years with over 10 of those in career services. Erica has guided Career Center initiatives that support equality and inclusion, overseeing career consulting services, and a credit-bearing internship program. She's also taught numerous courses focused on professional development, internships, and career exploration. Erica, thank you so much for joining us today.
ERICA KRYST: Thank you so much for having me.
LINDSEY BRAY: So to get us started, can you provide us with an overview of Cornell Career Services?
ERICA KRYST: Sure. So Cornell Career Services-- we're part of Student and Campus Life. And we are located in Barnes Hall, right off Ho Plaza, across from Willard Straight. So very centrally located to campus.
And Career Services is really here to support students throughout their journey at Cornell. Working with students as they decide what they want to do, connecting the knowledge and skills they gain in their academic programs with different opportunities where they could further develop those skills. And then ultimately, hopefully connecting them to careers, graduate programs, post-graduate opportunities that are in alignment with what their goals are, what their skills are, and their interests and their values.
So we're supporting students through the whole timeline, really. What do you want to do when you graduate? How can we help you get experiences that will help you get to that goal? And then helping students along the process of applying to opportunities, applying for graduate programs, and providing resources and support for students along those processes.
LINDSEY BRAY: So when should students start using the Career Services Office?
ERICA KRYST: Obviously, it's going to be very individual to each student. So like I mentioned, because we are equipped and resourced to be able to support students at any stage in that process, it's really going to depend on the type of support your student is looking for.
So there are students who come to Cornell and maybe they have a major in mind, but they're not quite certain yet of how to connect that major to a career path. Or maybe they had a major in mind, and then got to Cornell and they completely switched what they want to do.
So if a student like that, that wants to gain some confidence in their career goals and explore different opportunities that are available, should come to us early. Our hope is that we are engaging with students in their first and second years as they explore options. As they start building their network and start looking for opportunities to further explore career paths that they're interested in, that we're interacting with them really early.
And then as students go through the process of potentially applying for internships or applying for other summer types of high-impact opportunities or applying for jobs, that we're here to support those students when they get to their junior and senior year as well. So what it looks like for students might vary depending on their class year. But we hope to engage with students early and often in their time as a Cornell student.
LINDSEY BRAY: So we know sometimes students need a few reminders along the way when it comes to the services that are offered on campus. Are there a few ways that your office initially interacts with students that parents might need to know to suggest to them or other ways along the way that they're introduced to your office a bit?
ERICA KRYST: Yeah. We try to engage with students pretty early on in really, I would say, light ways. We want students to know that career resources are available to them, that career exploration is a normal part of figuring out what you want to do with your life.
And so we're trying to connect with students early on through weeks of welcome programs, through orientation, through events and activities that are happening on campus, even around club fast, so that students are able to connect with our office and learn a little bit more about what we do.
Also, we're pretty engaged in the classroom. So we go into classes-- often those classes are first-year students-- to just share a little bit about our office and the resources that we provide to students. So early on it's happening in those parallel ways to experiences your students might already be having. And we want to make sure that they know that we're a resource. So if they get to that moment of stress or anxiety about career, that hopefully they'll think of us.
In addition to having a pretty strong social media presence and emails-- sending emails out to students-- we want to connect with them early. I'll give you a good example of a program that we just did to try to connect with our first-year and sophomore students.
It was our winter career carnival. And we held a fun event up in North campus in our new residential communities in Toni Morrison Hall next to the Dining Hall, during the evening dining hours. And we had different activities students could do, like a carnival. They earned tickets. And then we were able to give them lots of giveaways and popcorn and food.
So it was just a way for our students to meet with our staff and become more familiar with the types of resources that we provide, but doing it in a way, hopefully, that wasn't intimidating. Because for a lot of students, thinking about what's going to happen to them four years later, three years later, can be a little bit intimidating, and we definitely don't want career services to feel that way to students.
LINDSEY BRAY: So once a student knows about your office and they're ready to connect with you all, what typically is their next step? Do they make an appointment? Or if they do, what happens in that situation?
ERICA KRYST: Sure. It really depends on the type of information or resources a student is looking for. So often it is making an appointment with someone in our office. And what typically happens during that conversation, one is just a little getting to know one another. We want students to feel a good connection with the career coach that they're working with. So we have quite a few career coaches, so they can figure out the person that's right for them.
But we want to get to know them, ask them questions about their interests and their values, and your strengths. What do you think you're good at? Often, with first-year students, that starts with, well, what did you like in high school, types of things you were involved in. So really trying to get a more holistic picture of the student.
And then depending on what kind of information or resources they're looking for, that will shape what the conversation is like. So if they're looking for information on, how do I make my first professional resume, we'll show them some really great resources that we have, show them examples of resumes, and then encourage them to go draft a resume.
If they're trying to maybe beef up their interview skills because they want to interview for some on-campus opportunities, we'll do mock interviews with students. If it's more of the career exploration piece, again, it's asking those questions to try to get to know the student better and then maybe pointing them toward some assessments that we have, that we'll then talk about with the student so that they can start off by maybe narrowing the path a little bit.
I might not know what I want to do, but here's three careers I could research as a starting point. And if I like what I'm reading about these careers, then maybe I'll try to talk to somebody next who's in those career paths. And that will lead to sharing different resources with them. So appointments can be really helpful, especially if your student learns well through that kind of one-on-one guidance. We also have a lot of resources that students can access on their own.
So one great resource students can check out is our Career Development Toolkit, which is on Canvas where all their courses are located. And we have modules in there on all sorts of career topics as well as specific industries. So students can work through those modules on their own to access information to get started on different career paths.
And the cool thing about the toolkit is it's available 24/7. So if your desired appointment time or maybe you have your moment of career panic at 11:00 PM Friday and you just want to access some information, there's really great tools that students can access online that were still developed by Cornell. So they're still developed with our students in mind, but they can access them on their own.
LINDSEY BRAY: And that's so great that we have resources that students can access when works for them along with also seeing people in person as well. So especially for our first-year students, sometimes they might be interested in a lot. And you kind of touched on this a little bit.
But are there other ways-- you mentioned about asking them what they like to do in high school-- are there some other things that are offered that help them in that career path and trying to figure out what they want to do and putting that with a major as well?
ERICA KRYST: Yeah, sure. So there are some different career assessments that we work on with students. One is called strengths finder. So it helps students identify their strengths. There are personality assessments or values assessments. And what these activities do is really help a student, or any individual really, find language to talk about what they're interested in, what's important to them.
A lot of times, if you ask a student, well, tell me what you liked about your last job or tell me what's important to you in a workplace, they're just going to blank stare. Like I don't even know where to start with a question like that.
So a lot of times what these assessment activities do is they don't say, here's the answer, here's your career path or pick one of these five. They provide the student with a better understanding of themselves and then also point them to people who are also like you or who also have those types of values or personality characteristics tend to gravitate towards these fields.
And so it can give students a starting point to say, I don't know a lot about consulting, but I'm going to go read more about it now and see if it's something that I want to continue learning more about. So that process of just understanding yourself better is really where the cycle of career exploration starts.
One thing, though, that I think is helpful whether a student has that understanding, or maybe they have a couple of career paths in mind, or there's fields that they've thought, like, well, that would be cool, I don't really know a lot about that, we always encourage students to talk to professionals in those fields.
And so even if you don't really have that starting point yet, maybe there are a couple of career fields that you've heard about, or that you have friends who are in, or your peers in your classes are like, well, I'm going to do this, and you're like, I have never heard of that career before-- talking to professionals who actually work in those fields can give you a lot of insight into what it's actually like to work in that profession.
And for a lot of students, it maybe turns a light bulb on of, like, oh, wow, that sounds really cool. I had no idea what that field was like. I want to keep learning more. So the informational interview process of finding somebody who's in a job that you're interested in, and reaching out to them and asking them if you could interview them and doing that interview can be a starting point for some students.
Now I want to shadow somebody. I want to spend a day in the shoes of the person doing that job. Or now I want to find a shorter, maybe week-long externship. Or now I'm ready to do a full internship because I feel really confident that this is a field that I want to learn more about. Fortunately, there are resources we have to help students connect to those professionals.
So CUeLINKs, which is our platform that students can utilize to find alumni who are working in career paths that they're interested in, is a great resource for students. So maybe you've identified those couple of fields but you don't have anybody in your own personal network who works in those professions. You can use CUeLINKs to try to find an alum who would be willing to talk to you about their career path.
So those informational interviews, especially for first and second-year students, can be really helpful. It's also just a more helpful practice than saying, well, go network with people in those fields. Networking is kind of a scary term, especially to students early in their college career. So the structure of an informational interview can be really helpful. I'm meeting with you to ask you these questions about your job and usually get into a really comfortable conversation from there.
LINDSEY BRAY: That's such a wonderful resource. And I know our alums are always willing to help our current students and really allow them to pick their brain and help them along the way, especially in this area. So as a student is developing themselves are there some universal skills that a lot of employers are looking for, outside of just that major knowledge, that students should really look to work on while they're in school.
ERICA KRYST: Yeah, definitely. The National Association of Colleges and Employers, which is NACE, a professional organization that's comprised of both university career administrators and employers and recruiting professionals across many industries, conducts a yearly-- had conducted a survey of employers-- what are you looking for in entry-level college grads-- for years.
And then about six or seven years ago, they decided we should look at all these years of data and try to determine what are the core competencies that students should have when they graduate, regardless of field, that employers are looking for that indicate this student is career-ready. So those career-readiness competencies.
And it's probably not too surprising that most of those competencies are around what I would call success skills rather than soft skills. So ability to communicate well in a professional way and in a competent way with colleagues. Leadership skills, ability to work on a team. Technology for sure. Having a proficiency in the technology that's especially important in your field. So having that competency.
Being able to work with diverse groups of people or having experience working in settings where there's a diverse community. Being able to talk to people from different backgrounds and different cultures. So there are some core skills and competencies, and these are on our website too, that students really are working to develop in pretty much anything that they're involved in while they're a student.
So one class might give them more experience with teamwork because there's a group project. Or maybe they're on a project team in engineering and so they've gotten some really heavy experience working on teams. But in their classes, they're working on their communication skills.
And students just don't always think about it in that way that I'm developing these skills through my class that will be utilized in my future career that aren't about the material I'm learning in the class itself, right? But through lots of things, including extracurricular activities, including athletics if your student is an athlete, students are developing these competencies.
So it's important that students are able to recognize what are those competencies-- and I mentioned a few of them-- that are important. And so then how can I communicate to employers that I have those skills. And often that's what you're trying to do on your resume. That's what you're trying to do in an interview. You're trying to showcase your leadership experience, your ability to communicate with others, your proficiency in a certain technology or platform, your ability to work in diverse groups of people.
You want to be able to communicate those things to employers just like you're trying to communicate the job-specific knowledge that you have based on your internships and your coursework and all of that. But those competencies are really important and definitely something that employers are looking for. They're looking for that holistic package, the holistic person when they're hiring.
LINDSEY BRAY: And so as we're talking about the skills that students need to develop along the way, I know our families are always concerned about that GPA and how they're doing inside the classroom. Can you talk a little bit about how GPA may be necessary or unnecessary for future career success?
ERICA KRYST: Sure. Yeah. Always a question from families and from students, too. My answer to this is usually it depends. Thinking about is a GPA-- a high GPA necessary for career success? No. I'm sure we all work with people or maybe even ourselves didn't have the strongest GPA but would consider ourselves relatively successful in our careers or in our fields.
Where the high GPA can come into play might depend on how competitive a specific employer is when it comes to the recruitment process or comes to the interview process. And it's not always used, I would say, as a measure of, oh, because the student has a higher GPA, they're qualified for this position.
It's often just used as a cutoff point because of the sheer volume that some employers receive for applications. And so a number is used a lot of the times just to say, all right, we're just going to look at folks with that 3.5 and above because we got 5,000 applications for 100 positions, right?
So depending on the field that your student is in and the types of employers that they're looking for-- those Fortune 100 or even Fortune 500 companies-- the GPA could play a more significant role than if your student is interested in working for a variety of organizations or working for a smaller firm or medium-sized firm that maybe doesn't get the volume of applicants.
But the other thing I would say about that is low GPA combined with-- not too many low GPAs at Cornell, but maybe not 3.9 or 4.0 GPA combined with really strong internship experience and a really strong network of professionals in your field that you're able to connect with personally can help overcome almost any challenge in the application process.
So maybe your GPA isn't strong enough to get you through a screening of applicants who all applied through the same web portal. But you've interned at an organization or you have built up your professional networking connections to bypass that process or to have someone refer you to a hiring manager or recruiter and say, hey, I know they're not going to meet the criteria that we set, but I've talked to this student many times and they are going to be amazing in this role, or I witnessed them in a case study competition in a class and I know that they have the skills that they're looking for. There's still ways to overcome those barriers.
GPA can also obviously play a role if your student is considering applying for law school programs, medical school programs. It comes into play there, too, just as an indicator of academic success. So it can play a different role depending on the field or types of applications students are submitting.
LINDSEY BRAY: That's really helpful to know and explain for families as they're helping their student along the way. One of the questions we've had from our Q&A is actually around those soft skills. And does your office have resources to help students to be successful when it comes to interviewing or really developing out or understanding how they can develop those out to?
ERICA KRYST: Yeah, sure. Being able to communicate those skills is really important. But oftentimes the interview process is not just communicating but demonstrating that you have those skills. So we do offer mock interviews for students. We do different types of mock interviews. We'll do some that are specifically for case-style interviews. We'll do mock interviews that are more behavioral-based questions since a lot of employers are using those types of questions now.
If your students are competing for fellowship applications, we have practice interviews that are specifically tailored to those fields as well. Because the communication skills are so important, we want to make sure that students have an opportunity to practice.
In addition, on the Career Development Toolkit and in some of the other resources that we offer, there's more opportunities for students to practice their interviewing skills or just to read and learn a little bit more about what makes a strong question response and what are characteristics I could add to my response as examples or numbers that provide more context and clarity around things. So there's lots of resources that we have to help students develop those skills that are available online or meeting with folks in person in our office.
LINDSEY BRAY: And so parents often have a lot of questions around internship and how those work and what are the best ways to help their student find those. Can you give a brief overview of what the internship process is and when students should start looking for those? And we can talk a little bit about how Cornell helps with that, too.
ERICA KRYST: Sure. So the internship process-- it might vary depending on the field that your student is interested in or where they're looking. And I should mention, too, that we are located in the central career office, but we work collaboratively with the career centers that are also located in our colleges.
And so for a student that's interested in, let's say, internships in engineering, they might want to talk to us, but they might also want to talk to the Engineering Career Center who might be interacting more on a daily basis with employers who are coming into their office to host interviews and things like that. The same is true of students in other colleges as well.
But the timeline for internships and when you apply and how does vary a little bit by field. There are different industries that start this process really early. It might depend on the size of the organization that you're looking at. For instance, some of the big four consulting and accounting firms are starting recruitment now for 2024 internships, for summer of 2024.
So there are things that start really early. But that doesn't mean that your child wouldn't be able to get an internship for a smaller firm or medium firm applying in March of 2024 for that opportunity. So it really varies based on the type of experience that your student is looking for.
I always share with students, do internships in fields that you're actually interested in either gaining skills in or learning more about. So for a first-year student or a sophomore, it's not necessarily as critical that they do a full time 40-hour week internship through the summer of their first year.
They might want to try to find a few smaller internships, or 10 hours here and 10 hours there, where they can try out or just learn a little bit more about different industries rather than committing themselves to one industry for their entire summer. Also recognizing that job experience or employment experience in the summer is still really valuable for helping students gain those career competencies that are necessary in any field. So summer employment is still a really valuable tool for students in addition to internships.
But you have a lot of opportunities to even do internships during the academic year if you can allow for that in your schedule, either doing a remote internship now. There's been a huge growth in remote internships. Or doing an internship in the local area or even in Syracuse that's not too far away or Binghamton. So there are some opportunities to do internships, even while you're a student taking classes and not just in the summer.
We put a lot of pressure on that summer after junior year to be the time that you gain that professional relevant experience in the industry that you're looking for. But the truth is there are lots of points throughout your college experience where you could be gaining the skills that are related to the industry that you're interested in and not just at that point. We'll support students with their application materials. We'll help them identify and find opportunities.
If they're looking for opportunities in a really specific or niche sector, we'll help them find resources in that industry. There are job boards for everything. And there are different specialty professional associations that have job boards. And so I worked with a student once who really wanted to be in editing and copy editing. So we found a job board called bookjobs.com, which is all jobs in the publishing and editing industry, which I did not know existed and it sounds fake, but it's a really great tool.
So there are lots of, in addition to Handshake, which is the job and internship platform that we utilize here to connect students with opportunities with employers that want to recruit our students-- so there's lots of great jobs and internships in there-- but there are also, depending on what your student is looking for, lots of other resources they can use to find those opportunities.
But Handshake is a great tool. You can ask your student if they've set up their Handshake profile. But all students have access to it. And it's a great thing to get familiar with when you're looking for opportunities.
LINDSEY BRAY: And that's great that you will offer those resources not on just the national level, but also on that smaller level, too, to help individualize the process, too, for students. One of the questions we've also had from the chat, too, is internships-- sometimes they're unpaid and those do require moving around, too.
Do you have any advice on making those financially viable for students and what students can do as part of that process to still get that experience but also still make it affordable for them and doable?
ERICA KRYST: Sure. There is funding available to students for unpaid summer internships. We have a grant process called the Summer Experience Grant. And you can, yourself, look through resources on the Experience Cornell site. That's where we manage our application process through for those Summer Experience Grants.
But those are open to students across the institution. There are some grants that might be specific to a college, but there are grants that are open to any student. But having a low or unpaid summer internships is one of the main criteria for the Summer Experience Grant. And there's other funding sources available as well.
But in Career Services across Cornell, we have been trying to centralize that process to make it easier for students to complete one application. And then through that application process, we'll connect them with the funds that they're qualified for. So we try to ensure that students aren't doing unpaid experiences.
So I would definitely look into those funds, so that students can really focus on their internship and not do what I had to do in college, which is then work all weekend to supplement that unpaid internship. Really trying to make it so that students don't have to do that.
LINDSEY BRAY: And so as students are looking for internships and jobs, I know most of our families are probably familiar with a good old in-person career fair. Can you talk about how those are hosted now for our students?
ERICA KRYST: Yeah, we have a hybrid approach to career fairs now at Cornell. We found that a lot of our employers prefer a virtual format. So especially our employers in tech who might be traveling from the West Coast, it is more financially viable to interview online, but it's also more convenient for employers as well-- to do career fairs online, rather.
So we have moved forward with a hybrid approach. So we have some smaller, more industry-specific in-person fairs that happen throughout the year. We have a business career fair coming up in just a few weeks. We have a social justice career fair coming up in March as well. I know that the College of Art, Architecture, and Planning is hosting a career fair.
But then we also just had our virtual career day last week, which had over 100 employers recruiting students throughout the day. And our plan is to continue with this hybrid format because we have employers who prefer it. And then we also have students who prefer that format, being able to schedule the time, find the time slot with an employer they want to talk to. They don't have to stand in a line. For some students it's much less anxiety or stress-producing to have that virtual option, but then also having in-person options as well.
And in addition to career fairs, employers are coming to campus all the time. So we are hosting employers every week. They might do an information session or a really targeted event. I went to a panel last week that EY was hosting on innovation. And the panelists were from Cornell, from the Corning corporation, and from EY. And they were just talking about what it's like to work in the innovative part or the tech part of an organization and what that looks like as a professional.
And then there are employers that come and they might host smaller what they call coffee chats with students. So a smaller group event providing students an opportunity to connect more one-on-one with an employer. And then we also have employers coming to campus to host on campus interviews.
So in those cases, employers post positions on Handshake that they're going to be interviewing for specifically on campus. So it's a great opportunity to have an interview with an employer to compete in a process that's only open to Cornell students at that point and to get some interviewing experience right here on campus.
A lot of the first round of interviews has shifted virtually as well, just, again, because it alleviates the need to travel to Ithaca. But there's a lot of great in-person activity happening across career fairs, and information sessions, and interviewing and all of that.
LINDSEY BRAY: And what would you say is the best way for students to connect into that? Is that through their college? Is that through you all? What's the best-- or Handshake-- how would be the best way for that?
ERICA KRYST: Yeah. All of those events are posted on Handshake. And students can go in and they can search for events based on college, based on career fair, based on keyword, based on field, based on industry, based on the type of opportunity that they're looking for.
So students can go in and they can actually register for those events right through Handshake. Handshake will actually keep track of the events that they've registered for and send them reminders, like, hey, you signed up to go to this event. Don't forget. So that's a great way to find them.
Colleges also send out newsletters, many of them. They'll send out emails. But it's really important that students go in and get familiar with Handshake and search through the events that are in their-- set some of their preferences, fill out their profiles. There's ways in Handshake for them to specify the types of industries that they're looking for or to follow employers so they'll be notified when that employer creates an interview schedule or schedule an event to host on campus.
So Handshake is really a great way to find out about it in addition to emails and those more passive forms. But if they want to be proactive and go find it, Handshake is a great way to do that.
LINDSEY BRAY: And so for our students who are not quite ready to go into their next career and are looking to go to graduate school or professional school, what kind of resources do you offer for those students to help them while they're at Cornell?
ERICA KRYST: Sure. Yeah. We have pre-law advising networks that-- we have a system director of pre-law and pre-grad advising in our office-- Alex. He's wonderful. He's been doing this for many years. And he works with a network of other pre-law advisors on campus that are located in some of the colleges.
And they provide a ton of one-on-one support for students who are either considering or actively going through the process of applying to law school, as well as graduate school. So there is lots of support.
I know for some students, they may not have anybody in their family who's ever applied for graduate school and it can be a little bit overwhelming to just research the number of programs that are out there, how do I narrow it down, how do I write this personal statement. So there's lots of one-on-one support for that, as well as modules in our Career Development Toolkit that will help get students started with that process.
I will also say that faculty are a great resource for any student that's interested in graduate school. So if you have a faculty member who's maybe a faculty member in the field that you want to go into, ask them where they applied to graduate school or where did previous alums that they supported apply to graduate school. They might be able to connect you with faculty colleagues they know at those other institutions so you could learn a little bit more about what it's like to be a graduate student there or what the program structure is like.
So we're really all working together because students will go to different places for this information, but there are a lot of really great resources on our website, and on our campus modules, on the Career Development Toolkit, and in-person resources they can use for support.
LINDSEY BRAY: And that actually leads to a question that was in our Q&A as well was how can students best use their professors or even staff members when it comes to recommendations or in other ways?
ERICA KRYST: Recommendations from faculty are most useful in the graduate, pre-law, pre-med processes I would say. They're less common when it comes to applying for jobs. It doesn't mean you can't have a faculty member who's a reference for you, especially if you've worked with that faculty member quite a bit, or maybe you were in their lab and they've kind of worked with you more as a supervisor or colleague versus just lecturing to you in front of a class.
So when it comes to applying for jobs and using a faculty as a reference, I think you want to think about faculty that might have had an opportunity to really assess your skills up close, especially those career readiness competencies or job-specific knowledge that you have because of that.
But when it comes to graduate school, professional school, all of that, faculty references are really important. And so I would say start encouraging your student now if they're thinking about pre-law or they're thinking about pre-grad, even if they're in their second semester of their first year to start thinking about faculty that they liked, that they took classes with, that they think they're going to take classes with again, or faculty who are doing research or have opportunities to get more involved.
You want your student to be in a position, by the time that they're applying for these opportunities, to easily say I know two or three faculty I could go to right away. It's definitely possible to ask a faculty member that maybe you haven't had a lot of one-on-one experience with to write you a letter, but it's also more work to do it that way.
Because typically you'd want to ask them, and then offer to meet with them, share your resume with them, help them get to know you a little bit more so that they can write a really strong letter of recommendation for you. So thinking more proactively, if your student has the sense that they might want to go in that direction, start making those connections with faculty throughout their time so they don't have to do it all at the end.
LINDSEY BRAY: And so one of the questions that has also come through is around those recommendations as well for internships. Do most of internship programs require recommendations or how does that work for those students?
ERICA KRYST: A lot of internship programs do not require recommendations. So most of our students that are going through the internship application process aren't asked for references. Now, it would really depend on the type of experience that it is. If they were going into a research lab or doing summer research or a fellowship or something like that where that academic or research experience is going to be really important, then having a faculty recommendation could be really helpful.
But in the case of internships, I think most employers approach it from the sense of this might be your first professional experience. This might be where you're about to get all of your recommendations from this experience. And they're really relying on your interviewing skills, other experience that you have in the extracurricular, in the classroom, in order to make those decisions about internship hiring.
LINDSEY BRAY: And you talked a little bit about the 10-hour internship programs that exist, that some schools-- or some employers are doing. Can you talk a little bit more about that? There was a question around how that looks for some students and that investment that's made from an employer to do on such a small basis.
ERICA KRYST: Yeah, so there is a couple of different ways that this happens. There are what are called externship programs or summer experiences that some large employers will host where they'll bring a cohort of sophomores together for like a week-long externship or internship.
And it's really just a way for the student to get more familiar with that organization, to gain some experience as to what it might be like to work there, and to have a better understanding of what the skills are that are needed in order to work at that organization. And it's a way to familiarize students with this is what the internship might be like if you did it next summer as a junior.
You find those structured programs at larger organizations. If you were looking as a first-year or a sophomore to just gain experience in accounting, contacting a local accounting firm or someone in your area and saying, hey, would you be willing to work with me on creating an internship that I could do this summer? I could probably do 10 hours a week unpaid and balance it with my other part-time summer commitment. Just as a way to learn more about that field.
So those shorter opportunities are still things students can put on their resume, which is great. It helps build them towards those full summer-long internships. But is a way to just gain more knowledge of what the skill set is and what the experience is like. So sometimes those are just formed on your own.
You might see internship opportunities like that posted. There are plenty of part-time internships out there. But it also could just be students proactively reaching out to an organization in their community or in the local area here that they would like to work at and contacting them about opportunities.
LINDSEY BRAY: And so another question we've gotten is around the use of a personal website or social media presence. Does your office offer some advice or training for students on how to make sure that that presence is in a positive light as they're looking for a job?
ERICA KRYST: Yeah, we do offer advice for students on that. I don't think a personal website is necessary in most fields. I would say the fields that jump to mind where that could be helpful are visual medium fields or the arts, where it could be helpful to have your portfolio online, or examples of your graphic design work, or examples of music you've composed.
So I think that there are fields where having that virtual portfolio can be really helpful and almost necessary in the job search. But for the most part, a resume suffices.
We do help students with LinkedIn really specifically. So if you're a student, they have their LinkedIn profile, or they created it and now they want to really start to maximize it or update it or they're just not sure about the format, we will meet with students and go through their LinkedIn profiles with them and give them some feedback and advice. I know that happens in the College Career Centers as well.
A lot of times that's serving as a personal website for folks now because you can tailor your link, and there are so many different things you can add to that page. So many more than there used to be on LinkedIn-- your publications, and awards you've gotten, and courses you've taken, and badges you have. There's so much you can incorporate that the need for a personal website isn't really there.
And then we do help students with ensuring that their social media presence is one that they would want out there in the world. So when I'm talking to students, it's just thinking ahead a little bit about what pieces of my social media presence are public and which are private? Because there are recruiters that will do a Google search and see what comes up for folks.
So you just want to make sure that this is all things that I would be proud to have an employer see. And we do workshops for students and we'll talk to them one-on-one about questions they might have about their social media.
LINDSEY BRAY: As students and their parents are helping them along, and especially those first and second years, what's some advice you can give to parents as they assist their student in their career development in that early stages?
ERICA KRYST: Yeah, I think it's really helpful for parents to have a sense of the resources, too. I've done a lot of panels with parents over the years. And I think the best piece of advice is while your student panics about their career, don't panic with them. I think it's really easy to-- they're heightened about it and you might also feel heightened about it. We're paying all this money and all this time, and we got to make sure you have some direction here.
In the first and second-year, they have so much wiggle room to really figure out what they want to do. And there's so many resources and opportunities on campus to learn more about different industries, and fields, and majors, and all of that. And there's so many alums they can talk to and resources that they have.
So if your student is feeling unsure or anxious about their career path, pointing them to those resources, point them to us or their college career center, point them to the Career Development Toolkit. Assure them that you can figure this out and you don't have to do it alone. And we also don't have to wait for a light bulb to go off for you to know. There are things you can do to help you figure this out.
And there's so much reassurance for students in the knowing, in the, OK, well, I don't know for sure, but if I pick this major, I'm going to feel really good about it. And they do for like a week and then they're like, OK, it wasn't the right major, I don't think it was the right major. And you're just stuck in this cycle.
So helping connect them to resources so they can actually go through a process to help them figure out what they want to do and connect to those campus resources that will further help them build their confidence in this is the right path for me.
And we're happy to talk to parents, too. I have lots of calls of parents that they're like, I don't want to interfere with my student in any way, but is this normal? They're unsure. They're not sure where to start. Or they entered as this and now they're thinking about this. And how do I support them? And so we're happy to work with parents on that as well.
But you being knowledgeable of the resource is really helpful and just normalizing for them, like, it's OK not to know, but there are people that can help you get closer to figuring it out or feel more confident that you are on the right track to figure it out.
LINDSEY BRAY: And another question, as we're wrapping up, in the chat as well is about overseas summer internships or co-op opportunities for work. Does your office help with those as well?
ERICA KRYST: We do collaborate with global programs. In my time here, which has just been pretty recently and at the tail end of the time during the pandemic when a lot of global opportunities were shut down, we're still working on building back up those study abroad programs.
A lot of times study abroad opportunities might have a built-in internship component or allow a student the time to do an internship abroad. And we're certainly happy to work with students to try to make connections or find opportunities in the cities or locations where they're going to be studying. Sometimes study abroad can be a great opportunity, too, to build your own internship. Again, find an organization that you'd like to gain some experience in.
And fortunately we have alumni all over the world, too. So it could be-- come meet with us. Let's see what's out there. Let's see what industries are really strong in the location that you're going to be studying in. Let's see if there's any alumni in that area that could give you some insight into how to find opportunities.
It can be a little challenging doing it on your own versus a study abroad program where the internship is built in just because the job platforms we use in the US are not necessarily the job platforms used in other countries.
But there are lots of resources. We have one on our website called Going Global, which allows you to search by country and actually find the job boards that other countries use to advertise opportunities. So there's lots of resources there to help facilitate that process.
Did you have a part two to that question? I lost it as I was talking about international internships.
LINDSEY BRAY: It's a question around co-op.
ERICA KRYST: Oh, co-ops.
LINDSEY BRAY: And how those might work.
ERICA KRYST: Co-ops are still prevalent in engineering, although they have declined significantly over the years. And Cornell is not-- Cornell students don't seem to be as drawn to doing six-months-long or year-long co-ops. The Engineering Career Center does provide resources for students and staff who will work with them on co-ops. But they're not as prevalent at Cornell as they used to be.
LINDSEY BRAY: And one other-- as we're-- I think another question was around what advice would you give for students to follow up, so whether it's an internship or a job that they haven't heard back from. Is there a good time frame for that as students navigate that?
ERICA KRYST: Sure. I usually say that the rule of thumb is if they haven't given you a time frame that you would be called by, then two weeks to follow up is usually a good marker. And it always-- I think any type of follow up is effective if you start it with a thank you again for the opportunity to learn about your organization. So starting from that place of, like, I'm so glad I had this opportunity. I was just wondering if there's an update.
Talking to the person that you have been communicating the most with through the process, unless they're not being responsive and then you could look for another resource at that organization to contact. It's always a good practice at the end of an interview to have one of your last questions be, can you tell me a little bit about the timeline for this process and when should I expect to hear from you, because that then can be your marker.
OK, it's March 10, and they said they'd get back to me on March 7 and I haven't heard from them. So now I'm going to follow up. So starting to add that question into your questions you have for the employer is good practice because it gives you that marker. But I think two weeks is always a good point for follow-up, even if it's just to say thanks again and reiterate your continued interest in that organization. And if you have any updates to share, I would really appreciate it.
If there's an employer that you are working with a lot, and then they have not responded, and if it's an opportunity that you identified through Handshake or through an on-campus event, I would also encourage you to work with your career center or our office and we can assist with trying to get in touch with that employer if they're a recruiter who's working heavily with Cornell.
LINDSEY BRAY: As we wrap up, we've got only a little bit left of time, so I apologize to those who have questions. We're going to try and get to as many of them as we can. So one more is, if a student hasn't started their journey yet, especially for this summer, maybe they're looking for an internship or graduating, what would be the biggest impact you might recommend they do right now.
ERICA KRYST: I would say they should talk to somebody in a career center. So go online and schedule an appointment to meet with somebody in our office or somebody in their college to just take an assessment of where they are, what they're looking for. And then work with that person to identify maybe a plan for them or what are my next steps at least.
Students can meet with our career coaches as many times as they want to. We try to spread them out to once a week just because of the volume of students. But it's not a one time thing. So if your student maybe needed a little bit more guidance or consistency in order to meet their goals, they need to be held a little bit more accountable maybe with the internship search or the job search, scheduling regular check-ins with a career coach that's helping them prioritize and set goals for themselves could be really helpful for your students.
So if they haven't started yet, but they have some ideas or things in mind, come and talk to somebody and they'll help get them started and set a plan for them.
LINDSEY BRAY: And as we wrap up, do you have any last pieces of advice for families as they help to really assist their student in this process?
ERICA KRYST: I don't think I could emphasize strongly enough the importance of students having a network of people, or at least a mentor, that they can go to for support during their time at Cornell and especially when they're thinking about the transition outside of Cornell. Whether that's a career coach, whether that's a faculty member, whether that's somebody in an internship that they did, having a go-to professional to say, here's what I'm thinking about, what do you think about my resume.
Normalizing some of the stress of it for the student and providing that guidance and support, I think, can be really helpful. So connecting to staff on campus, connecting to faculty, connecting to professionals in the field, developing some mentors who can really support students through the process, I think can be really helpful.
But that networking piece is so big. So I see those mentors as part of a person's network because everybody-- every networking contact is just the start of a thread of once you're connected-- once I'm connected to Lindsey, I'm one person away from all of Lindsey's contacts as well. And so the more professionals in their industry or field or academic research area that they are connected to, that also connects them to a broader network.
And I think the networking piece is something that can start really early for students. A lot of times we think about networking in relation to the job search that you're doing it at the same time as you're job searching. And really that's not the case. You want to be building your network throughout your time at Cornell. So that by the time you get to that internship search or job search or graduate school, you already have people to go to.
So CUeLINKs can help facilitate that, but honestly just taking advantage of networking events that are happening on campus, of info sessions that are happening of alumni coming back for things, and taking that time to chat. And you're going to meet-- I always tell students this-- you're going to meet a lot of people in networking events that might not be anywhere near the field or industry that you're interested in.
And so having that question ready-- it was so great to meet you. I know we don't have a lot of alignment in terms of what my career interests are. But do you know anybody who's in communications or who's in journalism? And you just never know who people know based on where they went to college, or who their friends were, or who their own professional networks are.
So every person you meet in this networking alumni space has the potential to connect you to the people that you need to be connected with. So that mentoring piece and really building your network over time, slowly is really important. I think it helps students feel more confident that they're moving in the right direction.
LINDSEY BRAY: Oh, my gosh, yes, a network will get you through the rest of your life for sure. Well, Erica, thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your expertise and insights with our families. Families, thank you so much for joining us. And a reminder that this session has been recorded. You can come back to it at any time if you need a refresher or if you missed part of it earlier and joined us a little late.
It'll be linked on our Parent and Family Programs website and in the next edition of the Parent and Families Connection newsletter. So thank you all so much, again, for joining us. I will say, as well, if you ever have questions, concerns, anything like that, we are here for you along the way.
So please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com or visit our website to check out the resources we have available for you. I do hope you can join us for our next Cornell Family Conversation, which will be around supporting your first generation students. That will be hosted on March 16 at 11:00 AM Eastern.
So thank you so much again for joining us. That concludes our time together today. Thank you so much.
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The Cornell Family Conversation Series hosted by the Cornell University Office of Parent & Family Programs. Our topic is Career Exploration and Preparation. Joined by Dr. Erica Kryst, the Executive Director of Cornell Career Services, we discussed the programs and services offered by the Cornell Career Services office that can assist family members in supporting their student in their exploration of possible careers, preparation for their future career and how they can help them in their journey.
Career Services Career Development Toolkit Career Outcomes Dashboard Handshake CUeLinks Resumes and Interview Prep