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Career Center assists with A&L job planning

Nicole Toczauer | Monday, September 19, 2011

Arts & Letters students looking to jump-start their career search can do so during the third annual “What’s Next?” Week of events devoted to helping liberal arts majors find internships and jobs.

The career week allows Arts & Letters students to learn about internships and explore graduate school and post-graduate service options, Career Center Director Lee Svete said. Students also have the opportunity to attend a mini-career fair on Thursday, Sept. 29, in which up to 15 employers will participate.

“Monday covers summer internships, our Job Shadow Program, Externship and Arts & Letters Boot Camp in the spring,” he said. “Tuesday is for graduate school, Wednesday is a post-grad service fair and Thursday is the formal Employer Networking Fair.”

Svete said the Career Center began “What’s Next?” Week three years ago in response to a weak job market.

“In 2009, the job market was in peril after the economic meltdown, so we did ‘What’s Next?’ before Thanksgiving,” he said. “We found it was good for internships but a little late for graduate schools and jobs.”

The Career Center moved the date so the events were held before Fall Break in order to accommodate the greatest number of application deadlines, he said.

“September turned out to be the sweet spot. You get your resume and talk to employers,” Svete said. “Or you could begin applying for the funding created specifically for liberal arts majors early on.”

Last year the Career Center gave away $100,000, tax free, to liberal arts majors, he said. Students do not claim it on their income tax returns because it is used for food, travel and work expenses.

“For example, you might find an editorial position and apply,” Svete said. “If you get an interview but they can’t pay you, then you come to us, describe the unpaid internship and apply for say, $3000.”

To land these positions, Arts & Letters students need to prepare for their interviews, Svete said. Students in the past prepared for mock interviews with Career Center counselors. This year 1000 students have already gone to the Career Center for aid, he said.

To check resumes and meet with counselors, students can use walk-ins or reserve one-hour appointments by calling the Career Center. Svete said interview practice will be beneficial Thursday night, when students arrive in business formal attire to meet companies.

“A 30-second elevator speech — where you introduce yourself, say what you know about the company and how your skills and experiences will contribute — will make them remember you,” Svete said. “Research the companies in advance, have a portfolio with resumes and be prepared to show your interest.”

Junior Collin Erker, a double major in film, television and theatre and an Arts & Letters pre-professional, is one student hoping to capture the attention of the companies at the Arts & Letters career fair.

“I wanted to see who was out there and what catches my eye,” he said. “Summer internships are extremely important to gain a sense of what you’re into.”

Erker said he was definitely interested in media internships, though scientific research interested him as well.

“I plan on getting my resume checked,” he said. “There’s always room to improve. I want to get experience in finding an internship, knowing the process and seeing what opportunities there are.”

Sophomore Melissa Hallihan said she hopes to find out what internships are available to her through the Arts & Letters program. Though her primary major is business, she is interested in internships based on her second major, anthropology.

“I don’t really know a lot about the internship application process, resources, externships or job shadowing available through Notre Dame,” Hallihan said. “I’m hoping this will provide me with more information.”

Svete said career opportunities for many Arts & Letters majors are not open to students until they approach graduation. However, he added that students should not wait to start meeting employers.

“Start networking now,” Svete said. “That’s the reason we created this week. We’re creating venues for students to network for career opportunities.”