A job can be just one connection away

Networking and doing an internship or a co-op in college can make a difference when seeking a job after graduating

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It takes most college students four years to earn a bachelor’s degree, and after that, many are simply thrown out into the real world to find a job.  This can be difficult, especially if students don’t spend a little time building a network before they graduate.

Applying for an internship, a co-op or a job shadow can really help.

Many professionals in today’s world don’t become successful by sheer luck. They had to make connections with people in their field before they could get started. Devin Scillian, a news reporter for Local 4 News Detroit, children’s book author and musician, explained his experience starting his career and how an internship helped him.

“While I was in college, I won a competition for a paid internship at the CBS affiliate in Topeka, Kansas, during the summer between my junior and senior years,” Scillian said. “By the end of that summer, I was reporting on the air and then continued to work weekends during my senior year. That had a lot to do with my ability to move ahead after graduation because I had actual professional experience on my resume tape. I was then able to land my first post-school job at the ABC affiliate in Decatur, Illinois.”

Scillian believes networking is important in any field and said it helped him become successful. He found it particularly useful to tell contacts when he was looking for a job, because he wound up making important connections through people he already knew.

“There was a guy named Ridge Shannon who had come back to KU [University of Kansas] to work on his master’s degree after having been a news director in Kansas,” Scillian said. “I told him the job I was really hoping to land was a weekend anchor job at WAND in Decatur, Illinois. He asked me who the news director was. The news director was a guy named Dick Westbrook who had been Ridge’s roommate at Ohio State . . . the lesson is make every connection you can.”

Oakland Umiversity’s Career Services offers many ways to assist students in getting experience in their field of study, like help finding and applying for internships and co-ops.

Angela Foley, a career ambassador at Career Services, encourages students to take advantage of these opportunities.

“Students should definitely utilize the many services we offer,” Foley said. “We are here to help as much as we can.”

Career ambassadors offer resume reviews, cover letter reviews and career fair prep, as well as basic job search tips.

“A good way to start looking for jobs and internships is to sign up on Oakland’s job posting site, Handshake, or attend career fairs, because they give students the chance to put themselves out there and meet employers,” Foley said.