September 25, 2008

Organization helps students secure internships, full-time employment

The last thing on most new college students' minds is finding that first post-graduation job, especially in an academic community where so much works "in theory." But the University's Career Advising and Planning Services (CAPS) has many of the resources you will need to connect with internships, job fairs, and employers over the next four years.

Deb Neibel, director of undergraduate preparation, encourages students to go to CAPS regardless of whether or not they are sure what they want to do with the rest of their lives.

"If you say, 'I don't know what I'm doing,' CAPS is exactly for you," Neibel said. "We have a diverse staff that can help students decide what they want to study, if they want to supplement what they're learning in the classroom with some outside job experience."

Students can acquaint themselves with the CAPS staff, including advisers in social services, business, and journalism, by attending the day-long open house on October 1, by making an appointment with a specific career adviser, or by visiting during walk-in hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Their offices are located on the third floor of Ida Noyes Hall.

First-years should "go after any and all opportunities that interest them," advises Marthe Druska, associate director of communications, even if it means competing against upperclassmen. She recommends first-years apply for the Alumni Board of Governors Externship program, which sends first- and second-year students to New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., to shadow alumni in their career fields for one weekend during spring break.

And although the University administration will urge you to take it easy after your first year, the over-achievers among you with a pre-professional streak can spend summers working for organizations offering CAPS-funded internships, such as the Jeff Metcalf scholarships that place students at arts, human rights, business, and non-profit institutions around the world.

CAPS is trying to reach more students this year and keep you up-to-date on job fairs and information sessions by creating a Facebook group and a blog. The organization has replaced MonsterTrak, the old system for students to upload their resumes and apply for internships, with Chicago Career Connection (CCC), an online service that allows students to search for jobs and internships and track upcoming events with a personalized calendar. Students can activate their CCC accounts by making a walk-in appointment to have their résumés reviewed by CAPS staff.

"Students are coming to the University of Chicago to get the liberal arts education, and we want students to think about taking full advantage of that liberal arts education after they graduate," Neibel said.