UW Graduate School

January 14, 2016

You’re Hired!

I feel behind my cohort in terms of applicable experience. I’ve applied to several internships/practicum experiences, but my financial situation dictates that I either need a paid internship or another job while I complete an unpaid internship. Because my classes are during the day, I’ve found the latter next to impossible. Additionally, I haven’t revived much interest in hiring due to my lack of experience. How do I find the right positions for this situation?     —Inexperienced

(This week’s answer is courtesy of Catherine Basl, Lead Career Counselor, Career Center.)

Thanks for sharing a bit about your situation. It can definitely feel discouraging when we aren’t having as much luck as we want in the job search and when we are faced with hard decisions about lackluster paid positions versus highly interesting unpaid positions. Below are some tips you might find helpful.

  • Don’t worry! Most graduate cohorts are made up of students who have a range of applicable experience. If they accepted you into the program, they think you have enough experience to be successful! Though it can be difficult, try to stay positive and confident.
  • Consider making a list of what you are looking for in a job or internship. Whether it includes a desired weekly schedule, skills, location, or something else, making a list and prioritizing it can help when mulling over possible options.
  • Applicable experience is more than work experience. Consider your volunteer experience too! If you are within a few years of your undergraduate work you might also include relevant clubs and student activities on your resume. Don’t sell yourself short.
  • Use your network! If you have only been looking online, consult with your graduate program adviser, departmental staff members and faculty about possible internships. Depending on your field, HuskyJobs might also be a good resource.
  • Polish your resume and cover letter! Tailor your resume and cover letter for each position and consider getting them reviewed to ensure they are submission-ready. Sometimes tweaking your materials or doing a mock interview can make a world of difference in the job search.
  • Feeling stuck? Schedule an appointment with a career counselor—we can help you with every step of the process from deciding what’s most important to you to helping you prep for the interview that will land you your dream internship.

Ask the Grad School Guru is an advice column for all y’all graduate and professional students. Real questions from real students, answered by real people. If the guru doesn’t know the answer, the guru will seek out experts all across campus to address the issue. (Please note: The guru is not a medical doctor, therapist, lawyer or academic advisor, and all advice offered here is for informational purposes only.) Submit a question for the column →