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April 15, 2013

Still seeking? Don’t worry…take action!

By Kai Kung, Second-Year Career Advisor  |  april, 2013, Issue 1
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Kai Kung

Spring quarter is upon us, and with it seems a slightly-elevated level of anxiety for those of us who haven't yet finalized where we'll be this summer. Don't worry, it'll happen – trust me. Here are just a few humble tips that I hope will make things a bit easier.

Network for guidance: Now, I obviously don't need to reiterate the importance and merits of networking. However, what I would strongly suggest is that you approach these discussions with an earnest, genuine and higher-level desire for career guidance, versus a "would you please just give me a job already?" attitude. The goal in networking should be to cultivate mentor/mentee relationships, rather than merely to process a transaction. Ironically, this long-term approach often seems to bear more short-term fruit.

Think outside of the box: Startup/VC folks - I often worry that we are all too willing to default to our traditional recruiting defenses in the face of ambiguity. The fact is that the spoils of this "Wild West" recruiting landscape often go to those who are the most creative in their efforts and just flat out want it the most. Want to work at a particular startup for the summer? Why not convince them by offering to work on a project for them during the spring quarter pro bono and knocking it out of the park? Want to get into VC? Try to see if you can work out an arrangement with a fund where you work at a portfolio company for the summer in exchange for mentoring sessions/meetings that you can utilize to build a longer-term relationship. The more non-traditional the path, the more you have to just throw out the playbook and hustle!

Realize that an internship is just an internship: In many ways, the internship is a fundamentally-flawed format because it's difficult to accomplish anything meaningful in the space of 10 weeks. And often the projects that we're asked to tackle during our internships likely aren't even representative of the work that we would be expected to do as full-time employees. Accepting that your internship probably won't make or break your career leads to a new frontier of possibilities. Looking to get into healthcare consulting but didn't get the offer you were looking for this time? Why not work in an operational role at a health-care company and further develop some skills and stories to speak to in your full-time interviews in the fall.

Beware of artificial timelines: Finally, what is most important to me is that my colleagues accept jobs that will challenge them, develop them and make them happy – not ones they might force upon themselves because of an artificially-imposed deadline. Keep in mind that the academic calendar – while certainly a construct to be worked around – is in the end, an artificial deadline. Landing a job that you're actually excited about – albeit three weeks after school ends and after having endured a barrage of questions from classmates and family members – is, I think, a far better outcome than being rushed into taking a job that you're dreading if merely for the false comfort of being able to say you've found something.

Last Updated 4/15/13
Last Updated 4/15/13