Student Interns From CAS Shine, Gain Competitive Edge

Posted on: September 29, 2013

MichaelSuarez9-24-13I meet with students every chance that I can. They commonly ask me for advice regarding things they should do as an undergraduate. Top on my list of advice for students coming to our college is to visit CAS Career Services as soon as possible and continue to take advantage of its tremendous expertise and resources throughout their college years.

This is an exceptional office in both the quality of services it delivers to students, as well as the energy and positive spirit staff members bring to those interactions. From creating a professional resume and cover letter and preparing for interviews, to identifying student organizations, attaining internships and study abroad programs that will distinguish CAS students from others, the array of opportunities available through our Career Services center are phenomenal. Additionally, CAS students can tap into a vast array of portfolio-building opportunities offered at the university level as well.

Graduates today are expected to enter the workplace with a resume that demonstrates experience and accomplishments that include leadership experience in student and community organizations, relevant internship experience applicable to their career interests, a heightened sense of the global marketplace and cultural diversity from travel abroad, and a professional portfolio that demonstrates their writing, research and digital media skills.

That list might sound daunting to a student who waits until their senior year. However, if they start engaging with Career Services in their freshman year and stick with it, most likely they will have a foothold into a promising career by graduation. Ready to assist students in the CAS Career Services center is field career consultant Karin Hanson, academic and career advisor Julie Hagopian and peer advisors. Peer advisors are students who have already taken advantage of many career-building opportunities and can share their experiences and advice with interested students.

I cannot tell you how many times I have employers make a point of sharing with me how impressed they are with our CAS students. Many are seeking a direct pipeline to this talent for internships and jobs.

It was particularly touching last week when a major East Lansing employer who happens to also be my boss, MSU President Lou Anna Simon, made a special effort to let me know how impressed she was by a current sophomore in our Communication program, Michael Suarez. While interning with WJR radio, which is headquartered in Detroit, Suarez had the opportunity recently to conduct an impromptu, live radio interview with President Simon and WJR's Steve Courtney. His enthusiasm, poise, self-confidence and professionalism have also been duly noted by WJR with bets on which of the Big 3 will swoop him up first!

Internship experiences like this and making such connections are priceless for our students. Our Career Services staff note that over 70 percent of all jobs are landed through connections, many times filled without ever being advertised. Coaching our students on how to make meaningful connections and parlay them into career opportunities is critical to their career success.

As we begin preparing for Homecoming in a few weeks, I am reminded of what an important role our alumni make in helping our students build those connections as well. Many alumni come back to campus during Homecoming Week and often plan ahead to attend events or classrooms to share their expertise with our students. Knowing firsthand what it means to be a Spartan and the strong work ethic and "can-do spirit" Spartans embody, make alumni particularly eager to open doors for upcoming graduates.

Next week is the Career Gallery, MSU's largest career fair with more than 300 top employers filling the Breslin Center. Participating employers will be recruiting students for full time positions, internships and co-op opportunities.

The Career Gallery is one of a variety of opportunities students have throughout the year to network with potential employers. For CAS, our alumni are the key to our students making the most successful connections.

Looking further ahead, CAS Career Sevices will be hosting CAS Connect, our college's primary career event that will be held throughout the building on Friday, February 21. Contact Karin Hanson if you are interested in participating.

If you are a CAS alum and would like to learn more about how you can open doors for our students, please contact CAS alumni coordinator, Rachael Zylstra. You will find you have much in common with our current students, after all you both share the experience of an amazing MSU education!

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