By Matt Formica, Assistant Director, Student Career Advising, serving students in Medill and Weinberg
Finding a job or internship is hard work and can cause a significant amount of stress in a student’s life. The job or internship search is a process that can be marked by uncertainty and frustration, but it also represents a great opportunity to translate your academics and extracurriculars into a meaningful professional experience. While finding a job or internship invariably has its ups and downs, here are five strategies to help you manage stress and maintain your wellbeing throughout this process.
1. Focus on what you can control
There are many factors that fall outside of your control as you search for a job or internship, such as specific application deadlines and GPA cutoffs or the strength of the job market. What you can control are factors like your knowledge of a company or industry, strength of your application materials, level of preparation for an interview, and overall attitude about your search. Be proactive about your career development and take advantage of opportunities to learn more about career fields you’re interested in. Stay positive and view this process as a learning opportunity that will make you a more resourceful and resilient person for the long term.
2. Use your resources
As a Northwestern student, you have access to a variety of campus resources that can support you and help you manage stress. For example, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) offers one-on-one appointments as well as group workshops on topics like stress management, relaxation, and mindfulness. Similarly, the Stress Management Clinic offers workshops as well as relaxation videos and techniques. Of course, NCA is always here to support your job or internship search.
3. Keep things in perspective
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average worker holds approximately 12 jobs by the time he or she is 50. Consequently, your first job or internship is not the end all be all. Chances are you’ll get an opportunity to contribute to several organizations throughout your career, so don’t worry if you start somewhere other than your “dream company.” Consider factors such as training, growth opportunities, and company values more than prestige. Gain experience, develop skills, build your network, and pursue your interests as you launch your career.
4. Find an outlet
Everyone has a different way of relieving stress. What works for you? Exercising, reading, talking with a friend, or listening to music are all good options. Everybody encounters stress at some point; the important thing is that you find a healthy outlet for it.
5. Plan ahead
Dedicating a little time every day to work on something career-related is a more effective strategy than cramming. Don’t try to write your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile the same day. Similarly, take the time to develop a strategic job or internship plan with the help of your career adviser, rather than mass applying.
Regardless of whether you have no idea what you want to do after Northwestern or you have a very specific career objective, NCA can help you with all aspects of your job or internship search. You can schedule an appointment through CareerCat. And please remember to take care of yourselves!