Staying Connected: Skills-Building & Internship Searching as a Student during COVID-19

Student Voice: Jonathan Lopez

The last month has been nothing short of life changing. With sheltering-at-home taking place at least until the end of May, all of us students have had to adjust to working online and overcoming new challenges.

While it has been challenging, I am getting used to online learning and have figured out some cool ways to stay productive while at home — and I’m excited to share my tips with all of you!

LinkedIn Learning

Many colleges offer LinkedIn Learning as a resource to complement the campus career center. With LinkedIn Learning, you will find hundreds of online courses overviewing technical, hard, and soft skills across various fields. Watching the LinkedIn Learning videos will help you gain certificates that you can put on your resume or LinkedIn profile to stand out! For me personally, this quarter I am learning Python to develop familiarity with the programming language. These certificates will definitely be valuable in the coming months as you apply for internships, and I highly recommend that students use LinkedIn Learning or other online courses to learn from home!

Jonathan is an active voice on LinkedIn who always jumps at the opportunity to support others. Most recently, he offered his support to help college students struggling to find remote internships.

Connecting with Professionals on LinkedIn

After garnering new skills, I recommend expanding your network by sending LinkedIn connection requests and setting up informational interviews. Networking can feel intimidating, as there’s millions of professionals to connect with who work at thousands of organizations and companies. I recommend searching for companies that you would be interested in working at in the future. From there, LinkedIn can filter your results based on positions that you plan to apply for.

By doing these two steps, millions of professionals are now filtered down to a hundred or less people. I suggest researching the profiles of professionals from this list and finding out what previous job and volunteer experiences or clubs and organizations they were involved in. People who went to the same college as you, were involved in the same clubs, or volunteered at the same organizations are more likely to reply to students that are enthusiastic about learning from their experiences.

LinkedIn also notifies you if you share a mutual connection with another person. I recommend reaching out to your shared connection and politely asking if they can make an introduction for you— it will improve the likelihood of a response!

As the final step, I would personalize the request by:

  • Introducing yourself
  • Mentioning an experience they had in their LinkedIn profile that caught your attention
  • Identifying a clear deliverable that you would like them to do (For example: requesting an informational interview, providing feedback on your resume, etc.)
  • Thanking them.

Below is my go-to message when I am connecting with new professionals. Feel free to use it as inspiration!

Hi [Insert First Name],

My name is [Your Name], a/an [Major] at [Insert school] and I recently came across your profile. I found it interesting that you [worked/volunteered] at [organization/company].

If you are able to [have an info interview/review my resume], I would greatly appreciate it! Thank you!

Preparing for Informational Interviews

Setting up informational interviews is similar to making a connection request on LinkedIn. Before your informational interview, you should come up with questions and/or specific goals you would like to get out of the interview to respect the time of the person you’re interviewing. Make sure that your questions for the interviewer relate to their personal experience. For example, if you would like to know about the job environment at a certain company, you could ask what the work culture is like for the specific role.

Finally, you should always be responsible to set up, follow through, and thank the person after an interview. I find Google Calendar to be handy when setting up interviews as you can see that person’s availability.

I hope you find these tips helpful! While the coming months will be challenging, I encourage all of you to take care and stay positive! All of us will overcome these challenges and brighter days will be ahead of yourself. Till next time.

Jonathan Lopez is a 3rd year Economics major at UC Riverside and a member of Cohort 3 of the Kayne Scholars, an LA-based ScholarMatch partner.

Growing up as first-generation, Jonathan was mentored by teachers on future careers after college. Realizing that a career knowledge gap exists, he’s committed to helping his community be career-ready for high-demand jobs by promoting STEM careers to K-12 students, hosting LinkedIn workshops, and serving as a UCR ambassador. In his free time, he enjoys catching up on TV shows, working out, and traveling to new cities.

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