Eric Minor never wants a student to feel like looking for a job is impossible. Having worked in the journalism field, he knows just how competitive the market can be.
Managing Editor Jennifer Gardner spoke to Minor about how he helps students look for internships and jobs and the challenges he faces.
Q. What are some of the most common problems you see students run into when they are looking for an internship or a job?
A. Just being too passive about it and waiting for it to come to them. What I’m trying to teach is some search strategy on top of it all. It’s that whole “teach a person to fish, and they’ll eat for a lifetime.” Truly, the first step is just putting in the title of internship you’re looking for and the market you’re looking to work in. Now, that’s not the last step, because there’s a lot of stuff out there that is confusing and a lot of stuff that is fraudulent, so that’s why I’m here to help you kind of weed stuff out. But there’s a lot out there that you can find on your own.
Q. Do you get many students who are intimidated?
A.Well, of course, and I totally understand that. The goal is to get them to not be so intimidated that they don’t try. There’s lots of reasons to take it very seriously and to be cautious in it, but there’s no reason to be afraid when people are advertising for a position. They are looking to solve a problem and so as long as you’re offering them a solution to their problem, you’re not bothering them or putting yourself in a position to be yelled at. The very worst they’ll do is not hire you, which is disappointing, but not catastrophic.
Q. How do you help students who might feel “stuck” or unsure of where to start looking?
A. I give them something they can take action on, not just say “hey, it’s going to be okay,” but “it’s going to be okay, and will be even better if you do this thing.” So “actionable inspiration” is my mantra. If I’m sitting here at a loss for what to tell a student, that is directly above (their) head (on a bumper sticker) to remind me that’s what I need to work on first, something that gets you over the fear.
Q. Is it difficult to help students who come to you at the last minute?
A. It’s really hard, it’s really, really, really hard. The thing that I don’t want to do is say “you’re behind,” but the fact is that they are are. Students who wait until the very last minute to either explore and find out that they don’t like their career, or think about how to use the skills they have to earn a paycheck make it hard, and it’s a big part of why I have put so much into talking to our incoming freshman.
Q. What challenges do you see our current graduates facing when it comes to setting themselves apart in the application pool?
A. I always feel like all of us can make more stuff. I think the curriculum is fabulous for helping you start to establish your portfolio but you have to realize that everybody in that class has had that same opporunity to work on that same project. Those are phenomenal experiences and they have led to jobs, but having more is always going to help. Our students can and should be doing as much as they can do without making themselves physically ill or causing their academics to suffer. I just think everybody needs to be making more “stuff.”