For those in the college search process, an aspect that is often overlooked when researching options is the career resources and network a college has to offer. You'll see that RIT is ranked as a top school for co-op and internship programs by the U.S. News & World Report, but the question once you are actually in college is: How do I actually land a co-op or internship? What resources are available to help me go out and find an opportunity in my field?
When I first started at RIT, I was unsure of the kinds of jobs I wanted to pursue within my major. I've found that many students end up changing their mind about their major, and what they want to do with their life, and I’ve learned that is perfectly okay. In fact, it wasn’t until later on that I fully utilized the resources RIT provides to begin shaping my career (I am currently a junior). Looking back on where I am now, I'm glad I did, because the experiences I had provided the clarity I needed.
RIT has an abundance of resources to obtain an internship, co-op, or full-time career. Whether it is the first or fifth role you are looking for, here are some resources that I’ve found to be the most helpful:
1. Career Connect
This is RIT’s preferred platform to connect students and alumni with their future. Similar to job sites like Handshake, Indeed, or Linkedin, you can easily find the best co-ops, internships, full-time jobs, and events to accelerate your career. The employer typically posts job opportunities on this platform, and some of the roles posted are specifically looking for RIT students. There are also frequent company visits where they'll do on campus interviews as well as resume reviews. This platform allows students to see when those events are happening and filter jobs/events by major.
Here's what it looks like from my account view:
This is just the home screen. Right away you’ll get a curated list of jobs that other people in your major have been applying for. You’ll see on the left bar there is a jobs tab that has different categories like “jobs that expire soon”, “trending jobs”, or “on-campus jobs”. This platform also allows you to sign up for interview slots if companies are hosting them and find related career events happening online or on-campus.
2. RIT Office of Career Services & Cooperative Education
Every student at RIT has an academic advisor. This is someone who works in your college department and is dedicated to advising you on things from choosing classes for your major to graduation requirements. In addition to this, students can also be assigned a co-op advisor from the Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education. I didn’t utilize this until my third year at RIT. My advisor was so helpful, because the people assigned are career services professionals who are an expert in a particular career field. Before you apply for a co-op, these advisors work with you to refine your resume and practice your interviewing skills. When I struggled to find a co-op myself, my advisor would send roles my way when she found opportunities that matched my interests. During your co-op, advisors also check in with you regularly to see how you’re progressing and answer any questions or concerns that arise while on the job.
3. The RIT Network: Clubs, Upperclassmen, and Alumni
When trying to obtain interviews at companies, I learned the importance of networking with people who work there. Having a connection at a company can lead to your resume being pushed to the interview table or getting a referral. Even if the connection isn’t a direct recruiter, any connection, like a friend who interned there, can help you learn what the company is currently looking for and can recommend you to the right people. Being a part of clubs on campus can help with this since you'll often get to know upperclassmen. Companies who are looking to hire will also host workshops for clubs on campus or speak to the group about open opportunities. Some clubs that frequently have company visits and have close ties with their alumni include Women in Computing, Hot Wheelz, RITSec, and Society of Software Engineers. But, it doesn't stop there. I'm a member of New Media Design Club, where once every semester they host a resume and portfolio review night where students or alumni from Fortune 500’s to startups do the reviewing. I received real critiques from those working at places from Uber to Adobe to Google and was then able to connect with them on LinkedIn.
Another way to utilize the vastness of the RIT alumni or upperclassmen network to build your own is to check out any company pages on Linkedin.
Even though I don’t currently have any LinkedIn connections that work at SpaceX, since I have RIT featured in my account, I can view students or alumni from RIT that do work there. I can then start to get a glimpse of what those RIT students do at the company and how they ended up there. Suppose I had a larger number of similar connections with someone. In that case, I might message them asking questions about how they enjoy the company, or how they got there. I could then potentially secure that connection so that future recruiters viewing my profile would see it.
4. Career Fairs
Every year, representatives from Fortune 500 companies, medium-sized regional, and small tech firms are available to meet and review resumes with the intent to recruit RIT students specifically. Many companies will schedule interviews with students the day after the fair for full-time or co-op employment. Typically, the career fair is a vast and crowded in-person event. There was an app called Career Fair Plus to see what companies were attending, the map of where companies would be in the Gordon field house, and an option to favorite the employers you want to talk to.
However, with the pandemic in effect, RIT’s career fair went virtual! During the career fair this past fall semester, employers often gave presentations about their companies and openings. This spring semester, RIT is working to personalize and curate the virtual career fair even more. Instead of one large general virtual career fair, it will be segmented by industry. For example, there will be a Civil Engineering & Construction Industry Virtual Career Fair, a Packaging Science Virtual Career Event, and an Accounting Career Fair, to name a few. Every year there is a Creative Industry Day, an event for the College of Art and Design students and select majors in the Golisano College of Computing. At all of these events, employers will actively recruit and pre-select candidates for job openings and impart career advice.