During the start of the spring semester at the College, students are not only getting used to a new set of classes, but also submitting last-minute internship applications and preparing for interviews. Seniors are getting ready to begin their first career.
On a résumé, students are told to present their academic successes, as well as practical experiences. When it comes to the interview, however, rarely do we know which is weighted more. The answer is that it is not only a balance, but it also depends on the employer and the particular position.
“Certainly they want to see a student that has that GPA standard that they are looking for, but also that you are balancing it with things you are doing on campus,” said Debra Klokis, employer relations specialist for the College.
She explained that within the School of Business, accounting firms tend to be the most particular when it comes to GPAs, followed by financial companies.
“Above that 3.0 mark is a good place to be — it’s a good goal to strive for,” she said. Grades are an area in which a student can differentiate themselves from a stack of applicants.
If a company is looking for a particular GPA, it will be specified in the qualifications portion of the job posting.
“A strong GPA shows discipline,” senior finance major Ryan Dolan said.
Dolan was recently offered a full-time position at PMT Food Consulting Inc. and has interned in the past. He attributes his success largely to his internships and business experience more than his academics.
“Employers want to see that you can communicate efficiently and think on your feet,” Dolan said. “A GPA can’t always reflect that.”
It’s important that students have topics to discuss during the interview that can illustrate skills such as leadership, teamwork and skills that are particular to their potential position. It adds to their overall impression.
“Experiences let you tell your own story when you get in the interview,” Klokis said. “You want to have things to draw on.”
Employers also like to hear about students’ courses and academic projects, even any group work they may have worked on.
“Employers really want to know about the skills you are bringing to an internship or a full-time position,” Klokis said.
When junior international business major James Goetschius was interviewing for his current position at the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce for the greater Philadelphia area, they were primarily focused on his comfort level with the language and his knowledge of current events.
“My GPA certainly helped, but they wanted to see more of what I knew about the business climate and country itself,” Goetschius said.
He explained that even his activities on campus that didn’t directly pertain to the position were useful while talking during the interview.
“Campus activities are fun to talk about during an interview,” he said.
Student organizations such as WTSR, the campus radio station, and club sports can demonstrate teamwork and leadership skills. Additionally, Goetschius said his study abroad trip was another way to make his résumé stand out.
One of the best ways students can help themselves land both internships and full-time positions is to network. By putting themselves in strategic positions, individuals can connect with various companies and even alumni of the College.
The College offers information sessions with companies hiring interns and employees, career fairs and networking nights organized by the School of Business. Students should look for opportunities to tell someone about themselves and learn more about a type of employer.
“In the real world, the smart people are those who go out and even if they fail, learn to adapt and improve,” Dolan said.