Graduate students learn a lot from both their professors and their peers in the classroom. When they combine that learning with hands-on experiences, they can increase their opportunities and potentially discover the thread that connects what they are learning to their purpose in life. For some students, navigating career development, hands-on learning and job search processes can be overwhelming.
This is why the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics created the Lerner Career Services Center. The Center’s mission is to support students through their various academic and career levels. The Center helps students to explore their strengths, clarify expectations, set goals and connect with executive mentors.
In addition to the Lerner Career Services Center general resources, students have several contacts for one-on-one career advising. In this interview, the Lerner Career Services’ Assistant Director Sarah Baker Andrus explains how this works.
Q: What are the specific responsibilities of your role, and how do you support students?
Andrus: I provide career coaching and guidance to Lerner’s MBA and specialized master’s degree students, as well as all Lerner undergraduate and graduate alumni. That includes managing the Graduate Internship Program, employer relationships and helping everyone involved navigate the job search process. I also collaborate with our career services team to provide workshops and programs to help our students present themselves as excellent candidates to prospective employers and find a great career fit.
Q: What resources and tools can Lerner students use as they search for jobs and internship opportunities?
Andrus: Lerner Career Services provides access to a number of resources that can be valuable in the job search process. These include Handshake, Career Shift, UD-CAN and the Lerner Executive Mentoring Program
They can use these resources to:
- Access thousands of job and internship opportunities
- Learn about Lerner Career Services workshops, programs, and employer events
- Make an appointment for career advising on job search strategies, networking and interview success
- Meet professionals currently engaged in various business roles with companies all over the region
Q: What are some of the best practices that students should adopt before they begin a job search?
Andrus: Perhaps the most important step any student can take in order to identify jobs and internships is to schedule an appointment with career services early in their academic program. The advantage of starting early is the opportunity to start building relationships, even if they’re not yet ready to start work, familiarizing themselves with the tools and resources that are available and ensuring they are well-prepared to respond to openings as they arise.
This starts, but by no means ends, with a discussion of the student’s interests and what types of roles might be a good fit. The Lerner Career Services team also helps students with resume and LinkedIn reviews, interview preparation and answering a lot of questions that begin with “What do I do if…?” and “I’m not sure how to…?”
Q: Describe an ideal day – what does that look like to you at work?
Andrus: My ideal day is one of those days that I am meeting with students who are curious, interested, motivated, responsive and ambitious. I love the one-on-one coaching. It is one of my favorite things to do. But what makes it a great day is when a student comes into my office and says, “My eyes are now opened to something I hadn’t thought about before,” and now feel they have a path.
Many students have been told what they “should” study by well-meaning family or friends. Some may have been told accounting or perhaps finance is the best field for them, but they don’t understand or know if that’s what they really want to do. I enjoy helping these students and others uncover what lights them up. What is it going to get them out of bed every morning? What are they excited about, and what type work environment will help them build a thriving career?
Q: What is the Lerner Graduate Internship Program all about, and what is its value to students?
Andrus: Lerner’s Graduate Internship Program is a selective opportunity for full-time MBA and specialized master’s degree students to gain practical work experience in their chosen field of study. The Lerner Career Services team works with employers to help them staff important projects, while our graduate students can bring their expertise to a real-world setting. It’s truly a win-win for everyone involved and can lead to an offer of employment when the student completes their studies.
Q: What other general career advice do you have for students to get the most out of the Lerner Career Services Center?
Andrus: Stay positive, but more importantly, be prepared to take action. The most successful graduate students at the Lerner College are the ones who put a lot of effort into visiting the career services center, take ownership of that relationship and use every resource available.
These are the students who stay engaged, take advantage of things like career fairs, networking sessions and workshops and pay attention to timing and deadlines. They also maintain a positive attitude, commit to the process and proactively network with fellow students and Lerner alumni.