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Ready or not, here comes summer

Students search for summer jobs, internships

Published: April 16, 2010
Section: Features


The end of the semester might be quickly approaching, but sophomore Alice Konghende’s summer plans are still up in the air.

“I may do an internship. I may go to Germany to see my sister. Or I may be here to do some research for a professor,” she said. “Or go to Ohio. That’s an option, too.”

Konghende isn’t the only student at Brandeis who does not have concrete summer plans. A lot of students are working hard to find employment or internships, and the current economy isn’t helping. Alex Sheehan ’13, for example, is planning to work at a psychology lab on campus this summer, but he hasn’t decided on a specific project yet. Unfortunately, lab jobs rarely pay their undergraduate workers.

“It isn’t that [difficult] to find a lab job. To find one that pays is a whole other story, because most labs don’t have student funding,” he said.

So far, Sheehan has spoken to three labs, and only one had paying positions available. He plans to get a part-time job at Brandeis so he can make money, however, even finding a simple job around campus has proven to be somewhat difficult. “One would expect that there are a few jobs over the summer that don’t have extensive requirements,” he said. “I don’t need to do something that’s amazing and to find [such a job]—it’s been kind of annoying. Then again, I’ve only sent in two or three applications, so I’m only at the start [of the process],” he added.

The labor market is so competitive right now, even for non-paying internships like Sheehan’s potential lab job, that some students are having a lot of trouble finding employment. Take Debra Greene ’10, who is working at a bakery this summer, but still doesn’t have solid plans for next year.

“This is the first time that I have had to look for a ‘real’ job, so it is a bit overwhelming,” she wrote in an e-mail to The Hoot. Greene is applying to work as a high school English teacher next year, but is having some trouble with her search so far. “A lot of school districts are struggling with budget cuts, so this is not the best time to be looking for a job,” she explained.

Fortunately, Brandeis offers a lot of support for students in the job market. Professors and faculty from the Education Department, for example, are helping Greene in her search. “[They] have done a lot to help those of us in the education program. They have showed us where to look online for job openings (such as on schoolspring.com) and are willing to help us with resumes, mock interviews, etc.,” she said.

In addition, the Hiatt Career Center holds workshops and info sessions on applying for work, and gives students the opportunity to meet with experts to review their cover letters, resumes and other aspects of job applications. They also provide networking opportunities. Their shadowing program, for instance, allows students to sign up to spend a day with successful alumni.

“I went to them and asked what should be on my resume and they were really helpful,” Amanda Winn ’13 said. “I really like the way it looks now; it’s very clean and organized.”

Winn got a lot of help from professors and the University Writing Center, too. Thanks to professional assistance that helped her polish her applications, sheis currently doing biomedical research at UMass Medical School. “I’m so used to doing research and not getting paid, so this is kind of a shock,” she said happily. “It’s sort of an internship, because I’ll be working with grad[uate] student and professors, and learning.”

Winn’s plans are all set now, but she admitted that the search was stressful. “I found out about really great programs two days before the applications were due—or two days after,” she said. “It’s like applying to college, but [to] a lower degree. Taking classes here, it was hard to find the time to apply.”

The search was less difficult for Emilie Schuler ’11, who will be a teaching assistant for a summer Justice Brandeis Semester program.

“I’ve known that I’m going to do this since last December because at the end of the semester, Laura Golding approached me and asked me if I wanted to work with her,” Schuler , who has served as a TA for Professor Golding before, explained.

“It’s kind of good that I’ve known [my plans for awhile now],” she said, “because I remember last year I was scrambling to do job applications.”

Last summer, Schuler applied to work at a farm in Waltham, but ended up not getting the job. “It was May and I still didn’t know what I was going to do. I knew I wanted to work on the farm, so I just started showing up everyday,” she laughed. “After a couple weeks, they hired me. So that’s a way I went about it, sort of pushing my way into it.”