Second-year journalism student Lucy, 20, is worried about securing a summer job with the season well underway. “Trying to navigate the internship space during COVID-19 has been pretty tough and it’s pretty late into the summer term, so there are even fewer student jobs now,” Lucy writes. “I’ve been searching for an internship or summer job in marketing or communications since the beginning of April to no avail.”
Lucy’s previous internships and part-time roles have been at smaller start-ups and companies that allowed more creativity in her work. While she hopes to gain a full-time role in journalism after graduating, she recognizes that the journalism internship landscape is “very scarce and very competitive,” so she has pivoted to marketing and communications roles instead. “The written and verbal communication skills from my journalism background transfer well into the marketing realm,” Lucy writes. “With my marketing internships, I’ve developed a lot of really crucial skills such as social media strategy and editing.”
Since mid-April, Lucy has applied to over a dozen internships and summer positions related to marketing, communications and journalism. She’s interested in working with tech companies, charities and creative agencies, as well as magazines and online publications. We asked career coach Kathryn Meisner and two professionals from the Vancouver-based creative agency Major Tom — a digital marketing copywriter and an HR manager — to offer some advice for Lucy’s next steps and tips to improve her resume.
WHAT THE INDUSTRY EXPERTS SAY
Colleen Christison, a copywriter at Major Tom, gives Lucy points for keeping her resume to one page. “Lucy’s write-ups are concise and her external links make it easy to find her online,” says Ms. Christison. She does recommend rejigging some details, though. “Lucy should list her skills in order of importance, so skills should likely come before languages unless she is applying for a job that requires both English and conversational Cantonese.”
While Lucy included a headshot in her resume, Ms. Christison recommends removing it. “For a creative agency, a headshot isn’t relevant to the job she’s applying for,” she says. And since it’s assumed that references will be provided at a later stage in the interview process, Lucy can remove these too and make space to list awards, notable achievements or software skills.
Ms. Christison says Major Tom doesn’t receive too many applications from journalism students, but she does see Lucy’s background as an advantage, so Lucy’s on the right track. “Knowing how to tell a story and write compelling copy will benefit Lucy in all aspects of creative work,” Ms. Christison says. “Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools we use in marketing.”
According to Major Tom’s HR and recruitment manager Ariana Kolaitis, widespread job losses have resulted in many internships being cancelled. But she encourages Lucy to be open to other internships that could still help develop her skills. “Try to stay up to date with what’s happening by following agencies on LinkedIn or on their social channels,” Ms. Kolaitis recommends. “They might post an opportunity perfect for you.” Lucy can also be more active on LinkedIn and social media, commenting on posts and reaching out to companies with personalized messages. “When your resume hits their inbox, they already know your name,” says Ms. Kolaitis. “A past intern of ours sent a personalized LinkedIn message which spurred a conversation and eventually, we made space for him within our program because of it.”
WHAT THE CAREER COACH SAYS
Lucy currently has short paragraphs describing her prior work duties, but career coach Kathryn Meisner suggests using detailed bullet points instead. “Bullet points should focus on specific actions and results to better communicate her abilities and capacity,” says Ms. Meisner. “For each point, she needs to ask: What did I do? How did I do it? What did it result in?” Lucy should also add in time frames and other numbers that could be impressive.
Ms. Meisner also encourages Lucy to engage her networks in her job search. “At least 50 per cent of your job application work needs to happen outside of your resume document,” she says. Lucy can use LinkedIn to see if she has any connections, whether direct or several degrees away, with people who work or have worked at her organizations of interest. If so, she can reach out to them for introductions.
Lucy can also research beyond the job posting to tailor her resume to each position of interest. “You want to think of your resume and the job posting as two circles in a Venn diagram,” says Ms. Meisner. “Try and make those two circles overlap as much as possible.” In Lucy’s online research of employers, she should be reviewing not just the first page in a Google search but also checking news, images and video search results to ensure she’s using the right language and buzzwords in her application.
As Lucy is building her resume and skills through school, Ms. Meisner says that she can use the job search experience to build an “informal professional development plan.” For example, if Lucy discovers that she needs a certain skill for her target role, she can find or create a project or volunteer at an organization to acquire the experience she needs. Lucy should also build a list of questions she has about her fields of interest and specific roles and employers, then connect with people that can answer her questions.
Lucy already had a great start with her resume, which she created herself on InDesign. With input from Ms. Kolaitis, Ms. Christison and Ms. Meisner, Lucy removed her headshot and references and used the additional space to add a one-line summary of herself along with some links to her published writing. Lucy already had links to her portfolio, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts in her resume. But she was able to rejig the main portion of her resume, combining two experience sections into one and reformatting the descriptions into bullet points, all while keeping it to one concise page.
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Email us with your resume at email@example.com and we’ll ask a career coach and an expert in your field to provide their feedback. Names and some details are changed to protect the privacy of the persons profiled. We’re especially interested in hearing from those who have had their employment impacted by COVID-19. On the flipside, if you’re a hiring manager interested in reaching out to the person profiled, we encourage you to contact us as well.
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