For the average college student, summer break includes time with family, freedom from academic deadlines, and part time jobs to provide money for the next semester. While time to recharge is necessary for any student, UAB urges students to take advantage of their summer semesters to further their career and field experience. UAB provides students with several opportunities to connect with companies in field through summer internships. The Department of Career and Professional Development leads the effort to provide students with the support needed to prepare for entering the workforce. We spoke with Director Melissa Whatley to find out how students and families can work together to prepare for a smoother transition out of college and into the workforce— an effort that starts with internships.

Just last week, the Career and Professional Development staff hosted a career fair, conducted in office interviews, and provided students with a resume workshop. These are just some of the events that offer opportunities for students to form relationships with potential employers and prepare themselves for the workforce. To make sure these events are the best they can be, Career and Professional Development meets with companies in the community to create partnerships for students. These partnerships are also posted on the online platform HireABlazer, where students are able to contact these companies and local business partners. Career and Professional Development also offers one-on-one appointments to help students create plans for building professional development, especially when students are looking for potential internships. When explaining the purpose of the meetings, Whatley stated that “there is no checkbox for finding the perfect internship or job, but scheduling a meeting helps to talk through a student’s career goals and learn how to find an internship for their specific field.” Working with just some of these tools sets a student up for success in finding a place to develop professional skills.

Whatley implores students to begin their search as early as September or October to find the best summer internships. These efforts are often grounded in early application and putting a face to the name on the application— Whatley emphasizes that “life is about human interaction” and students benefit from seeking out relationships with UAB’s business partners. In the fall semester, there are multiple career fairs for students majoring in business, education, engineering, healthcare, the liberal arts, and the social sciences. When students attend these events during their freshman, sophomore, and junior years, they can establish relationships with employers and prepare for the job market.

Aiding your student in seeking out these opportunities requires simple efforts. There are many social media platforms that families of UAB students can follow and inform their student when Career and Professional Development events occur. Urging your student to apply to internships early and build their profile on HireABlazer not only allows you to have valuable conversations with your students about entering the job market, but prepares them for life after UAB.

Article by Melodi Ketura Lewis