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Q and A with the Seaver College Career Center

The Seaver College Career Center is dedicated to supporting current students and alumni in achieving their career goals. From events and programs to mock interviews and resume support, the center’s knowledgeable team is ready to help you no matter what your career path. Marla Pontrelli, director of career education and coaching at Seaver College, answers some of students’ most frequently asked questions. 

What are the benefits to interning during college? 

There are multiple benefits to interning, and the Career Center highly encourages students to participate in at least two or three substantive professional experiences. Internships are uniquely designed for students to gain hands-on practical training and develop the essential skills for competing in the marketplace. They’re among the most valuable learning opportunities for testing out and clarifying one's career interests, so even an internship experience that leads a student to pivot away from a certain field can be a meaningful one.

One of the primary benefits of interning is broadening interns’  network of professionals. A strong network can help to open up different possibilities for students by referring and recommending them for jobs, graduate schools, or any opportunity they may be seeking after graduation.

What is the worst mistake I can make while interviewing for an internship or job? 

An employer can usually pick up on how much you've prepared for the interview by researching their company. It's important to fully research the organization, demonstrate a deep understanding of their broader mission and goals, and develop a strong case for why you'd be a good fit for the role.

Showing enthusiasm for the position and having a positive attitude can also go a long way; employers make decisions based on your personality and outlook; these qualities are often just as important as your skills and experience.

How can I stand out while interning virtually? 

The quality of an internship experience can be compromised through a virtual format, and now students will need to be more proactive than ever. Interns should stay in close communication with their supervisors on their assignments and request feedback to ensure that they're meeting the agreed-upon expectations. Interns can also request a direct, one-on-one meeting time with their supervisor once a week to gather extra feedback, track progress on their learning objectives, and establish a deeper connection with the company. 

Employers often appreciate when interns offer to assist with extra work and are impressed when interns address a specific need or gap by completing a self-directed project. Beyond their primary responsibilities, interns can also request to join in on larger staff or team meetings and reach out directly to other members at the organization to gather additional career insights and advice. These strategies can serve as critical substitutes for the professional relationships and networking that often occur organically in in-person work environments.

Is experience required for most internships?

Experience can be generously viewed through the lens of almost anything a student has demonstrated a commitment to and a potential to succeed in. Employers evaluate the wider scope of experience beyond paid work positions; they are also interested in candidates that have demonstrated strong academic performance in their courses, leadership aptitude in student clubs and organizations, and involvement in community-based efforts. 

Students can take a full inventory of their broader set of experiences in and out of the classroom to position themselves for consideration at the highest level. The Career Center team helps students examine and leverage their experiences for their internship applications, interviews, and other networking opportunities that may arise.

How can I make my resume cut through the noise? 

Students can often overdo it when it comes to using different templates and creative types of resumes, but many employers still prefer a more standard and traditional format. The best resume will be one that a reader can easily scan and identify relevant key terms that connect the applicant's experience directly to the targeted position. 

Pepperdine students have special access to VMock, which is an AI-powered resume review platform that provides detailed feedback on students' resumes for specific industry benchmarks. It's one of the best tools on the market for improving one's resume to meet the highest standards of quality and impact.

The Seaver College Career Center is designed to serve as a resource for students and alumni. Be sure to explore the range of services available. We’re looking forward to helping you achieve your career goals.