Jenifer from California State University Los Angeles asked:
“I am planning to major in communication disorders. How can I get in contact with someone to find out about internship opportunities or speak to about their experiences in that job field?”
You asked a great question! Gaining experience and speaking with professionals in your field will put you in a positive position upon graduation. When I was a graduate student, I wanted to speak to as many higher education professionals as I could to learn about the field and the conversations were enlightening.
My response outlines individuals and resources that will help you achieve your goals:
Start with your current connections
Your professors are your closest connections. Many of them have worked in the field and can provide insight on their experiences as well as advice to set you up for success. I recommend scheduling a meeting with them or stopping by their office during their office hours.
The Career Development Center at your university offers students a wealth of resources and services. In addition to meeting with a career counselor or attending employer events on campus, I encourage you to register on CareerLink. CareerLink is your university’s internal job and internship database. Employers who are interested in hiring students and alumni from Cal State LA post their openings on the platform and it is a helpful tool to search for an internship.
Warm connections are individuals you may know, share a common ground (for example, an alumnus from Cal State LA) or have a mutual connection. LinkedIn is a great tool to help you find warm connections.
I encourage all students to set up a LinkedIn profile and become an active participant on the platform. LinkedIn offers a wealth of resources, including the ability to search for alumni from your program. Once you search for your university on LinkedIn, you can “see alumni.” On the Career Insight page, you can filter the list and find alumni who studied Communication Disorders and learn their place of employment. If you see an alumnus whose background is interesting, I encourage you to contact them. Below is a sample introduction you can send:
I am Jenifer (last name) and currently studying Communications Disorders at Cal State LA. I am interested in learning more about the field and came across your LinkedIn profile. Your background aligns with my career goals and I am interested in learning more about your experience. Are you available for a 20 minute meeting over coffee in the coming weeks?
Jenifer (last name)
If the alumnus is willing to speak with you, here are sample questions you can ask them during the meeting.
As you leverage your immediate and warm connections, you may wish to expand your network and establish relationships with individuals who aren’t warm connections.
Cold connections are individuals who you don’t know and I provided ways to establish contact with these professionals.
Using the search bar on LinkedIn, type in “Speech-Language Pathologist,” “Audiologist” or “Speech Therapist” and your geographic location. The search will populate the profiles that matches your criteria. It’s important when initiating contact, that you send a personalized message to describe the purpose of your communication. The sample LinkedIn introduction will be important to use.
Every industry has professional associations that provide its members with professional development, networking, mentorship and more. In addition, these organizations have local and national chapters and may offer student rates so you can fully utilize all of its benefits.
To attend events and network with professionals in your field, a few professional associations you may want to join are:
Through these endeavors, I believe you will have fruitful conversations with professionals and potentially learn about internship opportunities. I encourage you to continue the conversation with a Career Counselor in the Career Development Center at Cal State LA. You can learn more about scheduling an appointment here.