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The job search process will vary depending on your goals and industry-specific timelines. The information below provides an overview of the job search process, as well as important tools and resources. Schedule an appointment with an OCS career advisor to develop your individual job search plan.

Tip: Did you know the Yale Career Link hosts Summer Peer Networking Lists and Class Lists with contact information of thousands of current students and recent alums willing to discuss their internship and postgraduate experiences? Search under Resources, Career Library to start connecting. 


Job Search Timelines

Timelines vary widely even within the same industry, so it is important to plan ahead to assure you don’t miss opportunities. It is also important to designate sufficient time for your search. Think about it as a class, without an exam. If you designate 4-5 hours a week to a class, that is what you should designate for your job search.

  • 'Advanced' hiring: Some employers are able to anticipate their entry-level hiring needs months in advance, usually very large employers. These companies are in the minority, and are by no means representative of the range of entry-level opportunities. Employers who recruit 10+ months in advance and/or participate in an On-Campus Recruiting program fall into this category. Some employers with advanced hiring may have established 1-2 year opportunities or programs. In the non-profit sector these are sometimes referred to as fellowships, or may also be listed as internships, such as Teach for America, AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps. The application deadlines vary depending on the opportunity; some have one deadline per year, while larger programs may have multiple deadlines throughout the year.
  • 'As Needed' or 'Just in Time' hiring: The majority of employers across all sectors – for-profit, non-profit, and government – fall into this category. These employers hire when someone leaves or when the company or organization is growing. When positions become available, employers want to fill the opening quickly; if a position becomes available in February, most employers will not be able to hold it open until June when a graduating student is available to begin working. But that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t start your job search early. The vast majority of Yale students accept positions with employers that hire closer to graduation, check out the Yale College First Destination Reports for details.

Tip: 'Rolling' Applications: Employers accepting applications on a rolling basis will review resumes as they are submitted and begin interviewing candidates prior to the application deadline. It's recommended that you apply to these opportunties earlier rather than later.

Explore Options and Set Goals

Start by considering the following questions. If you’re not sure how your interests fit with career options, schedule an appointment with a career advisor.

  • Short term or long term: Are you looking for a one-to-two year position before pursuing a graduate degree? Would you prefer a position that will help you get started along a specific career path or gain a foothold in a particular industry?
  • Industries and sectors of interest: Are there specific industries you’re most interested in? What types of positions within those most appeal to you?
  • Skills: Are there skills you’d like to employ or want to develop? Is there something you enjoy that you hope to incorporate into your work?
  • Geography: Where do you want to live? What regions of the country or the world? Any specific cities?
  • Company size: Would you like to target large organizations, small start-ups, or something in between?
  • Mission and impact: Are there causes you’d like to work on?
  • Challenge and growth opportunities: Would you prefer a set schedule or are you open to an irregular schedule? Travel or no travel? Are you looking for opportunities that have a leadership development component?

Research and Prepare

Once you’ve established your search goals, next is to learn about the employers within that field and the latest industry news. Immerse yourself in publications and resources from the field to develop a list of target employers. OCS has compiled a group of helpful career resources to get you started.

  • Update your résumé: Don’t wait until you find a job you want to apply for, or until a networking contact asks you for a résumé to get this important document up to date. Have an updated version of your résumé ready to go so you can act quickly when opportunities arise.
  • Prepare cover letters and other correspondence: The best cover letters are tailored for each position, but start by reviewing this general information on how to construct an effective cover letter, and brainstorm what skills, attributes and experiences you may want to highlight in your cover letters.
  • Start practice interviewing: Employers don’t always give you much notice before scheduling an interview, so don’t wait until you’re offered an interview to begin preparing. Practice interviews can help you prepare for common questions and practice explaining how your background is relevant for the position.
  • Connect with your references: During the application or interview process, employers may ask for references. As you begin your search, it’s important to talk with people you would like to use as a reference to ask if they are willing to serve as a reference, and to let them know to which positions you’re applying.
  • Prepare your writing samples or portfolio: If applying to positions that will require writing samples, published clips, or samples of your creative work, you’ll want to gather these materials in advance and have them ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Uncover and Apply for ​Opportunities

Your search will certainly include applying for opportunities posted on websites, but this should NOT be the only or the primary job search method you employ. Limit this strategy to 20% of your search, and focus the remaining 80% on actively building relationships with professionals employed at companies and organizations of interest. This is commonly referred to as networking. It’s a myth that all jobs get posted; in fact the majority of positions will never make it to any website, and even those that do are often filled through referrals.

FAQ: Effective ways to apply to posted opportunities

There are many resources for identifying posted opportunities and below are a list that Yale students and alums have found useful.

  • On-Campus Recruiting: For employers who use a formal recruiting process, OCS provides opportunities for students to interview with organizational representatives. On-campus recruiting takes place at the OCS office in the early fall and spring. In addition, the MetroLink interviewing day takes place in DC in February.  MetroLink details will be sent to seniors in December.
  • Yale Career Link: OCS maintains a robust database of jobs and internships that only Yale students and alums can access. These opportunities are posted by employers who are specifically seeking Yale students and graduates, many of whom are Yale alums.
  • Employer websites: Many employers maintain a list of available jobs and internships with their company on their website. Look for a “Careers” or “Employment” section, or in the absence of that you may want to explore “About Us” or “Contact Us” sections for mention of opportunities.
  • General On-Line Job Boards: There are many online job boards you can utilize in your search, such as USAJOBS, Indeed, and OCS has compiled a resource list of several of these sites that alums have found most useful in our career resources database.

FAQ: How and why to start networking?

There is a myth that most people find their jobs from formal job postings or on-campus recruiting, when in reality most jobs are never formally advertised and will not recruit through a formal process. It’s therefore essential to actively engage in your job search by building relationships with professionals in your field of interest.

You already have a network of contacts you can tap into, whether you recognize it or not. Start by considering your academic and personal networks, including professors, Deans, internship supervisors, family and friends. Beyond those networks, you also have access to a robust network of current Yale students and Yale alums.

Consider starting with your peers here at Yale. The Summer Peer Lists and Class Lists in the Yale Career Link include thousands of current students and recent graduates willing to talk about their experiences. When you are ready to connect with Yale alums, use the Yale Career Network to connect with alums across the world.

FAQ: What is a Preferred Yale Partner?

As a Yale student, you are fortunate to have access to an enormous network of alums and employers eager to offer you opportunities. OCS works closely with many Yale alums, parents, donors and employers that hire Yale students on a regular basis across all industries, which we refer to as Preferred Yale Partners.

  • Search for opportunities offered by Preferred Yale Partners directly in the Yale Career Link
  • Once you log-in, choose the Jobs tab
  • Choose Advanced Search, and select Preferred Yale Partner 'Yes'
  • You can also search by location, industry, job function and other fields

Stay Organized and Follow Up

Staying organized throughout this process is essential. Set up an Excel spreadsheet or use Google Docs to manage your search.

Hopefully during your initial conversation with a networking contact you took a few notes. What advice or recommendations did your contact give you? Did they recommend you explore a particular resource? Did they pass on the name of another contact? This is information you can use to follow-up.

Periodically check in with them and let them know you listened to their advice and are taking action. This lets your contact know you’re serious and that their time was not wasted. If you see an article on a topic you discussed, send it. Networking should be a mutually beneficial exchange. Reciprocate and contribute to the relationship, and most importantly let them know you appreciate their guidance.

Tip: No two relationships are the same way. Some will be open to regular contact, while others may prefer just one conversation. You need to let the relationship evolve organically, but keep in mind the hope is to develop a long-term relationship; a job may come from it, but that is not the primary goal.