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How to Find that Killer Internship or Dream Job

Montclair State University Career Services and students share strategies for landing extraordinary pre-career experiences that lead to success

Posted in: Career Services Spotlights

Students use their phones to scan a QR code for a Montclair Career Fair on September 6. There were plenty of part-time jobs being offered through the University’s Career Services. (Photo by John J. LaRosa)
Students use their phones to scan a QR code for a Montclair Career Fair on September 6. There were plenty of part-time jobs being offered through the University’s Career Services. (Photo by John J. LaRosa)

Vincent Gollotto never dreamed that volunteering to run social media for the Red Hawks men’s soccer team would be his ticket to travel the world, but that’s what happened when he accompanied the team to Germany this summer to photograph training matches between the college athletes and professional players in Munich.

“I was shooting practice and games like I normally do in Montclair, but, obviously in a beautiful place, a new place I’ve never been,” says Gollotto, a senior Sports Communications major. Among the highlights: The reaction of midfielder Owen Murphy and his teammates after scoring the first goal on international turf.

“I could tell how excited the team and the coaches were to be there and I was lucky to be able to capture that and show everyone the amazing time they had,” Gollotto says.

Two soccer players celebrate by pumping their fists after scoring a goal.
A photo taken by Vincent Gollotto during his summer job documenting the Red Hawks’ soccer team playing in a tournament in Munich, Germany. “The team was trying to prove that they could beat professional players and when they scored the team went crazy. I was in the perfect spot to capture their reaction.” (Photo courtesy of Vincent Gollotto)

When it comes to landing a dream job, sometimes timing is everything. Gollotto hopes his experiences with Red Hawk Athletics and as an intern with the professional soccer club Philadelphia Union lead to a career in his chosen profession. When he does, he won’t be alone. Countless Montclair State University students have parlayed their internships and co-ops both on campus and abroad into careers.

Montclair’s location provides boundless opportunities for hands-on experiences with local governments, businesses, nonprofits, schools and health-care organizations. Students say support from the University’s Career Services, their advisors, professors and mentors, and University resources on scholarships, internships and fellowships help them secure positions.

It’s these introductions to professional life, says Chantelle Wright, executive director for Montclair’s Experiential Education and Career Connections, that help students figure out their true passions. “They’re able to test the waters, to know what works, what they like, what they don’t like, and to also get connected with a support network that can help them build and develop their portfolio and their skills.”

That was the experience of Katarina Rodriguez, a senior Business Administration major, who was accepted into the Governor’s Hispanic Fellows Program. “The fellowship allowed me to tap into professional development, actively do it, and pursue something that I’m interested in and want to learn more about,” Rodriguez says.

It also included an internship with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to work with the digital team on maternal public health. “It’s one thing to be in the classroom and learning about managerial accounting and business communications. It’s another to actively apply those lessons and see how they play out in the current environment,” Rodriguez says.

At the start of the fall semester, Richard Steiner-Otoo, a senior majoring in Geographic, Environmental and Urban Studies, spent a week as an intern on a research vessel mapping the seafloor around Hawaii, an internship he discovered was available through the University’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, a National Science Foundation-funded program.

It’s just one of the opportunities he’s had while a student at Montclair. This past summer, he served as a White House intern in Washington, D.C., working in the Office of Public Engagement. Letters of recommendations from his Montclair professors helped him win the coveted job.

“The internship experience is far more accessible than people would realize,” Steiner-Otoo says. “That resonated with me, and is something I want to share.”

A student holds out a sheet of paper to a woman across a table.
A Montclair student hands out her resume to a potential employer during Montclair’s September part-time job fair. (Photo by John J. LaRosa)

From some of the highest-profile names in the region – like ABC News, the New York professional sports teams and pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson – to micro internships and shadowing experiences, more than 7,000 employers are approved to recruit Montclair students and alumni, says Jesica Hauser ’09, ’22 MA, program associate in University Career Services.

New this year are the micro-internships, short-term, flexible, paid professional assignments that are similar to those given to new hires or interns. The projects allow students to demonstrate skills, explore career paths and build a network as they seek the right full-time role.

Montclair provides career advisors in each of its schools and colleges, providing one-on-one career counseling, help with resumes and cover letters. Career fairs and events match students with employers who are hiring.

Handshake, an online recruiting platform, helps employers recruit college students and new grads. The system provides job and internship recommendations based on personal career interests and goals.

A student wearing a white lab coat writes notes on a small pad of paper inside a science lab.
Jeff Yumbla, a junior Molecular Biology major, studied a protein found in the influenza virus during his summer research position at UC San Diego. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Yumbla)

Jeff Yumbla, a junior Molecular Biology major, displays the proactivity and strong planning it can take to find the perfect position. He created an Excel spreadsheet to track research programs, their requirements, rewards and the kinds of experience each would provide. He completed 11 rigorous applications six months before the programs would even begin. In the end, he was accepted to three, choosing to conduct influenza research at the University of California San Diego.

“I guess there’s an important lesson there is to apply to a lot of programs,” he says.

As he was flying home from California, Yumbla recalls looking out the airplane window reflecting on what he had accomplished. “At that moment, I felt very sentimental, very emotional. It was like, wow, I really did it,” he says. “I thought about the people who made it possible, including my research mentor Dr. Jaclyn Catalano [associate professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry], because she was the catalyst for me to take this big jump to go out and apply for the programs and to go to San Diego.

“It was a surreal experience.”

Story by Staff Writer Marilyn Joyce Lehren.