At the first event of the spring semester Master of Public Policy Speaker series, Michigan State University PhD candidate Erika Rosebrook led a resume and job search workshop for MPP students. Our students have a diverse range of experiences and career interests, but each can benefit from guidance and feedback during their searches for internships and future positions. This workshop included valuable advice about resumes and cover letters, a discussion of the importance of networking, and a chance for students to get feedback from their peers.
Rosebrook has substantial experience in policy, including at the Michigan Office of Urban and Metropolitan Initiatives, as a policy and administration consultant, and in several analytic and administrative positions in Michigan county government. These experiences as both a job candidate and manager have informed her not only about common mistakes but also the importance of knowing what kind of work is best suited to a particular person.
As Rosebrook explained, knowing one’s own strengths and preferences is essential. Students partnered with one another to share their impressions of one another’s strengths. They also considered what factors might make a job difficult or unappealing to them.
Workstyle preferences, values, and interests can determine whether a candidate is suitable for a position. Examples include preferences for working alone or with others, or for routine work versus frequent new projects. Sometimes these insights may only come with experience. Rosebrook noted that simply having the skills required for a job does not mean it is necessarily a good match.
Students also teamed up to review one another’s resumes, having received personal feedback from Rosebrook. This helps students develop effective resumes that emphasize their strengths and are suitable for their jobs or industries of interest.
She encouraged students to emphasize the results they were able to achieve at their jobs. Discussions of experience that simply lists tasks performed are usually ineffective.
Candidates should highlight the most relevant experiences and skills at the beginning of the resume. Many people make the mistake of hiding their skills and achievements in other parts of the document. These can be overlooked.
Resumes and cover letters should be adapted for each position. They should show that students can fulfill the employer’s needs. Thinking from an employer’s perspective is essential to crafting a strong resume and cover letter.
A recurring theme at the workshop was the importance of emphasizing the most relevant experiences in a clear manner. Rosebrook also reminded students to be honest about their skill levels, especially when describing proficiency with languages, coding, and software.
Other important parts of internship searches and job hunting were also discussed. Social connections play an important role in many organizations’ hiring processes. Having a strong network puts candidates in a much better position during their search. Rosebrook suggested that those who are not comfortable networking befriend someone who is.
Another important preparation is creating an “elevator pitch.” Students should think about how to succinctly describe their experiences, strengths, and interests to a potential employers or new acquaintance. Being able to briefly but effectively express these points will benefit them as they grow their network.
The workshop was an excellent chance for students to get feedback as they prepare and edit their resumes. They will use what they have learned to better prepare for their current and future searches for internships and employment.