Entering college is an exciting time to try and explore new things. For freshmen, it can be invigorating to start considering career-building opportunities. But it’s easy to get tired when you’re putting a lot of effort into your studies and commitments and still feel like you don’t have a clear direction of where you want to go. It can be equally disheartening when your efforts seem to be for naught — you don’t land an interview, employers don’t reply, you don’t have the right experience for the internship you want. It’s difficult to navigate the process of job and internship applications on your own.
That was the way current sophomore Bella Kovacs felt in her freshman year: like she was spinning her wheels, getting nowhere fast. She was putting her time and energy into many different classes and activities. On top of that, she was trying to apply to different positions on Handshake on her own, using resume and cover letter templates from online. With little guidance, she wasn’t getting much response.
In the beginning of sophomore year, Bella had her mind set on working at a hospital, finding a lab position, or volunteering with kids in some capacity. She decided that in order to move forward and gain the experiences that she wanted to, she needed some help.
“Using Handshake has been kind of negative for me,” Bella recalled. “I apply to so many jobs and don't get a response, and it makes me wonder, ‘Is it me? Is it my application? Was my cover letter not good?’ So I came to the Fleishman Center to get that help.”
Previously, Bella was nervous about going into the Fleishman Center because, like many students, she found the topic of “professionalism” to be intimidating. But, at the encouragement of a friend, she made an appointment to work on her resume and get some individual support.
A career consultant met with Bella and together they reviewed good practices for formatting, spelling, wordage, and prioritizing what to include. Being earlier on in college, Bella still had a good deal of experiences from high school on her resume. Figuring out what to keep and what to replace with newer experiences allowed her to build a strong, compact resume. Bella also received guidance on making a cover letter, looking at examples and discussing proper formatting for different positions.
Another important thing Bella learned from the Fleishman Center was not to take rejection personally. “If a place or opportunity doesn't accept me, it’s not personal,” she said. “It’s not like my resume wasn’t good enough, it’s not that I’m not good enough, it’s just that I’m not what they’re looking for. It wasn’t the right position for me. And there’s so many opportunities in Binghamton and online that I can always apply for something else. It’s not the end of the world.”
But with a solid resume and cover letter, Bella began to stand out in the application process and find opportunities that suited her best. As an integrative neuroscience major, she is steering herself into the medical field. At the moment, she is volunteering in the emergency department at Lourdes hospital, helping transport and situate patients, and gathering medications and supplies for doctors. Though the position is still relatively limited due to Covid-19, Bella hopes to start the shadowing program next semester. She is also preparing to start a volunteer opportunity she found through ImpactBING, helping patients with traumatic brain injuries reintegrate into normal life.
On top of that, Bella is taking a 2-credit course through the Fleishman Center's CDCI Academic Internship Program to earn credit for the internship she is doing at the Jennie F. Snapp Middle School in Endicott, assisting teachers and mentoring students, many of which are from disadvantaged backgrounds.
It is certainly a lot to take on, in addition to normal classes. “Obviously, I get stressed,” Bella admitted. “When you’re balancing a lot of things, it’s easy to slack off or get really tired and lose motivation. I’m always working on not getting burnt out.”
Having a more clear direction of where she wants to go, and being able to take advantage of the opportunities that can get her there, helps keep her motivated.
“Once you’re doing stuff you actually really care about, it makes life so much more fulfilling,” Bella said. “Freshman year I was doing so many things, taking classes I didn’t really care about…I didn’t know where I wanted to go. I was so lost. That’s when the Fleishman Center would have helped me so much, and I regret not coming here freshman year. But now that I’m actually on the track that I want to be on, I’m so much happier here.”
A piece of advice that she has for anyone unsure about whether they should come to the Fleishman Center: Getting guidance on your major, career search, and professional growth is for everyone. You don’t need a certain grade point average. You don’t need to know where you’re going. In fact, if you’re feeling lost, the Fleishman Center is exactly where you should go.
“It’s really for everyone. It’s free, and you get so much out of it once you start coming.”
By Erin Zipman