Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Ideally, you should start exploring careers as early as your first year, so that you can apply for internship opportunities well before you start your eventual job search. However, we can work with you at any time during your college career, and even up to 12 months after your graduation.

It depends.  For answers to quick questions, or to have your resume briefly reviewed, you can take advantage of our Walk-In Hours, Monday through Friday, 1pm to 4pm, during which you do not need an appointment.  Just drop in to Goodell during our Walk-In Hours to meet with one of our trained student workers. We also provide Walk-In services Wednesdays from 5pm to 7pm at SORC in the Student Union Basement.  

For more in-depth help, including discussion of self-assessment, career exploration, and job search strategies, as well as interview practice and assistance with your resumes, cover letters, you are welcome to make an appointment from 9am to 5pm weekdays with one of our professional career advisors, specialized to your major.  To make an appointment with the career advisor specializing in your field of interest, log on to CareerConnect and click "Make an Appointment" in the upper right corner.  You may also make an appointment by calling Career Services at 413-545-2224, or by stopping by Goodell 511.

This depends on where you are in your career development. You may work with an advisor to explore your interests and establish goals, determining how your interests, skills, and values connect to specific careers. You may also use an appointment to discuss field experience opportunities and how they fit into your overall plan, or to learn more about how to best approach your job search.  The career advisor specialized to your major can provide you with job search and career development websites that are specific to your field.  Your advisor can also help you to learn the ins and outs of the CareerConnect system, which offers you a lot of capabilities once you learn them.

Bring printed copies of your resume AND a job or internship description, and our professional career advisors can help you customize your resume to the specific requirements of that position.  Your one-on-one appointment time, (up to 60 minutes if necessary), can be used to get assistance with writing your targeted cover letter, interview preparation and practice, and how to network.  When you get an offer, we can help you to evaluate the compensation package.  You can also make an appointment to do a personalized review of your LinkedIn profile and other social media presence, key components of the personal brand you'll build and communicate to potential employers.  The bottom line is that we're here to help you.

 

Career Services will see graduate students by appointment.  However, we encourage both graduate students and post-docs to first seek the help of the Graduate School's Office of Professional Development (OPD), also located in Goodell. 

Graduate students can also start a CareerConnect account and use our online database of jobs and internships at any time.  Our website also has a lot of helpful information and is available to graduate students and post-docs at any time.

We can’t tell you the answer to that question, but we can work with you to help you answer it yourself. You may begin by reading our section on Career Planning & Exploration.  There you will find several tools, including FOCUS and What Can I Do With This Major.  These tools can help you assess your own interests, as well as the range of occupations that flow from whatever major you select.

You can also make an individual appointment with the professional career advisor specialized to your major or college. Your advisor can help you to map out the sets of decisions you will need to make to answer this question for yourself, and can also help you to further explore your skills, interests, and values, and how these connect with different jobs and fields.  Keep in mind that the job market is changing constantly, and your career interests will continue to evolve, which is perfectly fine. 

We can help you figure out what to do over the next several years, but no one can tell you what you’ll do with the rest of your life.  Besides, that would ruin the surprise!

The truth is — with a good plan in place — there are many different careers open to someone in your major, no matter what it is. There are some majors that do not have a direct link to the world of work, and many people do not pursue careers that relate directly to their degree.

Major in whatever you enjoy.  You will be happy, engaged, and you’ll perform better in class. What matters most are the skills you develop in completing your degree, your achievements, and the work-related experience that you gain along the way.  You can also browse What Can I Do with This Major?  which allows you to look up your major and see the range of career options most commonly associated with it.

Consider that a History major can develop research skills later applied to corporate recruiting, that a Biology major can develop data analysis skills later applied to fund-raising, and that Art majors can develop skills later applied to police work.  Here's a sample of well known people who successfully turned their degree into an "un-related" career:

1. President George W. Bush (History)
2. Deval Patrick, Governor of Massachusetts (English & American Literature)
3. J.K. Rowling, author of Harry Potter (French & Classics)
4. Thurgood Marshall, Supreme Court Justice (Dentistry)
5. Theo Epstein, General Manager of the Red Sox (American Studies)
6. Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show (Psychology)
7. Chad Hurley, founder and CEO of YouTube (Art)
8. Richard Gere, actor (Philosophy)
9. Katie Couric, news anchor (English & History)
10. Perez Hilton, blogger (Drama)

Clearly, your major does not determine your life.  So unless the career that interests you requires specific skills and experience, such as engineering or finance, you may as well study something that you will enjoy learning. 

Both internships and co-ops are ways of acquiring field experience, which is the number one thing potential employers want to see on your resume.

An internship is a temporary position in a company or organization that provides you with a professional level education or training experience. Internships happen year round.  Most happen over the course of a semester, but some happen intensively during summer or winter breaks.  Internships can be paid or unpaid.  With the agreement of a faculty member, you can register to receive academic credit from your internship.  Or you can simply give yourself a great experience, without academic credit or registration with the university.

Co-ops are usually 3 to 9-month paid professional positions that require you to leave school entirely. Registering with the university for co-op status allows you to stay enrolled at UMass Amherst, without paying tuition, while working at least 20 hours a week and earning at least minimum wage in a job related to your major.  Having co-op status holds your place until you return to campus. 

There are many ways to fit field experience into your college education.  See the Internships and Co-ops section of our website for much more information.   See our calendar to attend one of our Internship Info Session workshops and get additional questions answered.

Students find internships and co-ops in different ways.  Some secure positions on their own, through faculty, friends, family members, or others they know.  Others will find and apply for positions through our UMass Amherst CareerConnect database of job and internship opportunities, updated daily.  Students can also get field experience by directly contacting organizations for whom they’d like to work.  Finally, others work with their career advisor to strategize an internship or co-op search process. 

It's important to know that most internships are negotiated nearly a full semester in advance, so plan accordingly.  Spring internships are often filled in November; summer internships in February.  Fall internships are usually planned during the preceding summer.  Most students do their first internship in the Spring semester of their Sophomore year, or during their Junior year.

Are you late to the game?  That's ok.  Remember that while many of the more preferred internships may already be filled, you only need ONE internship to be open to you.  With work, you can likely find one, even at the last minute.

Learn more at the Internships and Co-ops section of our website.

The job search, as most students imagine it (networking, researching employers, sending resumes, etc.), should begin at the end of Junior year or the beginning of Senior year.  But the career development efforts that will make your job search successful begin NOW. 

Taking your career development seriously requires you to invest your time exploring potential careers, starting and expanding your professional network of contacts, and building your skills and experience through involvement in student clubs, community volunteerism, internships, co-ops, part-time jobs, and summer experiences.  In many cases, it is through these opportunities that you will discover your post-graduation jobs.

Employers tell us that students are far more likely to be hired if they can show some kind of previous experience in the field, paid or unpaid.  Students who make the mistake of not developing some kind of experience during college have a much tougher time persuading employers to hire them.  Career Services encourages you to make use of our extensive website, and engage with your career advisor early in your college path, so that we can help you maximize your ability to impress potential employers.

There are several resources for writing resumes and cover letters, including samples from different majors, in our Resumes and Cover Letters section.   You can revise an older resume or start by simply making a list of your experience and skills.  Then, while classes are in session, bring your printed draft to our Walk-In Hours at Goodell 511, Monday through Friday 1-4pm, for review and quick feedback by our Peer Advisors.

Some majors have requirements specific to that field, such as a Lab Skills section for certain science majors.  You can make an appointment with the professional career advisor specialized to your major and get a more in-depth review and discussion of your resume.

In the 21st century, you need a separate resume (and cover letter) for EACH opportunity to which you apply, and it will need to be customized to address the needs of that specific job or internship description.  For this reason, you will never have a final resume.  Instead, you will have a growing collection of resumes, customized for different kinds of jobs.  Our professional career advisors can help you with this process of customization, and your CareerConnect account provides a place to store multiple resumes and cover letters.

Career Services does NOT recommend using free "resume builders" that you may find on the internet.  While they are easy to create, they are not easy to customize.  Using a resume builder also increases the risk that your resume will look just like other ones made from the same tool, when your goal is to stand out from other resumes.  Your best bet is to open a blank Word document and begin.  Help is here when you need it.

A CV (Curriculum Vitae) is a specialized and extended resume that generally has more extensive details about your work experience and your skills.  A CV is often multiple pages and includes publications, academic conference presentations, teaching experience, and public service.  Usually, a CV is only necessary if you have an advanced graduate or professional degree and you are seeking a job in academia, scientific research, or applying for grants and fellowships.  The vast majority of undergraduate students will have no need for a CV, and should instead focus on developing several targeted resumes. 

A resume is a one or two page document specifically tailored to the job opening.  Most employers want only as much information as needed to demonstrate that your skills and experience match the needs of the job description. 

Be aware that some people will use the terms CV and resume interchangeably, which can be confusing. A faculty member may refer to your resume as a CV when they really mean your resume. Outside the United States, employers may refer to all resume-like documents as CVs.  Make sure you know what kind of document is expected, and ask if necessary. 

If you do need to create a CV, please make an appointment at Career Services with the professional Career Advisor specialized to your major.

For more on resumes see our Resumes and Cover Letters section.

Always err on the formal side.  In your resumes, cover letters, and any other job-related correspondence,you should refer to our institution as the "University of Massachusetts Amherst" without any abbreviation and without a hyphen.  Being consistent helps to support the name recognition, brand, and reputation of our university among many employers.  Competing job and internship applicants from other schools may lack this advantage, so be bold about naming your university in the first section of your resume.  It can get your resume noticed!

Start by reading our Interviewing section, where we offer extensive tips and guidelines.  Also read about the importance of Researching Employers in advance of your interview.

Our Inside Interviews handout offers practical advice, some sample questions you may be asked, and tips for providing answers that are both on-point and memorable.  It also discusses interviews conducted by phone and by Skype.

You can also make an appointment with one of our professional career advisors and request a practice interview session, to which you will bring prints of your resume and the full job description.  Make an appointment by logging in to CareerConnect, then click Make An Appointment in the upper right corner.

First of all, congratulations!  You've got a job offer!

In most entry-level jobs, salary negotiation is unlikely to happen. Negotiations over salary or different benefits will be more likely to happen as you accept your second or third job down the road.

For immediate advice on how to handle the process of responding to an offer of employment, read our page on Evaluating Job Offers.

You can also read some salary negotiation Do's and Don'ts in our Negotiating the Offer handout.

The website Glassdoor provides salary information for different job titles in different parts of the country.  Glassdoor can be a good starting point for understanding what would be reasonable or average compensation for a job offered to you.  If negotiation is warranted, sharing Glassdoor's data with your employer can also help you to make your case for additional compensation.