The great online job hunt: navigate the Net to find the best career information
Megan Fong looked ahead to college, she hoped to find an internship or a summer job in the entertainment industry. She decided to look online. Fong noticed an ad on craigslist (www.craigslist.org), a Web site featuring job openings from cities around the country. ManiaTV!--a new Internet television network--was seeking on-air personalities. Fong responded immediately. The next thing she knew, she was called in for an audition. After several more auditions, she landed a job as one of the network's first CJs (cyberjockeys).
Now an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Denver, Fong hosts two music-video shows and a spoof of the online dating scene on ManiaTV! while carrying a full course load. "My job is amazing," she says. "I am getting hands-on experience, plus it's so much fun being in front of the camera and performing for others."
For Fong, using the Internet was the key to finding a great job. "You can find almost anything that you'd like to do online," she says. "And you can respond to a bunch of ads online in the time it takes to mail your resume to just a few places."
Although not everyone's research will lead to such a high-profile gig, career information for any student is only a few mouse clicks away.
Maybe you'd like to learn more about careers worth pursuing in the future. Or perhaps you want to compare salaries and educational requirements for different fields or land a part-time job or an internship. "Many of the things you need to find and get a job are on the Internet these days," says Tim Driver, senior vice president of Salary.com. "You can search job postings, research companies, send in applications, and find out how much you should be paid."
Driver notes that the Internet offers particularly exciting possibilities for summer employment. "Teens are no longer confined to working the register at the supermarket down the street or slinging chowder at the local clam shack," he says. "You can now apply for a job at a national park in Montana from a computer in Boston."
* How do I get started?
The first step in finding career information online is to have a good idea of what you are looking for. Before using a search engine such as Google or Yahoo, take a few minutes to jot down notes on just what you're seeking.
"When using search engines, be very specific in your wording," says Brenda Fabian, director of the Center for Career Services at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania. For example, if you are looking for a job, use specific terms in your research. "Don't just type in jobs," Fabian recommends. "Instead, enter retail jobs Philadelphia or summer resort employment. You'll have less information to sort through."
If you're interested in a specific employer, you can either type in the company's name followed by .com (if it is a for-profit company) or .org (if it is a nonprofit organization) or conduct a Web search using the company's name. To explore job opportunities with Kroger grocery stores, for example, you could guess that its URL is www.kroger.com (it is) or conduct a basic Web search with Kroger as the search term. Are you searching for general information about a career as an accountant? Key in accounting and career to begin your quest for information.
Many universities have career centers with useful links to career development sites. Those sites can be great starting points for research.
Although organizations' Web site designs vary, you'll find common elements. Most sites have sections titled Employment, Jobs, or Careers. Job listings and career information can sometimes be found in the About Us section on a company's or an association's home page.
* How do I know whether a site's information is reliable?
In navigating the online world, use caution. The Internet has a wealth of information, but not all of it is helpful or accurate. "Anyone can put just about anything on the Web, even completely false information," says Susan Cheng, a library director at DeVry University. "So be sure to evaluate sites carefully before relying on them."
Here are a few strategies you can use to evaluate a Web site.
Determine who is responsible for the site. Information provided by a business or a professional organization is generally more reliable than what you'll find on someone's personal Web site. Sites offered by government agencies (.gov), nonprofit associations (.org), and educational institutions (.edu) tend to be trustworthy. One useful government site is the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published annually by the U.S. Department of Labor (www.bls.gov/oco). It provides overviews of hundreds of occupations, including job roles, qualifications, and salary information.
Know the site's purpose. Many business sites (.com) are perfectly legitimate and provide valuable career information. However, a few may be more interested in trying to sell something (such as career development books or resume-writing services). So use the same care you would in evaluating any type of advertising. You should be able to find all the resources you need online for free.
Make sure information on the site is up-to-date. Many sites show when pages were last updated. The best sites are updated regularly. If the last update was in 2001, you may find general information but not a hot lead for a cool job. If the site has a Links section, click on a few links to make sure they're still active. If so, that's usually a good sign that a site is current.
If you have doubts about any site, send an e-mail request for more information or ask a parent, teacher, librarian, or counselor for an opinion on its value.
* Where can I find career info and job listings for teens?
There are three main types of Web sites that offer useful career information.
1. INDUSTRY/PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION SITES: These sites provide overviews of careers in specific fields, as well as information about education and scholarships. Some even offer free publications for students. The Internet Public Library offers a list of professional associations at www.ipl.org/div/aon.
2. SPECIFIC COMPANY SITES: Are you eager to work for a specific company? That company's Web site should be your first stop. You're likely to find job listings, news, the company's mission statement, and the names of contact people.
3. CAREER DEVELOPMENT SITES: Many sites focus on careers across a range of industries. These sites are a good place to begin your career research. Here are a few sites to try.
Job Listings for Teens
* CoolWorks.com offers postings for seasonal jobs nationwide at amusement parks, ski resorts, national parks, and campgrounds.
* SnagAJob.com connects teens with part-time or summer job listings across the country.
General Career Information
* Mapping-Your-Future.org guides middle and high school students through career and education planning.
* CareerSmarts.com helps students develop an action plan for building a career.
* iseek.org, based in Minnesota, offers enough general career information to hook any Net-surfing career researcher. Click on Explore Careers.
Many well-known job search sites target primarily adults or college students, but much of the information--from employer profiles to job search advice to career trends--is also useful to teens. Check out these great career sites.
Every day, about 4 million people turn to the Internet to find job information.
Who goes online for career info? 61 percent of adults ages 18 to 29 and 16.9 percent of students in grades 7 through 12.
SOURCES: PEW INTERNET AND AMERICAN LIFE PROJECT, 2005 JA INTERPRISE POLL
* How did Megan Fong find her job?
* Besides the Internet, where can you find job listings or career information?
* What are some ways to tell whether or not a Web site is reliable?
Students can go on a career scavenger hunt online. Provide them with a list of items to find online. For example:
* a job opening they're qualified for;
* a marine biology internship;
* information about becoming an actuary;
* the job outlook for electricians in the next 10 years;
* salary information for chefs;
* a career that is new to them.
Have students note the Web site where they found the information and assess the site's reliability.
Many online resources are listed on page 25 of the student edition. In addition, the following sites are good destinations.