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Frequently Asked Questions

The responses to many commonly asked questions that the NCA team receives are below.  We will continue to update these FAQs as new information becomes available.  If you have additional questions after reading this page, please contact NCA at nca@northwestern.edu or (847) 491-3700 and we will respond quickly.  (Last updated 9/7/2021)

How has COVID-19 impacted on-campus recruiting events?

Starting in Fall 2021, employers have the option to host recruiting events virtually or in-person.  While there will be some in-person events, the vast majority of employers have opted to continue to host virtual events this fall.  Within the Handshake events section, you can filter using the label, "In Person Event F21."  Events that are labeled "In Person Event F21" are taking place in person, and the location details will be within the event. All other events are virtual!

The Fall 2021 Job & Internship Fair will also be virtual and take place within Handshake on September 29 & 30.  Check out our website for articles related to maximizing your success in a virtual environment.

How do I schedule an appointment with a member of the NCA team?

Visit the Meet with Us page for more information on scheduling an appointment or connecting with our team for quick questions via express advising.

I have an immediate concern and can’t schedule an appointment. Is there another option for me?

NCA offers daily Express Advising (drop-in) hours to connect with our team for quick career-related questions and guidance. Express advising is available virtually via Live Chat or in-person at our main office at 620 Lincoln Street.

Visit the Express Advising with NCA page for times and login information. 

Can I get documents reviewed?

Yes, you can get all documents reviewed by NCA. These include resumes, cover letters, graduate school letters, CVs, personal statements for graduate and law school.

Tips

If you have already been meeting with a career adviser, ask your adviser if they are open to providing you with feedback on your documents via email instead of through an appointment. When emailing an adviser to ask for feedback on a document, always give the deadline (if there is one) because the adviser might not be able to get back to you on the same day.

Resources

Both the NCA resume writing guide and the NCA Career Guide contain resume writing instructions and resume samples

  • Utilize VMock to have your resume and LinkedIn profile reviewed in addition to working with your career adviser.

How has COVID-19 affected hiring?

While industries have been impacted differently by the pandemic, in general hiring has remained robust for students in the classes of 2020 and 2021. New job and internship opportunities are being added daily to Handshake, and we have seen an increase in the number of employer-hosted events available to students. Students can expect a wide-range of sectors represented at career fairs in the 2021-22 academic year. Current job seeking are likely to see more flexibility in position location, including more remote positions.

Tips

  • We encourage you to consider a wide variety of companies within a given industry which to gain skills and experience.
  • When searching for opportunities, sort by 'Date Posted' to reveal the most recent internship/job postings so you know those are the ones that are still hiring right now.
  • On Handshake, use the “meets employer requirements” along with filters such as job function and/or industry to get the most viable results

I feel behind on my internship/job search when I look around at my peers' career planning. Do organizations hire beyond fall quarter?

Simply put, yes - employers hire all year round. Depending on the industry and job function of interest to you, hiring takes place at various times. In fact, our survey data shows that 65% of students secure their internships in March, April or May.  NCA hosts seasonal job & internship fairs  for this very reason.

Check out the NCA hiring timeline guide on the last page of the Career Guide for more information on when your industry of interest may be hiring.  We also encourage you to schedule an appointment via Handshake for guidance searching in your field of interest.

How do I identify employers that are hiring remotely?

Many employers are working diligently to attract and maintain talent by moving internships and jobs remotely.  Expand your list of target companies/organizations to those who are hiring remotely right now through resources such as Handshake and LinkedIn.

Tips

  • Reach out directly to employers and inquire about summer opportunities.  Sample prospecting email (PDF)
  • In Handshake go to "Jobs" - "Employers" (top right tab) - see listings of company profiles, which often include a contact email (sort by location, industry, and company size).  Click the star to follow companies so that if/when they do post an opportunity in Handshake you will be notified.Click the star to follow companies so that if/when they do post an opportunity in Handshake you will be notified.
  • Use search terms such as "remote" "virtual" "telecommute" "cyber commute" when using Handshake or other posting sites
  • Consider past employers - since they already know you and your skills they may be able to provide recommendations to other employers they know are looking for candidates, or identify internal projects you could work on remotely

Resources

These websites were created to help students find remote opportunities during COVID-19:

How do I prepare for a virtual interview?

You should prepare for a virtual interview much in the same way that you would for an in-person interview. Make sure that you do your homework on the company culture, reach out to peers and alumni that have interned and/or worked at target companies, and be ready to talk about why you are a good fit in terms of skills and goals.

Tips

Schedule a virtual mock interview w/your career adviser via Handshake. You will not only get advice on how to prepare, but can practice conversing in a virtual setting, test out your technology, background etc.

Resources

Are there other things I can do during the summer that are good alternatives to a traditional “internship”?

Employers and graduate schools look at the many ways in which you have gained skills and industry knowledge. 

While internships are one pathway, you can also gain experience from a variety of other opportunities like research, volunteering, and leadership roles (just to name a few!).  Visit the Securing Experience Prior to Junior Year page for a full list of potential options.

I am worried about the impact of Credit/No Credit (C/NC) or Pass/No Pass (P/NP) on my GPA for internships, jobs, and graduate school

For students considering taking courses for Credit/No Credit (C/NC), please keep in mind the following:

  • We recommend talking with your academic and career advisers if you have questions about this decision. Please know that there is no “right” choice for all students. Every student’s situation is different, and this choice while important, will not make or break your future career plans.
  • GPA and strong academic performance are factors for some employers when reviewing candidates, but also not the only factor. For those postings with any mention of a GPA minimum, they can range from 3.0-3.5. So if taking a C/NC option is the difference between a 2.8 and a 3.0 for a role that has a minimum 3.0 GPA listed as a qualification, the impact on your application could be a factor in your decision. Keep in mind that most employers only want to see your GPA to the tenth or hundredth i.e. 3.4 of 3.44.
  • The C/NC option is intended for situations where your performance was so impacted or not representative of your academic ability that your GPA would be drastically affected. Reflect on your performance in the course you are considering changing to CR/NC or P/NP- are you happy with your letter grade? Do you feel it is representative of your performance?
  • NCA continues to stress to employers that the past academic year has been unusual, and shares context around the academic decisions made in response to COVID-19. Northwestern is not the only campus that offered or changed grading and course credit policies, so if choosing the C/NC option is what is best for you, know that employers and graduate/professional schools are reviewing recruiting guidelines to consider these changes.
  • Employers know there are many factors in the past year that could have impeded your academic participation and performance. While employers may review transcripts, keep in mind that they are often not diving deep into individual course grades when you first apply, they are only reviewing your overall GPA.

To reiterate, while GPA can be a noted qualification on an internship, full time, or graduate/professional school application, it is not the only factor in selecting you as a candidate. GPAs would fluctuate in a year without C/NC options and the goal of this grading option is not to eliminate any fluctuation in your GPA (i.e. receiving a "B" in a course that drops your GPA slightly is not necessarily a reason to utilize C/NC).


Resources

Does NCA still offer career counseling/assessments if I am undecided on a path to pursue?

The events of the last year may have made you consider or reconsider your career goals. This is a great time to engage in career exploration and self-assessment. Please make an initial appointment on Handshake and select “Choosing a Career Path” as the appointment type.

What are NCA's offer policies? Have they changed?

In our offer guidelines, NCA kindly requests that organizations extend two weeks for students to consider offers of full time employment or internships, or three weeks for return offers at the conclusion of a summer internship. Given the current climate and rapid changes in the recruiting landscape, NCA strongly encourages students to fully consider any/all offers extended.

I’m not seeing the employers that I’m looking for on Handshake. What should I do?

Please talk with your Career Advisor if there is a specific employer that you do not see in Handshake. They may be able to update you on the hiring activity of that employer, as well as help with strategies for reaching out to specific employers.  Make sure that you are also utilizing the employer’s website (can be listed under “careers” or “jobs”) and the “Employers” section of Handshake to source openings and companies.

Can NCA provide guidance for deciding whether an offer for a full-time or internship opportunity is a good fit?

As soon as you receive an offer NCA can help you to evaluate your next steps. While most organizations will follow the recommended hiring policies, it is best to meet with an NCA team member early in your decision making process. NCA can help you to advocate for yourself as you evaluate your options, discuss your decision timeline and navigate the process of communicating with your future employer.

Will taking a quarter off affect my access to NCA and recruiting?

You will still have all NCA services and resources available to you, including Handshake, as long as you have an active NetID. It is also unlikely to affect your status with employers.