Toppel Peers Blog

the inside track to your career


Toppel Peers

The Toppel Peer Advisors are a group of undergraduate student employees at the University of Miami’s Toppel Career Center. Although we come from across the country, study different majors, and are involved in diverse organizations across campus, we share in the excitement of preparing other University of Miami students for their careers. As we navigate our own paths as college students, we want to share just a few of the lesson we’ve learned so far. The Toppel Peer Advisors offer walk-in advising, resume and cover letter assistance, and practice interviews Monday through Friday from 9am until 4:30pm at the Toppel Career Center.

UShadow Experience

By Maria Calandranis

Maria Calandranis

The UShadow program matched me based on my interests and my major to create a shadowing experience that could help me see how the education I am getting right now is used day to day in some people’s lives and how I see myself fitting into the work field. I ended up being matched with the assistant director of environment and sustainability at the city of Miami Beach. I grabbed an Uber early in the morning and went to city hall on Miami Beach at 7:30 am. I went to meet with my mentor, and so began the whirlwind of a day. There was so much going on in this department. Tours, addressing events, meetings speaking about problems with plastic and sewage pumps, and collaboration with the EPA, which is what I sat in on for most of that day. The concepts they talked about practically aligned with my classwork; it showed me how important the things I am doing right now are to real life situations. For instance, the policy process goes from identifying the issue and talking about them within the team, then designing a solution to the problem. Afterwards the plan would be put into place and then continually monitored for success and implementation. The problem addressed with the EPA was the groundwater level rise when there are storms that are more frequent and with more intensity. They used a program to input weather statistics from the past, possible costs of production or damage, certain conditions they want to meet etc. It was eye opening to see the amount of research and numbers needed to create a plan. The process of building a solution made me realize what sort of research I want to do in the future to impact our communities.

The UShadow program gave me the opportunity to see the sort of problem solving that goes on within city halls and how they work. This experience has shown me that I really have a passion for making a difference in communities and finding information that advocates for change within the population and the cities to better our environment and our city. It was the sort of experience I really needed to feel confident about my direction in the widespread field of marine science. And the decision to focus on conservationist/human impact research is still a general section of research I can continue to delve into within my studies at the University of Miami.

In the future, I plan on contacting my mentor again to meet with her and see more of what their division is working on. That day was very beneficial in seeing what my working life could look like after I am done with my education. It was exciting to see what a contributing member of society looks like and feels day to day. I want to continue by exploring  some other conservation efforts and what kind of education is needed for doing research in this field. I have refined my career goals and am excited to explore the options even deeper as I go through my years at the University of Miami. I hope to be changing the world’s perspective on the environment and their impact on our future.

How to Land the Perfect Internship

It’s that time of the year again. With the Fall Semester’s end on the horizon, the internship search is now getting into full swing. If you’re a junior (like me) this time might be full of stress as you’re frantically searching for a competitive internship. If you’re a senior, this time might be doubly stressful as you’re researching grad schools, preparing applications, or perhaps looking to secure employment post graduation.

But, don’t fret. With these tips, you will be well-equipped with the relevant knowledge to go through your internship search process.


  1. Think about your goals

An internship is the time to “test the waters” and see whether or not you really like the field you plan on going into. Before applying to companies, think about what you want to gain from that internship. Research the company and their culture and identify locations where you may want to work. Don’t feel boxed in by you major choice.  As I mentioned before, an internship is the time to try out new things without the commitment of a full-time job, so feel free to try out new experiences.


  1. Start early

It’s always good to start your internship search early. Take this time to carry out in-depth research and touch up your resume. Be aware of deadlines – certain industries can have early deadlines. Many competitive internship programs start their recruiting process in early fall (for finance related internships it starts even earlier!). Try to make a schedule with all the deadlines of the internships you want to apply for. A general rule of thumb is to start your internship search at least a month prior, to allow yourself time to perfect all of your qualifications as an applicant.


  1. Network

Don’t wait for an internship to come to you! Be proactive and use your network to increase your chances. Ask your friends, family, friends’ family, school, and work contacts to find possible internship opportunities. Use to try to find and reach alumni who are working in a company or industry you’re working in. Attend industry events in your area – in fact, Toppel has several networking and industry-related events each semester. The truth of the matter is, in this day and age, simply sending your resume out to employers in hopes of a job is not a viable method for securing employment anymore. Having a network you can utilize is becoming more essential in choosing a satisfactory career.


  1. Use Handshake

Handshake is one of the best resources you have when it comes to finding internships as a UM student. Handshake is essentially a job-posting site affiliated with out university to help students find primarily off-campus employment. One of the best things about Handshake is that many of the companies who post job openings on there have been approved by our Toppel staff and are specifically looking to hire UM students. On Handshake you can filter internships by location, whether it’s paid or unpaid, seasonality, among other criteria. If you can’t find the exact internships you want on Handshake itself, you can utilize other resources like UCan Intern (internships in different parts of the U.S), GoinGlobal (internships abroad), WayUp (internships at start ups), and LiquidCompass (healthcare-related jobs), which are all also conveniently located on Handshake under the Resources tab. If none of these work, you can utilize,,,, and a number of other online resources to find the ideal internship.


The process of applying to internships is a long and arduous one, but by preparing and following these tips you can make the process easier. Good luck, Canes.


By Cayla Lomax, Peer Advisor

LinkedIn, Get Me an Internship!

By: Kara Davis, Peer Advisor

So you finally made a LinkedIn account, but you have no idea what to do with it.  One of the functions of LinkedIn is finding internships.  As a college student, internships are a great way to test out your desired career field and see if it really is the right fit for you.  When looking for future full-time jobs or applying to graduate school, that internship experience is almost necessary on your resume. Now that you’ve created a LinkedIn account, you’ve given yourself access to many more internship opportunities.

A basic search process on LinkedIn will show you internships in your desired field in whatever area you want. To utilize this social media site to your benefit, add as much about your professional self to your LinkedIn profile as possible. LinkedIn will use that information to tailor your searches to jobs that would better interest you. Another great tool on LinkedIn is being able to see how many alumni work at different companies you look at. Clicking this option shows you the number of alumni at the company and allows you to view their profiles. I think this is a great tool because it allows you the opportunity for further networking, but also gives you an accurate amount of how many people from your school have been successful in the field you are interested in.

Now that you’ve found a position you’re interested in, research and apply! Make sure all of the information on your profile is accurate and up to date because potential employers can, and usually do, view your LinkedIn profile.  Personalize your URL so that it’s easily accessible and include it at the top of your resume.  Before submitting your application, try reaching out to some of the alumni that you’ve found working at the company you are interested in.  Ask them what they love about the company, how they’d describe the company culture, etc. They will probably be able to provide you with more information than the short job description usually posted with the application. Reaching out to the alumni may also help you stand out more during the hiring process. Good luck!

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