Field Work Term Planning Tips
Start planning early
Over the summer is often the best time to begin. Once on campus you only have two and a half months before you have to register your Field Work Term(FWT) position, so start as early as possible. Remember, international experiences often require even greater initial planning. You should apply to a number of employers: two to three top choices that might be a reach, three to five strong opportunities that you have a good chance of securing, and two to three “safety” positions. Keep applying until you have received a job offer. To help keep track of contacts and the status of each job for which you applied, try using the Employer Contact Sheet. In addition to helping you to stay organized in your job search, it can also make you more prepared when a potential employer calls you back.
Utilize FWT services
While it is up to you to find and secure a job, there are many people and resources available to help. This is a great opportunity to learn how to use the wealth of support available—from résumé and cover letter editing, to career advising and coaching, to FWT fall workshops, to navigating job postings, and more. Schedule an appointment with a member of the FWT staff today to find out how we can help you make your FWT a success. (Phone and Skype appointments are available over the summer.)
Budget in advance
Have an idea of what you might like to do or where you want to go? Great! Now it’s time to test your plans by looking at their financial implications. How much will it cost to travel to and live for seven weeks in your desired destination? Do you need to make money while you’re there? How much money do you have to put towards this experience? Starting to look at the numbers early can help you realize if you need to postpone a desired experience to a future year in order to save up, or if it's within your reach. Budgeting is a key part of life, and of work, so best to get experienced at it now if you haven’t already. See the FWT Budgeting Form for help with beginning the FWT budgeting process.
Have a Plan-B
Even with the best efforts, plans can sometimes fall through at the last minute. Create a backup plan by scouting out opportunities and making inquiries near a place where you know you have housing.
Invest in yourself
Like a financial investment, what you put in upfront grows in value over time and can be leveraged in the future. If you don’t have the background our skills to land that prestigious, competitive, or desired position now, consider positions that will help you develop the skills to obtain these kinds of opportunities later on. Think long-term.
FWT timeline: suggestions for planning through the fall term
Research and Contact Potential Sites (summer through mid-October)
Explore interests for Field Work Term and career (recommended by 9/22)
- Think about what you want to get out of your education at Bennington, and this year in particular. Brainstorm interests, skills to develop, and fields to explore.
- Schedule a career exploration appointment with a FWT staff member to discuss and brainstorm ideas, and to become familiar with the resources available.
Identify FWT employers of interest (recommended by 9/22)
- Search for advertised FWT positions online through the FWT and employment database called WorkLink. WorkLink gives you access to hundreds of available jobs. If you don't find what you are looking for, make sure to follow the WorkLink search tips indicated in the "hint" boxes on the job search menu. You can also schedule a WorkLink custom help session on Genbook if you have trouble finding exactly what you're looking for.
- Network. Talk to other students, faculty, the FWT staff, friends, family, and past employers, to get the names of people who might be able to help you identify interesting employers.
Submit your FWT proposal (9/29) and talk to your advisor (10/13)
Submit your online FWT Proposal Form to the FWT Office by September 29, 2017. This form will be shared with your advisor for their review; plan to meet with them to review by October 13.
Prepare your resume and apply for grants (recommended by 10/13)
- Review the resume and cover letter writing guides. Prepare a draft of your own résumé and cover letter. To make this easy, you can copy the content of this first year sample resume and cover letter into new documents, and then edit them to make them your own. Once you have a draft, schedule an appointment for a skilled review by a trained peer advisor.
- Look over potential FWT sites and create estimated budgets to see whether they are financially feasible. Apply for a FWT grant, if needed, by October 13, 2017.
- Upload your edited resume and cover letter to WorkLink and apply for advertised positions.
- If you don’t get a response to your application after one week, email or call the site(s) to follow up, using the sample email template provided here.
- Send the FWT Student - Employer Agreement link to any new FWT employers.
- Interview with supervisors (in person or on the phone). Check out interview tips outlined here.
- Ask employer about their goals for the position, and about what they are looking for in a candidate. Share what you feel you can offer the position and what your goals are for working with the organization.
Finalize a position and look for housing (mid-October through mid-November)
Secure a position (recommended by 11/3)
- Accept and finalize position details. Be sure to review the expectations outlined in the FWT Student - Employer Agreement with your potential employer to ensure they are clear about what is expected of them. Additionally, you’ll want to confirm their expectations of you: skills and abilities they will want to see from you; dress code; who you will report to; start date; daily work hours; and job or project description you’ll be responsible for.
- Send a confirmation in writing. See the FWT Professional Correspondence guide for ideas. By clarifying things in writing, you can help ensure your employer understands the terms of FWT, and that you accurately understand your employer's work expectations.
- Promptly withdraw your applications from all other employers for whom you cannot work now that you have secured a position. See the FWT Employer Communication guide for sample text.
Look for housing
- Begin looking for housing—talk to others, refer to FWT Housing Resources, and network with your family and peers for housing opportunities.
Register for FWT (by 11/10)
Register your position(s) on WorkLink by November 10, 2017.
- Check your Bennington email to be sure your registration was received.
- Let your position supervisor know that they will be receiving an email from the FWT Office requesting that they confirm the position online. You will not be fully registered until your site supervisor replies to the FWT Office to confirm your position.
Complete arrangements before leaving campus (mid-November through December)
Fill out the FWT Contact Form (by 12/15)
Provide information on how you will be reachable during Field Work Term through the FWT Contact Form, due by the end of term on December 15, 2017.
Prepare to go
- Contact the FWT Office if you have not received a confirmation to your Bennington email account by mid-December that contains important information about timesheets, reflective projects and evaluations.
- Print your FWT timesheets. Print one timesheet for each position you have registered.
- Touch base with your supervisor to arrange any final details about your arrival, first day, and to share your contact information for the winter break, if you haven’t done so already. If you haven't already done so, it is a good idea to send your employer a position confirmation email, such as the one sampled here.