How Simplify helped Jessica land her first internship!
We got the chance to sit down with Jessica Lopez – a rising LinkedIn creator and advocate for those with disabilities – to talk about her experience using Simplify this past year!
We got the chance to sit down with Jessica Lopez – a rising LinkedIn creator and advocate for those with disabilities – to talk about her experience using Simplify this past year. In this interview, you'll learn more about Jessica's take on the recruiting process and how Simplify helped her land her first internship at Alation!
Hey Jessica! Tell us about yourself!
Hi, I’m Jessica! I’m a student triple-majoring in Business, Economics, and Communications studying at Coastline College and I'm the Vice President of Coastline Associated Student Government. As a woman born without hands and feet, I’m passionate about advocating for inclusive and accessible education and workforces.
The worlds of school and work can be daunting at first, and as a first-generation college student, I knew very little about how college worked and how to navigate the higher education system coming into school. That’s why I’m passionate about leveraging tech and platforms like Simplify to innovate how we live and work, and build accessibility for underrepresented students!
What were some of the biggest problems you faced while recruiting?
As a first-gen student, it’s difficult to know where to start when it comes to gaining work experience. I wanted to begin my first summer with an internship, but I knew that internships were extremely competitive for students.
In addition to my physical disability, I live with chronic illness and have found myself most successful in a remote learning and work environment. As a community college student who had just finished my first year of school, it was difficult to find internships that were fully remote and not exclusive to upperclassmen. I spent a lot of time searching for remote internships on various job boards, but felt many job listings were inactive, spammy, or inaccurate.
After hours of searching, I found 38 internships that seemed like a great fit, ranging from marketing to finance to public policy. But the worst part was the applications. Instead of focusing my time on customizing my resume and cover letter, I had to deal with dozens of repetitive application forms. Most job portals require you to type out all the information in your resume, like your previous work experience, job descriptions, and even your cover letter. Even when copying and pasting, each application would take me over 45 minutes to fill in. Many applications even disabled the copy and paste feature on their applications, which meant I had to fill everything in manually.
Even when copying and pasting, each application would take me over 45 minutes to fill in.
While that might feel like an annoying inconvenience for most people, it can make some job applications entirely inaccessible to people with mobility and dexterity disabilities. This highlights the difference between access and inclusion, and the disparate impact of inaccessible job portals.
While that might feel like an annoying inconvenience for most people, it can make some job applications entirely inaccessible to people with mobility and dexterity disabilities.
That’s why I love Simplify. In addition to making applying easier, it can also offer accessibility to so many people who otherwise might not have been able to apply to positions at all.
So, what resources did you try and why Simplify was particularly helpful?
I started off the recruiting process spending a lot of time searching for remote internships on sites like Indeed and ZipRecruiter, but felt many job listings were irrelevant, spammy, or non-active. I combed through hundreds of these listings – something I found both frustrating and time consuming.
I found that Google was helpful after searching things like “great companies to work for” and “cool remote internships.” I also used LinkedIn, Wall Street Oasis and the PittCSC tech internships list. Having spent hours on internship applications, anything that could make my search easier was valuable. The recruiting process was becoming exhausting.
But once I found Simplify, my search became so much easier! There were thousands of open internships listed on the platform, and I found that Simplify became my one-stop shop for finding internships, and then applying using the autofill tool.
I found that Simplify became my one-stop shop for finding internships, and then applying using the autofill tool.
After downloading Simplify, I found it enabled me to apply to ten applications per hour instead of two. Getting an internship is often a numbers game, and Simplify stacks the deck in your favor.
For tracking, I originally used spreadsheets to keep track of applications and their links. I built a chart of all applications and future applications. However, I found Simplify was the best resource because it has its own application tracker. The tracker automatically lists the date you applied to a position, as well as the current status of the application. I found it easier to keep track of my applications on Simplify than my own spreadsheet because it removes that manual input and automates the process – something that saved me a ton of time and headache.
Do you have any advice for those with disabilities currently looking for jobs?
I think the most important thing is not to give up! Looking for jobs is difficult for everyone, and when you live with a disability, the challenge can seem even bigger. Tools like Simplify definitely help increase accessibility – but it's also important to build your professional network. The first piece of advice I'd give is to find a community you vibe with. Meet other disabled people who have built careers and learn from them.
Second, if you can, find ways to volunteer for causes you care about. Volunteering can give you the flexibility and experience employers are looking for. For myself, I volunteer my time in Student Government.
Third, leverage the resources available to you! There are mentorship programs, scholarships, accelerator programs, even vocational counseling services available for people with disabilities. And finally, bring your whole self to your interviews and workplaces. If you’re comfortable, transparency around your disability can eliminate stigma and allow people to support you better. We would never ask anyone to hide who they are for a job, and those with disabilities shouldn’t have to either! You've got this!
How was your internship at Alation?
I discovered Alation while browsing tech internships on Simplify – Simplify had a variety of job discovery tools including personalized matching and handpicked lists of opportunities. My goal was to find remote internships in a number of areas like marketing, product management, corporate social responsibility, and finance. Alation’s internship was listed as one of the tech internships, and I was excited about the possibility of working in a rotational internship over the summer. The description made it clear that this was a unique internship. That said, I had no idea what the company did, but I tailored my resume and cover letter to the description and fired it off. I didn’t think I’d actually get the internship! Getting the email that I got the internship was surreal, and I realized I have Simplify to thank for it.
Over the 12 weeks of my internship, I worked on over 15 different projects, ranging from developing webpages, to crafting major emails announcing new product launches. In addition to the hard work, they managed to throw in quite a bit of fun. I worked with other interns, networked with people across the company, and even got to experience a virtual escape room. When I started college, I had almost no experience. But at the end of my first summer in college, I’ve found an entire world has opened up to me because I was able to gain work experience, and build a new network. At the start of the summer, I had no idea what field of work I wanted to build my career in. At the end, I discovered that I really enjoy marketing, and I hope to build my career in the field. Hopefully by going back to Alation!
What I’ve learned from all this is that life is about finding the right support for you. Whether that’s new tech like Simplify, new friends to support you, or new career opportunities. When you build the right support system, you’re also building a new path in life.
A huge thank you Jessica for sharing her experience with us! We're super honored to have been a small part of her recruiting journey and to have helped promote accessibility and inclusion for tens of thousands of job seekers around the world.
If you are or know of a company or institution looking to support candidates and promote accessibility and inclusion for the recruiting process – we'd love to help!