In two months, most college seniors will be decorating their graduation caps in anticipation of the big day. With only weeks of precious time left in the spring semester, you’ll want to ensure that you cross a few important items off your “I Need a Job” list.
1.) Make an Appointment with Career Service
The staff in the Career Services office on campus specializes in helping students find internships and jobs. They can help you develop your elevator pitch, your resume, and a cover letter, as well as conduct mock interviews to help prepare you for the real thing. This office also connects students with faculty who have community and professional contacts with information about entry level positions in the area.
2.) Draft Your Resume
Your first resume may seem like a daunting task to accomplish. However, it’s not difficult if you understand what types of information to include. Your resume should reflect the skills and knowledge you have gained from class, professional organization activities, internships, volunteer opportunities, and even that part-time job at the mall.
If you have only held part-time jobs or volunteer positions outside of your major, you have built what’s called transferable skills – skills that can be valuable in almost any job, like leadership, communication and organizational skills. These are skills you will want to highlight on your resume.
You will want to be sure to use keywords that are appropriate to the types of jobs that you’re interested in. Cite examples of your accomplishments, not just job descriptions for positions that you have held, and don’t forget to double check your spelling/grammar. For even more resume tips, click here.
3.) Research Locations and Companies
Once you graduate from college, you are in a unique position to consider almost any geographic area for your first job. You can choose to move home or move across the country. Before you make a mad dash to your favorite city, do some research on career options in the area and average salaries.
Sites like Salary.com and PayScale.com offer information about the cost of living in particular cities and anticipated salaries for careers in your major. Knowing these statistics will help you make a smart decision about where you might want to live.
In addition, start researching companies that offer positions in your field. Take the time to find a few companies that match your career interests, and begin learning more about their values, goals and mission. You may even consider reaching out to their recruiters for an informational interview to help put you on their radar for entry-level openings after graduation.
4.) Ask Professors for Letters of Recommendation
While this step is largely aimed at those planning to attend graduate school, students seeking references for job applications should consider these guidelines as well.
Obtaining letters of recommendation (or an agreement to serve as a reference) is an important step in supporting your future ambitions. Most grad school applications require letters of recommendation. If you have gotten to know one or two professors, and performed well in their classes, this request should be met easily.
The most important thing to remember is that you need to give professors enough time to meet your request – usually four to six weeks’ notice – and send them a thank you note afterwards. Furthermore, it is a great idea to waive your right to see the letter; this helps the writer feel more comfortable writing a candid letter. Read these additional tips.
For those seeking professors to serve as references, you must understand that you cannot expect a professor to be on “stand-by” indefinitely. Ask if they are willing to serve as a reference if you secure a job interview in the next six months. After that time-frame, you should consider supervisors of any part-time work (that you are doing in the interim), professional contacts or staff at organizations where you volunteer your time.
5.) Network, Network, Network!
In today’s digital world, being online is important not only for information gathering, but for meeting others and networking, too. Get active on Twitter by following others in your field or join LinkedIn groups where you can contribute your own expertise. The people you interact with could become future mentors or even individuals who can lead you to a future internship or job.
Do not discount face-to-face networking! Career Fairs are a natural fit for students. Why not even consider events sponsored by the local Chamber of Commerce, or volunteer to help coordinate a local charity event? Many professional organizations have student chapters at college campuses – like the National Society for Minorities in Hospitality or the Public Relations Society of America. Getting involved in these campus-based organizations can help you connect with professionals in your area. The people you meet in the community could become valuable as you launch your career post-graduation.
It may seem like graduation is still a long ways away, on the distant side of final papers and exams, but it will be here before you know it. Will you be prepared to start your career?
Trish is a senior communications manager for Sodexo, a world leader in quality of daily life solutions that contribute to the progress of individuals and the performance of organizations. As a member of the marketing and communications team for Sodexo’s Talent Acquisition department since 2010, Trish is an employment expert who aims to educate job candidates about the hiring process, networking opportunities and the culture of Sodexo. A graduate of Marist College (BA – Psychology) and the University of Southern Mississippi (MS – Public Relations), Trish has never been far from the classroom. As a former adjunct professor for the College of Charleston and professional advisor for the college’s Public Relations Student Society of America chapter, she enjoys helping students reach for their potential and guide them through the process of preparing for their future careers. A lover of technology and gadgets, cookies, chocolate and baking, Trish spends most of her free time raising two small children and competing with husband to obtain the most stamps in her National Parks Passport book. Feel free to connect with Trish or learn more about careers at Sodexo.