As you are entering your senior year, your parents and friends may be asking you about your post-graduation plans. You may know exactly where you want to work after you graduate, or you may have no idea. This article will provide useful planning tips for your senior year regardless of where you are in the decision-making process.
The summer and fall of your senior year are great times to work on your personal brand. If you wait until you are about to graduate, you will simply not have the time to do what needs to get done. Start building your personal brand by utilizing your campus career office, building your network, and spending time on your online presence. This all may seem a bit much during your busy senior year, but the work you put in now will significantly lessen your stress and uncertainty once you graduate.
Use Your Career Services Office
A recent survey revealed a strong link between use of career services and a senior’s ability to get a job offer. Your career office offers more than a database of job postings. They also likely offer personal career advice (individual appointments, resume reviews), networking connections (career fairs, alumni mentors), and personal branding support (practice interviews, professional development workshops). Don’t wait until you are on campus. Begin now by looking at the career office’s website to see what they have to offer.
Build Your Network
In addition to connecting with alumni and employers through your career office, you should also spend time during your senior year getting to know your faculty better. Faculty members are great resources for job openings and especially for graduate school advice. Building your brand with faculty will allow them to be strong references for your future endeavors. Especially if you plan to attend graduate school in a few years, I suggest you consider collecting letters of recommendation from faculty while you are on campus and while you are still fresh in their minds. You may want to look into storing your confidential letters with an online service such as Interfolio.
You should also begin building your professional network while you are in school. One way to reach out to professionals in your field of interest is through informational interviews. If done right, these interviews will not only help you understand what it is like to work in that field, but will also allow you to keep in touch to find out about job opportunities.
Build Your Online Brand
Another way to network and build your professional brand is through social networking sites. You can utilize social media to connect with people with similar career interests and also keep up with the current issues in that industry — both crucial to the job search process. Here are some of ways I recommend you begin to polish up your social networking presence during your senior year:
- Thoroughly fill out your LinkedIn profile and begin connecting to people and professional groups
- Edit your Facebook profile so it is not hurting your brand
- Start a professional Twitter profile (@FirstnameLastname, if possible) and learn how to use it
- Consider beginning a professional blog and/or personal online portfolio
Stand out from the pack
If you follow the above advice, you will be well on your way to standing out from the rest of your competition — the thousands of students who will enter the workforce at the same time as you.
Lori Bielek is the Marketing and Technology Coordinator at University of Delaware’s (UD) Career Services Center where she advises students in the arts and sciences through all steps of their career development. You can connect with Lori through LinkedIn, Twitter, or the UD Career Services Twitter account (@UDcareers).