Start Here, Start Now!
By Saralyn Mitchell
“Your Graduation Action Plan”
Too many students wait until the last semester of their senior year to start their job search. They are putting themselves at a disadvantage in our current frail job market.
Before or during their junior year students should create a professional online presence. They should begin by making contacts and working to build a resume with work experience. These steps will increase their chances of gaining employment upon graduation. Starting early provides the opportunity to get a clear idea of the kind of work they want to do and the work environment where they want to use their skills, interests, and education.
Students can be smart and prepare themselves for the world of work by following these tips:
1. Find and use the Career Development Center
Get acquainted with the Career Development Center, and make an appointment to get personalized advice and guidance as soon as possible. Attend workshops on resume and interview preparation. Build a profile, and submit a resume to the school job portal.
2. Attend Career Fairs for Dress Rehearsals
Students who attend on campus events early during college will learn how they work, how to interact with prospective employers, learn what skills and experience hiring managers are seeking in candidates, as well as, what to bring, how to dress and how to behave. It’s really a way to learn, not just connect to a job. Students should practice talking about themselves and their strengths. They should be able to share how their strengths can benefit the company.
3. Secure an internship, CO-OP or gain work experience.
Graduating students with paid or unpaid internships on their resume have a much higher chance of landing a full time position upon graduation. According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), nearly 50% of employers would like to see an internship on a student’s resume. Internships have other advantages:
• The opportunity to “test drive” a career
• Opportunities to network with employers
• Establishing relationships with mentors
• Possible college credit or certification
• An introduction to the field’s culture and etiquette (Are clients addressed by their first name? Are jeans appropriate for Casual Friday?)
• Accumulating new skills
• Gaining a “real world” perspective on an occupation (How much overtime do employees really work? How much time is spent behind a desk versus in the field?)While internships are important, any kind of work experience can be just as valuable. This includes any position from a job on campus to a part time job in an office or retail environment. All of these positions provide opportunities to learn valuable customer service skills, teamwork, and punctuality.
4. Network, Network, Network
We all agree that networking is a must. Get out there and start connecting.
• Build your online reputation
• While in college join LinkedIn to learn where to start looking for opportunities of interest. LinkedIn brings value brings value for networking and connecting with people. It is a valuable tool for researching organizations or finding people who are alumni or who work for an industry you want to pursue.
• Attend networking events and conferences.
• Join clubs and organizations.
In conclusion, be smart and don’t wait until the last minute or your last semester in college to prepare for your career. Start Now!