It’s February. Three months before the members of the graduating class triumphantly enter the ranks of the “real-world.” Across the U.S. college seniors are experiencing mixed emotions ranging from excitement to anxiety, from stress to fear. Job, new apartment, moving, leaving friends, going back home, all of it is enough to drive anyone crazy.
There are those few seniors who have already accepted job offers and can breeze through a little less stressed this spring. If you are not among them, then the simple question of, “so what are your plans after graduation” can seem like the most difficult question that anyone has asked you in the last four years.
What if I don’t find a job? Did I do enough internships? Where am I going to live? Should I go to graduate school if I can’t find a job? These and other questions are running through your mind possibly keeping you up at night, while your roommate doesn’t seem to be worried at all because after all, there are still three months left until graduation.
So, what are you to do?
Take a breath.
I can’t answer every question you have about finding a job in a single post. I can however, offer some guidance to get you on track to finding that first “real” job out of college and attempt to calm some of the voices of fear and doubt in your head.
1. Start looking for a job ASAP
Visit career services and get your resume and cover letter in order. At this point in your career, your resume should not exceed one-page. Even if you have done 8+ internships (like I did) you still need to make your work experience fit on one page. It’s okay to have two different resumes that highlight different skills and goals, it is not okay to have a two-page resume. Due to the mixture of internship and work experiences I had in college, when I graduated I had a sales focused resume and a public relations focused resume.
Career services is there to assist you in making your resume professional and polished. There will more than likely be a spring career/internship fair on your campus, which gives you the perfect opportunity to take your new resume for a test drive. Most career services offices offer mock interviews, so schedule an appointment and start working on your interview skills. You can pay a professional service to write your resume, but use free campus resources first.
2. Talk to people
Reach out to your network and let them know what types of opportunities you are looking for. Talk to everyone from your recently employed friends, to your parents, your friends parents, your fraternity/sorority connections, professors, internship supervisors, mentors and members of professional associations. Your network of people might be bigger than you think. Don’t rely only on internet searches and sending off countless resumes. Word of mouth can be a powerful tool.
In order to talk to people about what you want to do, you need to first have an idea of what you want to do. So, think critically and carefully about your next steps so that you will be able to identify opportunities as they come up. Get out there and attend networking events. If you are intimidated by the prospect of going to a networking event alone, find a fellow senior who is in the same boat and go together, but don’t spend the night only talking to each other.
3. Balance your time
Set aside atleast two hours a day for job search related activities. Finding a job isn’t just about sending out resumes. Dedicate time to researching companies, finding networking events to attend, using social media, scheduling informational interviews, touching up your resume, writing cover letters, applying to openings and following up.
It doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you get organized, schedule your time and don’t try to do everything at once. You still have classes, study time,
campus activities, maybe an internship, job, a social life and other things going on, so organization is key!
4. Use social media wisely
I know I said a few times that you have to get off of the computer and talk to people, but that is because I don’t want you to depend ONLY on the internet for your job search. Social media can be a valuable tool in finding a job. If you haven’t yet, join LinkedIn, a social network for the business world. You can create a profile and connect with potential employers, research companies and discover job or internship openings. Follow companies that you are interested in on Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, SnacpChat and Facebook. Those connections will allow you to see how potential employers engage with their audiences.
Before you begin, inspect your own social media sites for compromising content and consider activating all of the privacy settings. You may use social media to peak at potential employers, they may do the same to you so be careful about what is available to the public.
I know I said four things, but as a bonus I have to tell you to enjoy yourself. Don’t get so caught up in the job search that you fail to enjoy and embrace the last few months of this unique time in your life. Celebrate the accomplishment of completing your degree! You can be serious and diligent about your job search and still make time to live in the moment and create more memories before you say good-bye to your college days.