Flashback to my last year of college. Everyone was asking, “What are you going to do after graduation?” Or visiting home for the holidays and Aunt Sally is still berating, “When are you going to find a man, get married, and find a job?” We’ve all been there and experienced that.
The latter of my senior year was very difficult as most of my friends either had job interviews, jobs already lined up, or were going to medical school. There I was, about to finish my Bachelor's degree- yet I didn’t have enough experience to land a decent full-time job. How on earth was I going to make a living?
Spoiler alert! Things worked out in the end. However, here are some tips and tricks I wish someone had told me during my job hunt. Let my mistakes be today’s lessons.
1. Start Early
Look at job descriptions of jobs you want. I’m talking about your DREAM job. Do this and highlight the skills you don’t currently have, like budgeting? Find a way to get that experience in your current roles. This may be asking your boss if you can help with financial reports or teaching yourself some skills via an online tutorial.
2. Visit your College Career Center
Chances are your tuition or student fees are already paying for this, so use it! Your school pays professionals where it is their full-time job to help you find a career, prepare your resume, and practice interviewing. Getting an interview is only half the battle. Doing well in them takes practice and preparation.
3. Take a Strengths Test
One of the most common interview questions is, “What are your top 3 strengths?” Stand out from the crowd by doing some research. Take an online test such Strengths Quest or 16 Personalities. For example, my strengths are Discipline, Restorative, Empathy, Consistency, Harmony. Doesn’t that sound more interesting than your generic, “I have attention to detail and rock Microsoft Word”?
4. Internships or Job Shadowing
If you start early enough, apply for internships, REUs (Research Experience for Undergraduates) for the summer or look for professionals that you can job shadow. This hands on experience is what will set you apart from other applicants. Sometimes what you think a career is, is drastically different from reality and you’ll be glad you figured it out beforehand. For instance, I wanted to be a physician assistant for the longest time. It wasn’t until I shadowed one I realized that it wasn’t for me.
If you already have a job on campus, let your boss know your career aspirations. You never know who they may know. Connections are everywhere if you seek them out. Departments also often have events made specifically for networking! Try one out and go with your goals in mind. Having a casual conversation about what you’re interested in with a professor could land you an internship in the future. Doors could be opened and you could even have a letter of recommendation, should you need one. Connections make a difference.
6. LinkedIn and Social Media
Create a LinkedIn profile and consider this your electronic resume. This means don’t put your MySpace profile pic up there. Use a professional head shot. While you’re on this, clean up all your social media accounts. Potential employers will most likely be checking and you don’t want something you posted while getting tipsy in the club to affect your professional life.
7. Graduate Assistantships
Sometimes you’re just not ready to go straight into the workforce and that’s okay. Consider going to graduate school to hone in your skills. Furthermore, try to land a graduate assistantship. These are like jobs while you go to graduate school. Most likely you will have your tuition waived while receiving a stipend and working roughly 20 hours a week. This is a win-win for all. I ended up doing this and it made me so much more hirable to employers! Graduate school is a nice middle ground where you still have one foot in the college world while the other is in the adult world.
No matter where you are in your career remember it is not a one stop destination, this is a lifetime journey. Even if you think you’re at your DREAM job right now I challenge you to ask yourself, “what’s your next, next?”
By: Alicia Everette
A millennial wellness enthusiast trying to figure out life. Coupon Queen. Experimental Chef. Personal Trainer. Aspiring Health Coach.
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