They say that college is the best time of your life, but what happens after those four years of independence, memories and parties? While we may hope our lives will turn out to resemble Anna Wintour’s, getting a job is difficult, especially right after college. With the competitive job market and the slumping economy, “it’s very difficult to stand out in the crowd,” says Chelsea Pech, a recent Boston University graduate. But fear not collegiettes, although we can’t guarantee you a job on a silver platter, our top 10 tips will point you in the right direction for snagging an awesome job.
1. Attend job fairs
Obviously, job fairs are an incredible way to meet potential employers. Since job fairs are more relaxed than a formal interview, it’s the perfect opportunity to take a breath and network, network, network! Like many other schools, Boston College’s Career Services Center provides students with career fairs and preparation meetings for job fairs. If your school’s helping you meet professionals, don’t pass it up! At a job fair, it’s an absolute-must to be outgoing: employers can’t do all of the work themselves! Check out how you can make the most out of your college career fairs.
2. Follow up with former internship supervisors
There are so many perks to scoring an internship during college: work experience, the occasional free swag, and most importantly, the connections. Whether you sporadically email your boss or ask her out for a cup of coffee, hold on to these connections. Your former bosses not only know you, but they understand how difficult it is to find a job after graduation. Since they know you on a more personal level, your old boss will be happy to help and glad you came to them for guidance. Not only might they have a position for you, but they can write you a stellar letter of recommendation.
Before Talie Tebbi became the Web Editorial Assistant for Oprah.com, she was a full-time intern for O, The Oprah Magazine. “One thing that was really important then and still is now is keeping track of every assignment,” says Tebbi. “Bosses want to know that they can count on you.” In addition to being on your intern A-Game, it’s important to do it with a smile. “I think it’s easy to forget, but we’re lucky to have the chance to work at these wonderful places in any capacity.” Internships aren’t the most glamorous, but they do pay off, especially if you keep in touch!
3. Set up a meeting with career services counselors
There’s no need to feel like you’re being intrusive at your college’s career services center: it’s their job to help you! Career services offices are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to scoring a job. Boston University’s College of Communication has its own Career Services Center that helps students connect with professionals where they hold weekly workshops, edit resumes, do individual counseling, and host biannual networking events. “We also have three employer relations people that work to get companies on campus to do recruiting and info sessions,” says Kelly Forde, counselor at Boston University’s COM Career Services. Every school has different things to offer, so stop by your college’s career services—the sooner the better! “We hope that the first time we meet you is not when you’re a senior,” says Forde.
4. Post-Grad Intern
Being an intern is so undergrad, right? Wrong! While some people take the summer after graduation to travel, you should apply for an internship. More and more people are looking for internships after graduation. “We’re seeing a lot more graduating seniors doings internships after graduating. With this economy, a lot of people are looking for internships that could hopefully turn into a job,” says Forde. While getting an internship, especially unpaid, as a post-grad isn’t ideal, your hard work and genuine interest in the field won’t go unnoticed. Many internships can lead to a job within the company and the obvious networking opportunities.
5. Utilize LinkedIn
Over the summer, my boss/mentor ordered me to “spiff up” my LinkedIn because “it’s a great tool.” If you’re anything like me, you created a LinkedIn and completely forgot about it. But now’s the time to give your LinkedIn account a facelift! Your profile is essentially a virtual resume so definitely add all of your work experience and interests. You can also ask former bosses to endorse you, which is a virtual letter of recommendation, on LinkedIn, which will look great when employers are checking out your profile. “It’s dynamic and it should be used that way,” says Forde. “Join groups, ask questions, and post on discussion boards. Use it, don’t just create a profile.” A maintained LinkedIn profile will show potential employers that you care about your career and are active in finding a job. Creating connections with people you know and people you want to work with will help you learn about upcoming job opportunities. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, set one up ASAP! But just remember that LinkedIn is for business purposes only. “LinkedIn is not Facebook—don’t use it that way,” warns Forde.
6. Create a Twitter account... and tweet your way to a job
Believe it or not, Twitter can be a career-building tool. Over the past few years, Forbes, TIME, and The Wall Street Journal have endorsed Twitter as a way to find a job. Now, it’s Her Campus’s turn! While you may be tweeting funny pictures and the play-by play of your life, following potential employers and professionals that you admire is a great first step. “I would reference and tweet something relevant about the company; something current that they are doing,” suggests Forde. “Then say something like, ‘The new XXX company commercial is so clever—would LOVE to work with them someday.’” Since Twitter is such a fast-paced form of social media, you may get a reply quicker than you think! “Make sure what you’re tweeting is professional,” warns Forde. Remember to keep your tweets appropriate—or your next boss may be reading all about your scandalous weekend!
7. Set up informational interviews
One of the best ways to show your genuine interest in a certain field is having informational interviews, or informal conversations with a professional from your desired industry. The best part about an informational interview is that it’s very low pressure: you’re only there to hear more about the industry. “Informational interviews are great because sometimes people are more willing to do that if they feel like you’re not asking them for something,” notes Forde. Although you’re not competing for a job, don’t think that these people won’t remember you. Showing interest in a job is key, in addition to good interview skills. If the professionals you talk to hear of any career opportunities, they’ll be sure to let you know if the informational interview was a success. Just remember to keep the conversation professional and keep in touch!
8. Talk to your professors
Your professors aren’t just people who grade your term papers: they’re experts in their fields with a plethora of connections. “Professors are a really valuable resource and they’re someone students should have a relationship with. If not, start building one. They come from the field and they’ve been in the field,” says Forde. Getting to know your professor is not only good during the semester, but it’s an excellent resource for post-graduation, so be sure to utilize your professors’ office hours or email them! If your professors know what you’re interested in, they’ll be sure to look out for job openings.
9. Surf the Web
Okay, I saw The Craig’s List Killer movie on Lifetime and it was scary; however, the Internet does have some great- and not creepy- websites to find stellar jobs. Simply hired is a website that you can use to search job opportunities; they even send emails updating you about new postings. Other websites are more industry-specific. Ed2010 is a website that helps people get jobs in the magazine industry. And listen up magazine-obsessed collegiettes™, there are even Ed2010 chapters on college campuses! “We aim to prepare students with the necessary education, resources and contacts they need to get an internship or job at their dream magazine,” says Sierra Piland, President of Ed2010 at University of North Carolina. Finding a website that fits your desired industry can be as quick as a Google search! “Looking at companies’ sites directly works too,” suggests Chelsea. You can also find job and internship listings in Her Campus’s Careerette section. Whoever said the Internet was counterproductive clearly hasn’t checked out these sites.
10. Connect with alumni
School pride doesn’t just go away after graduation: employers love to help out collegiettes™ from their former university. “I have networked with alumni from BU that I know personally,” says Chelsea. “I sent them my resume, hoping they could pass it along at their company and asked them if they had any advice about finding a job.” While sororities also provide some great connections, what if Greek Life’s not your thing or you don’t know any alums? Many colleges have alumni databases that can help you score a job. For example, Connecticut College has events and seminars where alumni can offer career advice to students. One of their events is called “Sundays with Alumni,” which is an alumni panel discussion. Most colleges have some kind of alumni program, so check out the programs made available by your school.
While senior year should be filled with great memories, it’s crucial to start prepping for the future. “Make sure you’re ready to go with networking, cover letters, and resumes. Lay the groundwork now,” Forde says. Preparing and being proactive now will make you that much closer to starting the job search and living a glamorous post-collegiette life.
Kelly Forde, Counselor at Boston University’s COM Career Services
Chelsea Pech, Boston University graduate
Sierra Piland, President of Ed2010 at University of North Carolina
Talie Tebbi, Web Editorial Assistant for Oprah.com
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