1. Start applying to jobs early!
It is never too early to figure out what you want to do.For an internship: If you are a sophomore but want real-world experience, start applying to internships! Don’t let anyone tell you that you are too young or not ready because you are. If you are not at the time, you will be. Real experience in ANY field for your first internship is invaluable and detrimental to landing a job after graduation. Not only do internships build up your resume, but they give you experiences that you can use in an interview.
For a full-time job: When you return from summer vacation, hop on the job train immediately! If your college is having a job fair, go to it and take it seriously! Have a list of companies you want to speak with, and do your homework so that you are fully prepared. Practice talking to yourself in a mirror and have any questions you want answered ready to go.
2. Be aggressive in your search!
For both: Getting a job or internship is NOT easy, especially if you have not gone through the process before. Remember, these companies need YOU just as much as you need them. If you reach out to a company and don’t hear back, call or email AGAIN, just to show them how interested you are. The business world gets crazy and recruiters/managers get busy. If you don’t put yourself out there, you will fall through the cracks. Don’t get discouraged! There are jobs/internships out there as long as you are willing to put in the time to find them.
3. Follow up with an email or call to see your application status!
For both: There is nothing worse than applying to a job/internship you really want and not hearing back from the recruiter. As mentioned before, contact that person if you don’t hear back within a week or two! Especially if you are looking for a full-time job, you don’t have time to wait for them. If you are denied from the position, still send an email saying thank you for their time and to let you know if there are any positions in the future. It could go a long way and they may even consider you in the future if there is an opening in a different position.
4. Always have a back-up plan if your first choice does not work out!
For an internship: Internships are just as important as jobs, so do not put all your eggs in one basket! If you are interviewing with a company and they have offered you a position, continue to go on interviews. You need as much experience as possible interviewing because every company is so different and are looking for different attributes and skillsets. You gain communication skills just by interviewing and talking to recruiters. The better you get at selling yourself, the easier those interviews will start to be.
For a job: Same with an internship, even if you have received an offer from a company, continue to go on interviews. You would be surprised how often people have a job one day, and it falls through the next. The last thing you want is to think you are graduating with a job and then have your recruiter tell you the position has been filled, or they hired to many people. Trust me, it can happen! Although it is frowned upon to accept more than one position at the same time, be honest with your recruiters and tell them your current situation. They will appreciate your honesty.
5. Do not limit yourself!
For both: LOCATION. Do not limit yourself because you don’t want to move! Many companies are going international these days if they haven’t already. We are not saying to move across the world- but if your job requires traveling, do it! Most people do not want to travel or move because they have a family at home which is understandable, but this is the perfect age to be doing all those things! It is a great opportunity to see different states or countries. If you didn’t get the opportunity to study abroad in college, use this as your way to see a little more in life. If you are willing to travel or relocate for a position that you really want, it will show your boss that you are flexible, tough and worthy of having on their team. If you take those undesirable jobs that no one wants to do, it will make you stand out in the eyes of your boss and company.
6. Do not take a job for the money!
For a job: If you are only in it for the money, you will not last long in the company. People can tell when you are there because you want to be rather than because you have to be. If you find a job you love, but they do not pay as much as you had hoped for- don’t just throw them out of the equation. You will be much happier at a job with people you enjoy being around while making a little less. Obviously if your financial situation is a little tighter and you are willing to deal with an environment you don’t like for a couple years, that’s understandable, but ultimately taking a job strictly for the money will not make you happy.