By: Jamie Birdwell-Branson
Before you know it, sevens semesters have passed by right before your very eyes, and now you, a graduating college senior, are getting ready to head out into the big, scary world. So as you check things off your course calendar and make sure you have all the credits to graduate, you might be wondering if there is a real world checklist out there for you. As the training wheels of college come off, you’ll realize that unlike in school where you had a specific list of things to accomplish, it’s not as simple as that in your career. However, there are some guidelines and tips college seniors can be mindful of in this exciting time of their lives.
1. Know what you want.
Do you even know what you really want to do? By this point you have completed most of the required coursework for your major, but do you really know what it is that you want to do with your life and your career? Knowing what you want is probably one of the most difficult steps on the road to being an adult. Once you know exactly what kind of field and what specific kind of work you want to do, it will make the job hunting even easier. On the other hand, wanting a very specific job title at a very specific company can get you into trouble when it comes time to look for a job. Be open minded when it comes to jobs, but also have a good focus so that you don’t feel aimless in your search.
2. Go after it with veracity.
Know what you want to do? Perfect. Now is the time to fiercely go after it. Everyone knows it’s a tough economy. You can be tougher. You might have to write 100 cover letters or update your resume 50 times, but by god, you’re going to get a job. It might not be your dream job and it might not be where you thought you would end up, but the goal is to get one. If you aren’t having any bites, then go to your school’s career advisor. If you lack experience in your field, it might be a good idea to secure a post-grad internship. The market is tough, but with enough determination and experience you can get what you want.
3. Dress to impress.
If you manage to get an interview definitely take the time to plan a clean, suitable outfit. Unfortunately, whether we like it or not we are judged (especially as women) by what we wear. Save the short skirts and dresses for your nights out. Look professional and be mindful of what kind of company you are pursuing. If it’s Fortune 500, wear a suit. If it’s a start up or a small, local business, use your best judgment depending on the company.
4. Look up details about your industry/ company.
While you can’t learn absolutely everything about your company before you work there, try to research as much as possible about a company you are interviewing with or want to pursue. Employers want to see that you care to work for them, not just that you want to work in general. A helpful hint to job seekers is to look very carefully at job applications to find descriptions of the company and of the specific job that you want for clues on what the employer is looking for.
5. Be courteous and professional in your emails.
While your future boss might be totally fine with you using emojis or LOLs in your work emails, that’s something that you should feel out AFTER you get the job. When emailing with a prospective employer (or really just any professional adult), you should address them properly and sign your emails at the end. Use complete sentences and show that you can communicate clearly.
6. Ask questions.
When anyone asks you (whether in a job interview, at an internship, or at a career fair) if you have any questions, always ask one. If you don’t ask a question, you risk looking like you are disinterested in what they are telling you. Be curious, especially after you get a job or internship. The more questions you ask the more engaged you look on the job.
7. Get a mentor.
You know that cool older sister of one of your college friends that just so happens to be currently working in your field? Ask your friend to arrange a meeting with the two of you for coffee and a chat about the field. Join an alumni association in your city or join an organization that can get you connected with people who have experience in a job that you want. Having a mentor is one of the best things a graduating college senior can have, particularly one that is just a few years older because they can relate with you on many levels.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.net
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jamie Birdwell-Branson is a copy editor and freelance writer who lives in Ft. Worth, Texas with her cat and her husband. She is interested in writing about anything and everything, but she mostly enjoys to write about women’s issues and politics. She is an avid reader and a collector of magazines.