The countdown to graduation has begun.
“But what do I need to do? How am I going to get a job?”
These are the thoughts that have been running through my mind, as the day of graduation seems to be coming closer and closer. Here are the seven things that have been helping me in the last few months of college before graduation.
First impressions are important
Perfect your resume and learn how to make a good cover letter. This is important! These are the first things that a potential employer is going to look at.
Don’t make these documents jam-packed with every little thing you did since high school — no one cares about the chess club tournament you were in for one year.
Put the important stuff like classes you have taken, an internship you have done, volunteer work, and all that you accomplished and learned. Also, mention important groups or organizations that you have been a part of throughout college.
Tailor each cover letter to the job that you’re applying for. Pull out key words and ideas from the application posting and integrate them into the cover letter. If they want a storyteller, tell them how you’re the best storyteller around and attach examples that show off your talent.
30-seconds is all it takes
Create a witty and impressive 30-second elevator speech. This is your 30 seconds to be an all-star. I just learned what an elevator speech was last week and it is absolutely genius. I asked myself: Why haven’t I thought of this before now?
If you don’t already know, an elevator speech is a short summary to quickly define yourself to a new colleague, network partner or potential employer. Make yourself look good.
Explain your skills and accomplishments all in 30 seconds. No one will remember you if you say, “Hi, I’m JoAnn and my favorite thing to do is eat Chinese food with red wine with my best friend, who is my cat.”
Networking is the key to success
Network, get an internship position and join an organization. These three things are essential and go hand in hand. An internship position and joining a club give you unlimited networking opportunities.
Not only are you meeting and talking with new people every day, but you are starting a professional relationship with them and one day they might know someone who knows someone who is looking for a new employee.
In my last semester of college I became an officer in our student-run organization, Public Relations Student Society of America and I got my first internship position at The Summit County Historical Society.
Both of these have helped me learn so much. I get hands-on experience, meet new people and learn from my mistakes. I cannot express how great of an idea it was to join a club and take on an internship. This was my best career choice throughout all of
Present yourself well
Create a kick-butt portfolio and business cards. Make these personal; show off what you can do. If you are a fantastic writer, then save class work that you have written and put it in your portfolio. If you created an artistic masterpiece for a project, save it and put it in your portfolio. Save everything that looks good. It could potentially be a portfolio piece.
Business cards are what you leave for someone after networking with them. Remind them who you are; personalize it. But beware. Make it professional and unique, not some cheesy card that makes you look like an amateur!
Practice makes perfect
You need to practice interviewing. My first interview was absolutely terrible. My interviewer was an egotistical jerk. But it probably didn’t help that I was only half-prepared. I was not expecting the “Ready, set, go and answer!” type of interview. They are not all that way; some interviews will free-flow just as normal conversation.
Go prepared and practice answering off-the-wall questions an interviewer might ask like, “What will your job title be in five years?”
Perform as many interviews as possible until you feel comfortable in that situation. Don’t be scared about the interview process — at the that interviewer puts their pants on one leg at a time just like you do.
Talk to your professors
This is some serious advice that in the past year I have really taken advantage of. Professors are here to help us and for us to learn from. They are full of knowledge. Plus it doesn’t hurt that they have a ton of connections.
I can’t even count the number of times I have gone to my professors asking them to look over my business card, resume or cover letters. They are always willing and helpful. I can’t express my gratitude to these few professors I have kept in contact with, and I will continue to after graduation.
Enjoy your college success
Finally, relax. You have earned it. Enjoy the holidays by not over-thinking and over-analyzing every little thing. Go to holiday parties and network. You may even meet new a connection that is going to help your career in the future.