You’ve made it to your last year of college, whoohoooo! While it can often be seen as the “fun” year (no more painful prerequisites, for starters), this is the time to ramp up on networking and leadership.
Here’s a checklist with 8 helpful tips to help you get ready for the professional world—and—to find a job faster after graduation. Plus: with the market still in a bit of a rough spot, every edge helps!
Don’t wait till May to get started. Everyone else will be looking too, and the groundwork takes time to grow. Plus, you’ll be busy with many other things later on. You know what they say about the early bird!
√ Attend networking events
Sometimes you just gotta put on the suit and tie and buck up. Going to your school’s networking events or career fairs doesn’t have to be lame, especially when you could save yourself months of job searching after you graduate. You ever know whom you will meet and who can help you later. Buy yourself an ice cream to reward yourself after it’s over.
Look for local networking events, such as at your local Chamber of Commerce or industry speaking events. Be purposeful in scoping out and meeting an attendee who is working for a company you want to work for. Networking meetings are a great place to start a conversation and make a date for coffee later on.
√ Schedule an appointment with your career counselor
Most majors and schools have a career counselor, so use that to your advantage! Go into their office prepared: bring your resume, a sample cover letter, work samples, etc. I learned some valuable advice from my career counselor (who I actually called long after I graduated). She said my resume looked like a spreadsheet and I actually had too much on there. That was a surprise! “No one wants to read all that,” she said. So she helped me reorganize and streamline my resume so that my accomplishments stood out, rather than the number of my internships.
√ Stay in touch with past internship colleagues
Did you have anyone you clicked with or admired from a past internship? Take them out for lunch! If they are too far away, send them a quick email, card or a link to an article they would like. If you had a good relationship and good experience, chances are they may try to help or keep an ear open if they hear of any jobs. You never know…
Added to that, reach out to all of your leads (this could be old internship bosses, career counselors, mentors or colleagues to ask if they know anyone they could introduce you to).
√ Save money
Don’t blow all your money on parties and trips. Look at your senior year of college as the year you’re preparing your career life. Want to move to a different city? Save a few months’ worth of living expense money so you can go! There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a city you hate for months and then get trapped into never leaving. You’ll also need some new work-appropriate clothes. Or money to live while you look for a job. Plan. Ahead.
√ Don’t wait to graduate to apply for jobs
As soon as senior year starts, start searching and applying for jobs! Many companies (usually larger) will hire, then wait until you’re out of college. Many have programs for those newly graduated. Wouldn’t that save you a headache to already be lined up with a job before graduation?
√ If that last point freaks you out, it’s ok. Explore.
So, not everyone is blessed with a clear-cut decision of what career path they want to take during senior year. In fact, it’s quite common for students to change their majors not once, but twice or three times. Set up a meeting with a faculty advisor or your favorite professor and discuss what careers fit your talents and goals.
Set up informational interviews with companies you admire, or even shadow a mentor at work. Still don’t know what you want? Perhaps taking some time after graduation to travel will do the trick. Read our post: Great excuses to travel that will get you packing
√ Step into a leadership position
Do you belong to a club or sport of some kind? Are you tutoring incoming freshmen? What about a volunteer job? Organizing events? Public speaking is great too. Elect to take on some sort of leadership role, such as officer, manager or treasurer, whatever it is, and add it to your resume. That will definitely perk up hiring managers when they read that on your experience. Read why volunteering is a brilliant career move
√ Prepare and practice interviewing
We’re not all people persons. And sometimes, the interview can be the most intimidating (and uncomfortable) part of the job search, especially when you’re new at it. Ask your parents, a mentor or teacher to role-play interviews with you. They will likely know popular interview questions, and then ask them to hold a mock interview. Practice in front of the mirror or with friends. Getting the kinks out before your actual interview is always wise. (Plus: you never know when an interview will spring up, so it’s best to have it under your belt before graduating). Read more about writing a killer cover letter
Of course, it’s important to have fun and enjoy being a student (it is your last year, after all!) However, it can lighten your stress load to just do a bit of preparing so you’re not totally freaked out once you graduate.