In college, worrying about classes, study abroad and your roommate relationship seem like the most important things in life, until senior year. Now, more than ever, it’s important to start on the job game early! Starting on the job hunt should occur at least November of your senior year if not earlier.
After spending 7 years in the internship game, searching for 9 months to find my ideal job and spending a while in the recruiting-startup world, I’m on the other side. I figured I would share some of the wisdom I have gained with you. It’s a tad bit of a long post, but stick with me, I promise its a quick read!
1) Companies have Recruiting Cycles.
Especially if you are looking at a new grad program or a job in a more corporate environment, be aware of specific deadlines. Some businesses will bring in campus reps or start the recruiting cycles on campus, but if you are interested in a certain company, you should be sure to look for that company’s dates before your senior year.
NOTE: This often does not apply to startups, which recruit much closer to when they will actually need talent!
2) The Summer Before Senior Year Counts.
Many companies will offer interns full time offers after their senior year, some will not. Even if you aren’t expecting an offer from your internship, this summer counts. Recruiters will often ask for references, work experiences, knowledge of industry, etc. If you haven’t had any work experience before senior year, it becomes much harder to prove your prowess in the workplace. Besides, this is a great time to experiment with something and see if you would be interested in doing it for the next several years. Even if you don’t know exactly what you plan to do post-college, try to do something!
3) Your First Job Post-College Does NOT Define Your Life.
Second semester senior year is full of worried seniors planning out their life. The question, “What are you doing next year?” brings on blank stares and the desire to hide. Those seniors not headed to medical school seem concerned that whatever job they get right out of college will define their entire career. It won’t.
It is true that being purposeful about employment is a good thing (this article from YouTern explains why), and that you shouldn’t just take any old job, but so many people change jobs within the first few years after college. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker stays at his/her job for 4.4 years, and it is half that for younger workers. At 22 years old, how are you actually supposed to know what to do with the rest of your life anyway?
4) You Will Probably Not Work the Job You Think You Will.
This is similar to the point above. Unless you are in a specific program (like Finance or Chemical Engineering), you have a wide breadth of career options. The bigger challenge is figuring out your strengths and what to do with them. I know Political Science majors in marketing, International Studies majors in business analysis, Music majors in recruiting, even Geological Engineering majors in film Production (yes, you got that right). In a best-case scenario, you might even get a job and end up morphing it into something totally different based on the company’s needs and your interests.
Investigate every opportunity, follow your heart and see where you end up!
5) Your Friends Will Probably Get Better Jobs Than You.
Actually, they probably won’t, but it might feel like they will. Job searching senior year is competitive and draining on everyone. Some people get lucky and get it figured out early, and others may take a while. Eventually, if you stay persistent, you can get there.
6) Your Network is Essential.
No joke, a strong network is one of the most important tools in your job-hunting arsenal. This network should be built over time and should include people such as your professors, friends, friends’ parents, former co-workers, and anyone else you meet along the way. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that someone in a different industry will never be able to help you. People have friends, their friends have friends and friends have friends, you see where this is going? If every person creates a network like yours that’s a pretty big network to which you now have access. I’ve met people at coding meetups for beginners, that have helped me with job opportunities later on. Take every opportunity to meet people, and stay in touch, because eventually, those connections might be able to help! I can’t stress this enough.
BONUS TIP: reach out to people you might not know, but want in your network. Of course, be courteous and respectful of people’s need for privacy, but if you can, ask for advice or for an informational interview. Some might not respond, but many will and want to help!
7) Preparation is Important, and the Internet is helpful! With the rise of the Internet comes a golden opportunity to prepare for your job search.
The first thing you should do, and I mean as soon as you finish this post, is to build your personal brand. This means making sure your online accounts are clean and up to date, your LinkedIn and Seelio are built and your online reputation capital is in check. You should also showcase your expertise or interest in a given field by starting a blog or connecting over social media with relevant information. Even if you aren’t an expert, showcasing your interest and documenting your journey proves you are willing to put effort into a project. Who knows, this might even get you noticed by a recruiter. Building this kind of credibility early (yes, as early as sophomore year in college) will only help you in the long run.
You can also use the Internet to research companies before career fairs and to understand possible jobs. For example, if you want to work as a Community Manager check out some Community Manager job postings to see the kinds of skills and experience they require. Then if you are interested, see if you can build up experiences in the areas they mention. Also be sure to look into the different kinds of jobs. Read industry articles, ask around, look at job boards and see what kinds of roles might actually be available in your desired profession.
Finally, make sure to take the standard tips including always, always, always PROOFREADING your resume, in fact, get someone else to proof read it too. Just like that one fry in the bottom of the bag, there will almost always be a typo somewhere. Also, Google yourself. Do these things every few months, you never know what opportunities might pop up.
Job applications can be scary, and for many, a long process, but you can do it! With hard work, persistence, preparation, and maybe even a Seelio you can find a job that’s great for you. Good luck!
If you want to find out more about my qualifications, see here. Have questions or want to hear more about my job hunting experience? E-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org).