While the beginning of senior year marks the countdown until students walk across the commencement stage to receive their diplomas, it also marks the countdown to the time when students are fully employable as college graduates. Without proper preparation, that job countdown may reach well before a student has any direction of where to turn next.
By taking steps to develop themselves as a marketable and attractive job candidate while still in college, students can best position themselves for success, or even a job offer, before graduation. The following tips can help students gain a head start on their future career while still an undergraduate:
1. Develop a Strong LinkedIn Profile
It’s alarming to see how many college seniors still do not have LinkedIn profiles. Developing a strong profile is a great way to let recruiters—many whom you may not have reached out to—see what great skills and experience you have to offer. Having an online presence is critical in today’s digital world. Moreover, using LinkedIn is an easy way to connect and network with professionals in the industry you’re interested in. Don’t just stop at Linkedin, take a good look at your online presence and cleanup anything that may not appear pristine. Remove anything now that may show up in a google or social media search so it won’t come back to haunt you later. Helpful hint: Try Googling yourself and see what you find.
2. Attempt to Secure Relevant Internship Positions
An internship is the closest thing you can have to your post-graduate job while still in school. It’s also the closest thing potential employers have to being able to assess your potential success in the workplace. Adding internships to your resume will not only give you an idea of what you may or may not want to pursue in the future, but it will give you the opportunity to showcase your skills outside the classroom and the credibility that a company has already seen value in your work.
3. Revamp your Resume
By the end of your senior year, you have 4 years (more or less) of experience and skills you can present about yourself. You want to be able to jump off the page as a candidate, and a well-written resume is the first step. Craft a few great versions of your resume to have on hand at a moment’s notice, and get as many people as you can to edit/proofread it to gain multiple perspectives.
4. Discover your School’s Career Resources
Being on the job hunt while still in school gives you access to an abundance of resources just steps away from your classroom. If you haven’t already discovered them, look into your school’s career placement services. Schools take a lot of effort in getting companies and recruiters to come right to campus during job fairs or employer workshops. Take advantage of discovering opportunities that may be available to you, and make sure your resume is included in any online job databases the school may maintain.
5. Network, Network, and Network Some More
As painful and awkward as it may seem, networking is an important tool in being able to learn about and secure jobs. This is especially true if you’re looking to find a job that may not be an entry-level, 1000-other-people-the-same-as-you position. Practice your networking skills while professionals know you’re still a student—they’ll likely give you advice and be more willing to connect with you even if you still stumble a bit over your words.
6. Ace your Final Exams and Leave with Pride
Senioritis, though a feeling that many of us experience, is not an excuse to throw your coursework down the drain. Get the most out of your years of hard work and go for the A’s in those final courses. Not only will this demonstrate to employers that you can master the most difficult of course material, but it will set you up for potential honors designations on your diploma (or at least a few extra hundredths on your grade point average).
– Ashley Miller