So, what are you doing after graduation?
For seniors who aren’t quite sure yet, being on the receiving end of this question can be torture. Luckily, there is still time to figure out your next step so that you can enjoy your last few weeks of delayed adulthood—and have an answer for Grandma next time she calls. Below, I go through the most effective ways you can speed up your job search while you are still on campus.
Utilize your career services office.
It may seem obvious, but many students are not aware of all the services their career services office provides. For example, counselors are usually available to review your resume and cover letters. If your job applications are going unanswered, there may be something wrong with the format or content of your materials that can easily be fixed. Your career services advisors may also offer mock interviews, so that you can practice and hone your interviewing skills in a pressure-free environment (click here for answers to some of the toughtest interview questions).
Even if you are feeling totally lost, set up a meeting with your career counselor. He or she will be able to help you assess your interests and skills, and provide you with some direction for your job search. This is an important resource that you may not have access to after graduation—so be sure to take advantage of it now.
Talk to your professors.
College professors tend to be pretty well-connected within their fields. They attend conferences, give lectures in the community and publish articles on new developments in their industries. Set up an appointment or stop by the office hours of a professor within your major or area of interest and pick their brains on the best ways to enter the field. At a minimum, professors will be able to give you tips on what employers are looking for, but many times, professors will also suggest companies, organizations or individuals you should contact. Ask your professor if you can mention his or her name when you follow up—utilizing this kind of personal connection will push your letter or email to the top of the pile.
Students sometimes make the mistake of thinking that they can only contact professors with whom they have a close personal relationship. While this kind of connection can be especially helpful, professors are almost always thrilled to speak with any student who shows an interest in their field. Don’t be shy about introducing yourself to the professor of your large lecture class. Feel free to email or stop by the office of a professor whose class you loved freshman year. Remember: (most) professors have chosen to teach because they love working with students, and they will be excited to help you.
Talk to people like you.
The best networking happens when you can find a connection or mutual interest. The most obvious of these, of course, is your alumni network. Alumni are often interested in helping students of their alma mater, so find out from career services how you can join your alumni network. Search for alumni who are currently working in your field of interest, and send them an email asking if they have time for an informational interview (for tips, click here). You can also focus your search by contacting alumni who were part of your fraternity or sorority, active in the same campus group or who shared your major. These groups and departments often maintain their own lists of alumni contact information.
Don’t forget that your fellow students can also be an excellent resource. Find out from your friends and classmates who have landed great jobs what steps they took. They may even be able to put you in touch with potential employers they met during the course of their job searches.
A career and a job are two very different things, and your first job out of school does not necessarily define the rest of your career. While you shouldn’t necessarily settle for a job that is clearly a bad fit, it is important to remain open to positions that weren’t quite what you had pictured. It is easier to find a job when you have a job, so even a role that isn’t ideal could help you land one that is better suited to your interests.
Finally, don’t lose hope.
It can be frustrating to send out dozens of job applications and hear nothing back. But remember, you only need one good job offer. By following these steps and staying positive, you’ll have a great chance at finding a position that works for you.