For those of us who took the traditional track of continuing our education back to back to back, all we know is how to “school”. If you think about it, you realize that those of us who will be graduating college in May have been in school for the past seventeen years of our life! So when put in perspective, joining the real world can be really scary.
Daunting is the word I would use to describe how I feel about graduating, getting a job, starting my own life… and I will admit that my number one fear is not finding a job. Many of the people I look up to do not have advice for me in how to prepare, so that my fear does not come true, but earlier this week I had the opportunity to speak with Anna Benefiel, a new addition to the office I work in.
Anna is a graduate of MIT and John Hopkins University after studying Biotechnology intensively. Lucky for me, she has found herself at The University of North Texas’ Department of Economic Development. During a get-to-know-you lunch she and I shared, Anna learned my last name, my interests, and my concerns. Through this, she gave me some insight into ways to help land your first job, your dream job, or a job in the right direction.
- Update Your LinkedIn Account. LinkedIn is a powerful tool in the professional world. Many businesses and clients will search LinkedIn in order to find the type of employee they are looking for. If they don’t find you through LinkedIn, a potential employer may look you up to verify your resume or just poke around. If your LinkedIn is not up-to-date with your latest employee status or education level, you may be overlooked or surpassed for a position. Don’t know what LinkedIn is? Poke around or set up an account here.
- Network Through Career Fairs. Networking is one of the most important aspects of getting a job. Looking good on paper is only part of the battle, but getting your name out there is another. The more places you go, the more potential employers and companies you will meet. Most universities and larger surrounding cities host career fairs; take advantage! Career Fairs are just a bunch of companies that get together to look for future candidates they may want to hire. It is important to not only get your name and face out there, but to also figure out what kinds of companies are in your field and what they are looking for in an employee. Be sure to have your resume handy and dress in business attire when you attend.
- Practice Interviewing. Interviews can be frightening and intense, but the more practice you get, the more prepared you will be. Practice interviews can be as low-key as sitting at the kitchen table with your roommate or actually landing an interview for a job you don’t want or don’t need, but you go anyway. The more interviews you go to, the easier it will become to handle your stress and awkwardness. Go over possible questions and come up with bullet points on how to answer (not scripts) and remember to be personable and yourself.
- Find Your Tribe. This was probably the best piece of advice! Finding your tribe is all about finding the people who are where you want to be. They most likely share similar interests or backgrounds as you or maybe they are someone who inspires you. Your tribe is probably not as far as you think. If you want to be a comic book writer then attend Comic-Con; author, then go to book signings. Just find people who can help you get to where you want to be.
- Start Now. There is no time like the present to start attending career fairs, working on your resume, updating your LinkedIn account, and finding people in the industry you want to be in. Don’t think you have to wait till May to apply for positions or figure out what you need to do to get your name out there. Begin researching now!
I hope these tips are helpful and I would love to hear if you have any other tips or tricks that you think are important for college seniors to know before heading out into the real world to find their first job!