Advice for College Seniors Preparing to Enter the Workforce

1. What is one thing that college seniors can do today that will help them prepare for their careers?

Probably the most important thing that seniors can do is get experience in their chosen field of study while they are still in school. This on-the-job experience will help tremendously once students are close to graduation. This experience will also greatly improve a pending graduate’s resume.

Which leads into another important factor that a senior can do – visit your Career Services or Career Development office for assistance. These offices are staffed with professionals who can greatly improve your chances for landing the right job.

2. What advice do you have for college seniors who don’t know exactly what they want to do and are having trouble figuring out what types of jobs to look for?

I would definitely speak with those in your Career Services or Career Development office; those representatives can usually point you toward great resources for trying to determine what career path you would like to take.

It is also helpful to talk with others you know who are already employed, including your professors/instructors. These individuals usually have had years of experience and can talk to you more about what they do. It all comes down to the research. Think about and write down things you like to do and where you see yourself five or ten years down the road.

3. What are the main ways that your students typically find a job?

There are a number of ways that individuals can find jobs, but what we have seen to be the best route is networking. This is how most of our graduates find their positions: either by using our Career Services office where we network with employers on a daily basis and submit resumes on behalf of graduates, or by simply using personal relationships that graduates have already developed to find connections to open positions.

If you have a friend who works at a company that has a position you are interested in, do not feel hesitant to ask that friend for help getting an “in” with that employer. Most people we talk with got a job through someone they know. We hear it often, but sometimes it really is about who you know to land that perfect job. It also helps to search the Internet as most employers will post jobs through employment search engines, on their own company web pages, or more frequently these days on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

4. How can college seniors set themselves apart from other similar job candidates?

When it comes to the job search, it is all about making yourself stand out amongst the sea of other candidates. Your Career Services or Career Development office can help you with setting yourself apart. You first want to make sure that your resume stands out and includes all pertinent skills, education, and experience. Having as much relatable experience as possible on your resume is going to make your resume rise to the top of the pile.

As social media is booming these days, you’ll want to make sure that your Facebook and Twitter pages are cleaned up so that if an employer searches for you, you’ll have a reputable representation of who you are. Seniors should also have a LinkedIn page set up that projects them in a positive, professional light. If a senior doesn’t have a LinkedIn page upon graduation, they should create one immediately.

If someone does land an interview, go into that interview with a positive attitude and do research on the company you are interviewing with. One of the biggest mistakes that an interviewee can make is to know nothing about the company they are interviewing with and the position that they are interviewing for. Toss in tidbits about the company while answering interview questions; it will impress employers.

After the interview, it is a nice added touch to follow up with a thank you card or email; sometimes it’s this extra effort that can help an employer choose between two equal candidates.

5. What other advice do you have college seniors?

Most importantly, you should be prepared for the job search process and do your research. The more prepared you can be going into graduation, the more successful you will be in finding employment. Sometimes the job search process can take months and if you wait until the last minute to prepare, you’ll just be prolonging the process even more.

If your campus has a Career Services or Career Development office, visit them and see how they can help you. These offices exist to provide assistance to graduates and students and are almost always staffed by professionals who know the ins and outs of the job search arena.

The most important thing is not to choose a career because you think you’ll make a lot of money; you want a career that will make you happy and that you’ll ultimately succeed at!

About the Author:

Sam A. Mannino is the director of Career Services at Sullivan University’s Louisville campus.  Prior to his current position, Sam was the director of Career Services at Sullivan College of Technology and Design.  He has a background in education and workforce development and worked for nine years at Greater Louisville Inc. – the Metro Chamber of Commerce.

When not at Sullivan, Sam likes to read, travel when he can and most importantly spend time with family and friends, including his pug, Tori.

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