The holidays are over, and reality is setting in now for students and parents – the end of the school year will bring critical summer experiences and college graduations, so now is the time for college students to focus on obtaining summer internships and getting a full-time job. Here are 5 tips to help students navigate this stressful, time-consuming and highly competitive process.
Ramp Up the Resume
No, the simple listing of activities and dates that you used on your college application won’t suffice. Think about your accomplishments and skills amassed. Use key words in the job descriptions to describe your skills (though always be accurate – never take credit for experience you don’t have). Be sure to include all your relevant contact information and links to personal websites or online portfolios. Keep the look clean and limit the document to one page – displaying your graphic design skills with borders and designs will likely cause your resume to be eliminated by an Applicant Tracking System. And proof, proof, proof! Grammatical errors and typos will stop you in your tracks.
Utilize Career Services
While they are not often able to provide college students with individualized attention, Career Services does offer several useful resources. Check with your college or university’s Career Services office to see which employers are hosting information sessions and interviewing on campus; and utilize your college’s alumni network to try to make valuable professional connections. However, recognize that Career Services exists for everyone (not to service you individually).
Use Social Media Like an Adult
When you apply for a job or internship, one of the first things your prospective employer will do is check you out online – beginning with your social media profiles. Ensure that your LinkedIn is updated to reflect your experience and skills, as well as connections. Include a professional and warm headshot of you smiling. Update your privacy settings on Facebook so that any inappropriate photos are not visible to prospective employers (if they are on your profile at all). If you are active on Twitter or Instagram, make sure that your posts will reflect positively on you, or that you are anonymous. While a positive online presence is an asset – missteps will certainly set you back. And remember to have a simple e-mail that includes your name – alumni.edu and Gmail accounts are universally acceptable. Now is the time to make these changes.
Supplement Your Skillset
College is a time to learn, both inside and outside of the classroom. And while 87% of college students feel well prepared for their job upon graduation, only 50% of employers agree with them. College days may be packed with classes, coursework, and extracurriculars – but diligent students can still find time to supplement their skillsets with online courses and independent reading. Identify subjects that pertain to your field of interest where your experience may be lacking, and work to turn those weaknesses into strengths. Subscribe to google alerts and read news and updates about the industry you are seeking to enter or specific companies you are interested in pursuing.
Network to Get Work
For those who have yet to begin their careers, networking can seem like an abstract, ephemeral concept that requires invitations to cocktail parties and an impressive golf game. Luckily, that is not the case. That time you talked to your father’s friend about his work in advertising? You were networking. The many conversations you have had with older friends who have graduated to gainful employment? Networking again. To expand your network further, be vigilant about contacting alumni of your school, especially young alum who are closer to entry level and have a greater understanding of where there are internships and entry-level opportunities. Get introduced through LinkedIn, professors, classmates, family or family friends. Talk about who you are, what you’d like to do, and ask for advice. Not all jobs are posted to the public, and casual conversations can be a fantastic way to get your foot in the door. Overall, more than 70% of jobs are obtained through networking.