The dynamic is the same at 3,500+ college campuses across America: Freshmen are generally nowhere to be found at the career center because they perceive the need to find a job as 'sooo faaar awaaay.' Then there are the seniors, who did not work on their job search during their time on campus. They go home to the holiday break of their final year, come back panicked, roll into the Career Center and yell, I NEED A JOB! (While the staff think, where have you been during all of our workshops, seminars, training, interview days and job fairs?)
So let me speak with increased velocity to the freshmen and underclassmen: You need to obtain multiple job offers by the holiday break of your final year. With these choices you have a better shot of selecting a job that you love, and if you love it, you will work more passionately, and therefore shine. The career center is a great resource to find these multiple job offers.
So remember to accomplish what you are dreaming about you need to:
* Get a job
* Thrive in that role
* Advance through the organization
* Replace that job if need be
* All the while being smart with your money
* And plan for your long term financial independence
And you need to begin to master the prerequisite skills starting NOW,
Multiple Job Offers
Here is a reality; the road to multiple job offers is paved with internships. Never again will you have the opportunity to
* Take a 60 day ‘test drive’ to see if a role is right for you
* Dabble in multiple industries over the next few years to expand
* Gain valuable experience and learn from a host of great organizations and managers
Be mindful that during most internships you have to play for the offer. If you spend 60 days with a hiring organization (that is why you are there, they are looking you over) and they are not impressed enough with you to extend an job-offer, that is not optimal (and I am being kind). Make sure when you get one; you prepare, and nail it.
Just as you want multiple offers for your first full-time job, you also want choices for your internship. You want a role that excites you, that aligns to your skills and passions, so you can knock it out of the park. This is essentially building your brand, and as you proceed you ARE building your brand.
Well if the road to multiple offers is paved with internships, lets plan for a minute and think how to obtain them. Internships are generally over the summer for a couple of months. With that, if you are on a four-year path to graduation (and you should be), you have only 3 windows of time to gain three potentially serious internships.
Let’s be realistic, the toughest one to get is the summer between your freshman and sophomore year. The problem for the employers is that the hiring horizon is three years away so many do not take students this early in their college experience.
So that is why a lot of freshmen don’t engage. They think it is too early. Huge mistake!
The Career Fair
By working events like the Fall Career Fair you:
* Get a realistic view of future opportunities
* You get good at the basic job search skills (that you will need over the course of your entire career)
* And here’s the big one, you network with campus recruiters
If you work it right you will get to know them and increase your odds of getting a great internships in your subsequent summers. Further, if you were to begin post-college at company A and decide you want to make a shift, they are powerful members of your personal network in that they are the ‘gate keepers’ to great opportunity.
To be properly prepared you need to:
* Have an idea of what you want to do
* Be able to succinctly articulate it
* State what you bring to the table (why you would make their organization better)
* Support that with both a resume and a LinkedIn profile
* Be ready for an interview (in person; phone and video)
* Be skilled at the follow up
ALL OF THESE SKILLS ARE TAUGHT AT THE CAREER CENTERS
Most career centers offer:
* Auditing, help with your resume, as well as your LinkedIn profile
* Advice on how to prepare for the career fair
* Help with you elevator pitch
* Mock interviewing
* Networking events
* Job postings
...to name but a few.
All of this training will be time well spent when you step on the floor of the Career Fair.
So if the road to multiple offers is with internships, and it is, then the freshman Fall Career Fair is essential. Preparing to nail it is essential as well, hence the need for freshmen to visit the career center. Plan early; don’t wait till the last minute. These are skills that will serve the rest of your career after all.
Walking into the job fair and all subsequent job searching tasks during your campus years and beyond takes a host of skills that you will become proficient in the more you engage. The better you are at them, the opportunity will avail itself to you.
Get into the career center, nail the job fair, and marshal great choices. Confidence is powerful, and preparation builds confidence. Now get after it.
One final note, ‘But most of my friends are NOT going to the career fair.’ That is all the more reason for you to go. Of those who graduate from college in America, only 49.7% get a job that requires a degree (meaning, over half start off un or underemployed). Don’t let it be you!
Images via NC State and Careerwit.com