You have just arrived on campus. You are still figuring out how to get to your classes. Maybe you’ve pledged a sorority or fraternity. Not to mention, adjusting to a new roommate. Oh, I can hear you: “And you want me to worry about my job search NOW?? What? But I don’t graduate for another 4 years!”
Yes, that is what I mean. Your resumé forms the minute you started college. Okay, maybe even in high school. “But this is just too overwhelming…I don’t even know what kind of a job I want. Where do I begin?”
One bullet at a time
Yes, that’s right. Your resumé consists of bullets that summarize what you’ve done and how well you’ve done it. These are steps in your journey that begin…well…the minute you step foot on campus. Here are some helpful ways to map out your next 4 years and hopefully ease some of the anxiety of post-graduation career plans.
1) Envision your Resumé 4 Years From Now
The typical resumé has 3 main sections – education, professional experience, and extracurricular activities.
What do you see when you look at your resumé in your senior year? Do you show a strong gpa? Can you reference at least one internship, if not two? Did you study abroad? Were you involved in a student organization AND in a leadership role?
All of these wishes…which, by the way, are VERY IMPORTANT for a COMPETITIVE job search landscape….must start with REALITIES in your Freshman year.
2) Start Building your Resumé NOW
First and foremost, focus on your grades. If you bomb your Freshman year, it is very difficult to make it up later because you will divide by more credits and see very little adjustment in your GPA. The key here…GO TO CLASS. I know, I know, the professor is boring and honestly, may not care if you’re in attendance or not. But, you are likely to have one or two main assignments for the ENTIRE semester and it is difficult to knock those out if you are never present to absorb the material.
Then, get involved with some organizations. Follow your passions – Greek life, sports, residence life, academic organizations…it doesn’t matter. Join and then LEAD. You will get so much more out of these hours spent anyway, if you are ACTIVELY CONTRIBUTING your talents.
Notice I didn’t say that you have to work a “real internship” quite yet. In fact, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with “playing” after your first summer….but know, that you should plan to work in your field of choice after sophomore year, and if you have some experience to build on from your freshman year…it will be that much easier to land a great opportunity.
3) Use your Campus Career Resources
Most campuses have excellent career development centers with FREE services such as resumé review, interview practice, career advising, career assessments… you name it. Take advantage of these services during your FIRST FALL SEMESTER. Trust me, these services will never again be free, and they are so important.
You probably have a fall career fair. GO. Even if you just walk around (in professional dress please) and take it all in the first time. At least you will know what to expect when you are ready to search for an internship or part-time job. If you are bold enough… prepare a resumé and start talking to employers. Find out what the company does and the types of jobs that are available at that firm. Get a sense of its culture. Hint: Look online first at your campus career website as you should be able to find most of this information out before walking up to an employer.
Oh, and one more bit of advice, please TRAVEL ALONE to a career fair. You are not likely to get a “real job” with your best friend, so you certainly don’t need to visit an employer’s table with him or her.
4) Network, Network, Network
Now’s the time to start learning and really listening to what people do for a living. Don’t just go to class for a grade, but try to understand how people use these skills in the real world. Ask lots of questions. When you go home for break, talk to your parents and their friends about their JOBS, not just the football season.
As you formulate your career interests, then TELL EVERYONE you know that you are seeking employment. You are likely to find the first internship or two on your own through a family friend or someone in your network. Get the WORD out about YOU!
5) Have Fun!
Come on. This is college. ENJOY every last minute. You will have the rest of your life to work. But, remember, people want to work with people who are FUN and HAPPY. Companies want to hire employees with a GREAT ATTITUDE. Start building your story now. One bullet at a time.
About the Author: Elaine spent 24 years with a major financial institution, including 15 years as a campus recruiter and investment banking training program manager. She is passionate about guiding young professionals in their job search and career. She would love the opportunity to support your search with valuable tools and skills. Reach out to her today at Elaine@careerrevelations.com to get the EDGE in the job search and STAND OUT to employers.