A few thousand undergrad students will be graduating from the University of Utah this spring. They will be leaving with a degree and entering the next stage of life. Some may continue on to grad school and others will enter the professional job market for the first time. The stress and pressure of trying to line up a job for after graduation is intense. Suddenly the only thing you can stand on is your own accomplishments, resume and education. I know these feelings; I am currently experiencing them, however, there is hope.
The professional job market is rather open-ended. There is no road map to applying for jobs, but there are a lot of people and places that can help. The U has a huge network of professionals eager to help you land the job you want, and it is never too early to start building a resume.
A good place to start is with career services. Their office is in the Student Services Building and you can go online to make an appointment with a career coach. They know the tips and tricks to helping you stand out to employers. The first tip I learned turned out to be a real game changer.
Employers are not looking at only education anymore. They also want to see a student who has experience. The idea of having professional experience while still in college might sound a little impossible. I certainly thought it was. I looked at other people and wondered how they had managed to create such amazing resumes. It turns out there is a secret. Projects you complete for course credit count as projects you can put on your resume–just elide saying it was done for school. The experience doesn’t become invalid simply because it was completed in school. If you have a project you submitted for a class and that you’re proud of, add it to your resume. Show your best work. It is what employers want to see.
The next thing a career coach will tell you to do is build a LinkedIn page. LinkedIn is the Facebook of the professional world. It is a website unlike any other and can play a large part in the hiring process, so don’t write it off. LinkedIn is a living resume that you can update as your life changes. In addition to acting as an online resume, LinkedIn is all about connections. The people that you have worked with, teachers you have taken classes from, and other classmates can become connections. You connect with someone to expand your network. Meeting the right person on LinkedIn can lead to a head start on a job. Your connections can also endorse your listed skills or write a letter of recommendation.
After visiting career services, look for staff within your major that are involved with alumni or university relations. These are people that have connections in their field outside of the University. Email these people and see if they are willing to help you. You might have to dig to find the right person, but the advice they can give you is invaluable.
Looking off campus can have amazing results as well. Look to the communities you love, find a company you admire and strive for an internship. Look all the time; there are opportunities everywhere. If you have a free hour in between classes browse through your dream companies’ careers page, there might be an internship to apply for. It doesn’t matter if you think you won’t get the job. Apply anyway. There is always a chance.
Whether you are a graduating senior or just starting your college career, take advantage of the U’s tips and tricks. Through some clever resume boosting, grunt work and persistence the idea of graduating might not seem so scary after all.