How to Maximize Post-Graduate Opportunities

By Stan Inman, Director, Career Services

Robert Frost suggested “Do not go where the path leads. Go instead where there is no trail and leave a path.” I’m sure many of us wish it were possible to travel down every path, or maybe only the quickest, but the truth is that the career path you travel will be uniquely yours!

A career choice sets an individual off on a path, which affects many future choices. Maybe that’s why so many of us put off thinking about it earlier. But no matter when we set off, or in what particular direction, it is important for us to strain our eyes to see how far ahead the road stretches, and have some idea where it may eventually lead. Much of the excitement lies in mapping out your journey and discovering interesting side streets along the way.

Have you ever missed your exit? In most cases this doesn’t mean that you won’t reach your destination, but only that it will take you longer and may require you to navigate some side streets before you get back on track. The great thing about this is that you discover a lot about the neighborhood!

When making a career choice it isn’t a bad idea to get off the freeway and explore the neighborhood. This means finding practical experience (internships) in the career field you are interested in, discovering the level of education and training required. Learning about the work environment, lifestyle and possible income levels of an occupation. Spending time researching companies, making connections with alumni mentors and potential employers. All this is part of enjoying the ride.

Making a good career choice will bring satisfaction and enjoyment to you daily. It has everything to do with enjoying the ride and very little to do with an ultimate destination.

Once you think you have arrived, you will discover that there is another twist or turn that needs exploring. Remember, no career decision is irrevocable. Anything can be modified, reversed, reshaped, or eliminated. Grant yourself the freedom to move around, out, or elsewhere if things don’t work out. That’s why there is a belt route!

Some of you may be a little worried or frustrated about the job search process and the current prospects for employment. That’s normal. No, you don’t have bad timing. Granted, the job market for college graduates isn’t as bright as it was this time last year (or over the past three years)?however, it’s not as dismal as you might believe either. Finding that perfect position isn’t any different now than it was 18 months ago!

You ask what makes the difference? Here is what we’ve learned. Start looking earlier (like now). Shake a lot of recruiters’ hands, and make your job search a priority to secure a place in the work force at graduation.

Researching the organization before your interview is critical. Employers are interested in candidates who ask intelligent questions and are able to talk based on what they know about the organization. They are unimpressed by candidates who know nothing about the company and their product or service.

Although some employers canceled participation in college career and job fairs many employers hope spring and summer will bring a revived economy and renewed recruiting. More employers will increase their use of nontraditional methods?mining our online resume database, and viewing online career portfolios, conducting telephone interviews, and performing interviews by videoconferencing.

A recent employer survey done by The National Association of Colleges and Employers reveals places employers source new graduates.

Top 10 Places Employers Find New Hires:

1. Organization’s internship program

2. Employee referrals

3. Career and job fairs

4. On-campus recruiting

5. Internet job postings (own company Web site)

6. Organization’s co-op program

7. Internet job postings (commercial career Web site)

8. Faculty contacts

9. Internet job postings (campus Web site)

10. Student organizations and clubs

Competition among candidates will run high among some majors. Those who gain experience in the area of their major and career field, research the companies and industry they want to be part of, network with employers, polish their interviewing skills and proofread their resume will have a real advantage!

As an illustration of this, let me share an example. One particularly focused finance student made an effort to work in a related area while completing her degree. She carefully created a targeted resume and was instructed on interview skills through our office. She took advantage of the Business Finance Department’s visit to New York to better understand the financial markets, became familiar with other opportunities at our campus wide Career Fair, interviewed with national employers in Career Services, and has now happily accepted an offer to work for an international investment bank.

Last, learning and implementing the principals involved in a successful job search is something you will re-use throughout your life (on estimate six times).

In fact, skills such as networking and interviewing will be just as important for you in your career as the ones you take from the classroom. A successful graduate will not only be able to set off on a chosen career path, but be able to continually navigate it!

Contact Career Services (350 SSB), or visit our Web site at http://careers.utah.edu. We can help with the logistics of performing a successful job search. Some employers recruit exclusively through Career Services, so you will want to get registered and take advantage of every potential opportunity.