Making the leap from college student to working professional can feel overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. You may be aware that your school has a career center on campus, but when was the last time you visited yours? We spoke with Jennifer Rubino, a career coach for Utica College about how career centers provide students with resources to land a job after graduation.
What is a career center?
The resources offered by college career centers vary, but across the board the mission is the same — to help guide students through the career search process.
“The Center for Career and Professional Development at Utica College is dedicated to preparing our students and recent alumni to excel in their careers after graduation. Our goal is to work in partnership with our students as they develop self-awareness and actively engage in the career and professional development process,” said Rubino.
To help you along in your journey, we’ve assembled a list of Rubino’s top tips for getting hired after graduation.
1. Attend on-campus career workshops
Not sure where to start your job-hunting process? Ask your career center about events that break down the basics of resume writing, interviewing, and networking.
“Throughout each semester, the career development staff hosts our ‘On the Menu: Career Chat’ series, which covers a variety of topics including (but not limited to):
- Interviewing Best Practices
- Resume and Cover Letter Writing
- LinkedIn and Networking
We also offer mock interviews, not only facilitated by our internal staff, but also as a campus-wide event with local employers.”
2. Be on the lookout for job fairs
Attending a job fair is a great way to connect with a large number of employers in a single day. Make sure you treat a job fair the same way you would an interview by dressing professionally, researching the companies ahead of time, and preparing a list of questions to ask each employer.
“The biggest career engagement event we host is our Job & Internship Fair, which is held each spring and allows students to network with roughly 50 employers. Leading up to the event we offer workshops and one-on-one appointments with students to help them feel as prepared as possible.”
Wondering how you’ll break the ice with each employer? Career coaches can help you prepare a short speech about yourself, introducing who you are, what you’re interested in, and why you’re a good candidate for their company.
3. Continue to revise your resume
“The biggest mistake students make is waiting until the spring semester of their senior year to create their resume. Your resume should be a living, working document, something you are routinely going back to and updating as you gain new skills or new experiences.”
Rubino describes a resume as a tool to market yourself to employers. Don’t forget to include your technical skills, including knowledge of software applications like the Adobe Creative Suite or Microsoft Office.
4. Image is everything
“Use your final year as a college student to fine-tune your professional persona or image. Your professional correspondence (resume, cover letter, writing samples, etc.) should be updated and error free. Work with your college or university career center for a final review.”
Career coaches can serve as impartial third-party reviewers. They will give you an honest assessment and recommend revisions to make sure you’re showcasing yourself in the best possible light.
5. Think before you post
Now that you’re entering the workforce, it’s time to say goodbye to any posts or photos on social media that you wouldn’t want a hiring manager to see.
“Take a moment to review your online presence. Anything of concern that can be seen by potential employers should be removed or modified; we are even aware of some employers who use an algorithm to rate your risk based on your online presence.”
6. Use social networking to your advantage
“Another way to increase your marketability is by creating a LinkedIn account and becoming an active user. If you’re unsure of how to use LinkedIn to your benefit for virtual networking or job searches, ask for help from your career center.”
Creating a LinkedIn profile simplifies the job hunting process. Employers can view your profile and employment history and invite you for an interview with the click of a button.
“If you’re ready to apply for jobs, do your research on the companies you are most interested in working with beforehand by reviewing the company website, or employer reviews on Glassdoor or Indeed. Then, using LinkedIn, begin networking with current or former employees to request an informational interview about their experience and the company itself.”
7. Don’t wait to apply
Just like you shouldn’t wait until the night before to begin studying for a big exam, don’t procrastinate submitting yourself for job opportunities.
“Whatever you do, don’t wait until the week before graduation to start applying for jobs! Even if the position requires a degree, you should still be applying at least two to three months before graduating to secure a position in advance.”
Rubino explained that giving yourself a few months of extra time to find a job allows you to revise your strategy if needed. You’ll be able to adjust your resume or gain some experience interviewing without feeling pressured to settle for a position that’s not right for you.
8. Interview your future employer
Avoid job-hopping by asking the hiring manager questions about the company culture.
“Don’t forget that you are also interviewing them to make sure this position is a good fit for you. Be prepared to ask the questions that matter to you. If there are red flags or if the company doesn’t provide an environment you can bring your best self to, don’t settle for it.”