Top Career To-Dos for College Juniors and Seniors
Heading back to campus as a junior or senior is exciting, but it also means it’s time to start preparing for your post-collegiate career. Here are a few simple things you can do this fall to help you land a job after graduation.
Career Advice for College Juniors
It’s never too early to start preparing for the professional world. Get a jump on post-graduate life now by following this advice.
- Explore your field.
Research and study your potential career field. Browse industry-related news, get a feel for starting salaries, learn about companies that interest you, and start making a list of professional organizations you might want to join.
- Boost your soft skills.
A college degree and up-to-date technical skills aren’t all you need to land your first job. A study by Millennial Branding and Experience revealed that nine out of 10 companies surveyed are looking for new hires that demonstrate well-developed soft skills, such as good communication, a positive attitude, and a team-oriented outlook. But these are the same skills companies are having a hard time finding. Start fine-tuning your soft skills now, and by the time you walk across the stage you’ll have a competitive advantage that makes you stand out during an interview.
- Visit your college career center.
Your campus career center is an excellent resource. In addition to making you aware of job fairs, internships, and even potential job openings, the career center can also help you prepare for interviews, edit your resume, and tip you off to the best job search engines. Plus, forming a relationship with a career counselor now can kick-start your job search as a senior.
- Get experience.
If you haven’t started already, now is the time to gain real-world experience in your field. If you can’t get a job that’s career related, consider applying for an internship. A study conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers revealed that more than half of paid interns received full-time job offers from their employer in 2013.
Career Advice for College Seniors
Congratulations, senior! Here are a few tips to make the most out of your final year in school.
- Rein in your social media.
Your “LOL” Facebook posts won’t amuse potential employers, and they could squelch your chance of getting hired. A survey conducted by CareerBuilder found that more than half of employers that looked at candidates’ social media accounts discovered content that caused them to pass a candidate by. As you embark on your senior year, beef up your social media security settings, delete questionable posts, and consider using a social media monitoring app to alert you to dubious content you’re tagged in.
- Make an employer wish list.
This is the time to put together a list of companies you’d like to work for. Make note of current job openings and gather employment contact information so you’ll have it as graduation approaches. Periodically surf the Internet for company-related news and keep this information handy. It may be beneficial when you write your cover letter or during an interview.
- Become a mentor.
Mentoring underclassmen who share your career aspirations is a great way to sharpen your technical and soft skills, which may impress potential employers.
- Get involved in a professional organization.
Joining a professional organization helps you learn more about the industry and can be a stepping stone toward employment. You’ll rub shoulders with people who are working in your field, and you might have the chance to meet industry veterans who can lend valuable career advice. Many professional organizations offer discounts on student memberships.
- Visit your school’s alumni office.
In a matter of months you’ll transition from student to alumni status. So keep in close contact with your school’s career center, but also pay a visit to the alumni office and learn what benefits you’re entitled to as an alum.
- Ask for references.
Your senior year is the time to reach out to professors, coaches, employers, and others who can vouch for your skills, experience, and work ethic. Ask them if they feel comfortable providing you with a reference, and if they’re okay with you passing along their contact information to potential employers.
Whether you’re heading into your junior or your senior year, these tips can smooth the transition from college to the career world and help you prepare for an exciting future.