College takes hard work and four years (or more) of sustained effort. It’s easy for students to focus so much on coursework and grade point averages that they lose sight of the fact that the ultimate goal of seeking gainful employment doesn’t begin after school ends. Those who take the time to prepare during their senior year will be rewarded with additional tools, skills and knowledge that will provide them advantages upon entering a very competitive job market.
Searching for a job can be as intimidating as walking onto campus that first day of your freshman year. However, you don’t have to do it alone. Jan Pereira, Interim Career Services Director at Tulane University in New Orleans believes students should start preparing for the job market by utilizing the tools that are given to them for free while in school. “School has always been a priority but when it’s close to ending, it’s time to transition and start thinking about the future,” she explained. “Students should take the initiative to go to their university’s career center and talk to someone who will help them develop a strategic career approach.”
Here are some tips Pereira offers on securing your career before you graduate.
Tulane 2018 Engineering Physics graduate Chase Schober, who is currently employed as Associate Manufacturing Engineer at the Tesla Gigafactory, cites the Tulane Career Center as being an integral part of preparing him for the job market. “The career advising center provided me with the tools to act on my career goals and land the job of my dreams,” he explained. “The staff at career advising empowered me to achieve my personal and professional goals. I couldn’t recommend their services highly enough and wish that I had the foresight to meet with them earlier in my college career.”
While it’s good to know how to prepare for the job market during your senior year, it’s also good to have real-world advice on what employers are looking for in new graduates. Holly Martin-Picou, Vice President of Human Resources at CSRS, an architecture, engineering and construction firm, offers the following.
“While we certainly look for technical capabilities in hiring new staff, personality and behavior are just as important,” says Martin-Picou. “Our client-driven goals require employees that are enthusiastic, trustworthy and resourceful.” She also stresses that CSRS puts emphasis on communication skills, both the ability to clearly communicate an idea to a group and interpersonal communications required to respond appropriately in a one-on-one client meeting. In addition, the ability to work and contribute in a team setting is also a critical skill in the company’s everyday environment. Martin-Picou also mentioned the importance of being flexible and adapting to change as needs shift and new projects arise. “In our organizational matrix, we offer our employees the opportunity to add value in multiple areas of our company. Motivated employees with good decision making skills, who can balance priorities, are key.”
Your final year of college is definitely meant to be a healthy mix of academic achievement combined with savoring all the fun and freedom non-professional life has to offer. However, it is wise to consider casting an eye toward your future career path. Use the resources your school has to offer, primarily the campus career center and its counselors. Begin networking, narrow your career focus and keep an eye on the job market. Your career center coach can also help you enhance some of the soft skills employees are looking for such as the ability to communicate, problem solve and work as part of a team. The early bird may get the worm, but the better prepared graduate gets the job!
Louisiana Job Connection is another great resource to find careers right out of college. Complete your free profile on Louisiana Job Connection today