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Getting a Job Begins Long Before You Don Your Cap and Gown

Getting a Job Begins Long Before You Don Your Cap and Gown

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.

The Primary Resource: Your Campus Career Center

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.”

Jan Pereira’s Top Ten Tips

Here are some tips Pereira offers on securing your career before you graduate.

  • Schedule bi-weekly sessions with your career coach to develop a competitive resume and to create a strategic career plan.
  • Write a cover letter for applications and a personal “Elevator Speech” to introduce yourself to future employers and be prepared to use it.
  • Don’t limit yourself to one job because most are highly competitive. Do your research and create a list of multiple careers that are suited for your degree.
  • Develop a list of target companies in the cities where you are seeking employment.
  • Start networking with people in your potential job field. Putting your social skills to the test might be daunting to some introverts. It’s best to start with talking to your professors and work your way up to alumni. Making a LinkedIn profile will help you make connections with your targeted jobs.
  • Talk to professors/faculty, mentors, teaching fellows, alumni, peers, career center staff and family to elicit insight and/or advice.
  • Learn how to apply for jobs; work with your coach.
  • Participate in a mock interview with your career coach. Record a mock interview using the camera on your computer. Critique yourself.
  • Submit your applications. Use job searching websites like Louisiana Job Connection, Indeed, LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, Glassdoor or Monster to help you pursue your field of interest. Always keep track of your applications and the times you’ve submitted them.
  • When you eventually get job interviews, educate yourself on the company and what they are looking for in applicants. And always send a “thank you” email within a day after the interview.

Schober’s Shout Out to the Career Center

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.”

A Perspective from the “Real World”

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.”

A Senior Year Summary

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