Important Steps to Take Before Graduation

As a fifth-year senior, I like to think I’ve learned a lot in my collegiate career. I’ve had the benefit of learning from many of my own mistakes as well as my friends’ and have compiled some advice here on this lovely blog to help YOU guys succeed in your post-college careers! Since it’s about that time to start thinking about graduation, here are some tips I came up with for the class of 2012 and beyond (I hope the class of 2011 has already taken care of most of these since graduation is right around the corner – yikes!).

1. Hold an Internship: This is probably the most important piece of advice I can give. I have completed one internship already and am current working another one (at the wonderful eCampus.com!) and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve learned. Fortunately for me, an internship was part of my required curriculum, but I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. If nothing else, the interview process for finding an internship taught me much more than I could learn in a classroom. It’s terrifying at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s smooth sailing. I had so much more confidence after completely my first interview because I knew what kind of questions they were going to ask me in the next one and I felt much more prepared! I was also much better at “selling myself” (at least I think so…hey, I got the job!). I cannot say enough positive things about internships. I have met so many amazing people in different fields and my networking abilities have grown immensely! Like the old adage goes, “it’s not about WHAT you know, it’s about WHO you know.” Internships are the ultimate stepping stone to a successful career in whatever path you choose to head. Our own KatVonD wrote an awesome post on some Tips For Snagging Your Perfect Internship that is definitely worth the read! Here are some other great resources to help you out as well: Top Ten Highest Paid Internships and How to Get Them, Bloomberg Businessweek’s 50 Best Internships,  Disney College Program,

2. Meet With a Professor to Go Over Your Resume: Your resume is the first impression that potential employers have of you. It has to be professional (no stupid typos), informative (only the relevant information), and answer the why question (what sets you apart from all the other resumes they will read? why should they hire you?). Almost any professor will be willing to take a few minutes out of their day to help you perfect your resume!

3. Master Your Cover Letter: Not every position will require a cover letter, but it’s a necessity to have on hand when someone asks for it. Your cover letter should grab the reader’s attention and make them want to hire you! It will act as a supplement to your resume. Also be sure to include what you know about the company you’re applying for. Showing them that you’ve done your research and respect their company is always a huge plus! Your cover letter should be no longer than one page, just enough room to get to the point and tell them why you’re the perfect person for the job. There are plenty of websites you can reference to help you tweak your cover letter. Here are a few: Creating Your Cover Letter,  Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab, US News: Cover Letters That Worked

4. Make a Linked In Profile: Social Networking is big (duh) and it is only going to continue getting bigger. The influence that social networking sites have on the job market is huge as well. Linked In, for those of you who aren’t familiar, is a professional social networking site (think: a business version of Facebook).  I highly encourage you to make a profile and upload your resume to it. Linked In is a great way to network with people in your similar field, and to find out about interesting news in your industry. Still uncertain? The crafty people over at Linked In have made a helpful how-to video just for students to help you get started! Check it out HERE.

5. Set Up a New E-Mail Account: Your .edu email address won’t fly after graduation, so it’s important to create a new email address (hotmail, gmail, yahoo, etc) before starting the application process. Don’t forget to move all of your important emails from your school address over to the new one, though! I’m sure you’ve acquired lots of important files in your college years that will benefit you afterwards, so be sure to transfer them over. Please, please just be smart and know that an email account like lonelygirl15@hotmail.com or naughtyhotty@gmail.com is not going to land you a job. Try sticking with some combination of just your first and last name. You can thank me later.

6. Set Your Privacy Settings on Facebook! I cannot stress this one enough. We now live in an age where Facebook profiles are one of the biggest factors influencing a company’s decision to hire you or not. No, you don’t have to delete all of your drunken pictures of you at parties with lampshades on your head, just make sure you change your privacy settings so no one can see them! I recommend changing your settings so that your friends are the only ones who can see anything on your page. I chatted with my bosses and they informed me that the way applicants represent themselves online is a HUGE part of whether they will hire someone or not. If someone is dumb enough to have a picture of a marijuana plant as their profile picture, they’re not going to find a job anytime soon. Not only does it have an impact on the job market…Here is an interesting story on the impact that Facebook has in today’s college admissions. Also, here’s a link about little-known Facebook privacy settings: Facebook Privacy: 10 Must-Know Security Settings

7. Know What You Want to Do! The number one question I’m always asked in interviews (after “tell us about yourself”) is “what do you want to do?” Up until now, my answer was always “make money and be happy.” Completely true, however, I realized recently that that response won’t suffice. In order to sell yourself to a potential employer, you have to know what you want. Pinpoint your dream job (realistically) and describe it to the best of your ability. With your current skills and experience, what do you want to do with your life? It’s okay if it’s not exactly the same job you’re applying for. Employers understand that everyone has to start somewhere. But as long as you find something you’re passionate about, head that direction and don’t look back!

8. Back Everything Up and Have a Portfolio if Necessary: Every graduate’s worst nightmare is having your hard drive crash right before graduation and losing all of your work. I can’t stress it enough – BACK UP YOUR FILES!!! My laptop crashed right before my last semester of school and i lost everything….yes, everything. Thank goodness I had all my schoolwork backed up and was able to salvage my portfolio! USB drives are great for storing a few things, but a backup hard drive is the best route to take! Don’t wait til it’s too late….back it up!

hope this girl isn’t applying for a job anytime soon!

9. Google Yourself: One of the most helpful things a professor ever told me was to Google myself. I was surprised (and slightly embarrassed) by what came up. I found an old blog from freshman year that was required for a political science class I took, as well as my old MySpace page that I hadn’t updated since Junior year of high school, among other things. I had completely forgotten about both, but was shocked to see them come up at the top of the results when i searched for my name. I promptly deleted both of the pages and now the only thing that comes up is my Linked In profile (again, the way you represent yourself online is of the utmost importance when looking for a job). So do yourself a favor, and Google yourself! You might be surprised to see what you find.

Well, that’s all the advice I have for now. I hope some of these things help you in the future, and you are able to land the job of your dreams! Here are some more helpful links to aid you in your college/post-college adventures:

Koda Blog

-Route 66 (66 Things to Do Before Graduation)

Campus Splash

USAToday College

Huffington Post College

Best of luck!

 

Riddler
I’m reading Geography: Realms, Regions, and Concepts 

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