The job market is more competitive than ever, and it can be overwhelming for new graduates to plunge into after graduation. Fortunately, we have Liz Hruska, Assistant Director of Career and Internship Services, to offer her top five tips that will make for a smooth transition into the professional world. The following five suggestions from Liz apply to anyone in the position of searching for new work. Be sure to visit the Career and Internship Services offices (CIS) with specific questions or needs.
USE CAREER AND INTERNSHIP SERVICES
As a degree-seeking student, you have access to an incredible array of resources through Career and Internship Services and the larger University of Minnesota, paid for as part of your cost of attendance. Routinely cited by our alumni as one of the most valuable services from their undergraduate experience, Career and Internship Services offers resources, events, workshops, classes, and individual appointments. The staff here are constantly talking with employers who are looking for U of M talent for internships and full-time positions, and they can help connect students to these employers via career fairs, on-campus interviewing, and GoldPASS. No matter where you are in your degree or career exploration process, the staff at Career and Internship Services can help you take that next step towards clarifying and achieving your goals.
Note: Recent alumni have full access to career services for two years after graduation. After the two years has passed, alumni can still come in for a one-hour, one-time complimentary appt (likely with referrals to community or private career coaching). GoldPASS access is in place for life, provided the student graduated.
The numbers speak for themselves! Overwhelmingly, our recent grads (up to 80%) secured their first full-time position as a result of their connections. These connections could be existing personal or professional contacts or new connections made through volunteer experiences, internships, or work in a student group. As a student there are constant opportunities both on and off campus to build and strengthen your network. Informational interviews are also a way of intentionally growing your network with strategic new connections. Keep in mind that not only is networking about what you can gain, but it’s also about what you can give. Pay it forward and help others when you can.
GET AN INTERNSHIP (OR 2, OR 3)
Whether or not your major requires an internship, know that they are essential! Internships transfer your theory and project-based classroom work into practical experience while solidifying your interests. These opportunities also build field-specific and transferrable skills while broadening your net of professional connections. Plus, when else do you get to "try on" a role, complete with work culture, for just three months? While many students engage in internships during summer, many employers hire interns throughout the year. Career and Internship Services staff would love to help you learn how to find and be successful at your next internship.
FINE-TUNE YOUR APPLICATION MATERIALS AND INTERVIEW STRATEGY
Your well-edited one-page resume is key to getting employer attention. Readers want to be able to quickly gauge your related internships and work, educational background, and skills gained through experience. Numbers pop on resumes, so always use 100 vs. one hundred, for example. When it comes to cover letters, employers are looking not for a summary of your resume but for key skills and experiences that align with the position description and the evidence that you have done some good research on the organization. Avoid typos, generic cover letters, or a vague career objective in your cover letter. When it comes to interviewing, knowledge and practice are the two keys to success. Interviewing effectively is not a natural skill set for most people! The skill of interviewing can readily be developed through thoughtful practice with an informed career counselor. Through practice, feedback, and continued refinement, candidates can gain both interviewing skills and confidence. CIS offers interview coaching and practice sessions, so let us know what we can do to help.
POLISH YOUR PROFESSIONAL ONLINE PRESENCE
Recruiters tell us that they are moving toward online methods for recruiting students. This might mean tweeting about jobs or using LinkedIn to source for prospective candidates. As an internship or job seeker, make sure your online presence is representing you in the best possible light. Don't have a LinkedIn profile? Or maybe you have one but it needs some work? Take time to follow the prompts provided by LinkedIn to build out your profile. It should look like an expanded version of your resume, with full experience and educational documentation, plus projects, recommendations, and skills. Take or upload a current headshot photo that is well-lit and tightly framed on your face. As an added bonus, when people google your name (and they will), a robust LinkedIn profile will be at the top of the results! Talk to Career and Internship Services if you have questions. Staff are happy to review your profile and provide suggestions.