During your final months in class you’re focused on finishing strong academically, but if a post-college career is something you’re after come summertime, then putting in the work during your last semester can really make the difference in having a job lined up, or spending months searching for one while the job market becomes saturated with fresh graduates. The job market in 2018 is fiercely competitive, so we wanted to provide some suggestions on things you should keep in mind during your last semester of college. Four months to graduation? Read on.
Put in the netWORK
The importance of networking is constantly shoved in our faces – nothing new here. Statistics prove that networking is how most people find new jobs. In fact, the reason I’m working for CA is because a former classmate forwarded the role to the careers office on campus. Because I had a great relationship with the career counselors, it was sent to me and the connection was made. My former classmate put in a good word for me, and I’m happy to be at CA two years later. Staying connected is not all about attending formal networking events and career fairs. Although those are great, making meaningful connections with classmates and campus staff goes a long way when looking for a job after graduation.
Go on every interview
Companies are using innovative and more challenging practices for interviewing candidates, so it’s important to understand how to search and interview for jobs in 2018. Going on every interview might be common sense to many, but it wasn’t for me at the time. During my last semester, I was given the opportunity to interview for a content role and the company wanted me to produce writing samples in the tone of a “discerning mother.” I couldn’t help but feel that my writing style was the farthest thing from a discerning mother, and there was no way I could complete this assignment, so I declined the interview. Looking back, I’m regretful of this decision and honestly wish I could be tasked with this assignment again! I might not have been a good fit for this role, but gaining interview experience and working on assignments that mirror ones in the real world is incredibly valuable. My advice would be to go on every interview that comes your way, even if you feel like failure is inevitable.
Take your professors out for coffee
If anything, to thank your professors for the classroom experience, but I also found it insightful to talk with my professors about their backgrounds and how they found their careers. Some of these conversations made me feel that I was already entirely behind in life professionally, but learning that someone with a PhD struggled to find their place in the workforce for years was reassuring. Personal stories are relative, so take them with a grain of salt.
Apply to as many jobs you think is reasonable, then apply to 5 more
At one point in my job search, I thought that I should start keeping track of all the jobs I was applying to. In a two-month period, I had applied to around 150 jobs. To some this might seem like a lot, and to others it’s nothing. My point here is that if you’re being too finicky on which jobs you’re applying to, you’re limiting your odds and missing out on interviewing practice. Interviewing is a skill, and just as with any other, you must practice to hone in on that skill.
Don’t quit your part-time job
Sometimes students feel that they need to quit their current job during their last semester to devote all their time to school work and job search. In my opinion, unless you’re in a fulltime role that’s truly taking up all your time, you should keep your part-time job. It’s hard to determine how long your job search will take, and if you haven’t lined up a new job by the time graduation rolls around, you’ll probably appreciate the part-time income.
Finally, savor the time with your friends. Camaraderie among college friends is special. Inevitably friend groups will disperse, but you will always share some of the fondest memories of your lives. Cheers to your last semester!
Jesse Santa Cruz
Marketing Specialist, Talent Acquisition
Connect with me on LinkedIn