When you reach senior year, you can’t help but feel like the, “big man,” or, “big woman,” on campus. Heading into your last semester you just want to relax, take electives and hang out with your friends. However, if you’re trying to graduate without plopping back onto your parents couch, you’re going to need to start applying for jobs. Although (hopefully) you’ve already considered some opportunities, if you haven’t kicked the job search into high gear, here is a timeline of what to do from now until May to get your career started.
January-February: Add final touches to resume and online investigating
- Review and edit your resume for any grammar or factual mistakes, especially for recently added experience.
- Make sure your resume is targeted to your career field, “Use action verbs that connect to the description of the job you’re applying for,” adds Vic Snyder, associate director of University of Washington’s career center.
- Visit your school’s career center website for any job listings and pay attention to each deadline, some summer job applications are due in January or February.
- Pay attention to application directions – your school’s site will direct you to the website for an online application or give you an address to send applications. Some career fields may require additional materials such as published articles or documented research.
- Check over everything you’ve filled out on the application before you send it.
While January or February may seem early to apply for a job, Steven Balter, a 2011 Lehigh University graduate with an accounting and finance degree, says that he started looking for jobs the summer before senior year. “You may find that most jobs’ recruiting occurs in the first semester of senior year or beginning of the second semester,“ says Balter.
March: Practice your interview skills
- Perfect your interviewing abilities: record yourself, practice in front of a mirror, or set up a mock interview which many schools’ career centers provide.
- Think of specific examples or stories that show off your work ethic or passion for your career field.
- “Searching interview questions online definitely helped me prepare for the interview so there were no surprises,” says Balter, who landed a full-time job in the public accounting firm Eisner Amper’s New York office.
“Practice the STAR method: situation, task, action, results,” says Snyder. In less than two minutes, you should give an employer an example of a challenge you’ve faced in which you took an action with a positive outcome.
April: Narrow your options
- Make a list of the pros and cons for each job offer you receive as they come- most employers will make their decisions around this time if they haven’t yet.
- Decide which job will give you the most experience, “It’s not always about working for a ‘big name’,” said Marilyn Shull, Bucknell University’s Career Development Center director.
- Use sites such as glassdoor.com allow you to do further research on the companies you’ve applied to so you can get a better picture of where you could be spending the next few years.
“I picked EisnerAmper because I thought it fit best with what I wanted to do with my career,“ Balter added.
May-June: Relax and finish strong
- Most importantly: Have fun. Enjoy the last of your college experience.
- Make sure to avoid slacking off, don’t let your final grades drop, just in case employers want to see those last transcripts.
One final tip: Contact alumni working in your field. “You can get a better idea of how they got where they are and what a typical day for them is like in the field,” says Snyder. It is good to establish connections with alumni because they are more willing to help and can sometimes act as mentors to you, and it’s a great way to network.