So, You Want A Job After College?
I’m lucky enough to be a recent college graduate who actually got a job in the field I want to be in. But, this job wasn’t handed to me. I worked for it, and there were key things I did along the way that really put in the position to be “hire-able.”
I thought I’d share some tips for others looking to land a position after they turn their tassels and head into the land of competition, resumes, and interviews.
1. Do As Many Internships As You Can. And Find The Good Ones.
Internships allow you to find out what you like and what you don’t like. This way, you can put your energy into a specific aspect of your field that you know you ENJOY doing–you may also find out what you thought you wanted to do, turns out to be a lot different than you expected. Internships also show future employers that you’re dedicated to the field, and took the time (free, even) to learn about the business and get your feet wet.
A senior executive at a world-renowned ad agency once came into my marketing class and told us “I don’t care if you’ve been a waitress, a camp counselor or an office assistant, I want to see that you made the effort to get into this field, and the skills you learned from that experience.”
Now, that’s just one perspective, since having a job while in school is great in itself (shows responsibility, ability to balance, etc) but, any type of work in the field you eventually want to get into is the BEST kind.
RESOURCES- Use THEM! Internship coordinators at your school, career counselors, job + internship fairs, professors and family connections are all there for you–go to them, use them, abuse them!
But, how can I FIND an internship?
1. Get on your internship coordinator’s email list.
2. Instead of going on general sites to find internships, figure out which companies you want to work for, and go to their website. Many of them don’t list opportunities on larger sites, but always list them on their own.
3. Search for a niche website that lists jobs in the field you want. EX: If you’re in Colorado and looking for a job or internship in the marketing/PR/advertising/communications field, the website, Andrew Hudson’s Job List, lists jobs (from entry level to senior level) and internships focused in these specific fields.
4. Talk to your teachers. If you have a teacher you respect and you enjoy being in their class, LET THEM KNOW. Go to office hours, meet outside of class, grab coffee–they know people and can help you find what’s right for you, help point you in a direction (and maybe even become a reference on your resume). This leads me into my next tip:
2. Make Personal Relationships, Find Mentors, Stay in Touch With Them.
Your biggest resource are the people you create relationships with–if they feel personally connected to you, they’ll feel personally responsible to help in any way they can in your success.
1. If you do an internship, create personal relationships with your bosses. Once a week go out to lunch, ask them questions about how they got to where they are (people LOVE talking about themselves, remember that). Ask them advice, find out what they did when they were in college, what clubs they were involved in, what internships they landed, and what they think you need to do in order to be hired at their organization.
2. STAY IN TOUCH! After the internship is over, the relationship is just beginning. Email them every month, show them relevant coursework your doing and how it relates to the internship, talk about things you’re learning at your new internship, in your classes, or just write a quick note–saying hi, I’m thinking of you, hope all is well, hope the XXX project you were working on when I left ended up being a success, etc. Personalize, let them know you listened.
3. If you really want to go far, visit them, take them out to lunch. I had an internship in Boston (went to school in Colorado) and when I went back to visit for Thanksgiving, I asked my supervisors if we could go out to lunch to catch up. Face to face is always better. We got to talk and I reminded them, “Hey I’m still here, this is what I’ve been up to since we last spoke!” (and here is that charming girl/guy you loved last summer, remember?). They will really appreciate this, and remember, someone helped them once, and they are happy to return the favor.
3. Create A Portfolio Of Your Work
One of the main reasons I got the job I have now is because I created a portfolio of relevant work displaying my strengths, published works, creative skills & writing samples.
– SAVE EVERYTHING YOU DO. EVERY WRITING SAMPLE, EVERY GRAPHIC, EVERY IDEA YOU’VE EXECUTED.
– Going into a job interview with a hard copy of your portfolio is essential, and is even better if this goes along with a nice online portfolio too.
1. Buy a nice binder (leather is always good) to display your work. Buy presentation sleeves ( @ Staples, Office Max) to put your work inside.
2. Figure out an overall theme for your portfolio (ex: If you’re a graphic artist create a signature logo to go on every page, if you’re a marketing major, figure out YOUR brand (like you would a client) and use that as your theme. Here are some fantastically creative work portfolios from Smashing Magazine to help get your juices flowing.
3. Choose your best work–class projects, internship projects, writing samples, anything that shows off what you can do.
For every piece you put into your portfolio, ask yourself “why is this important?”
4. Next to your work, have a page that describes (briefly) what it is, the results that you saw from it, etc.
Ex: On my portfolio, on the right side of the binder I put a press release I wrote for one of my internships. On the left hand side, I wrote how many placements the release received in the media, how many more people came to the event I wrote about this year vs. last year, etc.)
So, are you ready to start the first day of the rest of your life?