Job Hunting 101
By Steve Burt
Job Hunting 101 - Related
If you're a college student, presumably you (or your parents) are
entertaining the thought that one day in the not-too-distant future, you
will be gainfully employed. But you're probably saying to yourself, "How
the heck am I going to land that great job when the only job I've ever had
is waiting tables?" Well, cheer up, there's lots you can do to get
something worthwhile on your resume to use in your job search.
If you still have some time to go
before you graduate, you have a perfect opportunity to make things easy on
yourself when it comes time to look for your first "real" job. Just get
some experience related to what you want to do when you graduate. This is
a "no-brainer". Just do it. Nothing (not even a 4.0 GPA) will be more
valuable to you as you start looking for that first professional position
than some real-for-sure, hands-on, related experience. Even if you have to
work for free, do it if you can . . . it'll pay off in the end. Here's how
to do it.
Where Can I Get Related Experience?
Internships and Co-op
Experience - If you can get into an internship or co-op position
related to what you want to do after you graduate, do it. Don't even
think about it . . . just do it! If your school has a career center,
they often can help you find these positions. If not, start looking on
your own. Target companies in your field and apply to them for summer
work. Don't expect to run the place and don't expect to make a pile of
money. Do expect to gain some valuable experience worth its weight in
gold on your resume when you graduate.
Part-time Jobs - If
you work part-time to support yourself in school, try to find jobs that
are related to your field. For example, if your major is finance, try to
find a part-time job as a bank teller. No, you might not make as much
money as you would make in tips waiting tables at a classy restaurant,
but if you can get by financially, do it. And even if you have to wait
tables, maybe you can try to get involved in areas related to your
career goal. For example, if your major is advertising or public
relations, maybe you can offer to help with the restaurant's advertising
and promotional efforts. If your major is computer science, maybe you
can write a custom program that helps your boss run his business.
Professors - Is your
major chemistry? Volunteer to be a lab assistant to your chemistry
professor. Yes, you're going to spend a lot of time washing laboratory
glassware but you may get to watch or participate in some experiments or
research along the way, too. And putting this experience on your resume
shows that you like working in a lab, otherwise why would you have
volunteered to work there when you didn't have to?
Clubs and Organizations
- Do you belong to a fraternity or sorority? If your major is finance,
you could run for office as Treasurer. If your major is public
relations, you can head your philanthropic committee and organize
Shamelessly Exploiting Your Related
Resume - Your related
experience is the most important single piece of information on your
resume so make sure prospective employers see it. Create a section on
your resume called RELATED EXPERIENCE or INTERNSHIP (if that's what it
was). If you have other experience waiting tables or flipping burgers,
put that in a separate section, following the RELATED EXPERIENCE section
and call it OTHER WORK EXPERIENCE. If you're one of those
rare students lucky enough to have lots of related experience, you may
be able to ditch the OTHER WORK EXPERIENCE section altogether. Once
you've created a section on your resume for your related experience,
describe your experience. Use paragraph style, bulleted style, or a
combination of both . . . it doesn't matter. What matters is that you
demonstrate that you actually learned something. No one expects you to
have directed a multi-million dollar project, but anything you can show
that lets the reader know you gained some knowledge about your chosen
field is good. Did you work as a team member? Then say so. Employers
like to hire people who can work well with others on projects. Did you
pick up any new skills that you haven't learned in college (new
software, operation of specialized instruments/equipment)? Write it
down. Did you contribute anything through your own initiative that
resulted in saving money for your employer, making money for your
employer, and/or improving operational procedures? This is REALLY good!
Don't forget to include these accomplishments.
Interview - Don't
forget to discuss your related experience in your interview. Presumably,
the person(s) interviewing you will bring up this subject since this
will be something of particular interest. If, for some reason, the
interviewer doesn't bring up the subject, try to bring it up yourself.
Keep in mind what work will be involved in the position for which you
are interviewing and describe your experience in a way that shows how
you might fit into that position.
One Last Thought
On more than one occasion, students
have been offered full time positions upon graduation with the very
companies with whom they did their internship and co-op work. So, think
about these jobs as terrific opportunities to get your foot in the door for
something more permanent.