Preparation for and Finding the Right Job out of College
"Ra'bochiye vse'vo 'mira, obyedi'nyaytes (Workers of the world, unite)!" Karl Marx was not simply attempting to motivate the proletariat to revolt against the bourgeoisie during early 20th century Russia, he was also helping soon-to-be and recent college graduates in getting jobs and crawling from the student debt hold. No, really. Ok he probably was not, but it can be used as a helpful tool and motivator. With unemployment still around 8%, and only 50% of college graduates landing jobs soon after nabbing that degree, we are all in this mess together. English literature, philosophy, psychology, and other liberal arts degrees catch a ton of flak for being useless. But they truly are not. They are just like any other degree, but you will need to follow a few guidelines to maximize each of their values.
Work as much as your schedule allows during college. Work experience should be your number one priority if you hope to find a job within the first year out of college. Head to your HR department and seek out those jobs needed to be done around campus. Whether it tutor, librarian assistant, contributor for the college newspaper or anything in-between, load up that resume with any jobs you can. If you qualify for work study positions, this is essentially a guarantee that the school will have something lined up for you. How does this help in the post-college world? Employers see that not only were you willing to work, but you were willing to do so in the midst of frantic college life. While other kids were drinking beer, playing video games, and checking Facebook, you were building a strong work ethic and building your resume.
Internships and volunteering. You probably read about internships in every single ‘college advice’ article you see, but not many tell you where the source of them are: campus personnel. Set up a meeting with your favorite professor, and let them know you are looking for a little experience in whatever field that may be. If they haven’t heard of anything, head to the HR department again and find a contact you can reach. It doesn’t have to be a full-time internship and it doesn’t even have to be every week. But if you schedule to help out at a museum or observe at a health clinic for a few hours every other Saturday, your social life will not be ruined and your studies will not be sacrificed. If you choose not to volunteer, you’ll likely be struggling with student debt for a while after you graduate because you’ll need to start at the very bottom of the job chain. You may as well start while in college.
The initial job search. Once you walk across that podium, you step into the full-time job market. The easiest way to start is signing up for those dreadful online job-search engines. Sure your options will be limited, but you can quickly apply to a number of jobs without spending gas or time driving to and from each establishment picking up physical applications. At very least you are throwing your name around letting employers know you’re available. This isn’t typical, but the first job I applied to on Careerbuilder.com, I received a call the very next day. Granted, it was at Rent-A-Center as basically a repo man, but I still went to the interview and felt good about developing my interview skills. The job search is all about taking baby steps.
After applying online, job search through other mediums. Network via your parents, parents’ friends, friends, old teachers, old employers, or anyone who might have an outlet for you. Check the newspaper for something you could see yourself doing, and don’t limit your options to something glamorous or high paying. You have to start somewhere. Take a part time or low-paying job, and continue the search for something better.
The post-college job search may seem like a frightening prospect, but it really isn’t. It’s probably a relatively new experience for most, but it becomes fulfilling knowing that you can make it on your own steam, and you are beginning to carve out a life independently of your parents or anyone else. Like I said before, we are all in this together. If you find a job prospect or contact that doesn’t necessarily pertain to you, let your buddy or another student who might find that contact useful. Also, never discount federal jobs like military service or U.S. postal jobs. These jobs offer great benefits for grads right out of college.