|  August 30, 2012

Back to school? Don’t forget about your job search

If you are currently in school, you probably just stepped back on campus and are enjoying a slew of welcome activities, catching up with friends you haven’t seen all summer, and being bombarded with a ton of other things.  Your upcoming job or internship search is probably the furthest thing from you mind.  Let’s not go overboard – there is not a lot you need to do at this very moment for a job or internship that will start in May/June… but it is a great time to start thinking about your next search, and taking a few easy steps (sooner than later).

1. Update your resume with this past summer’s experience

Updating your resume while your summer experience is still fresh in your mind makes things a lot easier.  I promise you if you wait 6 more months to do this, it is going to be a struggle, and it doesn’t have to be.  What I recommend doing is thinking about your summer and organizing your experience into a few main buckets.  You probably worked on 100 different things but try to mentally organize them into “categories”.  Once you have those main categories, think about 3-6 that you are most proud of, come across as the most impressive, and are relevant to your future career path (if you know).  Take those and turn them into bullets clearly outlining that category with “action” words (created, managed, supported, analyzed…etc.)  In terms of the “categories” that don’t make it into the top 3-6, start a word document somewhere and paste them in.  Eventually you may have a few different versions of your resume for different career paths/interests and those areas may end up being the most relevant.  Again, doing this now while your experience is FRESH will make an impact on the quality of your resume…so get to it.

2. Get involved – the extracurriculars

Your campus likely has a variety of resources for you to plug into that will be related to your job/internship search and eventual career path.  University-organized clubs are a great way to get involved, learn new things, and build up your resume.  Interested in going into finance, marketing, fashion?  Your university likely has clubs you can join focusing on each of those industries.  Employers love to partner with clubs in order to have access to students interested in their companies.  They may even hold events or office hours where you can meet recruiters or employees from the company directly.  Joining is definitely the first step, but eventually taking on a leadership role in a club can be a great experience.  You will learn about leading a group, organizing events, and dealing with issues.  These are great skills to have and recruiters will love to see these leadership roles on your resume.

3. Network & get advice

Not only did you experience new things this summer but so did your classmates.  Inquire about people’s experiences and really listen.  Where did they work this summer? What was the industry and company culture like?  Did they love it or hate it?  You will learn a lot just by asking people – the info you get will be honest, direct, and coming to you first hand.  This is one of the best ways to get to know different industries and companies.  Networking with people who are a year or two ahead of you in school is great too.  They will be working their first full time jobs before you do and they may be able to help you land an internship or entry level job when the time comes.  People love to talk about their experiences, so offer to buy them coffee or a cocktail, and get valuable information… first hand.

4. Visit your career center

Again, not saying “go crazy” but it really is a good idea to start thinking about how you want to spend your next summer (if you are interning) or what type of entry level job you might want (if you are graduating).  Your career center is a great resource.  Some do a better job than others but be sure to utilize them.  Pop in during your first few weeks on campus and see what companies are running “on-campus” recruitment or events (as they usually happen in the first semester).  Show up at information sessions, networking events, and anything else you find interesting during your first semester.  There is no substitute for meeting recruiters or employees from a certain company face to face. If come February you suddenly decide you want to interview at Citi, it may be an uphill battle if you haven’t participated in anything – they are going to notice that you didn’t show up to their last 5 events.  Companies who participate in on-campus events spend a lot of time and effort doing so.  All you have to do is sign up and show up… so get informed on what’s happening through you career center, and do it sooner than later.

As the semester gets underway, we’ll have some new steps for you to think about.  But for now, take these four and go for it.  It is time you’ll invest now that will pay off in a big way later.

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