College Senior-Year Guide
Ever since you were a freshman in college, recent undergrads and other adults have probably told you to enjoy your college years because they are the best years of your life. Now, as you begin the final stages of your undergraduate career, the reality is likely sinking in that the best years are coming to an end.
But don’t worry! Although planning for after graduation may seem daunting, we are here to help. (And trust us — you’ll have plenty of great years after graduation, too.)
Seniors, while you enjoy the precious last year of college, here's our monthly senior-year guide to help you land your dream job.
October: Get Your Foot in the Door
The beginning of the year is a great time to get organized and do research for your future. Make a list of goals and determine what location you hope to work in after school. Choosing a particular city or town for work will make the job research much more feasible.
Once you have chosen a location, create a list of potential professions and industries in the area that you find appealing. Reach out to these companies to set up informational interviews over the phone or in person during a coffee date to discuss the company. These meetings can be fun and informative, so use this time to get a feel for potential jobs and what may excite you.
Bonus tip: Not sure how to get in the door? Check out your career center or alumni office’s databases. Chances are they have a list of graduates working in nearly every industry who are willing to talk with current students at their alma mater.
November: Network! Network! Network!
As you head home for Thanksgiving, reach out to family members, friends and previous employers whom you admire. Ask them how they found success in their industry. Discuss your career goals for after graduation and seek advice. Creating a personal network can introduce job leads that might not be possible otherwise.
Bonus tip: Even if you’d be interested in working for that person’s company, don’t lead with it. Establish a personal rapport first and be genuinely interested, and then lead conversations down the road to job prospect inquiries.
December: “Wintern” Wonderland
Don’t spend winter break just catching up on your favorite TV shows. Use it to your advantage. Seek opportunities with companies you are interested in to either job shadow or become a “wintern,” a.k.a. intern. These real-work opportunities are a great way to boost your resume, learn about different jobs and decide where you see yourself potentially working after school. Create a blog about your experience that you can share with future job prospects.
Bonus tip: Companies have fewer “winterns” than they do interns throughout the rest of the year, so this is a time to truly stand out. Don’t be afraid to talk to the boss, ask him or her questions and express your interest in working at the company after graduation. Otherwise, he or she will never know you may see it as more than a resume booster.
January: Clean Up Your Social Pages
New year, new you. As spring semester begins, it’s time to clean up your social media presence and become active in a more professional way. A highlight from your winter internship is a great start! Also, employers often look at job candidates’ profiles to get a feel for their personality, especially at the start of a new year. Make sure everything you share reflects positively on your character.
Bonus tip: In addition to adding extracurricular activities, service experiences, jobs and internships to your profile, reach out to a former manager or intern coordinator for a LinkedIn recommendation. This comment will appear on the main page of your LinkedIn profile and will show your worth in a tangible way.
February: Practice Persistence
Thought you were finished with applications when you applied to colleges, eh? Now that you’re settling into your final semester, it’s time to start sending out your resume and cover letters. Make sure to research each company you’re applying to and tailor each cover letter to explain specifically why you would be a good fit for that company. The more specific, the better.
Bonus tip: Companies receive hundreds of resumes for what are usually only a few job openings (not to mention on top of their already-full email inboxes!), so make sure you stand out through persistence! When you email or call to follow up, don’t just check on the status of your application — show your worth, creativity and understanding of the industry by sharing an interesting, relevant article; mailing your resume to the company in an interesting way that relates to the job; or sending a nonfiction book they might enjoy. Any way you can show that you can provide value to your potential employer will be a “yay” in your direction.
March: Impress During Interviews
Hopefully by now, you’ve heard back from a few potential companies and you’re gearing up for interviews. Prepare and practice by thoroughly researching the company and participating in mock interviews. Arrive early, bring a notebook to take notes and come armed with thoughtful questions. Your planning will give you confidence during the meeting.
Bonus tip: Don’t forget to participate in on-campus recruiting and job fairs. Your chance to impress a company representative can sometimes be very short. These events will help you build self-confidence and perfect your 30-second elevator pitch. They’re also a great way to network and to learn about jobs you may not have considered, and they tend to be pretty fun!
April: Send a Memorable Follow-Up
Follow up on interviews with an email and a handwritten thank-you note. Sending a letter is unique and will help interviewers remember you. As graduation quickly approaches, you should start hearing back from interviewers about job prospects. Enjoy the final memories of senior year and prepare for great years ahead!
Bonus tip: Don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear back right away or friends are getting job offers sooner than you. And, if offered more than one position, take time to reflect on each of the interviews and which companies seemed to offer a better chance to grow and learn. Your future should be important to both you and them!