Spring Cleaning: Preparing For Life After College

I don’t know about you, but I was ecstatic when trusty ol’ Punxsutawney Phil announced an early spring this year.  Visions of warm weather, BBQs, and jean shorts ran through my head, but quickly these visions were shattered when I realized this only meant a few more months till graduation.

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As a second semester senior, nothing is more daunting than the idea of graduating without “a plan”.  I keep putting off the job search, trying to convince myself that “there is plenty of time”, but in reality the month of May will be here before you can say “senioritis.”

So to my fellow seniors, as much as you would like to continue to sleep in, and put off building your resume (or anything remotely related to responsibility for that matter), now is the time to get your act together.  And to any juniors and ambitious underclassmen, don’t feel left out; this article can help you too—it is never too early to exploring your options, and looking towards the future.

Here are a few suggestions to help you get on the right track:

CAREER FAIRS!

Spring time seems to be a breeding ground for career fairs.  Check out your school’s calendar or career center to see if your university or college is hosting any upcoming fairs.

The Maryland Career Consortium (MCC) is hosting one of the largest career fairs in Maryland this upcoming week.  On February 15 from 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. over 100 of the region’s top employers will be setting up camp at Towson University.  If you have never been to a career fair, or are unsure how to make the most of your time, the MCC is also hosting a free online webinar.  The webinar will share insider tips about what employers look for, how to prepare for the event, and techniques for marketing yourself to employers once you are there.  The webinar is on Monday, February 11 at 3:00 p.m.  With the help of the webinar, there is really no excuse not to attend this great event.

Also be sure to sign up with a few friends.  I force my friends to go to these kinds of events all the time so I don’t have to suffer alone; it’s the mentality that we are all in this together.  It’s always better to know that someone is by your side, and this motivation makes it harder to back out last minute.  Going with friends also makes the experience a lot less stressful, and a lot more fun.

To REGISTER for the free online webinar please visit:

Register

And for more information on the career fair visit:

http://marylandcareerconsortium.org/node/31

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POLISH UP THAT RESUME:

Before heading to any career fair make sure to clean up that resume.  Many, if not most employers at career fairs will be collecting resumes.

A resume is a continuous work in progress, so every month or so it is smart to go back and reread your information with fresh eyes—you may catch minor errors, or even have information to add.

Use your school’s resources, because after gradation you are not going to have such readily available outlets.  It was not until this year that I decided to pay a visit to my university’s career center, and I’m now just realizing how helpful it actually was in enhancing my resume.

Visit your career center and schedule a resume critique.  You might think your resume is perfect and ready to be sent out, but in all probability, it isn’t.  It’s a great idea to have another set of eyes to catch things you may not have noticed.  The career center employees are trained to find simple mistakes, and know exactly what employers are looking for in terms of content and style.

PRACTICE INTERVIEWS:

Practice makes perfect.  The only way you are going to get better at interviewing is through experience.  Many career centers provide free practice interview sessions, sometimes even with actual local employers.  While these practice interviews are still nerve-racking and sometimes awkward, it is better to mess up and learn from your mistakes now than when actually going for a job or internship.

DECISIONS, DECISIONS

It is time to start sorting through your options.  After visiting a few career fairs and talking to employers, begin to weigh the pros and cons of specific companies and employment opportunities.  Find what suits you, and don’t just apply to jobs or internships that you are neither interested in nor qualified for.

Do your research, and become an expert on the company.  This will help you to tailor your cover letter and resume to meet the company’s expectations and qualifications.  Being a knowledgeable candidate will also help you to interview better, and come off as more professional and sincere.  Once when I was applying for a music public relations position, the interviewer ask me if I had heard of her and her music career in the 70s; I had to awkwardly and honestly answer no.  If I had spent the time to do a simple Google search of her name beforehand, I would have realized she had a #3 hit on the UK charts in 1978…oops!  I managed to still get the internship (well I was the only candidate), but I am sure I would have made a much better impression had I actually done my research.

KEEP ON KEEPING ON

The biggest thing to keep in mind during this sometime scary, yet exciting time is to not get discouraged.  There are going to be rejections, disappointments, and definitely tears of frustration, but see each experience in a positive light—a learning and growth opportunity.

…One last thing!  As spring quickly approaches, and another year academic nears an end, remember to have fun.  Whether this is your last year or your first, it is important to balance your time.  Get out and explore the beautiful city of Baltimore.  I hate to use the cliché, but I can attest to the fact that time flies.  Start preparing for the future now, but remember to have a ton of fun in the process!

Katie Windt, Intern

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