Archive | March, 2012

Tips for Future Graduates

19 Mar

We are halfway through March already (seriously, how did that happen?) and it will be officially two months until my one year anniversary of graduating college. Two months before I graduated, I remember scouring the interwebs trying to find advice on how to lead my life in what I consider to be one of the scariest economies to be launched into after attending school for 18-some years of my life. The sad thing is that all of the advice I came across was pretty generic and unhelpful. If you are just entering college or if you are just about to graduate, here are some tips that I hope you will find helpful. Keep in mind that, just like me, your experience may definitely differ and you may find that my advice will not help you at all. That’s okay, though, because I’m sure you are eager to read my beautiful writing anyway.

If You Are Just Starting College

  • Internships – I can’t stress this enough! While at my company, I have heard my co-workers scoff at interviewees who only had school projects to discuss while applying for a position. Try to have at least two internships before you graduate, and make sure that they are ones that you can show off on a resume. A lot of internships are unpaid, but they will pay off in their own way when you’re looking for a job.
  • Party vs. Work –When I was a sophomore, Bill Rancic, the original winner of The Apprentice, gave a speech at my university. He said that he chose to gain work experience while many of his friends decided to get wasted every night. It was a personal choice, and it ended up benefiting him. You are at school to learn and to have fun, but at the end of the day having internships and part-time jobs will get you a full time job, not how many shots you can do in an hour.
  • Avoid Serious Relationships-This was the big mistake I made: staying in a terrible two-year relationship during two crucial years of my college life. School is stressful enough, and having a serious relationship on top of it just adds to more unnecessary drama. If you do decide to date, get rid of anyone who does not respect the time that you need to study, to be alone or to be with your other friends. Not worth it.
  • HTML and Photoshop Are Your Friends-Knowing HTML is what got me my job, and I never even took a formal class for it! No matter what line of work you are in, having a basic knowledge of HTML and a design program such as Adobe Photoshop will set you apart from your competitors. Try to take a class or teach yourself the basics of HTML through the W3 site.
  • Broaden Your Horizons-As cliche as it sounds, try to take at least one class outside your core that really interests you or sounds challenging. For me, it was a Charles Dickens class and three Japanese language classes. Taking interesting and unique classes sets you apart, and you can milk it for all it’s worth when you go on interviews later on. Employers love to hear about how you set yourself apart.
  • Greek Life is Bullshit-Been there, done that. Sororities and fraternities do not help you to get jobs and, unless you’re at a really big school, the responsibilities will bog you down. They aren’t as fun as they seem, and it’s kind of similar to the cheerleader/football player effect in high school: if you brag about it to a normal person, they’ll probably just laugh behind your back.

If You Are About to Graduate

  • Don’t Use Job Boards- Seriously, no one ever tells you this but job boards are the worst way to find jobs these days. Think about it: everyone and their mother (assuming she is unemployed) are out there trying to apply to these jobs, which only amps up the competition for you and creates total burnout for the employer. Instead, do the following:
  • LinkedIn For Job Searches: Create the most amazing, kick-ass LinkedIn profile that you possibly can. Add a professional picture, list all of your achievements and work experience using key phrases that are common in your industry and ask for ALL of the reccommendations that you can while on the site. LinkedIn profiles are just as, if not more, important than resumes nowadays. They should be taken pretty seriously. Once you have everything set up, use the company search to find local companies in your desired industry. Go on their sites and apply for jobs directly on there. It’s a bit exhausting, but it’s a great way to find jobs that aren’t on job boards. This method is how I found my job!
  • Be Patient– You can’t hurry love, and you can’t hurry the perfect job either. Finding a good job takes time, but that time is worth it! Be wary of companies that invite you in to interviews without a preliminary phone interview first, or companies that you cannot find much information on while searching the web. These sites are most likely scams and, yes, I think that almost every recent graduate has gone on at least one interview only to find out that it was a complete fraud. By the way, there’s nothing wrong with interrupting your interviewer if you do find yourself in a fraudulent situation–why sit around for the whole damn interview to be done with? Simply tell them that the position does not match your interests, and get the hell out of there.
  • Go On Every Interview- This is a pretty common point in any advice for recent graduates, but it still rings true: practice makes perfect. Go on any and all interviews that come your way, even if it’s not for a job you want. The better you get at doing interviews, the more ready you’ll be when the right one rolls along. Don’t forget to make a cheat sheet of all the most common interview questions (and your answers) and study that before every interview. If you’d like an example cheat sheet, message me and I’ll be happy to send one your way.
  • Get Used to Flying Solo- No one ever really warned me about what life in the “real world” was going to be like after graduation. We’ve spent our whole lives in school–a place where you are pretty much forced to make friends with the people around you simply because you see them every day. When you graduate, you’ll find that your friends may not be as close to you geographically as they used to be, and you may find that your social life seems a little boring compared to what it was in school. All of this is normal. Enjoy being on your own and learning to make new friends because, let me tell you, finding people to hang out with outside of school is a pretty daunting task for the recent graduate. We all go through it, though.
  • Watch Your Loans– Speaking from experience, I can safely say that you are very, very lucky if you end up paying your school loans off to a company who is nice enough to send you monthly reminders of your bill. Companies are pretty screwy these days so, right after you graduate, make sure to write down exactly what days your loans are due, verify that they haven’t been sold to other companies (this happened to me and I was never notified) and make regular payments in order to start building good credit for yourself.
  • Stay Positive- Last but not least, remember that college is a boot camp that has trained you for the real world. It was easy for me and a lot of my friends to become very negative about finding a job due to the economy, but try your best to remember that everyone is in the same boat. Focus on your achievements and always be alert–you never realize how many good opportunities you miss out on when you’re negative or depressed until much later (and by then it’s too late).

I hope that someone somewhere can find value in my tips! Feel free to contact me with any tips of your own or questions that you may have.

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