After speaking with fellow graduates and business professionals, I realized that we share some common thoughts about today’s college students entering the workforce. With the unemployment rate reaching a high point of 10.1% in October 2009 during the recession, it is surprising that more students are not taking advantage of the opportunities in front of them to improve their chances of landing a job. Thus, they could build a foundation for their network. Recently, the unemployment rate was 9.6% in September 2010 on a national level. This number increased at an even higher 14.8% for for the population aged between 20 – 24. It would seem that with fewer jobs available and hiring freezes taking place students would make more of an effort to set themselves apart in this competitive job market. Could it be that they are unaware of success tips?
To begin with, I believe all students need to spend some time getting to know themselves, attending networking events, and following up with the folks they meet at such events. Additional information on these three areas are listed below:
- Know yourself. Before you can attend a networking event or start marketing yourself as the next best candidate to a potential employer you must identify who you are as an individual. What motivates you? What are you passionate about? By outlining some of your goals you will be able to hold a conversation with others informing them about your qualities that you possess.
- Get yourself to an event. If you are not currently associated with student or professional organizations, seek ones that are closely related to your major. For example, if you are pursuing a concentration in Marketing, you could look into the American Marketing Association. If you are studying Human Resources, the Society for Human Resource Management may pique your interest. While there are many national organizations, local chapters as well as student chapters exist. Check out their events and become involved by attending an upcoming one.
- Follow up. When you come to an event make sure that you introduce yourself to others. The people in attendance have similar interests within your concentration. These are industry professionals who have established themselves while becoming experienced within this specific field. Take the time to send an email or follow up with a phone call to inform them that you enjoyed meeting them at this event.
You might question whether or not attending events will pay off dividends, but for a real life example, please read my post “The Power of Networking”. I explain how my involvements allowed me to land my job out of college.
Some other success tips for today’s college students in the competitive job environment are listed below:
- College Career Centers. Most college campuses have career centers. With certified career counselors and a staff of professionals available to answer questions pertaining to careers, interviews, and resumes there’s no reason why students should think twice about taking advantage of these resources.
- Student and Professional Organizations. As previously mentioned student and professional organizations are a great way to find out about local events related to a specific topic of interest. Becoming actively involved allows individuals to join a team and develop leadership skills which can be helpful during one’s career.
- Internship. Try to intern early on in your collegiate career. Don’t wait until it’s too late as internships present the opportunity to test drive different fields and work within various industries. Working at a number of internships will expand your personal network and create contacts who can endorse you for future employment opportunities.
- Professors. From my experiences, almost all of my professors worked in their related field prior to starting their career as a teacher. Make sure to develop a relationship with your professors. They have established industry contacts which can be used as a resource for future employment opportunities. Also, your professors can serve as recommendations if you plan on attending graduate school down the road.
- Professionals. Reaching out to professionals and conducting a personal interview is one thing that not many people do not invest the time in. It relives the pressure off of yourself as you are not being questioned about your skill sets, rather you are asking the questions. Discuss with these folks how they got to where they are today as you might want to be like them one day. Understanding how they have paved a successful path will provide information which typically would take years of experience to develop.
- Network, Network, Network. While this is listed last, don’t undermine the power of networking. There’s a reason why it was listed three times. Understand why it was listed last. If there’s only one lesson which you learn from these tips, please do yourself a favor and network. It is invaluable these day and can lay down the foundation at an early age for their network.
Hopefully these tips will provide some guidance for today’s college students and allow them to impress potential employers, local business professionals, and fellow peers. Don’t hesitate to contact me if I can be of any assistance with answering questions related to the job market or anything else which a soon to be or recent graduate would like an answer to.