So you’ve just started at Weber. You’re probably more focused on getting through the next four years of classes (or, if you’re me or a decent portion of other Wildcats, the next seven-plus years) than trying to start your career right now. But no matter how long your degree takes, the real world will be waiting for you when you get out. What’s to set you apart from thousands of other grads with your same degree and skill set, vying for the same jobs that, depending on your field, are scarily limited? Even though passing classes can be a monster feat in itself, employers don’t just want to hear you passed your classes. There’s plenty you can do while still in the relative safety of school to increase the chances of landing a career when you get out.
1. Utilize the Career Services Center. You might not know just how many resources there are on campus for helping you succeed. The Career Services Center comes equipped with career counselors who can help you write your resume, practice interviewing and apply for jobs. I personally check their website at least monthly for new job and internship opportunities; you can break it down by field, and they’ll have something for it. There’s also the Career Fair each year where you can meet face to face with representatives from all kinds of companies. If you do check it out, even casually, just be sure to go prepared: Dress as you would for a job interview and have copies of your resume on hand.
2. Promote yourself on social media. Yes, you might think social media is for attention-hungry children, but the fact is everyone’s using it, and there’s no better way to reach a vast network of people. Even if Facebook and Twitter aren’t your thing, consider joining LinkedIn. It’s basically the professional version of Facebook, where you showcase your professional and academic achievements rather than your ultrasound pictures and political memes. Some companies even accept your LinkedIn profile in lieu of a standard resume in your application, because it not only neatly groups all your credentials together, but also allows your network of friends and co-workers to vouch for your skills and write you recommendations, all in one place. If you do join LinkedIn, though, don’t just put your current job and add two connections. It’s the specific place to list all your accomplishments and experience and add people who know your work ethic and could be useful connections in the future. Brag a little.
Don’t write off Facebook and Twitter, though. Given how many people check them on a daily basis, they’re ideal places to post job opportunities, promote yourself and your work and network with like-minded individuals. If your personal accounts aren’t something you’d want employers to see, consider creating professional Twitter or Facebook accounts for promoting your work and networking with others in your biz. There are also social websites specifically tailored to whatever (and I mean whatever) your career interest is. Instead of posting an offer of your services on Craigslist (which, don’t get me wrong, can’t hurt either), you can create a profile on a site where employers and contractors are going to be specifically looking for people like you.
3. Get real-world experience on campus. Whatever your skill set is, there are opportunities for you to cultivate it and maybe even get paid for it here on campus. On Weber’s website, dozens of job opportunities are listed under “employment” (for on-campus positions) and “Career Services” (on and off campus). Odds are your chosen department or campus organization will be hiring often. Why not beef up your resume with jobs that understand how hard it is to be a student and will work around your schedule and are specifically designed to be teaching and honing processes for your skills instead of expecting you to be pros? I’ve also known students who successfully network through their program’s department offices, which will be the first places to know about job opportunities or even to hook you up with outside sources looking for your skills (just don’t troll them constantly).
4. Pursue internships. This one is pretty competitive, but especially for majors with limited job opportunities, it’s a big one. Career Services will rightly encourage you to pursue them if you’re in the liberal arts or other programs not known for surefire employment. This summer I was thrilled to serve an internship with the Deseret Book Company; I got some firsthand experience with the editing process of manuscripts, even being asked to write the jacket summaries or review unpublished books with suggestions for the author and editor. Most offer some compensation and are considerate of your academic priorities, but research the company first so you know you’re getting invaluable experience for your future career, and for unpaid ones, make sure you are willing and able to make room for it before applying. They are time-consuming and hard work, but worth it if you really love what you do and are prepared to do it for the rest of your life. You’ll probably need to apply more than once, so start applying early.
New students, I wish I could give you concrete, foolproof instructions for how to guarantee a post-grad career. But there are no guarantees (unless you’re a computer science major or something). You’ll have to judge for yourself how much you can take on to improve your chances. But I can promise you, from experience, that your being student at Weber will help, not hinder, you every step of the way.