For some students, senior year is the year to do all the fun stuff before real adulthood starts and for other students it’s all about preparing for adulthood. Most senior students are somewhere in the middle, focusing partly on having fun and partly on preparing for the future. But once your graduation cap is on and you finally receive your diploma, you better be ready. 😉 Luckily, there are steps you can take earlier on to make life after college a lot easier.
1. Prepare a resume
You should definitely prepare a resume in your senior year. Whether you will apply for an internship, a volunteer position or a full time job, you will always be required to submit a resume. Since recruiters often receive thousands of applications, having a resume that stands out is important. If you do not have any prior experience with building resumes, there is no need to worry. Almost every university offers resume services and students often do not even know about it. Find career services at your university and find out if they can help you polish your resume.
There are also great online resume-building tools, such as Novoresume. Novoresume helps you build a professional one-page resume for free. Do keep in mind that Novoresume only exports the resumes as PDF files, which is a format that some recruiters do not accept. However, it is still a useful way to see how one-page resumes can be structured and the templates could inspire you to get creative in Microsoft Word yourself.
I highly recommend you to keep your resume to one-page only, as most recruiters will only have a quick glance at your resume. Furthermore, less is more. Do not feel obliged to fill your resume with irrelevant information, just to make it look like you did a lot. You are a student and it is normal for you to not have much experience yet.
2. Examine job listings
It is also important to start looking at job listings on the internet. If you have a career choice in mind or a specific job, go to websites like Indeed and search for jobs in your desired field or related to your major. Reading the job requirements does not only give you an idea about what is expected of you, it also allows you to better prepare yourself. If, for instance, many job listings require you to have experience with Excel, and you do not have that at the moment, it would be a smart move to get yourself familiar with the software and take an online course for example.
3. Get experience
If you have the opportunity to get work experience during your senior year, I would definitely recommend you to do so. Internships and even volunteer positions are great ways to gain professional skills and they are definitely an asset for your resume. Furthermore, doing an internship gives you the opportunity to expand your network and it could even secure you a job. Many students receive jobs at the company or organization they did an internship, since the recruiters are already familiar with you.
4. Network, network, network
The power of networking should not be underestimated, especially for college students. If your school hosts job fairs, go to them and get in contact with recruiters. Do not be afraid to put yourself out there. In many instances, personality is the key factor in getting a job. If a person likes your personality, they will be happy to help you with your career.
In addition to job fairs, LinkedIn is another great way to expand your network, so make a profile as soon as you can. LinkedIn shows job listings based on your own preferences. Recruiters are also active on LinkedIn and they will contact you if you fit their candidate profile. Numerous people I know have received jobs and internships this way.
5. Search for jobs
Finally, search for jobs! The sooner you start looking for jobs the better. Do not wait until graduation to look for jobs, but start looking at least 3 months ahead. It sometimes takes a few weeks to get a response and even after an interview, it may take several weeks before you actually know whether you got the job. Depending on the job and company, the process could easily take up 3 months, so starting early on will help you to get a job sooner.
The bottom line
Thinking about the future can be worrisome, but preparation is the ultimate key. If you believe in yourself and your qualities, there is nothing or no one that can stop you. Every destination started with a single step, so let this be the moment for you to take that step. You can do it!