Although you are still recovering from midterms week, it is never too early to begin the process of applying for internships and jobs, especially if you are graduating in December.
Before beginning the process, it is crucial to network. Join academic and professional organizations on campus to learn more about your chosen career field and meet professionals in this area. Network with Harding alumni in a city you are interested in moving to. They may know of available entry-level positions or hiring managers to connect with. It is more rare to receive an interview or a job after applying to a Monster.com posting than if you know the hiring manager or someone at the company. Sometimes it is all about who you know.
Now that you have professional connections in your industry, it is time to polish your resume and tailor it to each position you apply for. Read the job description and qualifications carefully and use as many of the same keywords in your resume as possible. For example, including experience as a waitress may be great if you are applying for a customer service position, but may not be helpful if applying for an accounting job.
Finally, begin the application process sooner rather than later. Certain industries, such as investment banking, consulting and accounting, have competitive training programs and begin recruiting early in the fall. The worst that can happen is for a hiring manager to tell you they need someone to start immediately, but at least you made a connection and are on their radar for future openings.
After applying for countless jobs and waiting patiently by the phone or computer, you receive a call or email requesting an interview. Now what?
Always be overdressed. Especially as a recent graduate, it is important to be taken seriously and not be treated as a student. Leave the jeggings and chacos at home and invest in one good suit or professional outfit. Interviews are the first, and possibly only, impression you will make on future employers, so make sure it is a good one.
Be prepared with anecdotes to illustrate your skills. The interview is your chance to expand beyond your resume bullet points and talk specifically about the class projects and internship experiences that make you the perfect candidate for the job. Don’t just say, “I work well in a group environment.” Instead, elaborate on a group project you were in charge of and how you learned leadership, time management and organizational skills.
Finally, don’t be a robot. If you were asked for an interview, then the employer already knows you have the basic technical qualifications for the position. They want to know if your personality would be a good fit for the job and with the other employees. Be personable and don’t forget to make eye contact. Also, remember to come with questions to ask the interviewer about the specific job or the organization as a whole. Most importantly, be engaged and treat the interview as a conversation, not an interrogation.
While the entire application process is daunting, the best advice is to just begin. You will never receive an internship or a job if you do not apply.