Congratulations, seniors! You’re almost done! While this time in your life can be both terrifying and exhilarating, you should be proud of making it this far. Whether the last few years flew by or felt like an eternity, it’s all about to come to an end.
And yet this is really just the beginning. It’s the start of your adulthood, your career, and the rest of your life.
Use these helpful tips to not only prepare for what’s coming in “the real world,” but to keep yourself on track as you say goodbye to your home away from home.
If you haven’t done so yet, make time on your schedule for an internship. Interning is not only extremely valuable in gaining experience, but it also builds your professional network. Some of your most cherished mentors and advisers may come from your internship, creating professional relationships for your early career stages, as well as years to come.
An internship will help you grow both professionally and personally. You’ll get a taste of what’s to come in the working world after graduation. It may even help you to weed through what you do and don’t want in a career. And best of all, it looks great on your resume.
Start the job search early
Getting a head start on the job search can only help you. It doesn’t mean you have to commit to any career opportunity, or that you have to start applying before you’re ready. Hunting for a first job can take months, if not longer. Applications can take hours to finish.
Starting now not only puts you ahead of others who will wait until after graduation, it also gives you a chance to see what’s out there, what companies/industries differ from others, and what requirements are needed. And often, gauging your opportunities early can be the difference between a directionless and a laser focused job search.
Interview for jobs you may not want
While your job searching, you might find some companies interested in interviewing you. Be forewarned: these might not be jobs you’re fully enthusiastic about. Take the interviews anyway. The more interviews you do, the more comfortable you will become at answering questions, both common and uncommon. And you also might find that the job is a bit more exciting than you initially thought.
Listen to yourself during each interview and make mental notes of how you’re reacting. After each interview, go home and write down each and every question they asked. Each company interviews differently, and the more practice you get, the less surprised you will be.
If the company turns you down, ask them politely what you could have done differently, and bank the advice for later interviews. If they do offer you the job, and the meeting didn’t convince you to love the opportunity, kindly turn them down and move on to the next one.
Clean up your resume and online presence
You’ll be sending a lot of resumes in the next few months. The early months of your senior year are the perfect time to clean up your resume by fixing its formatting, adding your most recent experience, and getting it checked over by your campus career center.
Now is also the time to take a second look at your social media sites. Do you have some Facebook posts a little inappropriate for an employer’s eyes? Double check your privacy settings or, better yet, disable any questionable social media for the time being. Employers will check you out.
But also realize that online platforms can be used to your advantage. Use your social media for “good” by building a professional presence on Twitter and Facebook, where you keep up to date with current events and companies in your industry. Share your thoughts and insight and get involved in conversations with friends and members of the industry you want to work in. Start a blog or an online portfolio, and don’t be afraid to attach the link to your resume.
Try not to freak out
Everyone is in the same boat. You’re nowhere near as lost as you might feel that you are. If you work hard and stay diligent, opportunities will come. Do all the things you’ve always wanted to do in this last year, because now is your chance to do so. And when people ask you the once-terrifying question “What are you going to do after graduation?” you’ll be able to tell them that you have it figured out.