As your last year of university comes into full swing, your mind will begin to focus on the future and your first job search. Throughout that process, there are a few important things you’ll need to do to shore up your work experience, education, and professional relationships.
Crucial to getting a strong start to your job search is to nurture the professional relationships you’ve developed while in college. The people you’ve met and worked with in your classes, clubs, and internships are important sources of advice and feedback. Equally important is the fact that they can stand as references on the value and quality you can bring to any employer.
So as you study and work through the last two semesters of your college career, make the effort to strengthen your relationships with these three people:
Formally or informally, there’s a chance that throughout your college years you’ve developed a strong working and collaborative relationship with one of your professors. That relationship may have involved taking several of their courses, regularly meeting with them at office hours, or even helping them with their research projects.
This relationship is critical to your success in the job search. That professor knows first-hand what kind of person you are over an extended period of your life. They know how you have evolved through the years of your college career, and they have strong insight into your potential as a hard-working employee.
You can take advantage of this relationship in two ways. One will be to ask for career guidance. At this point in your college years, your mentor is highly invested in your success, and will be eager to guide you into your next chapter. They will give you ideas on where to apply, what to apply for, and may connect you with friends and acquaintances who need someone with your skills.
The second way will be to ask them to vouch for you. They will gladly stand as references through your interview process, and can give vital information to hiring managers that can lead to you landing the job.
So if you haven’t done so in a while, reconnect with your college mentor, try to meet with them a few times each semester, and find a way to work with them one last time. And when the time comes to find a full time gig, you’ll have a great ally on your side.
Throughout the various internships you took on during your college summers and breaks, there’s a strong chance that you met and clicked with a manager. Whether you got along on a personal level, or you simply did great work with them for a summer, that rapport you have with them can be useful in your job search.
Your manager during an internship knows best how you execute on projects. Most internships will task you with one or two major projects to work on during your months with the company, giving you the latitude to both learn past your education and contribute valuable effort.
How you perform in that setting is a great perspective to give to potential employers. It lets them learn about your capacity to work independently and in a team, and how you cope with deadlines and stress. A former manager is one of the best sources for an employment reference or recommendation letter.
Beyond what your internship manager can tell an employer, it’s also important to reach out to them about potential opportunities with their team. If you had a great time, worked hard, learned a ton, and ended on great terms, there’s a good chance that you’re remembered fondly.
You already have a warm introduction, and your value is already known, so your chances at landing a job with that company, if there are openings fit for you, are higher. So take advantage of this prior relationship by getting back in touch with your old manager.
Your club advisor
An often-overlooked but important person in your collegiate and professional life is your club advisor. If you were an integral part of the executive board of an extracurricular organization, you have probably worked with a university advisor to plan events, invite guests to meetings, and grow and manage your club.
As graduation approaches, step up your relationship with the advisor or advisors of clubs you lead. These relationships are important to foster as sources of guidance. More importantly, club advisors know your leadership style and capabilities.
Often, employers look to prior leadership experience in entry level candidates as a measure of their potential. If you have strong leadership capabilities, are an effective club leader, and have shown your ability to organize large events and manage budgets and logistics, the one person who understands this capacity best is your club advisor.
When the last few weeks of your college career roll around, you should be comfortable with the level of professional and personal familiarity with your mentors, professors, and advisors. That way, as you conduct your job search, you won’t feel awkward about reaching out for assistance. College graduates who effectively capitalize on those relationships often find better jobs, faster.