So how do this year’s graduates make the most of the time they have left in college? And maybe just after graduation? To help answer those questions, we asked one of our own to members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC):
What should a college senior be doing in May and June to successfully launch their post-graduation careers?
Here are their very helpful answers:
1. Start Working
The job application and interview process can seem like a job in and of itself. Still, the best way to prepare for reality is to live in reality. Get a part-time job while looking for full-time. And set up an LLC and a side hustle as soon as possible. These efforts will not only help you learn to manage your time, but will also impress potential employers. Anybody can do well in school, but you can’t teach hungry.
2. Get an Internship
While I would suggest trying to start earlier, completing a high-quality internship can still be done, even after the last semester of college. Not only does it provide great experience, it often opens the door to a potential job when companies see you are just about to graduate. And a paid internship often offers the same level of compensation as a job in the service or retail sector.
3. Make Use of Career Services
Students during their senior year should take advantage of on-campus college career services before they graduate. They will have access to free resume critiques, mock job interviews, interview tips and job fairs, all of which can help increase their chances of getting a job quickly. And career services also has access to a list of local employers they know hire local graduates.
4. Find a Mentor
Toward the end of your last semester of college, you should find mentors in your career field. A lot of people complicate this process but it is so easy. Go on LinkedIn, find 25 people who are successful in your field and ask them to coffee or invite them to a conversation. A mentor relationship doesn’t need to be formal; it can just be someone you meet with from time to time. This will open up a lot of opportunities!
5. Prepare Smart References
You’re in the trap of having little to no experience, so the best thing you can do is receive references that focus on your willingness to work and be a go-getter. Any references that promote achievement are helpful, but more so, companies want to know that you are reliable, responsible and motivated. Better yet, ask people to post those references on LinkedIn for the world to see.
6. Build a Digital Portfolio
Building an online portfolio will help you get more interviews by showcasing your skills. Many people think you have to be in the arts to have a portfolio, but that is not the case. For example, if you are getting a degree in communications and interned for a PR agency, you can showcase all the press mentions you helped get clients. Be creative and show off the projects you’re most proud of!
7. Create a LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn has become the place for recruiters to notice you. As you’re creating your profile, make sure you optimize it for specific keywords in your industry so your profile pops up more in search results. You can also apply directly to jobs through LinkedIn using their advanced search filters. And, as Nicole recommends, make sure you have testimonials in your profile.
8. Scrub Your Social Media
Having fun is an important part of the college experience. Evidence of having too much fun can hurt your chances of employment. Before you start sending out resumes, take an inventory of your social media accounts. Assume that any would-be employer will be doing the same and take the opportunity to delete anything that may create a poor impression. On social media, it is better to be safe than sorry.
9. Don’t Look Too Far Down the Line
I’ve been coaching quite a few college seniors lately and they seem to be focusing on the “what next next.” Chances are, your first job out of college will not be the job you stay with for the rest of your life. If you are too focused on the “what next next,” you miss chances and opportunities with what is really next. Think about your very next move (and not the next one) — what do you want out of it?
10. Seek Guidance From Prospective Employers
A little-known truth is that some employers are more than happy to guide grads in the right direction. Spend your last semester reaching out to managers in the type of firms where you want to work. Connect with them on LinkedIn and ask them to share their best advice on getting a job at a similar firm. At worst you’ll get no response; at best you’ll get an inside track to your dream job.
11. Build Networks
By the end of your last semester, you should have a fair idea of the realm you want to enter. The best way to do this is by making use of your connections. Stay in touch with people you meet during your internship, including your internship supervisor. The stronger the network you have, the better your chances of finding gainful employment. Building work relationships during your final semester is crucial.
12. Have Fun and Connect With Alumni
While you’re wrapping up college, don’t forget to enjoy the last bit of the journey. You will likely never again have an experience like this. Then get in touch with your career services and/or alumni office to find out how you can connect with your alumni network. Just the mention of your college allegiance can be a powerful door opener and one to keep in mind as you build and grow your career.
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC has also launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.