8 Semesters, Not Four Years

Think in terms of semesters, not years

Four years sounds like a long time.  8 semesters  sounds far more fleeting.  8 semesters give or take one or two additional semesters is the amount of time that  the majority of college students have. You want to spend this time creating experiences for yourself that you can add to your resume and  discuss during the job interview.   There are far too many activities, clubs and programs at most schools for you to spend that time just going to class.  It is your responsibility to use that time wisely.  In many ways that means you will develop yourself holistically into a candidate that employers will want to hire.  Dont’ waste time by thinking that you have alot of time. You will learn soon that those 8 semesters go by very quickly. Spend the time you do have getting most of your college experience.  This means getting involved in ways that are meaningful.

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It’s A Challenge to Critique a Resume of Nothing

How do you talk about nothing

One of  my greatest challenges is when I encounter a job searcher or student that doesn’t have much  on their resume. They’ve spent their time going to work or  getting through school and have paid little attention to developing other aspects of their lives.   Employers want people with skills, knowledge and abilities. Work experience and  school are not the only opportunities to enrich yourself in these areas.  Get involved in local charities or organizations.  Volunteer and become members of professional groups.   You can add value to your self and you’ll have something interesting information to include in your resume.  Spend some time looking at your resume.  What does it reflect? What can you add to make yourself more appealing?  Is it  a new skill, professional membership, language proficiency, training course, challenging project or something else?  If you find that you are lacking in  areas to add to your resume that means you need to get  work.   It is really difficult to edit or create a resume if you have limited information to add.  Get something to add to your resume.  This will  make you more valuable and ultimately lead to interesting discussions during the interview.

Advocate for Yourself

courtesy gmic.global.com

courtesy gmic.global.com

Sometimes as students and job seekers we think employers are doing us a favor when they ask us to come in for an interview or extend to us job offer. We are often so thankful and grateful that we immediately say yes without asking really important questions.  When you are invited for an interview it is perfectly acceptable to  ask for a time that is suitable to your schedule.  If you know that attending the interview may result in undue hardship or a major inconvenience you can ask your recruiter for an alternate date and time.  Depending on your unique circumstances you may  or may not choose  disclose the reason for rescheduling , but it is perfectly acceptable state , “Unfortunately due to a previous commitment I will be unable to attend the interview at that time. Do you have any other dates and times available for us to have a conversation about this opportunity?”.

Another area where students often go with the flow is AFTER the offer has been extended.  This is not the time to take whatever is presented to you. When you receive the offer  request a minimum of 24 hours before you accept.  Use that time to consider the pros and cons of the opportunity  and think about  more than salary.  Review the benefits, location, training and overall  organization culture.   If you are unsure ask questions about any of these areas to ensure that you are making an informed decision. How an organization treats you prior to the acceptance of the offer is a good indication of how they will treat you once you agree to join the company.

This process should be mutually beneficial and  not an area where only you or the employer gets what they want.  Asking questions and negotiating schedules or  additional time to make a decision is indicative of someone who is advocating on their own behalf.  This is perfectly acceptable. It also helps in increasing your sense of confidence by providing a tool on how to navigate the often stressful process of finding an  internship, co-op  or full time job.

The Business Dress Fund

Save for your business dress.

Save for your business dress.

Attire is often dictated by the industry, culture of the organization and the nature of the work that you perform.  It is important no matter what career you pursue that you create a business wardrobe. Even in very casual environments there may come a time when you will need to wear a business suit or formal business attire.  Thinking about your business wardrobe ahead of time will prevent you from being caught off  guard.

Sometimes as a student disposable income is not easy to acquire, yet dressing for the part that you want  will ultimately increase your ability to generate additional income. Whatever it is you are earning at the moment remember to put aside a small portion each time you get paid to create a business dress fund.  Look for sales, thrift stores and lay-away options in stores to maximize  your dollars.  Seek out classic and conservative pieces that will last for more than a season.  An investment in your wardrobe is an investment in your professional development, the sooner you begin the sooner you will reap the rewards.

Create Your Own Opportunity

Courtesy of SundaySchoolLeader.com

Courtesy of SundaySchoolLeader.com

Do you have an interest  in a particular profession or industry and you are unsure of  exactly how to gain exposure to this area?  I would like to suggest that you create an externship.  An externship  usually lasts between 1 day and 1 week.  It’s  an opportunity to shadow a business professional and/ or observe their work environment. It is also a way for employers to get a preview of  how you would function within their company while providing you some exposure to a particular field of interest. Some times companies offer structured externship programs and other times they don’t.  If you are interested in a particular company or industry I’d like to invite you to create your own externship, don’t wait for an employer to offer one to you.  Determine the industry that you would like to work. Research companies in that field.  Locate the appropriate HR representative and/ or hiring manager.  Explain to them that you would like an opportunity to observe the nature of the profession or the work that is being performed in order to  gain some insight as to whether or not the industry or career is an ideal fit for you.   Create an outline of the job functions that you would like to see performed. Some companies will agree and others will not, however this is a useful tool for learning directly from professionals in the field.  It is also a great way to develop your personal contact network while demonstrating that you are proactive about your professional development.