The clock is ticking, but there is still time to line up a job after you graduate. You'll have to hustle though. Some of your classmates have already scored jobs and this could work to your advantage. Employers seek candidates with work experience for a variety of reasons, including the expectation that experience allows new employees to come up to speed quickly, fosters an improved work ethic and the notion that someone with experience is less risky to hire. It is up to you to debunk these perceptions and prove you are the candidate worthy of selection.
How Are College Students Landing Jobs?
To learn what you can do as a college senior to win over employers, just take a look at the how your peers are landing jobs. You may notice hiring trends differ among industries and companies; that's to be expected. What you are really listening for are common patterns. For the best results, hedge your bets and embrace all the trends to increase your odds of landing the right job after college. These are just some of the answers you may expect to hear.
Maybe An Unpaid Internship Isn't A Rip-off?
If you have the opportunity to do something you loved and not get paid, would you? As unappealing or unfair as an unpaid internship may sound, think of the rewards and dismiss the naysayers. It is your decision to weigh the pros and cons of an unpaid internship, weigh them carefully and with an open mind.
Opt for Corporate, Not Fun
It's tempting to want to have fun during your summer break. You want time with your friends and to relax from the daily grind of school. Your peers upped the ante by securing more relevant internships with impressive companies. A job or internship within a corporate setting or industry similar to that has its rewards. First, you'll have the opportunity to assess the culture and operations as an insider. Second, you'll learn what employers expect of employees, from attendance to attire. Timing is important too, according to Kathy Harris, managing partner with Harris Allied. "It really depends on where you are in your academic career," she says. "If you are a freshman or sophomore in college, go for the big-name company because you still have time to gain practical experience during an internship before your senior year. If you are a junior, try to land an internship that will really allow you to hone your skills for full-time employment after graduation."
Tap Professors, Alumni and Parents
Professors keep in touch with star students, and this connection can help you. It is easier to ask your professor for a meeting and begin establishing contact while you are attending classes.
Alumni visit campuses to speak and attend events. Monitor the on-campus speakers and presentations closely. Also check with alumni office website for resources and events.
Even your parents and your classmates' parents know people who could help you acquire information. Leave no stone unturned and assess who knows who. But always remember while networking that you shouldn't open your conversation with "help me I am looking for a job" -- that is an surefire turnoff. Instead, ask for their advice and information.
Start Your Own or Join A Start-Up
Out of passion or out of desperation, you may notice your peers turning their ideas into income. A Graduate Management Admission Council study found that 45 percent of business school alumni entrepreneurs from the classes of 2010 through 2013 started businesses at graduation, compared with just 7 percent of alumni entrepreneurs who graduated before 1990. Pick their brains and learn from their experiences. You may find they need fresh talent like yours.
Exploring opportunities with startups is also an alternative. In fact, many new graduates have opted to work for smaller companies versus mega corporations. According to Payscale, 47 percent of Generation Y grads work at companies that employ 100 people or less, and only 23 percent work with businesses that employ 1500 or more. Startups' hiring practices tend to be less structured, which may mean some rules requiring experience can be bent.
Freelancing For Freedom
You may know some innovative classmates who started a business on the side while attending classes. This could be the start to their career as a freelancer. Forty percent of workers in the U.S. will be freelancers by 2020, according to a recent study by Intuit. Freelancing builds and demonstrates work-equivalent skills. In some instances, employers may be more willing to test out an independent contractor over hiring a worker. It allows both parties to test-drive each other.
Employers Are Picky
Could it be that employers haven't seen the correlation between coursework and job performance? Or does it go one step further? Are employers looking for skills that college students haven't yet mastered? And how are employers evaluating these critical skills? These are questions that need further exploration, and they're issues that should not be dismissed by eager new graduates. The paradox of how to gain experience when you don't have any is most simply solved by acquiring work experience through internships, work study or freelancing.
Hannah Morgan is a speaker and author providing no-nonsense career advice; she guides job seekers and helps them navigate today's treacherous job search terrain. Hannah shares information about the latest trends, such as reputation management, social networking strategies, and other effective search techniques on her blog, Career Sherpa.
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