I know, your spring break tan is barely faded and the dreaded g-word is already being brought up. I’m sorry — but you’ll thank me come May.
Your last semester is about minimizing stress. For those of you who are taking a year off — congrats, we all collectively envy your financial freedom. For the rest of you, let’s land you a job, shall we?
1. Perfect, learn and clean up basically everything.
Perfect your resume. You should have done this already, but review, consolidate and make sure your resume knocks the socks off any potential employers. Cross reference the information with your LinkedIn account and make sure everything is accurate. Don’t try to use super big, impressive words — your cover will be blown the second the interview starts.
Learn how to write a kick ass cover letter. Next up, cover letters. They are tricky in my opinion. Everyone — or at least every profession — is looking for something a little different. In my experience, keep it short, simple and include these three things: (1) short self summary, (2) leadership example with accomplishment and (3) how you and the company will mutually benefit.
Seriously, just clean up your social media already. Personally, I always said F-U to anyone who tried to tell me what to put on my social media. Still, it’s unavoidable that our social and professional spaces will clash every now and then. My advice is to be smart. Use privacy settings, have a professional Twitter or setup an online portfolio. Showcasing something like a portfolio will give a positive image of your social media — not that the keg stand on spring break wasn’t impressive.
2. Use the “Extra Mile Rule”.
This part varies by major, but if you can, go the extra mile when you’re applying. Apply to as many place as you can and reach out to your established networks for help. Get creative and try to connect with specific employers on LinkedIn. The worst thing that will happen is they delete your email — and frankly who cares about rejection when it’s not to your face?
Here’s where the “Extra Mile Rule” comes into play! If possible, always, always go the extra mile and send samples of your work — even if they don’t ask! For example, if you’re in journalism or marketing, send PDF examples of a project you worked on. Potential employers will love that you took the initiative to go that extra step and you’ll have an edge over other candidates.
3. Make a #brag list.
There is only so much an employer can learn about you during your 2-minute pitch when they open the interview. The stuff that will win them over are the anecdotal stories you can use in response to their “what is your biggest weakness” or “how do you respond to stress” questions.
It’s hard for anyone to have the perfect story off hand, so come up with a brag list that includes some stories you can use to answer these questions. This way, you don’t panic when the question comes!
4. Interview — a lot.
Interview everywhere. There is only so much you can learn from simulations and you’ll be glad you froze up when asked your weaknesses on that no-name interview as opposed to your dream job.
The extra mile rule also applies here. Bring samples of your writing, interview or research skills from internships. I was able to bring in magazine page layouts with quotes of girls I had interviewed for Seventeen. Having the layout in front of them saying that you interviewed that girl makes it all the more impressive — go that extra mile!
5. Keep an open mind.
Your first job won’t always live up to your expectations. Sometimes, it won’t even be full-time. Consider paid internships or temporary positions if you can swing it. While it may not be ideal, it could turn into a full-time position if your bosses like you! Seriously — it happened to me so I swear it really does happen!