Written by Jennifer Fantin, Recruitment and Admissions Assistant
As an undergraduate student preparing to enter the so-called “real world”, the transition goes hand in hand with fervent job hunting and the fear of being left unemployed despite the 4+ years of blood, sweat, and tears you poured into your coursework. As a recent graduate myself, I too was bombarded with negative facts regarding the high unemployment rate and weak job market, but I can tell you with complete and total confidence that the outlook is not as grim as many make it seem.
The age old questions remain: When is the right time to start looking? How early is too early to start applying? And how late is too late?
The best advice I can give to any undergraduate student hoping to leave college with a full time job, is that it is never too early to prepare. From the moment you set foot on your college’s campus, until the moment you cross that stage with your diploma, your eyes and ears should be open for opportunities. As a freshman in college you certainly won’t be applying for jobs, but it is never too early to begin networking and forming professional relationships that can help you years down the road.
The summer following your first year, you can begin holding summer internships and gaining valuable experience. Not only are internships resume boosters, but they provide students with an invaluable chance to test drive career paths before making a long-term commitment. You should aim to have several internships during your undergraduate years. You will learn a great deal, and you will also meet a lot of working professionals that will serve as contacts in the future.
When it comes to actually applying for a full-time job, timing largely depends on the industry. Some organizations, such as large accounting and consulting firms, have annual hiring quotas and often make job offers in the fall. Many positions that are attractive to liberal arts majors become available as turnover occurs, which may be any time of the year.
Some of you may receive an offer from a past internship site and become one of the few lucky enough to avoid the laborious application and interview process. If this is not the case, do not stress. Keeping a positive attitude and remaining diligent will eventually yield results. It is advisable to begin the job hunt anywhere from six to eight months before you aim to enter the work force. This will help you get an idea of the types of jobs out there and be prepared to accept an eventual job offer.
I have friends who had a full time job in their back pocket a year before graduation, but I also have friends who accepted their offers a week before graduation. The moral of the story is that getting a head start cannot hurt. Reach out to your professional contacts, family, and friends. Let them know that you are looking for a job. Do not hesitate to use the resources made available at your university’s career center, and be sure to utilize online job posting sites.
Put yourself out there and your hard work will be rewarded.