Tuesday, May 5, 2015

18: Eight Steps to Finding an Internship or Job

Getting a job upon graduation involves careful consideration by you of your career path and preparation for same. It also involves a number of steps you should be taking, each semester, to enhance your prospects for getting a job. Following are tips to getting your foot in the door and securing a job in your desired field.

Step One: Know your aptitudes. Persons generally enjoy careers in areas where they possess an aptitude for the type of work they will be doing. How do you discover your aptitude? As discussed in previous chapters, uncover your aptitudes through personality assessments. Discuss the results of the personality / career path assessments with college career counselors. Your college’s career development center staff will possess expertise in how to best interpret the results of personality and other aptitude assessments.

Step Two: Identify the educational requirements for your career path. Is it a two-year degree, certificate program, or four-year degree? What is the payoff for securing a graduate degree in the field? Establish your goal … and then pursue it. Realize that you are competing with graduates from around the country for jobs – become exceptional!

Step Three: Prepare your résumé – no matter whether this is your first semester or your last. Look for “gaps” in your résumé. For example, have you participated in clubs, organizations, and/or have you been employed part-time during college? Have you assumed any leadership positions in a club or organization, or as a residence hall assistant? Have you undertaken any civic engagement activities? How can you fill those gaps?

Step Four: Review your résumé. Contact your college’s career development office, and/or review your résumé with faculty members who have practiced in the career field. Discuss how to fill in “gaps” in your résumé. Discuss how to network and obtain a job. Ascertain whether establishing a personal profile on LinkedIn (absolutely crucial for many professions), and/or a “web portfolio,” or using some other form of web-based social media, may assist with your chosen field. (And, if so, set it up!)

Step Five: Develop a great “elevator speech” – a succinct, 20- to 30-second or so pitch in which you set forth your interests, stenghts, and accomplishments. Be creative. Does your elevator speech motivate the listener to learn more about you? Practice, practice, and practice your elevator speech until it rolls off your tongue casually.

Step Six: Attend your college’s Career Fair each and every semester. Even if you are not yet looking for an internship or permanent job, attending the Career Fair can give you a perspective on the jobs which might be available in your field, practice in speaking with employers, and it is a good networking opportunity. Bring your résumé, dress well, and seek out business cards from employers who may interest you. Write thank-you notes to employers who interest you, and enclose your well-prepared business card. You can obtain business card stock that you can run through a laser printer; with the right design and fonts these business cards can look quite good. If practice job interviews are offered by one or more employers – sign up!

Step Seven: Network, network, network. Many resources exist on networking, including YouTube videos. Here’s a few tips:
(1) Who do you already know that works in your chosen field? Who do you know that may be a customer or client of a business in your chosen field and who may possess personal knowledge of the manager or recruiter for the firm? Make a spreadsheet to track everyone who might be of assistance in your job search. Don’t forget family members and friends of the family – they often can provide introductions!
(2) Attend industry conferences and luncheons, especially those within the geographic area in which you desire to work. Lean how to network, before you attend those conferences.
(3) Connect with alumni, friends, and potential employers through social media. But make certain your social media pages are proper and don’t contain inappropriate pictures, profanity, etc. – many a potential employee has lost out on a job when a potential employer reviews their Facebook or other social media page!
(4) Get to know your professors. They are often contacted by potential employers, and they might be able to provide you with either introductions and/or additional networking tips.
(5) Talk to your friends about whom they may know in your field of interest.
(6) If you read an article that resonates with you, written by someone in your desired career field, send the author a compliment in an e-mail and introduce yourself.
(7)   Ask people you know if they know persons in your chosen career, and then ask for an introduction, for you to interview them about the career/profession/job (the interview should last not longer than an hour).

Step Eight: Seek to improve daily, and never give up. Establish and track S.M.A.R.T. goals for your personal development, each and every semester. As part of such S.M.A.R.T. goals, incorporate some of the activities suggested above.

Dr. Ron A. Rhoades is an Asst. Professor of Finance at Western Kentucky University's Gordon Ford College of Business, where he chairs the (B.S. Finance) Financial Planning Program. An innovative, passionate teacher, he is the author of Choose to Succeed in College and in Life: Continously Improve, Persevere, and Enjoy the Journey (2014)from which many of these blog posts are derived.

Dr. Rhoades also serves as a consultant to the Garrett Planning Network, a nationwide network of independent, Fee-Only financial planners making competent, objective financial advice accessible to all people. He is the author of several books, dozens of articles, and he is a frequent speaker at financial planning and investments conferences. He is the recipient of many awards for his advocacy on behalf of the fiduciary standard. Dr. Rhoades is also a member of The Florida Bar, and he practices estate planning and transfer taxation for select current clients.

Dr. Rhoades and his wife, Cathy, reside in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

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