Senior Year: Your Transition to the Real World #Adulting
Senior year of college is one of both great achievement and of great worry. Most seniors are busy trying to pay for school and searching for a job in the field in which they received their degree. One count in February 2009 estimated that up to 1.9 million college graduates weren’t able to find jobs and were therefore left indefinitely unemployed (http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/03/18/economy.college.students/index.html). Growing up, we always heard that if you went to college, you would make a better life for yourself and were basically guaranteed a job. Granted, some college seniors have jobs lined up before graduation, but many aren’t so lucky. College seniors are more apt to benefit from education around budgeting for life on their own. That being said, I would like to offer you a few tidbits of advice as you begin your transition into the infamous “real world."
During senior year, work hard and stay dedicated, but don’t forget to still live your life. Pack your schedule with as much fun as you can, but make sure to pencil in time to actually go to the career fairs and campus events hosted by your school, and for the love of God, learn how to cook and clean.
Cool it with the social media posts - there is no employer out there who wants to see their future company representative posting pictures of raging frat parties and tailgates they attended over the weekend. A good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see it, don’t post it for the entire world to see. As for the past, clean up your profile using the previously mentioned grandma rule. An unprofessional appearance can really hurt your chances of landing that dream job - at least invest some time in changing the privacy settings on your account. Like I said, there’s nothing wrong with having a little fun and letting loose, but you should know that one risqué post given to the public could deter a future employer from hiring you.
I take pride in taking care of business first, and making sure what needs to be done gets done. In order to do so, I believe you must have a good relationship with God, your family, your friends, and generally anyone who is going to support you along the path to achieving your goals. These are the people who will keep you sane and on the right track - remind yourself who is going to be there with you after graduation day, and hold those people close.
Networking is incredibly important in helping you get connected with people both professionally and personally. I have been lucky enough to land a great full time job here in Birmingham, all due to connections with the right people. Many times, grads don’t get jobs that are related to the degree they hold - my degree was in Psychology, but I work as a Call Center Sales Representative. Take advantage of your school’s alumni base. Research who has graduated from groups in which you have been involved on campus (teams, clubs, greek life, etc.). These are things that should begin your first day on campus, but it is never too late to do your homework and see who’s out there.
Some soft skills that pay off both professionally and personally are being able to speak professionally verbally, as well as in writing. With the right training and guidance, these skills can be perfected over time. There are so many incredibly intelligent people out there who cannot conjugate a verb. Contact your school’s writing center, or even take an extra step by enrolling in a basic writing course - these options will help you appear more professional, and thus more desirable to any company to which you wish to apply.
You must be a team player (no loners allowed)! Interpersonal skills can eventually be translated into leadership and management skills that will help you excel in the workplace.
When you go in for a job interview, know what your strengths and weaknesses are. Highlight your strengths to your potential employers, and show them how you have learned from your shortcomings - weaknesses can indeed be a source of strength.
In summary, remember that you can never have too many skills - overqualification is a myth! Time management, good communication, and a strong support system are all your friends on this road that is life. Though this list is short, I hope that you will find some encouragement in it, and that it will help you along your way. Be brave, stay strong, and get a job!