Once you have your resumes, cover letters and interview skills ready to go, you’ll want to explore potential careers, meet people in your industry and eventually apply for jobs.
Your campus career centre can play a big part in helping you prepare for your transition from the world of higher learning to the job market. Here’s how.
1. Job shadowing and informational interviews
Job shadowing gives you the opportunity to visit a workplace and observe the environment. It’s an easy, low-investment way for you to explore working in different places and helps you develop a sense of the workplace that matches your skills and interests.
While the focus is on information and first-hand experience – not employment – a job shadowing sessions is also a great way to make a few casual connections in your industry of choice.
Informational interviews usually happen on the phone or face to face and often occur during job shadowing placements or through cold calls. Remember that you’re not there to ask for a job. If the person in charge offers an experience or allows you to complete a task, respond accordingly. The purpose of the visit is to gain information about a future career.
- Research: Find out if your career centre offers a sob shadowing or experience program before you cold call or email an employer. Career centres have established connections with companies from all industries. This saves the awkwardness of trying to set up an appointment and creates a structure.
- Apply early: Job shadowing programs usually happen before the summer term or before. I did this in my first year and it gave me exposure to the work culture, environment and structure of an advertising agency.
- Prepare: Have questions about the industry, work environment, salary, job requirements, prior education and their journey. Professionals would usually love to share their experiences, especially to interested students. Job Shadowing Programs through schools usually have an application process and sessions that prepare you for the experience.
- Establish connections: Use this opportunity to maintain contacts with people or an individual you connect with in the company. You already have an established connection with them, giving you more than enough reasons to follow up or ask them questions. You never know where that contact may be of use in the future.
2. Employer recruitment and networking sessions
Employer recruitment sessions are when employers from different companies hold an event on campus actively looking to hire students. Check your career centre calendar or visit the career centre at your school for details about these dates.
Networking sessions involve different representatives from several companies. This may take place of a Question Panel, where the audience or pre-determined questions are asked by a moderator. These address general student questions about the industry, position, or company. Round-table discussions or open networking sessions also give the opportunity for students to ask in depth questions and learn from the questions of other students.
- Bring a resume and cover letter: Some employment recruiters accept resumes on the spot. It`s always good to have a few extra copies on you.
- Dress the part: Dress presentable as if you were going to an interview. It`s always a bonus to make a good first impression with an employer.
- Business cards: collect business cards and have one handy. If not, make sure to take down contact info and ask to follow up through email or LinkedIn. Having them in your network may be helpful if you contact them later on. LinkedIn gives a more professional platform with a picture and a profile for the professional to recall your qualifications and where they met you.
- Ask questions: Introduce yourself to one of the company representatives. Ask any questions you may have in mind and recieve their contact information directly. You never know what may spark out of a small conversation.
3. Career fairs
Career fairs include company showcases in a science-fair presentation style. Companies specifically looking to hire students at your campus will be present at these events. Career centres hold summer job fairs, graduate school fairs and more. Some may have specific events or job fairs for a particular faculty or department.
- Take advantage of this opportunity: Employers are looking to hire YOU. They may tell you about future opportunities or explain the application process.
- Bring resumes, cover letters and business cards: There will definitely be employers accepting on-the-spot resumes. Who knows, maybe you`ll get an on-the-spot interview as well! It’s also your chance to make an impression.
- Ask questions: No, really. Ask a lot of questions.