Asking “What are your plans after graduation?” may be the most frightening question that you can haunt a soon-to-be graduate with. For many, a response has already been formulated as they have secured the next step— often a job or graduate school. As for those who are scrambling to find paid work in a slowly mending economy – both in and outside the U.S. – it often seems as though the hunt for employment will never end. To help ease the process, here’s a list of tips and suggestions that are sure to bring you better luck.
Apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) ASAP
- F-1 students are required by law to have OPT approval before working in the U.S. after graduation. Students are encouraged to apply for OPT 3 months before they graduate as it could take up to 90 days for them to be approved. OPT information and applications are available on our website: OPT INFO
- When is the latest you can apply? Your OPT application needs to be received by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within 60 days of your program completion.
Have your most up-to-date resume and cover letter reviewed
- Writing a resume and cover letter shouldn’t be a difficult task—especially on MSU’s campus. There are numerous workshops, events, and advisors that are there to answer your questions and give suggestions so that you can be prepared with a resume and cover letter that meet employers’ standards. It’s extremely important that these documents are well written because they are an employer’s first impression of you and will likely determine whether or not you’ll be selected for an interview. If you aren’t sure how to get started, check out our blog entry entitled “How to Write a Resume”.
- If you already have a resume and cover letter, you can make an appointment with any career advisor on campus so that they can give it a look and help you to make necessary corrections and suggestions. http://careernetwork.msu.edu/advising
Make an account on MySpartanCareer.com
- Myspartancareer.com is a highly useful job and internship posting website brought to you by MSU Career Services. It’s available exclusively to Spartans and allows you to search and apply for jobs and internships both on- and off-campus. Having a MySpartanCareer account also gives you access to information about career fairs and workshops among other useful resources. http://careernetwork.msu.edu/my-spartan-career
Intern somewhere you’d be interested in working
- Internships are some of the best ways for students to familiarize themselves with professional environments that they may be considering in their long-term career goals. In addition to providing you with practical hands-on experience, internships are key when it comes to professional networking. When seeking to fill open positions, companies and organizations often look to current and former interns—individuals that they’ve already worked with and can trust. Also, the expanded professional circle that you develop will allow you to get in touch with other professionals. Having and keeping in touch with these contacts will come in handy throughout your job search.
Take advantage of networking opportunities offered at MSU
- Career Fairs, workshops, and even events that welcome both current students and alumni are all perfect opportunities to network with individuals who have already begun their careers. It’s important to ask questions about how they got started in their career and what path they had to take in order to achieve the goals that they’ve accomplished today; networking should always be a learning experience. Students should also make the effort to build connections with faculty members such as advisers and professors.
Check companies’ and organizations’ websites for vacancy listings
- There are a number of popular job posting websites out there that are commonly used by college students and other career seekers. Keep in mind, though, how many other people are searching for jobs on the same sites as well as how many employers don’t post vacancies on them. By searching companies’ and organizations’ websites, you’re getting information directly from the source and possibly before other job seekers.
Schedule a “mock interview”
- Schedule an appointment with a career advisor to hold a “mock interview.” Interviews can be a nerve wracking experience and the only way to get comfortable with them is to practice. Rather than practicing through real interviews, take the opportunity to attend an interview that won’t count against you. This way, you’ve got nothing to lose. More importantly, career advisors can give you feedback on what you’re doing well and how you should improve—tips that may help you land a job in the long run.
- In many fields, a Bachelor’s degree may not be competitive enough to break into today’s demanding job market. If you want employers to be impressed with your resume, you may want to consider pursuing a graduate degree or certification. One helpful way to find a graduate program that you feel would be a good fit for your career aspirations is to find an advanced position that you would eventually like to work up to and take a look at what the education requirements and experience qualifications are.
*Picture found at empowernetwork.com
Dena Elian is an International Relations Senior at MSU’s James Madison College. Currently, she is the Experiential Learning Intern at OISS. Her campus activities include involvement with organizations that promote Middle Eastern politics and Human Rights. She accepted her first job offer while writing this blog post.