This post was originally published on April 24, 2014 and was written by Natalie Rich.
The semester is winding down, and suddenly you are faced with the prospect of finding the perfect resume-boosting summer job or internship….or perhaps you are graduating–GASP!–and you are looking for your first post-college full time position to launch your super-duper-fabulous career.
No matter what type of job you are looking for, here are some quick tips to get you started:
There is no such thing as the PERFECT job, and wedding yourself to one job as the be-all-and-end-all of jobs or /internships can set you up for disappointment, not to mention the fact that focusing on just one opportunity may mean missing out on other cool opportunities. Remember that this next job, whether a summer internship or post-college position, is just a stepping stone; it does not have to be the job you work for the rest of your life or even the career you end up with.
2. Know what you want.
Ok, so you don’t want to focus on just one opportunity, but you do want to have SOME focus in your search. When someone asks “what kind of job are you looking for?”, have an answer ready (hint: “a job that pays” is NOT enough!). Are you looking for a social media internship with a tech company? Trying to land a research assistant position to help prepare you to apply for a grad program in chemistry? Have clear idea of what field you want to work in and how this fits into your overall career goals. This not only helps narrow your search, it also makes you look more appealing to recruiters or potential employers, who want candidates that demonstrate passion and drive.
3. Have an elevator pitch.
Once you know generally what kind of job or internship you want, find a way to articulate along with your skills in an “elevator pitch.” This is a short speech that you can tailor for networking events or job interviews that summarizes what you are looking for and/or what you have to offer. Different situations and different jobs will require a different pitch, but there is a common thread: keep it short. Check out resources for creating your own elevator pitch here and here.
Also, consider writing a quick pitch at the beginning of your resume too. This is slightly different from an objective, which some experts now discourage in favor of the elevator pitch or list of keys skills.
4. Work your connections.
Notice how I didn’t say “network” because this word tends to drum up visions of awkward meet-and-greets full of scary people in suits. Networking goes way beyond this. It means talking with professors, TAs, friends, mentors, family, and UNC alums. Put the word out that you are looking for a job and the kind of job you want (cue: elevator pitch!). Other ways to network include arranging informational interviews with companies or organizations you are interested in to get an idea of what jobs they are offering and what they look for, and reaching out to supervisors from previous internships or volunteer positions.
5. Check out Career Services!
I could have included tips on drafting the ideal resume or cover letter, prepping for an interview, or conducting an efficient job search, but UNC Career Services has all the resources to help you with those things. They can give you individualized feedback on your resume, cover letter, and interviewing skills as well as a wealth of resources to help guide you through the process of searching, applying, and securing an ideal job for you.
Finding a job can be overwhelming, especially when you have end-of-semester papers and exams to worry about. Keep in mind that this next job will not make or break your career. So, give yourself a break and be flexible. This next job is just a step, and it may be one of many steps you take in your career. Maybe it’s a side step or a baby step…maybe it’s a leap. You’ve made it to Carolina, which already proves you have what it takes to succeed, so let your talents shine and you may be surprised at the opportunities that await you.