Looking for a Job While in College? Develop a Job Hunting Plan

It's easy to forget about the real world while in college. You get swept in a world of homework, midterms, and parties. Although it's easy to fall into this lifestyle, you'll need to remember that there will come a time when you must find a career. Just as you planned for college, you will want to plan for this part of your life as well.

Build Your Resume

It is important to prepare a resume before you begin looking for a job. Since job recruiters usually just skim resumes, you want to make sure that yours will stand out. For tips on format or suggestions on content, you may want to try speaking to your career counselor or someone who deals with resumes at your university's career center. You may also want to try career websites like www.careerbuilder.com or www.monsterjobs.com for some resume tips.

Build Your Cover Letter

You may be wondering how the recruiter will get a sense of who you really are if he or she just skims your resume. Answer: Your cover letter. Since your cover letter will represent you, you need to proofread it and then have someone else proofread it. Even minor mistakes may cause the recruiter to question your credibility. When writing your cover letter, try your best to tailor it to the specific position. You may also want to try to address your letter to a specific person, which would be better than addressing it to the director of human resources.

Build Your Portfolio

If you're creating a portfolio as well, you may want to review your work several times for any major flaws. Like the cover letter, obvious flaws will probably immediately stand out to the interviewer.

Internship and Co-Ops

You may want to consider looking for internships or co-ops. According to the Education Planner website, an internship is an experienced-based opportunity whereby students receive credit for supervised work experiences related to their majors. Internships usually last about 10-12 weeks depending on employers.

On the other hand, National Commission for Cooperative Education defines co-ops as structured educational strategies integrating classroom studies with productive work experience in fields related to students' academic or career goals. Since co-ops are considered part of the education process, these opportunities usually last for an entire quarter--sometimes multiple quarters--or a semester and are scheduled during the academic year.

Whether you prefer an internship or a co-op, both of these opportunities provide possible ways to get experience in your field while you're in college. This type of job experience will help your chances of landing a job after you graduate. Depending upon your major and your experience, you may or may not be paid during an internship or co-op.

How to Get an Internship or a Co-Op

You can begin by going to your college's career center website. Many companies will post internship or co-op positions there. For internships, you may want to check periodically throughout the year, but check regularly (about once a week) around December-April because this is when corporate recruiters increase their search for interns.

You could also go to a college career fair involving recruiters from different companies. Many recruiters hold interviews during such fairs. By introducing yourself and getting to know recruiters, you may be able to better your chances of getting an interview. One final way to find an internship is by applying online through the company's website.

Start Networking

Have you ever heard the phrase, 'It's not what you know. It's who you know?' It's cliche' but there's some truth in it. Networking, which according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary means 'the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups or institutions,' may help you get the type of job that you want. Networking involves building connections with other people who are doing or who know people who are doing the type of work you're interested in. By establishing these connections, you hope that they will help you get into a company. You may want to consider building your connections early.

Talk to friends, other students, and teachers about the field you prefer to work in. As you begin networking, you may want to avoid looking like you want something from that person. Those who will really want to help you will probably be those who respect and care about you. By giving them respect, they will probably begin respecting you. Get to know them as people before turn to them for favors.

Additional Resources

These are just a few tips to get you thinking about your future and help you get a little closer to your future job. For more help with jobs while you're still a college student, you may want to visit www.campuscareercenter.com or www.quintcareers.com.

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