You may think you know all about college job searches, but you still don’t have a job so perhaps this could actually help you. If you want to have something impressive and unique to show employers after graduation then you need to get a bit creative. Yes, you! Having a standard job as a cashier, server, etc. is fine, but not a way to stand out from your competitors after graduation.
- Get off the computer! Many local, smaller businesses do not have websites where you can look at job postings online. You’re going to have to call or (better still) go visit these places and explain how much you would like to learn about their industry. If they don’t have a job, offer to intern. You’ll have more opportunity for “hands-on” experience at a smaller business than a large one. Being a secretary will probably not help you much unless that is your career goal.
- Volunteer at smaller, local organizations! Take this opportunity to show that you are a self-starter who just hates not having work. If you volunteer at an organization that is not as well known as say Habitat for Humanity then potential employers are going to be curious. They will want you to tell them about the organization and your involvement.
- Multi-Task! So you’ve taken the cashier’s job at Wal-Mart because you needed money and you’re not exactly qualified yet to do much else. You’re not going to become qualified, however, if you don’t branch out from your temporary job. Work part-time and create your own local internship. Shadow local doctors, go to court and listen to the lawyers, or intern online as a programmer – this is not about school credit or money. You need the experience and potential employers will be impressed with your dedication and initiative. The people you follow (ask permission first, of course) may even be able to help you find a job later.
- Be an entrepreneur! You start building your personal brand with your first job – why not make it something you love? It’s not as impossible as it sounds. Figure out what you like to do and make it into a business (you may just find your career). Take pictures of people for $1 or write a short story and sell it for 25 cents a copy. Even if you don’t make a lot of money doing this, it will give you an edge when employers have hundreds or thousands of resumes to sort through.
- Voice your opinion! If you read the back of a book, and think that the summary was poorly written then re-write it and send it to the author (or publisher) explaining why you didn’t like it, why yours is better, as well as what you did like (no one will listen to you if they think you are attacking them – use tact). If you believe that something you saw on television wasn’t explained in enough detail for you to understand it then write the production company and say so. If you point out something that needs improvement and give a plan to fix it, it may just get you a job.
You must take your student job search seriously and be willing to be inventive. Being unique and demonstrating (not just saying) that you are a hard-worker and able to think independently will be an enormous help to you after graduation.
Bethany Stringer is a graduate of Texas A&M University (class of ‘08) and has her B.A. in English Literature with minors in History and Psychology. She is currently working as a decorative artisan’s apprentice, and plans to teach English in Russia in 2010 as a CELTA certified teacher. She owned her own business working horses when she was 17, and still loves riding her horse Romeo. Always appreciating a challenge, she loves sea kayaking and prefers Rachmaninov to Bach.