Guest post by Emily Randisi
As a senior at the College of Charleston I am months away from graduation. After a recent trip to New York City, I came home more confident and less worried about finding a job. Here’s why.
I got off my couch and went to New York City to go on informational interviews. If you aren’t familiar with the term informational interviews, you need to be. This is where college students meet with potential employers for the sole purpose of gathering information that will help both parties explore the possibility of a future business relationship. I can say from experience that if you prepare properly with great questions you will receive priceless career advice, make lasting impressions with industry professionals and come away with valuable contacts.
I know times are tough, and if your professors are anything like mine, they’re worried sick about you entering the job market at such an unpredictable time. They stress the importance of internships daily, and many have also recommended going to grad school in order to “wait out” the current economic downturn.
According to every communications professional I spoke with, this may not be the best suggestion. A better strategy, they said, is to focus on building your work experience post graduation via internships or, if you should be so lucky, a full-time position. Not only does this allow you to build your resume, but it also gives you time to discover and develop your career passions and goals. So save your pennies and swallow your pride. Take that unpaid internship or not-so-perfect entry level job right out of college. You will undoubtedly be better off in the long run if you do.
Another pre-graduation rumor going around is that employers are looking for high GPA’s and putting those resumes at the top of the stack. Not so according to those I spoke with in January. I was told this is mostly an irrelevant detail that is looked at solely to make sure you didn’t spend your undergraduate years in a coma. Employers are really looking for an error-free resume and a kick ass interview. And you can’t get interviews if you don’t have contacts.
Ninety percent of kicking butt in an interview is RESEARCH. You don’t have to know the company inside and out, but it is good to know what trends are affecting the company, what projects they are working on, or have worked on, and be ready to talk about them. Come in with a list of questions. This shows the interviewer a multitude of things, most of all that you are prepared and eager to learn.
The other 10 percent of the interview is confidence, which I have to say comes from repetition and an awesome outfit. Just a few more months and I’ll be practicing what I’m preaching. Until then, I have to pass media law. I’ll let you know how that goes.
Good luck seniors!
Very well written. Useful advice. Thanks!
Thank you all for your support! Remembering to actively listen and engage in conversation is great advice, and hand-written notes are definitely a must.
Wow, Emily, I wish I’d taken the time to investigate informational interviews before I graduated! What a great learning experience. Thanks for the advice, keep up the good work, and I know you’ll go far.
Congratulations on your post and sharing with others. You are certainly on the right track. A few things to add, though, regarding the informational interviews. Be sure to LISTEN and continue to PROBE. Just don’t be focused on the questions that you may have written down. And, don’t forget the hand-written thank you notes afterwards. Good luck.
We hope all our seniors are as proactive as Emily. Good work.
I really enjoyed your post and the great suggestions for all to follow. I’m glad you are being so proactive and making CofC proud! Keep up the good work…Dr. Reardon