By Dr. Jarrod Sadulski
Faculty Member, Criminal Justice, American Public University
Note: This article was originally published on Online Career Tips.
Earning a college education is a major accomplishment that provides you with knowledge in various academic disciplines. Your degree helps prepare you for long-term success in your chosen career.
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As you work toward your college degree, it is important to consider how you can leverage your degree and put yourself into the competitive workforce.
Preparation and taking steps toward a successful transition to the professional workforce are essential. One important step that soon-to-be college graduates can take is to strengthen their resume writing and interview skills. Having a well-designed resume can reduce your stress during the busy time around graduation.
Interpersonal and Communication Skills Are Key to Boosting Your Ability to Interview Successfully
Strengthening your interpersonal and communication skills is key to boosting your ability to interview successfully. You can do this while in college by studying different communication styles and approaches, and by identifying your individual communication strengths.
One of the most common challenges recent college graduates face when they go on their first interviews is nervousness. You can overcome being nervous by participating in mock interviews and by being thoroughly prepared for all questions you might be asked.
Another good strategy is to engage in informational interviews with people in the industry that you want to work in. Employers are often open to participating in such informational interviews. In addition, they provide you with the opportunity to overcome your nervousness when you do go out on real interviews. Informational interviews also may help you to identify potential employers you might want to work for in the future.
Networking before Graduation Is Essential in Preparing for the Professional Workforce
Networking before graduation is another essential in preparing for the professional workforce. One helpful idea is to categorize your network contacts by organizing their personal information in one central location, such as a computer file.
For example, you could separate your networking contacts into categories such as colleagues, hiring managers, human resource contacts, alumni employed in the field, and those who can provide you with professional references. This will help you save time when you become actively involved in the hiring process.
Developing a professional social media presence is also important. LinkedIn is a good tool to build an effective network that will help you prepare for graduation. In addition to developing connections with hiring managers and leaders within organizations and companies in your field, LinkedIn can be useful for you to follow industry-related groups where valuable tips and trade information are shared.
It may also be helpful to post a professional headshot on LinkedIn, dressed in clothing that is typical for the career field you are interested in. Be sure to list your degree and a prospective graduation date along with any community service, employment, and extracurricular activities you’ve engaged in.
School resources are another helpful resource. For example, the university hosts Virtual Career Fairs. They provide an exceptional opportunity to meet with employers who are actively seeking university graduates. These fairs also provide students with coaching services such as resume tips to prepare for the online job fair.
Alumni Associations Often Share Valuable Career Information and Contacts
Alumni associations are also a good way to network. Alumni associations often share valuable career information and may be able to provide you with contacts to prospective employers.
Graduation is a rewarding and exciting time as you prepare for the workforce. Take advantage of networking opportunities and utilize resources that will help you stand out from the competition and reach your career goals.
About the Author
Dr. Jarrod Sadulski has been involved in homeland security for over two decades and is an associate professor at American Public University. He has engaged in speaking engagements in the United States and Central America on the topic of human trafficking. Most recently, he presented at the 2019 International Human Trafficking Conference. His expertise includes infrastructure security, maritime security, homeland security contraband interdiction and intelligence gathering. Jarrod was selected as the Coast Guard’s Reserve McShan Inspirational Leadership Award recipient for 2019.
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