College Students: Preparing For Life After Graduation

Interviewed By Scott Proietti

2/24/15

This week, the conversation focuses on college students networking themselves and putting themselves in a better position to land a job following graduation. College students are facing more competition than ever before upon graduation, so networking is very important! Our featured guest is Ellen Gerl of Ohio University. Ellen is a professor and Associate Professor in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.

Follow her on Twitter @ejgerl

college students

1. What are your three best networking tips for college students?

1. Attend on-campus talks or events that feature individuals in your field. Go up afterwards if at all possible and introduce yourself to the speaker, ask the person for a business card, and if you have a card, give them one.

2. See if your School or department has an alumni  or “friends” group.  Many Schools have these groups.  Don’t wait until you have graduated to connect with these individuals; ask them questions, ask if you can visit them at their place of work for “informational” interviews to learn more about job opportunities and so on.  Alumni love helping students. Take advantage of this.

3. Join member or trade associations for the field you want to enter while you are still a student. Most have discounted, and very reasonable, student membership rates.  For instance, the National Association for Science Writers encourages students to attend conferences, and the group has  list-servs where you can correspond and network virtually with people in the field.  There is a trade association for every field and type of profession.

2. What measures do college students need to take throughout their time at school in order to put themselves in a better position to land a full time job after graduation?

 This is a big question with no simple answer.  But, in short, I would say college students should avail themselves of on-campus opportunities to gain experience in their field.  This might be working on student media but it also might be serving in leader positions in other groups or Greek organizations.  The idea is to be able to show potential employees that you did a lot more in school than get great grades ( a given, right?) and party.

3. How can job seekers use social media to their advantage?

Use social media to follow organizations or companies you might want to work for to learn more about them.  In a job interview, be ready for the question “How did you learn about this job or this company.”  You want to be able to answer with more than just having seen the posting on XYZjobs.com.  You will stand out if you can point to things you learned about the company from its Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram accounts.You can also connect with alumni from your university through Facebook, Linked in and a host of other social media..  And you can begin to build a brand for yourself with a professional Linked In, or other social media, profile.

4. What are the best methods to prepare for an upcoming job  interview?

Research the company.  Plan to have some intelligent questions about the firm that you can ask the interviewer.  Practice answering typical interview questions while standing  in front of a mirror. — or a best friend. Use the resources of your university’s career center, for things like practice interview sessions or resume critiques.  Remember, it’s just an interview, not the end of the world. Relax: So you didn’t feel as if you did your best on this one.  There will be more.  

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