Rising College Seniors; ‘To-Do’ Checklist Preparing for Graduation!

(by Samantha Gonnelli – C2C Career Advisor)

A Summer & Fall ‘To-Do’ List for College Juniors/Rising Seniors!

Calculate your credits.
If you have not already, ensure that you are on-track in terms of meeting your credit requirements, especially in terms of your major and any general education requirements. Check your school’s course catalog for assistance with this matter. If you are off-track, i.e. you will not be able to graduate on time due to lack of credits, consider taking a course during the summer to catch up. Bear in mind that summer courses are condensed and, therefore, will cover a significant amount of material in a short amount of time. The homework for such courses can be substantial and the weight of each assignment can be greater than in a typical, semester-long course. The payoff is that you may be able to graduate on time, with your class.

Prepare for your job search.
Gaining experience in your field is important. If you have not already, I recommend utilizing your network to find an internship or job where you can develop and refine the skills that will help prepare you for your job of choice.  Below is a list of checklist items to address as a rising senior in preparation for graduation next May!

1)  Update your resume. Take the time to create multiple resumes, each geared toward a position/industry in which you are interested.  You may want to consider adding the following to your resume, if you haven’t already:
– Relevant Coursework
– Honors and Awards
– Leadership and Volunteer Experience
– Computer, Language, and Other Skills

Also, consider making a video resume.  Some organizations are beginning to require video resumes as part of their applications.

2)  Write a standard cover letter. You will have to customize it when you begin applying to jobs, but your standard cover letter can serve as a starting point. This will save time when you begin applying to jobs.

3)  Research companies, programs, and/or schools of interest.

4)  Clean up your social media and use it to your advantage. I recommend Googling yourself to see what comes up. Ensure your search produces results that are appropriate and further your professional image.

5)  Create or update your LinkedIn, complete all applicable fields, make connections, and post articles.

6)  Research organizations/companies you are interested in, follow them on LinkedIn, and connect with people who work at your companies of interest. A great way to do this is to see if you are already connected with someone that is connected with a person who works at one of your companies of interest. If you have such a connection, ask him or her if s/he will connect you with the person via LinkedIn. In this way, your connection serves as your reference. Messaging with your new connection can help you find out more about your company of interest, which can assist you with writing your cover letter and, later, acing your interview!

7)  Set up informational interviews with people who have, or had, your desired job.
I recommend beginning with reaching out to alumni who work, or have worked, in your industry of interest.  If you do not know how to access your school’s alumni database, contact your college’s Career Center.

8)  Join a professional organization. These organizations typically have reduced membership fees for students and are something you can include on your resume. Through joining one of these organizations, you can learn about industry-specific networking and professional development opportunities. Attending these, making contacts, and gaining new skills can give you an edge as a job candidate.

9)  Practice interviewing.
First, write down your answers to standard interview questions. Then, set up an appointment with a Career Advisor for a mock interview when you get back to school.

If your industry of interest typically requires you to complete a task during an interview, practice doing that task. You can find out more about interviews for your field by doing online research and through informational interviews.

10)  Make a list of people who you can ask to write a letter of recommendation for you for potential employers and/or graduate, law, or medical school applications. Contact those people and, if they say yes, invite them to connect on LinkedIn. They will be able to recommend you on that platform as well.

11)  Begin compiling a portfolio of your work, as you may need to bring examples of past work to an interview.

12)  Let people know you will be looking for a job soon so that they know to pass information along to you about open positions.

13) Volunteer!  Builds your resume, keeps you current and can hone and build your skills!
Volunteering allows you to help someone or a group of people in need and/or improve your community. It also enhances your resume and augments your network.

You can find volunteer opportunities by:
– Going online. There are various websites, which can connect with you with local volunteer opportunities.  Find an opportunity that is related to your field of interest and/or a passion of yours.

– Asking around.  The chances are that you know someone who volunteers locally and can connect you.

14) Read!
– Keep up with current events.
– Discover more about the industry you plan to go into.
– Pick up a book (or two) about what interests you.

15) If you are studying a foreign language, join a local Language group to continue practicing your skills.

16) If applicable;
– Research graduate, law, or medical schools and prepare your application materials.
– Study for and take the GRE, LSAT, GMAT and/or MCAT.
– Study for and take relevant teacher certification exams.
– Research gap year programs and/or fellowships and begin gathering your application materials.

* These opportunities listed above can add and give you the necessary experience you will need and allow you to connect with people in your field of interest all along.

Enjoy checking items off this list!