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Career Advice for Advanced Undergrads

You’re in your last year of university and getting nervous as the school year starts, hits the half way point or is ending. But, for the sake of ease, let’s pretend it’s mid-way through your last year of university. I’m going to make some suggestions for you. And, these are my opinions alone and not endorsed by my employer. This advice comes from my university experience, 14 years of teaching, and years of advising unofficially and officially.

1. Get yourself to the Career Center or the Career offices. Your campus should have an office with extremely competent staff who are there to help you. But, understand that they aren’t there to help you get a job, rather they are there to give you the skills so that you get yourself that job. They will empower you, but it’s all about your own skills and your own file.

2. Speak with your departments Undergraduate Advisor. Believe it or not, s/he might have some good advice to give you. The advisor might know of additional job boards in your area of interest. See if this person is willing to review a cover letter or your resume. If they are not–don’t get offended–go back to number one and ask for help at the Career Services office.

3. Speak to trusted peers who are in your situation or who have recently graduated. Your peers are a useful resource, too.

4. Confer with other faculty or mentors that you have in the campus community or community at large. Now is not the time to feel shy. You have to reach out and make some effort.

5. If it works for your field (and which fields does it not work for?) get on social media. Yes, join Linked in and establish your profile there and meet others on the platform. Ask people questions—especially those in the industry that you’re interested in.

6. Are you blogging or on Twitter? Will these platforms be useful for you? If so, then do it. But, always be very careful with your digital footprint. Google yourself and see what is out there. That photo of you in residence engaging in naked beer sliding—might need to be deleted! OK, you really don’t have compromising photos, but do take a look and see what photos and status updates you’ve had so that you won’t have a future employer “creep” and find something that they don’t like.

Particular to Victoria, I suggest to students that they not only look at the local job boards (BC Public Service, municipality job boards, and UVIC’s U-Hire, but also VIATEC’s. You never know what you might find in many of these. I also explain to students that they most likely won’t get hired right out of their undergrad as a senior policy analyst. The truth is that you’re going to have to work your way up and this might mean that you’re working in a position that requires data entry, filing, and “gofer” work. You have to cut your teeth in a job and be prepared for this.

If you’re interested in working in Victoria, I suggest that you keep abreast of when there are Chamber of Commerce events (Victoria or Westshore) and attend some of the events to network and meet local members. Note that members of this organization aren’t only local business owners, but government types, elected officials, and just regular people who are interested in the community. Also, attend other local events and get to know the community. This might mean registering with Meet Up and looking for events that will allow you to meet other like minded people. The thought of doing this might make you feel uncomfortable, but you need to get out and meet more people and realize that the limited discomfort can pay off with a mentor, community building, contacts, and possibly a job connection.

I have seen students take 4-8 months to find work after they graduate and this is pretty common. The students who are willing to take risks or start at the entry level position are the ones who have been the most successful. What are you doing to do?

One thought on “Career Advice for Advanced Undergrads

  1. Yes risk taking is key and I am still taking risks! Although I do think going eventually going back to school to earn a diploma or a Master’s will only make me more equipped for the industry I want to go into, I am happy to say that after a year of simply working in the promotions department handing out Doritos to people in Chinatown for a radio station, I am now voicing commercials and getting trained to be a board operator. Next step: On Air announcer, and then broadcast journalist! One thing I’ve learned, patience is key when you are going after something you really want. Great advice to students Janni 🙂

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