Wrapping up the end of your college career is definitely bittersweet. On the one hand, you’re excited to finally be done with the student life (good riddance, homework and exams!) and take your running leap into the “real world”. But, on the other hand, college is fun. So, naturally, you want to enjoy the time you have left with all of your close friends. At the end of college, there’s a lot to balance. Your finals, job interviews, and trying to maintain somewhat of a social life can leave you feeling like you’re juggling—but with one arm tied behind your back. And, you often feel forced to choose between those productive career preparation tasks and those fun social activities with your friends. But, what if I told you that there’s a way you can have the best of both worlds? Before you call me crazy, hear me out. There are several things you can do before graduation to help boost your professional reputation and increase your chances of landing a job. Even better? You can do them all with your friends.
1. Review Resumes
When applying for jobs, your resume is your first impression. So, you want it to be a good one. But, often you’re too close to your own document to pick up on those pesky typos and errors—not to mention being able to discern whether or not your resume is presenting you as a polished and qualified candidate. An outside perspective can be incredibly helpful. Grab some snacks, sit down with your friends, whip out your red pens, and swap resumes. Yes, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for any glaring typos or mistakes. But, beyond that, make sure you pay close attention to the actual content of each other’s documents. Does the resume pull out key skills and accomplishments? Is it obvious what type of industry or position your friend wants to work in? Is it easily skimmable? Checking for each of these things will bring you all one step closer to the top of that coveted “to be interviewed” pile.
2. Hold Mock Interviews
Everybody knows that job interviews can be nerve-wracking. But, practicing ahead of time is a great way to remove some anxiety and unease from the situation, as well as ensure you’re prepared to knock it out of the park. It might feel a little awkward or cheesy at first. However, listing out some common interview questions and then sitting down with a friend to do a practice interview is really an effective tactic. In addition to giving you an opportunity to run through your responses to those frequently asked questions, it’ll also help you pick up on any nervous ticks or habits you have. Your friend can make you aware of the fact that you’re using too many “likes” or “umms” or even obnoxiously twirling your hair while you speak. Those are all things you’ll want to work to eliminate before your real interviews roll around!
You’ve heard how important networking is—especially when you’re looking for new opportunities. But, it can be a little intimidating, can’t it? Nobody really likes walking into a room full of people they don’t know in the interest of shameless self promotion. Luckily, there’s power in numbers! So, head out to a community or campus networking event with a few of your friends. Of course, the point of networking isn’t to hang out with your clique around the appetizer table all evening. You need to get out there and meet new connections. However, that can be a little less overwhelming when you’re able to do it with a partner or two—particularly if you consider yourself to be more of an introvert.
Volunteering is not only good for your community, it’s also great for your professional reputation. It looks awesome on your resume, gives you the chance to meet and interact with new people, and also allows you to discover and refine new skills! There are tons of different opportunities to volunteer in your community. So, you just need to find one or two, invite a couple of your friends, and get out there! It’s one of those productive activities that you’ll also have tons of fun doing.
5. Join a Club or Organization
Involvement throughout your college career is another positive addition to your resume. Don’t get me wrong, decent grades are definitely important. But, hiring managers always appreciate applicants who can demonstrate that they have additional interests and didn’t just spend four years with their nose glued to the books. It presents you as a more well-rounded candidate. It’s never too late to join a club, association, or organization on campus! Plus, it’ll give you and your friends something different and exciting to do with your free time, as well as a whole new group of people to stay connected with after graduation. So, search for something that fits your interests and go for it! You’ll be glad you did. There’s a lot to juggle during your last few months in college, and it’s all too easy to feel like you have to choose between spending time with your friends and getting prepared for the “real world”. However, these two things don’t need to be mutually exclusive. In fact, there are plenty of productive activities that will benefit your future career and job hunt, but also allow you to spend that treasured and necessary time with your friends. Give these things a try, and enjoy the best of both worlds!