How to Optimize Your Senior Year (And Kick Start Your Career)

I recently had three eye-opening realizations about starting my senior year at Whitman College:

Realization #1

I will never be surrounded by so many young, single, good-looking people ever again (unless, of course, I become a character on Gossip Girl.)

Realization #2

My dream of Netflix doubling as a college dating site while I am still a student looks increasingly like a forlorn aspiration.

Realization #3

My life is becoming full of contradicting advice: “Dream big, but be realistic,” “Give it your all, but save a little for a back-up plan,” “Opportunities await you, but no one is hiring,” “An education provides you with valued skills, but oh snap, you need real experience.” With countless Buzzfeed articles and parental figures offering paradoxical suggestions, I realized that despite what I have been led to believe, there is only one thing that will get me a job after I graduate—myself. Not my degree, my college career center, the classes I took, my G.P.A.— just me and my focused determination. Feel like you’re in the same boat? Here are a few recommendations for optimizing your senior year and kick starting your career before June rolls around.

Work on your resumes

“Resumes” is plural because you should cater your resume to whatever position you are applying for—that means the resume you send for a teaching job will be different than the one you send out for a consulting position. Start backing up your claims with quantitative data too. You ran a fundraiser for your fraternity. Great. Include proof that you didn’t suck at it. (Ex. I was able to raise 20% more than the previous year.)

Start interviewing

Write out and practice telling stories that highlight your strengths and skills that will carry over to a job. Make sure they are concise and focused (if you need help organizing your thoughts, follow the START framework.) Once you’ve practiced enough, actually go do it. It doesn’t matter if you want the job or not, get in the habit of interviewing whenever you can. By the end of your senior year, you’ll probably be really good at it.

Improve your LinkedIn

Most people my age think of LinkedIn as a place where people connect for no real reason. We might think that, but people my age aren’t going to be the ones hiring me. If you don’t have a LinkedIn, make one ASAP. Start seeking recommendations from people in your college network while you’re still fresh in everyone’s mind. Don’t send out generic LinkedIn requests either. Get in the practice of personalizing them. If you want more tips on LinkedIn, check out our post about it.

Take ownership of your future

We each make our own luck, so what you put in is what you will get out. In other words, if you give yourself a job to get a job, it will kick start your career post-graduation faster than you think. Good Luck!

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