December 18, 2014
With the holidays passing and the month of December coming to a close, college seniors are counting down the days to their final semester. It was a year ago now that I was enjoying my very last winter break — a now somewhat foreign concept — one that felt more like the calm before the job-search storm than an actual vacation.
There were some simple steps I took during my time off from class that made the spring craziness a little more manageable, and looking back, there are many other things I could have done to minimize spring-semester stress. And less stress equals more fun before graduation.
So congrats, seniors! You’ve almost made it to the home stretch, and hopefully these five tips can help you make the most of your final months of campus freedom.
1. Get your resume in tip-top shape. Now.
Create a document that has every one of your positions written down without error. Your resume may need to vary depending on the position you are applying for and the experiences for which the employers are looking. Even the smallest positions may help give you a unique edge, and having all of this work completed in January makes it easy to place positions into your template for a job-specific, tailored resume in half the time.
2. Stay involved in student groups and consider joining new ones.
It can be easy to check out during your last semester and find group meetings trivial when you’re trying to sort out important life happenings, like the fear of unemployment. However, staying involved in student groups can present amazing networking opportunities and learning experiences for senior members.
In fact, have you considered trying out new groups? Your interests and job goals have likely changed from when you were an underclassman joining student groups. Don’t be discouraged by holding a new-member title with the freshmen. In fact, many student groups have more to offer for graduating seniors than younger group members. That awesome guest speaker will probably better enjoy talking to you about entering the job field than about the average freshman’s dorm-room horror stories. Research different groups that could be fun to join during the end of your winter break so you can make it to the first meeting of the new semester.
3. Be on top of internship timing and deadlines by looking back at last year’s opportunities.
Just because companies and agencies don’t have their 2015 internship postings up doesn’t mean that you can’t be prepared. While the dates won’t be exactly the same from previous years, you can get an idea of when employers will be looking by finding when their sites and blogs posted last year’s opportunities. It helped me to mark these general timings down on my calendar so that I could keep an eye out and be prepared.
Once classes start up again, you won’t have as much time to do your application research. Knowing that Agency X, Y or Z posted their previous application in February versus April gives you a much-needed heads-up this semester, and can ensure that you won’t miss those deadlines.
4. Step up your game at your internship.
If you have an internship during your last semester, now is the time to make the most of it. This internship will likely be the one that interviewers will ask you the most about, so give yourself some more ammunition to wow those potential future employers. If there’s a project that you’d like to learn more about or a skill that you’d like to learn, speak up. I found that the skills I learned through my internship my final semester were more valuable in the job search than my textbooks.
It can be easy to be overwhelmed by work, classes and attempting to live up your last semester of college, but don’t let your efforts at your internship slip. Don’t expect a rave review from your supervisor if your mind is already off to the next opportunity. This is your time to learn new skills, maintain relationships and try to keep a good work-life balance. Before winter break ends, have a list of things you’d like to learn from your internship before graduation and set goals for how to gain those skills or experiences in the coming months.
5. Don’t wait to reach out to professionals.
Once the internship applications are up, insane amounts of emails from intern hopefuls will start filling inboxes far and wide. It’s easy to get lost in the clutter and not be able to differentiate yourself. Be ahead of the pack and start reaching out to people now. Being proactive in learning about different companies and opportunities will feel more genuine and not like an informational coffee turned awkwardly forced interview.
Working your butt off in January will pay off, I promise. Good luck in your final semester and enjoy your last-ever winter break. Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun — and breathe!