Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Senior Year Prep 101

As the weeks of Summer continue to pass, students everywhere are starting to prep for their return back to campus. Among those students are a very special group --the seniors. The one's who are prepping to make this return from Summer for the last time.

There are many challenges that incoming seniors face as they prepare to complete their last semesters in college. From crafting and sending out resume and cover letters, to wondering if "x amount of internships is really enough to get me a job," to the endless answering of the daunting question "so what are you going to do post-grad?" All while dealing with the realization that, in just a few months, the real world awaits.

As one of those incoming seniors, I'm here to attest: this season is a lot.

Rather than stress over the situation, the best way to walk into a new, albeit nerve racking, experience is by taking the time to do a little preparation beforehand. Here are some easy ways that you can prepare to enter your senior year with a little less stress.

Start reviewing job applications. You don't necessarily need to start applying this far in advance, but knowing how job postings and applications are worded and where to find them will be incredibly helpful a few months down the line. Look into different companies that you may not be as familiar with and see what kinds of openings they have, and where you may be interested in applying later.

Reach out to old supervisors and mentors. Now is the time to take advantage of the network you've been creating for yourself. Reach out to your old internship supervisors, managers or any mentors that you've met over the years. Ask them for advice, any strengths or weaknesses they observed in you, and suggestions that they have for your last few semesters.

Discover your interests. While most seniors tense up and roll their eyes each time they're asked 'so, what do you want to do?', it's a question worth exploring. And if you don't have a concrete answer right away, that is more than normal and totally acceptable. Rather than beat yourself up over this, take some time to explore your interests. Social media, media relations, internal communications, corporate communications --the PR world is vast and expansive and has a place for everyone.

Next time someone inquirers about your post grad plans, instead of answering with stutters and uncertainty, explain your interests. Saying "I have an interest in community management and corporate communication" or even, "I'm taking time to explore all of the opportunities my field has to offer," sounds much more confident than "I don't want to think about it."

Review your list of work. Chances are, you've done a lot in your previous semesters that employers would love to hear about. Did you coordinate an event for a student organization? Did you join the student run PR firm on campus? All of these things add up and they matter! Take some time to list all of your work, breaking down your individual work on each project --including the results! Once you've done this, rework your resume to make it come to life as a living portfolio.

Create a portfolio. Speaking of portfolios, if you don't already have one, now's the time to create it! A portfolio is a compilation of all of your work, put together in an organized and easy-to-follow format. Spend some time collecting writing samples and projects you've worked on in a binder or digital format that you can take with you on interviews.

Seniors, we could spend months and weeks preparing for our last lap, but in the midst of all of this, it is equally important that we celebrate the fact that we've made it this far, and that we are close to accomplishing a huge milestone in life. Remember that all work and no play isn't a recipe for success. Make the memories of your last year good ones, and know that you can handle whatever lies ahead.

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