“…Our Regularly Scheduled Programming”: Life After College

It’s a television cliche: “we interrupt this broadcast for the following breaking news announcement”. After three minutes of an update that you likely already knew because of your phone notification, another announcement: “we now return to your regularly scheduled programming, already in progress”.

If only it were so easy.

Sorry for the interruption!

With some states beginning to make first steps towards reopening (see South Carolina and Georgia), it may feel like we are starting to head back into regular schedules, but moneyman has his doubts. At moneyman’s employer, students will be taking courses online this summer, and it looks like staff won’t be returning to campuses until at least the end of summer. So is a return to normalcy really possible?

Some of you may not have a choice. If you are graduating from your undergraduate education you face a dilemma: enter into (what may be) a difficult job market, or begin graduate school. In the next few posts, I plan (key word here – plan – since breaking COVID-19 financial aid news could derail my plan) to talk about life after college. We are going to talk about building a budget, applying for financial aid as a graduate student, managing what might possibly be your first apartment lease, and how the cost of living may impact your city of residence.

But today I want to start by talking about jobs. In this environment, how do you go about looking for jobs? Where do you begin? How do you interview? What should you expect?

Let’s start with looking for work. In the “old days”, you used to be able to take a look at the “Help Wanted” section of the newspaper (particularly the Sunday edition) and look at all of the employers offering work. Obviously things have changed. Most employers list their jobs right on their websites (including, often, their salary ranges, their benefits and the particular job responsibilities). As an example, take a look at UF’s job page. While you will notice that at the moment they are in a hiring freeze, you can see the information about the staff and student positions or faculty and post-doc positions.

If you have a particular interest (say banking or higher education), chances are there is a website that collects job opportunities nationwide for you in your chosen field (see the links above). You may also want to look at professional associations (particularly national ones) who will often have their own lists of jobs (as an example: actuaries or financial aid officers).

Check out your campus career center. Some of them may have online tools that can connect your academic interest with live job postings (SJR State’s Career Coach page is a great example of a friendly tool that can help you explore options in their service area).

Also make sure to network with friends, family, former employers, faculty and your other favorite people to see what connections they might have. Networking with people you have met during your journey is always a great way to learn about new job opportunities.

Finally, never overlook the opportunity to do an informational interview. This is where you choose someone who has the kind of job you want to have, ask for thirty minutes to an hour of their time, and interview them about their history and experience. This is a great way to learn about the avenues into a career, and provides you some insight into what skills and talents you will need to build to be successful in your chosen field. Berkeley has a great page with suggestions on planning and having an informational interview! Their best suggestion: like I said above, reach out to those you know since there are likely many contacts you didn’t even know you had.

If you haven’t built a professional resume (or haven’t looked at it recently), now is the time do so. FSU’s Career Center has a list of online resources for great resume building. Here are some of moneyman’s tips:

  1. Be sure to get a professional email address. Nothing discourages potential employers more than seeing a resume with 2hot4words@xxxxx.com as the response address (read the article).
  2. Make sure to save your resume as a pdf, especially if you are using a font other than Times Roman or Calibri. You don’t want your beautiful professional resume (which is perfectly formatted) to be viewed in a messy unorganized manner. More on the choices in this article.
  3. Always write a cover letter. The cover letter is your chance to show how your experience on your resume perfectly matches what you read in the job description. Here is a great description of the pros and cons of the cover letter. A great cover letter matters!
  4. Like your essays in college, spelling and punctuation matter. Most managers make a decision within 10 seconds of seeing your resume and you want your resume to stand out, but not in a bad way.

OK so this post is running longer than I thought it would, so we will cover the job interview next. For now, where are you searching for and finding job postings? What are your favorite tricks to identify new opportunities?

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