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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Column: Job-search reality check

Because I write this column and work at the Internship and Career Center, people assume that I must have a super cool job lined up for when I graduate in June. Actually, I’m in the same boat as everybody else. I have no idea what I’m doing this summer or beyond that. I think the difference is that from my experiences, I’ve learned a lot of things about the job search process that most students don’t know about, and it’s given me some perspective for the uncertain future ahead.

Except for those who have already secured summer internships or gotten accepted into grad school, most are trying to figure out what to do with summer and the rest of our lives.  

Here are some points to consider during your job search. ??

1. People are really slow with hiring interns.? Employers have a lot to do so hiring summer interns isn’t exactly a priority. Some organizations have early deadlines, but plenty of internships are still open. For my past two summer internships, I was stressing out for many months before I heard back from employers in late May and June. Don’t give up because you haven’t heard back from employers yet. Follow up with HR for a status update.   ??

2. The job search process takes a really, really long time.? This isn’t a surprise to anyone, but it’s a tough job market out there. For a recent grad, it can take six months or up to a year to find a job. Of my friends who graduated last year, most did not have jobs right after graduation. In fact, Facebook tells me that many have just recently gotten hired – finally – after months of searching. And you know what? That’s okay. The important thing is you don’t give up because you’ve been at it for a few months and it’s becoming depressing. Instead, stay busy and look for internships (paid or unpaid) that could get your foot in the door. Volunteering may also help you figure out what you really want to do in life and get you networking with new people.??

3. Consider what’s going on at the other end. ?So why does the job search process take so long? The online application system can seem like a black hole. Say you find a job that sounds really cool and you are perfectly qualified for. You excitedly submit a resume and cross your fingers. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that this job even exists or is still open. Often, employers leave up expired postings as a company advertisement tool. Or they’re far along the selection process and are about to offer the job to someone else – they just want to keep a back-up plan. The point is, it’s important not to internalize the lack of callbacks as a failure on your part when you don’t even know if your resume was read at all.

? 4. Be flexible and explore all options – but don’t appear desperate. ?On average, UC Davis students change their majors three times, and people change careers seven times throughout their working lives. Your first job may not have anything to do with your major, and it may not even have anything to do with what you’ll be doing ten years from now. Approach all opportunities with an open mind, even if you would never have considered them before.

? On that note, it’s also important not to appear desperate. Some frustrated job seekers adopt this attitude, saying that they will accept any job that pays a salary. Well, employers don’t want to hire people who want do just any kind of work. They want smart, dedicated people who are passionate about their field. You have specific strengths and a skill set, so market yourself highlighting those qualities that best fit your job search needs.

?? 5. Network, network, network.? The fact is, networking is undoubtedly the best method for finding jobs and internships. Recruiters want to hire people they know or at least have met, not pieces of paper. Let friends, family and colleagues know that you’re looking for a job and ask for introductions to other people they know. Making connections and following up (in addition to submitting an application) is critical.  

?? 6. For you non-seniors, start early. ?In my student adviser office hours, I see a lot of graduating seniors coming in for help, saying, “I have no idea what to do.” They tend to be more stressed out than the average visitor to the ICC. If you’re still an underclassmen, you can alleviate a lot of future stress by familiarizing yourself with different career development tools. Of the hundreds of students I’ve worked with, the “successful” ones are likely regular visitors of the ICC and savvy users of campus resources.  Come for drop-in advising and talk to a student adviser like me. There’s nothing like talking about your career goals with someone who wants to help you achieve them and give you tailored advice. And it’s free – all you have to do is stop by South Hall between your classes.

JENNIFER KIM is only a tiny bit worried about post-graduation plans and remains optimistic. Tell her how you’re feeling at jsnkim@ucdavis.edu.


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