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Graduation Bootcamp

Illustration of a girl with weights and a book.

Your 8-Week Plan to Get InShape for the Job Market

Graduation. You’ve been thinking about it since the day you started your first class, maybe longer. Your graduation is going to be everything you dreamed it would be. But for most Bobcats, it’s also something they didn’t expect: A little scary.

And why wouldn’t it be? You’ve gotten used to being a student. You’ve gotten good at it, too. But once you graduate, your student days are behind you and you’ve got to face a big, unfamiliar job market. Oh, and did we mention it’s the middle of a global pandemic?

This last year has shown us that there’s a whole lot we can’t control. But it’s also shown us that we can thrive by focusing on what we can control.

That’s an important lesson because even though graduation is still a few months off, there’s a lot you can do now to prepare for a successful job search. Think of it like a marathon. You don’t start training the day of the race. In fact, most runners start training over four months in advance.

You’re already in good shape because you’ve been focusing on getting the degree you need. The next step is to make sure that when you do hit the job market, you have momentum.

To help you do that, we’ve created a Graduation Bootcamp.

The Bootcamp

Don’t worry, you don’t actually have to do push-ups. This bootcamp is a simple, virtual program designed to give you one weekly step to take for the eight weeks leading up graduation. Each step will involve a few tasks that should take an hour or so to complete. (Though the more time you put in working each step, the further they’ll take you.)

Focus on one step at a time, then check back here to see what your next step is. If you don’t think you’ll remember, just follow us on Facebook or Instagram and we’ll remind you there. 

Week 1: Take Advantage of Your College Connections

Why It’s Important:

The line between your education and your future career is fuzzy. The instructors who taught you and the students you worked with today could be your colleagues and LinkedIn connections tomorrow. You can (and should) start networking with them now, asking for their advice and sharing anything you’ve learned. If you wait until after graduation to do it, it’s easy to lose their contact info.

What to Do This Week:

  • Identify two instructors you really respect. Reach out to both of them and ask for their advice on your job search. Giving you the benefit of their experience is part of their job.
  • Reach out to another student who’s in your program. Ask them what they’ve learned about searching for jobs in your field, and share what you’ve learned.

Week 2: Put Your Coursework on Your Résumé

Why It’s Important: 

The foundation of every résumé is work experience. But if you’re just graduating with, let’s say an accounting degree, chances are you don’t have a lot of accounting work experience. What you can do is add a section to your résumé that lists the courses you’ve taken, and the skills you’ve developed, that are important to the job you want to have.

You can also add a section to your résumé that includes volunteer work you’ve done that’s related to your field.

What to Do This Week:

  • Create a section on your résumé where you list courses and skills that are the most relevant to your field.
  • You can include other non-job experiences as well, like internships and volunteer activities.
  • Indeed has some great examples.

Week 3: Overhaul Your LinkedIn

Why It’s Important:

You probably haven’t been scrolling LinkedIn that often since you’ve been in school, so your profile’s probably a bit stale. Now that you’ve got more experience and a soon-to-be-degree, go back and make sure your LinkedIn reflects who you are now.

What You Need to Do:

  • Give your LinkedIn presence a makeover. That includes:
  • Making sure all your recent experience is included
  • Writing a sharp, focused Summary that really gets at who you are and what you want
  • Connecting with 10 instructors and classmates
  • Joining groups that relate to your field

Week 4: Make Sure Your Social Reflects Job-Interview-You 

Why It’s Important:

70% of employers check a potential hire’s social media before they make a final decision. Maybe you shouldn’t be judged on a Facebook comment you made three years ago, but the reality is that you will be.

What to Do This Week:

  • Take an hour and scroll through your profiles on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. If you see anything you wouldn’t want to talk about at a job interview, take it down.

Week 5: Reach Out to Potential Employers

Why It’s Important:

While you probably can’t start the job you want until you have your degree in hand, you can definitely start searching for it. Hiring can often be a lengthy process. The sooner you reach out to potential employers and introduce yourself, the more likely it is that process will be underway by the time you graduate.

What You Need to Do:

  • Reach out to five employers in your area and introduce yourself.
  • Use the employer’s website or LinkedIn to find a contact.
  • Send over a friendly note describing who you are and how you could help them.
  • You don’t need to limit yourself to employers with job postings. Even if they’re not hiring right now, it’s good that they know you for the future.

Week 6: Edit Your Résumé with Career Services 

Why It’s Important:

Your résumé is everything: It’s the way most employers learn about you, and it’s what makes them want to learn more. But since you’re just getting into your field, you might not have the best idea about what employers want to see on a résumé. Luckily, our career counselors do.

What to Do This Week:

  • Contact the career services department at your campus about reviewing your résumé

Week 7: Make a Job Hunt Organizer

Why It’s Important:

Job hunting can get overwhelming fast. You may be sending résumés to dozens of employers a week and chasing down leads from dozens of different job sites. Creating a job hunt organizer can help you stay focused and remember where you want to apply and who you need to follow up with. 

What to Do This Week:

Week 8: Reach Out to Family and Friends

Why It’s Important: 

There’s a powerful group of people who can help launch your career but whom most grads completely overlook: your family and friends. They’re powerful because unlike most people in your field, they already know you and they want you to succeed. They’re easy to overlook because they may not work in your field. But it’s likely they know someone who does.

What to Do This Week:

  • Talk to (or text, or DM) three family members or friends who know you’re graduating. Ask them if they know anyone in your field that you could talk to for job search advice.
  • Post on your social media to let all your connections know you’ll be graduating soon and what your degree will be in. Ask if anyone knows someone in the field you could go to for advice. Tag any friends who you think might have a lead.

Every Week from Now On 

Pushing your career forward is a journey that never ends. Once you land your first job out of college, keep applying the skills you’ve worked on these last eight weeks. Keep networking. Keep updating your résumé. Keep a careful eye on your LinkedIn and other social media. And always remember, even once you graduate, Career Services still has your back with answers and advice. If you can turn these skills into ongoing habits, you’ll see a whole new level of results.

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