Work preparation begins on day one

By Sarah Small

The first semester of senior year can be a scary time as students come to terms with the reality that they will need to enter the work force in less than a year.

To help students relieve some of those pre-graduation fears, experts suggest they should begin taking steps from the time they begin college.

“Start preparing early, that makes a huge difference,” said Damian Lay, assistant director at the Career Center.

It is never too early to begin preparing for a career, Lay said. He recommends that students begin taking the first steps as soon as they arrive on campus.

“Everyone is a little bit different, but ideally, they would start building some sort of experience outside the classroom,” Lay said.

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This includes part-time jobs or internships in the student’s field of study.

Even if the student does not have a major, he or she can start building skills that will make them more attractive to potential employers. Some of the important skills include communication, leadership and organization.

“Having those skills helps students focus on a particular path they want to be on,” Lay said.

Mike Myers, an academic advisor in general studies said that many students arrive at the University not knowing what they want as their major.

He said a good way for students to find majors is fulfilling their general education requirements.

He said this allows students to explore their interests and usually points them in the direction of a major.

“Students should obviously take the introductory classes in their major to make sure it’s the field for them,” Myers said.

Sophomore, junior and senior year students should take the advanced classes for their major, and maybe decide to get a minor in the field, Myers said.

Students thinking about continuing onto graduate school, medical school, law school or other post-graduate education should be planning in advance.

Lay said different schools have different application deadlines, but by junior year students should be thinking about standardized test preparation and by first semester senior year students should be filling out applications to schools.

For students planning to enter the work force upon graduation, they should start applying for jobs first semester of senior year, although they should start preparing much earlier, Lay said.

By sophomore year, students should start making use of the resources at the Career Center, Myers said. Especially helpful are the resume and interview workshops.

Students should create their resumes as soon as they arrive on campus and let this original draft serve as a foundation to build on.

“Come to have it critiqued and continuously build on it so that the resume you show an employer is not the first one you ever wrote,” Lay said.

Above all, the most important thing a student can do is build experience.

“Not doing anything is the number one thing not to do,” Lay said.

Students should utilize their time spent in college to build their general professional skills and gain experience in their specific areas of study.

“Why should an employer hire someone who has enthusiasm but no experience, over someone who has enthusiasm and experience?” Myers said.