Guest Post By: Faith Lyons
Let’s raise a glass to the great times we had freshman year when our biggest concerns included what to wear to class/on campus on our long day “since I’m going to be seen for more than 2 hours” head ahh... Let’s raise a glass to the awesome times we had sophomore year when we were finally able to say, “thank God I’m not a freshman anymore!” Let’s raise a glass to junior year when we were more than likely finally 21 years old and able to actually, LEGALLY buy and raise that glass while binge watching Scandal’s season 2 for the fourth time in a row, trying to suppress the anxiety and pressures of landing that internship because the thought of graduating within the next year or so is both exhilarating and nerve-racking! WOOSAH! Here we are, senior year of college, finding ourselves very excited yet fretful for what’s to come. If you’re anything like me, I’m sure you’re finding yourself doing that little “woosah routine” more than usual when you think about your career after college, student loan debt, making your family proud, while trying to juggle eating healthy and having a satisfactory social life. And if you’re a young, first time, single parent like myself, you already know I’m performing a “woosah routine” like Martin Lawrence 15 times a day! I’m here to tell anyone reading this, the earlier you set realistic goals and plans for what you want to do after college, the better. Whether you are in your senior year of college or quickly approaching this wonderful milestone, I’m going to give you a few useful tips that have helped me tremendously in setting myself up for success for life after college!
Take Advantage of All the Campus Resources That You Can
Sure, I, like many other college students, could not wait to move off of campus my sophomore year, but as strange as it may sound, I found myself taking advantage of the campus resources more when I moved than when I actually lived on campus! Since I am a business student, my college was the School of Business & Industry at Florida A&M University and we had a plethora of resources within my college alone that linked me to internships and career opportunities. Additionally, getting familiar with the career center and accessing their online portal was very beneficial and kept me up to date on what companies were coming to campus and what they would be looking for. The career center is your friend, get familiar with it!
Get to know your professors! Your professor and their office hours are one of the greatest resources on campus; they are real people that you can talk to for advice and they can often link you with additional resources in the form of other people who can also help you. Find a professor that you would like to mentor you and learn all that you can from them, preferably one in your own field of study, this will give you the insight you need to face the realities of life after college.
Network, Network, Network
And no, I’m not talking about the parties and the socials, even though you can sometimes network at those too...in a very strange way. Network with your professors, network with your peers, network with students in other fields of study! Look into organizations and societies that share your personal interests and link you to like-minded individuals who find community involvement important, as well as progressing yourself to have the social skills that you will need for internships and life on the job.
Some of the greatest networking advice that I have received, has come from my professors and college recruitment assistants. When networking, it is important to be upbeat and engaged. Non-verbal communication speaks volumes, no pun intended; if your posture is all slouched and you refuse to keep at least some form of frequent eye contact, the person you are talking to may feel that you are uninterested, and that is the last thing that you want to come across as. Always have a time-limit in mind whenever you plan to speak to someone, whether it be a formal or informal networking event. Make sure you are taking the time to listen when it is the other person’s turn to speak and ask relevant questions to find commonalities to really kick the networking session into high gear! A very good way to end a networking session is to leave the person with your contact information, whether it be in the form of a business card or a resume, or just casually exchanging phone numbers, all are very important and leave a lasting impression to further continue networking with the person!
Your Resume is King
So as I mentioned above, a resume is either going to be your way of leaving a lasting impression or a gateway to your first impression for businesses when applying for jobs and internships, which is why it is important to have a very strong one. Make sure that your resume highlights your best qualities! Always, always, always make sure that your resume is one page ONLY and realize that your resume will be forever changing. If you have had a number of jobs in the past, make sure to only put the relevant jobs on the resume for what job or internship you are applying for, this is why I say that your resume should be forever changing. If you have fewer job experiences, you can still do this; make sure that you tailor and highlight the skills on the resume that are appropriate to the job you’re applying to. For example, if you are applying for an IT internship and you have only ever had job experience at a movie theater back home, highlight and really elaborate on the fact that you worked on a point of sale machine that was powered by an Intel Core processor and that you were one of the only few people on the job who knew how to troubleshoot when the processing systems needed to be updated. Now do you see what I mean? The on campus resources that were most helpful for me in turning out the best resume possible resulted from me asking my professors to tweak it and to give me pointers on what was working and what were weak points that I needed to get rid of. The career center was also helpful in that they had peers review resumes and give pointers to one another to help each other arrive at the best possible version of the resume as well.
Honestly speaking, you can sometimes have all your ducks in a row and have the full package in regards to following all the tips I mentioned above and still not hear anything back from companies, and that is okay. The major thing to remember and what I tell myself to stay motivated is that the career God has for me will be right on time! In the next 6 months, I see myself graduated and progressing at the company I am currently working for. I work for a financial institution that I previously interned for when I was in high school. Although my field of study includes business administration and marketing, I find it important to work for a company that aligns with your personal values, one that genuinely believes in cultivating and growing their employees. I see myself landing a job in their marketing department in the future and learning all that I can from them while being the best asset I can be. You have to keep the faith and trust the process because if truth be told, if we were to get everything that we wanted when we tried the first time, what would we truly learn? What would our character truly gain without having to go through the process?
Much love and congratulations to all the new graduates and to the up and coming ones!
Faith Lyons is a graduating Business Administration student from Florida A&M University and Columbia Southern University who currently lives in North Florida. She is a first time mom and total fan girl that loves all things fashion, fun, and seafood! Her long term goals include starting her own fashion label and traveling the world with her daughter!