Massachusetts Daily Collegian

I’m a senior, now what?

By Naychelle Lucas

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Senior year, week eight:

The leaves have changed from green to amber brown and you’ve rescued your jacket from the back of your closet. Your UMass daily planner that was so perfectly organized at the beginning of the semester now has the cover ripped off and the words “you can get through this,” scribbled on every page. Reaching this point hasn’t been easy, but through blood, sweat, tears, coffee, and beers, we made it – it’s our last year as undergraduates at the University of Massachusetts.

Next week marks the beginning of registration and consequently, the official beginning of the end. Those of us done with gen eds have some idea of what we want to do after graduation and are on our way to the G.P.A. of our dreams.

The question is: now what? Internships, co-ops, career fairs, job searches, resumes, cover letters, it’s all so much. Frankly, the idea of it was manageable, but actually doing it scares the crap out of me.

In order to subdue feelings of horror and desperation, I went to Career Services to talk with Director Jeffrey Silver and Associate Director Ginger Goldsbury, and found out what I and every senior needs to know in order to be successful after graduation.

Are you one of those seniors who haven’t found the opportunity to get the hands-on field experience you want? Are you an overachieving senior who wants even more experience, or are you one of those procrastinating seniors who have finally realized it is time to change? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’re in luck. It is still not too late to score an internship.

During their senior year, UMass students can intern during the fall, winter or spring. Unpaid post-graduate internships are also available, but Silver warned me about that option. He said it should be more of a last resort for seniors who desperately need workplace experience.

Where can you find internships, you ask? Well, there are a lot of job search websites online – like Monster.com – where you can find internship listings, and I know students who have found their internships on Craigslist. However, Career Services recommends using their eRecruiting service to search and I agree.

As UMass students, we have access to the interactive eRecruiting database, where companies request their job and internship openings be listed. I used this website to find the internship I have now, and found it really easy to use. You can access eRecruiting through the UMass career services website, and once there you can upload different cover letters, resumes and writing samples. Silver points out that, unlike sites like Monster where millions of jobs and internships are listed, eRecruiting will have 50 to 100 major-  specific listings targeted at UMass students.

Talking with Silver and Goldsbury at career services made me realize that right now is the time to start your job search. In fact, they told me that by spring break, most employers are done hiring and some employers even hire in the fall. You should definitely start browsing the eRecruiting database and search sites like Monster.com. But first things first, your resume and cover letters need to be perfected.

I’ve searched Google and found various online resources which provide helpful resume-building tips, but I suggest attending one of the resume workshops provided by Career Services. When I went, I sat with an advisor, and they helped me through my resume, line by line. They’ll give you formatting advice, show you the best wording for job descriptions and skills, and show you how your cover letter should look. You have to think of your resume and cover letter as the first impression you give to an employer. Also, if you are planning on attending the ALANA Career Fair on Feb. 8, or the Career Blast 2011 Fair on Feb. 9, a good looking resume will set you apart from other applicants.

While a good resume is important, you must remember not to let job descriptions limit you when searching. Expand your search and apply for everything that sounds interesting, whether or not it’s in your major or field of expertise. It is never a good idea to lie or commit to something you can’t do, but if a job listing says you are required to have a year of experience, apply anyway; stress the fact that you’re determined and willing to learn fast.

Congratulations, you found a job you like and you have an interview scheduled, now what? Well, the more skills you have, the more marketable you are. In that interview, you are going to need to be able to identify what you are good at. Frankly, the employer wants to know what you can do for them, and you have to offer them something. Let them know everything you are capable of ,because you may not get that specific job but you may posses a set of skills more suitable for another position they need filled. Lastly, always remember thank you letters.

It’s May and you still haven’t found anything. You may be thinking, “What did I do wrong?” Don’t get discouraged. I know from experience that sometimes you can do everything right and it still doesn’t work out. Thankfully, right now we all have the luxury of time. So put down this newspaper and get started! I know I am.

Naychelle Lucas is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected].

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