By Kristy Amburgey
As graduation approaches, there are often questions that may be forming in your mind that can serve as barriers to your job search and job selection. Via an informal poll with upcoming graduates, here are some of those questions along with corresponding insight on how to address each one.
Do I have enough knowledge base to get a job?
It is no secret that employers like to hire candidates with previous experiences. As an entry-level candidate, you may wonder how you are going to get experience since the employer may not hire without it. Hopefully you have worked the past several years while in school to obtain experience, which can include ratings/certifications, internships, research, academic/other projects, full-time/part-time work and more. You are probably more knowledgeable than you may assume…consider all of the experiences that have led to the development of your knowledge base. Keep track of your academic, work and professional accomplishments and prepare to market your knowledge base to potential employers in a way that relates to their needs.
Am I ready to be interviewed?
Luckily, this worry is easy to address. You can get ready for an interview through a variety of means, including preparing and practicing your responses. Start by reviewing potential interview questions and learn how to answer typical questions, and you can then practice what you learned. Sample interview questions are available on the Career Services website, and you can also read about answering behavioral-based questions. Practicing is also an easy step to take; you can do a mock interview with someone who gives honest feedback, and you can use the Career Services proprietary resource, Perfect Interview, once you log in to EagleHire Network.
Do I have the right connections in place?
Most people recognize that networking is an important step in any job search and professional development process. The more difficult part of networking is finding the right people with which to connect. First, recognize that not all connections have to be in the exact field you want to pursue. Your network can and should be made up of a variety of professional and personal contacts that are built on mutually beneficial relationships as you never know how others are connected. Second, communicate your goals to your network through conversations, emails, newsletters, mentoring sessions, informational interviews and more. Third, use resources like LinkedIn to visualize how you are connected to others and how you might leverage your relationships. LinkedIn is also a great way to stay connected with your network.
How will I meet new people to build my network?
As mentioned above, you may already have a great network in place, but it is so important to constantly work to build additional relationships and strengthen current ones. You can meet new people in any way possible. Of course, start with opportunities in your industry or field and ones that put you in contact with professionals who are doing the work you want to do. Find conferences, professional organizations, industry meet & greets, networking events and alumni events available to you. Next, consider events where you might meet indirect connections to your industry like geographically-based events, companies that contract with your dream company or activities that put you in contact with diverse people. Finally, always be prepared to start a conversation with anyone in any circumstance. Even if a person can’t help you professionally, you might find a new friend.
Am I at the right place, professionally and personally?
Your professional and personal satisfaction is important, so you always want to evaluate a job and the location before accepting an opportunity. Evaluating your job offer and considering relocation to another area takes time to assess. Before making a move, make sure you know or understand the community, the company, the industry prospects, the opportunities for future growth and the expectations for the position.
Where can I find housing once I move?
As you explore job opportunities, especially ones in geographical locations in which you are not familiar, it can be a tough task to make a move. To find out about a location and the various housing options, ask! Ask contacts at the company, ask your network, ask friends and ask random people who you may not know. Research is another great way to learn about housing options. If you are able to visit the location and drive around the area (or ask someone to show you around), do it. Although there is no guarantee that you will be able to determine the best housing fit for you in a few conversations or a visit, you can get better acquainted with the area to make a more educated choice.
What happens when I move?
Work hard and enjoy it! Do everything possible to succeed in your professional life…volunteer for projects, meet people, follow basic co-worker etiquette rules, join professional organizations, obtain professional development, find your niche…the list can go on. At the same time, establish yourself in your community…get involved, find groups to join, take time for a hobby or learn something new. What happens after your move is really up to you!
Are my colleagues making more than I am?
Rule number one: please do not ask your colleagues what they are making. It is a professional negative to talk about salary amongst your peers. What you can do, before you even accept a job, is conduct research on what people are making in your geographical location, at your company and in your field. After that, you should focus on your performance, working to make sure that you are establishing a solid reputation and working towards great evaluations, promotions or raises since your actions are the only things you can control.
Will I be able to pay off my loans?
There are no guarantees in life, so no one can predict your financial future. You can take charge of your finances, though, by being aware of debt repayment, repayment rules and financial solvency. Before accepting a position, it is incredibly important to know you can handle all of your expenses, including debt repayment.
Kristy Amburgey is the Associate Director of Career Services – Daytona Beach campus and currently manages marketing and employer relations for the department. She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for approximately 10 years.