What Can College Student Do to Improve Their Job Prospects?

by A. Melendez

With graduation in the near future, it is understandable that college students are concerned about impressing potential employers. After all, most students graduate with thousands of dollars in debt, with the average being close to $30,000, and paying off that debt is only another worry. Luckily, there are ways to improve one’s job prospects. Some may be obvious; however, you would be surprised how often they are overlooked.

First, job experience is crucial. Obvious, right? There are plenty of job opportunities on campus. For example, departments can be hiring student assistants to help with tedious office work, the dining hall can be hiring for catering staff and your tutoring center could be looking for tutors in your major. The best parts about working on campus is that supervisors work with your schedule, your commute, if you are living on campus, is almost nonexistent, and you are most likely not going to have to work on school holidays. Sounds like a dream. You should also check at any local coffee shops, restaurants, and retail stores. These jobs may not be the best, but some work experience, despite how tedious or painful it is, over none is always better on a résumé. Plus, extra cash in your bank account is always nice.

Next, internships in your field will always be a plus. Even if it is a non-paid internship, what you can potentially take away from your position will (hopefully) be greater than the value of your labor. If all goes well, you might have a job waiting for you after graduation. Have a favorite or dream company to work for? Great. Go on their website and search “internships” in their careers section. Worst case scenario is that you apply and do not get the internship, which will only put you in the same place you are at now. There is really nothing to lose, but so much to gain.
Volunteer work is a win-win. You get to contribute to your community and feel good about it. To make volunteer work that much better, the opportunities to do it are plentiful. Plus, some schools have community service as a requirement to graduate. There are too many homeless and animal shelters that could always use an extra pair of hands to get work done. Churches and schools also offer the opportunity to volunteer. Ask around. There should be no problem in finding a place to volunteer your time at.

Probably the most important thing about improving one’s job prospects is networking. People often rant on and on about it, but it is the truth. It may seem painful and awkward, but it is worth it. Engage with your professors and advisors. Ask questions. Make yourself memorable. Also, use your friends to meet more people and contacts. We do it anyway without realizing it. The people you meet and work for at work, internships and community service can be used for networking. Maybe one of those people will refer you to one of their contacts for a job or offer you a job themselves. The possibilities are endless.

Now for the main part of the application process for a job, which hopefully leads to a career, the résumé. If you have things like work and volunteer experience to put on a résumé making yours should be a walk in the park. Start off with your name, address and contact information at the top of the page. Use words from the job description in your résumé. This will catch their attention. Avoid having boring and generic phrases like “highly motivated” and “hard working”. Instead, be concise and intriguing. For example, say you are a “highly motivated recent graduate with experience in meeting tight deadlines” or if you are still in school, “eager to learn college student with an excellent record in customer service”. Organize everything into categories, like “Education”, “Work Experience”, “Volunteer Experience”, “Skills” and so forth. Also be sure to list your qualifications and skills, such as knowledge or proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access, experience in customer service, time management and basic office duties. The résumé allows you to shine, so let it.

There are many ways students can improve their job prospects. It is a matter of knowing the right people, knowing important information and having experience. With all of that, students are bound to receive job offers.