Dear New Shrink,
I finished my undergraduate degree in August and have been searching for a position ever since. I have considered both full and part-time positions as well as internship opportunities to gain exposure to the working world. Unfortunately, as a student, I focused all of my energy on my academics and did not take time to gain work experience or complete an internship during my time in college. Now that I am actively seeking a position I am wondering what is the best way to approach building my career at this point. What are some industries that accept entry-level positions?
Finding your first job out of college can be a time intensive process; a lot of people say that “finding a job is a full-time job.” With that said, there are a number of great full and part-time work experiences available to recent graduates.
Start by taking an inventory of your interests, skills, personality and values. The more you know about yourself the easier it will be to consider how your background will match up to the qualities a prospective employer is looking for.
Since you state that you have put a lot of energy into your academic coursework it might be worthwhile to start by considering the skills you have gained as a result of your undergraduate degree. Then consider your personality traits and how these personal qualities might help you decide the right environment to launch your career. For instance, consider whether you like to work in a large team or if you prefer a smaller environment. Are you someone who enjoys a fast-paced office or do you like a steady pace where you can plan out your day? Figuring out the answers to these questions will help you make the most of your job search.
In order to make the most of your job search it’s important that you are aware of the potential opportunities available to recent graduates. Consider using job search websites to identify potential openings. Try out websites like simplyhired.com, us.jobs or indeed.com using keywords like “analyst,” “associate,” “entry-level,” or “assistant” to find entry-level openings. By reviewing job descriptions you can decide if a particular opportunity might be a good fit for you.
Once you find a few positions that do fit, start using those titles as a way to identify additional openings with other companies. Consider using industry guides to find out about potential openings such as the L.A. Book of Lists produced by the Los Angeles Business Journal, Fortune Best Companies to Work For, or the Inc. 5000 directories. Visit the career section of the company website to find out about current openings and use your alumni network or LinkedIn to look for a potential connection within the organizations you’re interested in.
Finally, do your homework and target your resume. Make sure to use the job description as a method for targeting your resume and cover letter. Focus on showing employers that you have the skills and qualifications necessary to do the job. Even if you do not have industry experience you can focus on the transferable skills you have gained from your student leadership, class projects, and other unique experiences.
KATRINA DAVY, M.A., Ed.M, is a Santa Monica-based professional career counselor who has worked in university and private settings. She holds degrees from Columbia and Cornell universities. Visit her online at www.kdcareer.com. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. All questions are kept anonymous; let us help you with your life matters!