When I started senior year, I found the prospect of searching for a job terrifying. I felt utterly unprepared, underqualified and up against a job market hostile towards recent graduates. Additionally, although the majority of my classmates were in a similar situation, I felt completely isolated in my struggle as job hunting isn’t candidly discussed amongst most seniors.
So in an effort to prevent others from feeling the way I did, I would like to directly offer underclassmen the advice I wish I’d had before embarking upon this seemingly daunting task. Despite the fact that resources exist to help undergraduates navigate the job search at Tufts, I feel as though access to them is limited, as Lia Weintraub pointed out her in Daily op-ed published March 13 about Career Services, and quality advice from authority figures such as deans and advisors is few and far between.
Think about what you want. One of the most valuable things you can do before sending your resume to hundreds of random organizations is to carefully consider what kind of industries you would like to work in and what kind of career you would like to pursue. Applying to jobs is time intensive, so it is important to develop clear ideas about what you want to do so you can formulate the most effective strategies.
Start early. Although you might be tempted to procrastinate, don’t stick your head in the sand (I’ve done this). Even though reorganizing your sock drawer may seem more appealing than applying to jobs and facing the rejection that it may very well bring, just do it. You will have to balance classes, extracurricular commitments and a wealth of distractions during senior year, so the earlier you begin the more time you will have you to stay organized and calm and make yourself a competitive applicant.
Use every resource at your disposal. Make an appointment with a career services counselor even if you don’t know where career services is. Force yourself to go to informational sessions about everything from LinkedIn to negotiating salaries even if you can think of one hundred things you would rather do. Practice interviewing, attend local conferences that speak to your interests, use various job searching websites, get your resume reviewed as many times as necessary for it to be perfect and most importantly, network. Most Tufts alumni are happy to help and can give the kind of industry advice you can’t find online. Using a variety of resources gives you multiple avenues to pursue opportunities and provides you with many more perspectives than if you just used one.
Compatibility matters. When interviewing, remember you are interviewing a company just as much as they are interviewing you. Qualifications are critical to getting interviews, but at a certain point interviews become about ensuring compatibility. Approaching an interview with the understanding that compatibility is important for you and the organization gives you the opportunity to make an informed decision about whether you would enjoy working there, and also gives you the chance to demonstrate a genuine interest by asking intelligent questions about the company and what it does.
Keep calm and carry on. Don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed. Make back-up plans you are happy with and that will give you peace of mind. Remember that while looking for a job is a difficult undertaking, no job is worth your happiness, so live in the moment and enjoy your last year at Tufts. We have the opportunity now to think carefully about what we want from life and how we want to realize our dreams. So while it’s terrifying to know that it’s on us to make our futures happen, it is, more importantly, extremely empowering.
Carolina Reyes is a senior majoring in international relations. She can be reached at Carolina.Reyes@tufts.edu.