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Guiding Students Toward Employment

The job search should be a task on the agenda of all University of Minnesota students, but it’s one of those items that is easy to set aside for a later date. Priority tends to go to tomorrow’s test, next week’s homework assignment, or planning for Spring Break. The word from U of M career counselors, though, is that it’s never too soon to start planning the search for a summer job. For seniors, now is definitely the right time to pursue a strategy for finding a first professional position. Many of the steps are the same for both scenarios.

During winter break

  1. Create or update a resume. Has your student had new work, volunteer experience, or developed any new skills in the past semester or year? Students can find tips for resume development online.
  2. Network. Students who will be looking for summer work in their hometown can begin networking now. If they had a job nearby in the past, will there be any opportunities in that business/company starting in mid-May? Students can make contacts now, submitting that updated resume, to show that they are interested and able to plan ahead. By following up two months later, the employer will know that the student genuinely wants the job.
  3. Consider interview needs. Students may need professional attire, a briefcase or portfolio, good shoes, and professional outerwear for an interview. The standard advice for what to wear for an interview is to dress as an employee in this position who would be meeting with the company president or a major client.

After winter break

  1. Visit the career office. The career counselor can review and critique the updated resume, suggest workshops or practice interviews, and generally support the student’s job search.
  2. Post resume on GoldPASS. GoldPASS is the University’s job listing and resume database site for U of M students and alumni. Students can search for jobs, internships, and volunteer opportunities on GoldPASS, and employers will review resumes on the site when they’re looking for talent.
  3. Sign up for on-campus interviews. Many employers–both local and national–come to campus to host interviews with students for full-time and internship opportunities. Students will find out about these interviews through GoldPASS and individual career offices’ social media sites.
  4. Prepare for and attend job and internship fairs. Career offices coordinate and promote multiple career fairs. Students should research the organizations attending (most job fair announcements provide a list of employers prior to the event) and consider which businesses are likely to hire for positions where the student has skills, abilities, and experience.
  5. Be open-minded about opportunities. Students often look to the best-known employers when searching for jobs, but a majority of positions will be found in smaller companies.

How can parents support the job search?

The more people students can talk to about their career plans, the better prepared they will be for interviews. While the student should do the work of finding job openings, parents can help students think through the process.

  1. Talk with your student about the skills he or she has learned through previous work and volunteer experiences. While some jobs seem like they’re “just work,” even routine jobs typically teach time management, organizational skills, teamwork, conflict management, and use of technology.
  2. Help your student consider contacts for networking beyond the obvious. While students often think of their previous employers, teachers, and relatives, other options include the parents of their friends, owners of businesses the student has frequented, and neighbors.
  3. Discuss your expectations about a job search and talk about financial factors. Students may plan to return home for the summer with the idea that they will rest up for a few weeks before finding a job. Those few weeks of no work equate to hundreds of dollars that could reduce student loans in the fall. A delayed job search can also mean that the best job opportunities–or all options–have been lost.
  4. For students who will be graduating, encourage a strategic job search plan and ensure that your student understands the implications of student loans. Finding a job takes time, but a few hours devoted to the search each week throughout the semester is much less stressful than facing final exams, senior paper due dates, and job preparation all at the same time.
  5. Encourage realistic expectations. A first job probably won’t pay the average salary for the profession. Students should not turn down a job or an internship that will provide valuable work experience that results in a stronger resume and improved credentials.
  6. Help your soon-to-be graduate consider the non-salary components of a job offer: vacation/sick time, health insurance, travel expectations, hours. In addition, be sure your student understands the real costs related to work: transportation and parking, professional clothing, required contributions toward insurance and retirement, and taxes.

More tips for parents, including “Parent’s Guide to Career Planning” can be found on the University Parent website

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University of Minnesota Job and Internship Fair

The largest student career fair in Minnesota is scheduled for Friday, February 21, 2014, at the Minneapolis Convention Center. More than 200 companies and organizations will be recruiting for jobs and internships. The Job and Internship Fair is open to all U of M students who are enrolled in a degree or certificate program. It is also open to U of M alumni who graduated between 2011 and 2013. Information is online.

Students can also find listings of upcoming job fairs on GoldPASS or through their college career office (www.career.umn.edu/).