I forget who it was, but a faculty member at UVa really relieved the stress and pressure of finding a job for me pretty simply: she said, “Don’t worry. You’ll find a job – not just because you graduated from UVa or because you majored in something good – but because you need one. To, you know, live.” She was obviously trying to lighten the mood in the room, but her words stuck with me. So first off, don’t worry – you’re going to get a job.
UVa is, truly, awesome at helping you find a job and internship. Throughout the year, you’ll get reminders about various Career Fairs going on that relate to your field of study. You’ll get emails from your Class Council about their Career Services workshops. You’ll see flyers on graduate and professional practice tests you can take to prepare you for post-undergrad education. In fact, you could receive job advice every weekday that you’re at UVa for the entirety of your four years if you chose to go to University Career Services (UCS) every day. And I bet you’d learn something new every day too.
You have many resources. Take advantage of the ones that pertain most to you or interest you most. And never be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone/major when it comes to jobs. If you go to any career workshop, you’ll probably be given a worksheet designed by UCS that makes you pair actual majors UVa students had with actual jobs they received after graduation. And the answers are pretty surprising – almost none of the majors line up directly with what the person went in to after college.
As a fourth year graduating with a job that was lined up in my Fall Semester, here are my big tips for the job search (they’re pretty general, but still helpful):
- If you’re in a field where having a portfolio of past work/side projects is typical, put your portfolio online at [your-first-name-your-last-name].com. Registering your own domain name is about $10 a year, and it’s great for the job search.
- Go to a resume workshop. You might think, “I have the best resume ever. There’s no way they could help me.” Wrong. Get advice from professionals who actually read over those things, and get them to tell you what to change. Your resume should always be a work-in-progress.
- Google yourself. Facebook stalk yourself. Read your thoughts 140 characters at a time on Twitter. Tumble on your tumblr. Analyze your online presence, and make sure that if a professional finds your online identity, that you would be okay with what they see.
- Make time for going to career fairs. There’s so many that UVa puts on, and there’s so many big-name companies, as well as small-name companies, that you’re bound to find something that works for you. Career fairs are great for networking, getting basic interviewing skills, and learning about potential jobs you hadn’t thought about before.
- Hold a job at some point during the school year, not just during the summer. This might be tough for a lot of people, but I think it’s so valuable. Even if it’s less than ten hours a week, it’s still good to learn to balance your time, get experience, and have something to show on your resume. If working isn’t for you, volunteer. Do something other than studying and drinking (you’re underage anyway).
- Learn to manage your money. You’ll hear about Karin Bonding at some point in your time at UVa – she’s a wonderful individual who provides great advice on how to manage your personal finances. She’ll likely give talks throughout the year, and I recommend dropping in on one. Listen to her advice. Basically, get a credit card, check your credit report, develop a budget (use Mint.com), guard your financial information, don’t spend or borrow more than you could ever afford.
- Finally, do things that show your interest. If you want to become an actor, do some shows with the Drama Department. If you’re looking to work for a startup, check out hack.cville on Elliewood and work with them on a project. If you want to go into economics, join the Econ 201 Clicker Club (you can be the Vice President). Have something to show off your talents and passions.
I hope this helps ease the stress — I really don’t even think the job search should be stressful if you’re willing to put the some work in. But anyway, if you’re reading this as a first year, bookmark it and come back to it a little later. Start thinking about those internships, and then once you get closer to the (unfortunate) end of your time here at UVa, read this once more.