Final projects and exams are complete. Your succulents are tucked into your childhood bedroom. You’ve got the whole summer ahead of you, but social distancing is affecting your plans. It’s time to toss in the towel, start binge-watching Netflix and zone out in your family’s basement until classes start again.
I completely understand the frustration of summer plans being disrupted, yet as a career coach, I am quite excited about the opportunity lying before you to steward your time as a Cornerstone University student.
HAVE YOUR RESUME REVIEWED BY CAREER AND LIFE CALLING
Resumes are your one page—yes, one page—document to highlight your experience and accomplishments. Check out cornerstone.joinhandshake.com > resources > resume and cover letter guide for tips to create your resume. Then, send it to email@example.com, and we’ll review it based on our industry experience and what we’re hearing from employers.
PREPARE FOR A VIDEO INTERVIEW
Video interviews have long been a screening tool for hiring managers. Given today’s reality, video interviewing is the new norm, and you need to be prepared to put your best self forward. What should the background look like and how to answer the question “tell me about yourself” are just two things we address in this video designed to support you as a Cornerstone student.
CONDUCT AN INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEW. OR TWO. OR THREE.
Your major is the foundation for your future. It’s up to you to determine where you will take your career. The first step in deciding is knowing your options. One way to learn your options is by talking with someone who is doing what you think you might want to do through an informational interview. Interested in management? Find a manager to ask about their role and responsibilities. Interested in writing? Talk to a writer or editor. All you need is three questions to start the conversation:
- What do you love about your job?
- What’s challenging about your job?
- What advice do you have for me as someone considering a career in the field of communications?
These three simple questions will get the conversation started and you’ll end the phone call or video chat with more information you thought possible. And don’t be afraid to reach out to these professionals! Most often they are eager to talk with curious-minded students.
CREATE YOUR PERSONAL WEBSITE
The world is competitive. As Christians, we’re taught to be humble and not brag yet we need to be prepared to share the good work we’ve done for the kingdom. One way to do that is through a personal website. You can use a website to house a blog and tell your story, or you can use a website to showcase your work as a digital portfolio. Look at examples of your peers including Elizabeth Boock, Alaina Lubbers and Elizabeth Okma.
CONNECT WITH A PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATION
You’re more than a college student; you’re a young professional. With those credentials comes the opportunity to engage in professional organizations. There’s an organization for any interest. Considering the field of marketing and sales? Look at the American Marketing Association of West Michigan. Considering working in health care finance? Look no further than the Healthcare Financial Association of West Michigan. Looking at working in a nonprofit? The Young Nonprofit Professional Network is for you. Chances are these organizations are hosting virtual gatherings or have board members willing to talk with you about their industry.
There are two common themes I hope you’re seeing emerge from this post. Personal branding and networking. Both are often conversation stoppers with college students, but they are conversation starters with employers. Your classroom experience is the start of your professional journey and needs to be coupled with a personal brand and professional networking.
Summer 2020 may look different than you anticipated. I’m excited to see how you choose to develop yourself amidst the change. Employers will ask what you did during the pandemic and will be looking to hire those who gained additional skills and invested in themselves by networking, building a personal website and positioning themselves for success in the marketplace regardless of industry.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to myself or Kevin Lavender, Jr., associate dean of Career and Life Calling for support. We are sympathetic to your situation and dedicated to supporting you in the pursuit of your vocational aspirations.