Stage 4 The Job (or Graduate School) Search
You have arrived! Now is the time when you must "put your money where your mouth is" so to speak. If you have
done the assessment, research and the internship(s), this should be painless and maybe even, fun. However,
if you totally disregarded the past three stages, this may be a bumpy ride for you.
First thing that you should do is schoolwork. You cannot get a job or get into graduate school without grades that
are at least good enough to let you graduate. The second thing is job (or graduate school) search. Treat the job
search as if it were another class. In addition to doing homework, you should organize what job search activities
you need to do for that particular week. All job searches require looking at a variety of resources and following
leads both on and off-campus.
Both a job search and a graduate school search begin with the same thing: organization and research. In order
to do either successfully, you need to be organized and detail-oriented. To start your organization, visit Career
Development Center and obtain all registration or other job search materials. Keep everything together in an
easy-to-access folder and when you get the opportunity, read it all! We cannot stress how important it is to read
and reread materials you receive regarding your job search. Many publications contain dates, complicated last
names and minute details that if you get wrong could have a severe impact in your employment potential.
If you decide to pursue a full-time position following graduation, consider registering with CDC for
On Campus Recruiting. Registration allows you to be eligible to interview with the 300 or so companies that
recruit on campus and for resume referral to hundreds of others. There are a variety of organizations that recruit
on campus, including: school districts, military, non-profit agencies, consulting firms, large corporations and
small, family-run companies. All majors are eligible to interview and a multitude of organizations are interested
in students of any major. A myth that is perpetuated about on-campus recruiting is that it only serves business
and engineering. Not true! While a large number of organizations that recruit are what could be termed,
"business-oriented," liberal arts and other students should not rule these companies out as possibilities.
Nevertheless, there are several fields that do not recruit on-campus (i.e. advertising/PR firms, design houses,
anything related to sports or teams) because they do not have to. These organizations receive thousands of
unsolicited resumes each year without the help and expense of on-campus recruiting. Yet, on-campus recruiting
a good way of diversifying your job search efforts and to gain practice interviewing and interacting with recruiters.
It is important to "leave no stone unturned" in your job search. Do not rely only on on-campus recruiting to find your
position. Use it in conjunction with job vacancy listing, classified ads, phone contacts, Internet research, as well as
referrals from faculty and professionals. By staying organized with your information, you can serve all of your contacts
in a better manner and make the next process (research) a little easier.
With a job search or a graduate (or professional) school search, research is very important. You’ve assessed your
interests, values and skills, now it is time to apply them to real-life opportunities and find a "niche" for you in the world
of work. Use the information you found out about yourself in your research of organizations and schools. You need to
know if you are going to feel comfortable in these places and that the opportunities are going to put you in a position
to grow as a professional and a person. For example, you are very interested in law school. You know from your
self-assessment and values that you are a person who likes to help people and are very activist in your nature. You
have always been interested in public policy and human rights. So, with these things in mind, would or should you
consider a law school that focuses very much on the corporate perspective of law or would you rather attend a law
school with an "activist" bent? However, if you had not researched law schools (or a graduate school or an organization)
how would you ever know if its organizational values conflict with your personal values? The thing is that you would not.
This, in the long way, is why you need to research. Devoting time to finding out more about the opportunity and organization
will pay off in tenfold later on.
To do your research, you should be pursuing in-depth, factual resources, rather than accounts from friends or other
casual information. Your research of an organization should include current job requirements, trends for the future, and
where the best opportunities for your interests and competencies are likely to be found. This means attending career fairs
and evening meetings, spending time in the Career Resources @ CDC utilizing organizational literature and conducting
informational interviews to get a more personal perspective. For graduate (or professional) school searches, the same
research should occur in addition to learning more about institutions and their requirements, entrance exams, speaking
with faculty and visiting campuses.
While you are doing your research, you should be polishing your professional job search skills. These skills include
knowing how to prepare a professional resume appropriate to your career field, knowing how to conduct a an effective
interview that will present your skills and qualifications in terms that respond to an employer’s needs, and knowing how
to prepare and manage the written communications that are required in job correspondence. Professional job search
skills also require an awareness of employers’ perspectives and timetables and an understanding of the extra
qualifications that they value- leadership skills, multicultural experiences and sensitivity, awareness of contemporary
ethical issues in the world of work and a global perspective.
For those of you considering graduate (or professional school) this is an important time to think about, in addition to
professional skills, your professional goals at the present (they will most likely change at least a bit upon completion of graduate/professional school). Most graduate and professional programs ask students to write an essay. Usually
these essays need to communicate why you are choosing to pursue a particular program, a little bit about yourself and
your views and what you plan to do in the future. Many graduate programs (especially those requiring original research
or are highly competitive) want students that are going to feel comfortable and whose interests are similar to those of
the faculty. This does not mean you should alter your professional goals to attend one school or the other, rather you
should research carefully to cultivate a list of schools that reflect an education that will satisfy your professional goals.
Okay, you have researched and written a resume, bought a snappy suit and you are ready for action, but where are the
interviews? The interviews will come once you have sent those resumes out with well written cover letters in response
to vacancies, networked to find good contacts and generally kept abreast of all the openings in your field. They will come!
You must be persistent, but patient! Schedule an appointment with a CDC staff member to discuss your progress. Often,
you need someone else, besides yourself, to think about what you are encountering. Counseling can offer you a fresh
perspective or open up opportunities you may not have seen before.
Finally, this stage takes time. If you do not secure a position or graduate/professional school entrance prior to graduation,
have a back up plan. Are you going to move home? What interests you? Is there a job you can secure that will provide you
with flexibility and funds to keep on searching? Can you get on a waiting list? Most importantly, do not give up or give in!