Seven Job Tips for College Students

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The job news is grim for soon-to-be graduating college students.

Employers, according to The National Association of Colleges and Employers are expected to hire 7% fewer graduates of the Class of 2010 than they did with the last batch.

With this shrunken pool of college graduate jobs, how can soon-to-be graduates get ahead in this jobless recovery? Here are seven job tips:

Find a college internship. Employers like to hire graduates who have worked at college internships. It takes initiative to snag an internship and it can better prepare you for an occupational field.

Distinguish yourself. I got this tip from Muhlenberg College: Apply for a special scholarship or leadership position. Commit yourself deeply to community service or an extracurricular activity. Take on a major project and see  it through the completion. Anything you do is a chance to distinguish yourself – if you do it it the very best of your ability and are awake and alert to the lessons to be learned along the way!

Work during college. It’s amazing how many students have never held a real job. Without a track record, it’s going to be hard for an employer to determine if you’ve got what it takes to succeed in a workplace.

Network. With social media, it’s easy to network and it should be second nature for college students. Be sure your parents are networking via LinkedIn and Facebook and who knows what else. Your dad’s best friend might be the one who paves the way for your first job.

Follow directions. When applying for a job include all the materials that an employer requests. For instance, if the employer asks for a list of references, don’t include actual recommendations. If you can’t follow the directions, your application will likely get tossed. And for goodness sake, proofread.

Write a killer cover letter. Don’t write the standard, “Enclosed is my resume, blah, blah, blah.” This is your chance to impress the employer and make him or her want to wade through the rest of your application. For tips on cover letters, read Cover Letters for Dummies by my friend Joyce Lain Kennedy.

Resist being picky. Your first job out of college isn’t going to be your dream job. Twentysomethings are expected to work hard and prove themselves. There is nothing wrong with an entry-level job.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes a college blog for

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3 Responses to “Seven Job Tips for College Students”

  1. Dan Golden says:

    Thoughtful and upbeat as usual, Lynn! Having spent 21 years at Wheaton College helping students find meaningful work after graduation, I can’t tell you how many times employers have despaired of students who only know how to get good grades. Whatever it is called (jobs, volunteering, course field placements, research with faculty, internships) students who graduate with relevant professional experiences definitely will rise to the top of the candidate pool.

    Another small note on the benefits of getting a campus job in particular-you’ll spend more time with your campus supervisor than with most academic advisors. They can help you navigate your way through your college’s bureaucracy, can spot when you’re sick or unhappy and, of course, can be in a position to write you a strong reference letter! Get a job, get a life, get a resume! DG

  2. Lynn says:

    Hi Dan,

    Excellent advice. I love your observation about why getting a campus job can be so valuable. It’s a take on campus jobs that I’ve never seen before. Thanks for sharing it and I will definitely spread the word.

  3. Dan Northern says:

    Networking is very important during college. There are so many connections everywhere, both online and in person. These connections can be the key to finding employment after college.

    Great tips here. Thanks!

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