By Ariana Yuen, Class of 2012
As senior year rolled in, I was overwhelmed with the questions, the lecturing and sheer thoughts regarding my post-grad plans. To say that the job search is stressful is an understatement and if you enter senior year without concrete plans (as I did) and are a complete worrywart (as I tend to be), you may experience what I call a quarter-life crisis.
I had sculpted my college career with the intent of going into communications, but come October of my senior year, I pivoted. After a frazzled process of professional “soul searching,” research and brain-picking sessions with people I felt knew me best, I made an unexpected decision to pursue a career in management consulting. Although the job hunt process can be tiresome, demoralizing and metaphysically tumor-esque, there are a myriad of tactics to land a great job while getting the most out of senior year.
Although everyone’s job search will be entirely unique depending on your personality and industry, I have listed the four elements of my job search I felt most beneficial:
1. Research is always beneficial throughout the entire job hunt process. Use research to help understand the industry, companies and job function you’re looking to get into. Sites like Vault and Glassdoor, as well as casual informational interviews with professionals in the field, will give you the best idea of whether or not you’re on the right track for what’s best for you. When you’re networking, research companies before you speak with people to ask more intelligent questions and show a genuine interest in the company. Also, be sure to visit Career Services’ resource page. I wish I had found it earlier!
2. Utilize your resources: Those resources include LinkedIn, alumni databases/‘CuseConnect, OrangeLink, and our very own Career Services office (in Schine 235!). If you tend to be an “I-can-do-it-all-by-myself” type of person (which I am), stop. Although you might be able to land your dream job simply by applying online, your chances are exponentially higher if you leverage your resources. There is so much that Career Services offers that students, including myself, did/do not even realize. Besides resume and cover letter building, there are people who can advise you with career paths, networking, improving online profiles, mock interviews, choosing between multiple offers, negotiations, and many other topics. Pay attention to career-related e-mails so that you are aware of job fairs and deadlines.
3. Network, network, network. This is heavily stressed, yet rarely put into practice by students. It starts with peeling away the common fears of networking: the awkwardness and misconceptions that networking is always “suck-up-y,” artificial and not beneficial unless the person you are networking with is someone with a senior management position. You must get over those fears. Start viewing networking as relationship building and networking now (even if it does not lead directly to a job) can be potentially beneficial to the future, whether you want to transfer jobs X amount of years down the road, or build new business or partnerships on behalf of your company. Don’t be too picky with who you network with. You never know if that entry-level person you’re speaking with is best friends with the HR manager or takes part in the recruitment process. Personally, I found LinkedIn to be most useful. Reach out to SU alumni – they are generally extremely generous with their time, advice and resources. Follow up and always give your thanks.
4. Be excited about what’s going on in your present and future. Being excited is the best way to balance the stresses of the job search while living up your senior year. Being excited about your job search will make being proactive (whether it’s with your research, networking or actual job applications) less of a hassle and something to get a thrill out of. Yes, I know it sounds mildly strange, but to combat my job search stresses, I began to see networking and my job hunt progress as a game instead of a burdensome struggle. Excitement, most importantly, will give you the perseverance to land your dream job while remaining sane.
These practices, especially school resources and help from alumni, were invaluable to reaching my goal of a career in management consulting. In August, I will start working at Booz Allen Hamilton as an entry-level consultant in the D.C. area and I couldn’t be more excited for this next chapter of my life!