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The New Grad Catch-22
No Experience Means No Job and No Job Means No Experience...
So, how can a new grad impress a hiring manager? Demonstrate experience. Relevant experience - including internships and volunteer activities - is one of the most influential factors in hiring a new grad.
"Participating in an internship or co-op can help students decide if they really are suited to a particular profession or organization," says Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director. "In turn, employers can assess student performance on-site and in their corporate culture and, if they like what they see, can work to convert the student into a full-time employee upon graduation.
Other factors that also influence a hiring manager's decisions are strong interview performance, fit within the corporate culture, enthusiasm for the job, educational background, and professional behavior.
So now that you know the secret to getting hired, here are some obvious and not so obvious places to look for that first job:
Job boards aren't just for full-time professionals. Many employers advertise internship opportunities just as they would a regular job. And there's a ton out there. A recent search on CareerBuilder.com using keyword "internship" garnered almost 1,000 postings.
Do you admire a company and hope to work there someday? Check out their employment section online and chances are internship positions will be listed. If not, contact human resources directly and just ask if they offer internships and how to apply. And even if there isn't a formal intern program, there's a good chance they'll consider bringing you on as one anyway.
Your Academic Advisor and Professors
College professors aren't always holed up in their offices cut off from the rest of the world. They are the experts in their field and aware of industry trends. They have widespread networks and are often contacted by peers and colleagues who are offering opportunities for students.
Career Services Office
Your university career center will have apprenticeship listings and may have other resources including books, employer files and directories, and web sites. Career counselors can give you advice, critique your approach, and put you on the right track.
Do you think of a cattle call when you hear the word "job fair?" Employers often use job fairs to identify students for internships and also full-time employment. And, they're great opportunities to make that positive first impression by putting a face to a resume, especially when the resume doesn't include a lot of real world experience.
Research organizations and industries in order to tailor cover letters and resumes to that employer. You'll learn about trends and probably discover new companies and organizations who might have available opportunities.
Think a network is for seasoned professionals? You're wrong - anyone you know is part of your network. Talk with friends, family, coworkers, supervisors, instructors, administrators and professionals in their fields of study, and let them know you're looking for an internship. It could be as simple as emailing your resume to everyone in your address book and letting them know your intentions.
Kate Lorenz is the article and advice editor for CareerBuilder.com. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
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