Job searches begin early

By Kimberlee Hauss

Renee Jones, assistant director of recruitment and information technology for Career Services, discusses Melissa Chirino's resume. Chirino is a senior intercultural studies major and will graduate in May. | Photo by Deanna Santangelo

Although the temptation might be to wait until the spring to search for job opportunities, Jacqueline Taylor, assistant dean of students and director of Career Services and Student Services, said, “Seniors should definitely start seriously applying for positions in their fall semester.”

While she suggests this to all graduating students, different fields have different timelines. Accounting majors, for example, typically apply earlier than other disciplines.

Debbie Lai, senior accounting major, sent out resumes as early as September, interviewed over fall break and received a job offer in November with a public firm in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Other majors that Taylor encouraged to apply in the fall include business, government, social work, computer science, information technology and ministry.

“(They) require early application because the screening and interview processes take time. Background checks are mandatory, so if students are interested in these fields they should start the job-search process early,” Taylor said.

Teaching positions and journalism careers often must wait until later in the school year to find out about job openings. Regardless of the time frame, senior students should be proactive in job-hunting.

“Students who apply early send a message that they are serious and, as a result, are often the first ones selected to interview and receive competitive job offers,” Taylor said.

Renee Jones, assistant director of recruitment and information technology for Career Services and Student Services, said, “Do not wait one month before graduation to determine that you need a job and then start to look. Give yourself at least one year, the fall of your senior year, to begin evaluating yourself and the economy to understand what it requires to secure a quality employment opportunity.”

Early on, students should begin networking, as about 80 percent of jobs are found through forming intentional relationships with family, friends, professors, high school teachers, community leaders  and church members, Taylor said.

Internships are also key in securing a job upon graduation. They provide employers with a longer interview process and help prospective employees determine whether or not the position matches what they want to do.

Practicums and student-teaching positions give some students a taste of their career before they enter the job market as a graduate.

“A lot of what I apply for will depend on how much I like my practicum and where I’ve been placed,” said Kari Beougher, senior social work major.

She said people are often surprised by what they discover during their practicum.

She said they think, “I would love to work in this setting,’ but then they get in and think, ‘I hate this, I would never want to do this.’”

Realizing this truth during an internship or temporary position will save many job-seeking seniors the hassle of choosing the wrong company or career.

Taylor also said summer internships are valuable.

“Taking a summer internship to gain valuable skills and experience is the most strategic way to land an entry-level career opportunity that can often lead to that dream job.”

While field-specific time frames and late application deadlines keep some seniors from applying early, many students simply have not begun the job search because they do not know what they want to do after graduation.

Although Beougher said she wants to work with a nonprofit ministry that is faith-based or mission-oriented, she also said, “I have no clue what I want to do.”

Beougher is not alone in her search for what the future might hold. Lai said many of her friends are facing the same situation.

“It’s not necessarily that they’re intentionally not (applying),” Lai said. “A lot of them aren’t sure what they want to do so they haven’t applied yet.”

Graduates should be glad to hear Union has a placement rate of about 80 percent within three months of graduation.

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.