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It’s not too late to start preparing for your career
By Meg Housholder

No matter what level or grade you are currently in, it’s never too late to start prepping for life after college. Some people think it’s OK to apply for jobs right after graduation, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Surprisingly, the best time to start a plan for a career after college is senior year of high school. Having trouble where or how to start in the hiring process? You’re in luck. Here are six things you must do to get your first job out of college:

1. Create a LinkedIn profile: This professional social network helps young adults make connections early and often. Include everything on your LinkedIn profile, such as the college or high school you’ve attended, jobs or internships, accolades and awards, skill sets and extra-curricular activities. It’s smart to connect with businesses you are interested in. A survey among college students showed that one in every three student has a presence on LinkedIn. You will stand out from the competition if you create a LinkedIn profile.

2. Establish a presence through an online profile: One in nine students have an online blog presence or have put together a personal blog. What should you blog about? Try topics that interest you: job aspirations, career paths you want to pursue or any personal interests. Establishing an online presence or personal blog allows employers the opportunity to check out your work and understand your voice.

3. Get an internship as early as possible: It’s never too early to get an internship. College students know that internships can be valuable; however, they can be difficult to attain. Many internships are looking for students who are juniors, seniors and graduates. Apply early and apply often. Don’t discount internships if you are graduating in May; 90 percent of companies hire their interns on to full-time positions. Earn extra brownie points if you land an internship with a company that has wide brand recognition. Companies will be more willing to hire you if you have a big brand listed on your resume.

4. Find a mentor: 70 percent of college students say they’ve had at least one mentor. However, many students look to their parents, friends or other family members for guidance. Unless you plan to pursue a career that your mom or uncle is in, look to find a mentor on social networks. Advanced searches on LinkedIn can help you narrow down specific fields or companies where your potential mentor can be. If you find someone who may be a good mentor to you, send them an email and ask to meet. You’ll be surprised how many adults perceive this approach as impressive.

5. Use your school’s career services office: Career offices can do more than help you find a job. They can assist you with your resume, cover letter writing, portfolio layouts and job interview preparations. The best tool this office can offer is the vast alumni connections. You’re interested in marketing? They can get you connected to Jane Doe, who graduated back in ’89, and is now the VP of Marketing at Menards. UNK’s Career Services is found in the Memorial Student Affairs Building. They utilize the personal and career development tool Handshake. Handshake gives you access to job and internship opportunities, event invitations and resources that specifically match your career interests. For you seniors, the career service center can help you apply for graduate school, prep for interviews and packages a Credential File to send to employers during your application process.

6. Join a professional or industry-specific club: This is the biggest untapped resource. Most universities offer groups or clubs for every kind of major. These groups can help connect you to professionals in your area. UNK offers 40 academic and professional organizations including: American Marketing Association, Enactus, Model United Nations, Sociology Club, Cyber Security Club and Wildlife Society.

Seniors, if you haven’t started applying for jobs after graduation, start today. Start applying for jobs right after you read this article. Keep in mind the hiring process can take up to four to six weeks, some up to three or more months. There are a handful of job sites, such as, and, on the Internet. Those websites are excellent sources to find jobs. The clock is winding down, and graduation will be here before you know it.

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