The Senior Year Job Hunt

You are sitting on your friend’s couch doing something between homework and nothing. You have a paper due in two days you have yet to write. Still, you’re pretty sure you’re going graduate, and you are much less worried about this paper due in two days than finding a job in nine months. All of your young adult life, you’ve had a plan. Now, there is no plan.

Buckle up. Because if you’re thinking about that job now, you’re going to keep thinking about the prospect of unemployment until you find that next step. Fortunately, the stress surrounding this event–the hopeful transition from student life to the world of professionals–is manageable.

Do not panic. There are five things you can do this fall to set yourself up for paid-success. Don’t believe me? At this point two years ago, I was a Creative Writing Major. Now, I’m an Associate Product Manager at a top influencer and data company. Trust me. And keep reading.

1. Say Yes to Experience.

You may have been fortunate enough to have accrued a handful of internships ahead of your senior year, but there is no line in the sand past which you should stop taking opportunities for experience. With each experience, you gain some combination of skills and relationships, and some combination of those two things will give you your next opportunity. They also enable you to begin to craft a narrative about who you are as a job applicant.

Me with Bracken Darrell after he spoke at Hendrix College in 2016.

Class 4 Fellow, Jackson Fitzgibbon, with Bracken Darrell after he spoke at Hendrix College in 2016.

2. Brand Yourself.

I went to hear Bracken Darrell speak once. He graduated from my alma mater, Hendrix College, back when car phones were cutting-edge technology. Now, he’s the C.E.O. of Logitech–a multi-million dollar tech company. In his talk, he mentioned he was an English major; someone asked him why he decided to study English. He said, “Because it’s the only thing I wasn’t good at.” He had the room. Then, he explained that he had been telling that story for years, and that the mindset behind that kind of answer was part of branding himself to potential employers.

What is your story? What concise few sentences describe you. It doesn’t have to be direct, nor does it have to be overly-nuanced. But at some point, you’ll be asked to describe yourself in an interview. Work now to craft that narrative, and to incite some conviction in yourself.

3. Think Outside of Your Major.

As an Arkansas Fellow, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to see Fellows from unconventional backgrounds break into the business space, from biochemistry students to creative-writing majors like me. Something that has surprised me about life after college is how much opportunity is given to those with the right intangibles. Four years of coursework may convince you that there is no other measure of value–you need four business courses to work at my company–but that’s not always true. I’m an example. Bracken is an example. Look at every opportunity, and don’t count yourself out before an employer even knows who you are.

Glassdoor is a website where employees and former employees anonymously review companies and their management.

Glassdoor is a website where employees and former employees review companies and their management.

4. Do Not Stop Searching.

Google, “jobs near me.” Now, do not stop searching until you have a job. At least twice a week, look for opportunities. LinkedIn is a top resource. Indeed, ZipRecruiter and Glassdoor are all other useful tools for not only finding opportunities near you, but getting a sense of what compensation might look like for roles depending on where in the country they are located.

You can also move beyond the recruiter platforms, and look directly at companies. When I was searching for opportunities, I found ad agencies I liked across the U.S., then looked on their websites for job postings. I also leaned on family and friends to learn about what other job opportunities were out there. Were it not for a call to a graduated friend, I would never have heard about the Arkansas Fellowship or found my job at Collective Bias.

5. Apply for Opportunities Early

Searching for job opportunities is important, but be wary of window-shopping. I was very fortunate in that my first job application out the door led to my job today. Not all are so lucky. Keep applying, and take innovative programs like the Arkansas Fellowship into consideration when looking for the right opportunity for you.

The Arkansas Fellowship is a non-profit organization dedicated to retaining and developing young professional talent in the state of Arkansas. The Arkansas Fellowship connects Arkansas companies of varying sizes with qualified applicants from different schools and backgrounds. Arkansas Fellows receive a two-year offer letter before the end of their Fall semester. Arkansas Fellows are compensated with a minimum annual salary of $40,000 plus benefits, receive funding self-directed professional development and engage in unique mentorship and networking opportunities with business leaders in the state of Arkansas.

Apply for the Arkansas Fellowship before the deadline on Oct. 26.