By Stephanie Brooks (’11)
Though the national economy remains rocky, the hiring of recent college graduates is expected to show a modest increase this year. The National Association of Colleges and Employers found in its annual survey a 19 percent boost over 2010 in employers’ spring hiring forecasts.
Gonzaga grads are defying the odds and the economy – and launching careers across the country. Here, a handful of recent graduates, from a financial analyst in Chicago to a media planner in New York City, share innovative tips for those graduates and students who are immersed in the great job search:
Derrick Stricker (’10) works at Bally Total Fitness in Chicago as a financial analyst in the marketing department. During his time at Gonzaga he interned in the Washington, D.C., semester program as a lobbyist for the steel industry and as a credit analyst at Global Credit Union in Spokane.
» Take every job interview, coffee-chat and professional meet up you can get. It may not be the job you want or the person you wanted to meet but it presents the perfect hypothetical interview and work-like scenarios for you to learn from. Becoming comfortable and at ease in front of professionals in those situations will speak highly about you and your future skill sets.
» Take advantage of student resources (Career Center, GAMP, Treks, and Young Alums networking). Having those opportunities under your belt will make you more knowledgeable about what your prospective field and position entails and will help you make informed and difficult decisions.
Erin Ari (09’) works at Initiative, a media planning agency in New York City. Erin moved to New York last August without a job and quickly learned that the job market is 100 percent relationship driven. In addition to updating her profile on Monster.com, meeting with recruiters and applying to jobs online, Erin started networking, which led to her job at Initiative.
» Dare to dream. I think our generation is loaded with individuals who leave college with the lofty goal of getting a job. Not THE job, but just a job. I believe in setting your sights high. I’ve met so many people with incredible, enviable careers. Their secret? They worked hard to figure out what they wanted to do and developed a strategy to do it. It wasn’t easy, but they didn’t give up. One of my mentors told me to take the time to envision my “Oz”/dream job and from there, map out the “yellow brick” road. In order to get there, you’ve got to take the time to figure out where “there” is and how you can make it. This is something I’m still working on but I would love to see our generation, the recession class, rise to the occasion and do amazing things in our work.
» Network, network, network! Meet new people, make new friends and always stay open to opportunity. Take advantage of the GU network of mentors and alumni. We’re a small school, but the Zags are a pretty global bunch.
» Spiff up your resume. And when updating it, take care. I’ve seen so many hideous, poorly written resumes. Make yours stand out by using good design (no templates, please), perfect grammar and careful, purposeful wordsmithing.
Spenser Williams (’10) is an analyst in the rates and regulatory affairs department of Portland General Electric. At Gonzaga, an internship at Avista Utilities got his foot in the door of the energy and utility industry. He attended the Gonzaga Treks where he built contacts with companies such as Nike, Regence, Trail Blazers, State Farm and Liberty Northwest.
» Apply to jobs that you find interesting and are qualified for. You will be rejected, but with each interview you will get better. You must apply to a job to get your name out there. You can’t just wait and hope that dream job will show up or put all your eggs in one basket. It was tough getting the rejection letters but it was a great experience to be able to meet with all of those potential employers.
» In order to get past the first round in the application process, your resume and cover letter should contain certain key words or phrases. After doing a handful of online job apps you will notice that some companies use the same software. It works like this: You create a “job profile” and when you attach your resume, the software will pull it apart into its different categories. You should include some key words or phrases that come straight from the job posting, as well as adding your personal touch. Job postings state what the job entails and some of the responsibilities. Your goal is to ensure that the employer sees you actually read the posting and that you fit the job.
» Today, you can no longer use the classic (generic) one-page resume for all jobs. Each job is different, and you must tweak your resume to fit the job. Now, all your resumes will be similar in what your skills are and what you have accomplished, however you can phrase them in different ways to fit a job.
Angelica Asie Hall (’10) is an administrator for the international and national sales department at Jorgensen Forge Corporation. She started her job search about four months before graduation and used everything from monster.com to head hunters to find her job.
» Patience is key; you can’t expect a job offer right away. It’s going to take time and usually your resume will be in a giant pile on someone’s desk. It’s just how those things work. Don’t wait for the job to come to you, go to it. Even if you think it’s a long shot for a company to hire you, if you really think you’ll enjoy it and prosper in that company, go for it. It never hurts to try, and the worse they’ll do is to say “no.”
» When you’re in an interview, don’t give the answer that they’re looking for. The interviewer has gone through the process many times, so they know that most people will feed them the answer they want to hear. Be creative in your answer, add your personality and be honest. Ask your own questions, as well; that way you show the depth of your interest in the position, and you will know more about it and what the employer expects.
Julia Anderson (’11) is working at Kiewit Infrastructure, a construction engineering firm, this fall. She learned about the company from fellow engineering majors who had interned with Kiewit. Julia interviewed with the company at the Gonzaga Career Fair and received a job offer a few months later.
» Start Early. Even if you can’t find a job in your major, find one that gives you skills or a greater amount of responsibility. It is much easier to talk about these types of jobs than the summer you worked at a sandwich shop. Look for jobs which require you to be professional. Those jobs help you develop the language you will need when interviewing or communicating with companies.
» Do research before meeting with a company. Even if it is not an official interview, do not be caught clueless. Since many of the online application processes are difficult to get through, it is essential to establish a contact at that company to get your name in.
» Be well rounded. I have found that employers value someone who is active and can work with a variety of individuals. Participate in professional organizations that are for college students and be sure to volunteer at something connected to your major.