One of the reasons why I applied to UC was because of the experience-based learning program, where students would participate in at least one of the following: research, co-operative education (co-op), performance, internships, study abroad, service learning, or clinicals. I had heard so many amazing stories about co-ops and internships from different UC students, and I always wanted to be like them one day.
My biggest question at that time was “How do I do that? Where do I start?”
Well, I’m sure there is no perfect answer for that question, but after four years at UC with three co-op experiences and seven semesters of doing research, I have come up with general ideas on what we students could do to have a great start and stand out when applying for jobs. Believe me, it’s never too early to start!
1. Get relevant experiences
Academics are certainly important, but how can you prove to your future employers that you can apply what you have learned in classes in the real world and that you can function well in a team? Therefore, let’s get your feet wet!
- Volunteer: Regardless of what major you are in, volunteering is a good place to start. Go to this link to find out what opportunities fit you.
- On-campus part-time job: All opening positions at UC are listed here. For international undergraduate students, we can only apply for “Student Worker” positions.
- Research: Reach out to professors for research opportunities (it could be either the professors who teach you some classes or any professors you found on UC website that are working on projects that interest you). Lots of professors at UC are doing research, and they are always more than happy to help undergraduate students. Even if they are not actively doing research, they can help guide you to the right person. Find more research opportunities here:
- Honors Students: Check out the list of pre-approved honor experiences
2. Gain leadership and teamwork experiences
There are more than 500 student organizations around campus. Let’s find something that fits you!
I highly recommend that you join at least one professional organization that is related to your major or your interested career path (e.g. I am a chemical engineering student, and I joined UC AIChE- American Institution of Chemical Engineering and UC SWE- Society of Women Engineers). They always have multiple meetings throughout the semester, where you could meet new people with the same interests as you and even your future employers.
When joining in an organization, don’t just show up! The first one or two semesters would be the warm-up and get-to-know-you periods. After that, you should definitely apply for executive board positions. By doing that, you could make your resume stood out a lot more! Employers love to see leadership experiences!
When it comes to networking, even though I know that it is important, I used to find a fair amount of resistance in my head: “I hate networking,” “That’s not my style, I would rather getting a job on my own” or “Ugh!! This is too much work!”
And, I am not the only one. However, we can’t change the fact that new things always come from outside our inner circle, and because our besties are often too similar to us to provide any more than sympathy, and they often don’t know more about jobs than we do.
By making friends anywhere you go, you will be surprised at how large of the not-yet-to-reveal resources they have. A Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn message could be the beginning of something bigger.
4. Go above and beyond
When applying for a competitive position at your dream company, don’t just apply! Reach out to recruiters on LinkedIn so that they know who you are and what is so special about you. Below is an example:
Hi [Name]! I am a computer science student at the University of Cincinnati with an expected graduation in May 2022. I have applied to 3 positions for the Fall of 2021: Position 1+2+3 I would be a great fit for these roles because I have an intense passion for conservation and data. I currently intern at T-Mobile as a Data Analyst and my work in conservation is thorough my research at a penguin lab. Please find attached my resume. You must receive a lot of messages being a recruiter, so thank you so much for your time!
5. Polish your social media as employers could possibly take a quick look at it. You don’t want to lose an interview opportunity by a not-very-thoughtful post you had 5 years ago.
Applying for jobs has never been an easy process. What’s important is to be persistent, stay calm and try not to get stressed out too much. The 6 strategies I discussed above are not the only ones. There are so many different things that you can do. Nobody knows everything at the begining, and I’m sure you will figure out what works for you and what does not on the way. I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors!