The very words ‘job search’ make some people, including students, looking for summer work or for that first job after graduation, shudder with anxiety. While the media reports that students often leave school with huge loans and indefinite career prospects, the brighter picture often is not conveyed, according to. Leslie Delerme, director of OWU’s Career Services Center.
“There definitely are jobs out there,” says Delerme. Postings on sites such as LinkedIn have improved and requests by employers as well as their participation in career fairs have picked up. This is great news, right? Not completely, as Delerme explains. Along with those increases is a job market that has become far more competitive over the last few years.
“It’s about standing out and making connections, and in today’s society it’s about both what and who you know,” says Delerme. “That’s why the sites like LinkedIn and Bishop Link are so important to getting a head start on the competition.” Ohio Wesleyan alumni are active on both sites and are generally willing, if not eager, to help students achieve their goals. There are, in fact, a number of OWU seniors who have jobs and careers lined up after graduation. It can be done, says Delerme, but the trick is knowing how to go about doing it. And that is where the Career Services office can help. Staff members won’t hand students a job on a silver platter. But they are there to help with the processes involved in finding that job.
“Students have to do their own legwork,” explains Delerme. The office can, however, help with everything from networking advice to resume and cover letter preparation. Staff members will offer constructive criticism and advice. There even is a mock interview program for which the student can make an appointment, (it takes about an hour), hand over a copy of their resume and the job description and then go through the interview process with one of the counsellors. Career Services tries to make the interview process as realistic as possible, recording and playing it back with a question and answer session after the interview is done. There is no cap on how many times a student can go through the mock interview process, so they can go and do it until they feel comfortable with the interview process.
Comfort is, as Delerme explains, something that people need. When asked what makes up characteristics of the students who already have opportunities and jobs lined up, she had a few pointers. “Good academic standing is an obvious plus, although if an employer sees that you are involved on campus they might not expect straight A’s on your transcript,” says Delerme. She adds that many of these students have also started early, by going to Career Services beginning in their freshman year, making their future enough of a priority to be persistent about it. They have also been applying for at least two or three jobs or more each week for several months.
“Students need to follow up diligently in order to find jobs, internships, and even interviews” says Delerme. “If they tell you to call or email them or even to go online and fill out an application, don’t get discouraged thinking that you are being brushed off. This is not the case; they simply need you to ‘exist’ in their system before they can go any further with an application.” This shows a lot about the drive of an applicant and that can be important in weeding out applicants who are not serious about working for a specific company.
Other obvious pluses for applicants, says Delerme, are the ability to write and the preparation that they have put into the application process. This is where the Writing Across the Curriculum program at OWU is incredibly helpful. Some of the most desirable skills that a job applicant can possess are the abilities to write and communicate with people. Research the company that you are interviewing for, arrive with an idea of what they do and why it is that you would want to work there.
“It doesn’t hurt to have some idea of the types of employees they are looking for, perhaps even the types of questions they would ask in an interview,” says Delerme.
Something else to remember, she adds, is that employers may often look beyond a prospective employee’s academic major.
“Other strengths like good communication, the ability to analyze information, and the willingness to be trained in the field are very important,” says Delerme.
Finally, it helps to have an advocate. Alumni often act as this person, passing along resumes or helping students network in other ways, and it’s a great way to give back to OWU. Helping students get their feet in the door, especially in the current economic climate, is a great way of making sure that students know that the OWU family really does care about what happens to them after they have their diploma in hand.