This post is dedicated to those like me that may not want to go to grad school right after graduation. Maybe you want to work first to pay off your student loans. Maybe you don’t want to teach and you’ve realized that if you go to grad school for English you’re pretty much going to get your Ph.D and become an English professor. Whatever the reason, there are things you can do to prepare yourself for the job search while still working on your undergraduate degree. I’m going to use tips from the PowerPoint and based on my own experience to hopefully help you get prepared for that job after graduation.
Tip # 1: Strategy
Try to figure out now what types of careers you are interested in. You can use this post to get some ideas of possible job choices for English majors, but don’t limit yourself here. There are lots of different ways you can use your English degree.
Tip #2: Experience
You should start gaining experience for your resume; experience is very important and can be just as useful (if not more so) than a degree. Experience helps you gain skills to market yourself and also helps you gain contacts that can land you your job.
Ways that you can gain experience include writing or editing for your school’s literary magazine or newspaper. I did both in high school and college since I knew I wanted a job related to writing and/or publishing. You can also start a blog or send in articles to online or local newspapers or magazines. If you’re interested in secretarial or office work then get position as a student worker for a departmental office. See if the English department is hiring student workers to do desk work for them. If you’re interested in law then try to get an internship at a law office. There are lots of different avenues you can go to find ways to spruce up your resume.
Tip #3: Build your Resume
Make sure you get involved in different activities so you can gain skills that you can use to market yourself. If you want to prove you have leadership capability, get a position as an officer in a club or run for a position in the SGA. I was always involved in different clubs in college and usually wound up working as an officer since it meant I was more involved. Learning a foreign language can be very important depending on the field you want to go into; Spanish can be useful if you live in an area with a large Hispanic population and French is used a lot in business. If you want to do something related to foreign relations or study then you should definitely learn the language of the country you are interested in working in/with.
You can also learn special skills related to the field you are interested in. For example, I learned how to use design programs such as Adobe InDesign and Adobe Illustrator because I wanted to work in fields such as advertising and public relations where you have to design and create publications. Knowing how to use Microsoft Office products such as Word, PowerPoint, and Excel are also useful if you want a job in business. Another important area you can focus on is community service. Community service work for different organizations and non-profits is not only spiritually rewarding it can also lead to important contacts and experience for future jobs.
Now, the other important part of building your resume is good design. If your resume is visually pleasing that can be the difference between your future boss actually looking at the document or throwing it in the discard pile. You also want to make sure that there are no spelling or grammar errors on your resume; many times if a potential employer spots an error, that resume is going to be thrown away and forgotten. Try to have as many eyes see your resume before sending it in – I had some of my professors help me build and proof mine because I wanted it to be the best it can be. And remember, your resume is a living document – you will be constantly adding on to it and revising it as time progresses. You want to make sure you tailor your resume for the job you are applying for. I am going to provide an example of the resume I used to get my internship – I made sure I put information relevant to the job first and picked the clubs and activities I had been involved in at college that were relevant to the job on there.
If you want to read more job search tips, continue on to Part II.