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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Clock is ticking for class of ’24 to get ready for the next step

The UA has resources to help graduates land that first job
Ellia Pannier, El Inde Arizona
Student mentors help soon-to-be grads with career preparedness at LifeLab, one of many UA career resources where students can ask questions and discuss their goals with peers and professionals.

While some students know their career path before they even step onto campus, many are just figuring it out along the way. But for those about to graduate, it’s time to answer the question: “What’s next?”   

For members of the class of 2024 who take things one step at a time, here is some professional advice from University of Arizona career coaches that will help simplify the path to the future.  

Located at the Bartlett Academic Success Center behind the Bear Down Building, the UA Student Engagement & Career Development center is filled with both student mentors and career educators who are there to help map out students’ next steps with one-on-one counseling and support. 

It’s worth noting that these resources are not exclusive to students; graduates can also access them for up to a year after completing a degree.

Cory Eisenberg, a seasoned career education coordinator and instructor, uses a personalized approach to help graduating students identify their career goals and aspirations. With an understanding of the diversity of student trajectories, Eisenberg connects with students on a deeper level to reveal their true potential.

“I talk to them about who they are, what their values are and what work looks like for them,” Eisenberg said. “As we’re working through this, I see key areas of their talent and their interests and I help them highlight themselves the best they can to represent themselves to future employers and opportunities.”

Students and coaches work as a team to map out a graduate’s next steps and focus on demystifying the process of job seeking, networking and everything that falls within the professional structure. 

If a student wants a second opinion on their career documents, LinkedIn profile, interview technique and more, they can use the UA resources to ensure putting their best foot forward.  

Here’s some tips collected from five UA career professionals to help guide students’ job-searching journey. 

Common pitfalls 

  • Limiting where to look
    • Don’t limit a job search to one platform. Instead, use a variety of platforms including Handshake, Glassdoor and LinkedIn. Rather than focusing on specific job titles, expand the search to diverse industries, companies and employers and use different techniques such as reaching out to a company of interest. 
  • Identifying job titles 
    • New job titles are created every day so it can be hard to identify which ones to  apply to. Receive guidance from career advisors to explore suitable job titles or   take different approaches focusing on personal skills and interests. 
  • Transactional networking 
    • Forming relationships purely to progress in the career world happens, but students should aim to curate the relationship past that. Don’t just follow someone’s social media profile and leave it at that. Follow up by sending a message asking for advice or complimenting someone’s work. Not only does it start a conversation, but it can make a student memorable.  
  • Self advocacy 
    • Students shouldn’t sell themselves short. Be proactive and assertive by seeking opportunities and network with a purpose. 
  • Holding out for the perfect fit
    • If a student is hesitant to start a position because they are holding out for that perfect job, they are doing themselves a disservice. If an opportunity becomes available that has a balance between interest, salary and personal needs, students should embrace it and just start with a role that feels right. While it may not be a student’s dream job, it can get their foot in the door. Also students should make sure the company’s mission aligns with their personal values. If they don’t match, students may not enjoy working there in the long term. 
  • Resumes 
    • No industry is the same, so do sufficient research to make the resume stand out from others. Tailor the language to fit the job and to reflect personal skills the specific company needs.
  • Solo mission
    • Some students try to use a logical strategy and attempt a solo mission to find jobs and network. Navigating next steps requires a level of vulnerability necessary when trying to figure out personal goals for the future, so seek help to understand every part of the process.  

Tips for success for job candidates 

  • Informational interviews
    • If unsure that a company would be a good fit, reach out and ask for an informational interview to learn more about the company and job. This also helps to establish relationships and expand a student’s network.   
  • QR codes
    • Instead of carrying around business cards, make a personal QR code that links to LinkedIn, a personal website or whatever else a student might need to highlight themselves. It simplifies the networking process and makes for a great elevator pitch.
  • Networking
    • A network is a student’s net worth. Use LinkedIn, Handshake and other platforms to increase reach and discover opportunities to connect with recruiters and professionals in different industries. 
    • Don’t be afraid to reach out to new people or complete strangers on these platforms. If a student is nervous, they should challenge themselves; with more practice, it becomes more natural. Additionally, students should not limit who they connect with because they never know who they may or may not need later on in life. 
    • Connect with others on a human level. Approach it as an opportunity to meet someone new and get to know them as a person rather than a company. This authenticity can make a student stand out so the next time a company is hiring they may look to that student first.    
  • LinkedIn 
    • Growing a network by following companies and professionals that stand out to a student will connect them to even more opportunities as the platform’s algorithm suggests more relevant content. 
    • Create a personal brand through LinkedIn. Use the platform as a social media outlet by posting, sharing and commenting at least once a week. It can come in the form of original content, sharing other people’s posts and adding to the conversation.   
  • Flexibility and adaptability
    • Explore job opportunities outside of your field of study and don’t be afraid to pivot. Your major does not necessarily equal your career, so use your list of skills to connect with jobs in other industries whether or not it’s a perfect match.  
  • Job search strategizing 
    • Finding a job can take months of searching. Students should stay on top of applications by creating a spreadsheet of where they applied to, who they spoke to and what time they did so. This makes the process easier by laying out the timeline in an organized fashion. Follow up in potentially three-month increments; the times may fluctuate depending on the industry. Keep a record of these efforts so it’s clearer when it’s time to move on.
    • Schedule time into the day to work on a resume, LinkedIn profile and outreach.
  • Microcredentials 
    • While waiting to hear back about a job application, use that time to develop skills to add to a resume. Students can use LinkedIn or the UA’s microcredential resources as well as the university’s digital badges. 
  • Evaluating a job offer
    • Salary is not the only thing that matters, especially in the long run. Consider the company’s culture and whether it’s remote or in person. Students should then think about how important those things are to them. 
  • Mentors
    • Find trustworthy people, whether it’s a peer, a UA alum, an old supervisor or a professional in the field to turn to for guidance. Mentors can act as references, advisors, moral support and maybe even connect students to a broader network. 
  • Communication skills
    • Employers are often looking for communication skills and experiences, so highlight those in cover letters, resumes and LinkedIn profiles.

El Inde Arizona is a news service of the University of Arizona School of Journalism.

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