You’re six months from graduating and starting to worry about getting a job. Should you start interviewing? Or is it too early? What do you tell employers?
These questions were running through my mind as I worked to complete my undergraduate degree. It was nearing the end of spring semester and I wouldn’t graduate until December. I would be doing an internship during the summer and finishing up classes in the fall, but then what?
With no plan for employment, I started to get nervous.
Out of curiosity, I started to peruse the bulletin boards in the building where I took classes for my major. I walked past these bulletin boards almost every day, but just now realized that they might hold some very valuable information.
To my pleasant surprise, I noticed that some highly reputable global manufacturing companies were coming to campus to interview for jobs for which I was qualified.
After thinking about it for a few minutes, I decided to contact the university’s Career Services and put my name on the list, just to practice going through the formalities of the interviewing process.
I would have to get serious about interviewing at some point, so why not take advantage of the opportunity now, just for practice?
As soon as I found out when and where I would interview, I thought about the questions that I might be asked, the ones that seemed straight-forward but would reveal much more, like character, confidence and sincerity: Why do you want to work for us? How can you fulfill the requirements of the position? Are you willing to relocate? Where do you see yourself in five years?
Since I really didn’t think I would get an offer this far from graduation, I wasn’t nervous about the competition. All I wanted was some experience interviewing. At the same time, I had to be sincere, or I would get a reputation for jerking people around and then I would never get a job.
So I prepared by researching the companies and the areas in which they were located. I got excited when I learned that not only did these businesses have locations worldwide (more opportunities), they were among the best for salary and benefits. When I entered the interview, I was dressed in a business suit and ready to go to work.
I told them I admired them as stellar employers and explained how I could meet their requirements in specific detail. I also told them that, although I didn’t graduate until December, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet with them since they were known as such great employers (and I meant it).
In about a week, I was shocked to hear from both of them and had to decide whether I wanted to become a Cheesehead or a Hoosier.
Both companies said they would hold the jobs open for me. I officially graduated on December 22 and started work on December 27, my new boss explaining that an earlier start date might not mean anything now, but definitely would when I wanted to retire.
The effort that started as a practical exercise ended up as the beginning of my twenty-year career.
I learned to take advantage of opportunities when they arrive and to be prepared for the adventure. Employers want motivated, enthusiastic employees, but only if you’re sincere about working for them.
I didn’t know I wanted to work for an international corporation or that I would like living in southern Indiana until I went out on a limb, prepared by my research.
It’s OK to reach out to prospective employers if you’re honest and willing to do the best you can as their employee. That’s more important than ever in today’s job market.
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