6 Things I Tell Every Student

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As someone who has been working in communities for a while now, I get asked to speak to students a lot. I also get lots of requests for informational interviews. In the last year, I have spoken to 3 different classes of program evaluation students around the country; presented on 2 student interest panels; and have had many, many individual conversations with students. I always tell students the same six things:

1) The money is at the professional level of your degree. For psychology, that means a PhD; for a social worker, the professional level is an MSW; and for a public health professional, the professional level is usually an MPH. I recognize that money isn’t everything. My own parents did not want me to major in psychology. If you are reading this, like me, social change is important to you. But you have to be self-sufficient. So, do consider the level of education needed in your field and the amount of money you need to live.

2) You will slow down your job search process immensely if all you ever do is send out resumes. Most jobs are found through networking. Are you shy? Me too. Get over it.

3) Stay in contact with former professors, bosses and co-workers. You never know where you or they will end up. Make a point to contact them periodically. Use a spreadsheet to organize your contacts and when you last spoke to them. See point #2.

4) Don’t be afraid to ask for informational interviews. An informational interview is a conversation you have with people about their job. You are not asking for a job, but are asking someone what they do, what education they have, and what they like and don’t like about their job. I always recommend before you leave to ask for 3 names and contact information for 3 of other people you should speak to. Most people love to talk about what they do, so don’t be afraid to ask. See point #2.

5) Put your best foot forward. Come dressed for success. Have at least one good suit. Business casual is for when you get the job. Have a fresh copy of your resume in hand. Do have a good handshake and look people in the eye. It’s trite-but-true — we are judged by people we meet within the first few minutes.

Screen Shot 2017-04-07 at 12.34.06 PM6) Call me old-fashioned, but I am a big believer in thank you notes! Do send a thank you note, preferably a hand-written one. It will make you stand out especially because so many people fail to send a Thank you.

Hot Tip? The oldy-but goody book, What Color is your Parachute by Richard Bolles is full of tips from resumes to interviewing.

See here for a video blog I created just for students.

Good luck graduates!