When I started my freshman year at Ohio University, I honestly never thought that senior year would ever come. I remember talking to upperclassmen who, throughout their four years, had four internships in college, consistently made the Dean’s List, were leaders for multiple student organizations and somehow still made time for friends. I thought to myself, “There’s no way I could ever achieve that!”
Here I am today with less than one year left of college and realizing that I’m quite similar to the seniors I spoke to during my freshman year. I’m sure I can speak for many current seniors who are constantly told, “Enjoy every moment of this year. You’ll be wishing that you were back in college in no time!” While it is important to enjoy, it’s equally important to not enjoy too much – a term many refer to as the “senior slide.” That being said, here are seven ways to still be productive during senior year and prepare for the looming job search that’s closer than you think.
- Build up your LinkedIn profile – Now is the time to start making relevant connections on LinkedIn. On this platform, you have the ability to search by college or university, industry, company – pretty much any qualifier you could ask for. Connect with professionals whose job titles you’re interested in and personally reach out to them. It may seem daunting, but it’s a good way to start getting your name out to people who could potentially hire you.
- Make connections on campus – During your last year on campus, get to know your group project members, professors and peers. You can learn a lot from your professors who have experience in the industry and if you make a good impression, they’re likely to write recommendations for you in the future or maybe even connect you with a former colleague. In addition, get to know the people in your clubs and classes. You never know who you may work with in the future, and who’s to say they won’t be your future boss?
- Pursue your passion – While classes and looking for jobs are important, take this time to work on something you’re passionate about – whether that be a blog, photography website or something completely unrelated to PR. Find work that makes you excited and it may help you narrow your job search.
- Get organized – Prepare for your future tasks at work by organizing the work you have right now. This will also help you stay on top of your classes while looking for jobs. Keep a detailed, updated planner or calendar, or use Google Calendar to set reminders for upcoming events and activities. Kanban Flow is also a great tool for checking things off your list and prioritizing between projects.
- Update your resume – Make sure your resume is completely updated with your past internships and experiences before sending it off to employers. Experiment with design, colors and layout. You don’t have to be an Adobe InDesign wizard to do this. Try free design tools like Canva and Piktochart to help your resume stand out in the pile.
- Make a portfolio – Show off your work by creating a visually appealing portfolio to showcase what you’ve done both in and outside the classroom. While this can be easily achieved in a Word document or PDF, try putting your pieces together on a free web-hosting service like Wix or Squarespace. This is also a great place to host a blog to show potential employers your personality and writing style.
- Prioritize – This will be a crucial skill in the “real world,” so it’s important to develop it now. While it may not be the best idea to binge watch Netflix every night, it is important to make time for yourself and friends in order to maintain balance. Prioritize your work so you can make time for things you care about.
While these seven tips will be helpful in getting you through senior year and ultimately, finding a job, it’s important to enjoy your final moments of college and live life to the fullest. You’ve put in the work to be successful and get that first job, so organize, show it off and remember to balance work and play. And most importantly – remember to breathe!
Erin McMahon is a senior strategic communication major and our Executive Vice President. Follow along with Erin’s senior year on Twitter @emcmahon1