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Ten UMD Seniors Tell How They Landed a Job BEFORE THEY GRADUATED!

Finding a job after graduation may be one of the most stressful situations a senior will go through. To make your search a little easier, here is some advice from UMD graduating seniors on landing your dream job.

Qing Lin

Number 1: Internships, Internships, Internships

Showcasing your internships is one of the most important things employers are looking for from graduating seniors. This is the perfect way to show what you have learned outside of the classroom during your college years that gave you direct experience within your major or field. You can make important connections and some interns are asked back for full time employment within that company after completing their internship.

Qing Lin considered an internship so important, she set aside an entire semester for it. Lin, an accounting and finance major, interviewed for jobs and internships for months, sometimes getting a second interview and three times receiving an internship offer. She chose McGladrey LLP in Duluth because it was close to UMD... sort of. It turned Lin and her manager did a lot of traveling, to New York, Chicago, St. Louis, and Dallas among other cities. They audited financial reports and made recommendations. Before the internship was over, Lin was offered a full-time job. "Everyone should do an internship," Lin said. "You learn if you are a good fit for the company and even for the job itself." One of Lin's friends did an internship with a tax firm and hated it. "He was able to easily switch to another finance area. It would have been much harder if he had to make a career change after he signed a contract," Lin said. Most of all, the internships gave Lin the opportunity to get a feel for the company's work style. "Everyone is so friendly at McGladrey," she said. "I'm really happy with my choice."


Adam Swinney

Number 2. Create a LinkedIn Profile

… and know how to use it effectively! LinkedIn provides you with job postings based on your personal profile to make the job search a little easier and more personal. Also, this is a great tool to connect and speak with alumni about the places they are working and the jobs they currently hold.

Adam Swinney, a graduating senior majoring in economics and mathematics, landed a job as an investment analyst at Parametric Clifton in Edina, Minn. He leveraged the Financial Markets Program alumni network and spoke with a 2012 graduate who worked at Parametric Clifton. He was able to get his resume to the right person and put in a good word. “Utilize the alumni network as much as possible,” said Swinney. “As difficult or uncomfortable as it may be, networking is simply the most effective use of your time. Search smart, not hard.”


Cassandra Houston

Number 3. Perfecting That Resume

What you have on your resume may make the difference in whether you get the job or not. This is your chance to highlight everything you did while in college. Include your volunteer work, activities, and interests, as well as your academic success. Highlight specific results you have achieved. Show that you know the job is about doing something for the company, not the other way around. UMD’s Career Services is the place to go if you are struggling with creating your resume.

Cassandra Houston, a senior majoring in graphic design, just accepted a job at the Whole Foods Co-Op in Duluth as their brand coordinator. She heard about the position on the last day the applications were being accepted, and she was prepared. Because she had a good resume in hand, a door opened, and she was ready to step through. "At first I thought it would be a waste of time because I assumed they would want to hire a more experienced designer," Houston said. But she applied anyway. Her resume was so intriguing, she was interviewed. She brought a portfolio of all of her designs to the interview, including her work on branding a company. That's what ultimately helped her get the position. “I showed that I could create brands for complex organizations, which must have caught their eye,” said Houston. “My advice is to just be brave and go for it; send out your resume, even if you don’t meet every single requirement.”


Kelsey Vigoren

Number 4. Network

Have you ever heard the phrase “it’s not what you know, but who you know?” Well, it’s often true. Reach out to family friends, old coworkers or bosses to see if they have any connections. You may be surprised at what you find and who can help!

Kelsey Vigoren, a graduating senior double majoring in health care management and finance, landed a job with National Rural Health Resource Center in Duluth. She started out as an intern, then moved to a temporary program coordinator position, and was then offered a full time job after graduation. She believes networking is powerful. “Don't be afraid to put yourself out there and talk to someone new,” said Vigoren. “For example, I was on spring break and met a nice older couple who owned a healthcare information technology company in California. You never know when opportunity will arise!”


Vannessa Lovro

Number 5. Research

If you’re still confused on exactly what you want to pursue after college, do some research on a variety of companies. This will help you have a clearer and more narrow job search. You may also run into jobs and companies you never knew existed!

Vanessa Lovro, a senior majoring in physical education, landed her job as a physical education specialist in Arizona by attending a job fair specifically for education careers. Lovro wanted to do on-site interviews, so before the fair she researched all of the schools scheduled to be there. Many of the schools that needed teachers were in extremely remote locations; others wanted special certifications. After researching their mission, location and district using the internet, Tolleson, Ariz. arose as one of her top contenders. “The location near Phoenix was a plus,” said Lovro. “The best thing was their mission. They care about children. The recruiter was impressed when she realized I had studied their website. When I started talking about the school's brand and their child-centered emphasis, I could see it made an impact on her." Lovro said that research is important. "I wasn’t going apply to a school that I know nothing about. Research got me the job.”


Allison Pannek

Number 6. Join Professional Clubs

This is a great way to stand out among other applicants. When membership in clubs and organizations is on your resume, you showcase not only your studies and internships, but what your college or community had to offer. This is a great way to become more than a member and gain leadership experience.

Allison Pannek, a senior chemical engineering student, will begin working for General Mills in Cincinnati, Ohio, in August as a quality associate. "I'll be at a plant making 'Big G' cereal," she said. Pannek submitted her resume for the position on GoldPass, UMD's job connection website and was invited to interview for the job soon after. Her resume lists the many organizations she belongs to and several extra curricular activities. Pannek is president of the Omega Chi Epsilon chapter, treasurer of the Society of Women Engineers chapter, officer for the Tau Beta Phi chapter, and a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. “In interviews, employers always ask questions about leadership, belonging to a team, and working on projects,” said Pannek. “Because I have worked with so many groups, I have concrete examples to talk about. Everyone should be involved in clubs because they are great extracurricular activities, and they make employers give you a second look.”



Number 7. Indirect Experiences

Having jobs and internships that are important things to have, but make sure to have some indirect experiences. Try out something in a related field to your major. Take relevant courses or workshops offered by your university. Having leadership experience in a hobby you enjoy can show employers what you are passionate about and that you can also be a leader.

Andrew Rice, a graduating senior majoring in organizational management, interned at Target last summer and will be working there full time after graduation. He had an impressive list of achievements on his resume including some that had nothing to do with his major. “Having indirect experiences to show employers is always a plus,” said Rice. “I played intramural sports all throughout college, and it helped start a conversation in a job interview. I also have leadership experience in jobs I’ve held.”


Lauren Westling

Number 8. Informational Interviews

Get your foot in the door and receive first hand knowledge of the company and the field you are interested in. Ask people to tell you about their employment journeys. You will hear incredible stories about how life opens doors. Ask about the field you are entering, other people you should meet with and companies that are hiring.
This is a good way to get noticed, and also good practice for potential interviews.

Lauren Westling, a senior marketing major at UMD, will be a Connections Strategy" O-tern" at Olson Advertising in Minneapolis. Westling says, “I attended Olson's ‘College Connect Event’ back in October to learn more about the company, see work samples, network with professionals, and get a feel for the company's culture. I later connected with two professionals. One was the Connections Strategy Team Director. I met him for an informational interview in November. I then applied for a post-grad internship and got an interview. I interviewed a few times, with four people in total, and was soon offered the position.”


Diego Villagra

Number 9. Individualized Cover Letters

Personalize your cover letter for each company. Be sure to highlight specific skills that relate to job and use keywords they used in their job description. Sending the same generic cover letter doesn’t allow the employer get to know you, and there is a good chance they will probably discard your application before reading your resume.

Diego Villagra, a senior double majoring in political science and international studies, has received a paid fellowship at the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. Villagra poured his heart into his cover letter. He let them know that he shares the school's vision to make a"lasting impact in a diverse world." He went into detail about his research on the relationship between income inequality and public policy in Peru. “You have to express how you will bring something new,” said Villagra. “You have to show that you are going to give them what other candidates don’t have.”



Number 10: Don't Get Discouraged

Chances are you might not always be the most qualified candidate in a pool of 100 applicants. This is no reason to give up! The right job is out there for you, you just need to keep looking, and look in places you might have not looked before. Career Services says, “There is rarely a professional position open that does not draw many qualified applicants. You get only one chance to leave the right impression, so take the time to do your homework. Research the organization and prepare and practice for the interview to increase your chances of leaving a positive impression.”

Joe Knooihuizen, a graduating senior majoring in marketing analytics, didn’t land his dream job right off the bat. Knooihuizen says, “Stay the course.  You will be rejected dozens of times, but it only takes one opportunity to land a job, so keep throwing your resume out there and eventually a company will notice.” He was recently hired at SPS Commerce in downtown Minneapolis as an integrated accounts analyst.


UMD Career Services

Career and Internship Services is free for all UMD students and alumni. Located at 22 Solon Campus Center, professionally trained counselors are available to assist students in all aspects of the career/life planning process, from choosing a major to carrying out a job search.

Written by Irene Hanson, April 2014.

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