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5 things to do in your last year of college that can help you land a job

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As a senior in college, it's tempting to relax. You may want to take fewer classes, work fewer hours and participate in fewer campus events. And while chilling out during your final year of school might seem to make sense, since you're about to join the workforce for years to come, it might also hurt your chances of landing a great job right after college. Besides, who wants to risk joining the 8.5 percent of recent college graduates who are unemployed and the 16.8 percent who are underemployed, as reported by the Economic Policy Institute? Here are five things to consider doing during your last year of college that could help you land a job.

1. Take classes that will build a useful portfolio

What kind of job do you want? If you want, say, a job as a magazine writer, then take a magazine writing class in your last year of college to acquire useful clips. If you want a job as a Web developer or designer, then take a class that lets you create a sweet website.

Merely having a degree in certain fields isn't always enough. Adding samples to your portfolio can help show potential employers after graduation what you're really capable of and set you apart from the crowd.

2. Intern at least one of the semesters

If you haven't had an internship yet, it may be crucial in your future job search to do so your senior year.

A 2013 study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found that 63.1 of those who completed a paid internship during college received at least one job offer upon graduation, compared to just 35.2 percent of those didn't intern at all.

Even if you have already interned, a main perk of interning one or both semesters of your senior year is that if you're offered a job at the completion of the internship, you're more likely to be available to take it. The more internships, the better, often times.

3. Be a regular at your school's career center

As College Parents of America points out on its website, your school's career center may be able to help you with many things, such as:

  • Managing cover letters, resumes and letters of recommendation
  • Notifying you of internship opportunities and career fairs
  • Connecting you with potential employers
  • Practicing for interviews
  • Connecting you with alumni in your desired field

The career center may be a gold mine of resources and vital to your job search after college. Of course, each career center has different offerings and capabilities, but be sure to give yours a chance this year.

4. Attend career fairs and networking events

The beauty of career fairs and networking events is that you can meet the companies and get information about them before applying for jobs. You should try to attend as many of these events as possible, to not just be another applicant who applied online but to be a face and a name. Every bit of interaction may help.

To find career fairs in your area, check out NationalCareerFairs.com, which currently lists more than 300 career fairs in 76 cities. And to find local networking events, it's hard to beat FindNetworkingEvents.com and Meetup's Professional Networking page.

However you find them, attend them. These events really could help lead to a job if you're proactive enough.

5. Use MyEdu and similar websites

MyEdu.com is an incredibly useful resource for seniors in college. Not only can you find jobs and internships to apply for, but you can create a profile that employers can see to recruit you. It's not just your resume either. It shows things like which classes you've taken and you can even post some of your best projects. You're not competing with mid-career and late-career professionals, like on other websites — just fellow college students. That really levels the playing field.

While you should apply for jobs on other websites, such as Craigslist and Career Builder, and build a professional profile on LinkedIn, don't dismiss MyEdu as just being for students. You get to look at employers and employers get to look at you. It's the best of both worlds.

To higher your chances of landing a job right out of college, you should be proactive in building up your resume and portfolio and seeking it out. Relaxing completely just won't cut it.

Sources:

"How the college career office can help your college student," College Parents of America,
http://www.collegeparents.org/members/resources/articles/how-college-career-office-can-help-your-college-student

"Class of 2013: Paid Interns Outpace Unpaid Peers in Job Offers, Salaries," National Association of Colleges and Employers, May 29, 2013,
http://www.naceweb.org/s05292013/paid-unpaid-interns-job-offer.aspx

Find a Career Fair Near You, National Career Fairs,
http://www.nationalcareerfairs.com/

"Class of 2014: The Weak Economy is Idling Too Many Young Graduates," Heidi Shierholz, Alyssa Davis and Will Kimball, Economic Policy Institute, May 1, 2014,
http://www.epi.org/publication/class-of-2014/