How To Prepare For Your First Job Out Of College

Thursday, July 20, 2023
Job Interview Preparation Tips To Help You Stand Out

How To Prepare For Your First Job Out Of College

Getting your first job after university requires preparation starting at the high school level. Many high schools now offer career electives and specialization tracks of applicable STEAM subjects. NSHSS and administrators are working hard to raise awareness of what it takes to prepare for your first job out of college. 

Here is how to prepare for your first job out of college by the stage in your academic career.

In high school:

High school is the time to delve deeper into topics of interest and determine a career path. Working closely with your high school counselor will go a long way toward helping you choose the courses that will allow you to succeed in your first job out of college. It is important to research the job market and know what will set you apart from other candidates as a part of this process. NSHSS leadership programs are helpful to students in this endeavor.

One of the most overlooked ways to prepare for your first job after college is to apply for high school student internships. Internships for high school students are more common than you might think. The Society for Human Resource Management found that almost half of employers offer internships to high school students. This is valuable hands-on experience that leads to better work-study opportunities, college internships, and landing a job right out of college.

Finally, it is important to start attending career fairs while still in high school. Career fairs give you opportunities for paid internships that are far more preferable than your typical part-time job. All of these activities lay the foundations for a network that will help you become and remain employed after graduating college.

In college:

It is important to continue getting real-world experience in your field while attending college. Interning at the high school level will allow you to take on more advanced work-study arrangements. Your first job out of college will be gained by showing the knowledge and experiences you have had up to this point. Work study is a big part of that. 

Summer college internships are even more common than high school internships, and it is now common for them to be paid positions. Volunteering with nonprofit organizations supporting your field of study is also important for padding a resume for entry-level employers. It is also important to continue attending career fairs while in college, even if you are not seeking employment at that time. These activities continue to build your network for a successful career after college.

Just before graduating college:

The last semester before you graduate college will be very busy, but it is important to prepare for your first job after graduation search after college as early as possible. Talk to college career counselors, student career resources, and university organizations for guidance on where to look for jobs in your field. NSHSS members also benefit from the resources and hiring partners of the organization.

Before launching a job search, start by building a resume that accurately reflects all of the experiences you gained throughout your academic career that apply to your desired position. The best way to do this is to brainstorm a list of all related experiences, skills, and competencies you have learned. Look for the same in job descriptions for positions of interest. 

The items the two lists have in common should be highlighted on the resume. This exercise is also useful for building confidence because you will be able to easily see how you are qualified for the job. This is important because confidence in your own abilities must show through during a job interview.

You should also use this information to write a 30-second elevator pitch. Your elevator pitch can be used to get your foot in the door for an impromptu interview. It can also be used to answer the dreaded opening interview command, “Tell me about yourself.” This too is a confidence-building exercise and prepares you for your first job interviews. Rehearing job interviews with peers and mentors is also beneficial.

NSHSS Fellows is a leadership program that offers alumni the opportunity to mentor students from high school through getting their first job after university. This and other NSHSS leadership programs play an important role in the further development of career readiness activities.