What are a college grad’s biggest fears? It could be the enormous student debt that many of us ecru, the prospect of moving back in with mom and dad, or a plethora of other things. But one of the highest on the list of a graduate’s fears is probably how we’re going to land a job — especially our dream job. Finding a job can be difficult, but finding a job that you’re excited to go to is an entirely different thing. And although we’re eager to graduate and to begin our professional careers, the thought of the job hunt can be daunting. Fortunately, PSU offers students a variety of free career resources that help prepare students for the professional world. These resources can be remarkably helpful aiding students in finding jobs, writing resumes and cover letters, preparing for job interviews, and more.
Last week I attended “How I Got my Job at Nike” – the first in a 10 week series of career support workshops. The “Fearless Fridays!” career workshops take place every Friday of winter term from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm in SBA 160. The topics range from building a resume to how to network using social media to personal branding. These workshops aim to prepare students for the job hunt that we’ll face post-graduation.
The “How I Got my Job at Nike” workshop involved a four-person panel of current Nike employees. The panel discussed how they landed their positions at Nike and the preparation it took to get there. They also answered a field of questions from current students who wanted to learn how they could land a gig in their dream company or dream job. Half of the panel was Portland State University alumni, and everyone on the panel had been working at Nike anywhere from three months to eight years. The panel also held a variety of positions, from Project Manager to working in Merchandising Operations to Patent Liaison. And although these people came from a variety of backgrounds and worked very different jobs, they seemed to be able to agree on one thing:
landing a job that you love takes preparation, time, and effort. A great job doesn’t often fall into your lap – you need to work for it!
The Nike panel had some great job-seeking advice to give the students who attended the seminar. Some of the pearls of wisdom I took away from the experience were:
1. Be genuine when trying to network. Express real interest in getting to know who you’re talking to.
2. Fine-tune networking events to fit your There are a million and one networking events, from accounting events to African American events to gay-lesbian-bisexual events. Find the one that works for you.
3. Prior to an interview, the cover letter is often the only piece in which you can show your personality. Use it to your advantage — but keep it clear and concise.
4. Research the job before the interview. You will be more knowledgeable, prepared, and may look stupid if you don’t.
5. Be close to your manager or boss. They are your “advocate” and the one to help you with raises and promotion.
6. Also, be close to your subordinates. They are just as important.
7. And always send a thank you email after an interview. A hand-written thank you note is even better. Click here for some great thank you tips written by SBA’s Employer Relations Specialist.
The panel also gave the audience what they considered to be the most important skills, qualities, and achievements to an employer. They include:
1. Completing an internship (or internships)
2. Specialized skills pertinent to the position
3. Being a team player
4. Having connections within the company (whenever possible)
4. Excellent communication skills — verbal and written
5. Good conflict-resolving skills
Preparing for the post-graduation world can be intimidating, but I’ve learned that I don’t have to do it alone. Not only do we have the entire student body of Portland State University also experiencing those same fears, but PSU also has an overabundance of resources to help us prepare for the job hunt. Check out Careers to find an internship, explore what jobs are out there, or to prepare for your job search. Learn about all of these resources at this week’s Fearless Fridays! workshop, “Career Resources: Here at PSU & Beyond!” The workshop will be held in SBA 160 at 10:00 am. Also, get there early — seats fill up fast!
~Mckenzie Miller ’15, Fearless Business Student