Blog Career & Leadership Development

Career Next Steps for College Seniors

Friday, November 16, 2018


Waiting until graduation is not the time to begin preparation to enter the workforce. Starting the process early will allow for a smoother transition from college to career. All college seniors should consider preparing for future job interviews by following these steps as soon as possible. Many resources can be obtained through the Career & Leadership Development office.

What you should do now

Review your resume at Career & Leadership Development
A good resume is not good enough. Allow yourself enough time to get feedback and sharpen your content. Pick up resume writing handouts at Career & Leadership Development or view them on theROCK under the Career & Leadership Development tab. Feel free to stop in for a walk-in resume review; Mon. – Fri., 3-5 p.m.

Start your job search
It takes longer than you think to find a job, and long hiring lead times are common. On average, it takes 6-8 weeks to get hired after you submit an application. Northwestern’s Career & Leadership Development office can help you with job searches and interview coaching.

Expand your network with LinkedIn
You can find Linkedin’s Help Center at Check out our Networking on LinkedIn handout at the Career & Leadership Development office. Use the job search feature on LinkedIn and let recruiters know that you are seeking employment.

Google yourself
Employers are likely to search for the real you on social media sites. Clean up your Facebook, Twitter, etc. If you see inappropriate pictures of yourself, then your future employer will too, remove those photos. Use Google Alerts to monitor what is being said about you. Pay attention to grammar/spelling when writing online.

Practice interviewing now
Use Big Interview to practice your interviewing skills online ( Schedule a mock interview with Career & Leadership Development staff. They will see problem areas that you don’t notice and can help you improve for a real interview.

Join at least one professional association
Take advantage of student membership rates and expand your network. Attend meetings and read the publications of your professional association. Career & Leadership Development counselors and professors can recommend the best associations for your major and career plans.

Ask for references
Obtain permission from each person and determine which contact information they want you to use. Give letter writers plenty of notice if you want a quality letter. Give each person a copy of your resume and keep them up to date on your job search progress.

Establish a professional email address (Gmail)
Your Northwestern email address is deactivated 6-9 months after graduation. Make sure to update your login information on sites where you have used your Northwestern email as a username or contact email.

What you should buy prior to an interview

Purchase 2 professional outfits
Employers will often request potential job candidates to come in for multiple interviews. Having only 1 outfit will make you uncomfortable as well as your future employers if it looks like you are always wearing the same outfit. Career & Leadership Development staff can coach you on appropriate business attire for interviews.

Obtain a professional padfolio
Carrying your resume, references, writing samples, etc. will look more professional if you have them in a padfolio. You will not be a student, they expect you to be a professional employee, so leave the backpack at home. Also, wearing a backpack can wrinkle a suit which can be noticeable during an interview. Do not use paper or plastic folders, you need to look professional.

What you should know before you begin a job search

Figure out your finances
Create a basic budget of what you’ll need after graduation. Look over your current bills and factor in future bills. You may only have a car payment, insurance, and phone bill now, but eventually you will need to pay for rent, utilities, groceries, gas, etc. Ensure you are realistic with the amount of money you need to make to be comfortable. Living off ramen noodles will get old quickly. Figure out your debt and when it’s going to hit you. Student loans will still need to be paid. Check with the Financial Aid office to find out how to get this information.

Find out your health insurance status
Find out if you’re going to need your own coverage. A lower cost, major medical type of plan may be enough until you are covered through work.

Familiarize yourself with Career & Leadership Development resources
You can access Career & Leadership Development’s online resources 24/7 via myUNW and on the UNW website. Find the webinar playlist on UNWSP’s YouTube channel for more ideas. Make an appointment for career coaching. Call (651) 631-5265 to schedule your appointment. Hours are available year-round.

Career & Leadership Development is here for you today and everyday going forward as a University of Northwestern Alum.