As exciting as it is to count down the final days until graduation, it can also be a nerve-wracking time for students. They look ahead to job searching, resume fine-tuning and interviewing. But it isn’t necessary to wait until after graduation to secure a job in the STEM fields. If you’re enrolled at the College of Science, Engineering, and Technology at Grand Canyon University, you can actively work toward landing that first job well before you accept your diploma.
Get an Internship
You can start working toward your dream job even before your senior year in college. Internships are an effective way to build professional connections, work on your interviewing skills, improve your interpersonal skills and flesh out your resume. Plus, you could also earn credit toward your degree and possibly a small stipend. If you do well at your internship, it’s entirely possible that you’ll be offered a full-time position. Don’t be shy about requesting an informal performance review—just ask your supervisor how you’re doing. Assuming the feedback is positive, let your supervisor know that you’ve enjoyed your time with the company and you’re interested in working there after graduation.
Build Your Personal Brand
Put your best foot forward by working on your personal brand before you graduate. Ask a career counselor for help with your resume and cover letters. Have some inexpensive, no-frills business cards printed and hand them out to people who might be able to help you get your foot in the door at a STEM company. During your junior and senior years, visit local consignment shops and start assembling a professional-looking wardrobe for interviews and work.
Check the Alumni Network
Lots of students don’t consider checking out the alumni network until after they’ve graduated. But it can also be a great resource for current students. Look for alums who work in your STEM field of interest. Send out very polite emails asking for career advice or informational interviews. If they work locally, ask if you can shadow them for a day. Remember to bring your new business cards and to write a thank you note afterward.
Attend College Job Fairs
Although the name “job fair” sounds informal, you should treat it like a formal interview. Research the companies that will be there. Dress professionally, have a stack of business cards ready and print out extra copies of your resume. Rehearse your elevator pitch too. This is a brief, highly focused explanation of who you are, what you’re doing and what you can offer a future employer. Your elevator pitch should include your year (e.g., junior or senior), academic major and relevant work/volunteer/internship experience. If possible, try to demonstrate that you’ve researched the company ahead of time by explaining how you would fit in well with that company’s mission or approach.
STEM students at Grand Canyon University are strongly encouraged to use our extensive student resources, including our Career IMPACT Center and Office of Internships. The Office of Internships regularly offers job and internship fairs and internship preparation workshops, and connects students to both elective and programmatic internships. To explore our College of Science, Engineering, and Technology, click on the Request More Information link.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.