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Career Education

Vassar College

For many college seniors and recent graduates, looking for employment means venturing into an arena where the rules are unfamiliar and stakes seem high. Searching for a job is often both exhilarating and nerve-wracking: the idea of finding rewarding work and earning a salary is tantalizing, but the process and possibility of failure are often stressful. What if you can’t find a fulfilling job? Feeling both anxious and excited about your employment search is not unusual. The more you can learn about the process and methods of the job search game, the more successful you are likely to be.

Looking for a job takes time and hard work. Most people spend three to nine months on an employment search, the actual time depending on variables such as the type of work sought and geographic preferences and/or limitations. You will have to research employers, write letters, make follow-up phone calls, interview, and wrestle with tough decisions. If you are facing the job search with only a vague goal of “wanting to help people” or “hoping to find something challenging,” it is best to step back and direct your efforts toward self-assessment and career exploration.

Job vs. Career

Many students feel that their first job will funnel them into an ever-narrowing career path. This belief creates unneeded pressure. “If my first position will determine what I do with my life, then I can not afford to make any mistakes!” is a common refrain. In actuality, most people change career fields several times over the course of their life. Rather than trying to plan your lifelong career at this point, you might ask yourself, “What do I want to gain from my first position after college?” Defining your priorities before you get to the job application stage can help you feel more directed.

Many methods exist for obtaining employment. The greater your familiarity with these methods, the higher your chances of finding what you seek. “Putting all your eggs in one basket” is generally not a wise job-search strategy. Your method should be based on occupational field, geographical preferences, and personal strengths and resources; but a combination of approaches is best. We can help you:

  • Explore and identify your interests and career goals
  • Learn how to research industries, employers, and positions
  • Market yourself effectively online, in resumes and cover letters, as well as in interviews
  • Identify, build, and make use of your professional network
  • Connect with alums to get advice on how to find opportunities in their field

Whichever methods you choose to conduct your job search, realize that the process takes time and lots of effort. If you need assistance, the Center for Career Education is here to help. Good luck!