What am I going to do with my degree? This is the typical question I am asked by students in the communication studies major. While you may not be in our major, you may also be asking yourself this question. Some majors have the “job” title built right into the degree program (so to speak) – if you are a nursing major, you are going to be come a nurse – although, there are specialties, it is pretty easy to say to people who ask that you have a direct route from your degree program to your chosen profession. Wait! What about the rest of us? What are we going to do with our degree program?
I wish I could wave a magic wand and provide you with the specific job/career you are looking for, I really do! It’s the one aspect of my job that is most frustrating for me. I truly want all of my students to find their dream jobs – the career they have been hoping for since they started exploring his/her major. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what job/career you will find outside of college. However, I can and do encourage my students/advisees and you to do three things:
- Utilize the Career Development Center (CDC) staff and resources.
- Tailor your resume to the job description
- Create a LinkedIn profile
Since those of you reading this post have probably already subscribed to the idea that utilizing the staff and resources at the CDC is of benefit, in this blog, I will focus on #2 and #3. As you embark on finding the right career your resume and your LinkedIn profile become your brand – how you sell yourself to a potential employer.
Gone are the days of the OSFA (one-size fits all) resume. When you are searching for potential jobs, use care and tailor your resume to the job description. For example, if you are applying for a Customer Care Manager position that lists working in teams or managing teams in two of the five major job responsibilities (as an example see: Example Job Description), it would benefit you to make your experiences and skills in team work and group work a significant aspect of your resume. Furthermore, you might also forefront all experiences you have had as a leader in teams and the characteristics you possess that would make you an excellent leader. Finally, your resume can be highlighted on the social media site, LinkedIn.
LinkedIn (LinkedIn Site) is a social media site that allows you to build a professional network. Unlike, Facebook, LinkedIn users build a professional presences (including items that you might see in a resume) and share stories of interests to others with similar professional interests. LinkedIn is your opportunity to build a presence and emphasize your knowledge and skills within your areas of interest and expertise. To begin building your network, you invite others to join your network. One caution: do not invite people you do not know. This is a LinkedIn faux pas. LinkedIn allows you to showcase your brand. Key to success on LinkedIn is building your brand. Make sure your custom URL has your name (do not be creative or cute – stick to your name as an easy way to identify who you are), carefully consider the key words you use in your summary, create a website or online portfolio to post on your LinkedIn profile, make yourself accessible. In other words, use all the capabilities LinkedIn has to offer to begin to build your online presence in a business-like, professional manner. I see LinkedIn as a use it or lose it phenomenon. If you use the tool consistently and make yourself visible on the site, you will have more success when searching for jobs and/or working to build a professional network.
I urge all of you reading this who are feeling a bit stressed about life after college, confused about how you are going to find a job, or still trying to find the “right” fit for what you want to do, begin your journey by tackling the three points I posed above: 1) use the CDC, 2) tailor your resume for specific job descriptions, and 3) begin building your professional/business presence by creating a LinkedIn profile. Figuring out what you want to do with your degree and finding the perfect job within your area of study is not always easy. However, MSU Mankato has some wonderful resources to help take the stress out of landing your first “official” job as a college graduate.
– Kristen Treinen, Associate Professor, Communication Studies