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Job Hunting: "Where Do I Start?"

The Problem

Need some extra cash? Looking to build experience? Trying to land that dream job? Job hunting can be motivated by a variety of factors, each of which contribute to the level of urgency and professionalism needed in your search. Once the need to find a job arises, you may want to get started right away, but find yourself overwhelmed and confused. Knowing where to look, how much to ask for, and how to find the right fit for you is not always obvious, especially for first-time job-hunters. While looking for a job is not the same process for everyone, there are some key steps you can take, resources you can utilize, and general information everyone can benefit from. By acquiring some tips and tricks, you can become more confident and comfortable with pursuing this process. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and work for what you want!

First Steps

The very first step you can take is looking inward. You can’t start looking without knowing what you want! Good questions to ask yourself are:

  1. Are you motivated by money or experience?

  2. How quickly do you need a job?

  3. What kind of work are you comfortable doing or would like to do?

  4. Do you have any skills or preferences that are applicable to a certain line of work?

  5. How often and for how long are you available to work?

  6. How much effort are you willing to put into your search?

If you already know the answers to these questions, or have a dream job in mind, that’s great! If not, in addition to asking yourself these questions, you can take some time to fill out some free assessments online that may help to match you with a certain career path. This “career cluster” interest assessment is just one of the many free online resources that can help you understand your preferences a little better if you are pursuing a full-time career ( If you are making big decisions about what career you would like to pursue, doing thorough research about the field of your choice is also crucial. This includes understanding potential growth in that field, average pay, typical working hours, and much more.

Here are some reliable resources to aid your research:

Once you have a general idea of the direction of your search, the next best step is to make a plan. This plan may be more structured if you have time constraints or need to find a job quickly. Utilizing a planner or your phone calendar to map out your next moves can help you use your time more efficiently. Action items you should consider including in your plan are creating or updating your resumè, investing some time looking on popular job search websites, contacting any LinkedIn connections for prospective job openings, and scheduling interviews and informal meetings.

To find part-time or full-time jobs near you, you can easily browse some popular job search sites, like Indeed, Monster, and Glassdoor. Companies will post positions they are looking to fill along with their respective responsibilities and wages. People who have worked at these companies in the past can leave reviews, which helps you choose a work environment that suits you best. Creating or updating a LinkedIn profile is also highly suggested for anyone looking to enter the workforce.

These steps may seem easy upon first glance, but this process may take some time. It is important to try to maintain a positive attitude and to stay patient during your job hunting experience because it can be easy to become demoralized by lack of positive responses. Keeping your chin up and persevering until you find the perfect opportunity for you will make your success even sweeter in the end!

Tried and True Advice

For college students in particular, there are some specific pieces of advice that can be especially helpful. Your school recognizes the need for resources dedicated to job hunting, so there will most likely be career fairs and networking events you can attend. Networking can include connecting with recruiters, alumni, and even your professors. If you excel or have an interest in any particular subject, your professor may be a great resource for job opportunities, research programs, and references for your resumè.

Additionally, keep an eye out for recruiters or recruiting events hosted by certain companies. These opportunities can be a direct pipeline to a full-time job! Networking is truly a key opportunity for college students to take advantage of whenever possible. Remember, networking is not only limited to high-ranking professionals; it is good to connect with anyone who can help you get where you want to go.

Furthermore, your campus most likely has a career services office, or something similar. VT certainly does! The career services office will host events to build students’ professional skills and knowledge and can be a good place to visit if you need career counseling or help with job hunting. You can ask questions and personalize your experience to suit your needs.

In terms of finding a quick part-time job, finding a position on campus that is easily accessible is usually very beneficial. You can play a contributing role in your school’s daily functions and acquire some student discounts, while being only a stone’s throw away from your classes. Working on campus can be a great way to explore different careers if you are fairly new to the working world, as on-campus jobs can include anything from food service, to retail, to graphic design.

Ready for Takeoff!

Pursuing a new job or career path is tough. It takes persistence and strength to put yourself out there to new people, especially those you wish to impress. But, do not let it intimidate you! Someone out there is looking for someone just like you, with your unique skills, background, and personality. Just remember to utilize all of the resources available to you, take advantage of opportunities that come your way, and be confident in yourself because only you can make it happen!

By: Lauren Miles

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