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Christmas break panic

Lissa Bill | Tuesday, December 4, 2012

It is December of my senior year, and I am in a panic. I have finals coming up, I only have one semester left with all of my friends before being thrust into the real world, and I don’t have a job.

As a career counselor, I would like to tell you that back when I was a senior in college I had been diligently applying and interviewing for jobs all semester, but that would be a lie. The truth is I was my career center’s worst nightmare. I had assumed I would just stroll into their offices and someone would hand me the perfect job. I had applied for very few jobs (okay – no jobs might be a better description,) and I had not given my future career plans more than a passing thought. I was fairly sure all hope for me was lost, and soon I was going to be heading home for winter break.

I dreaded the question that would fill my holidays: “What are you going to do after graduation?”

The good news: When I finally met with my career counselor, I discovered that I had an arsenal of activities, jobs and leadership roles to help build my resume. They helped me think through the wide variety of experiences to draw upon while discerning my future plans. I just needed to spend some time pulling it all together. I found out that it wasn’t too late for me, and with a lot of hard work – in a short amount of time – I was on track to find a job that was perfect for me.
For those of you that might be in a similar situation – or perhaps you have been applying and interviewing all semester with no luck – there is still plenty of time for you to jumpstart or redirect your career search. Spending just a few hours over winter break can set you up for a strong start to the winter/spring recruiting season.

Take time to revaluate and rebuild your resume so it highlights the things you have done during your time at Notre Dame. Tailor your resume to your specific area of interest and make sure it shows impact by specifically demonstrating the roles you have played during your experiences.

Spend time over the break utilizing Notre Dame’s amazing alumni network by connecting with alums in your area of interest. Search for alums on linkedin.com and on mynotredame.nd.edu to learn how they began and then moved forward in their careers. Find out what they do on a day-to-day basis so you might better articulate how your skills align with those skills necessary to do the job. If you are unsure about what you ultimately want to do, talk to alums in a few different areas of interest to learn about their day-to-day work life so you may determine if their job is a good fit for you.

Take advantage of our online resources from Mom and Dad’s house to help augment your search. If you still need help determining your future career goals, use our online assessment tool, Focus, to take a self-assessment and apply the results toward your search. Search our “Jobs in the Following Field” section to learn about different industries and utilize resources associated with those industries. And, if you are ready to apply to a few positions but feel as though you have exhausted Go IRISH, try Careershift. It is an excellent way to search for jobs and internships as well as companies in a specific industry. Download our Career and Job Search guide to answer questions that cannot wait until you return to campus in January.

The new year will bring new opportunities for jobs or internships. We have a career fair that will take place at the end of January, and employers will be posting additional jobs and internships in a wide variety of fields.

Don’t panic – it isn’t too late. You are on no one’s timetable but your own so don’t feel pressured because your classmate already has a job – use that as motivation to take control of your search. You will need to put in the work in order to be successful, but we are always here to help guide you through this process.

By March of my senior year I had found a great job. In that job I traveled all over the world and worked with smart and dedicated people. My first job started me down the path to a career in corporate retail and, more importantly, these experiences eventually led me here to Notre Dame and to the perfect job for me: career counselor. Good luck with finals and enjoy your break!

Welcome to the @NDCareerCenter Column. Please let us know if you have any questions you would like covered in the column. Email us ndcps@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.