Last night I attended the COMM Alumni Panel set-up by the University Career Center. Alumni are a great resource and I found it super useful to hear about their personal experiences transitioning from college to a job. The COMM alums shared information about mentoring, networking and finding opportunities… all of which are pretty relevant to any career path or major, so I thought I’d share some takeaways!
- Don’t burn bridges!
The expression to “burn one’s bridge” figuratively means to commit oneself to a particular course of action by making an alternative course impossible… destroy one’s path, connections, opportunities and reputation. One panelist spoke about a friend who burned a bridge with someone at his previous job and later on he had applied to another job and that person he burned a bridge with was the hiring manager for the new job. He didn’t get the job. Regardless if you work in a small market or not – you never know who you will meet again!
- Proofreading (resume & cover letter)
There were two alumni panelist who currently work in PR and they spoke very strongly about the importance of professional resumes and cover letter – the key is proofreading! I’ve had at least four classes that have gone over how to write a resume and cover letter… it starts to become very redundant and repetitive BUT these are the key parts to your success as a potential candidate. It’s the employers first impression of you and you want to make it a good one. Make sure your resume and cover letter are updated, thoroughly proofread for typos and formatted in a professional and easy to read way. Also, try match most of the exact expectations and requirements of the job. This obviously can’t be done with “3+ years’ experience…” or technical (hard) skills but do the best you can to check all the boxes in your resume and cover letter.
- On the job skills
There are tons of on-the-job skills and they change based on whatever profession you’re in. These are some of the key (mostly) soft job skills mentioned by the COMM Alumni panelist – strong writing, excellent attention to detail, fearless, good listener, ask questions and know when the right time is to ask those questions. The list goes on, but these were the ones that stood out to me.
- Networking and persistence
I recently made a post about the importance of networking. You should check it out 🙂 The panelist mentioned both virtual tips and in-person tips. Due to COVID most networking is being done virtually. Rather than attending an in-person networking event connections are made via email, LinkedIn and online events/panels/etc. Sending an email or message is a whole lot less scary and intimidating! Shooting out a message and making that initial connection is the first step to get your foot in the door. The panelist spoke about informative interviews and how they are an awesome way to 1) Learn about the job, people at the company and 2) Stand out from other candidates. If you do schedule an informative interview be sure to do your homework prior to the meeting – know about their company, and what they do in their specific role.
One panelist mentioned that for in-person networking events she’d bring a friend. I thought this was a great tip! I’m an introvert and literally the worst thing is showing up to a event or get together and not knowing anyone. Bringing a friend relieves the social awkwardness of not knowing anyone and will ease some of the stress or anxiety that can come up with networking.
- Nailing a virtual interview
Online Zoom interviews are the norm nowadays. A couple (small but important!) tips to nail a virtual interview include…
- Make sure your Zoom account and email have professional names.
- Clean up social media account. Employers check them.
- For a Zoom interview be sure to have good lighting (preferably natural light, facing you)
- Send a “thank you” note or message. They’ve taken time out of their busy schedule to meet with you. Send a note that mentions something you talked about in the interview – It’s thoughtful, appreciative and doesn’t go unnoticed.
- Be your authentic self!