Job Search Tips
Why should I find a job?
Students seek employment for a number of reasons. Part-time, day laborer, full-time summer employment, etc. is a means for students to help pay educational costs, living expenses, and other personal or entertainment expenses. Meeting a portion of your educational expenses through work can help keep your debt load from student loans and credit cards at a manageable level. Also, smart students know that a solid work experience will increase their odds of getting an interview with a prospective employer after graduation. Additionally, a modest work schedule does not detract from academics. Research shows that students who work up to 19 hours per week while earning a college degree perform at least as well academically as those who do not work.
What job is right for me?
Consider your work experience, talents, and interests. Look for a job that matches your strengths. If you enjoy working with a wide variety of people and like providing information to others, perhaps jobs in sales or customer service would be a good match for you. Perhaps you prefer working with data in worksheets or databases, or using publication tools where a back-office support role may better suit your talents. Don't be afraid to explore new interests, though! If you recognize that you need to develop a skill set you do not yet have, a part-time job that offers training and experience in the desired skill area can be a great help.
What must I be careful about in the job search?
First, do not misrepresent yourself in your application materials. Be accurate in your resume, cover letter, and other application materials.
Second, do the necessary research on the employer and the job to make sure you fully understand what job you are applying for. This step may be really quick for a well-known job type or employer. For example, if you are applying for a teller position at an established bank you probably will not need to dig deep to understand the job requirements.
If you are looking at a job which is widely marketed by a non-local employer on the web, through newspapers ads, or by mass postings across campus, due diligence may require a deeper inquiry. For example, verify what the position pays. Does the job pay an hourly wage, or is it salaried or commission-based? Do you need to buy a basket of products upfront, or are all of your work-related materials supplied by the employer? How about training? Do you have to pay for training, or does the employer provide it free of charge? Also, determine the nature of the job. If you are asked to attend an informational meeting before the employer will tell you about the job or the compensation, be on alert.
Note that some jobs exist where an employee must buy, or pay a deposit for, products upfront to then demonstrate and sell them. Compensation is based on sales commission -- the more you sell the more you earn. This type of arrangement may work well for some students who are highly talented at marketing and sales. For many others, it can be difficult to sell enough simply to earn back the initial product buy-in. In short, be aware and do your research if you do not fully understand the job you are applying for. Remember the adage: if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
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