You may be surprised to find out that your professors could be more helpful than the Internet when it comes to finding a job! After all, professors are experts in their field, so they can be incredibly valuable career resources. From asking for recommendations to getting advice about where to search for a job, here’s how to make the most of what your professors have to offer.
1. Have your professor edit your resume
Once you have your resume perfectly tailored to a position (and you definitely will if you follow this guide), having a second pair of eyes is going to make it even better!
While it may seem awkward to thrust your resume at your professor and ask her to highlight any mistakes, it’s important to get past the intimidation and go for it! Going in for office hours to ask if she can review your resume and give you advice is a great step to show you are serious about your future. While your professor is reviewing your resume, ask her to not only point out mistakes, but also give you tips on what to improve.
“Have several of your professors read your resume,” advises Kate, a Seattle Pacific University student. “I had both my biology and my anthropology professors look over mine and they both pointed out different things. I’m really glad I had both [of them] look over it, as it gave me twice as much help.”
Professors have written their own fair share of resumes, so they will know how to help you make the best resume possible!
2. Ask for a recommendation
Chances are employers are going to ask you for references. While your mom could talk you up for hours and your second grade teacher thought you had serious potential, you need someone relevant to make you stand out in the real world. Professors in your field, especially ones who have held positions similar to the one you want, are great for this.
During your professor’s office hours, ask her to write you a recommendation letter or ask her if she would be willing to be listed as a reference on your application. Explain the job you are applying for and your interest in the position to. Make sure to tell your prof why you reached out to her specifically to write the letter.
Sitting down with your professor and having a real conversation is important. If she’s going to recommend you, she needs to get to know you. Express your career goals and how you plan to use your education to accomplish them. Professors, as well as employers, want to see someone with ambition. Show them that ambition is what you’re made of!
3. Gain networking contacts through your professor
Not only has your professor had experience in the field you’re interested in, she’ll also know a lot of former students who are now working in that field. That means your professor can be a great resource for networking! Whether she knows someone who has your dream job or someone who works at your favorite company, ask your professor to put you in contact with anyone she knows who would be helpful to your career. Once your professor provides you with a contact, make sure to set up a meeting with that person as soon as you can. Finding a job is all about networking, so why not start while you’re still in college?
4. Ask your professor to keep an eye out for you
Visit your professor during office hours, let him know what kinds of jobs you’re interested in and ask if he’ll let you know of any opportunities he hears about. Often employers will contact professors and ask if they have any students who would fit a certain position. If your professor knows you and your skills well enough, he may recommend you for the job or pass the job listing along to you!
“The first week of the semester, I told [my professor] that I had an interest in being a lab technician,” says Lauren, a student at California State University. “Three weeks later when I went in to discuss a test grade, he had a job application for a local lab. I’m awaiting their response any day now.”
Who knew a valuable career resource was standing in front of you, lecturing on an important concept for your final exam? The job market may be intimidating, but if you use your resources, you can definitely overpower it.