September – such a wonderful month: leaves changing, the return of Pumpkin Spice Lattes and going back to school. So in preparation I’m going to share some things I wish I had known at the beginning of my senior year in college.
1. Get an internship. First, if you don’t have at least one (or three) internships under your belt by now, then get on it. This much needed “real” world experience is what will get you a job. If you can’t swing a full on in-office internship, then at least contact a local non-profit and offer to do some pro-bono projects. My favorite non-profits are animals shelters.
2. Network, network, network. So you got your internships done – great job! Next, keep that momentum going and work on building new relationships. The importance of networking cannot be stressed enough. It’s true that it’s all about who you know, but even more importantly it’s who knows you. So get out and get involved in the design community! Shameless plug – by getting involved in the AIGA Mobile design community you will hear about jobs quicker and have your name recognized in that pile of resumes.
3. Prepare for interviews. It’s good practice to go ahead and start applying for jobs and begin interviewing while still in school. Having a job lined up for after graduation is a major relief, and the best way to do that is to prepare. Before an interview research the company thoroughly, visit their website, check out their employees on Linkedin and even educate yourself about their competitors. That way you’ll know the ins and out of their company, so you can tailor your portfolio and answer questions to match their expectations.
4. Never stop learning. Way to go! You aced your classes and got a job, but it doesn’t stop there. The phrase “never stop learning, sounds cheesy,” I know. But once you’re out of school it’s up to you to keep learning new trends and technologies. I, myself, am working on beefing up my front-end development skills and I wish I still had the structure of attending a class to learn and ask questions.
5. Last, but not least, enjoy every second of your last year in college. Keep your grades up, but take time to socialize and have fun. Pull all-nighters while you still can. Walk around campus and take pictures – and not just selfies – to have memories you can look back on later. If you can, travel with your friends – this is the best time to do it, before everyone spreads out and gets busy with life.
I hope this advice helps some stressed out seniors this year. I wish I could do my senior year over again, but just the fun parts!