I really didn’t know how important it was to start job hunting first year until it was too late. I went to my first career fair back in first year and I remember being super nervous. Then a career advisor told me:
“Don’t be nervous. There’s really no point to going to these things, only the 3rd year and 4th year students end up getting jobs so don’t even bother bringing your resume.”
Oh. Damn. Well there go my hopes of a summer job.
So I went to the career fair, more as a “practice” rather than actual networking. I remember going to the first booth just to get information and after a few minutes of conversation they asked for my resume.
“Oh. I don’t have one.”
Did I ever feel stupid. I had to get past that awkwardness and just thought, “Oh well, on to the next booth” which was a place I was very interested in. Guess what happened? They asked for my resume again and so did the next table and every other table afterwards. I had to admit to all of them that I didn’t have a resume. I had a chance to start small at all these companies and I lost those opportunities because I underestimated myself as a first year.
All through university I was a pretty outgoing student. I spoke up in class, I was pretty well-known among my peers, but that’s where it ended. I didn’t get really involved in clubs because I thought they were just obnoxious cliques. To this day I still think some are, but outside of that, clubs are amazing!
In 3rd year I helped out a friend and volunteered at an accounting competition and at the end of the year they had nobody apply to the club’s VP Marketing position so my friend begged me to join and reluctantly I did. For my final year I was VP Marketing of the Accounting Club (Yea, yea, feel free to laugh) and I helped to market the very competition I volunteered at.
I got to meet all sorts of partners, managers and hiring staff at all of the top accounting firms and there was one thing they kept saying over and over and OVER again:
“Where are all the first years? We need to get more first and second years to the events!!”
What? You want students who haven’t even taken their first accounting course?
I’ll be brutally honest with you; you don’t really have a chance of getting a good position in first year, especially in accounting. But it’s not about getting the job right now, it’s about networking and starting professional relationships to help you out when you get to 3rd and 4th year.
I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times, but they would rather hire somebody they know than a total stranger. And if you meet in first year, attend the 3 networking events that your dream employer works at, you’ll increase your chances of getting the job by 2,000,000% (okay, maybe not that high, but trust me, it will get you in).
So let me pass some quick little gems of knowledge to you first-time networkers:
- Have your resume ready and available at all times;
- Bring business cards with you. It’s surprisingly cheap to make your own (try www.print100.com for some good prices);
- Use ALL of your resources; go to your career centre and find yourself a good counselor to help you spruce up your resume and get some networking tips;
- Attend ALL the events your dream employer attends/hosts;
- Make sure you do your research and have enlightening questions for them;
- Don’t talk too much business and don’t sound pompous; talk casually as if they are your friend. Talk movies, talk TV, talk news just don’t go listing all your super awesome achievements. It’s best if you subtlety slip them in;
- Join a club; I’ll tell you once and I’ll tell you 1000 times. This is the BEST way to meet employers and show them what type of person you are. Plus it looks damn good on your resume.
What was the biggest mistake you made with an employer that lost you a chance to get a job? What are some of the best pearls of wisdom you wish you’d known in first year?