Your senior year of college is a time to enjoy. Yes, it’s tempting to let senioritis win — to get bored with school and stir-crazy to get out of it — but your senior year is your last educational hoorah, and you can’t very well “hoorah” without a good outlook.
So how can you stave off senioritis, prepare for the “real” world and still enjoy your senior year?
In truth, these things all work together. Pursuing job leads while still in school not only prepares you for life after college but also helps your mind to focus on something other than classes, thereby reducing that “why is school my entire life?” mentality.
And with the right prioritizing, you can still actually have fun with your senior year, as well! You just need to build your schedule to balance homework, career-building, and fun. The remainder of this post focuses on how to do just that.
Go to Your Classes
Remember: if you’re in school, school is your first priority. You’re the one in control of your education and it’s just as important as ever to go to class and turn in your work so you can graduate. After all, you didn’t go through your education up to this point just to lose focus and drop out senior year. So fight that senioritis.
Resources: You’ve been doing homework for the majority of your life, so there’s no need to tell you how to do that. But it’s important to remember the resources at your disposal when you start to lose interest or focus: your friends, classmates, professors and investment in your education.
Tips: When apathy strikes, count on your resources. Allow your friends to hold you accountable for your education. Allow your interest in the electives you’ve chosen to fuel a renewed curiosity for class. Do whatever you need to do to keep school safely planted as your Priority #1.
Job-Hunt Like You Mean It
Job hunting is stressful no matter what point you’re at in life. But it can seem especially ominous if you’re a senior applying for your first full-time position.
But determination makes a difference and networking with the right mentality shows. Potential employers can sense confidence and determination just like they can sense self-doubt. So nix the self-doubt and go into your hunt with faith in yourself, your education, and the unique qualities you have to offer the professional world.
Resources: There are endless online job-hunting resources, such as Indeed and SimplyHired for finding job listings, LinkedIn for employers to find you and apps like SWITCH for connecting with companies through your phone.
Aside from online resources, don’t forget about the greatest tools at your disposal while you’re still in school: your teachers. They may not be all-knowing, but they’ll be more than happy to answer questions that might help you land a job. And if your university has a career services center, they’ll be even better-equipped to help you start networking effectively.
Tips: Whether you’re applying for positions in person or online, it’s a good idea to go ahead and build a strong LinkedIn profile now. Employers use LinkedIn more than any other social media tool, so you definitely want to make yourself available in this way.
Crank Out Job-Specific Resumes
A mistake many job seekers make is sending what they believe to be a “one size fits all” resume into the void of job listing websites. This is a mistake for two reasons: (1) Every job is a little different, so each position you apply for deserves a resume catered specifically to it, and (2) The vast majority of resumes submitted online don’t ever get past a company’s screening apps.
To avoid both these pitfalls, you need to build a stellar base resume, tweak that resume for each job you apply for and be prepared to hand over that resume in person.
Resources: Once again, your teachers, advisors and university’s career services are going to be the go-to resources for this part of the job-hunting process. And if your university has a writing center, it never hurts to have them look over your resume and, if necessary, your cover letter before applying.
How-To/Additional Tips: Once you’ve gotten the green light from the teachers and university staff you trust, take that resume you’ve created and cater it to each job you apply for. That way, when you go to turn in the resume — in person, if possible — it will make you stand out as an ideal match.
It’s unlikely that you’ve made it this far in life without having had a job or two, but getting a part-time position at Subway isn’t quite the same as prepping for a career-launching interview.
So brush up on those interview skills. And make practice part of your senior year schedule.
Resources: Many universities offer mock interview services and will even record the interview so you can watch yourself and learn from what you see. The camera may feel uncomfortable at first, but watching yourself can really help you to see where you need practice in the interview process.
If your university doesn’t offer this service, that doesn’t mean you can’t practice using other resources. Ask a professor, an advisor or even a classmate for help. When it comes to classmates, you can pay it forward by letting them practice, too.
Tips: Whether you’re practicing or interviewing for real, remind yourself of the golden rule before you walk into the room: confidence is key. It’s okay to be nervous, but don’t let that anxiety rule your discussion.
And when you get an actual interview, make sure you’re communicating with your professors. They’ll be glad to work with you or let you miss a class for a great career opportunity.
With all this talk about job hunting, you’ve probably lost sight of one of the most important aspects of college, and that’s to have fun.
You can’t very well spend every waking moment doing homework or job hunting — it’s unhealthy to try. Instead, you have to make time for fun so you can keep your sanity and get the most out of your senior year.
Resources: When it comes to having a good time, you know your resources better than anyone. You know which friends to go to when you’re stressed and which restaurants have the best enchiladas when you need something greasy. Use that knowledge!
Tips: Even if you live in a tiny college town, you’ll be surprised what you might miss once you move on to so-called “bigger and better” things. So, take advantage of your college’s nearby attractions. Your future self will appreciate the nostalgia — even for that hole-in-the-wall restaurant, you hope to never see again.
Put It All Together Into a Schedule
You can’t plan out every moment of your semester. After all, each week you’re presented with unique projects, assignments, and tests to study for. But something you can try is planning out the upcoming week in a systematic way — each Sunday, for instance. This will ensure you make time for schoolwork, job-hunting, and socialization.
Fortunately, there’s always more room in your calendar than you think, and once you start writing out your weekly schedule, you’ll start to recognize opportunities for productivity.
For instance, one of the simplest ways to make time for all your to-dos is to use the time in between classes. Rather than taking an hour-long break to drive home, sit on the couch for 20 minutes and then head back to campus, you can use that time to get ahead on the job hunt — or to study for an upcoming test.
If you continue to use your time wisely in this way — and regularly check your schedule to make sure you’re staying on track — you’ll be amazed what you can get done during the day. And that leaves plenty of time for kicking back with your friends in the evening!
Make Your Senior Year Count
Senior year is a strange mix of emotions. You’ve got senioritis pulling your attention away from school. You have excitement at the idea of moving on to the next chapter of life. You’ve got anxiety about finding a good job. And you’ve got a bittersweet feeling about leaving a familiar place full of familiar people.
It’s easy to focus on the negative emotions that come with senior year but don’t.
Use the time you have left in school to enjoy the familiar environment and the fun, youthful spirit surrounding you. Then take that positive outlook and bring it with you to class, the job hunt and, later on, the world outside your university.
Sarah Landrum graduated at the top of her class at Penn State with degrees in Marketing and Economics. Now, she’s a Marketing Specialist and the founder of Punched Clocks. As a part-time freelance writer and career blogger, Sarah shares college and career advice for young professionals seeking to create a career they love. For more advice, follow Sarah on social media and subscribe to her newsletter.
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