Preparing to Graduate–Next Steps and Job Tips

By Danika

Apr 24, 2019 · 4 min read

Whether you are looking for a summer job or a job post-graduation, these tips and tricks may come in handy.

No work experience? No problem!

If the “work experience” section of your resume is looking a little underwhelming, don’t worry — there are a plethora of experiences you can draw from during your time at university. You can include anything from classes and student group involvements to conferences on your resume — the key is how you sell it.

Headings are not set in stone, so you could use headings such as “Relevant Experience” and “Other Experience” instead of dividing it into “Work Experience” and “Volunteer Experience”. You can also place class-related experiences under a “Relevant Coursework” heading.

Was there a specific part of the course, such as a project, that helped you develop transferable skills? For example, if you had to create a group presentation, you could focus on the skills of message development and public speaking that you demonstrated. You can pull research skills from writing a paper if you had to interpret and reference research publications throughout.

Even listing your experience as a conference delegate can be an opportunity to show what knowledge and skills you gained and/or applied from the opportunity.

If you were involved with any student groups, either as a member of an executive team, or event volunteer, you can highlight the differences your contributions made and/or the skills you gained through those experiences. Collaboration is often a key aspect of student group involvement worth recognizing.

Tailor your resume and cover letter

Your resume is a way to market yourself, so you want to make sure it’s advertising the appropriate aspects for each job. Look for key words in the job posting to reflect back in your resume and cover letter, showing how your experiences relate to what they are looking for. I recommend having a master resume where you include everything you’ve accomplished, then pulling the relevant information to tailor it for a specific job.

If you can, take advantage of the Career Centre’s free Rapid Resume Review sessions to receive constructive feedback.

And remember — job postings are a description of their ideal candidate. You can still apply even if you don’t meet every single qualification, just sell what you’ve got!

Use various resources for job searching

Internships can be a good way to get your foot in the workplace door. To find them, check places like the Career Centre or your faculty if you are a continuing student, or the Government of Alberta’s Serving Communities Internship Program (SCiP).

If you’re feeling lucky, the provincial and federal governments also have job inventories that don’t require individual applications. You can upload your resume to their inventory, and they will contact you about jobs you match with.

While you can and should browse the U of A Career Centre’s job postings or other job posting websites, don’t forget that the people you know are also excellent resources for job hunting. The U of A’s Switchboard is a networking service for students, staff, and alumni, in which you can ask for what you need, whether that’s advice or a summer job, and people can post what they have to offer. It may also be a good idea to connect with your classmates and professors on LinkedIn, as your connections can come in handy during your job search. Don’t be afraid to let your friends and family know what you’re looking for!

It may feel intimidating leaving the safety of school behind and entering the workforce, especially if you don’t feel like you have enough work experience. However, no matter what experience you have, how you sell yourself is key. And most importantly, you don’t need to know what to do with the rest of your life — just the next step to take.


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