Gaining an edge for the real world

By Rebecca Bahr

Preparing for the “real world” often times does not become “real” to the average college student until it’s time to put together a resume and by then many are left scrambling to fill in the blanks.

Undergraduates can avoid the senior year panic by keeping their eyes open for ways to get involved in their career field now.

Present economic conditions put an extra emphasis on being prepared for the job world as more and more companies are cutting back on staff.

“If you want to be hired, now, more than ever, you need an edge over the competition,” Public Relations Student Society President Sharon Walenda said.

“Think about what is important to succeed, and then go out and get the experience that employers are looking for,” Career Planning and Placement Adviser Jennifer Brooks said.

There are three qualities that employers are especially looking for, Brooks said.

First, students should practice a good work ethic. “Employers want to see a consistent work history on a resume,” Brooks said.

Second, employers look for people who have supervisory skills. “Employers are attracted to potential employees who can show responsibility,” Brooks said.

Last, employers seek out students who are involved in extracurricular activities. Campus organizations promote team-playing, good judgement and leadership, Brooks said.

“The more information you get early, the better able you will be to make good career choices later in life,” Norman Engstrom, pre-professional adviser for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said.

Pre-professional campus organizations supplement classroom work with guest speakers, field trips, hands-on experience and contact with professionals in the career field. Students should use those resources, Engstrom said.

The University Programming and Activities office has a list of all campus organizations recognized by the Student Association.

Students also should check with departments in their major for information on internship opportunities and other pre-professional organizations.