How To Secure A Job Before Graduation

Securing a job before graduating college can feel like being on top of the world! It’s an amazing feeling knowing that you have a new career waiting for you when you graduate. You don’t have to stress about job searching and interviewing on top of making sure you pass your classes. But how do you actually land a job before graduating from college?

In the summer before the last year of my computer science B.S. program, I was offered a full-time software developer position for a major company in the finance industry. They offered a great starting salary, benefits, and a sign-on bonus! Here’s how I got the offer.

  1. Network, network, network!

Networking is incredibly important when you’re searching for jobs. It can be the difference maker that takes you from applying to 100 different jobs online with no callback to not having to apply to a job because you know someone who works for a company you’re interested in, and they can connect you with someone in the hiring department.

Every opportunity I had to meet with representatives from different companies I treated as a chance to show my value to them. When you’re networking with companies, there’s a few key things you want to demonstrate:

  • You’re personable
  • You’re interested in the company
  • You’re eager to learn and develop
  • You have experiences in what they’re looking for

Give them a reason to remember you by expressing your interest in them, and showcase some of the experiences you have up to that point. A lot of companies look for leadership experiences through clubs and other extracurricular activities.

In the computer science field, many companies wanted to see that I had an interest in programming outside of the classroom. They would want to see any code that I’ve written and what languages I was comfortable with.

When I was networking with the company I’m currently with, I connected with an alumni from my school. They would reach out to the school a few times a year and gauge the interest of students wanting to participate in activities sponsored by the company. And you better believe I took part in every single one!

Tip: Don’t underestimate the power of alumni networks! Reach out to alumni from your school to see if they would be able to connect you to the right people. LinkedIn is a great resource.

2. Cast a wide net

It’s important to be open to different career possibilities. You don’t want to bottle neck yourself so much where you’re only interested in one role with one company. Although ambitious and admirable, to put yourself in the best position to be successful in your job hunt, you should be open to the many possibilities related to your degree.

Cast a wide net when you’re applying for positions with different companies. Take a chance on a company you may not have thought about interviewing with. The more opportunities you take in reaching out to companies and expressing interest in them, the better chance you’ll have at landing an interview that leads to a job, or even better, getting to choose between multiple job offers.

3. Follow up with your connections

After you’ve networked and expressed interest in a company, and you received their contact information, always make sure to follow up with them. Representatives go to many different colleges, so you want to keep the memory of meeting you fresh on their minds while they’re deciding who to push to their hiring teams.

Within the first few days of meeting with someone from a company you’re interested in, send them an email expressing appreciation and excitement for opportunities with the company. Mention something specific from the meeting, and be sincere. Here’s an example of what a follow up could look like the following:

Hello Jan,

It was great connecting with you this past week at Tennessee State! I am excited to learn more about the opportunities the company has for future graduates, and I hope you’ll keep me in consideration for any upcoming openings. I believe I would be a amazing fit based on our conversation about the company and the things I am looking for in a career! I loved the career training that the company has!

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Tom

Making sure you follow up with the companies you network with can go a long way in getting opportunities to interview with them and securing a job.

4. Secure an internship with the company

Securing an internship with a company is a fantastic way to land a job before graduation. Many companies make an effort to hire from their internship pool.

My company, for example, hires over 50% of all new hires for the year from the intern pool. On top of that, most of the interns who satisfactorily complete their tasks, demonstrate a willingness to learn, and fit well with the company receive a job offer at the end of the internship.

Those are some pretty good odds. So, if you can secure an internship, you’ll be one step closer to landing a job before graduation!

If you’re interested in how to obtain an internship, read this article on how I received multiple internship offers as a computer science major, How I Got Multiple Internship Offers While In School. There are many strategies in that article to help you get the internship that leads to your career!

5. Continually find ways to show interest in the company

When a company has shown interest in you through networking events, follow ups, and interviews, be sure to continue to show interest in them. Here are a few ways you can show a company you’re interested in them:

  • Attend and participate in the events they have at your school
  • Wear their swag around campus
  • Keep the networking connections strong through email
  • Continue to work on the skills they’re looking for in a new hire

When a company is going through their hiring process, they’re more likely to give you consideration for a job if they know you’re interested, and you check off the boxes they’re looking for in a candidate.

Continue to participate in company sponsored events, maintain connections with the company, and work on the skills that they highlight as important for new hires to possess, and you should be a solid candidate for them to want to hire.

Summary

Securing a job before graduating is a great way to set the tone for the beginning of a wonderful career. Over the course of the article we dove into 5 strategies for landing a job while in school:

  1. Network, network, network!
  2. Cast a wide net
  3. Follow up with your connections
  4. Secure an internship with the company
  5. Continually find ways to show interest in the company

Even if you’ve already graduated college, these tips can still be incredibly useful in your job search. And don’t get discouraged if the job hunt hasn’t produced your dream job yet! Stay positive, and be open to the possibilities that come your way.

How’s your job search going? Reach out!

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Career Spotlight: Software Developer

In my Career Spotlight series, we dive into different careers by answering common questions people have about them.

This edition of Career Spotlight focuses on my current role as a software developer. A software developer is responsible for designing programs and applications within a software development life cycle.

But what does that mean? Let’s take our phones, for example. Just about all the applications, from the navigation app to your favorite games, were created by software developers. The same goes for most, if not all, of the programs on your computer.

Have you been asked to update any applications on your phone? Software developers are responsible for that as well. Not only do they create software, they also have a responsibility of maintaining it after it gets to the customer.

Depending on what job search site you use, the number of open software developer positions can vary from 50,000 to over 200,000 jobs. It is a career that is in high demand all around the world.

According to a U.S. News report, software developer ranks as the number one job for salary, jobs, future growth, salary, and work-life balance. All of these factors make software developer a highly rewarding and satisfying career to pursue.

Let’s get into some questions.

Q1. How did you get into software development?

It’s interesting how I ended up going down this path. My first career was in teaching. I loved it because I felt I could make a positive difference in my students’ lives.

There was one school I taught at that put an emphasis on the students learning computer concepts. So, every grade took at least one computer class throughout the year.

One day, I decided to spend some time with my students in their computer class as a way to bond with them. In the class, they were working on learning to build code through a game, and I instantly got sucked into it. It was so fascinating to think that what they’re working on could lead to creating so many things that I use daily.

From there, I took a few free coding classes online to see how I would like it, and I was hooked.

I considered going back to school to study something involving coding, but it was hard for me to commit to pursuing a different career when I already put so much time and effort into teaching. I was torn.

I had one of those light bulb type moments one day in the middle of the school year when I was sitting at home after teaching all week, and I felt mentally burned out from it. I couldn’t see myself being happy long term feeling this way. As much as it hurt to leave my students, I made it a goal to return to school to change my career path.

Q2. How did you get a software developer job?

I got into my current position by chance, really. I did an internship with a company over the summer between the first and second year of my program. I worked with a team that assigned me a task of automating an application to create less manual work for people using it. Through this task, I found that I really enjoyed the work.

At the end of the internship, I was presented with a job offer by the company, but I wasn’t informed on what my job would be. I ended up accepting the offer because I loved the company, and I felt that I could develop my career with them.

Fast forward to the next year where I’m about to begin my orientation, and I get an email saying what team I’ll be on and what my specific role would be. As luck would have it, I got placed into a software developer position. Some other areas I could have ended up in were information security, quality, or data science.

Q3. What did you study when you returned to school?

I studied computer science. The school I attended offered both computer science and computer engineering, but because there were more requirements to graduate for computer engineering, I opted for computer science.

I took many math courses like calculus and linear algebra, but most of my time in the program consisted of computer science courses. Some of the classes I took include java, data structures, algorithms, operating systems, and a yearlong senior project.

Q4. What is the difference between software development and software engineering?

This is one of those questions where the answer you get depends on who you ask. In my industry, both titles are used interchangeably, and that’s how I treat it.

If we’re looking for a difference, it would be in the engineering part of software engineer. software engineers use a set of engineering principles in problem solving and creating software just like other engineering professions, but a software developer may not necessarily use these same principles when creating software.

Because of this, it’s common to hear that a software engineer can do what a software developer does, but a software developer may not be able to do all of what a software engineer does.

Q5. What does a typical workday look like as a software developer?

One of the things I love most about my job is the variation of what I’ll do in a given day. One day I could be writing code for functions of an app that operate behind the scenes, and the next day I could be learning about user interface concepts.

My workday starts when I get into the office. The layout of the office is open with no assigned seats, so I can sit anywhere to work. Think cafeteria style, but with more defined spaces for people to work. I’ll spend some time checking my emails and seeing what meetings I have scheduled for the day. These meetings can vary from meeting with members of my team to taking time to learn something new through my company. I could be in meetings anywhere from 30 minutes to all day depending on the day and time of month.

When I’m not in meetings, I work on assignments that I am responsible for completing in a given time frame. As a software developer, usually this involves writing and updating code for the application I am responsible for. These assignments update every couple of weeks, so there’s always something to work on.

I work as part of a team, and we all have responsibilities that are geared towards completing goals that we set in increments. We meet daily to discuss what we’ve done for the day, what we plan to do the next day, and anything that may be holding us back from completing our work. There’s a lot of accountability and checks in place to ensure we are on track to reach our goals.

On the job, I am always learning. If I get stuck with my work, I have a mentor that I can reach out to for support. Compared to teaching, the stress level is very reasonable.

The work time is flexible as well. I can arrive anytime in the morning before my meetings and leave when I feel that I am at a good place with my work. I also have the flexibility to work from home, which is a huge benefit for me when my son has to stay home from daycare, or if I have other things to take care of outside of the office.

Conclusion

This was Career Spotlight, where we focused on common questions people have about software development.

If you have any other questions about the profession or want to learn more, leave a comment!

If you enjoyed reading the article, and you feel like it’s been helpful, make sure to like, subscribe, share, and be on the lookout for another Career Spotlight article!