It seems like just yesterday you were touring the campus of Illinois State University. You may have experienced anxiety as you waited for your acceptance letter, or sleepless nights as you envisioned yourself as a part of the Redbird family. Then came the hustle and the bustle of students flocking to class, and the crisp smell of the quad air that welcomed you with open arms. Your nervousness slowly faded away as you began attending classes and made new friends. Today as you reminisce about Illinois State, and eagerly await starting your career, the Career Center offers these tips to help you as you leave campus and continue your journey as a Redbird alumna and professional.

Reach out to contacts

Applying for jobs online might not be enough to find a job. Therefore, it is important to tap into the hidden job market through connections you have made. In fact, a 2016 LinkedIn study reported that 85% of all positions are filled through networking, rather than applying. So be sure to connect with your network of professionals. Reach out to alumni, professors, and professionals in your field and let them know you are graduating and eager to begin your career. Having a full network of professionals in your corner is imperative to hearing about jobs that are not public knowledge.

Visit the Career Center

There are numerous ways the Career Center can help you state your career. Make an appointment with your career advisor to outline your career plan, review your resume, prepare for an interview and get input when applying for open positions. Also, don’t forget to order your free business cards now while you are still a student and print copies of your resume on professional paper at the Career Center. Additionally, there are other resources available to alumni and students such as InterviewStream, an online video tool that allows you to practice your interview with questions and play them back to see how you have done. The Career Center also offers the Career Resource Guide, a booklet full of information regarding job search strategies, interviewing, and more.

Update your Hire-A-Redbird profile

Be sure your profile in Hire-A-Redbird, Illinois State’s online job vacancy tool, is current. Update your profile with your graduation date, contact information, and degree specifics. While you are there, apply for jobs, research organizations and salaries, and identify positions of interest. Post your resume into the resume books to be certain employers can find you as a candidate. Check Hire-A-Redbird often as an alum as well, so you do not miss alerts from the Career Center about upcoming events, on-campus interviews, and more.

Meet with a professional

Schedule an informational interview with a professional in your field. This will allow you to experience a typical “day-in-the-life” of a professional and give you the opportunity to ask questions that could not necessarily be answered in a textbook. Many professionals are more than willing to meet with students as they prepare to graduate. Consider joining one of Illinois States alumni networks to connect with fellow Redbirds as a a start.

Attend career-focused events

Save the dates of upcoming Illinois State career fairs, as alumni are always welcome to attend events hosted by the Career Center. Attend these events, to network with professionals in your field, or even to identify a position you may have never considered. You never know who you will connect with at a Career Center event, and what opportunities you may find.

Join social media

As the first generation of candidates who were born during the digital age, it is likely you have a vast digital footprint. So be sure to review your social media profiles and delete anything that you would not want employers seeing and that may influence your professional image. Additionally, connect with professionals on LinkedIn and follow pages and influencers relating to your field. Join the Career Center on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay updated about the latest events, services, resources and career-related news.

Give back to the ‘Birds

If you find yourself in the position to hire employees in the future, contact the Career Center for help with identifying the right candidate. No matter what position you hold within an organization, there is always an opportunity to give back what you received at Illinois State student by hiring a Redbird.

Make the most of your final days at Illinois State by taking all the measures necessary to take the stage with confidence, and graduate with a career you have worked so hard begin.