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Graduates preparing for commencement: Don’t forget about your career

Graduation doesn't mean it's time to take a break

Students can't wait to walk the stage at commencement. But don't rest now—you've got a career ahead of you.

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’s 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.

Applying for jobs

The internet alone is not the only way to find jobs anymore. Today, it is more important than ever to tap into the hidden job market through professional 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.

Campus resources

Even though you are graduating, the Career Center is still in your corner to help you state your career. Make an appointment with your career advisor to outline your career plan, review your résumé, 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 résumé, 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’ve done. The Career Center also offers the Career Resource Guide, a booklet full of information regarding job search strategies, interviewing, and more.

Hire-A-Redbird

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. Best of all, post your resume into the resume books so 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 much more.

Learn about professions

Try to 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 events

Save the dates of upcoming Illinois State career fairs and other career-related events. Alumni are always welcome to attend events hosted by the Career Center 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.

Utilize 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.

Share the wealth

If you find yourself in a 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 advantage of all of the career resources available to you. You’ll find yourself taking the stage at Commencement with confidence, and graduate with a career you have worked so very hard begin.

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