Are you a junior feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of graduating in less than two years? Does it feel like everyone you know already has their life entirely planned out? If this resonates with you, you’re in the right place. Being a senior now, I am filled with so many tips and so much advice I wish someone had told me as a junior. Here are some campus resources and professional tips to help navigate your junior year with respect to recruiting.
UC Berkeley Career Center
UC Berkeley has some great free resources to help you navigate your career path. First things first, book an appointment with the Career Center. I felt lost at the beginning of my junior year, and someone directed me to a career counselor in the Career Center. I booked a 15-minute appointment, walked in and said, “I want to help people after graduating, and I have no idea where to start.” In just 15 minutes, one of the counselors was able to brainstorm with me five different paths and told me about all types of free resources to help me explore more options. I’m not going to lie, I was a bit overwhelmed at first because I didn’t have time to write down all the resources she mentioned. However, in the last 30 seconds of the appointment, she told me that she herself had been writing everything down in an email draft the entire time and that she would send it to me. I mean, how perfect, right? And the best part: The Career Center was able to smoothly transition to online appointments during the pandemic. I’ve pointed a few of my friends there this semester, and they all reported back saying they feel so much more confident and excited to search for jobs after their appointment.
Also, be on the lookout for the many info sessions the Career Center hosts throughout the semester. Some give you advice on resume tips, while others feature panels with professionals from specific fields eager to share their experiences with students thinking about taking a similar path.
If you aren’t already familiar with Handshake, it’s a website and app that connects college students with internships and jobs. This site is incredibly easy to use and allows you to search for available jobs and internships, upcoming events that companies or UC Berkeley are hosting and so much more. After you put in some basic information about yourself and what you’re looking for, it’ll even send you emails about opportunities you might be interested in.
Well, once you sign up for one of these events or info sessions, how do you stand out? How do you network? First, if you can, try to have your camera on whenever possible so that the recruiters aren’t staring at gray boxes for an hour and a half — they are always extremely appreciative to see friendly faces. If you can’t, they completely understand, so it’s not necessary, only suggested. Always look up the company beforehand so you are ready to ask questions about their values or the specific position you are applying for. Be sure to write down their names so that right after the event is over, you can connect with them on LinkedIn. This literally takes 30 seconds, so don’t skip this opportunity to further your connection. LinkedIn allows you to send them a short note along with your invitation to connect, so type a few sentences thanking them for the info session and for their insightful view on life at their company. Note that you are excited to apply and look forward to connecting with them. Doing these few simple things will set you on the path to building extensive networks.
There is an unspoken rule to limit your resume to one page. This rule is popular and well known for a reason. Recruiters have to shuffle through hundreds of applications, so they don’t have time to scan three to four pages of your life and every detail about every single activity or job you’ve ever done. Instead, pick your top five or six extracurriculars and job or internship experiences and write about three bullet points per activity. Make sure each of these bullet points has a distinct purpose. For example, instead of saying, “Sent letters to clients,” make it clear that sending letters to clients was vital to completing the next step of the project you were working on. You could instead write, “Drafted and sent professional letters to clients that permitted progression.” This still conveys the same message but shows why sending the letters was important.
Cover letters always feel odd to write at first. How are you supposed to convince the company you are applying to that you are right for the job on only one page? Do you brag about your experiences that are relevant to the position, and if so, how many experiences should you mention? Should you include the company’s values and specific programs to prove you did your research and know how the company works? How do you stay humble and professional? And again, how do you do this all on one page?
Well, sorry to disappoint, but there’s actually no perfect formula for writing a cover letter; however, here are some general guidelines as a start.
- Tell them about yourself. Go from who you are (grade, major, school, etc.) to why you are applying for this specific position at their company. Try to do this in a few sentences to form your introduction paragraph. The goal is to connect who you are to why you’re right for the job.
- Then, begin sharing experiences that are relevant to the position you’re applying for. Find the company’s values and mission statement on its website and try to weave in some key buzzwords when explaining your past experiences. Stick to pointing out one or two experiences because you don’t have much space.
- Next, write a short paragraph directly stating why you are qualified — in other words, your hard skills. If you know how to code or have specific marketing skills you know the hiring manager is looking for, tailor your hard skills to the company within the paragraph. “Your company offers … which is what I am looking to expand my knowledge on.” Talk about how you are passionate and teachable — this is key for a lot of companies.
- End with a conclusion of about two to three sentences. Thank them for the opportunity to apply and say you look forward to hearing back. You can even add in some soft skills here, such as communication, leadership, teamwork and positive attitude.
The key throughout the recruiting process is to keep your calm. There are hundreds of jobs that you can apply for, but realistically, you can’t apply for all of them. So every once in a while, search up a few companies you may be interested in, and compile your notes on a document or spreadsheet throughout your junior year. That way, when you’re a senior, you’ll already have a list of companies you are interested in, and you can focus on their recruiting schedules. Remember, everything will work itself out, but try your best to use the free resources available to you; connect with recruiters early on to establish relationships so you can ask questions and seek advice; and slowly begin drafting your resume and cover letters using the advice above as a starting point. You’ve got this!