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4 Career Moves to Make Before You Graduate College

By Maurie Backman - Updated May 1, 2018 at 3:52PM

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Along with ordering your cap and gown, here are a few things you'll need to do before graduation rolls around.

For many students, college graduation is a mere few weeks away. And while you'll probably be busy studying for finals, packing up your belongings, and saying tearful goodbyes to friends, you should take the opportunity between now and then to increase your chances of landing a full-time job. Here are a few pivotal moves to make before your college career comes to a close and your working career kicks off.

1. Visit your campus career center

Most colleges have a career center. If you've yet to set foot in yours, now's your chance to roam around and see what resources are available to you. You might manage to access sample resumes, job listings, and counselors who can guide you if you're clueless about your career path or worried that your major isn't the most conducive to getting hired in the real world. Furthermore, many career centers maintain an alumni database, which can come in handy for future networking, so you'll want to find out what that entails.

Young woman holding a rolled-up piece of paper wearing a cap and gown

Image source: Getty Images.

2. Enlist professional references

It's somewhat common for prospective employers to ask for professional references before extending an offer. After all, it's easy enough to put together a compelling resume and do well in an interview, but it's another thing to have someone speak to your character and work ethic. Before you graduate, talk to your current and former professors and other on-campus professionals to see who's willing to serve as a reference for you in the coming months. Just as importantly, ask each person for an email address not linked to the school you attend. This way, if any of your contacts leave, you'll have a means of getting in touch.

3. Participate in a mock interview

Many college career centers offer students the option to partake in practice interview drills. If you have that opportunity, don't pass it up. Going through the motions might help you avoid some common pitfalls that job candidates tend to fall victim to, especially when they're new to the interview process. Attending a mock interview might also clue you in to the sort of questions you can expect to face, so jot them down and prepare some solid answers.

4. Have a complete resume and cover letter

One final career move to check off your list is having a resume and cover letter all ready to go. You never know when someone might approach you immediately following graduation with a job opportunity, but if you don't have a resume and cover letter to send over on the spot, you could lose out. Keep in mind that while you might get away with using a single resume for a variety of job listings, you'll most likely need to tailor your cover letter to individual companies as you go -- but having a template for that cover letter is better than having no starting point at all. If you're not sure how to create these key documents, talk to the folks at your career center -- that's what they're there for.

Though it may be hard to focus on your career when you're busy trying to process the fact that your college days are dwindling, don't make the mistake of putting no thought into your future employability. Even though it's a pretty good time to be looking for a job, the market is tough and competition is fierce. If you're hoping to get hired quickly after graduating, you'll need to invest a little time while you're still a student.

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