Span from graduation to job could spell success

By Caylie Sadin Tribune Media Services

November 19, 2011

Many graduates aren’t getting a job right out of college. But how long should former students expect to wait before they’re hired? And what are the supposed to do until then?

Bora Un, assistant director of undergraduate preparation at the University of Chicago, says that it usually takes six to nine months to find a job.

“One of the mistakes we see is that some of them just spend their time on the internet,” says Donna Del Giudice, career specialist at DePaul University in Chicago. “They need to get out there and do networking. The most important thing is keeping themselves in front of people.”

One way that a graduate can do this is to volunteer. Volunteering keeps you in front of people and can give a person transferable skills that they can bring to a job in the field that they want to go in to, Del Giudice says.

Both Un and Del Giudice agree that taking an internship after college is a viable option. It again puts graduates in front of people that they might want to know and allows them to network.

“Don’t feel ashamed that you have to volunteer or take an unpaid internship,” Un says. “Get your foot in the door.”

And once you’re there, be sure to work hard. “We encourage people to try to make a good impression on the people they are working with,” Un says. “You never know who those people are. Sometimes it is knowing the right person at the right time.”

Friends with benefits

Networking on the Internet is important too, especially on LinkedIn, which lets you connect with friends, family and co-workers. It’s also a bridge to the people that they know, Un says.

“A lot of our recruiters are telling us that they are sourcing through LinkedIn,” Del Giudice says. “Students need to be on LinkedIn.”

Twitter being used as guerrilla marketing by companies is on the rise, Un says. A graduate should follow the companies that he or she would like to work for, because companies often use Twitter to post job opportunities. Sometimes those jobs will be filled within days or a week, Un says.

Even piecing together two part-time jobs that are not necessarily in the graduate’s field looks much better on a resume than nothing or a gap, Del Giudice says. An employer likes to see that the applicant has been consistently working, and working gives the graduate a little more confidence in an interview, Del Giudice says.

“Sometimes they have to look at another state,” Del Giudice says. “They may have to think outside the box by industry and by parts of the country.”

Donna Del Giudice of DePaul’s Career Center talks to the Chicago Tribune about the importance of online and offline networking.