6 Tips for Career Success as a College Graduate: Advice from a Schwab Campus Recruiter
By Andie Teresi, Associate, Talent Acquisition
Graduating college is a monumental occasion – the long hours of studying and taking exams has finally come to an end. We acknowledge that it can be hard knowing where to start after receiving your degree. From narrowing down a career field to go into, to worrying about potential relocation and starting a new chapter in your life, graduating is all the more nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time! That’s where Schwab would like to come in and help ease those nerves. Our firm’s commitment is to help develop your career by giving you opportunities to experience different departments, participate in mentoring programs, and volunteer with local charities, all while supporting a healthy work-life balance. Even if a role at Schwab is not your end goal, these tips and advice can help you regardless of where your career journey takes you.
To help compile these beneficial tips and advice, I decided to interview Kiran N., a Talent Attraction Sr. Specialist, on the Campus Recruiting Team. Kiran grew up in both Southern California and Texas and went on to earn her Bachelor of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). While attending UCLA, she initially was a pre-med student but finished her degree in 3 years as she switched to a Psychology major. Kiran also has 3 years of campus recruiting experience in the technology and financial sectors and currently owns campus recruiting relationships and programming for the Dallas Fort Worth schools and Westlake market. Let’s see what she has to say!
In order to land the interview at that dream job you’ve always been wanting, let’s backtrack to the pre-work that’s involved to help get you to that step. Initiating the interview process begins with your resume.
1. Tailor your resume
The importance of tailoring your resume to each specific job you apply to goes a long way. Kiran states how, “I think this is common for new grads. We use the same resume and tend to mass apply because we’re just trying to see what sticks, right? We’re just trying to figure out which recruiter bites and then move from there, but once you start applying for jobs, make sure you take the time to tailor your resume to the specific job that you're applying for. You want to ensure the competencies from the job description align with what's on your resume.” If you’d like to read more in-depth details on how to do just that, click here.
Hopefully, the extra time you have taken to tailor your resume has resulted in securing an interview with a recruiter. If that is the case, Kiran also has tips for what to work on to make the most out of this next step.
2. Be confident in your skills while bringing your resume to life
Interviewing can be a nerve-wracking and difficult experience, especially if it’s your first one. Kiran suggested what she recommends to help with making this experience less challenging: “If you’re selected for an interview, it means you have what we're looking for on your resume. It’s just having the confidence to bring your resume to life and having the confidence knowing that you were selected for a reason. I can see that sometimes happening in the interview process, where we tend to kind of downplay some of our experiences, or we don't think it necessarily aligns. I want students to feel empowered, especially if you're being asked to interview for a job. You have what it takes.”
2a. Part of bringing your resume to life includes incorporating the S.T.A.R method. Kiran elaborates on why this is important and what it entails: “If you list that you worked at a restaurant and you were a waitress, try to think of those experiences where you really challenged yourself, where maybe you were a leader, or maybe you had to make a difficult decision and then take the time to look at the job description. You can kind of anticipate what questions they're going to ask. If it's a customer service-based position, you're likely going to be asked a S.T.A.R. question such as, ‘tell me about a time when you went above and beyond’. I think taking the time to really think about your experiences in that position, and add some color to those experiences; what happened, set the scene, what did you do? Then, what did you learn from that and how did you contribute? Be thoughtful with your stories and reflect on what you did in those roles, so that when you're asked those questions, it's top of mind for you and you're able to very clearly walk that person through what you did.”
If you’re still not feeling confident in your interviewing skills, practice! Kiran recommends figuring out an elevator pitch and have an answer ready when someone asks you about yourself.
3. Practice makes perfect
“Practice and ask for feedback. Leverage your career center, friends, and family. Maybe you're talking to people in the informational interview process and you can ask them if they would be willing to look at your resume. Ask them if they can give you feedback on how the conversation went. I think practicing, as much as you can, but also being as prepared as you possibly can – so knowing your elevator pitch, doing research on the company, having your questions prepared, and having your stories ready to go for the interview questions.”
4. Find a way to stand out as an applicant
With practicing for the interview and being prepared, Kiran also mentioned how to increase your chances of standing out as an applicant applying to a role at Schwab: “I think it can be different for each candidate, but things that stand out for me is if a student has done extensive research on Schwab. They really know about our culture or during their conversation with me, they reference an article that came out about Schwab, something on our volunteer site, maybe they saw that Schwab was giving back or they follow us on LinkedIn and they referenced an update on Twitter or Instagram. Then I’m able to tell the person is actually invested in Schwab as a company and they know what's going on in our employees’ lives and the broader Schwab as a corporation.”
5. Utilize professional networking sites like LinkedIn
While researching the company you’re applying to, also take a moment to head over to your LinkedIn profile and make any adjustments needed to reflect the most up-to-date information. If you don’t currently have a LinkedIn profile, consider creating one and the benefits it can add to your candidacy.
“I think as a student or as someone who's a job seeker in general, you should always err on the side of caution that your employer is going to look you up on LinkedIn and at the very least your recruiters are going to look you up on LinkedIn to have a better understanding of what classes have you taken, what organizations are you involved in, and your leadership. You can also add some extra details on there that you don't want to have on your resume because I know we advise people to try to keep their resumes succinct, concise, and to the point, but LinkedIn is your opportunity to add some of that information back in. Maybe adding extracurriculars or volunteering, if you give back to your community, there are different sections that you can add that in. We look at LinkedIn to see a little bit more about you because we want to learn about who you are outside of work and what you enjoy doing. It's important that you at least have a professional LinkedIn presence – this may include adding a profile photo if you’re comfortable doing so, adding a description to your ‘About’ section, and having your roles updated and in chronological order. I think having those kind of lined out is a good idea. Then try to be active if you can, many recruiters are receptive to LinkedIn requests and messages. Always just be willing to put yourself out there.”
Lastly, even after you’ve prepared, done your research, and gone through the interviewing process, the outcome of your application may not end up the way you were hoping it would. If that’s the case, don’t let it trouble you, but instead, look at it as a learning experience and how it can help you grow as an individual, both personally and professionally.
6. Don’t be afraid to fail fast – closed doors open new opportunities
“I think a lot of new grads have this mentality where we graduate college and we want to have a plan for our lives. We want to have our careers laid out and we think two years from now, I want to be in this role. Once I join this company, I want to get promoted within this amount of time. I want to make this amount of money and I think that's so common because there's excitement, right? We're ambitious, we just graduated college, we're ready to take on the corporate world. Then when you get a rejection from a company, you feel like everything is just falling apart around you.
I think my first piece of advice is acknowledging that a lot of your early career is just working hard and being open to the possibilities. I think we try so hard to plan and if there is any point in your life where you should be open, flexible, and just willing to work hard, see what opportunities present themselves, network and get to know people, put your best foot forward, ask questions, make mistakes, the best time to do that is early in your career. That applies to rejection too – just because one thing doesn't work out, doesn't mean that that path isn't for you. There are so many opportunities for you to continue to grow and make mistakes, because think about how much you learn from failure, right? If I could go back to my younger self, I would tell her to fail fast and learn. Learn that resiliency because you're going to need it in this corporate world as it can be hard out there and this isn't the first rejection you're going to face in your life. Whether it's on a project that you're working on, or a teammate or a promotion, just be open, willing to grow from that experience, and take what you learn from it and move forward.”
By Andie Teresi, Associate, Talent Acquisition