Prepare to Make an Investment

I have heard literally hundreds of college students talk about how they are going to "coast" in their final year right up to graduation. Your class load may be down, your work load may be lower, and in general, you are finally ready to start living the good life.

Have you forgotten something? If you don't have a job yet, your number one priority should be finding that job. Yet many students end up spending their final year hitting all the parties, developing a flourishing romance, or just "taking it easy." And then they talk about how they were "too busy" to look for a job when they come up empty at graduation.

The investment in your education will only provide a full payback if you find a job where you are happy and fulfilled.

Sorry to crash your party, but until you have landed a job, you still have work to do. In fact, more work than you likely have done to this point. If you want to be a success in your career, you have to be prepared to make an investment—now!

First of all, you need to invest your time. You should plan on dedicating a minimum of five hours and sometimes as many as fifteen to twenty hours per week to your job search. I know that sounds like a lot of time, but get ready—there is even more. You should also plan to use your fall, winter, and spring breaks for full-time job searching. Your breaks are nonrefundable time that should be banked directly to your job search account. I realize I may be stepping on a lot of Florida-party-animal toes by recommending job search over Daytona, but this is the time for a reality check. One week in the sun could end up burning you badly at graduation. And don't make the excuse that you cannot possibly fit anything else into your "crowded schedule." If you are taking more classes than you need to, drop them. If you are attending more social engagements than you need to, avoid them. Stop volunteering for everything that comes along. You only have a limited number of minutes and hours in each day, so make sure you spend your time productively. Make time on your schedule now or you may end up with an overabundance of available time after graduation.

Secondly, you will need to invest your financial resources (or somebody else's if you are truly penniless). Conducting a successful job search requires money. Whether it is developing your job search materials, making phone calls, purchasing an interview suit, or making weekend and semester break trips, they all cost money (I didn't say you couldn't travel over spring break, just not to Daytona—and no, I don't think there are very many entry level positions available in Daytona, so don't use that excuse either). No money left? Used it all up? This is a good time to tap into the parent bank. "Mom and Dad, you have helped me get this far, I would hate to see it all wasted for lack of a few hundred bucks more." Whatever you do, do not shortchange your career due to a simple lack of funds. Remember, your future credit is good, assuming you use the money wisely toward your job search and securing a good job. Besides, Mom and Dad will spend a whole lot more money if you are unsuccessful in your job search because you will probably end up moving back home, a conclusion that all concerned would like to avoid. It's time to move on with your new life.

Finally, you will need to invest your energy. There is no way to cram the night before, walk in bleary-eyed, and ace your "job search final." You have to be ready at all times to put forth your very best effort. That means you have to be focused on your job search as your top priority. What has your focus been for the last several years? Has your focus been social? Let it chill for now. You will have zero social budget if you end up in the ranks of the unemployed. Has your focus been athletics? Now is the time to pass the torch. Has your focus been on volunteer or club activities? Give the underclassmen the opportunity to serve. In summary, don't be afraid to say "No." Don't be afraid to say, "I have some work that I need to get done." Make your job search your number one priority in your life and devote yourself to it.

As a side benefit, if you devote yourself totally to your job search and secure a great job early, you can then go back to your other diversions. In fact, securing a job early is the very best thing that can happen to you in both your professional and personal life.