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Balancing Academics and the Job Search During Your Senior Year

By Mairead Tuttle

November 28, 2017

When your senior year of college begins, you can already picture yourself walking across the stage at your college’s commencement ceremony. As you attend graduation information meetings and check off your required courses, it can feel like your final months of school are simply an obstacle to starting your career. I know this feeling first-hand. For the past several weeks, I have learned how important it is to strike a balance between my academic work and my post-graduation job search. Here are four strategies I have used (and will continue to use) to work toward achieving this balance.

1. A digital calendar:

The most helpful organizational tool in balancing my academic work and extracurricular activities with my post-graduation planning has been a digital calendar. While many people have likely used this tool for years, I have always appreciated my paper planner, and will probably always find myself with a new one each January. As I started adding more events to my calendar, I realized that my planner could no longer fit everything in my day. Switching to a digital calendar has allowed me to plan every block of my day. Furthermore, I have the ability to quickly add or modify an event, which are changes that will then appear on all of my devices. My preferred platform is Google Calendar. I like that I can have separate calendars for different parts of my life (such as academic and job related activities) that appear simultaneously to me but can be shared separately with others. My calendar also keeps me from feeling overwhelmed by my academic work. When I can see a clear block of time that I know I can fill with course readings, I feel more in control of my schedule.

2. Scheduling:

Generally, scheduling helps me to organize my day and my life. This might seem like an obvious fact, but it is not one that I have always understood. Searching for jobs can be an overwhelming task. Scheduling a set amount of time during which you will look for jobs can help to make the process seem less daunting. Rather than telling myself that I will find a few hours during the weekend to look for jobs and then forgetting about it, I put those hours on my calendar to ensure that I follow through with my job search. It can also help to further specify those hours. Rather than just writing “search for jobs” on my calendar, I add what particular industry I will research. For example, from 1:00 - 2:00 on Saturday, I will look into entry level jobs in the marketing field. This will not only help to narrow my search results in an employment database, but also give a sense of focus and purpose to my job search.

3. Career Center visits:

Visiting my college’s career center always leaves me feeling more certain about the future. This is especially true when the future seems like it is approaching more quickly than I could have ever imagined. Depending upon what college you attend, your career center will likely offer different services. I am lucky enough to attend a college where the professional staff in the career center offer advice and guidance on a wide variety of topics ranging from a simple question about my resumé to the decision about which graduate school path to take. If you are able to do so, setting up a meeting to speak with a career advisor one-on-one can be a great help in balancing your academic work and job search. You will hopefully narrow your job search after this meeting, while being reminded that you are still a student (which is what gives you access to the career center in the first place!).

4. Drawing connections:

During the first few weeks of my senior year of college, I have found myself thinking about how the work I do in class will connect to my eventual career. This is not always the most productive train of thought, but it can be incredibly valuable. By reminding myself that the homework I need to complete will soon help me in a professional setting, I realize how truly important it is to finish my college career strongly. Take a few moments before starting an assignment to gauge what elements of it will be useful in your professional life. You can also think back to internships or jobs that you have had already, and recall the knowledge you gained in class that you used in those settings.

Graduation is quickly approaching, but it is not here yet. Employing even one of these strategies can help you to think toward the future without forgetting about the present.

Mairead Tuttle is from Pennsylvania and is currently a French and Economics major at Mount Holyoke College. Through her economics classes, she found a passion for business, and hopes to someday work on the management side of the fashion and beauty industries.

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