Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Student Spotlight: Job Searching Strategies for Arts and Sciences Majors

The prospect of finding a job in today’s job market can be daunting, especially for students in the College of Arts and Sciences. As a graduating communication and psychology major, I consider myself lucky for landing a job in this economy. A computer-based financial analysis software company, named FactSet, has extended a job offer despite my non-business background. Here’s why:

FactSet is a company that operates as a consulting amenity in the financial services sector. Prior to receiving the job offer, I had no idea a company like this would be interested in me. However, my communication and problem solving abilities—skills refined in Arts & Sciences majors—gave me a leg up on the business students I competed against. If I hadn’t initially been open to interviewing with a company off job radar, I wouldn’t have a job lined up. So, be prepared to be surprised during the job search process.

As a Peer Career Advisor for CU Boulder Career Services, I’ve been exposed to campus recruiters for several years. What I’ve come to realize is that the interview process starts long before the interview itself. Thanks to my exposure to FactSet’s recruiters at past career fairs and employer information sessions, the company was familiar with me before my senior year and interested in talking to me about employment opportunities before graduation. When I walked into FactSet’s San Mateo, California, office for the interview, I had already established rapport with two of the four hiring managers due to my networking efforts on campus

One piece of advice I have to graduating job seekers is to stay up-to-date on hiring trends and current events relevant to the industry in which you wish to work. During my interview, I was asked to discuss recent trends in finance that interested me. After reading portions of The Economist magazine the night before to prepare for the interview, I spouted off an impressive answer that reflected my interest in market economics. Staying educated on industry news can be difficult, especially while classes can still require large amounts of reading; however, a few minutes a day spent reading information-dense texts like your local business journal or trade magazines can make the interview environment more relaxed and conversational.

Lastly, make the interview about you, too. Instead of feeling nervous about what questions are going to throw you off point, think of questions or concerns you would like to ask the interviewer. This can serve you two ways. Having questions prepared can, indeed, make the interview more conversational. Rather than simply responding to each question as if it were interrogation, you have to ability to respond to a tough question with a question of your own. Additionally, preparing questions prior to the interview will show the interviewer that you are serious and curious about the position. Turning the infamous interview setting into a conversation will relieve your anxiousness and  dissolve uncertainty once hired—two birds with one stone.