Have you heard that there are no jobs out there? These SCSU alumni have found great careers even in today’s economy. Read up on how they got their jobs, the essential steps that they took, and their advice for current SCSU students.
M.S. in Biology
St. Cloud Technical and Community College- Biology faculty
"I built up tons of experience during summers and during the school year doing any job I could that related to biology or education, so my resume is overflowing with experience (even if some jobs were just for a few hours, a week, for a summer, or a semester)
I had great references. I treated every professor or boss that I've ever had like I would need to get a letter of recommendation from them when I was done working. I always tried to stand out in my classes somehow so the teacher would know my name, and I always asked for a letter afterward (even if I didn't have a job application at that point). I've always been willing to switch jobs to keep advancing. I've left a couple jobs before I was expected to, but I always did my best to leave on good terms so I still had a good recommendation.
Early on during my education, I started small with unpaid or low paying jobs and internships or volunteer positions. From there I could move up. It seems like so many people don't have any experience and then expect to just jump into a high paying job."
Majors: Computer Science and Art
National Weather Service (NWS)
"I ended up with 2 Bachelor Degrees, very small amount of money saved, and no job. Not only was it bad enough to graduate in this economy, but my student visa required me to find a job in 3 months or leave the country. I exhausted all of the online resources ever created. Monster, Career builder, MN jobs, Craigslist...every job listing site you can think of. My applications count reached 4 digits.
So, what was I doing wrong? Looking back, I say nothing. I applied to many jobs, and didn't get as many replies as I hoped. I got very few interviews. Then, I ended up with a bad offer as well as a really good one. The process took 5 months. Moral of the story: do not give up whether you get replies back or not, and keep applying even if you do not think you qualify; you never know where you are going to end up."
Major: Land Surveying/Mapping
Minnesota Department of Transportation, Transportation Generalist Senior- Oakdale, MN
Volunteer Fire Fighter- Somerset, WI
"The first thing I would tell someone before they even find work is to really know what you want to do. I honestly picked Surveying because I knew it was a job performed outside, I love being outside. So looking in to what a job actually consists of is crucial. Another thing that truly helped me was to get an INTERNSHIP! It doesn't matter if the company that hires you isn't the company you want to work for the rest of your life, every bit of experience helps. But the more work you can do earlier, the better
When interviewing, which was my weakest point, there are a few things that I have learned from experience. You MUST be relaxed and confident that you are the person for the job. As they interview you, give them specific examples when they ask you questions.
If you are able to get some work in the field you are going to school for, get noticed! Too many times I have seen people going through the motions. To get noticed, there are many things you can do. BE ON TIME! No supervisor likes a late employee. Always be trying to learn something new, ask questions, and try to be as personable as you can. I found that getting to know the people around me, taking what they teach me, and apply it towards my work has helped me considerably. It is important to remember that the job you get tomorrow might not be the one you have a year from now. Things change and keeping options open is something that truly helped me."
Major: Environmental Studies
Water Quality Specialist, Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe- Flandreau, SD
"I found my job listed on a local news station’s website. I took a chance on applying for it since I wasn't completely qualified. I was told after I was hired that they chose me because I was "spunky" and I really put myself out there. The most essential key to the interview were my internships and volunteer experiences. The employers really looked at all the activities I had participated in and asked questions about them. They wanted to see if I was lying about being involved like I was just trying to build up my resume.
Advice I have for current students would be to diversify your resume. Participate in organizations and volunteer opportunities that are directly linked to your major. As an Environmental Studies student, I volunteered with Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Central Minnesota. My employer saw this as community outreach experience that I could apply to my current position. Also, when making your resume don't cheat yourself. It's good to have a strong resume, but if the items on it are false employers will see right through you."
Major: Ecology and Natural Resources
Botanist for the USDA Forest Service
"I feel that there were two major factors that contributed to my success in finding a job post-graduation. The first would be that I was very involved in a student organization during my duration at SCSU. My student organization, The Wildlife Society, allowed me to meet many contacts in my field, as well as meet future contacts (my fellow classmates) through volunteer work, and guest speakers. I feel that showing a history of volunteer work in your field of choice shows to future employers that you are passionate and committed to that field and that you aren't getting into it just for a paycheck, but it is more something that you enjoy doing.
The second factor involves an internship. My forest ecology internship with the University of Wisconsin- Madison gave me valuable real-life experience that I could discuss during job interviews. It is never too early to look for an internship. My internship gave me a better sense of "what I wanted to do with my life", and I think that it provides a valuable glimpse into the future.
I feel that it is important to use the language of your profession in your resume. You want to sound professional, and this is where having hands-on experience really comes into play. It is one thing to say you have learned about something in school, but another to show that you have done it firsthand. A lot of people tend to generalize on their resume, but you need to be concise and demonstrate a strong writing ability with NO mistakes!
Apply to jobs often, and early! Look at job posting sites every day, and apply the same day that jobs are posted. If you get an interview don't be nervous, just be prepared, and be yourself. That is what employers want to see; no one wants to hire someone who wouldn't hire themselves. And lastly, if you don't get the job, don't be discouraged. There are a lot of other people out there looking for jobs in this economy, but don't give up."
Registered Nurse, Rapid City Regional Hospital, Rapid City, SD
"Be willing to relocate and go where the jobs are. The MN job market is especially tough for new nurses who want a hospital job. I applied online almost everywhere. I called the places where I really wanted to work and made it known that I was really interested, and I also kept following up with them. Don't get discouraged when you don't hear from anyone. You just have to keep looking. Someone needs you."
Majors: Biotechnology and Chemistry
Graduate Student in Oncology/Hematology at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
"The job market is tough, but it doesn’t mean you can’t find a career when your post-secondary education is over. Here are a few tips to follow to prepare you for life after college:
Get to know your professors. Often times they have contacts in industry or educational institutions that they can introduce you to. Look into their backgrounds and find out how they got where they are now. Professors want to help you if they can.
Build your resume all the way through college. Start by volunteering somewhere or getting a summer internship in your field of interest. Try to do research with professors or master’s students. Make a good impression and often times the company or professor might keep you around.
Get involved. Join clubs and study groups. Make friends in your area of interest, they can be your support as you decide on your future. Also, these people are going through the same thing you are and might have ideas about where to job hunt.
Keep a resume on you at all times. You never know when you might meet your future employer. You can meet lots of wonderful people at coffee shops and barbeques that can introduce you to jobs. If you can give them a resume, they can pass it on to the human resources department, and you just might get a call for an interview.
Don’t give up. Keep checking online, in newspapers, and on company websites for available positions. If you are motivated and hard working, apply to graduate programs to make yourself more marketable. Remember the future is now in your hands; make the most of it!"
Major: Computer Science
Application Systems Analyst for DCM Services LLC in Golden Valley, MN
"I think part of the reason I got my job is because I had a lot of experience with job interviews. Practicing my interview skills with Career Services was very helpful, but nothing beats real world experience. I was very determined to get a job; I graduated in May 2010 but I started applying in the fall of 2009. During spring semester (up until I got my job) I easily applied for 100+ positions. I looked at every possible career website, MN Jobs, Career Builder, Indeed.com, etc. The most helpful website was the University of St. Thomas career services website. They always seem to have new job openings posted. During the summer (after graduation) I made it my goal to apply for at least 5 jobs a day before I did anything else. I consulted with SCSU alumni through LinkedIn and they were extremely helpful. Getting advice from actual recruiters is the best because they can critique your resume and let you know what people are looking for.
Be determined and do not give up. Even after the 20th rejection letter I never gave up hope. Make it a point to learn from your mistakes and if you can always ask the interviewer (after being rejected) what could you do to improve on your interviewing skills. Be yourself, the person interviewing you is more than likely going to be your immediate boss if you get the job; they want to see what kind of person you are in the workplace. You may have the skills to do the job but you may not have the social skills to interact with your peers.
The economy is certainly picking up, the job market in the private sectors have been improving. As long as students prepare, they should not have a problem."