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A Graduating Senior’s Advice for Success

Eighty-three percent of college students don’t have a job lined up before they graduate, according to I was definitely a number in that statistic.

I am no expert in success after college but I do know the feeling of trying to figure it out and not knowing what to do. Here are some useful tips on how to prepare for the real world through the University of Tampa’s Career Services, through special courses offered and the help of faculty and staff on campus.

The job search doesn’t start senior year. According to Forbes, 80 percent of jobs are not even advertised and are part of the hidden job market, leaving 20 percent of jobs for the open job market consisting of online postings. This is where you should utilize Career Services, Hire UT, faculty and most importantly networking to find these hidden jobs.

The Career Services website and staff have numerous tools to help undergraduate and graduate students. Career Services instructs two courses, career decision making and job search strategies. I have taken both, and they are worth it.

Hire UT is a great resource for internships as well as on and off campus jobs. The most useful tool I have found is Optimal Resume. It is free for all students and allows you to practice your interviewing skills with just a webcam. By setting up your personal webcam you can see how you respond to each question the facilitator asks and also watch a tutorial with the response an interviewer is looking to hear.

Aside from finding an insightful advisor, you can always talk to professors. One of the advantages of going to a private university is that we have more access to  one on one time with professors. A professor can help you decide a path to take based on their experience or what you learn in their class. The more connections you make in college, the better. After all, when you graduate you are going to need reference letters so it is better to start early and form connections. You never know what connections they have and are willing to share and help you.

The number one thing I have read about getting jobs after graduation is that we have to find ways to stand out. If you blend in with the other 20 people applying for the same job, chances are they won’t remember you and you won’t be getting that job. One method to use during interviews is the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Results) method. From taking the career services class called job search strategies I have learned that using this technique will help you give a focused and well developed response. The STAR method shows the interviewee how to answer a question by explaining a situation, showing what you did and how you did it, and ending with the result instead of just replying to a question with a one sentence response.

Every senior should attend the Career Expo on Friday, Feb. 27, from noon to 3:00 p.m. in Plant Hall at Fletcher Lounge with over 50 employers attending. The event is attending. The event is open exclusively to UT and Colleges of Central Florida Career Consortium students. This is the perfect opportunity for graduating seniors and even juniors to start networking and learning the art of selling yourself to employers. Many of the companies may even have an internship available so it never hurts to go see what’s there. The best way to learn how to speak to employers is to go out there and do it.

If anyone has struggled with finding the right career path like I have, utilize career services, professional organizations that relate to your field and everyone on this campus. Even a complete stranger could know someone to help you get a step in the door of your dream job. Do mock interviews, get your resume critiqued, go to jobs fairs, get as many internships as you can and network because sooner then you know it, you will be walking across the stage.


Katie Drake can be reached at


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