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Career Move #1: Read This.

WAA staffers share their advice for the Class of 2015

Chelsea Rademacher ’13
May 18, 2015

Congratulations, Class of 2015! You jumped around and studied strong, and now it’s time to step out of Camp Randall and into the Real World. Or graduate school. Some of you managed to snag a job while still in school, and will be on the payroll in a matter of weeks. And some of you are looking at that beautiful red diploma frame thinking, “Ohhhhhhhh man, what am I supposed to do now?”

Leaving college can be just as scary as when your parents dropped you off at your dorm for the first time (even if you’re too cool to admit it). To ease the transition, we at the Wisconsin Alumi Association would like to share some advice to job-seekers. Consider this your last required reading assignment, regardless of whether you’re unemployed or funemployed. Trust us: we’re professionals.

Don’t just network…understand networking. (And don’t skip this paragraph on it. Seriously.)

  1. Do not be shy about asking for informational interviews. Your alumni network is a great place to start!Jessica Snyder, Development Program Specialist
  2. Regardless of your major, your minor is in Knowing the Right People. Favorite professors are a great place to start.Michael O'Brien ’13, Registration Coordinator
  3. Be prepared to sell yourself using multiple channels, including the good old-fashioned face-to-face conversation.Frank Ace ’86, Director of Information Technology
  4. Networking can be broken down into concrete, actionable steps. Where do I want to be geographically? What are the kinds of tasks that I enjoy and am pretty good at? What fields excite me? Now fill that list with people who work in these geographic and vocational areas: people you know, people you sort of know, and people you want to know. Through this system, you are creating a web of interrelated contacts. Jobs live on those webs.David Nelson, Director of Alumni Professional Networks and Career Resources

Use your manners (i.e. Be a Human Being)

  1. One job that I landed I got because I wrote thank-you letters to each of my interviewers. That is why I stood out of the pack; nobody else did. So don't skimp on the polite stuff!Tracy Benton ’87, Quality Assurance Manager
  2. [Thank-you notes] may take a couple days to arrive in the mail. I've had thank-you cards arrive after making hiring decisions, so following up the same day with an email is also a good idea.Dan Treuter, Managing Director of Digital Marketing
  3. Thank-you letters (perhaps following immediate emails) can make a huge difference.Paula Apfelbach ’83, Associate Editor
  4. It is all about showing your spirit and enthusiasm to potential employers. Be well prepared for interviews, make phone calls, and follow up with thank-you's. That's just what we Badgers do.Julie Van Cleave ’81, MBA ’83, Chief Investment Officer

Keep an open mind

  1. Be open to opportunities. You're not a failure if you don't score your dream job immediately. Short-term positions can turn into long-term gigs. Getting your foot in the door is a starting point, so remember to look at it as such.Shannon Timm ’08, Marketing Manager
  2. Look at the big picture when it comes to the job search. Jobs are opportunities to gain experience and help you achieve your goals (or maybe help you discover what those goals might be). Choose a company that is interesting to you, where you can learn and grow as a young professional. This might mean taking a lower-paying job, but it will set you up for even greater success and happiness in the future!Kathleen Hinkley, Director of Development
  3. There are often multiple paths that can lead you toward achieving your future career goals. There is a balance between just finding a way to get experience and making sure your first step on the career ladder is purposeful.Jessica Snyder, Development Program Specialist
  4. Be bold, not just in your career search, but in your quest to make new friends — especially if relocating. Take initiative. Ask a coworker out to lunch. Join a club. Go to a class at a community center or gym. Take up a new hobby. Your time after work is yours Having a few close friends is just as important as finding a fulfilling career, and it starts with you.Holly Hartung ’12, Associate Director of Development

Just beeeee yourself.

  1. Never compare yourself to what others are or aren't doing. It's easy to get swept up in other's lives, but just let things ride out and you'll be fine.Caroline Radaj ’12, Senior Marketing Coordinator
  2. DO be yourself. -DON'T pretend to be someone you are not!Sally Erdmann ’98, Senior Director of Donor Fund Accounts
  3. When applying, sell yourself—but don't overdo it (read: every first date ever). Don't pretend to be a die-hard football fan when you're really just into cat memes. You want a good fit for them and for you! And don't worry. Someone will hire you eventually.Kristina Zignego ’13, Registration Coordinator

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