Getting that first IT job

Are you graduating in the next year and don’t yet have an IT job lined up? It’s time to begin the work of making yourself attractive to prospective employers. Our career services folks can help by alerting you to job postings that come our way, and they have a whole list of things you can do to improve your chances of getting an IT job, but times are tough. I call for drastic measures. Here’s my checklist of drastic measures for you:
1. If you don’t have a job (any job) now–then get one. Employers are more interested in hiring people who have a record of showing up to work. Ideally this will be a part time or volunteer job that can be worked around your class schedule.
2. Clean yourself up. This one was hard for me so I understand if your reaction is “no way”. Change your mind and your language. Cut your hair. IT jobs and most entry level jobs you will apply for in (1) above require a certain amount of customer contact. Buy several pairs of Dockers and shirts with collars.
3. Quit World of Warcraft. Everyone played it, but no one wants to hire a WoW junkie. If you’re already too cool for WoW, quit whatever is your current addiction. Farmville? Smoking?
4. Make your boss happy. Now you should have a part time job (any job). Make your boss happy. Never be late. Never miss a day. Always cover shifts missed by others if you can. Learn and be an expert at your job. If asked, train others. This is a no-brainer that I have seen many young people not get. Imagine what she wants in a model employee and be that. The time will come when you are ready to move on and a letter of recommendation from your current boss is like a free ticket to your next job.

5. Be an excellent student. Not only does this have the obvious benefit of giving you the best return on investment in your time in school, but your instructors are like your current bosses. We can write letters of recommendation too. If you do well in a class, ask that instructor to write you one. Most instructors have done it before and if they think they can write you a strong recommendation, they will agree to do so.

6. Visit your campus career services department. Make an appointment and keep it. Bring your resume and portfolio. Be pleasant and professional. Follow their advice too.