Advice from the Alumni

Written by Tina Norman, Human Resources Manager at GENCO

Congratulations on your impending graduation! As you think about your college career coming to an end and beginning the next chapter of your life with a “real job”, who better to get some advice from than UWGB Alumni?

As a large employer in Green Bay, I had the opportunity to sit down with nine of our UWGB Alumni to get their thoughts on some common questions college students may have as they enter the next chapter.

When should a college student begin looking for full-time employment?
Don’t wait too long! At a minimum, begin researching the companies that interest you during the summer before your graduating year. As the fall semester arrives, begin to narrow your search. By the end of that semester, we recommend sending your resume to prospective employers or networking through alumni connections that you found in your search the prior summer.

How do I begin a career search?
Begin your search with companies that are natural fits to your field of study. Pay attention to the location and job market within that geographical area. We cannot stress enough the importance of networking and LinkedIn makes it easier than ever. If you know someone who works/interns at the company you have interest in, ask for their feedback. If you have an opportunity yourself to intern there, take advantage of this as early as you can within your college career.

What can I do to learn about a company’s culture to ensure it’s where I want to work?
There are many ways to learn about a company’s culture to include researching them on the internet, Facebook, and LinkedIn. We recommend applying to multiple companies. Time is of the essence as graduation, believe it or not, it will come very quickly! If you get multiple interviews, great! Not only will this give you good practice and help you gain confidence in your interviewing skills, you may also have options to choose from in the end. Remember to also use your career resources at UWGB – they do a wonderful job at helping you be prepared.

As interviewers yourselves, what do you look for in a candidate during the interview?
First of all, the first impression is critical. Many interviewers will form an initial impression within the first few minutes of meeting you. It’s important to have a clean, professional personal appearance, eye contact, and a firm handshake to show confidence. When asked to “tell me about yourself”, be sure to have your thoughts organized. More importantly, remember to be specific, but brief. As you proceed with the interview, use specific examples to help the interviewer get to know you. At the end, be prepared with questions for the interviewers…you are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you. For example, consider asking your interviewer about their experiences at the company – what do they like best? What does a typical day look like? What keeps them up at night? It’s always good to ask about key factor metrics for the role and seek to understand the company’s three-year strategy.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t comment on the resume. A resume should be well written with no spelling or grammar errors. As you highlight your education and work experience, be sure to keep in mind the job description of the position you are applying for. Highlight your experiences that compliment the skills your potential employer is looking for. For example, if you were interested in a position at GENCO, we are looking for people who are motivated, a self-starter, and able to balance multiple tasks. Don’t be afraid to list student groups and activities that you’ve participated in on your resume to “beef up” your work history.

When given a job offer, what should I consider as I make my decision to accept, counter, or decline?
Many people look at the salary, but there is so much more to a job offer. Our advice is to consider the entire compensation package which includes base salary, benefits, bonuses, culture, work/life balance, training, and career opportunities.

What final advice do you have for graduating students?
As you begin your job search, be open-minded. Take some time to reflect upon what is important to you. Rank the top 5 things that are most important to you such as location, commute, culture, pay, benefits, etc. As you begin your career, you will notice that you will spend a lot of time at work. It’s important to take the time up front to do your research to find the right company for you.

Good luck!

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