Begin with the end in mind.
Before you apply for a position, think about what you hope to gain from the employment experience. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What skills, abilities, or knowledge will this position allow me to develop, and how might these opportunities impact my future career plans?
- What aspects of this position would be a good “fit” for my personal preferences, beliefs, and values?
- What aspects of this position would pose a challenge for me? For example, if you are a shy person who hates presenting in front of a crowd, an Academic Skills Consultant position that requires you to present to college classes may not be a good fit for your personal preferences. On the other hand, if you are hoping to develop your skills in this area and overcome your fear of public speaking, this might be just the opportunity you need.
Do your research.
All professional job seekers thoroughly research the organizations to which they are applying, and student employees who are in search of a job are no different.
- Find out exactly what will be expected of you if you are hired. This information will help to ensure that you do not get in over your head and that you are able to carry out the responsibilities of the job effectively. Review the job description and qualifications carefully.
- If you are invited for an interview, generate a list of questions about the organization, the position, or your responsibilities if you are hired. Think about potential scenarios that you might face in the position and be prepared to discuss your strategies for handling them. If the interviewer does not give you an opportunity to discuss what you would do in specific situations, ask the interviewer what he/she would do if presented with the same scenario.
Build a case for why you should be hired and establish the network of individuals who will support your application.
- Schedule a meeting with each person who will complete a recommendation form for you. Present these individuals with copies of the job description and your transcript. If you have a current résumé that highlights related job experiences or skills, provide a copy of this document for your recommenders.
- Use your “personal statement” (a required component of every WaLC employment application) as a starting point for talking to your recommenders about why you are applying for the chosen position(s), what you hope to gain from the experience, and how the experience has the potential to make you a better student, employee, or graduate of the University.
- Ask these individuals, politely and formally, if they would be willing to complete a recommendation form for you. Receiving a positive recommendation from a professor or supervisor is an honor that you must earn, not an obligation that others must fulfill on your behalf. If a professor or a former supervisor tells you that he/she cannot submit a recommendation on your behalf, take that as a sign that you have more work to do to establish a positive rapport with that individual.
- Allow at least two weeks between the day you make your request for a recommendation and the day you plan to submit your application materials.
- If you are applying for a tutoring position, talk to the instructors whose classes you wish to tutor. The WaLC's course tutoring services are provided only in classes where tutors are invited and supported by the course instructors. If you feel that tutoring is needed in a course, discuss with the course instructors your ideas for helping their students succeed.
Conduct yourself like a professional.
- Respond in a timely and a professional manner to any inquiries you receive prior to and during the application process. Any emails sent to your prospective employer should contain a descriptive subject line, a formal salutation, complete sentences, correct punctuation, and a formal closing.
- If you are contacted for an interview, dress appropriately, arrive a few minutes early, and bring your list of questions about the position.
- Remember that every experience is a stepping stone on the path to your next job and your future career. From the moment you submit your application to the day you graduate, everything you do builds a case – good or bad – upon which your professors, supervisors, and advisors will base their responses the next time you ask them to write a recommendation for you.