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Looming graduation dates leave students wondering how to prepare

Georgia Belvin wakes up Monday through Friday to get ready for a job she loves.
It was not long ago, however, that she sat in a classroom at The University of Mississippi wondering if she would even get a job and how she would prepare for life after graduation.
Experts say seniors approaching graduation should start now, if they have not already, preparing a resume, establishing a career wardrobe and practicing interview techniques in order to compete for the jobs of their dreams.
“Your resume is your face on paper,” said Vera Chapman, the University of Mississippi’s career planning specialist and adjunct professor.
Chapman said that employers spend less than 30 seconds looking at resumes. Since the resume has such a short time to impress, the most important information should go first according to Chapman.
University of Mississippi’s Career Center Director Toni Avant stresses the importance in the transition from student to future employee.
First, students should be aware of their email address and the professional aspect it should have. According to Avant, employers often feel uncomfortable emailing an applicant if their email is inappropriate for the business world. Second, students should make sure their voicemails are professional in case an employer calls the phone number on their resume.
As far as which section of your resume to focus on, Preston Bridges, a senior engineering student, said he has been told that the “experience” portion of a resume is the most important.
“It shows what you have done, not just what you could possibly do,” Bridges said.
With help from the civil engineering department, Bridges landed a summer internship that he said helped him learn what a job in civil engineering entails.
Bridges believes the internship not only added to his resume, but also showed him that civil engineering is what he enjoys doing.
“I get more out of working on projects like I got to do this summer and seeing them to the end, rather than getting the answer for problem 5.3 that is in the back of the book,” he said.
Avant said that building a career wardrobe does not have to be expensive. She suggests buying one suit. For men and women, the suit should be a neutral color such as black, navy blue or gray. Though this is an investment, places like JCPenny’s, Belk and TJ Maxx often have nice suits for affordable prices according to Avant.
Chapman said that women should wear a collared shirt and dark pumps with a suit when going to job interviews. For men, a collared shirt, a tie and dress shoes are appropriate.
“There is a difference in dressing up and dressing professionally,” said Chapman. “Dressing up is like The Grove wear –– cute little dress, high heels –– and we see a lot of that, but cute is not appropriate for the business world.”
“People who don’t care enough to put out the effort to dress appropriately have usually dug themselves a hole that they can’t climb out of in the first interview to be invited back,” said Eddy Stokes, president of Insurance Solutions Center.
Chapman also suggests for women to be very simple. Hair should be out of your face, makeup should be light and jewelry should be understated. For men, the tie that accompany’s your suit should not be distracting with a vivid print and your socks should be the same color as your shoes, preferably black.
“There is a lot of prep that goes into interviews,” Chapman said. “As much as you would think you can wing it, there are so many little things that you need to prepare for that you might not have known.”
The first thing to do, according to Avant, is research the company. Know your desired employer, because if you can plug in that knowledge during the interview, it shows that you are dedicated to the company.
Belvin, an education graduate, learned this lesson the hard way.
“Study up on where you are going because they are going to ask you questions that are like, ‘What do you want to know about us?’ and you need to have questions prepared to ask them,” said Belvin. “That was one thing that caught me off guard.”
Avant and Chapman both recommend participating in mock interviews provided by the university’s career center. Practice will help you adapt to answering difficult questions. The mock interviews are also conducted in a way in which questions are asked specifically concerning the interviewee and they are conducted as if they are an actual interview.
“Many employers use a method called behavioral interviewing, which is where they get the student to give them an example of a real experience that they’ve had that might address their ability to work in teams, leadership style or going above and beyond the call of duty, when things went really well or when they didn’t,” Avant said.
Belvin applied to every position she could find and went to every interview she was asked to attend.
“When I started to get call-backs, no matter who it was or where it was, or even if I had already taken a job, I would try to go to the interview and so that would be my main tip,” Belvin said.
“No matter if you want the job or not, go to the interview because it gives you good experience at answering questions and also you may meet somebody that can help you later on because you are networking and meeting people in your field.”