Getting Your First Job: What New Grads Should Know

So, you’re a Computer Science major fresh out of college. You’ve walked the stage, they’ve mailed you your diploma, and you have no idea what to do next. You’ve sent your resume out a few times, but to no avail, the radio silence or the stream of rejection is deafening, and your motivation is now a hair’s breadth away from your grasp. Who’s going to want to hire a newly graduated individual, when there are so many other candidates out there vying for the same positions as you? How do you make your resume stand out? After all, this is new to you. So, what are you to expect? It’s never too late to take the necessary steps in getting your first job.

Putting in the Hours

Yes, your senior year should be fun. After all, you’ve made it this far! But something critical to keep in mind is your involvement with your classes and clubs. Some seniors may find themselves with less required classes than they have in years past. If this is the case for you, then you may want to consider picking up an extra class or even joining a club related to your concentration. This way, you can get in any extra knowledge or hands on experience that you can before graduation.

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Feeling overwhelmed with the workload you are already facing? Try stepping up in class more. Volunteering to take on hard projects or starting study groups can help you soak up more knowledge in your last year if your schedule won’t allow you more credit hours or the benefit of joining a club. Senior year tends to have classes that are more project-based rather than just hitting the books, so take advantage of every real-life experience to the fullest.

Internships Will Never Fail You

A very critical part of landing your first job is demonstrating that you’ve had some real-world, hands-on experience outside of the classroom. Yes, joining clubs in your spare time are great, but having at least one solid internship on your resume is considered a must-have item on your resume these days. Though most internships tend to happen over summer vacation, there are a lot of IT departments in local companies or organizations who will bring on an intern during a semester or even winter break. Whether paid, for credit hours, or both, not having at least one internship complete by the time you start applying for jobs doesn’t look the best on your resume.

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Not enough time in your schedule to commit to an internship during school? Not to fear. There are internships offered specifically for recent graduates to bridge between graduation and your first job. This can be beneficial to students whether it is your first opportunity for an internship or if you’re a seasoned intern. Keep in mind, no matter what year you intern, these could be potential job opportunities for you in the future. Many students find that displaying their knowledge and capabilities inside a working organization leads to an entry-level position with that employer. Remember, companies are always looking to hire talented people and if they have the chance to see your capabilities, then you have an advantage over the competition for a job opening.

What Are Human Resource Managers Looking For?

At the end of the day when you’re preparing for your first interview, keep in mind the actual experiences that you’ve had surrounding your major. Bear in mind you have chosen to enter a field that is changing rapidly and compared to other concentrations, is fairly new. Your career will depend on you creating a solid base of experience to build off of if you’re going to be successful and adapt to industry changes as they occur. This is why stepping up in classes, clubs, and landing as many internships as possible will set your resume apart. Having Help Desk experience, knowledge of coding and experience on the security side will demonstrate that you’re well-rounded and have had experiences in a critical field.

Human Resource managers understand that just out of college, you are most likely not going to have industry recognized certifications yet. And that’s okay because they are expensive and something that professionals in IT and Security acquire as they build their career. Human Resource managers aren’t looking for a list of acronyms after your name; they want to see your eagerness to grow with their team and build off of your already impressive experiences. Who knows, the company who hires you may even offer to pay for some of your certifications along the way.

Traditional Interviewing vs. Behavioral Interviewing

As traditional interviewing goes, you get put in a group or one-on-one interview to talk about yourself and answer the questions an interviewer poses to you. These questions are straightforward and are hypothetical, cognitive, and personality-based. They don’t give a lot of room for further discussion and are rather closed-ended. Questions that are common among traditional interviewing styles include:

  • What would you do if someone asked you to do something that wasn’t per protocol, but said it was a company norm?
  • Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
  • What do you consider your biggest strength and weakness?

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Behavioral questioning differs in that the questions asked have the job applicant pulling from real-life experiences that they have had when they answer the question. Behavioral Interviewing became popular because if a candidate can answer these questions, it proves that they can take action and get results. Past behaviors can indicate how someone will perform in the future and it is unlikely that the candidate will be able to make something up or make empty statements about themselves. Behavioral questions are easy to recognize because they often start with a phrase similar to ‘Tell me about a time when you…’:

  • Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty.
  • Give me an example of an important goal which you had set in the past and tell me about how you achieved it.
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to be quick in coming to a decision.

Technology-Fueled Interviewing – Hiring Assessments

Instead of the traditional interview, companies are now weeding out unsuited candidates by having the interested parties complete assessments developed to determine different skills that the company is looking for. Those that don’t perform well do not get to move on to the next part of the hiring process, and it helps save time for the recruiters.

Video Interviews

Video calls have become far more reliable over the years, meaning companies can look further for potential new hires without having to worry about expenses of bringing the desired worker to them. Video calls aren’t different from face-to-face interviews except for the fact that you are not in the same room as your interviewer.

Video calls are formatted in a pre-recorded form. They send applicants a list of questions to answer, and they must record themselves answering them and send the video to the company.

Algorithm Filtering

In some cases, companies are turning to automation, or Artificial Intelligence (AI), an algorithm to sift through the hundreds of applicants they get for the positions. The company Unilever recently transitioned to this method, using online hiring assessments to gather data on applicants for the algorithm to analyze and determine who would be the best fit for the position. Unilever says that the AI filters around 50-80% of applicants and only do the remaining get the first interaction with actual employees of the company for final interviews.

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Workplace Culture

There are other things to keep in mind when it comes to interviewing, and that sometimes the most skilled person on paper isn’t the one that’s going to get hired. Many companies are gearing their searches more towards how the potential hire will fit in the environment they will be working in instead of taking the most qualified applicant.

Glen Gehrkens, the HR Manager for Twinstate Technologies®, says: “It comes down to the fit with the company. Someone can look great on paper, but if they aren’t a fit in terms of the company dynamic or culture of the team they are going to be on, it will be difficult for them to be successful.”

If an interviewer sees potential in a job applicant, even if they don’t have a lot of experience, they will pass that on and the company will more often than not be willing to train and nurture them if they seem like they would do well in the company. The culture and mood of the company can severely impact productivity, motivation, and morale, so a skilled person that doesn’t fit in will offset their worth and become a cost. This means even if you aren’t the most experienced or skilled there is still a chance of getting a job, so don’t be afraid to apply.

Graduation may seem far away, but in reality, your senior year will go by like a blink of an eye. Use these tips to help navigate through your last year of undergrad to hopefully, prepare for your interview experience. Best of luck and Congratulation Class of 2018!

Want to know about opportunities with Twinstate? Check out our open positions.