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It’s right around that time of year: College students graduating in May wake up sometime in January and think, “I should probably work on getting a job now.” It’s fine. We’ve all been there.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a job lined up — an AfterCollege Career Insight report completed in 2014 showed that a whopping 83 percent of college students didn’t have a job lined up before graduation, and the average student takes three months or more after graduating to find one.

But there are some things you can do now (and probably already should have done) to land in that coveted group of people who have jobs lined up, and can thus focus on their schoolwork for their last semester. Or, perhaps, whatever else they might want to focus on.

Here’s what you need to know if you’re leaving one of Philly’s esteemed institutions this May:

Now is the time

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Campus Philly CEO Deborah Diamond said now isn’t too early to start applying for jobs, and in some cases, it might be too late.

“Industries are very varied,” she said. “Some have been recruiting for full-time employees since back in October. Students are familiar with those companies who come to campus, and our advice to students who are looking for a job in Philly starts even before their senior year.”

Which means, if you haven’t done an internship, you got problems

Campus Philly surveyed thousands of recent college graduates from 31 schools across the region and found that 81 percent of respondents who had an internship during school were employed by the time of the survey. Students who had internships while in college were also *much* more likely to snag a job in their intended career field.

Nicole Wormley, manager of diversity recruitment and university relations at Campbells, said the corporation based in Camden hires about 75 students right out of college every year — the majority of them had internships with Campbells and offers lined up by last August.

“One of the biggest issues is that students did not start very early planting seeds and building relationships,” she said, “because many companies fill before New Years.”

If you haven’t scored an internship yet that looks like it’s going to lead to a job, Wormley recommended patience and diligence — she said to be sure to cast a wide net and don’t limit yourself to one faction of companies you’re applying at.

And if you haven’t had an internship yet? Get one after graduation. You’re going to have a hard time getting a job if you don’t have at least one on your resumé.

Speaking of resumés!

resume gif

Nope, that doesn’t count. You should have a resumé, and it should include more than your babysitting experience and your skills at Trivia Crack. Diamond said the best way to get your resumé workshopped on an individual level is to set up an appointment with your school’s Career Services department, like, ASAP. They will help you make your resumé shine so that it’s individualized to you and sticks out in the pile of paperwork on the desks of the places where you’re applying.

Here’s resumé and cover letter workshop information for some of the schools in the city, so you have no excuse not to get yours checked out at career services:

How do I know where to apply?

That, in many ways, depends on what you’re looking for. Local companies often have huge presences at career fairs that take place at each school, as well as connections with your school’s career services officials. Here’s career fair information for some of the schools in the city:

Locally, Campus Philly pulls together hundreds of employers that are hiring. Log in to their student portal where you can search for just what you’re looking for. Also, follow this Twitter: Campus Philly curates which companies are hiring on a weekly basis.

Some companies outside of Philly will have presences at career fairs. Other times, you’ll need to meet with advisers or search online for opportunities elsewhere.These are some of the best sites you can use to search for a job. However, according to Forbes, job coaches warn you shouldn’t spend more than 10 percent of your time searching online for positions. Your time should be spent networking and meeting people in person.

Remember: There are some serious benefits to searching in Philly

In a recent survey conducted by Campus Philly, they found that most students graduating from a Philadelphia college were interested in staying in the area. One of the biggest reasons it’s good to stick around? Philly doesn’t have a signature industry. In New York, it’s finance. In LA, it’s entertainment. In DC, it’s politics. But in Philly, there’s a melting pot of dominant industries, many of which are growing faster than ever before.

Diamond said that these local companies and recruiters are often partial to hiring students who are from Philly or graduated from a school in Philly. So if you want to stay in the city, you’re in luck.

“Retention is a big issue for employers. It costs a lot to hire a new person, and they want to feel like they’re hiring someone who’s likely to stay at the job,” she said. “They know there’s a relationship between people who have gone to college here and the city itself.”

OK, so that’s done. How do I go about contacting a potential employer?


Your skills will show, first and foremost, during your very first correspondence with a potential employer. Here are three tips from Diamond for that first email to break the ice:

  • Mention if somebody suggested it or is making the introduction. It warms up the email with a personal connection and shows you’ve been out talking to people.
  • Have an idea of who the person you’re emailing is and their role in the organization. You shouldn’t be searching for that information in your email.
  • If you’re suggesting a meeting, ask for a specific time and date or suggest one. It’s not pushy, and it helps really busy people hone in on when they might be able to meet you.

Be sure to stress your ‘soft’ skills

Whether it’s part of a cover letter, in an email or said in person: Be sure to stress the skills that are unique to you. Diamond said that more and more, companies looking to hire college graduates are most impressed by soft skills: professionalism, knowing how to dress appropriately when you show up for an interview, shaking hands and, for God’s sake, putting your phone away during an interview.

These things are common sense, but are also often forgotten when the nerves of an interview kick in. Remember that practice makes perfect. You have roommates, neighbors and parents for a reason. Ask them to interview you over and over again, until you have it down.

I got an interview! OMG, WHAT DO I WEAR

dog in a suit

It’s customary for parents to tell you that you should wear the same thing to every interview: A suit for men, a similar pant-suit thing for women. They’re wrong. Know the industry you’re interviewing in, and thoroughly research the company you’re applying at.

Going to a startup? Maybe a stuffy pant suit isn’t right. Looking in fashion or retail? Being a little trendy will be more important. Monster put together a great guide for how to dress for an interview based on industry.

How do I do this interview thing, again?

Practice makes perfect. Sign up for a mock interview at your school:

I got the job!


You’re awesome. But remember that the interview isn’t over. Campus Philly reminds you that even after you snag that first job, it’s important to always dress and act for the next role you want. Seek out mentors to help you advance your career, and be sure to always bring new ideas to the table.

Anna Orso was a reporter/curator at Billy Penn from 2014 to 2017.