Things to know about entering the workforce

Jennifer Skornik

As we begin another school year at CSUN, maybe for the first time or maybe for the last, it’s difficult not to think about what comes next. These days, a Bachelor’s degree doesn’t give you the edge it used to. With more people pursuing higher education competition has grown fierce.
The transition from student to full-fledged member of the working community will present some challenges that most students aren’t aware of. There are however, a few things that will give prospective workforce individuals a competitive edge.

To get started, attend job fairs and browse online at websites such as Get contact information and try to set up a phone conversation or meeting. If possible try to talk to a manager in person, this helps them associate a face to an application. In this day and age of technology, the Internet can also hinder your ability to get hired. Recruiters and hiring managers often have to sift through hundreds or thousands of applicants. Most employers offer online applications making the job hunt a little easier for them. Computer programs can actually filter out resumes by what keywords they do or don’t contain.

Ana Luna, Branch Manager for Ultimate Staffing Services said to always follow up on with a phone call after an interview. A personal call shows that you are interested and can make you stand out in someone’s mind.

Network and meet new people wherever you are, they might end up being your next employer. Mingling with the right people and making a great first impression can open up professional doors.

Employers are looking for experience. ‘What internships did you do?’ is one of the first questions Peter Fletcher, former Senior VP of Marketing at Sony Music would ask interviewees. Having an internship shows initiative however it does not secure a position in the workforce. Be prepared to work to keep your spot. Dress for success and don’t text while working.’ If your boss says he needs something in an hour he or she means in an hour. Maintain a professional, responsible and attentive working relationship with your employer. This can either make or break their decision to keep you on board.

Once in the work environment things are different. The urgency of being prompt and reliable presents itself.’ There is no summer vacation and the likelihood of constant staff turnovers is unlikely. Also, work is not an open forum the way school can be. For an entry-level employee there’s little wiggle room and your boss is rarely looking for your opinion. Be aware of what questions you ask and what kind of help you’re looking for. Most teachers are happy to help or point you in the right direction if you don’t know how to do something (like use Excel) but your employer expects you to have those skills. Start asking too many questions about how to do your job and they might decide you’re not right for it.

In the battle for the employment seat stay positive, remain confident and be persistent. It is never too early to work on your professional and people skills. Take note of what kind of help you need or are looking for. Utilize your surroundings. Most students are currently in classes related to the field they are interested in. With seasoned professionals teaching these courses they are great points of reference in helping students.

One last thing that can stand in your way is your expectations, particularly those regarding salary and starting position. More likely than not, a recent graduate will start with an entry-level position and will be paid an entry-level salary. To get the big bucks and the corner office a lot of work and time will need to be invested in your charming cubicle. Until then, these are a few things every student should start thinking about.