CSUF! True Alumni Stories is a semester long series of events presented by Mihaylo Career Services. Recent alumni were invited to share their honest experiences about their transition from college to career. For the full Career Services event calendar, visit here.
Michelle Mehta, marketing and finance ’11, had accrued multiple internships on her resume prior to becoming a personal banker in 2012. She found, however, that she was unhappy with her current position as a banker and wanted to join a firm that would complement her customer service orientation. While with the back, she received three customer service awards in eight months and had the highest ranking in the branch.
Mehta is currently unemployed but is also very career driven and selective about job opportunities. She shares some of her personal experiences and advice to current students as they begin to select their own career options after graduation.
1. Show employers you are a serious candidate. Mehta expresses the importance of being prepared and says she brings a portfolio with her to every job interview. Her portfolio includes a copy of her resume, a pen and notepad to take notes, and awards from previous jobs showcasing prominent achievements.
Prior to interviewing, depending on how large the company is, Mehta routinely prints out 10-20 pages with background information about the company. She emphasizes the importance of doing your homework beforehand and learning about the company you are interviewing with, “about 20 minutes before the interview, even though I already know the [information], I [still] glance over it. I pull a couple notes that I can ask the employer, like ‘what am I going to do when I first get hired?’ and ‘what’s training going to be like?’”
When it comes to a resume, she advises students not to include every job ever held, but, instead include only those that are related to the job being applied to.
2. Find the right company culture. It is ok to be selective. Interviews should not be one way conversations. Show future employers you are interested in their company by asking well thought out questions to determine whether the company’s culture is the right fit. Learning what the company has to offer is crucial to long term success and should be taken into consideration before accepting an offer.
Mehta knew what she wanted, which is why she has been so selective during her job search. Her LinkedIn account has been a beneficial tool that helped her identify new job leads and opened doors to many interview opportunities, she says: “once you get to that point, you can be picky and selective.”
3. Nurture your connections. One of Mehta’s biggest mistakes after graduation she admits, was removing old classmate contact information from her phone because she assumed she wouldn’t need them anymore. After reflection, she says, “I wish I would’ve kept those contacts. Don’t [make] the same mistake I did.”
4. Become a speed networker. Mehta emphasizes how important networking is to a student’s professional development.
When finding your way through a crowd, Mehta recommends finding a mutual interest with someone to build the conversation on, “Play the 20 questions game. You ask 20 questions, they ask 20 questions, and then you’re basically friends after.” She also mentions not to worry if it doesn’t work out,“The worst they can say is they’re not interested, but who cares? There’s someone else out there waiting for you.”
5. Motivate yourself and keep your head up. Mehta shared that job searching can lead you to have good days and bad days, “You can’t let yourself go because you won’t be able to rise up tomorrow.”
She advises students to establish small goals or stay motivated. She gave examples like, “I can’t hang out with [friends] until I finish this,” or, “I’ll treat myself to this [once] I finish this task.” Small goals will motivate you to stay on task, focused, and productive.