Preparing for the Job Search

Today is the last day of classes (LDOC)! YAY! LDOC signifies the close of the semester and a break from endless hours of reading and paper writing. As a grad student, life is busy, and things are always go, go, go so obviously I appreciate the break. As a final year student, LDOC also means the start of preparing for my last semester in grad school and the post-grad school life (I have mixed feelings about this :\). But the planner part of me gets excited about the opportunity to finally start my job search for a post-grad school career. The last year and a half, I’ve poured time, energy, and heart into my MSW work, and the end is in sight!
That stated, winter break is the perfect time to start job searching. You might be wondering–how does a social work student go about finding a job? Good question! Ha, I’ve wondered that too! The SSW does a wonderful job helping students with their job search through professional development workshops, networking opportunities, a job fair/career day, and more.
As someone just beginning the job search, there’s some practical steps I will be taking to prepare. Note: This is my personal to-do list. My peers might go about their searches differently.
  • Updating my resume—Not going to lie, I don’t maintain my resume as I should. I plan to do a major overhaul on my resume. I’ll add my field placements, summer internship, activities and leadership positions held this school year, my awards, and the fellowship I received this semester.
  • Exploring Linkedin—I set up a Linkedin during undergrad at my mother’s suggestion but have never used it. It always seemed to be another resume to keep up-to-date.  At a recent professional development workshop at SSW, I learned some tricks about using Linkedin. I plan to update my LinkedIn information and use it for online networking.
  • Perusing job sites and boards—Last year, I learned that the SSW maintains a job board for SSW students and alumni: Other resources I know of include, LinkedIn (again, I’m learning this site IS actually helpful), NC Center for Nonprofits, and I’ve also made a list of agencies I would be interested in working for after graduation. I plan to keep tabs on these organizations’ websites for open job opportunities.
  • Drafting a cover letter template—I remember writing lots of cover letters during my senior year in undergrad, and they always took so much time! Because I don’t anticipate having a surplus of time to draft cover letters from scratch for every job, I’m going craft a cover letter template. Since I’m looking for a particular type of job, I can be specific but will be able to modify the template later for each company and job position.
  • Racking up field hours—Applying for jobs CAN be a full-time job in itself, and I’ll need time in the busyness of my semester to interview for positions. By getting extra field hours over the break, I’ll be able to use my “stored” hours for future use in the spring.
  • Obtaining references—I plan to ask about 4-5 people to be references for me. I’m starting with professors and field placement supervisors who  know my academic abilities, leadership capabilities and work ethic.
  • Preparing answers to interview questions—I haven’t done a formal job interview in about two years so I’m definitely a little rusty on interview questions. One option I’m considering is through  UNC Career Services, which is open to all current students and recently graduated students. Students can schedule a time to complete a mock interview. Another option would be to practice with other MSW students or non-social work friends.
I’m looking forward to some other upcoming job and networking opportunities:
  1. Attending the SSW Job Fair/Career Day—Though this is typically in April, the SSW Job Fair/Career Day is a great opportunity for students to meet with potential employers. Although I wasn’t looking for a job, I attended last year to get an idea of employers in the area and potential jobs I might be interested in.
  2. Attending networking night—There is a networking night for both direct practice and macro students to meet with professionals in the field and get your name out there!
  3. Jobs and fellowships through the SoWoSO listserv—From time to time, positions are floated to students through the listserv, particularly ones that alumni have received in the past.
Food for thought: Job searching can be stressful, but I try to keep in mind that UNC SSW is one of the top schools in the country. Having a degree from UNC will go far in my job search.
These are just a few ways I plan to use my winter break to jumpstart my job search. Hopefully, preparing now will make my work in the spring less time consuming and strenuous!


Here’s UNC’s UCS website:

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