Students work on career development activitiesSeveral years ago, I attended a conference where David Delong was the keynote speaker. Delong’s main message was that there are so many things students must learn and do in addition to their academic major to become successful employees. He made the comment that students need to earn “a minor in job search.”

I started to think about that. What would a “Job Search Minor” look like?

A minor has a minimum of 18 credits. Most of the courses are upper division and many have prerequisites. Let’s use approximate numbers and do some calculations: three hours per week in the classroom plus two hours per week for homework, studying and class projects for each of the class hours. Nine hours per week x 15 weeks in a semester x six classes = 810 hours (not counting prerequisites).

The six courses would be the areas that Delong claims are the skills needed to find a job: focus, internship, networking, internet technology, selling yourself and help – getting it from others. These six areas form the word “FINISH.”

Where the “Job Search Minor” differs from a traditional academic minor is that the six areas are not distinct classes. They do not go in a prescribed order. Typically, the student will work on all six simultaneously — and there will be lots of overlap. (Think of those general studies requirements that allowed double and triple dipping: REL 321 – Upper Division HU, H and C).

Being actively involved in a student organization or doing an internship can help you to discover your strengths and preferences (focus), build your network and get help from others. While creating and revising your continually evolving résumé and practicing for interviews (selling yourself), you will also be using and learning about internet technology and getting help from others.

It takes 810 hours to work on getting a job?!!! That is not outrageous. Consider two 10 week summer internships working 40 hours per week. That’s 800 hours right there, and internships would most likely cover all six of the FINISH areas.

So, in summary:

1. The process of finding a job is complicated and time-consuming.
2. The work has to be done outside of the classroom.
3. You will need to spend time on each of the six job search elements (FINISH).
4. The earlier you begin, the better.
5. Do not procrastinate! Starting this process after spring break senior year, or (even worse) after graduation, is like cramming the night before an exam — stressful and not optimally effective.

Feeling overwhelmed? Remember the sage advice about how to eat an elephant — one bite at a time! Begin today to “get help from others” by working with the peer career counselors and professional staff at the Fulton Schools Career Center. We look forward to working with you!


Joyce Donahue is a Certified Career Counselor in the Fulton Schools of Engineering Career Center.