Catherine Weiss | Staff Writer

Most students attend college to earn an education to secure a career with prestige, a decent salary and medical benefits. As graduation looms closer, many soon-to-be alums are experiencing the daunting task of researching employment options and balancing the pros and cons of different networking techniques. With a few do’s and don’ts, you’ll be sure to be fast on your way to 401K-heaven.

Do: Brush up your résumé and get a business card. Whether you haven’t updated your résumé since freshman business class or never typed one at all, brushing up a résumé is a necessary task when it comes to securing a career.

With hundreds of different formats and styles, writing a résumé might seem like a nightmare that will send you into spiraling confusion. Luckily, APSU has a department dedicated to sending you into the job market on the right foot.

Career Services, located in MUC room 112, is staffed with highly trained professionals who are experts in the field of résumé writing, job searching and interview training. Pay them a visit and they’ll help you shine at your next interview.

Business cards aren’t a bad idea either. Nothing screams irresponsible more than scribbling your number on a napkin at a networking or social event. The website offers an array of specials from completely free to bargain basement prices on customized business cards. Choose a simple background with your full first and last name, school, major, a reliable phone number and business e-mail address.

Don’t: Be unprepared. Many companies are looking to invest in people, not stocks and bonds. Walking into an interview with a negative attitude, no prior knowledge of the company and without references or a résumé will hurt your chances.

Research your prospective employer; don’t be afraid to ask questions. The interest you show in the company will be a positive indication of what they can expect from you as an employee. It’s also not a bad idea to practice answering the typical job interview questions. “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” will come up every time so have an answer ready.

Do: Lock down your social media. I get it, you’re young and hip and have a Twitter, Facebook or MySpace account. Whatever social media you’re using to express yourself, be professional and keep your private life separate.

Locking down your social media by increasing the privacy settings is not just advice for graduating seniors; freshman should perk their ears too. Delete the friends you’re not really friends with. Take down inappropriate or embarrassing pictures and videos and comments not suitable for a prospective employer to see. Employers have programs and websites aimed at finding whom you truly are.

Do: Attend network events and use them to your advantage. The Clarksville Chamber of Commerce has a growing Young Professionals Program that acts as a launch pad for your career. Want to rub elbows with some very important people? This is the place to do it. For an annual due of $50, you can establish a professional name for yourself, attend exclusive networking events and work in a philanthropy. The Young Professionals Program will give you back what you put into it with a nice bonus of networking, allowing you to meet people who are looking for fresh, young faces to staff their law firms, physician offices and government offices.

Do: Get a LinkedIn profile, follow up and cast your net wide. The website is a go-to resource for many human resources departments. When it comes down to the personality of their final candidates, LinkedIn offers chat rooms for professionals of every occupation. LinkedIn provides a job directory that makes searching for a career fast.

Following up interviews with a quick “thank you” is crucial. If you can’t remember your interviewer’s name, you can address your thank you to the human resources department. A quick thank you note, e-mail or follow-up call thanking the interviewer for their consideration and time will be sure to reinforce your professionalism and courtesy when it comes down to who gets the job and who doesn’t.

Finally, cast your net wide. College graduates and undergraduates often fail to realize the full application of their degree. Just because you majored in computer science doesn’t mean you’ll be working for the Geek Squad or Dell. Think about all the applications of your major and thoroughly research online what type of jobs you can apply for that will use your major in a non-traditional way. If you cast your net wide enough, you’ll be able to find a job that’s not only perfect for your field but also can offer benefits you’d otherwise miss.

These five super easy ways to lock down a great career fresh out of the graduation cap are surely to put you on your way to lowering the unemployment rate and, in essence, save the world, one dental plan at a time. TAS