Mochi Advice: Landing Your Dream Job
Whether you’re interviewing for a job in high school or attending a company mixer in college, you’ll inevitably come across situations where professionalism and putting your best face forward are key. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s the smallest mistakes that can cost you a great opportunity—I once missed an entire job interview because of a careless time mix-up (BIG oops!). To prevent moments like these, here are some tips to help you shine. General Tips
Be organized. This is a simple rule, but it’s your ultimate weapon to showing up and being prepared in the first place. Some of my favorite ways of staying organized are using free applications such as Stickies (for MacBooks) for making digital notes and Google Calendar for creating timed email alerts. Wunderlist, an easy-to-use and beautifully designed app that syncs on your computer or smartphone, is great for keeping track of multiple to-do lists. Cute wall calendars that remind you of important events don’t hurt, either!
Record a professional message on your cell phone. You never know when a recruiter, college representative or professor might try to reach you, and you don’t want a voicemail message full of street noise. For example: “Hi, you’ve reached ___. I’m sorry I missed your call. Please leave me a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can,” is short, sweet and professional.
Invest in a few staple, professional clothing pieces. For high school, a nice button-down blouse, black or gray slacks/skirt and a pair of closed-toe heels or flats will do double duty. You can wear this outfit to both school events like concerts and to a job interview. If it’s your first or second year in college, you’ll want to purchase a few more business casual pieces and may even want to consider buying one classic two-piece suit in black or gray. Some of my favorite places to shop for affordable, stylish business clothing include Express, Banana Republic and Forever 21.
Job Searching Tips
Craft a winning resume. There are many how-to guides online, but using an easy-to- read font, keeping it to one page and using a clean format are a must. Describing your job experiences in a way that highlights what you have accomplished—not just a simple rundown of your tasks—will also make you stand out. Statistics and numbers help too.
For example, “successfully sold 50 membership cards per month” packs a bigger punch than “worked at the customer service desk.” In addition, it’s always a good idea to have a friend, parent or mentor review your resume first to provide additional feedback and check for typos you might have missed. Keep in mind that a high school resume is different from what you’ll want to use in college. Also, take advantage of the career services office at your college—they’re there to help!
Communicate with a professional touch. When corresponding with professors, future employers or other professionals through email, you’ll want to leave a good impression. Avoid using casual language, and use exclamation points sparingly (if at all). Choose an appropriate subject title that succinctly states why you are writing (i.e. “Summer Volunteer Internship Opportunity” vs. “Job Stuff”), and proofread your email carefully before sending. Another of my favorite tricks: leave inputting the sender’s address as the last step for important emails, just in case you accidentally click send prematurely.
Essentials to bring along: • Notepad and pen (a nice, dark-colored folder—often offered in college bookstores—that contains these is a plus) • A few extra copies of your resume • Bottled water, in case you get thirsty from all the talking • Confidence and a smile
Preparation is key. It’s okay to be a little nervous before an interview, but you can reduce your anxiety by preparing ahead of time. Research the position and organization as thoroughly as you can prior to the interview. Make sure that you know the basic job description and responsibilities. You should acquire a broad understanding of the organization’s goals, operations and its various lines of business or programs prior to the interview. Also, prep answers for the obvious questions you know will be asked, such as “Why do you want to attend this school?” or “Why do you want this job?” Instead of drawing a blank or scrambling for answers, you’ll come across as confident and prepared.
Remember the little things. Plan on arriving at your interview 10 minutes early just in case. Turn off or silence your cell phone before your interview begins to avoid interruptions. Body language is extremely important. After you greet your interviewer with a firm handshake, sit straight, try to maintain as much eye contact as possible and lean forward slightly when the interviewer is talking. This indicates that you’re interested in what they’re saying. Most importantly, smile! This will not only project self-assurance and likeability to the interviewer, but it will also help you to relax.
Finish strong. End your interview by asking your interviewer specific, nuanced questions that showcase your understanding of and enthusiasm for both the industry and the job. After reading up on relevant news, for example, you can say: “I read recently that crime levels have risen by 25% in City X in the past few months and Senator Smith has been working hard to address the issue in his next campaign. As a congressional intern in his office, will I be able to work on research projects concerning urban crime?” Your interviewer will be impressed that you’ve done your research and be eager to share more information with you. Lastly, thank them for their time and make sure to get their business card or contact information to write a thank you email or card later.