Preparing for College and Career
Obtaining Working Papers
In NYS, youths ages 14 and above are eligible to participate in certain types of paid employment experiences. Before beginning work, students must provide employers with proof of employment eligibility by obtaining working papers. Working papers can be accessed in the JCB main office.
Learning the Social Security Number
Once an offer if employment has been made, employers will require a social security number for tax purposes. This unique identifying number will be used for a variety of reasons throughout adulthood so memorizing that number now will save time and frustration later. This 9-digit number can be obtained from a parent or guardian or by visiting the local Social Security office.
Opening a Bank Account for Direct Deposit
More and more employers are moving toward paperless accounting. That means, in order to access your paycheck, you may need to open a checking and/or savings account for direct deposit of paychecks. You can visit your local bank or credit union to open an account or visit the EDGE Federal Credit Union, open on Wednesdays, on the JCB campus.
Filling Out an Application and Completing a Resume
A company's first impression of you will likely make the difference between landing an interview or being passed over. How you complete the application process might determine how successful you are in winning a chance to interview.
Some applications are available online but visiting a place of employment to pick up an application can also be an effective way to provide a business with a great first impression. When picking up an application in person:
- Make sure to speak clearly
- Maintain good eye contact
- Remember to say please and thank you
- Don't forget to smile!
When completing application paperwork:
- Make sure to write legibly and avoid spelling errors
- Have a trusted adult look over your application to check of errors
- Make sure to provide references who can speak to your work ethic and your personal qualities
- Never report information about yourself or your experience that is not completely true and an accurate representation of your previous experiences and your skills!
You may want to consider creating and submitting a resume with your application. There are several free websites that can assist you in designing a resume that you can add to every time you gain new skills and experiences. Naviance and CareerZone both have resume-writing programs and tips that are available to all students.
Choosing and Informing References
Most employers are going to want the opportunity to reach out to others who can speak to your abilities and personal characteristics. Typically, employers do not want you to include family members as your references so you are going to have to think of other people who would be willing and able to speak on your behalf. Many students use teachers, school counselors, coaches, clergy, and other community members as their references.
While most people will be more than willing to assist you in securing employment, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Never use a person as a reference without asking them first! You never want to have a person caught off guard when they are supposed to be advocating on your behalf. Asking a person to act as a reference is not only best practice, it also provides you with an opportunity to share information about the job that may be relevant to any future conversation with a future employer.
- Among other things, employers may ask references to speak to your ability to work independently, your attention to detail, your ability to work as part of a team, and your attendance. If your reference has a concern about any of those areas, be sure to address the concern with your reference directly before making the decision to add them to your reference list.
Preparing for an Interview
- Do Your Research - Even if your first job is in the fast food industry, knowing something about the company going into the interview can be helpful. Doing a bit of research on the company can help immensely in an interview. Make sure you can speak to the company's background and mission, You may be asked what you like about the company and why you want the job. Having researched the company beforehand allows you time to consider how your values and interests mesh with the company's public image.
- Prepare Some Possible Responses to Key Questions - In addition to asking you to describe yourself, most interviews will contain some questions about your strengths (remember that Naviance assessment?), your weaknesses, an example of how you successfully worked in a team setting, as well as why you would be the best person for the job. Take time to consider your responses to questions like these, you'll be glad that you did!
- Prepare to Respond to How Your Experiences and Skills Match the Specific Job Requirements - Job descriptions offer a peek at the skills that an employer is searching for in a qualified candidate. Make sure to have examples of how your previous experiences will allow you to be successful at meeting the employer's productivity expectations.
- Dress to Impress - Most potential employers will forgive overdressing, it's the underdressed that are difficult to overlook. Whenever possible, avoid sneakers and jeans and remember to run an iron over your clothing so that your overall appearance is thoughtful and neat.
- Non-verbals are Crucial - Looking your best also means being mindful of the nonverbal messages that you send an employer. Make sure to maintain good eye contact, always offer a firm handshake, and avoid foot tapping, leg shaking, finger tapping, and nail biting. Most importantly, remember to smile!
- What to Take to the Interview - First and foremost, be on time or early! Appearing rushed does not instill a sense of confidence that you will be the type of employee ready to work at the start of each day/shift. It's good practice to carry along a pen to complete any necessary paperwork, a list of your references, one or two copies of your resume, and a list of questions that you would like to ask the employer. Arriving with questions ready to ask gives the impression that you have researched the company, you've given some thought as to what your role with the company might be, and you're a ready learner. One piece of advice, save questions about vacation time and other perks for the second round of interviews. You don't want to give an employer the impression that you're already thinking about taking time off!
Notes of Thanks
Any time that you are lucky enough to garner an interview, make sure you express your gratitude. Further, if you are offered a position with an employer and your references have gone to bat for you, they deserve a note of thanks as well. Thank you's can be expressed in person, in a short note, or even in an email if your other correspondences have also been through email. These notes of thanks do not have to be long, but convey a sincere thankfulness and gratitude for the role the receiver has played in helping you secure employment. For those who have supplied a reference, it's also a great way to share the good news!
Cleaning Up Your Online Presence
Colleges and employers want to learn everything they can about you before offering you employment or admission into their school. Some may attempt to learn about you utilizing online resources and social media. If you're ready to start an employment career or post-secondary study, it is a good time to clean up your online presence and change any email addresses and online identifiers to something that represents a mature and responsible adult. You may also want to update your privacy settings so that photos and other posts that are not meant for the whole world are not seen by potential employers and college admissions staff.