Prepare and Connect

Prior to initiating your job search or applying to graduate school, there are steps you can take to make certain you’ve created a professional network, polished your interviewing skills, and refined your application materials.

Career advisors are available to provide assistance with developing and revising your self-marketing tools, your résumé, and cover letters. They coordinate events to help you develop effective networking skills and they conduct mock interviews to provide feedback on your interviewing strengths and suggested improvements. In addition to working with the Career Center, use campus resources to secure internships, connect with employers, explore graduate schools, and prepare for the next steps in your career journey.

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Professional Documents

Professional documents are essential in the  job search. Each of these items provides potential employers or graduate schools with personal information about yourself. They reflect your values, skills, and experiences. Consider what is most important for prospective employers to know about you. Visit the following links to learn more about developing your documents and how to personalize them for a specific purpose.

Mock Interviews

One of the most effective ways to prepare for an interview is to do a “mock interview” with a Career Center advisor. A mock interview provides you with the opportunity to practice answering questions and to receive constructive feedback about your answers and your non-verbal behavior and helps to enhance job prospects by improving interview skills.

Career consultants can answer your questions about interviewing preparation, provide strategies for answering questions that could be challenging and help you identify and practice different ways you might respond to interview questions.

Because it is common that you may have only 1-2 days notice before an interview, we strongly recommend that you schedule a mock interview when you are beginning your job search or have just submitted your graduate school applications. This allows you plenty of time for practice, polish and adjustments and allows you to schedule follow-up practice session if needed.

Mock interviews require a one hour appointment.  Arrange a mock interview by making an appointment with a Career Center advisor. To schedule a mock interview, please contact the Career Center at or call 608-262-1755. Be prepared to provide the following information: focus of the mock interview (preparation for employment interview, graduate school, etc.); the date of the actual interview, if applicable; and your major within the School of Education

In order to get the most out of your mock interview experience, we encourage you to review our interviewing information webpage.


Networking could be what helps you land a job.

If you take part in social networking sites, you probably have a pretty good idea of how networking can enhance your personal life. But, if you’re like many new college graduates, you’re probably not as comfortable about incorporating networking into your job search.

In spite of your discomfort, you need to incorporate networking into your job search: Especially in a competitive job market, networking could be what helps you land a job. In fact, many jobs are filled before they are even advertised—filled by people who learned about the opportunity before it was formally announced.

What is networking when it comes to the job search? It’s not about using people. Just as you look to build personal relationships through social networks, you want to build relationships to foster your professional life. These relationships can help you not only in your current job search but down the road as you build your career.

Networking is not one-sided: It works both ways. You offer assistance to others just as they offer assistance to you. Perhaps the easiest way to think about networking is to see it as an extension of being friendly, outgoing, and active.

Here are some tips for building and maintaining a healthy network:

    1. Make a list of everyone you know—and people they know—and identify how they could help you gather career information or experience. Who do you know at school? Professors, friends, and even friends’ parents can all be helpful contacts. Did you hold a part-time job? Volunteer? Serve an internship? Think about the people you came into contact with there.
    2. Sign up for an alumni mentoring program. Many colleges offer such programs, and they are a great way to build relationships in your field.
    3. Join the campus chapter of a professional society that relates to your career choice. In many ways, a professional society is an instant network: You’ll be with others who have the same general career interest. Plus, you may be able to learn more about your field from them. For example, you may be able to learn about the field and potential employers from others who share their internship experiences.
    4. Volunteer at a local museum, theater, homeless shelter—anywhere that even remotely relates to your field of study. By volunteering, you’ll not only learn about your chosen field firsthand, you’ll also be able to connect with people who are in the field.
    5. Speak to company representatives at career fairs, even if you’re not ready to look for a job. Be up front that you’re not currently in the job market and don’t take a lot of the representative’s time, but touching base with a potential employer now can help you down the road when you are ready.
    6. Attend company information sessions at your college and talk one-on-one to the recruiters who run them.
    7. Schedule informational interviews with people who can tell you about their careers. It’s best to ask to meet in person or by phone for a short interview, and don’t immediately start asking “How can you help me?” Plan your questions ahead of time, focusing on how the company works and how the person shaped his or her career path.
    8. Add your profile to LinkedIn. It’s free. And then, work your profile. Add work history (including internships!), skills, and keywords. Make connections to people you’ve worked with or met through networking. Ask for “recommendations” from people who have worked with you. You’ll find LinkedIn is a good source of suggestions for people in your field to contact for informational interviews.
    9. Remember to be courteous and tactful in all your conversations, to send thank-you notes to people who help you, and to find ways to help others as well. Don’t drop your network once you’ve gotten a job. Nurture the relationships you’ve built and look for opportunities to build new connections throughout your career. Getting started might be uncomfortable, but with time and practice, networking will be second nature.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Additional Articles

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are an important part of graduate school applications and job applications.

First, identify who you would like to ask to write letters of recommendation for you. Faculty members are a great choice, especially for graduate school applications. Consider those faculty members who you have interacted with multiple times, whether through research, advising, or being a student in their classes. It can also be helpful if the faculty member knows about the field/profession you are entering and has a positive impression of you from working with them or doing well in their classes. Other professional references can write letters of recommendation for you as well. Supervisors from related job experiences or internships can also be a great choice.

Ask your professional references if they would feel comfortable writing a strong positive letter of recommendation for you. If they don’t feel comfortable writing such a letter, it is much better to know that and ask someone else rather than have a possibly negative or generic letter as part of your application. Be aware that some references don’t let students read the letter before they mail it, so it is important to ask beforehand that the faculty member will be writing a positive letter.

When you do ask for your letter of recommendation, do so in a courteous way. Remember that they are doing you a favor by taking the time to recommend you!

If they are willing to write you a letter of recommendation, provide them with a clear list of the places you are applying to along with the due dates and pre-addressed envelopes with postage if necessary. It is appropriate to give your reference an adequate amount of time before the due date, typically a month or longer if possible. Furthermore, give them a copy of your résumé, personal statement, classes you’ve taken or date of employment, along with some of your important work. This can facilitate writing a letter of recommendation and also assure that the letter will be more personal. Be sure to keep your references updated throughout your search.

Finally, thank all of your references! Letters of recommendation take time to write and can often be the difference between getting into a graduate program or being selected for a job.

 Professional Organizations

Professional organizations, whether you join, participate in functions that they sponsor, or explore their websites, can be valuable resources at points throughout your career development. Consider them for career exploration, networking, finding job postings, and for continued professional development.

In many ways, a professional society is an instant network: You’ll be with others who have the same general career interest. Additionally, you may be able to learn more about your field and potential employers from other members. Consider volunteering at or attending an organization’s events. They often offer special discounted rates for volunteers and students. Conferences are a great way to make connections and to learn about important trends and issues that impact your career field.

Professional organizations by field can also be accessed through What Can I Do With This Major.

Specific professional organizations that are applicable to different School of Education disciplines are grouped by department.

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The following professional organizations are specific to those in the art field.

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Counseling Psychology

Curriculum and Instruction

These are professional organizations for students in Art Education, Curriculum and Instruction, Elementary Education, English as a Second Language, Music Education, Reading Teacher/Specialist, Secondary Education, and/or World Language Education.


Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis

Educational Policy Studies

Educational Psychology


  • Aerobic Fitness Association of America provides resources and services for health and fitness professionals.
  • The American College of Sports Medicine promotes and integrates scientific research, education, and practical applications of sports medicine and exercise science to maintain and enhance physical performance, fitness, health, and quality of life. They offer career resources.
  • The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is the national professional association established in 1917 to represent the interests and concerns of occupational therapy practitioners and students of occupational therapy and to improve the quality of occupational therapy services.
  • American Physical Therapy Association site includes job listings, continuing education courses, industry projections, legislative rulings, and advocacy. Membership required for some features.
  • The International College of Applied Kinesiology is a non profit interprofessional organisation dedicated to advance manual muscle testing as a system of diagnosis for evaluating areas of dysfunction within the body.
  • Learn How to Become features information about different types of careers in sports, strategies for getting involved in those careers, and resources for finding internships and jobs.
  • The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) is the professional membership association for certified athletic trainers and others who support the athletic training profession.
  • As the worldwide authority on strength and conditioning, the National Strength & Conditioning Association supports and disseminates research-based knowledge and its practical application to improve athletic performance and fitness. They also provide career resources.
  • SHAPE America, the largest organization of professionals in health and physical education, is committed to advancing research and professional practice. Professional development opportunities, educational resources, and current research publications are available.
  • Wisconsin Health and Physical Education is an organization dedicated to promoting and supporting health enhancing lifestyles. Professional development opportunities and resources are available for health and physical educators.
  • Wisconsin Occupational Therapy Association site includes a listing of relevant job search links.
  • Wisconsin Physical Therapy Association provides job listings, information on injuries and exercise, conference schedule, news in physical therapy, etc.

Rehabilitation Psychology

Theatre and Drama