Here are three unique ways you can prepare yourself for your job search. They are simple techniques and easy to implement. You simply need to plan for them in advance, not the other way around. These work well if you do them in advance of your job search.
This is an excellent technique for planning out the initial stages of your career and focusing your job search toward areas of positive change. Do a survey of the internships or entry level job postings at CollegeGrad.com. Then look at the experienced job postings as well. Either save or print out all the job postings for all of the jobs you might be interested in at some point in the future. Take it all the way up the line to VP and President, if that is your mission. Then, in three separate documents, accumulate the following information from these ads matrixed by level (internship, entry level and experienced):
Page #1: List all of the job responsibilities, duties, tasks, and functions.
Page #2: List all of the experience, skills, and knowledge required.
Page #3: List all the keywords or industry buzzwords.
In analyzing the information, note where you are now in relation to where you want to be in the future. Take note of any and all gaps, present or future. Then checkmark all the gaps you can close before you enter the internship or entry level job market and lay out detailed plans for how to close those gaps. If there are buzzwords you are not familiar with, make sure you research them to gain full understanding. Keep your gap analysis information for future reference and update it as your career progresses.
Work on closing the gaps as much as possible between your academic career and the entry level career you are seeking. As the gaps are reduced or eliminated, the decision becomes easier—for you and the employer. Then continue to identify and close the future gaps as you progress in your career.
One effective means of creating more available time in your schedule is to adopt a primarily Tuesday/Thursday or Monday/Wednesday/Friday class schedule in either or both of your last two semesters. The absolute best schedule is a T/Th schedule of two classes in the morning, two classes in the afternoon, and a night class on Tuesday or Wednesday evening to round things out. With no Monday or Friday classes, long weekends are free for interview trips and focused blocks of time to dedicate to your job search. Using a T/Th or M/W/F schedule allows you to be totally devoted to your studies on certain days, while totally devoted to your job search on the other days. This puts you squarely in the mode of part-time student and part-time job seeker. Check into modifying your schedule to allow for your new dual role in life.
Although a course in "Jobs 101" would be popular with most students, only a few colleges offer job search training as part of their regular course offerings. There is, however, an excellent course to prepare you for job search success. Nearly every college and university offers it in some shape or form. That course: Speech 101. The dreaded "stand and deliver a speech in public" course that many students try to avoid. If you have not taken it yet and still have some electives left, this is an excellent course to take. It will give you the necessary basic training for expressing yourself eloquently in front of a group of strangers—which will prepare you well for the interviewing process that lies just over the horizon.
An alternative to this type of course (or as a continuation for further developing your speaking ability) is to join a local Toastmasters International club. You can contact them online at toastmasters.org to find out more about a club near you.