Graduating from college is an exciting event to look forward to for several reasons, but many students anticipate the variety of job opportunities to take on, which can help to build a lucrative career. Leaping into the official working world as an adult can be intimidating and overwhelming, especially if you don’t have the proper tools to navigate the competitive job market.
It can be easy to focus on schoolwork and your social life while in college, but one aspect that shouldn’t be neglected is building a career after graduation, whether you’re a junior or senior. Tackling an internship, working on a volunteer opportunity, or building connections with fellow peers and professors are all ways to leverage your skills and establish a solid work history. From there you can smoothly enter into whatever job field you want with a background that will make any employer eager to take you on.
Regardless if you are a rising junior planning your next year of college or beyond or a senior looking to get established post-graduation, everyone can use some advice when it comes to starting a career. Are you currently a college student anticipating graduation? Ready to launch your career and dive into the working world? Need some advice before you leave college? Here are five tips to help you get started.
1. Network Before You Hang Up the Cap and Gown: A big mistake that many rising juniors and seniors make is waiting until the last minute to network effectively and establish connections with peers. The last thing anyone wants to experience is a desperate, rushed attempt at connecting just to be used as a reference in a job application. To avoid an uncomfortable situation like this, build connections gradually throughout your time in college. By the time it comes for you to graduate, you will have secure, strong relationships that will help leverage you into whatever job position you are taking on.
2. Don’t Brush Off Office Hours: One of the best things to do before you graduate is to meet up with your professors. Connecting with university faculty is important because your professors and advisors not only know you on a personal level, but they also know what you are capable of doing in regards to tasks and projects. Faculty can additionally help guide your career search and be a part of your growing network of people. Sure, its not necessarily easy to approach a professor, but there are some ways to break the ice, such as going to office hours. Sam Richards, a senior lecturer in Penn State’s College of Liberal Arts explains, “Talking about anything other than grades is fine during office hours, at least for me. I think students can get a lot of great advice from professors about a wide range of issues. We are a resource that is very much underutilized.”
3. Utilize the Career Center: An overlooked campus resource is the career center. Many students either don’t use the resources at the career center or simply forget that it exists, which can make the process of building a career even more difficult and isolating. During your appointment with a career center advisor, you expect them to help you narrow down career choices, pull out inner strengths and work on weaknesses, discover your passions and compliment those passions with your skills. This personal evaluation will help you figure out what kind of job you want and in what specific field. Katie Hopsicker of CNBC notes, “Resources like resume workshops, job hunt seminars and even email newsletters detailing job openings may open the door for you to find your next opportunity. “
4. Clean Up Your Resume: In order to stand out the best you possibly can to potential employers, be sure to constantly and consistently polish your resume. Advisors at your campus career center can definitely help you refine and boost your resume to make it attractive to employers. Don’t worry about the formatting being awful, not having a good amount of experience on paper, or the whole thing looking bad, advisors will give you pointers and make it presentable for potential employers.
5. Venture to Social Media: Before you graduate, clean up your social media accounts by looking at pictures, posts, and comments that may not be appropriate and make you look better in the eyes of an employer. Additionally, search for your ideal job by using keywords on search engines and social media. You can even look for people with similar interests as you in regards to finding a job. Doing these two things can definitely help you get on track to networking, but it also doesn’t hurt to reach out to your professors, join club organizations, and talk to classmates. Remember to also look into various online job sites, such as Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and Monster to find current postings in your respective field and area.
Diving straight into the working world as a college graduate can be a scary, unfamiliar place. However, if you get established long before you walk across the stage and get your diploma, you’ll feel confident in your abilities and connections to tackle whatever job opportunity comes your way.