I realized that I was graduating from college when I walked into the football stadium wearing my cap and gown. As soon as I entered, messages from fellow graduates were playing on the large screens throughout the area. The students shared their favorite memories, such as meeting their roommates for freshman year or celebrating with friends after the final exams ended.
While watching these clips, I was completely preoccupied with two terrifying revelations: This would be the last time I sat in the University of Michigan stadium as a student, and in only a few moments, I would graduate from college. So where was my life supposed to lead me next?
Some students had the opportunity to remain in their college towns for the summer as they applied for either jobs or graduate school. Others relocated for entry-level positions, and many individuals moved back home.
No matter your current predicament, it’s key to capitalize on the first several months post-graduation.
Take Advantage of Your Alumni Network.
Making the most of your alumni network can be a great way to jumpstart your career. Whether you graduated from a large university or a small college, there are probably successful alumni working in fields that interest you. Don’t be afraid to reach out and connect with them. Instead of asking for help finding a job, ask them to share their career stories with you. What steps did they take to become the accomplished people they are today? You may be surprised by what you learn and how helpful these connections can be.
Don’t Get Discouraged Too Quickly.
No matter how many cover letters you write, it can be discouraging if you don’t receive any responses. However, it’s important to remember that even the most successful professionals had to start somewhere.
Consider Graduate School.
If you’re planning on attending graduate school in the future, now is the time to study for standardized exams while you’re job hunting. Many young professionals have told me that they wished they had taken the GRE or GMAT during their first few months after college graduation. We’re still used to spending hours in a library and know what kind of studying habits work best for us at this point.
Before you decide to take an unpaid internship, be sure that it will be worth your time. It can be exciting to receive an offer to intern at a company or organization, especially if the internship is in a major city. However, relocating can be very expensive. Don’t hesitate to ask your interviewer questions about the training and mentorship you’ll receive during your internship or how often interns are hired at the company. While it may not always seem appropriate to do so, gauge the tone of the interview before asking these types of questions.
Ask for Challenging Assignments.
If the work you’re given is unengaging, request more challenging tasks. Your boss will be pleased by your eagerness and give you more significant assignments as a result of it.
Recognize What You Don’t Want To Do.
Sometimes, an internship or job can help graduates realize that a certain career path is not right for them. While it’s important not to write off an entire field after one bad week on the job, you might decide to move on if you’re unhappy with your position after several months. Trust your gut instinct.
Teach Yourself New Skills.
One of the qualifications mentioned in a job posting for an editorial assistant at your favorite magazine is proficiency in Photoshop. If you don’t have this skill, teach yourself by learning from how-to books available at your local library or watching tutorials on YouTube.
Read for Pleasure.
Reading has countless benefits that reach beyond providing entertainment. By reading for leisure, you allow yourself to become more creative and well-rounded, giving you a topic of conversation for your next interview or networking event.
avoid letting your postgraduate plans ruin friendships by not fixating on the topic. Naturally, you will discuss your job search with other graduates, but if it’s a nightly discussion, it will only make everyone more anxious and put stress on the relationships.
Enjoy This Time of Uncertainty.
As Twitter CEO Dick Costolo advised my graduating class, “Don’t always worry about what your next line is supposed to be and what you’re supposed to do next. There’s no script. Live your life. Be in this moment.” To put his sage advice into practice, travel, try a new hobby, and relax more often.
What’s Next: 3 Steps to Finding Your First Job
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2. Find your dream job on our exclusive list of opportunities.
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