You’ve done it! All those sleepless nights from studying or writing those essays you procrastinated on, well, they’ve finally paid off! Congrats!
The time surrounding graduation is both exciting and a little terrifying. All of a sudden, your life won’t be structured around a school schedule like it has been for the past 16+ years – unless you’re planning on attending grad school! Luckily, there are several options for how you can spend your time once your done worrying about grades and exams.
- Travel – Is there somewhere you’ve always wanted to go? Now might just be the best time to jump on that adventure before you have to plan around work schedules and available vacation time. Traveling with friends or by yourself can be exhilarating and a great reward for earning your well-earned degree! If money is a concern, there are volunteer organizations that you can travel with in return for labor. This option is a great way to see the world while making a difference.
- Join the Work Force – Sometimes finding that first job out of college won’t be your “dream job” or even a job that you can use your degree for – and that’s okay! In a world that values years of experience (even for some “entry” level jobs!) in most cases you’ll have to work your way up the ladder, so don’t skip over the job titles that include ‘assistant’ or ‘attendant.’ These jobs have space for growth and development!
- Resume Building – When you are looking at jobs to apply for, make sure your resume is professional, clear and you highlight the experience and training you already have that would benefit you in that position. You want to prove to the hiring manager that you’ll excel at their company and be a positive addition. Go ahead and brag, but remember keeping it short and sweet is still a good idea so the hiring manager isn’t overwhelmed. (TIP: Check spelling and grammar! Resumes are tossed out for bad spelling. Find someone you trust to edit or check into Grammarly.com)
- Utilize Resources – Besides making an appointment with the career counselor at your college, there are many great sources online to check out. A great website is https://www.onetonline.org/ because it provides job requirements, education, experience level, day to day tasks, skills, job outlook and so much more. Use the vocabulary you find on job descriptions listed online and from sites like this one to build your resume. Also -make sure that what you’re applying for is a position you could handle and have enough basic knowledge to perform – learning on the job is okay, but don’t apply to be an editor if you don’t have a strong handle on grammar, even if you majored in English!
- Entry Level + Experience – Despite being labeled as an entry level position, most companies want 3+ years of experience. This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get the job even if you have no experience. If you’re the best applicant, they might choose you anyway with the understanding you’ll need more training. The requirements listed are often to show what their ideal candidate will possess. You can still go ahead and try your luck.
- LinkedIn is your friend! – Here you can create an online resume and make a web of career connections with friends, family, professors, etc. Sometimes it’s not about what you know, but who you know – or at least to get you started and score an interview.
- Cover Letter – They are super important despite how frustrating they are to write. You’ll need to write a new cover letter for each job you apply for or at least customize each one so it’s specifically tailored for that position. Don’t skip this step because having a cover letter can mean getting an interview and having a chance as opposed to your resume being tossed out. Some companies won’t even look at your resume if there isn’t a cover letter attached. And again, check your spelling and grammar! (TIP: Does the company’s mission statement align with your own values? If so, make sure to tell them and explain why that matters to you! It’ll show you’ve researched their company and have interest in becoming a team player.)
- Interviews – They’re going to be nerve-wracking and uncomfortable, but the more often you have them the more confident you’ll become. Try to think about it as you’re also trying to decide if their company will be a good fit for you as opposed to feeling like you’re the only one being scrutinized. Before the interview (whether it’s over the phone or in person) look up the most commonly asked questions for the position you’re applying for. Think of how you’d answer these questions in case they come up. Don’t memorize your answers so you sound like a robot reading from a script though!
- After The Interview – Send the hiring manager, or whoever you met with, a thank you note! This can be as simple as an email thanking them for their time and consideration. If you want to stand out more, consider mailing them a thank you card! Mailing a thank you card will be more memorable than the email which might very well be the 25th email they’ve read that day.
- Rejection Letters & Employment Offers – It is VERY normal to receive rejection letters – unfortunately. This does not mean you won’t ever find a job (although it can feel like that for a while) or that you aren’t a good enough contender. Try not to get too discouraged about rejection. Perhaps you just need a few years of experience and then you’ll be exactly what they’re looking for. On the flip side, if you’re offered a position, you can take some time before accepting – believe it or not. Just like they want you to be a good fit for their company, you’ll want to make sure it’ll be a good fit for you too. If you didn’t get a good vibe during the interview or you don’t think you’ll mesh with the other employees, those are things to consider before agreeing.
- Continuing Education – If you’ve entered the work force but you still miss school and learning (and homework?) then check into continuing education courses at your local technical colleges or universities.
- Skill Learning – Just because you have a degree in Science now doesn’t mean you have to go on to be a scientist. You can learn other skills that compliment your degree or skills that don’t apply to your degree at all. Have you ever wanted to be an arborist? A welder? A mechanic? An entrepreneur? There are so many professions that you can advance in if you have the necessary skills.
Best of luck after graduation! 🎓