So you’re a soon to be college graduate or just recently graduated, now what? Life comes at you pretty fast and now it’s time to enter the professional world. For some, this change can be a simple adjustment, while for others a total culture shock. Each individual handles these situations differently. Looking back, to me these are some of the tips that I find to be most beneficial.
Start your employment search early!
It’s easy to get wrapped in the college lifestyle, especially in your final semester. The work/life balance becomes more delicate with trying to finish strong with finals while taking advantage of the opportunities to go out with friends. The last thing you want is to be scrambling for work after graduation. You should get your search going early, but that doesn’t mean you should jump on the first offer that presents itself. If possible, try to set up your interviews so that your last interview is the opportunity you want most. As you interview more and more you become better at them, increasing your confidence. Starting your search early gives you the extra time and if you end up accepting a position you want a great weight is lifted off your shoulders, which gives you more time to enjoy your final months.
When looking, don’t let the location of an opportunity limit you. If you find that role that you’re looking for in a different city, what is stopping you from going for it? Not only does this give you the opportunity for professional growth but it also allows personal growth.
Network, network, network!
Networking is important and much simpler than people think. At this point in life I’m sure you’re constantly getting bombarded with questions like “What do you want to do for work?” or “Do you have a job yet?” These questions give you the chance to counter back and ask if the person knows anyone who could help you get your resume over to an employer. Take advantage of the connections you may have, don’t let any opportunity slip by.
Finally, go to the career fairs offered through your school or in the area. This is a great way to see what opportunities are available while getting your updated resume out there.
Always keep your info up to date
If you have any problems organizing your resume there is a good chance your college has a seminar or one-on-one sessions on how to format your resume. LinkedIn is another great way to get your name, experiences, and skills out there but don’t treat your profile like Facebook- be professional. If you’re on social media, go through your profiles and clean them up. Ask yourself if you would want your future employer to see that photo; if the answer is no, you should hit delete.
It’s OK to speak highly of yourself. You’re showing what makes you the right choice for the job so talk about why it should be you who gets hired. The more prepared you are for your interview, the more confident you should be. Really look into the company you’re interviewing at and keep these in mind; What is their focus/what do they do? What draws you to them? Check out the LinkedIn profiles of those you’re meeting with, maybe you have something in common which is a great chance to connect further. Remember to show up to your interview on time and dressed professionally. Finally, just relax!
OK, you tackled your interview and got the job. There will be some things you’ll need to adjust to. For me, my biggest struggle was getting used to being in practically the same spot all day. In my past work experiences, I have always been moving all day from working outside or constantly tending to tables in restaurants. Also, you’re the new one in the office. Show everyone why you’re the one who deserved to be hired.
Put in your time!
Just like you did in school, listen and take notes at your job. Don’t go in with the mindset that you know everything because you still have room to learn. Ask questions and write things down in a notebook. It’s a great tool to go back to months down the road when you need a refresher. If you want, ask if you can shadow employees to observe how they work. What makes them so good at what they do? Shadowing employees with different skill sets creates a much stronger and well-rounded background for you.
Don’t do the minimum; you should always go that extra mile. Use what you learned from your questions and watching them to push yourself. Staying late or coming in early to get extra work done looks great and shows initiative. Work hard.
Don’t let yourself fall into the same old daily routine. It can be easy to fall into a rut without even realizing it. Sure hitting the couch and watching a favorite show after a long day is a relaxing but don’t let it become your norm. Find ways to change up your days. Setting fitness goals to stay active is always helpful. Wake up early and go for a run or bring a change of clothes and hit the gym after work. Make plans with friends to go out and catch the game on TV. You can even go shopping after work. Who knows, you can even wash the car to stay busy! Take advantage of your time outside of work and have some fun. Compare work to college; work hard during the day so you have all night to get out there! Play hard.