So you’ve finally graduated from college, now it’s time for the work to begin. That’s why they call your graduation celebration “commencement.”
The first thing you’re likely to discover is that the real world isn’t as ideal as you imagined it in college. In the real world, you may find it incredibly difficult to find a job in your field of study. Here are some things we think may help you along the way.
Constantly update your resume. There was a time when a person would leave school, take a job, and remain at that company until he or she retired. For most of us, those days are long gone. Nowadays it is common for a person to change careers up to 5 times before they retire. That’s careers, not jobs. You’ll likely have several jobs in any of the given careers you travel through during your course of employment. That’s just the way today’s job market is. So it pays to have your resume up-to-date and ready whenever the opportunity arises.
Internships can be very valuable. Usually internships pay very little, if anything, but they offer great experience you may not be able to get any other way. After all, most positions are looking for a degree and experience. Internships help you get that experience employers are looking for. Sometimes you’ll even get hired into the company where you are interning. Remember that applying for an internship is just like applying for any other job. Keep your best foot forward, arrive on time to the interview, and try to show them not only what you know but also who you are.
First impressions are powerful. Make sure your clothes are clean and pressed and that your haircut looks fresh for your job interview. (The dry cleaner can be your best friend.) Research the company dress code prior to your interview. If the dress code is on the casual side, try to dress a step above it for your interview. Sometimes dressing the part makes it easier for hiring managers to visualize you in the role. Of course, it’s difficult to go wrong by dressing business professional, unless you’re interviewing for a more physically demanding labor-intensive job.
Make eye contact and demonstrate confidence in the way you answer their questions. Don’t be afraid to relax and laugh. Remember that although they are in the position of power because they have the job you want, you are also in a strong position because you have the skills and personality they want.
Track your job opportunities in your planner. Schedule your interviews and networking opportunities so you never forget or arrive late to an appointment. Carrying your planner with you to your interview exudes confidence and organization, and it tells employers that time management is one of your strengths.
Make friends and be enthusiastic. Being a friendly, optimistic person goes a long way with your coworkers and your boss. You don’t have to know everything when you start any job, just be willing to make your best effort and to learn all you can along the way. Being positive and working hard will attract other employees to you. They’ll want to work with you and have you on their team.
Strengthen your network. Look for companies that do the things you’d like to do and get to know the people who work there. Most jobs are filled without ever being advertised. Companies want to hire people they know or people their fellow employees recommend. Advertising for a position takes time and resources that they’d rather not spend. So it pays to get to know as many people as you can in as many organizations as you can. This can be as simple as finding the name of the hiring manager at company x and asking for a time when you can meet him or her over lunch just to learn more about their company and what they do. Along the way they’ll learn about you. It may cost you the price of lunch now and then, but the payoff is invaluable.
Be willing to broaden your job search. Most of us are afraid that taking a job on the edge of our field of study, or completely outside it, may limit or reduce our chance of ever working in our desired field later on in our careers. It may work out that way, but it doesn’t have to. You’ll be in the workforce for a long time. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to change employment along the way. And every job is an opportunity to learn skills that you can take with you to your next place of employment.
Good luck and happy hunting.