Welcome to The Real World – What to Do After College

What to Do After CollegeCongratulations to all of you who will be earning a college degree this month. After years of late-night studying, taking early morning exams, and living on a budget as thin as your ramen noodles, you’ve finally made it! But after receiving the important piece of paper and the celebration high is gone, you will probably ask yourself the same question I asked myself after it was all said and done:

“Now what?”

There are those fortunate few who are able to get a job right after or just before graduation; but for many, including me, there is a greater priority put on working unpaid internships, second jobs, and whatever else needed to keep a roof over their heads. While the job search should start before graduation, it’s not too late to begin after graduation.

We’ve got your back. Transitioning into the real world and finding a job doesn’t have to be an overwhelming and confusing journey. If you follow these guidelines on what to do after graduating from college, your job search might be a little easier.

Set a Goal
Before you do anything, you should have an idea of what you’re trying to achieve. Your goal, “to find a job,” is a given, but consider making smaller objectives that will help you achieve that goal, then build a plan to accomplish them. The more defined and realistic your plan is, the more likely you are to stick with it.

Start small by trying to make a few new contacts, send out resumes, or read a certain number of industry articles every week. Take some ideas from the rest of this blog to make small baby steps toward your goal.

Brake on the Break
Graduating from college is a notable achievement. I spent several years of my life working diligently to make my dream a reality. Since I worked so hard for so long, I felt entitled to take a break and enjoy my freedom for a month… or two. Looking back, I wish I hadn’t.

In a way, I felt entitled to a job since I sacrificed so much for a college degree. When I finally got around to starting my job search, I learned that opportunities wouldn’t fall in my lap – I had to earn them. While you may be tempted to take a break to clear your head, now is the time to make the job search a priority. The harder you work, the more likely you will get noticed.

Fail Fearlessly
Be prepared to fail. Trust me; you might fail more than once. You may be perfectly qualified for a job opening and perform all of the best job search activities, but for one reason or another, the potential employer may choose someone else. Your failures don’t define you, but how you bounce back from them does. Try harder, learn better, and then work smarter so you can be more prepared the next time around.

Monitor Your Social Networks
While it’s important to express yourself on social networking sites, it wouldn’t hurt to treat the content you post with a little class. If you are mindful and tactful on sites like Facebook, your growing professional network can prove to be a valuable asset to potential employers. Don’t forget that sites like Twitter and LinkedIn can be great tools to connect with leaders in your field and learn about job opportunities.

Don’t Stop Reading
Just because you may not be as skilled as other seasoned veterans in your industry, it doesn’t mean you should be lacking knowledge on the latest issues and trends. Find out what your industry leaders are reading and mimic them. It sounds cliché, but as the G.I. Joe shows always said, “Knowing is half the battle!”

Practice the Power of Positivity
When trying to get your foot in the door after college, showing passion and a positive attitude can set you apart from your competition. Your skills are still fairly limited, so displaying a willingness to learn with an optimistic point of view can help potential employers see that you are a worthwhile long-term investment.

Beggars Can’t Be Choosers
We all aspire for that dream job, but many times we aren’t qualified to perform the duties that come with dream jobs just yet. When starting at the entry level, you have to keep your expectations realistic. You may have to adjust the goals you set earlier to not only find a job, but develop your career for that dream job. In most organizations, you have to learn to serve at the bottom before you can work at the top.

Network Like There’s No Tomorrow
It really is all about who you know. It’s not so much the amount of people you know, but the right people you network with. You’ve learned how to build relationships with a diverse group of people, so take those skills and network with peers and leaders in your field who can help you accomplish your goals.

There’s a lot to figure out after graduating from college. But, you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. Take these guidelines and start searching for a job now. What was your job search like after college? Let us know in the comments section below.

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